The Mother of All Self Links?
May 22, 2014 1:59 PM   Subscribe


 
Do no evil ...
posted by GallonOfAlan at 2:02 PM on May 22, 2014 [11 favorites]


The fact that Google has the ability to break the Internet indicates that the Internet has been broken for a long time.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:04 PM on May 22, 2014 [46 favorites]


[for people flagging this like mad, it's cool we talked about it and it's a really weird edge-case we wouldn't normally do but is kind of a big news story that a roundup post can help explain, so I'll leave this up.]
posted by mathowie at 2:05 PM on May 22, 2014 [90 favorites]


Ach! Good. Now I have a way to conveniently get back to that donation page when I get the time/opportunity to set one up.

Also, while we're on the subject, Facebook sucks now, too, since it started walling users off from each other in a desperate bid to monetize friendship through post boosts. But that's a rant for another day.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:06 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


This post seems a bit meta-
posted by Benjy at 2:08 PM on May 22, 2014 [9 favorites]


"As much as Google is to blame for MetaFilter’s downfall, however, MetaFilter may be responsible, too: It simply hasn’t evolved to keep up with the rest of the Web. The site’s wonky, old-school navigation — not to mention its throwback interface"

YOU TAKE THAT BACK
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 2:09 PM on May 22, 2014 [251 favorites]


Hey, I flagged it because of the it's.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:09 PM on May 22, 2014 [45 favorites]


for people flagging this like mad, it's cool we talked about it

Outrageous! I don't pay a whopping $2 a month for my flags to be ignored!
posted by Think_Long at 2:11 PM on May 22, 2014 [66 favorites]


That WaPo article is wrong on several counts:
To consumers who don’t spend much time contemplating the intricacies of digital publishing — where readers come from, how they find things, why they do the things they do — that all probably sounds kind of technical. Maybe mundane. But what Haughey is saying, more or less, is that the way people use the Internet, and the forces that influence the way people use the Internet, are totally different than they were when MetaFilter started.
No, what he's saying is that traffic from Google fell by 40% literally overnight. MeFi was having its most successful year ever up to that day. This is not a MetaFilter problem, this is a Google problem.
In many ways, MetaFilter is a textbook case: per Haughey, Google penalized the site for suspected spam in 2012, leading to an immediate — and almost-fatal — drop in the site’s traffic and profits.
Not mentioned: the fact that this suspicion is flatly wrong, and that MeFi comment threads are virtually 100% spam-free, a remarkable feat on a site of this size.
As much as Google is to blame for MetaFilter’s downfall, however, MetaFilter may be responsible, too: It simply hasn’t evolved to keep up with the rest of the Web. The site’s wonky, old-school navigation — not to mention its throwback interface — requires an FAQ section several dozen questions long.
I never understand this criticism. The site is all text, in chronological order, with very simple timestamps and flagging buttons. It's about as simple and straightforward as you can possibly get.
Meanwhile, MetaFilter hasn’t moved any eggs outside the Google basket, even as that basket got smaller. The site has no presence on Facebook or Twitter
Wrong and wrong.
Only 1,564 people have donated.
Wow.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:11 PM on May 22, 2014 [144 favorites]


I like the wonky old-school interface used here. It's easy to read lots of content and it's easy to scroll through. No infinite/perpetually-loading scroll, no blinky things on the sides. I sincerely hope that this shake-up doesn't con anyone into messing with the site design.
posted by Frowner at 2:12 PM on May 22, 2014 [184 favorites]


"As much as Google is to blame for MetaFilter’s downfall, however, MetaFilter may be responsible, too: It simply hasn’t evolved to keep up with the rest of the Web. The site’s wonky, old-school navigation — not to mention its throwback interface"

Can we still love it ironically?
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:12 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Between the "throwback interface" crack and the "only 1500 donors have signed up" I was getting pretty YOU SHUT YOUR FILTHY MOUTH about that "Metafilter's downfall" piece.

Ain't nobody down yet, motherfucker.
posted by Sokka shot first at 2:12 PM on May 22, 2014 [94 favorites]


A MetaFilter spin-off, called “Ask MetaFilter,” operates like Yahoo Answers’ older, smarter brother.

MetaFilter: Yahoo Answers' older, smarter brother.
posted by compartment at 2:13 PM on May 22, 2014 [43 favorites]


In the way we called it the Great Hackening I think this interlude in MetaFilter's existence should become known as MetaFilter's Downfall. For, like, another fifty years or something at least.
posted by carsonb at 2:14 PM on May 22, 2014 [13 favorites]


Dear Caitlin Dewey, your Washington Post piece needs some fact-checking, starting at the very top. Rhaomi pointed out a number of issues, but sadly it starts with the caption to the screenshot of the new donations page, which currently says "A screenshot from MetaFilter, which is soliciting donations to stay online."

MetaFilter is very much not "soliciting donations to stay online," but laid off three staff to balance funds for the foreseeable future. No one said MetaFilter is currently in danger of going offline.

Users found an old Paypal link to provide donations to the site, and to make that donation process a bit more formalized, MetaFilter staff have created a specific page for users to offer recurring donations, or a one-time donation.

You got the order of events switched around, which makes for a much different picture.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:16 PM on May 22, 2014 [85 favorites]


I was thinking the other day that the bio prompt: "then tell everyone when you first started using the internet, and what was the first thing that made you say "wow, this isn't just a place for freaks after all?" Was it a website? Was it an email from a long-lost friend? Go on, spill it."

is so throwback at this point that it isn't relevant (or, really, answerable) to anyone who is, like, 20 or younger.

Not that I'm saying we should change it
posted by likeatoaster at 2:16 PM on May 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


only 1500 donors have signed up

OK, fuck you, donating.
posted by nathancaswell at 2:16 PM on May 22, 2014 [45 favorites]


Awfully cocky to somebody who works for a newspaper to talk about a media downfall in such absolute terms.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:16 PM on May 22, 2014 [244 favorites]


Only 1,564 people have donated.

Yeah, with 12,000 active users I can see how only getting 12% to donate in the space of three days would be really disapp--wait a minute, no, that's actually stupid. My mistake!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:17 PM on May 22, 2014 [182 favorites]


The Washington Post article is a good example of what feels like the general rule of reporting on internet stuff (and probably Stuff In General): the farther you get from the source material, the broader and weirder the misapprehensions get.

On the one hand, it's nice to see them broaching the subject. On the other hand, I kind of assume at this scale that either or both of the reporting and editing processes are going to suffer from that distance. It helps with the blood pressure to keep in mind that WaPo isn't writing for mefites; it's writing for WaPo readers.
posted by cortex at 2:17 PM on May 22, 2014 [24 favorites]


Yet another news story that I heard about first on MetaFilter.
posted by MoonOrb at 2:17 PM on May 22, 2014 [94 favorites]


(Again, more than a TENTH of active users are already contributing and this story is less than a week old. That's awesome! High fives, everybody!)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:18 PM on May 22, 2014 [17 favorites]


That's the problem with MetaFilter: it doesn't scale to a billion users paying nothing so Google and tech journalism largely can't understand it.
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:20 PM on May 22, 2014 [47 favorites]


Yeah, that WaPo article about how Metafilter basically doesn't understand the internet was obviously written by someone who kinda doesn't understand the internet.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:20 PM on May 22, 2014 [40 favorites]


Sorry guys it's on my agenda to figure out donating and see if I still have a PayPal account, it's just been a busy week.
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:20 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


In the way we called it the Great Hackening I think this interlude in MetaFilter's existence should become known as MetaFilter's Downfall
this needs to be cemented with subtitled videos of Hitler in a bunker talking about AdSense and chicken fucking.
posted by bl1nk at 2:21 PM on May 22, 2014 [23 favorites]


We will reach Peak Recursion when someone posts a Metatalk about how we should not have this post.
posted by adipocere at 2:21 PM on May 22, 2014 [27 favorites]


cortex, you are solid and grar-free individual, and I thank you for that. (But it's still lazy reporting, which is not unheard-of, in this super-rapid online/24 hours news world.)
posted by filthy light thief at 2:22 PM on May 22, 2014


Awfully cocky to somebody who works for a newspaper to talk about a media downfall in such absolute terms.

WaPo is bankrolled by someone whose has managed to print Amazon money for the last decade or so. Print media may be hurting, but WaPo will do okay.

The fact that Google has the ability to break the Internet indicates that the Internet has been broken for a long time.

This, pretty much.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:23 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


carsonb: In the way we called it the Great Hackening I think this interlude in MetaFilter's existence should become known as MetaFilter's Downfall. For, like, another fifty years or something at least.

bl1nk: this needs to be cemented with subtitled videos of Hitler in a bunker talking about AdSense and chicken fucking.

Here is the online Downfall clip subtitler you never knew you wanted. (I have not tested it, I just found it.)
posted by filthy light thief at 2:24 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


bl1nk: "this needs to be cemented with subtitled videos of Hitler in a bunker talking about AdSense and chicken fucking."

Only if he calls Eva Braun the most amazing woman ever.
posted by Big_B at 2:25 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


CHARLES DARWIN: "THINGS ARE THE WAY THEY ARE BECAUSE THEY GOT THAT WAY"
posted by Postroad at 2:25 PM on May 22, 2014 [13 favorites]


it's writing for WaPo readers

"You know...Morons."
posted by gimonca at 2:26 PM on May 22, 2014 [9 favorites]


I'm honestly more interested in what that giant spike in usage was sometime in January was.
posted by mediocre at 2:26 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


As much as Google is to blame for MetaFilter’s downfall, however, MetaFilter may be responsible, too: It simply hasn’t evolved to keep up with the rest of the Web. The site’s wonky, old-school navigation —

"Evolved"?! What th- Oh that is it

*Rolls up sleeves, does some professional journalisming by clicking a link*

Shocked! Yes, shocked I am to find that Twitter and Facebook are primary motivations for this journalist!

Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time
posted by petebest at 2:26 PM on May 22, 2014 [9 favorites]


I'm tempted to flag mathowie's comment, because how often will I get the chance?
posted by philipy at 2:26 PM on May 22, 2014 [18 favorites]


The most infuriating thing I've read all day comes from the Washington Post Article: "Metafilter’s most interesting core functions, like its discussion boards and Q&A feature, have since been cannibalized by more usable sites like Reddit and Quora."

Are you shitting me? They're going to cite Reddit and Quora as more usable? Reading Reddit is the most worthless thing ever. The threads are insane to follow, it's difficult to track updated conversations between visits, and the majority of crap on the front page is stupid image memes. I've never actually used Quora since every time I follow a link and end up on Quora I can't read anything unless I login. Maybe I don't want to "login using Google or Facebook." Maybe I just want to read the stupid question someone linked me to. Oh, I can't do that without creating an account? I guess I won't read it then.
posted by Arbac at 2:27 PM on May 22, 2014 [184 favorites]


1,624 as of right now. Eat it, WaPo.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:27 PM on May 22, 2014 [9 favorites]


I'm honestly more interested in what that giant spike in usage was sometime in January was.

It was the day the story of the decoding note cards question went viral. It was basically everywhere for 24hours.
posted by mathowie at 2:28 PM on May 22, 2014 [12 favorites]


Think_Long: "Outrageous! I don't pay a whopping $2 a month for my flags to be ignored!"

No, you got that for free.
posted by boo_radley at 2:28 PM on May 22, 2014 [15 favorites]


In addition to "it's", I also forgot to include a piece of what I intended to put in the post. (I'm bad at this posting business). I think it's probably still worth having here:

Tech Crunch blames The Fourth Internet. Another publisher recently weighed in on the living under Googles thumb.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 2:29 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


No, you got that for free.

I want "flagged with futility" as a t-shirt option.
posted by Think_Long at 2:29 PM on May 22, 2014 [13 favorites]


mediocre: I'm honestly more interested in what that giant spike in usage was sometime in January was.

mathowie: It was the day the story of the decoding note cards question went viral. It was basically everywhere for 24hours.

The question in ... question, as discussed on MetaTalk.>
posted by filthy light thief at 2:30 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Deck ad that I just saw on my page said, "Be a Hero. Save a website."
posted by MoonOrb at 2:31 PM on May 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


I'm more upset that apparently WaPo's standard usage is "an FAQ".
posted by Mchelly at 2:31 PM on May 22, 2014 [32 favorites]


Has there been any discussion of what other sites may have gotten caught up in the same google algorithm change and how they faired?
posted by Dip Flash at 2:33 PM on May 22, 2014


Man, as glad as I am that people think MeFi is worth writing about, it really stinks when there's just SO MUCH MISINFORMATION in the various articles and mentions online.

It seems particularly weird to me given how clear and straightforward Matt's explanation was.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:34 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


"It simply hasn’t evolved to keep up with the rest of the Web."

These cat owners each had an optical scanner and a dream. You won't believe what happened next!
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:34 PM on May 22, 2014 [147 favorites]


The predictions of the ecological historian-cliodynamicist Peter Turchin is clear: Metafilter has strong asabiyyah. It is not fragile: when a dismissive voice comes from those who don't care about it, it reacts and becomes reactant.

People immediately predicted at the dawn of Internet websites that these would be a more fragile sort of community, bound by weaker bonds, in the shadow of Putnam's statement that American social cohesion is falling apart. But Metafilter, it seems, will come out of this stronger than it came in.
posted by curuinor at 2:35 PM on May 22, 2014 [22 favorites]


This situation is exactly why I'm glad not to be in the web design business anymore.

First, SEO companies can all fucking die in a fire. They have gamed a perfectly usable system to the detriment of most everybody.

Second, Google is off the rails. They made their fortune by (correctly) grokking that links could be used to determine where the most pertinent info was, and enabled users to find it. Those links existed before Google. Google just figured out how to use them. Now they are making unsupervised judgment calls about what constitutes an "organic" and " inorganic " link. That's playing king, not enabling end users. They've gone from fighting SEO dickheads, to being SEO dickheads.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:35 PM on May 22, 2014 [83 favorites]


So far this whole situation has been like the emotional arc of Queen's "Under Pressure" (feat. David Bowie.)

I hope we're on the rising lift of "love's such an old fashioned word."
posted by The Whelk at 2:36 PM on May 22, 2014 [14 favorites]


I'm more upset that apparently WaPo's standard usage is "an FAQ".
This has me curious. Do people pronounce it "fack", in which case "a FAQ" is appropriate? I've always pronounced it "eff ay kyoo", in which case "an FAQ" is appropriate. I'm not even sure if I've ever heard it pronounced as "fack" by anyone before.
posted by Flunkie at 2:36 PM on May 22, 2014 [35 favorites]


I'm not trying to be all "get off my lawn," but the author of the WaPo article was in elementary school when Matt started MetaFilter. It... it shows. I'm a little embarrassed for her.
posted by Houstonian at 2:37 PM on May 22, 2014 [90 favorites]


I'm in kind of a bad mood right now and the wonderfully bitchy tone this thread immediately took is cracking me the fuck up.
posted by item at 2:39 PM on May 22, 2014 [67 favorites]


I totally say fack. Am willing to accept it may be just me, though.
posted by Mchelly at 2:40 PM on May 22, 2014 [26 favorites]


Pretty sure when it comes to the WaPo, correct pronunciation of "FAQ" is more like "Fah-Que."
posted by MoonOrb at 2:40 PM on May 22, 2014 [20 favorites]


Nope. "Fack" here, too.
posted by scrump at 2:41 PM on May 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


Do people pronounce it "fack", in which case "a FAQ" is appropriate?

This is the only thing I have ever heard anyone say aloud, although my elderly boss sometimes will say A QUESTIONS PAGE YOU KNOW A PAGE ABOUT QUESTIONS THAT PEOPLE ASK A QUESTIONS PAAAGE.
posted by elizardbits at 2:41 PM on May 22, 2014 [38 favorites]


Flunkie, I used to moderate at GameFAQs and that question got surprisingly contentious.

The Fourth Internet.

It was the dawn of the Fourth Internet of Mankind, ten years after the beginning of the Google-Facebook War. The Metafilter Project was a dream given form. Its goal: to prevent another war by creating a place where humans and cats in scanners could work out their differences peacefully. It's a port of call – home away from home for diplomats, hustlers, entrepreneurs, and whatever the quidnunc kid is. Commenters and admins wrapped in two million, five-hundred thousand lines of code, all alone in the Web. It can be a dangerous place, but it's our last best hope for peace.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:42 PM on May 22, 2014 [129 favorites]


In any other circumstances I'd be laying money right now on a 500-comment long argument about divergent "FAQ" usage preferences.
posted by cortex at 2:42 PM on May 22, 2014 [56 favorites]


I hope we're on the rising lift of "love's such an old fashioned word."

But that's the part that always makes me start crying.
posted by scody at 2:42 PM on May 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


In darker moments I wonder if Google isn’t targeting competitors of Google Plus, i.e. anywhere people can share stuff and have a conversation.

Thought experiment: if Google could conceive of some way to starve Facebook of traffic, do you think they wouldn’t?
posted by axoplasm at 2:43 PM on May 22, 2014 [9 favorites]


BUT HOW COULD WE POSSIBLY PROCESS SUCH A THREAD WITH THIS CONFOUNDING AND BACKWARDS INTERFACE
posted by nathancaswell at 2:43 PM on May 22, 2014 [36 favorites]


Eff ay kew works great right up until you try to say "gamefaqs.com" out loud.
posted by clavicle at 2:43 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


I feel like people who would spell out FAQ as individual letters are also the people who pronounce WTF as double you tee eff even though it has more syllables than the actual phrase what the fuck.

bad people, i'm talking about bad people
posted by elizardbits at 2:44 PM on May 22, 2014 [45 favorites]


"wonky, old-school navigation — not to mention its throwback interface" pretty much describes me.
posted by srboisvert at 2:45 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


Stack Exchange already tackled the question of how to pronounce FAQ(s), though it was hardly a rousing discussion.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:45 PM on May 22, 2014


People really pronounce it any way other than 'fack'? People are weird.
posted by item at 2:45 PM on May 22, 2014 [13 favorites]


I feel like people who would spell out FAQ as individual letters are also the people who pronounce WTF as double you tee eff even though it has more syllables than the actual phrase what the fuck.

bad people, i'm talking about bad people


Winkyface!
posted by filthy light thief at 2:45 PM on May 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


As much as Google is to blame for MetaFilter’s downfall, however, MetaFilter may be responsible, too: It simply hasn’t evolved to keep up with the rest of the Web. The site’s wonky, old-school navigation — not to mention its throwback interface — requires an FAQ section several dozen questions long. Metafilter’s most interesting core functions, like its discussion boards and Q&A feature, have since been cannibalized by more usable sites like Reddit and Quora.

How, exactly, was MetaFilter supposed to evolve? By grafting on trendy but irrelevant features? MetaFilter does what it does and does it well.

And I don't know what planet this person is living on, but our non-threaded comments are way, way more intuitive to me than whatever monstrosity reddit uses. Quora I'm not familiar with.

I seriously don't know what to make of that piece.
posted by brundlefly at 2:45 PM on May 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


In any other circumstances I'd be laying money right now on a 500-comment long argument about divergent "FAQ" usage preferences.

Why? It's "a fack", of course, otherwise it would be written "F.A.Q."
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:45 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


"its throwback interface"

it's called text you hapless gibbering app-fondling touchscreen cretin
posted by elizardbits at 2:46 PM on May 22, 2014 [579 favorites]


Wikipedia tells me, essentially, some people say "fack", some people say "eff ay kyoo" (and, apparently, some people say "fax", "facts", or "faak" (I don't really even know what that last one means)). But more interestingly, while noting that while the word is new, the concept is not, it gives an example of an FAQ from 1647: The Discovery of Witches, by witch-hunter Matthew Hopkins.

I'm imagining "Do they float?"
posted by Flunkie at 2:46 PM on May 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


was in elementary school when Matt started MetaFilter

I think this must have been her first encounter with the site, and perhaps she expected it to be more of a social network? We have younger users here who fit in perfectly well. But if you come here expecting to have a Reddit/Facebook experience it's going to be difficult.

Doesn't excuse getting so much information wrong, though.
posted by troika at 2:46 PM on May 22, 2014


In darker moments I wonder if Google isn’t targeting competitors of Google Plus, i.e. anywhere people can share stuff and have a conversation.

Thought experiment: if Google could conceive of some way to starve Facebook of traffic, do you think they wouldn’t?


Actually, it works the other way: Facebook starves Google of content by "walling off" whatever is posted on Facebook; Facebook prevents Google from indexing its content.

I think Twitter is the same, although I know that Twitter does allow Bing to index content, and, because of some social media monitoring tools I use, there must be some way to index Facebook.

But Google does not, and Facebook is happy that way. Facebook is supposed to exist as its own walled-off internet.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:46 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


FIGHT THE REAL ENEMY PEOPLE.

It is obviously "fack."
posted by Etrigan at 2:46 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty confident that some not so distant day you'll beg Matt to throw you crumbles and allow you to link to Metafilter, great googly-moogly !
posted by nicolin at 2:46 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Much to my chagrin, "an FAQ" is the commonly accepted correct reference within my writing crowd that we also simply strive to avoid.

Awfully cocky to somebody who works for a newspaper to talk about a media downfall in such absolute terms.

A newspaper arguably 'saved' by a dot com omnichannel brick & mortar disruptive behemoth.

The four elements are earth, wind, water, fire. Does that make MetaFilte the fifth element Leeloo?
posted by tilde at 2:46 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Reddit is insufferable and Quora is unusable. That's why I'm here.
posted by Lynsey at 2:46 PM on May 22, 2014 [21 favorites]


FAQ rhymes with quack. gif is not pronounced like the peanut-butter brand.

The Washington Post article is exactly why you only want your name in the newspaper in the birth section, the wedding section, and the obituary section.
posted by bukvich at 2:46 PM on May 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


it's called text you hapless gibbering app-fondling touchscreen cretin

My love for you, elizardbits, is officially boundless.
posted by scody at 2:46 PM on May 22, 2014 [78 favorites]


Fa-queue gives you a nice obscenity.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:47 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


What other things have the mods talked about? I need to know what is the cool today!
posted by srboisvert at 2:47 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


What the fack does app-fondling mean?
posted by item at 2:48 PM on May 22, 2014


elizardbits: "it's called text you hapless gibbering app-fondling touchscreen cretin"

oh man you are still the queen of insult jazz.
posted by boo_radley at 2:49 PM on May 22, 2014 [57 favorites]


I've always pronounced it "eff ay kyoo", in which case "an FAQ" is appropriate.

So have I, but then again, I'm a throwback to the Sixties, so what do I know of these modern thingies..er widgets...no apps... whatever...
posted by infini at 2:49 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Another thought about the Google algorithms.

It's basically known that Google only uses PageRank as a feature in Pandas, the specific features of which are kept fairly secret. I imagine they've put serious thought and money into unsupervised methods, because they have a not-even-kidding amount of investment into basic research into those methods, of which PageRank is only an instance of a class.

Implicated in all of the wondering that the SEO folks have had over Google's algorithms is the control they have had over the tuning of the algorithms after all. Of course, even unsupervised algorithms have hyperparameters to tune this stuff. But unforeseen consequences occur all the time with unsupervised algorithms of this sort, not only in the linking domain which SEO is based on.

My PI recalls an instance of unsupervised learning where insurance people got high-resolution motion capture data about movement and facial expressions and tried to extract good features from it. They figured out that they were actually extracting features which got the static features of facial expressions. And once they figured this out, they tested the algorithms on black people and white people and figured out this unsupervised learning algorithm was being racist. As apparently fit the data: black people were bigger insurance risks, said the data, because they were unhealthier, etc (it was health insurance, hence the movement stuff). They stopped the project and basically threw it away and never spoke of it again.

I'm not sure if there is a solution to things of that nature. There are algorithms which claim to be more amenable to understanding, but the state of the art is not in those algorithms. Pure conjecture, of course, I don't know shit about their feature extraction, but overfitting is not the only danger in these waters.
posted by curuinor at 2:49 PM on May 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


Good lord, now we're doing syncronized snarking without practice...
posted by infini at 2:50 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


Why? It's "a fack", of course, otherwise it would be written "F.A.Q."


Which is of course why the BBC is pronounced Bubba-Sea.
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:50 PM on May 22, 2014 [37 favorites]


It's "a fack", of course, otherwise it would be written "F.A.Q."

I take it you pronounce OECD as "owehkduh" and IRS as "urrs"?
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 2:50 PM on May 22, 2014 [25 favorites]


I feel like people who would spell out FAQ as individual letters are also the people who pronounce WTF as double you tee eff even though it has more syllables than the actual phrase what the fuck.

bad people, i'm talking about bad people


I say "Eff Ay Queue" because it sounds a lot like "Fuck You," which is my answer to most frequently asked questions.

I say "What the fuck" because it is my most frequently asked question.

But then, I'm a bad person.

QED (pronunciation left as an exercise for the reader).
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:50 PM on May 22, 2014 [27 favorites]


KokuRyu: Facebook prevents Google from indexing its content.

Except some content is now indexed. Facebook company pages for products, restaurants, bands, artists and the like are discoverable via Google.

It's all a big, stupid game, and the (relatively) little sites that just try to function as honest players on the web lose out.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:51 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


"And I don't know what planet this person is living on"

The happy land of digital natives?
posted by travelwithcats at 2:51 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


How do I pronounce gif?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 2:51 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


It was the day the story of the decoding note cards question went viral. It was basically everywhere for 24hours.

There's your answer, Matt. Visual creatives, get to assembling some mysteries, immediately!
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:51 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Solomonic solution: Eff Ay Queue, except as part of a larger word, when it becomes Facks.
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:52 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Do you "fack" people also pronounce URL as "earl"? If so, I have no hope for you at all.
posted by donajo at 2:52 PM on May 22, 2014 [12 favorites]


Great headline.
posted by Melismata at 2:53 PM on May 22, 2014


Jokes, people ripping apart the terrible writing in a news report, insightful commentary, and a massive derail over how to pronounce "FAQ".
metafilter.txt am i rite
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:54 PM on May 22, 2014 [45 favorites]


So is this the thread where we can make fun of the badly researched WaPo article?

(Don't get me wrong, it's infuriating and all, yes. But this thread is moving dangerously close to a circlejerky tone that might not end up being the best example to show "outsiders" (or less informed people) what a great, good-hearted community Metafilter can be. Just my two cents.)
posted by bigendian at 2:54 PM on May 22, 2014 [13 favorites]


"wonky, old-school navigation — not to mention its throwback interface"

Maybe she'd be able to get more of her facts straight if she could take a Which Metafilter Mod Are You? quiz.

(actually, that would be awesome. Could someone please get on that?)
posted by scody at 2:55 PM on May 22, 2014 [24 favorites]


I really appreciated metafilter's interface when I was in the rainforest. I spent 10 months with internet so poor I could only get metafilter to load once every two or three times I tried; other than shortwave radio mefi was my only news source for practically a year! Don't change... The whole world does not have 4g and broadband and whatever fancy internet options Silicon Valley designs for. Keep at least a little corner of the internet accessible!
posted by ChuraChura at 2:55 PM on May 22, 2014 [73 favorites]


I take it you pronounce OECD as "owehkduh" and IRS as "urrs"?

No because everyone knows IRS is pronounced 'iris'.
posted by item at 2:55 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Do you "fack" people also pronounce URL as "earl"? If so, I have no hope for you at all.

"Yooorl", surely? (Ok, sorry, I'll stop now. Just feeling hyperactive from all this excitement.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:55 PM on May 22, 2014


Can I use this thread as an opportunity to further my latest mis-pronunciation meme attempt?

Instead of using two hard 'g's when saying "Google", try it with one hard and one soft. I say GOO-sxzchell now and it sounds like cussing.
posted by carsonb at 2:56 PM on May 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


You can't take anything for granted, including MeFi. This place is an oasis of sanity on the net, chock full of interesting people who fill up my internet experience with richness. I know I am not alone in this feeling. The financial model has been an issue from the beginning and AskMe really carried the freight for a long time and no wonder given how useful it is. Matt I hope your finances perk up here and in the meantime let's all chip in on the donation page. This place is very special - let's keep it.
posted by caddis at 2:56 PM on May 22, 2014 [19 favorites]



QED (pronunciation left as an exercise for the reader).


KWEED
posted by elizardbits at 2:56 PM on May 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


"In their drive to make things easier to "share" and "like" they've managed to scrub a lot of weirdness out of most people's daily internet consumption, standardize things."

This right here. On the nose. And why I make here a more than once a day stop. Because there's no "like" button.
posted by the_royal_we at 2:56 PM on May 22, 2014 [12 favorites]


Sounds more like sneezing, I'd say.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:57 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


If MetaFilter had threaded comments, this whole FAQ derail wouldn't have been an issue.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:57 PM on May 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


Facebook is supposed to exist as its own walled-off internet.

You’re right about Google indexing Facebook. Point taken.

But one of the things that keeps me away from G+ despite its obvious technical superiority is that it would be way too easy for Google to wall off the entire Internet inside it … if only those fool users would just play along …

Anyway, I admit this theory (“Google deranked MeFi because it is a G+ competitor”) is kind of tinfoil-hattish.
posted by axoplasm at 2:58 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think the WaPo article is right: let's turn this motherfucker into a pan-theistic, inspirational meme sharing platform. We can call it MetaFaither. I'll start stealing content...
posted by codacorolla at 2:59 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


I have to believe that this will be recorded as another huge spike in traffic, whether for 24 hours or 48, or maybe 168....
posted by janey47 at 2:59 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


That WaPo article is wrong on several counts

Something to keep on mind the next time we read a piece on something we are not familiar with.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:00 PM on May 22, 2014 [79 favorites]


That WaPo article is wrong on several counts:

I'll add one more: deep linking? Um: AskMe? WTF? Apparently, having a Twitter account is now sufficient to get you a social media beat on the WaPo.

And it's eff aspiré.
posted by holgate at 3:00 PM on May 22, 2014


We are all pronouncing it "WAH POE" right?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 3:00 PM on May 22, 2014 [31 favorites]


So how come there's only two comments on that dreadful WaPo piece? I will create a new account over there if I have to (can't find my old login) but I expected more of us!

Also, I totally say fack, usually. But not earl; it's obviously You Are Ell. It's like you've never encountered the simple rules of English pronunciation before!
posted by rtha at 3:00 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


WaPo isn't writing for mefites; it's writing for WaPo readers
Have we heard ANYTHING from the New York Times yet? The paper of note that gets linked to more often than any other 'Mainstream Media' entity? No? Not surprised.* When it finally does, I will be shocked and delighted if it is not MORE out-of-touch with MeFi than the WaPo... which should come as a hard lesson for all the MeFites who consider themselves 'NYT people too'.

*disclaimer: NOT a big NYT fan here
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:01 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


If you do comment on that WaPo piece, please be nice. First impressions and all that.
posted by Pendragon at 3:02 PM on May 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


I totally say fack and earl. Also, gif has a hard g.

Maybe we said all we have to say about the actual subject of this thread in the MeTa threads?
posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:02 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Actually, I do have a non-derail question. Is there a way to get at this graph of ad revenue vs time, scrubbed of units or other sensitive information, in some automated way?

I would like to see how it goes over the next few weeks, because I'm really, really curious to see if this MeFi contretemps might lead to some quiet behind-the-scenes knob twiddling at the Googleplex. It has made quite a stink for a "minor old fashioned site" with only a few thousand active users...
posted by RedOrGreen at 3:02 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


We are all pronouncing it "WAH POE" right?

YES SURELY although I have heard one person pronounce it like way-poe; they received a stern glare.
posted by elizardbits at 3:03 PM on May 22, 2014 [9 favorites]


People here are missing the point, I think: Google is censoring content that it doesn't directly control or profit from. If Google decides that your website is #5 on the pagerank instead of #1, you don't get seen. Period.

Metafilter has content that they don't control. They want control, so they're shutting Metafilter down. It's that easy.
posted by Avenger at 3:03 PM on May 22, 2014 [12 favorites]



"wonky, old-school navigation — not to mention its throwback interface"

Maybe if we had avatars and spinning 800 line gif sig files.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:04 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


filthy light thief: "MetaFilter is very much not "soliciting donations to stay online," but laid off three staff to balance funds for the foreseeable future. No one said MetaFilter is currently in danger of going offline.
"

This is the best part: Metafilter said they were basically trimming sails and wound up having to figure out how to deal with unsolicited donations that people were shoveling at them.

If metafilter were a neighborhood, Matt would be buried in casseroles and hot dishes right now.
posted by boo_radley at 3:04 PM on May 22, 2014 [132 favorites]


People here are missing the point, I think: Google is censoring content that it doesn't directly control or profit from.

MetaFilter serves AdSense ads. Google does profit when people read it.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:05 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


You think it's bad now? Wait until Google buys Quora or builds a Quora-like site in G+.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:06 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Google is the voice of developers screaming "We know better than you, and you better get used to it. Or else."
posted by Thorzdad at 3:07 PM on May 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


Because there's no "like" button.

Favorited.
posted by stopgap at 3:07 PM on May 22, 2014 [34 favorites]


So, and I'm asking this as a complete and utter novice in anything page-ranking related, seeing as how this ended up everywhere else on the Internet and even in the print media, what are the chances of someone in Google reaching for a keyboard and seeing if they could maybe manually fix what automation broke?

(And seriously, it's called a text-based interface, "throwback" my hot patooties, but I can't insult with as beauteous a flow as elizardbits.)
posted by seyirci at 3:08 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Regarding the "dated" interface of MetaFilter, the site features comment editing, updated live comment previews, and dynamic notification of new comments (I couldn't find the MeTa thread discussing the roll-out of that feature).

Everybody talks like they forgot about the way it really used to be.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:08 PM on May 22, 2014 [34 favorites]


Metafilter’s most interesting core functions, like its discussion boards and Q&A feature, have since been cannibalized by more usable sites like Reddit and Quora.

Oh bless their hearts. I think they mean usable in the exploitable sense? My thesaurus says that is a synonym

Shit, even I donated. There's some magic here.
posted by jessamyn at 3:08 PM on May 22, 2014 [178 favorites]


Metafilter: it's called text you hapless gibbering app-fondling touchscreen cretin

(can I please have this on a t-shirt?)
posted by Pink Frost at 3:09 PM on May 22, 2014 [107 favorites]


2bucksplus: "You think it's bad now? Wait until Google buys Quora or builds a Quora-like site in G+."

Based on the "success" of G+ this doesn't really scare me.
posted by Big_B at 3:09 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter serves AdSense ads. Google does profit when people read it.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:05 PM on May 22 [+] [!]


It's small potatoes, though. They don't just want the ad money, they want to control content. Metafilter is a place on the internet where people gather and agglomerate large amounts of content. That is a long term threat (however small) to their vision, and they are attempting to control it.
posted by Avenger at 3:09 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Matt Cutts is good people; Googlers really DO care about search quality and relevance. It's too bad MF suffered in silence for 2 years, that represents a lot of lost revenue.
posted by tarpin at 3:10 PM on May 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


Avenger,

Whats your evidence for this? Cus I don't know too much about these things but the way youre talking sounds odd.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 3:11 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


This piece goes into a little more detail about when Google's said they've made various changes to their algorithm, and seems to avoid many of the problems with that WaPo piece (which, just... yikes).
posted by sparkletone at 3:11 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


When they say "throwback interface" what they mean is none of the corners are rounded, nothing is threaded, and there isn't a glut of shiny annoying images telling you where to click next.

That's what we call a feature. It's the opposite of the five-second-attention-span Twitter and Facebook thing that the news is usually bemoaning.
posted by cmyk at 3:11 PM on May 22, 2014 [39 favorites]


Or think of it like this: Imagine Metafilter was some kind of video-sharing website.

Do you think they would put our results ahead of youtube?

Fuck no, they wouldn't. Why? Because they want to control online video streaming.
posted by Avenger at 3:11 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


So, after years of reading as an outsider, I've signed up. Just $5 for now, but mostly as an expression of support.
posted by Death and Gravity at 3:12 PM on May 22, 2014 [108 favorites]


Welcome!
posted by maryr at 3:12 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


So how come there's only two comments on that dreadful WaPo piece?

Oh, don't worry. As of two minutes ago, a strongly-worded letter is on its way to the desk of the Editor-in-Chief, courtesy of the United States Postal Service!
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:12 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


When they say "throwback interface" what they mean is none of the corners are rounded, nothing is threaded, and there isn't a glut of shiny annoying images telling you where to click next.

See also, no slideshows or listicles.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:12 PM on May 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


(I see it was inevitable.)
posted by maryr at 3:12 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Hey, Rhaomi et al ---

I am literally going to write a litter to the Post blogger's editor and demand a retraction. Anyone else spotted some obvious fuckups to include? Memail me. There will be footnotes.

Cheers,
Dv.
posted by Diablevert at 3:13 PM on May 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


I'm not a bad person; I'm just middle aged.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:13 PM on May 22, 2014 [11 favorites]


If the interface were a throwback, I'd be able to post in Lynx instead of opening a tab in Chrome.
posted by The Gaffer at 3:13 PM on May 22, 2014 [18 favorites]


I can't be the only one who sees "listicles" and thinks "list testicles," right?

Right?

... I'll go be quiet now.
posted by cmyk at 3:13 PM on May 22, 2014 [67 favorites]


All these intense mefi related posts lately? I think it brings out the best of the hivemind. That and taters.
posted by ouke at 3:14 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


Someone should really post a link to this thread on the WaPo comments
posted by leotrotsky at 3:14 PM on May 22, 2014


no, no you are not
posted by nathancaswell at 3:14 PM on May 22, 2014


There's fashion, and then there's style.

MetaFilter has style.
posted by But tomorrow is another day... at 3:14 PM on May 22, 2014 [19 favorites]


I'm not a bad person; I'm just menopausal.


distantly heard maniacal laughter
posted by infini at 3:15 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Every. Single. Time.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:15 PM on May 22, 2014


I mentioned in one of the other threads that Google says "Links can hurt your site now," the six words that represent the most depressing future for the Web. The Web (not to mention Google's original algorithm) was BUILT on links. Then some "SEO Masters" found a way to use them illegitimately, and now Google can't figure out how to differentiate between the "legitimate" and "illegitimate" links? If this is what 15 years of research to develop an "intelligent search engine" has brought us, I NEVER want to ride in one of their "intelligent cars".
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:15 PM on May 22, 2014 [39 favorites]


oh fuck self control

Metafilter: There will be footnotes.
posted by cmyk at 3:15 PM on May 22, 2014 [9 favorites]


I've been reading MeFi since Jeremiah was a bullfrog, or something, and just never got around to signing up before yesterday. People always seemed to say what I thought needed to be said, so why bother?

Now I had a reason to bother. Long life MeFi!
posted by pwinn at 3:15 PM on May 22, 2014 [73 favorites]


I have never read a Quora before, despite clicking on links in vain many times, hoping that this one time I'll be able to get the answer to some question. I really, really begrudge being forced to use Google or Facebook to even just enter a website so I avoid it mainly on principle at this point.
posted by triggerfinger at 3:15 PM on May 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


So, what are we drinking tonight all you wonderful people?
posted by vrakatar at 3:17 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: buried in casseroles and hot dishes right now
posted by epersonae at 3:18 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oh furiousxgeorge I love you.

January 7, 2013 - NEVAR FORGET
posted by Big_B at 3:18 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


Everyone's saying MeFi like "meffy" right?
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 3:18 PM on May 22, 2014 [19 favorites]


That's very generous of you, vrakatar. I'll have a virtual Harvest Pale.
posted by pipeski at 3:19 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also, gif has a hard g.

THE HELL IT DOES!!
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:19 PM on May 22, 2014 [15 favorites]


So, what are we drinking tonight all you wonderful people?

I'm going to a bar to drink water and wreck some fools in pub trivia. It's not the best outlet for Internet frustrations, but it'll do.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:20 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


Oh bless their hearts.

Seconded.
posted by KathrynT at 3:20 PM on May 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


Or think of it like this: Imagine Metafilter was some kind of video-sharing website.

Do you think they would put our results ahead of youtube?

Fuck no, they wouldn't. Why? Because they want to control online video streaming.
The actual situation seems to be more like "Google used to rank our small video-sharing website above Microsoft's huge video-sharing website, which is an actual and direct competitor for Google's huge video-sharing website. Now Google ranks their actual and direct competitor above us."

I'm somewhat antagonistic in my thoughts about Google (even before this), but the "They're trying to crush Metafilter" theory doesn't really seem to me to fit the actual facts. I doubt Metafilter's even on their radar (well, maybe now, with the recent media about this situation).

I suppose "They're trying to crush small content aggregators and creators, and Metafilter fits that description" is more likely, but still, why would they do this by promoting Yahoo Answers, a huge actual competitor for the space they're supposedly shooting for?

Maybe because Yahoo Answers sucks, and Google thinks the more people see it, the more people will discover it sucks? Eh, I dunno, the whole "GOOGLE CRUSH METAFILTER" theory seems kind of paranoiac to me.
posted by Flunkie at 3:21 PM on May 22, 2014 [16 favorites]


"out-of-touch with MeFi"

They only had what, 14 years, to get acquainted with the site.
posted by travelwithcats at 3:22 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


I just want to say that Jessamyn leaving and all the other stuff that is going on worries me but that is just because I really do not care for big changes. I've been looking at this site daily for a third of my life. Please just stay metafilter and stay like this.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 3:22 PM on May 22, 2014 [23 favorites]


Everyone's saying MeFi like "meffy" right?
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 6:18 PM on May 22 [+] [!]


IIRC there's a meta post about how a mefite published some academic research on how people pronounce things like this.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 3:22 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


Quora is full of fedora NOT ALL MEN style dudebros. A recent question on there was along the lines of "how warm and comfortable is a vagina?". (The top answer took it in stride, though.)
posted by divabat at 3:22 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


Wapo just contacted me. They have a new earl for reporting on this kind of stuff. They are requesting a bunch of meffy jifs for a new fack. I replied double you tee eff.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:23 PM on May 22, 2014 [44 favorites]


Has there been any discussion of what other sites may have gotten caught up in the same google algorithm change and how they faired?

I don't know if any comparisons to other sites can really be made where you'd have an apples-to-apples situation. We've got a weblog where there's 200 or so new posts of some sort made every day (between Ask and the blue), and probably a similar number of outbound links, depending on how many megaposts have been made. It seems like the main Google traffic driver used to be Ask, which Yahoo probably matches for scope but certainly not for quality.
posted by LionIndex at 3:23 PM on May 22, 2014


I'm going to a bar to drink water and wreck some fools in pub trivia. It's not the best outlet for Internet frustrations, but it'll do.

I don't know, it was pretty fun last night...
posted by maryr at 3:24 PM on May 22, 2014


We are all pronouncing it "WAH POE" right?

I've half a mind to start calling it WHAPPO just to non-specifically show my disregard.
posted by KathrynT at 3:25 PM on May 22, 2014 [11 favorites]


The "inorganic" links issue has been going on for a while, now. At least a year.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:26 PM on May 22, 2014


I was thinking the other day that the bio prompt: "then tell everyone when you first started using the internet, and what was the first thing that made you say "wow, this isn't just a place for freaks after all?"

I'd love to read about "...when you first started using MetaFilter..." on people's profiles.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:26 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


MisantropicPainforest: "Everyone's saying MeFi like "meffy" right?
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 6:18 PM on May 22 [+] [!]


IIRC there's a meta post about how a mefite published some academic research on how people pronounce things like this.
"

Surely you meant mispronounce things like that?

But seriously, it's amazing and it's here.

But really seriously, down with meffy.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:26 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


I doubt Metafilter's even on their radar

I dunno. I get AskMe results for my Google searches all the time. I can't be the only one — MetaFilter's just got better content than a lot of other sites.
posted by stopgap at 3:26 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


it's called text you hapless gibbering app-fondling touchscreen cretin

One thing Metafilter is missing is a Win button.
posted by sneebler at 3:26 PM on May 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


Everyone's saying MeFi like "meffy" right?

This Mefite once asked Cortex at a barbecue how he pronounced "MeFi." You'll never guess what happened next!
posted by scody at 3:27 PM on May 22, 2014 [41 favorites]


Metafilter has content that they don't control. They want control, so they're shutting Metafilter down. It's that easy.

It's somewhat reminiscent of what Google tried — and failed — to do with Knol, as a way to push Google Ad-free Wikipedia into low-ranking search results.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:30 PM on May 22, 2014


The "inorganic" links issue has been going on for a while, now. At least a year.

The inorgasmic links issue is a serious one, but I have faith that we will overcome. We will overcome one a day.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:30 PM on May 22, 2014


cortex: It helps with the blood pressure to keep in mind that WaPo isn't writing for mefites; it's writing for WaPo readers.

Aaaand that's another reason metafilter makes the world a better place: collectively speaking, mefites shear through uninformed or just plain wrong assertions like nobody's business. I've come to depend on y'all to cut through the bullshit and rumormongering of breaking news. You educate me on topics I'm completely illiterate in. You point out when professional public commentators don't know what the fuck they're bloviating about, and you explain what I should know about the topic instead.

I triple-check almost every fact-based assertion I make here because if I fuck it up I know one of you erudite anal-retentive perfectionists (not an insult! I'm one myself, on certain subjects) will catch it and call it, entertainingly if not necessarily kindly. I'm a better writer and person for it.

In short: fuck this error-ridden lazy WaPo article and long live Metafilter.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:31 PM on May 22, 2014 [70 favorites]


This Mefite once asked Cortex at a barbecue how he pronounced "MeFi." You'll never guess what happened next!

Did it involve red hot coals?

And a donut?
posted by edgeways at 3:32 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


What are inorgasmic links ?
posted by Pendragon at 3:34 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


I can't tell you but I can show you
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 3:35 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


Regarding the social media stuff: WaPo may have been technically incorrect in saying there's no social media presence for Metafilter, but after seeing the Facebook and Twitter pages Rhaomi posted, they may as well be right. Both pages look like automated feeds, not actual social media presences. Furthermore, the Facebook page in particular ends up looking mostly like spam because of the lack of compelling metadata (i.e. every image is either the Mefi logo or the AskMefi logo) and the lack of any posts that aren't just links back to the site.

Now, I understand WHY this is the case—especially now that there's fewer full-time staff to handle moderation, let alone social media duties. But Metafilter, as it stands, does the bare minimum on social media: picking out interesting content on the site and reposting it. There's no outreach to social media users, no helpful roundups inside the Facebook ecosystem, no conversations or RTs on Twitter, etc. Furthermore, the site as it stands is fundamentally poorly equipped to be very shareable—for example, unless we start asking everyone to source and post high-resolution images relating to their posts, there's no way we're ever going to get those shiny big-photo article posts on Facebook instead of the sad, Mefi-logo-only posts. (Also, I have no earthly clue how you'd even go about finding images for the majority of Ask Metafilter posts that don't even link to a website, let alone a site with an image that explains the question.)

I don't have any easy solutions, and I'm guessing they don't exist; if they did, Matt et al. would've probably jumped on them already. And I don't know that Reddit, for example, is actually much more successful on this front. But of all the issues the WaPo article raised, social media was the one that stood out to me as both a plausible problem for Metafilter and a potential opportunity. It just might be an opportunity that's really expensive to take advantage of, given Metafilter's traditional strengths and weaknesses.
posted by chrominance at 3:35 PM on May 22, 2014 [13 favorites]


This Mefite once asked Cortex at a barbecue how he pronounced "MeFi." You'll never guess what happened next!

Beatles Rockband happened next, IIRC.
posted by carsonb at 3:35 PM on May 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


It's small potatoes, though. They don't just want the ad money, they want to control content. Metafilter is a place on the internet where people gather and agglomerate large amounts of content. That is a long term threat (however small) to their vision, and they are attempting to control it.

I am puzzled by what you are saying here. I don't get it.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:35 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh man, Quora is bizarroland. I get their weekly digests of questions they think I'll find interesting, and it's always a mishmash of fascinating information about math and science and utterly ass-backwards and frequently misogynist tripe about relationships from people who don't seem to have ever actually talked to a member of their desired sex. It...actually reminds me of Reddit a little bit, if you aged up the populace by about 15 years.
posted by Phire at 3:36 PM on May 22, 2014 [11 favorites]


What are inorgasmic links ?

those without link love, of course
posted by infini at 3:36 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Google the corporation has probably never heard of MetaFilter. Their search guy Matt Cutts is probably aware of MetaFilter as one ongoing conversation among a great many on his Gmail account. Hurting Mefi is something they might do by accident, but not on purpose. There's no nefarious agenda here.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:36 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


Guys.

GUYS!

The Washington Post hates us. We're doing something right!
posted by eriko at 3:39 PM on May 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


I, too, like MetaFilter.
posted by bicyclefish at 3:40 PM on May 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


Donations probably aren't gonna cut it and you can't count on Google to change their ways. I think the only thing to do now is see if that Chevrolet offer is still on the table. The design isn't THAT bad.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:42 PM on May 22, 2014 [11 favorites]


Oh, one thing: it did occur to me that the Best Of Metafilter blog would be a good way to present links on Facebook. I don't know if linking to the blog post instead of the original Metafilter thread would ultimately do more harm than good but I bet they'd at least look better on Facebook?
posted by chrominance at 3:43 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Metafilter's interface is dated only if you disregard things like ease-of-use, transparent navigation and all that other user-friendly stuff that normal people respond positively to, and devs poo-poo as being antiquated and irrelevant. Better to have drop-down banners and flashy fade-out background images and whatnot.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:43 PM on May 22, 2014 [22 favorites]


it's called text you hapless gibbering app-fondling touchscreen cretin

One thing Metafilter is missing is a Win button.

Flag it Fantastic Comment & move on.
posted by tilde at 3:43 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've been pronouncing it Meh-fye... along with meh-fytes... and ask-meh-fye...
posted by one4themoment at 3:44 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


The WaaPoe article is annoying because it assumes (like so many people do) that the Internet is this continually evolving Hobbessian wilderness, where you'll die if you don't keep changing like everybody else. It doesn't matter if what they're doing makes sense, you just have to do it too. Gotta keep up!
posted by Kevin Street at 3:44 PM on May 22, 2014 [17 favorites]


Social media isn't MetaFilter's problem. MetaFilter is social media. The problem lies more in the fact that social media like facebook is a bubble and its success is is driving the shape of Internet things like Google results, and what the Amazon-owned WaPo publishes about social media.
posted by Toekneesan at 3:45 PM on May 22, 2014 [15 favorites]


I have been wondering why Google is starting to punish sites for being linked to, and now I suspect that maybe a link isn't the signal it used to be.

After all, who does the blue writing any more these days? People share, tumble and tweet, but linking in the old-school way is just less and less of a thing. Blogs as we knew them feel like they're dying out, and the forums of yore are disappearing into the walled gardens.

What with this, Chrome hiding URLs, and the massive shift to apps, it starts to feel like the web MeFi was born from is under actual threat. It's just an inkling, the same way it felt firing up my usenet client did when the age of web forums had arrived.

I hope it doesn't turn out the same way.
posted by bonaldi at 3:46 PM on May 22, 2014 [22 favorites]


Someone should really post a link to this thread on the WaPo comments

Flagged as the worst idea.
posted by maryr at 3:47 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


OK, I'll play (against my better judgment). Is F.A.Q. singular or plural?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:48 PM on May 22, 2014


"It's pronounced Throatwarbler Mangrove." (via the comments on iamkimiam's research project post)
posted by epersonae at 3:48 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm so conditioned to mefi's "wonky navigation" that I am often perplexed by commenting systems on other sites. I still can't get the hang of how people have "conversations" on tumblr (just reblogging the same post over and over?). Facebook changes its navigation and settings so often that I barely pay attention to it. I spend a lot of time on Twitter, but I don't use the actual website very much. Even if reddit weren't mostly a cesspool, the threaded comments and up/down voting are abominable.

Mefi is no-nonsense and dead simple. Even my mom could figure it out... wait, no, mom, don't, trust me, it's too complicated for you.
posted by desjardins at 3:48 PM on May 22, 2014 [19 favorites]


Is F.A.Q. singular or plural?

Neither. It's a collective noun.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:49 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


After reading the WaPo article, it reminds me of Bart's People from The Simpsons:

Joe Banks, 82 years young has come to this pond every day for the past 17 years, to feed the ducks. But last month, Joe made a discovery... the ducks... were gone! Some say the ducks went to Canada, others say Toronto. And some people say, that Joe used to sit down there, near those ducks. But it could be, that there is just no room in this modern world, for an old man... and his ducks.
posted by codacorolla at 3:51 PM on May 22, 2014 [23 favorites]


you'll die if you don't keep changing like everybody else. It doesn't matter if what they're doing makes sense, you just have to do it too. Gotta keep up!

In terms of running a business, that seems to be what Google prefers. And for sites like Metafilter that rely on search traffic, what Google prefers is really all that matters.

We're not talking about running a blog, even a group blog like the blue, we're talking about a business with employees, and in that case in general, but especially online, you do need to keep abreast of the latest changes and trends if you want to stay relevant.

Also, I think we can all agree that we can blame Demand Media for this whole fiasco. If they had been so damned successful at gaming Google, Google wouldn't have created its algorithm that can filter out sites like ask.metafilter.com.
posted by cell divide at 3:51 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


My wife looks over my shoulder at this site and just shakes her head. No photos, no headlines, just text on a blue background. It's not too complex for her, she's manipulated far tougher. It just appears...boring.
posted by Ber at 3:51 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


a link isn't the signal it used to be.

excellent point. and alarming, because then the signals are probably something like how many times it's been shared/liked/RTed or other "viral signs." We know that those are things that happen with long tails, rather than links, which are more dense and have less superstar power (seems to me).
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 3:52 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


A while back I had a self imposed Internet ban for a month. I used to come here a lot, but I don't come here very often now. I don't know why, I'm probably just too distracted by twitter. I hadn't even loaded up the site for perhaps months before the ban. But weirdly, during it, I found that the only thing I actually truly missed was not being able to load up and read MetaFilter.

Have just set up a small monthly donation.
posted by 6am at 3:55 PM on May 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


Metafilter, has facilitated high quality discussion of Internet links for the past 15 years. To attract web traffic. But last year, Metafilter made a discovery... the traffic... was gone! Some say the traffic went to Buzzfeed, others say Upworthy. And some people say that a large amoral advertising company that serves as the backbone of the Internet arbitrarily changed the way it indexed Metafilter. But it could be, that there is just no room in this modern world, for an old website... and its text.
posted by codacorolla at 3:55 PM on May 22, 2014 [21 favorites]


Metafilter, has facilitated high quality discussion of Internet links for the past 15 years. YOU'LL NEVER BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT
posted by carsonb at 3:57 PM on May 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


Google has its own problems as people game their system in order to not spend money so to earn from content they do not (usually) pay for. The internet of things is a sharp reality where companies try to buy into the luxury market through their own degree of social capital. Metafilter uses its social capital for the benefit of its own patrons. This reminds me of a social club that pays the brewery for the right to sell its beer. My own local club had this problem. Ultimately, Metafilter must decide what it is in the internet of things. I value Metafilter for its willingness to be flexible about the choices of its members to evolve as individuals and to sell to one another, something which often does not exist on even forums for specialized topics. Reddit is attempting to make itself into Interview Magazine but is hobbled by its own affection for ritual and special topics. It is a gamble to insist that specialization will naturally take place.

I look at swapping and bargaining as the future. The luxury market already relies on these economic mechanisms much more than any art theorists ever admitted. Bourdieu hated the implication that bargaining and trading take place in social capital economies and considered them to be lower class. Remember when the internet was all low class? We have banished bargaining from the equation for the internet industry in exchange for fixed fee services in degrees of parts per million. That is clearly the problem. It is very strange to consider the internet of things to be an economy where companies will bargain for the right to compete. It is already what Air BnB is doing in order to maintain a rent economy on fixed fee services in places like San Francisco and New York.

I think Metafilter should open an insurance agency based in Oregon selling everywhere, owned by its investing members. Everyone needs insurance, including those who swap services in exchange for social capital and capital itself.
posted by parmanparman at 3:58 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


Maybe it is my generation, but I was encouraged to be unique and different. I don't understand this need now for everything to be the same. It's so unoriginal and boring. Why can't things just be different here and that be ok? Why does everyone have to do the internet the same way? When did different become a bad thing?

I actually LIKE thinking. I don't need technology to do it for me.
Crazy, I know.
Just glad you're all crazy here with me.
posted by NoraCharles at 3:58 PM on May 22, 2014 [15 favorites]


.
posted by Renoroc at 3:58 PM on May 22, 2014


There will be footnotes.

I link your mlkshk, I link it all up!
posted by Mick at 3:58 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


I joined Facebook earlier this year, and there's a friend who regularly sends me links to things. They're pretty interesting links, actually, but I never know quite how to respond. There's just a little chat box with room for a few lines. Once or twice I responded with a long paragraph talking about the link, but he didn't want to get into a conversation, so now I stick to one line responses like "Thanks!" or "looks cool." Facebook is no MetaFilter.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:00 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


It would be one thing if "ehow" and similar shit had been scrubbed from google's indexes by their efforts...but they haven't been. It would be another if searching for information about something which is even remotely purchasable actually led to information, instead of millions of links to ecommerce sites...many, many of which are the same company under different domain names. It would be different if their pathetic "link scrubbing" bullshit actually led to a decrease in comment spam because that shit no longer works, but that's not the case.

Google is yet another example of a truism in software: No one ever thinks about possible negative outcomes when wetting their underpants over the latest "feature" idea. And it takes, what? About ten seconds? for the spam giants and scammers to figure out a way to use the nifty feature maliciously.

In conclusion, HULK SMASH.
posted by maxwelton at 4:00 PM on May 22, 2014 [36 favorites]


Halfway through the WaPo article, a picture of "Tara the Hero Cat" slides out. Maybe that's the solution. Increase the number of cats by 10% or so. Two or three cats per article. Make a little meow sound when they slide out. WEB 4.0!
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:00 PM on May 22, 2014 [14 favorites]


fack? fack?!

WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE?!!!
posted by double block and bleed at 4:00 PM on May 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


Oh, and: This is why we can't have nice things.

I can't believe I'm the first to do that.

posted by localroger at 4:01 PM on May 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


It's a direct result of the curse of the popular upon the good, which seems to be endemic in all things digital these days.
posted by Toekneesan at 4:02 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


Perhaps this was made explicit in the metatalk thread, but in any case:

Metafilter, itself, is the best of the web.
posted by clockzero at 4:02 PM on May 22, 2014 [33 favorites]


I just spent a lot of time that I was supposed to be spending on lab prep to catch up on the goings on, and after two (ish...almost three?) years of lurking I've finally plunked down my $5 to join the conversation.

Even as most of the rest of the internet becomes exhausting, MetaFilter is still here being awesome. That is something worth keeping, so next month I'm squeezing a recurring donation into the budget. It's cheaper than therapy.
posted by threeeyedfrog at 4:03 PM on May 22, 2014 [31 favorites]


MetaFilter: It's cheaper than therapy.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:05 PM on May 22, 2014 [40 favorites]


GUYS! The Washington Post hates us. We're doing something right!

I think we all owe Richard Nixon a big apology.
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:05 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


Hacker News is discussing this.
posted by sammyo at 4:05 PM on May 22, 2014


Rule: Never write a story about the health of an internet community. Corollary: Never write any story about an internet community.
posted by wam at 4:07 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


As for the WaPo article, if she can't figure out Metafilter's navigation, is she perplexed by other old-school user interfaces? What about door knobs, toilet flush handles and light switches?
posted by double block and bleed at 4:08 PM on May 22, 2014 [38 favorites]


They're pretty interesting links, actually, but I never know quite how to respond. There's just a little chat box with room for a few lines. Once or twice I responded with a long paragraph talking about the link, but he didn't want to get into a conversation, so now I stick to one line responses like "Thanks!" or "looks cool." Facebook is no MetaFilter.

It's lame on the sharing end, too. No hypertext allowed, and god help you if you want to post more than one thing, or add your own illustration alongside a link.
posted by Iridic at 4:09 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


I fucking hate PayPal so I am sending you a paper check. OLD SCHOOL
posted by HotToddy at 4:10 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


We'll get the band back together. We'll get some gigs. We'll make some bread and BANG -- five thousand bucks!
posted by cazoo at 4:16 PM on May 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


Man, that Hacker News discussion is a bunch of Smartest Guys In The Room totally misunderstanding the story while offering advice on how to modernize Metafilter.

Metafilter's "1999" design (which isn't even remotely true - you can change the way the site looks, and the site has become much more fully featured over time) isn't the issue here. The site was growing until Google changed its indexing. This is a problem with the advertising ecosystem, not with this site in particular.
posted by codacorolla at 4:18 PM on May 22, 2014 [16 favorites]


I subscribed. I figure I owe the blue that much after so long.
posted by stenseng at 4:21 PM on May 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


I wonder what would happen to Mefi's Google rankings if G+ was one of the Share options on the sidebar? I would honestly not be surprised if the ranking algorithms penalize sites that only have Facebook and Twitter share links.
posted by jason_steakums at 4:23 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Everyone's saying MeFi like "meffy" right?

I started doing this as an annoying joke and now I can't stop. BEWARE THE MEFFY
posted by elizardbits at 4:23 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


If only the Washington Post were owned by someone who understood the internet.
posted by octothorpe at 4:24 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


If WaPo thinks MeFi is dated, wait'll they find out about that plenty of users at The Well still ssh in, and only use the web interface begrudgingly. (Guilty.)
posted by uberchet at 4:30 PM on May 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


I've always pronounced it "eff ay kyoo", in which case "an FAQ" is appropriate

Eff ay kyoo too, buddy.


More importantly, there must be a human being at Google that I can scream at about this. I will fly to San Francisco, you just point me at this motherfucker and I will unleash a torrent of blackened filth so foul dude will beg to bathe in a sewer.

Just say the word and I will do this thing. I'm in a mood.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:31 PM on May 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


If everyone goes into their profile and switches their MeFi body text to 36 pt Helvetica right now, maybe the angels will have mercy and grant Matt a Series A Round.
posted by Iridic at 4:32 PM on May 22, 2014


a cheese-eatin mood
posted by elizardbits at 4:33 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


We can call it MetaFaither. I'll start stealing content...

I never metafilter I didn't like.
posted by Celsius1414 at 4:34 PM on May 22, 2014 [9 favorites]


Bought a sockpuppet!
posted by sporknado at 4:35 PM on May 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


1. GUYS!

The Washington Post hates us. We're doing something right!
posted by eriko


Doesn't that maybe make us Nixon?

2. I don't know why, but this popped into my head as I read this thread: anybody else remember the High Signal Posse?
posted by COBRA! at 4:35 PM on May 22, 2014


I've been naive about the nature of Google up until a few days ago, it seems. And my brother was even working there for a long time. Mostly I don't think they're out to purposefully be evil, but they've turned into either mafia dons explicitly asserting control over all that they survey (the nuanced kind that practices benevolence and malevolence in equal measure, maybe) or fickle, uncaring Gods, focused only on the big picture internet (or the big Silicon Valley internet - Facebook et al.) while the rest might as well be tiny ants. They're racing headlong into the Future but ironically, I think they've lost a huge part of their original utopian vision for the internet. It's fascinating. The company used to have a sort of soul, at least as far as big successful companies go. This situation is a good litmus test for whether they've lost that soul.

Also, have I been naive to think that AdRank and related algorithms have safeguards put in place to tweak things for individual sites that have unfairly fallen through the cracks? If you're the stewards of vast swaths of content getting placed in front of the eyeballs of the world, you really have a responsibility to get things right, at least for sites as big as MetaFilter. I have trouble believing that the Google machine is unaware of this site's presence. Part of the reason I got latched onto this site back in 2006 was because all of the questions I was asking google would show up with Ask Metafilter consistently near the top of the pile, and consistently having higher quality advice than anywhere else. That kind of thing can't have escaped their notice.

I agree with the Gawker and Awl articles here. Something is changing for the worse. I really do miss the "old, weird internet." This seems like the only place left that still has that spirit. Everything else is various degrees of shuffling shallow "content" around, gaming systems, pushing brands, boosting views to get in the good graces of the walled gardens (where most people experience content now, and in a mostly shallow way.) This is one of the few places left that's unpredictable (to the point of being occasionally abrasive), cuttingly incisive, passionate, and fully unafraid of large blocks of text. Who would've thought mere text could be so revolutionary in 2014?

I'm really left thinking about the nature of the Internet now. Is search itself "obsolete"? Where are we headed? Are the utopian days over, and what are we left with exactly? Twitter strikes me as a place that's unfiltered and capable of that old weird magic. But they're a company at a crossroads, one that needs to take drastic stabs at revenue soon. We should be very worried about the larger landscape and what this all means.
posted by naju at 4:36 PM on May 22, 2014 [36 favorites]


Metafilter's "1999" design (which isn't even remotely true - you can change the way the site looks, and the site has become much more fully featured over time) isn't the issue here. The site was growing until Google changed its indexing.

I (reluctantly) think HN might have a point. The default MeFi theme is very 1999, and to a 2014 search user, apparently screams "back button". That means a high bounce rate. Add to that Google's growing distrust of user-generated links (because users don't really generate links these days).

If Google makes two apparently reasonable (to it) changes to its algorithm - "penalise sites with a high bounce rate" and "penalise sites with loads of links in comments" - then boom: 40% hit to MeFi.
posted by bonaldi at 4:37 PM on May 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


> That WaPo article is wrong on several counts

I apologize if this has already been mentioned (I'm at work and don't presently have time to read the entire discussion up to this point), but has someone simply tried emailing the author of the article regarding the errors? Caitlin Dewey's email address is caitlin.dewey@washpost.com.

[Or maybe the Metafilter twitter account could tweet at her in regard to the "The site has no presence on Facebook or Twitter" line...]

I once (kind of jokingly) emailed a New York Times reporter about an error in her article on one of my favorite subjects (Dolores Park in San Francisco), and she got back to me immediately and made a correction. It was kind of weird, actually.
posted by toofuture at 4:37 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


I would honestly not be surprised if the ranking algorithms penalize sites that only have Facebook and Twitter share links.
posted by jason_steakums


I know the web team of which I'm part is operating under that assumption.
posted by COBRA! at 4:37 PM on May 22, 2014


Usenet is dead. Long live Usenet.
Text is dead. Long live text.
Words are dead. Long live the words.

I wonder what will happen when all written words live in the internet archive. Will they even bother keeping it, or just click on the trash button and watch the video?
posted by Dashy at 4:39 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


"when all written words live in the internet archive" - that's jessamyn's new job; she'll never click the trash button :)
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:41 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


I fucking hate PayPal so I am sending you a paper check. OLD SCHOOL.

Agreed. En route tomorrow.

And I should also say, that when I was in Sunset Park on 9/11, the MetaFilter communications were incredibly incredibly incredibly helpful. Thank you, MeFi.
posted by miss tea at 4:44 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Help us, Jessamyn. You're our only hope.
posted by Dashy at 4:46 PM on May 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


naive about the nature of Google up until a few days ago

Oh gosh, me too. Have I ever. Yesterday I found myself digging up other search engines and testing them out. I'm talking HotBot. Dogpile and Mamma. Alltheweb and Altavista. I even looked at Bing, and not just for video search (arguably, their video search is quite a bit better than Google's).

When's the last time you've been to HotBot?
posted by Houstonian at 4:46 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


You can have my favorites. They can be exchanged for bitcoins.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:48 PM on May 22, 2014


When's the last time you've been to HotBot?

I'm surprised that it's not some kind of Maker Movement porn or dating site at this point.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:50 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Checks through the mail was how we used to do things, several internets ago.
posted by ckape at 4:51 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


HotBot is still around? Does anyone still work there or did they just buy some really good hardware and just never unplug it?
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:51 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


we came to san francisco to eat cheese and kick ass and what the fuck is this vegan brie shit
posted by murphy slaw at 4:51 PM on May 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


it's called text you hapless gibbering app-fondling touchscreen cretin

Oh my dear GOD that's just poetry; I hope one day to meet you so I can buy you ten of whatever you're drinking.
posted by Mooski at 4:51 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


HotBot may still be around, but the fact that their color scheme doesn't make your eyes bleed shows that they've given up.
posted by aubilenon at 4:57 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


So, what's the latest in non-Google search engines? I'm happy with my Nexus 5, I'm happy with my Gmail accounts, but I've been increasingly unhappy with search and it has finally occurred that I should stop grumbling and actually take my searchings elsewhere.
posted by Sequence at 4:57 PM on May 22, 2014


Always bet on text.
posted by ead at 4:58 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


it's called text you hapless gibbering app-fondling touchscreen cretin

I am tempted to get on the 2 hour train to NYC solely so I can high-five you for that remark.
posted by pemberkins at 4:59 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


I live in the DC area. I pay for Metafilter monthly, but I won't pay for the Washington Post.
posted by humanfont at 5:01 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


Do you "fack" people also pronounce URL as "earl"?

You best not be dissin' the Duke of URL, cause that would Suck.
posted by straight at 5:02 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


So, what are we drinking tonight all you wonderful people?

Blackberry Gin Smash.

6-8 blackberries
5 mint leaves
muddle
.75 oz simple (or honey)
2 oz gin
shake, pour over new ice

Then be careful, 'cause this shit tastes GOOD.
posted by davidjmcgee at 5:03 PM on May 22, 2014 [37 favorites]


Also, I fucking love MetaFilter and all of you. Cheers!
posted by davidjmcgee at 5:03 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


When's the last time you've been to HotBot?

I was HotBot's sysadmin when it launched.
Even I haven't been there in 15 years.

I'm a little surprised that Lycos is still running it, since they shat on all other things HotWired-related.

I don't know if I'm flattered or a little sick to realize that they basically kept the Stewie Griffin shaped eyeballs logo.
posted by toxic at 5:04 PM on May 22, 2014 [34 favorites]


So, what are we drinking tonight all you wonderful people?

Surly Furious and it is righteous.
posted by COBRA! at 5:05 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


So, what are we drinking tonight all you wonderful people?

Carbonated cranberry juice (thank you SodaStream).
Sprig of mint.
Ample helping of fine gin.

Serve over ice, preferably on the porch, as the sun sets.
posted by toxic at 5:06 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


tilde: One thing Metafilter is missing is a Win button.

Well, if BuzzFeed is the future, we have to make flagging really prominent, and really revamp the flags. Here's the FLAG IT AND SHARE IT buttons BuzzFilter would include:

<3 | OMG | OLD | YAAASS | LOL | CUTE | WIN | FAIL | TRASHY | EW | </3
posted by filthy light thief at 5:07 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


i don't think metafilter can be counted out yet, or even that google has necessarily forsaken it. sometimes, you look at a situation and you figure from your knowledge and experience that party x is doomed, and then things happen in the completely opposite direction from what you expected.

case in point from this morning's paperz, did you read about the bullfight in spain where THREE CONSECUTIVE BULLS DEFEATED THEIR MATADORS before they stopped it? somebody should do an fpp about that. i root for the bulls in the corrida, and for metafilter on the internet.
posted by bruce at 5:08 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


Rebel Yell and various beers. I'm working my way up to this. I already plucked it.
posted by jonmc at 5:09 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]




RE: MeFi's navigation

I'd invite anyone at the WaPo or HN to answer this unresolved question on AskMe.

How do you follow threaded comments?
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 5:13 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


Here is the online Downfall clip subtitler you never knew you wanted. (I have not tested it, I just found it.)"

Ha! I started making one once I saw the WaPo headline. It's still processing…
posted by klangklangston at 5:16 PM on May 22, 2014


I haven't had a drink since possibly late 2012-early 2013 but tbh I am not sure? various mefites were there so they might remember.
posted by elizardbits at 5:16 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Ya know, I haven't been around here very long, but I've got a vast amount of enjoyment out of Metafilter posts.

So I donated. Because I want the site around to continue enjoying it, TYVM.
posted by Archer25 at 5:16 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Out of curiosity, I did a google search for "where should I live in the Bay Area?" which is a question I've found Ask Metafilter very useful for in the past. Some of the websites that show up before Metafilter does:

-Yahoo Answers (first result)
-frontdoor.com
-thebolditalic.com
-parents.berkeley.edu
-jasonevanish.com
-yelp.com
-thebillfold.com
-eastsidebride.com - this is a blog about brides-to-be, I guess.
-huffingtonpost.com
-bizjournals.com
-city-data.com
-blogs.kqed.com - 3 separate results for this one, none answering the question.
-zippgo.com - this is a moving company.

So, a moving company's website shows up before Ask MeFi. So does a blog about getting married. Quite a few other results are about the high cost of living in SF, which is interesting but not an answer to the question. I'm really confused by this.
posted by naju at 5:17 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


While I mostly lurk Metafilter, I sometimes take an extended break from this site, mostly so that I actually get something done in real life. It's always refreshing to come back here and see a front page with content that I'm actually interested in reading (as opposed to other sites where I might slog through several pages before finding something of interest). The ease of use and simplicity help keep the focus on content and discussion of it. I like that.

I do have a couple of suggestions for the site though. One would be an easier quoting mechanism. Maybe one with back-linking to the quoted post. I do find myself, especially in big threads, losing context of what someone is replying to and it's not particularly easy to reference the original comment. A linked quoting mechanism would make that easier, at least for me.

The other thing that might be useful is a hovering mechanism for linked graphics. Maybe something like Imgur has. I will admit that's more pie-in-the-sky changes than my first want. I can also see how that would add a lot of bandwidth and coding hassle. Still it might be worthwhile.

Regardless, this is a great site for discussion. It attracts a lot of knowledgeable people, and as another user said, it's a great site for cutting through the hype (or hyperbole) of a lot of issues and getting a more rational and realistic view them.

Off to figure out a way to setup a recurring Paypal payment without tapping into my current available balance (why do you make things so hard Paypal).
posted by bionic.junkie at 5:17 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


I am deeply amused that apparently the way one trolls MetaFilter is with pronunciation jokes.

And it's gif. Hard g. It's a picture, not peanut butter.
posted by Deoridhe at 5:22 PM on May 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


hovering mechanism for linked graphics (noting the irony of linking a Chrome extension in the Google-being-evil thread. Surely there are equivalents for other browsers too!)
posted by Wulfhere at 5:23 PM on May 22, 2014


I sent the wapo reporter an email. I kinda hope that enough people do and she comes back to get the story right.

I won't hold my breath. Although that is the sort of thing that happens on here and why I love mefi.
posted by sio42 at 5:23 PM on May 22, 2014


I am literally going to write a litter to the Post blogger's editor and demand a retraction.

Heck I'll sign on to that.
posted by zennie at 5:24 PM on May 22, 2014


See??? SEEE???? What did I tell you? It's those big assed headlines you guys insisted on instituting!
posted by Trochanter at 5:27 PM on May 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


You can't take anything for granted, including MeFi. This place is an oasis of sanity on the net

My subscription to The Blue remains the best $5 I've ever spent.
posted by New Frontier at 5:27 PM on May 22, 2014 [11 favorites]


If its decided to change everything to a default white background, can we still have the user option to change it back? Because I tried that, and everything looks weird and it honestly kinda creeped me out.
posted by korej at 5:30 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


I thought Metafilter *was* social media essentially? I mean, when was the last time you checked Facebook's twitter feed, or Twitter's Facebook wall?
posted by yeti at 5:31 PM on May 22, 2014 [16 favorites]


I'm pretty sure bringing back inline images would dramatically improve the site so that instead of boring text conversations we can communicate in memes and image macros.

What's interesting is that Google's ad ranking algorithms seem to be consistently rewarding bad bland content rather than interesting original stuff.

More and more of my searches get the top 5-6 links consistently repackaging the exact same content that is clearly spammed by SEO shops. It's like the algorithm is rewarding the number of times entire paragraphs are being quoted rather than just organic links.
posted by vuron at 5:33 PM on May 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


Hey, I like inline images. It's not all memes; sometimes you also see elephants shitting.
posted by Justinian at 5:35 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


I haven't had a drink since possibly late 2012-early 2013

OKAY, SO IF I MUST PAY FOR THAT COMMENT IN COOKIES, I WILL DO SO.
posted by Mooski at 5:36 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


I sent the wapo reporter an email. I kinda hope that enough people do and she comes back to get the story right.

Certainly worth a try. But I'm inclined to think that if she was a good enough journalist to do that, she wouldn't have written such a stupid article in the first place.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:38 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think "listlcle" sounds like a disease, or an unmentionable body part.

I also appreciate not seeing ads on Metafilter. I am tired of being chased around the Web by Zappos shoe ads (I never buy from Zappos, I only look at the site to confirm details for things I sell on eBay) and "lose your belly fat by never eating 5 things" ads.
posted by bad grammar at 5:38 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


In one of the FPP articles, it's mentioned that Matt has been in contact with someone very high up at Google who is in charge of this area. And that Matt was in touch before he finally had to have the layoffs and went public here.

That is very interesting and disturbing. Because the disaster happened in mid 2012. That's a long time ago. I cannot believe that nobody at Google reads Metafilter, given who the readership of MeFi is. And if so, such readers must know one thing: this is one of the most, if not the most diligently curated sites of its size anywhere - spam and bad links are eradicated with astonishing alacrity; this is a high quality site.

If there are MeFi readers at Google, who know what MeFi stands for and the integrity that's been a hallmark of the site since its inception, then how can it be, that when Matt contacts someone very high up the chain at Google, and given a lot of time to fix this problem (mid 2012), nothing has happened?

Something is wrong here. Clearly, the Google people have access to all the info about what is causing the problem (they know all the dates and all the algorithms). Clearly if MeFi was inadvertently breaking some rule, they have had the time to inform Matt about what it is - since he's been in touch with the higher ups there for quite some time.

So why has nothing been done in almost two years? I can understand their not wanting to manually fix things for one site, no matter how great a site (even MeFi), but rather wanting to fix the algorithm or whatever is making the screwup. But they've had 2 freakin' years now to fix the problem! Even if they are willing to sacrifice MeFi revenue for two whole years, they still have not fixed whatever is causing the problem.

And it seems that they have no intention of doing so - because if a solution was in the works, Matt would not have gone public, or at least this could have happened in a timeframe where layoffs would not be necessary.

Bottom line: something is very, very wrong here and I for one can't make sense of it.
posted by VikingSword at 5:40 PM on May 22, 2014 [52 favorites]


The "please remove our links" emails make me think that Google now expects old sites to just vanish from the internet. I know there are a lot of blogs and such that got overrun by comment spam and are dead letters now. But Metafilter has a huge depth of history and the Google algorithm seems to think that's a bug, not a feature.

Also, from the look of the screenshot of Matt's inbox, there clearly needs to be a note about the fact that Metafilter doesn't remove links from archive pages on the contact form so the admin team can stop wasting time with these chuckleheads who are asking them to. (The ones with ACTION REQUIRED from "legal" make me roll my eyes. Remove the link or what? They're going to sue? Anybody can threaten that but actually doing it is an entirely different matter.)
posted by immlass at 5:41 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


She wrote back.

Apparently her and I read words differently, based on what we read on Matt's medium post.

I did get one thing wrong...I thought the donation page went up after the metatalk post. I still don't agree with her characterization of the situation or her understanding of the Medium post.
posted by sio42 at 5:42 PM on May 22, 2014


Gin and jamaica on the rocks, with a twist of lime. Cheers.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 5:44 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


hovering mechanism for linked graphics (noting the irony of linking a Chrome extension in the Google-being-evil thread. Surely there are equivalents for other browsers too!)

I'd steer clear of HoverZoom, actually... Imagus is a great alternative.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:44 PM on May 22, 2014


sio42 you are not wrong. The 'official' donation page (the one with the counter) went up after people had already started donating in droves through the relatively obscure 'donate to mefi' link found in the 'about' page that's been there for years.
posted by TwoWordReview at 5:47 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


I want the old Internet back, in that it was a cool thing that I could use or not, instead of some quasi-Orwellian obligation to use social media for everything.
posted by thelonius at 5:47 PM on May 22, 2014 [34 favorites]


"Maybe it is my generation, but I was encouraged to be unique and different. I don't understand this need now for everything to be the same. It's so unoriginal and boring. Why can't things just be different here and that be ok? Why does everyone have to do the internet the same way? When did different become a bad thing?

I actually LIKE thinking. I don't need technology to do it for me.
Crazy, I know.
Just glad you're all crazy here with me."
posted by NoraCharles at 3:58 PM on May 22 [2 favorites −] Favorite added!
[Flagged as Fantastic]
posted by travelwithcats at 5:51 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


TwoWordReview...is there something I can link to or send her to show her that?
posted by sio42 at 5:52 PM on May 22, 2014


On the not using PayPal thing: It costs nothing to set up a Bitcoin wallet and slap a QR code on that donate page, and while you do have to then convert the bitcoins to dollars you will get donations that way you wouldn't have otherwise gotten.

P.S. Anybody have any ideas for where I can spend BTC 0.155?

posted by localroger at 5:54 PM on May 22, 2014


I do not understand how to use the reddit. I have never heard of Quora before today. It is pronounced fack and mee-fie and gif has hard g, elizardbits wins and viva MetaFilter.
posted by Sophie1 at 5:54 PM on May 22, 2014 [20 favorites]


Whoa totally missed that Hoverzoom malware thing. Imagus looks great, thanks!
posted by Wulfhere at 5:55 PM on May 22, 2014


oh man.

you have a funding problem. someone offers to donate bitcoin. now you have two problems.
posted by indubitable at 5:55 PM on May 22, 2014 [39 favorites]


At least we get the top two links if you do a google search of "google versus metafilter".

Along with such gems as How Matt Haughey Beat Google from 2006 and How does Metafilter compare to Reddit on Quora. The last you need to sign in with Google or Facebook to read the article, which I refuse to do so I am blind posting. Which I know is wrong because I read the facks, but I'm hoping this is an exception!

Of course, if you bing it (pronounced "bing it") the whole fist page of results are for metafilter links.
posted by kanewai at 5:56 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Thanks Wulfhere and jason_steakums for the hover graphics ideas and warnings.
posted by bionic.junkie at 5:57 PM on May 22, 2014


I also just had some spareribs and the best beans on earth from here. Comfort food is needed.
posted by jonmc at 5:57 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


P.S. Anybody have any ideas for where I can spend BTC 0.155?

Don't spend it! Hold it until everyone else on earth loses their wallet file and then it will be worth infinity dollars.

Then you can buy everyone on earth their own MetaFilter!
posted by murphy slaw at 5:57 PM on May 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


I say "MeFi" like "MeFi" because I can't remember the last time I said it out loud. Who are you people talking about MeFi with? You have friends and family members who are interested?
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:57 PM on May 22, 2014 [9 favorites]


I'm talking to the other people in my head, of course.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:00 PM on May 22, 2014 [9 favorites]


indubitable, bitcoin is only a problem if you've stupidly invested your life savings in it. For conveniently transferring small amounts (which are in turn pretty easily converted by the exchanges) it works quite well.

If I got BTC from someone who wouldn't have given me USD under any circumstances because they won't use PayPal and they're too lazy to send a check, how exactly is that a problem?

Don't spend it! Hold it until everyone else on earth loses their wallet file

LOL actually having this little stake from my donors is just right to keep the whole bitcoin saga kind of interesting without it being a crushing disappointment if I wake up one day to find it's only worth fifteen USD cents.
posted by localroger at 6:00 PM on May 22, 2014


*bruce the SEO intern*

MORTGAGE LOAN INSURANCE MESOTHELIOMA ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION CHREVROLET COBALT LAWYER ATTORNEY CELLULITE LOSE WEIGHT TEETH WHITENER INFERTILITY JUSTIN BIEBER LADY GAGA VIATICAL SETTLEMENT VAPORIZER LEGAL MARIJUANA BATH SALTS PORNOGRAPHY
posted by bruce at 6:02 PM on May 22, 2014 [9 favorites]


Well here's a comment from Cortex that announced the new donation page a few hundred donations into the original metatalk thread
posted by TwoWordReview at 6:02 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


For the record, that was two days after the original metatalk announcement was posted.
posted by TwoWordReview at 6:04 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Me as in "meh." Fi as in "fie on you." MeFi, when spoken aloud, should evoke a combination of boredom and contempt.

I miss the pre-commercialized internet, where only weirdos dared tread. Weird little journals (not blogs, this was before blogs, and blog still sounds like a rude biological function) entirely coded by hand. Mailing lists. Dogs In Elk.

Bartender, keep me stocked on coffee and vicodin tonight.
posted by cmyk at 6:04 PM on May 22, 2014 [9 favorites]


So far this whole situation has been like the emotional arc of Queen's "Under Pressure" (feat. David Bowie.)

I hope we're on the rising lift of "love's such an old fashioned word."
posted by The Whelk at 5:36 PM on May 22


Also, seriously, The Whelk - I mean this in the kindest way, but what the hell, dude?

You cannot reference a Queen song without providing a link to the song.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:06 PM on May 22, 2014 [9 favorites]


Hi, I've been reading MetaFilter for 10 years and I finally signed up for an account today because even though I'm not really in front of a computer enough to participate in these discussions, reading them has made me a better person and gives me hope for the internet. That and fuck Google.
posted by qeRG at 6:06 PM on May 22, 2014 [72 favorites]


Dang I've been an avid lurker here for 10+ years, never gave a cent. I'll fix that pronto! Keep up the great work.
posted by redunzl at 6:07 PM on May 22, 2014 [23 favorites]


I get AskMe results for my Google searches all the time.

I do too, but that's probably only because half of my Google searches have site:ask.metafilter.com or site:metafilter.com as part of the query.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:12 PM on May 22, 2014 [17 favorites]


You cannot reference a Queen song without providing a link to the song.

Or, indeed, the best goddamn cover/tribute of it ever.
posted by Celsius1414 at 6:12 PM on May 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


Hey, just registered. Long time lurker (since 2004 I think?), and can't think of any other sites that have been so important for me for so long. Sorry it took me this long. My hat is literally off for you amazing people right now. But only for like, a minute, cuz the dog is already eyeing it; she's got some crazy fucking radar for that shit.
posted by triage_lazarus at 6:13 PM on May 22, 2014 [46 favorites]


Fact: not only is this thread marvelously meta and ridiculously recursive, but once it hits 1000 comments, it's scheduled to become a perfect palindrome.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:15 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Dear MeFiGods: sorry for only donating a couple bucks a month after being my homepage non-stop for at least 12 years but I'm unemployed and it's more than I give NPR, anyway. I love you more than anything else on the internet.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 6:16 PM on May 22, 2014 [16 favorites]


I wouldn't be without MeFi. Am now subscribing to this trove of wonderfulness.
posted by flippant at 6:17 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


It's also cool to see lurkers join. Welcome, Mefites!
posted by ersatz at 6:18 PM on May 22, 2014 [13 favorites]


*chanting* one of us one of us
posted by The Whelk at 6:19 PM on May 22, 2014 [31 favorites]


gooble-gobble gooble-gobble
posted by cmyk at 6:19 PM on May 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


evoke a combination of boredom and contempt.

oh god that's my life right there.
posted by kiltedtaco at 6:21 PM on May 22, 2014


(Again, more than a TENTH of active users are already contributing and this story is less than a week old. That's awesome! High fives, everybody!)

Some inactive users too!
posted by Artw at 6:21 PM on May 22, 2014 [37 favorites]


My friends without computers know Mefi as the "internet". As in " What are you doing on your phone?" "Reading the internet." I am sure they think all the internet is full of green and blue pages.

I quite often get "Oh, that's a good question. Get kanata to ask the internet!"

So yeah, Mefi is the internet to me and a large group of people I know.
posted by kanata at 6:22 PM on May 22, 2014 [37 favorites]


I don't post here much, but I read Metafilter almost every day. This site has been an incredible influence on my beliefs and politics. I have learned so much from you all.

That aside, I seriously wonder about an algorithm that penalizes people for being linked. It seems like the obvious play is for spammers to invert their tactics and link to their clients' competitors with "inorganic" links.
posted by a dangerous ruin at 6:24 PM on May 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


Wait, we need cash??!! *digs under couch cushions for loose change TING *throws another dollar into the kitty. Well, if anybody had every mentioned that we needed money... I must not have been reading that day.

I <3 Metafilter.
posted by Jane the Brown at 6:26 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


wax on. wax off. wax wise.
posted by Postroad at 6:29 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


For what it's worth, i just ordered a T-Shirt

I <3 MetaFilter too
posted by CitoyenK at 6:29 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Look at all these new members coming out of the shadowy lurking world!

Hail Hydra!

I mean Metafilter. Hail Metafilter.

whew keep it together whelk
posted by The Whelk at 6:34 PM on May 22, 2014 [27 favorites]




I <3 Metafilter.

Surely it should be "I [+] Metafilter".
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:36 PM on May 22, 2014 [28 favorites]


The Wappo author does not appreciate the corrections y'all.

Well, that tweet wasn't exactly constructive criticism, to be fair.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:37 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


soundguy99: "You cannot reference a Queen song without providing a link to the song."

Sheesh. Always with the linking. No wonder Google thinks we're a wretched hive of comment spammers.
posted by straight at 6:37 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


The Wappo author does not appreciate the corrections y'all.

Well isn't that just the classiest thing?! She's not an author, though, she's an "Internet culture blogger". Big difference, I'm noticing.
posted by Houstonian at 6:39 PM on May 22, 2014 [12 favorites]


I [+] Metafilter

One t-shirt, black XL, please.
posted by honestcoyote at 6:39 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


Today's my birthday, and this thread is like a gift to me! I sincerely hope to use all my favorites before I go to bed. You all are the best! THE BEST!

So, what are we drinking tonight all you wonderful people?

Magic Hat Elder Betty (because my mom's name is Betty), Lagunitas Maximus and Lagunitas Little Sumpin. I may have gotten beer for my birthday.
posted by Ruki at 6:39 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hey, new people.

Think long and hard about your username. Really.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 6:39 PM on May 22, 2014 [124 favorites]


Well, you've got my money now and forever. There's no point in an Internet without a MetaFilter. The rest of it is mostly crap.

The Wappo author does not appreciate the corrections ya'll.

The Wappo author needs to go back to whatever clown college gave her her journalism degree and demand a refund. What a hatchet job that article is.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:41 PM on May 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


Hey, Matt, the lurkers support you on MeFi. With cash.

In your face, USENET!
posted by eriko at 6:41 PM on May 22, 2014 [15 favorites]


The Wappo author needs to go back to whatever clown college gave him his journalism degree and demand a refund.

Her.
But yes.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:42 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am drinking wine out of a box and cleaning out my fridge by breaking in my new hot sandwhich maker. ( yes pickle and cheddar and basil is a normal combination shut up.)
posted by The Whelk at 6:42 PM on May 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


OK - this is why I love me the shit out of MetaFilter. I'll fess up now and tell y'all that I was one of those pre-web internet guys who started dicking around with Telnet, Archie, WAIS, Gopher and even remember the evening I discovered Nyx. Here's their "Eff - Aigh - Que" only they call it "History" and it is a long, scrolling explanation from the days of yore when the internet served content not link bait.

But I digress, which is OK on a rambling thread like this.

MeFi will only scale so far (and that's OK) because it is thoughtful, funny, articulate and a good bit of weird. Have you read the comment threads in WaPo lately? Yeah, there's some hope for humanity right there. Upthread someone said that MeFi's roots are in the days when being yourself in all your strange glory was still celebrated. Maybe so, or maybe that's the ethos of MeFi itself. Sure we bicker and bitch but in the end there is a sense that the hivemind enjoys eccentricity with teeth and a soft glove. I come here daily and I always learn something, I often chuckle, and I leave with some faith that there are others of my tribe out here.

Thanks to all of you, even the lurkers. And I just signed on for a monthly subscription because recurring revenue rocks and this is my favorite place online.
posted by skepticbill at 6:42 PM on May 22, 2014 [9 favorites]


MetaFilter: Always with the linking.
posted by tilde at 6:42 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


Based in twitter and email I assume the future of the Internet are all spam bot marketers talking to each other while we all meet at the bar.
posted by The Whelk at 6:43 PM on May 22, 2014 [20 favorites]


Sorry about the his/her confusion. Fixed it in the edit window. Because I like to correct my mistakes.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:45 PM on May 22, 2014


*the clown starts breakdancing*
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:46 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am drinking wine out of a box and cleaning out my fridge by breaking in my new hot sandwhich maker. ( yes pickle and cheddar and basil is a normal combination shut up.)

Please invite me over for dinner
posted by pemberkins at 6:47 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


branston pickle or actual pickles though
posted by elizardbits at 6:47 PM on May 22, 2014


That aside, I seriously wonder about an algorithm that penalizes people for being linked. It seems like the obvious play is for spammers to invert their tactics and link to their clients' competitors with "inorganic" links.

I guess you *could* do that, but Google has a way of finding and punishing Black Hat SEO's. Plus, outside of a few "edge cases", who would actually pay someone to do that? Typically businesses pay SEO's with some hope of improving the rank of their own business, rather than trying to somehow hurt a competitor. While it is certainly unethical, it's also unproductive - there are a lot of competitors out there. What are you going to do? Go after them all? Businesses that make bad decisions like that are typically not around for very long.

This is such a weird thread. It's like people hear the word "SEO" and pull theories out of thin air, while there are ton of places online where "algo updates" are identified and debated minute-by-minute.

While I don't doubt that Google has influenced the Web in a major way, and not all of Google's practices are beneficial, it is what it is.

In this context, I don't understand how Google is "evil" if MetaFilter is relying on Google Adsense to generate revenue. It was a business decision on the part of people running MetaFilter.

In another context or discussion, yeah it sucks that blogs are no longer a "thing" thanks to Google. But the question is, if you are going to rely on Google for revenue, how do you ensure that you are optimized for Google? There is a laundry list of fixes just waiting to be implemented.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:47 PM on May 22, 2014


I visit metafilter an order of magnitude more than any other website. But even I, in the last couple years, have been feeling a bit down about it. In my mind, 10 years ago, Metafilter represented to me the definitive conversation on any given topic. The most informed people would weigh in and whatever I needed to know on the topic at hand would be referenced.

Now, I'm not saying that Metafilter has changed, versus my perception of the world changing. However, this thread, this thread, reminds me so much of the beloved Metafilter of old. I love you guys.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:49 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


branston pickle or actual pickles though

Branson IN the sandwhich, pickle on the side.

I'm a bit taken aback that you had to ask.
posted by The Whelk at 6:50 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


"I used to like the internet, but then they changed what the internet was..."
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:51 PM on May 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


I have Farmers pickles in my fridge. But also I don't give a flying fuck what WaPo thinks. Does that make me part of the vinegar Triad?
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:54 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's totally got to be bread-and-butter pickles I just don't understand you people on the East Coast
posted by mudpuppie at 6:54 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sour and spicy, a pickle should fight back.
posted by The Whelk at 6:58 PM on May 22, 2014 [11 favorites]


Oh and my new fav cooking show is Cook and a Chef, for you Aussies. I reckon!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:58 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


(the vinegar triad, cross us and we'll cut you and then rub stinging solutions in the wounds.)
posted by The Whelk at 6:59 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


an FAQ section
posted by Team of Scientists at 7:01 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


KokuRyu :This is such a weird thread. It's like people hear the word "SEO" and pull theories out of thin air, while there are ton of places online where "algo updates" are identified and debated minute-by-minute.

Not just this thread, but some of the meta-commentary around the Death of Metafilter (especially on HN), really confuses me, in a "no true SEO expert" kinda way. It seems like some very strange insular culture without the self-reflectivity tot realize it's speaking in jargon. Quotes like "I bet MeFi could be fixed in a few months if they hired a real SEO expert, ie someone who understands the underlying ranking algos and not just the usual voodoo bullcrap." Who are these most hallowed experts?

I don't doubt the ability of outsiders to learn how the black Google box responds to various signals in great detail, but the opacity that allows a discipline like SEO to flourish is maddening.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:01 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


And yes, count me in as someone else for whom Metafither IS the Internet, it's email, twitter, metafilter, a few niche sites and TV blogs and a tight tumblr before bed. Keeps you regular.

( oh dear god I've been talking to Shakesperian under the same mefimail headline for FOUR YEARS.)
posted by The Whelk at 7:03 PM on May 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


10 Commandments this mother of Jesus washed your sins with vinegar they don't want you to know!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:03 PM on May 22, 2014


The best thing about the HN thread was the number of SV doofuses who were basically "Community? That's what you build to attract VCs, right?"
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:03 PM on May 22, 2014 [11 favorites]


what's a branston anyway
posted by murphy slaw at 7:04 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Google has a way of finding and punishing Black Hat SEO's
...just like it found "bad links" in Ask MetaFilter...
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:05 PM on May 22, 2014


Dude that's a chutney.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:06 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


If there are MeFi readers at Google, who know what MeFi stands for and the integrity that's been a hallmark of the site since its inception, then how can it be, that when Matt contacts someone very high up the chain at Google, and given a lot of time to fix this problem (mid 2012), nothing has happened?

I've worked in the past around the Google ranking team, and my best guess is that they have a policy that they don't "fix" individual sites. If someone there noticed Metafilter's ranking drop and thought it was bad (which is almost certainly the case, especially now), it isn't a matter of flipping a bit somewhere or removing a penalty to remedy things-- someone needs to come up with a new signal or a revision to an old one, lots of evaluation needs to be done, and thousands of other sites will move around. Whatever chorus of criticism is coming from the Internet over things like this would be 100x louder if they were tweaking the results of individual sites based on who personally knows someone "high up the chain".

Of course, ranking is opaque enough that there is really no external evidence that this is the case, this is just my experience seeing a bit of how people in that area think about these things.
posted by what of it at 7:07 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


what's a branston anyway

Bing it!
posted by The Whelk at 7:07 PM on May 22, 2014 [17 favorites]


What's that term for the conjectured point in time when there ceases to be any new information available, ever? I can't remember it. "The _________."

Anyway, if people figure out how to incorporate cat-person vs. dog-person crosstalk into this thread, I think we would maybe trigger it.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:07 PM on May 22, 2014


Bing it!
I'd rather Duck Duck Go it...
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:08 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


My friends without computers know Mefi as the "internet". As in " What are you doing on your phone?" "Reading the internet." I am sure they think all the internet is full of green and blue pages.

My boyfriend calls Metafilter "the Chatty Web."
posted by scody at 7:08 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


What's that term for the conjectured point in time when there ceases to be any new information available, ever? I can't remember it. "The _________."

Singularity?
posted by KathrynT at 7:09 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


is this something I would need to own a kedgeree to understand
posted by murphy slaw at 7:09 PM on May 22, 2014


Branston ingredients: carrots, rutabaga, onions, cauliflower, marrows, gherkins, sugar, malt vinegar, spirit vinegar, salt, chopped dates (with rice flour), apples, modified maize starch, tomato paste, sulphite ammonia caramel, spices, concentrated lemon juice, onion powder, garlic extract
Here's a picture.
posted by Houstonian at 7:09 PM on May 22, 2014


wait is that the thing that i compared to cat vomit in the shooter sandwich thread?
posted by indubitable at 7:09 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'll be damned if I let one of the best sources of entertainment and information in my life slip away into oblivion.
posted by Halogenhat at 7:11 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


no no the cat vomit is HP sauce
posted by murphy slaw at 7:11 PM on May 22, 2014


The best thing about the HN thread was the number of SV doofuses who were basically "Community? That's what you build to attract VCs, right?"

Can we round these people up into a properly-sized reeducation camp? I'm more than willing to be a guard. I'll need an extra charger for my cattle prod, though.
posted by gimonca at 7:12 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think the cat vomit must really be the mushrooms cooked with shallots in butter -- see picture #4. Awful picture.
posted by Houstonian at 7:13 PM on May 22, 2014


Singularity?

Thank you!

Didn't even have to waste an AskMe question, so there.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:13 PM on May 22, 2014


The Wappo author does not appreciate the corrections y'all.

Me: Well, that tweet wasn't exactly constructive criticism, to be fair.

I was wrong about this. The tweet lined to Rhaomi's extremely constructive criticism above. Mea culpa.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:14 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


I have this annoying friend who is always asking what's this or that and then she goes, "ha-ha, because I am too lazy to Google." Yet she runs a business. It's very irksome when someone asks a question that they can look up on Google or another search engine, because, Jesus Fuck, you asked it HERE, didn't you? And that is kind of the premise for AskMe. That you looked it up your own damn self and couldn't figure it out, so you are asking us, the Hive Mind, as it were, and we are donating our knowledge. And I have a fuck ton of knowledge, through work and life experience, and education, and reading, reading, reading a lot, and going through therapy a lot, and having extended family members who also have a fuckton of knowledge, so I am not just blowing sunshine out of my ass when I answer questions here: I know the answer. So when you ask what is a Branston pickle, by god, you can look that shit up yourself, and we are just here trying to alleviate the tension with our little pickle and vinegar jokes, is that fucking okay with you? Because this shit is upsetting to a lot of us and I, for one, would just like to let it go and get on with my life and get back to business as usual and let the head honcho and the other wicked smart people deal with it as they see best.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:16 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


HotBot's link summary text on Google is "HotBot.com Search - Search the web as well as weather forecasts."

Not just the web, guys! Also weather forecasts!
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:16 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


Can we round these people up into a properly-sized reeducation camp?

You can't stop these people. Just when you think you've got them where you want them, BOOM. They pivot and monetize.
posted by murphy slaw at 7:17 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


but i don't use weather forecasts to search the web.

oh wait. wait i see it.
posted by indubitable at 7:18 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Fuck* Google!

In addition to donating to Metafilter, I propose a boycott.

Next time you need to Bing something, use Duck Duck Go.

*pronounced "Meh-fee"
posted by Anoplura at 7:18 PM on May 22, 2014


http://www.metafilter.com/19/CatScancom

... someone mentioned cats...
posted by one4themoment at 7:19 PM on May 22, 2014


I know Google has changed it's algorithms badly. For the past few months my top search results are junk sites like LinkedIn which gives you ads for people, instead of information about them. Frequently the site I am trying to reach appears in the top search results for just an instant and then is forced off the page altogether by a stack of paid ads that have nothing to do with what I am searching.

I really am getting the impression that Google has lost about 30% of its functionality because of selling higher search positions. There are so damn many ads. Where the hell is the useful content?

That's what happened to TV and magazines. I gave up on both of them some years ago because I couldn't find any content.
posted by Jane the Brown at 7:20 PM on May 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


I know what branston pickle is I was just making a lame joke because there is no vegetable called a branston and I'm pretty upset about this situation too and I'm sorry and go mefi.
posted by murphy slaw at 7:20 PM on May 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


It's very irksome when someone asks a question that they can look up on Google or another search engine

What drives me bugfuck is local talk radio hosts who will banter for an hour on a topic they obviously know nothing about, and they KNOW they know nothing about, and are kind of lampooning themselves for not knowing anything about it, when from what they've said on other shows we KNOW they have an internet connected computer sitting in front of them which could provide actual answers to their questions in 65 milliseconds. But I guess that wouldn't fill all that open air time so effectively.
posted by localroger at 7:24 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


I just did a search and not one person has mentioned kickstarter. Let me be the first: kickstarter?

Can you even kickstart something back to life after going strong for 15 years? That's like the opposite of kickstarting.
posted by Halogenhat at 7:24 PM on May 22, 2014


What's a branston anyway?

Twenty bucks, same as in town.
posted by workerunit at 7:25 PM on May 22, 2014 [11 favorites]


MeFi has actually created a problem for me in my offline relationships. When I talk to someone that voices an opinion that is not rigorously backed up by authoritative sources, I get kind of annoyed. And then they feel like I am condescending to them for questioning their opinions and expecting them to have formulated their views based on proven facts and hard data.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:26 PM on May 22, 2014 [50 favorites]


kickrestarter?
posted by localroger at 7:26 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, I just needed to vent. This is just some fucking bullshit, that's all. Pickle on.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:28 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


The reporter apparently didn't have issue with the new donations page, she said that his blog post says the site is in jeopardy and he is soliciting donations there.

I still think "soliciting donations to stay online" is inaccurate.


But I'm biased.

Maybe I'll reply to her tomorrow. I just feel her article is off and it bothers me because this is like my place on the internet and I don't want misinterpretations of it out there.

Glad to see so many new members, tho. Super cool.
posted by sio42 at 7:28 PM on May 22, 2014


I feel like the fight over the future of the internet is about to enter a new, much darker phase with this and certain other recent developments. Not insinuating any deliberate chicanery at work here (although the WaPo piece was just plain ugly), but the recent FCC abdication of responsibility and a lot of other trends are coming together to make an increasingly grotesque picture of the future. We need Metafilter to be here so at least somebody out there is still trying to be intelligent and honest in their discussions of big topics. Otherwise we'll be left to rely on irrelevant relics like the WaPo. And the future will just be a giant Buzzfeed ad stomping on the face of humanity forever.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:34 PM on May 22, 2014 [21 favorites]


If anyone in Chicago wants an asston of free beer hit me up
posted by shakespeherian at 7:35 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Most of what google does is link to other content. Fucking hypocrites.
posted by futz at 7:35 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


That sends my mind into some dark places.

"Winston Smith went to Room 101! You won't believe what was waiting for him..."
posted by cmyk at 7:35 PM on May 22, 2014 [12 favorites]


For me, search has meant Google since the alpha days ( before Google it was AltaVista ) but this is one Microsloth-hating geek who thinks he's going to give Bing a little love in coming weeks . The only thing Google is going to understand is a drop in THEIR traffic.
posted by spock at 7:35 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


shakes no you are not allowed to trade the company for a handful of magic beans
posted by elizardbits at 7:37 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


[countdown to predictable plate of beans joke]
posted by elizardbits at 7:37 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Having read back up the thread I see others are also discussing things with the WaPo reporter. That would explain her reply to me earlier in .06 seconds, which I wasn't expecting.
posted by sio42 at 7:38 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


The only thing Google is going to understand is a drop in THEIR traffic.

I get the sentiment, really I do, but I think if the entire semi-active userbase of MeFi suddenly ceased to use Google at all, forever, they wouldn't even notice the drop in traffic.
posted by axiom at 7:38 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


Having read back up the thread I see others are also discussing things with the WaPo reporter. That would explain her reply to me earlier in .06 seconds, which I wasn't expecting.

Also that she is apparently not bothering to actually meaningfully engage with your criticisms.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:39 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


shakes no you are not allowed to trade the company for a handful of magic beans

BUT WORK IS HARD AND I LIKE FRIENDS
posted by shakespeherian at 7:39 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


Now I really want to hear the beans joke....
posted by one4themoment at 7:39 PM on May 22, 2014


Metafilter: Views based on proven facts and hard data.
posted by mono blanco at 7:40 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Surely it should be "I [+] Metafilter".

Yes. I would buy that right now.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:41 PM on May 22, 2014 [11 favorites]


Going by her Tumblr, elizardbits would prefer to be rewarded with a gourmet-cheese macaroni and cheese casserole and a large slab of chocolate cake. These will be served to her by a naked Hot Dad with a luxurious manscruff (for frolicking in).
posted by emjaybee at 7:41 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


Now I really want to hear the beans joke....

Yeah, just FYI, I just googled "bean jokes" and NONE of the hits were from Metafilter.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:41 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


If anyone in Chicago wants an asston of free beer hit me up

Damn how I wish I'd pursued that job in Chicago, now.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:42 PM on May 22, 2014


I managed to join this sign about 12 years ago (sigh...), back when a few new users were allowed every midnight or so. All the accounts were free. Since then, I have conservatively visited MeFI about 5 times a day (don't judge too much: I'm a scientist, it's easy to take a quick web break. Especially during the chunk of those 12 years that were in college or grad school). And, of course, I was visiting the site for a few years before then. I may not contribute as much as I would like, but just since I was a member, we're talking on the order of 40,000 visits.

And why? Because most internet companies, particularly now, seem intent on giving me content that I already agree with, and would have already found through friends. In contrast, Metafilter is just about the only place on the internet where I can reliably be surprised by a surfeit of information about things I never knew existed, and intelligent discussion of them. If five bucks a month can keep us all in this for longer and show some gratitude toward the folks who have worked hard to keep it such a great place to be for most of my adult life, it'll be best return on a dollar I can hope for.
posted by Schismatic at 7:44 PM on May 22, 2014 [45 favorites]


I'm actually sort of relieved that Google is having problems being a good search engine because lately all my searches through google have sucked hardcore. I've started using Bing? And that was before all this recent mess. I thought maybe it was just me.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 7:44 PM on May 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


I should add that, while I'm sorry for Metafilter and those laid-off/let go, we are mostly inherently selfish people; the takeaway from the Slate article is that, at least for some things, Google is not doing its job well (for ME). A tool that doesn't function well for me gets replaced.
posted by spock at 7:44 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


My advice would be to not give the reporter any more attention.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:45 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


elizardbits would prefer to be rewarded with a gourmet-cheese macaroni and cheese casserole and a large slab of chocolate cake. These will be served to her by a naked Hot Dad with a luxurious manscruff (for frolicking in).

I'll have what she's having.
posted by KathrynT at 7:47 PM on May 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


What's that term for the conjectured point in time when there ceases to be any new information available, ever? I can't remember it. "The _________."

Whelk?
posted by HillbillyInBC at 7:49 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


You know what? That was pretty satisfying. And now I have more spare cash to donate!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:49 PM on May 22, 2014


served to her by a naked Hot Dad with a luxurious manscruff

Hot Dad with promising boner or nonthreatening softie? Theoretical applicants might need to know whether to go for the Viagra or the saltpeter.
posted by localroger at 7:50 PM on May 22, 2014


Wow.
That explains so much! I hadn't consciously noticed that Ask Mefi wasn't really coming up in Google results anymore.
I joined Mefi because Ask Mefi consistently had the best answers to questions I was googling, and eventually, I just started coming straight here.
But, because I now google both, I hadn't noticed that Ask.Mefi wasn't really coming up in Google anymore, which is really sad, because that means a lot of people are missing out on some high quality information.

Seriously - Yahoo Questions is still coming up, but Ask.Mefi isn't? WTF?
posted by Elysum at 7:50 PM on May 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


the takeaway from the Slate article is that, at least for some things, Google is not doing its job well (for ME). A tool that doesn't function well for me gets replaced.

I hope so, but I can't help but wonder if this is the latest "age" of the web, where so-called progress is less about improvement in functionality etc, more about monetization ... a slippery slope that we'll come to regret having chanced. History's full of them.
posted by philip-random at 7:51 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Surely it should be "I [+] Metafilter".

Yes. I would buy that right now.


I can't possibly have been the first person to come up with that.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:52 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


And the future will just be a giant Buzzfeed ad stomping on the face of humanity forever.

Every blogger adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a search engine like you.

There’s a stake in your fat black heart
And the Mefites never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Google, Google, you bastard, I’m through.
posted by scody at 7:54 PM on May 22, 2014 [15 favorites]


Surely it should be "I [+] Metafilter".

Or "[!] it and move on"
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:01 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


We're better than slashdot! WE'RE BETTER THAN SLASHDOT!
...
Motherfuckers...



posted by Chitownfats at 8:03 PM on May 22, 2014


Disagree... slashdot is another one of my daily reads...
posted by one4themoment at 8:05 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


We're as good as slashdot! WE'RE AS GOOD AS SLASHDOT!
posted by Chitownfats at 8:07 PM on May 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


The news is rising up in Reddit. I think this is a really good way to bring more focus to what's going on. I know we're all like, "My team is better than your team rah-rah" but when the chips are down, we're all together in this, right? They usually have very nice things to say about us, at least in the subreddits I visit.
posted by Houstonian at 8:10 PM on May 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


> Seriously - Yahoo Questions is still coming up, but Ask.Mefi isn't? WTF?

Yahoo answers is what Google thinks the 21st century web should be like.
posted by nangar at 8:10 PM on May 22, 2014


From a friend who wishes to be unnamed:
Riffing a little bit on this whole notion of the Internet turning normalized and non-weird and capitalist (ugh) and awful: when I was a kid, I had an obsession with the game F Zero. Not a huge franchise* overall, not even an especially brilliant game, but whatever. I spent a month or two learning Microsoft Frontpage so I could build the Ultimate Internet Guide To F Zero, Plus Now With Extra Added Animated Dragons because those gifs were the best I could find. It was a shit guide. Really awful. Wouldn’t have helped anybody in the least. Non-meticulous to a fault. The kind of thing that Google would sniff its nose at and urinate on.

Only… it was mine. All mine. It existed for no reason other than because I wanted it to exist. Just like everything else on GeoCities, where this terrible guide was ultimately published. And that’s what made it special. It was WEIRD, like a glimpse into the heart of… something. Not me, really, I was busy girl-chasing or whatever. The thing GeoCities pointed to was something more akin to the absurdity of human culture, of being surrounded by a squagillion other people doing just the weirdest fucking things you could possibly imagine. And the best things were all the ones that seemingly had no reason to exist. Weebl’s Badgers. Andrew Kepple’s French Erotic Film. Actual erotic films — you’d better believe those were weird when you stumbled upon them pre-adolescence. It was all just one clusterfuck of abnormality.

Recently I started reading Something Awful again, via RSS, after Weird Twitter became more and more conspicuously SA-culture-centric (at least in part). I found myself astonished, after years and years of staying away thanks to sites like Cracked and Reddit, by how defiantly itself it was. That’s not to say it’s always good, but it never seems to give a shit about that fact. And when it’s gold — please, if you’re reading this, check out BarkWire, which is the best thing I’ve read online in ever — a part of the joy you get from reading it is how fucking absurd it is that this piece of writing exists at all. Nobody had to make this. Why the hell did they go ahead and make it anyway?

You can define the Internet — and video games for that matter, and computers in general — in a lot of ways, but the thing that really makes it all extraordinary to me is that it gives you some amount of control over what it is. At any point you can click in a box and type in a keyboard and, like, boom. Expression. Internets. Weirdass things. The most Internetty parts of the Internet, like animutation or 4chan, are (I suspect) the parts that make it the easiest to just do a thing. That lower the barrier so much for anybody to do anything that the results end up being completely wack-a-doodle. And that attitude still carries through today, to some extent, especially in the parts of the Internet that I love the most. But there’s a crucial second factor at play with those things: they don’t reward you for doing things “right”. There are no points to be had, whether karma or real actual moneys, for creating something that appeals to the most people. There’s no benefit to doing things somebody else’s way but your own. Besides, with so many people online, you’re almost guaranteed to find that other people appreciate the same sorts of things that you do.

Maybe that’s the most incredible result of all this — the realization that, hey, other people agree with you on things! You’re not alone! You’re not insane! The old weird Internet, if we want to call it that, rewarded you above anything for throwing shit at the wall to see what stuck. I remember Ze Frank (now, alas, at BuzzFeed) giving a talk where he said that the key to success on the Internet was, quote, “Dance like an idiot, and don’t sell anything.” My most formative experiences as a person, at least in conscious memory, were ones where I took advantage of the Internet to say things that I was terrified about saying, that revealed deeply-held insecurities and anxieties, and was rewarded with a bunch of people saying, “Yup, that’s normal. You’re okay. It’s safe to come out now.”

All of this is to say that the astonishing thing about MetaFilter, and about precious few other sites nowadays, is the way that it gives you some space to figure your shit out, for better or for worse. It gives you a community of people — a community that I feel is welcoming more often than not. It lets you share your favorite things, your ABSOLUTE FAVORITE THINGS, with every single person on the site, and it guarantees that they’ll pop up right alongside every other post. But it doesn’t grant you the narcissistic, insular freedom of Facebook or Twitter or even Tumblr. It doesn’t let you choose who gets to say things back to you. It opens you up to people who disagree, who hate everything you love, who are willing to rip you a new asshole if they think you’re out of line. It sucks, a little bit, but only in the sense that it reminds you that you’re an individual among a horde, always. You are not a special snowflake (ahem) whose every thought is ironclad law. You are as responsible for other people’s responses to you as they are for yours.

Reading people from other sites talk about MetaFilter, I come across two opinions more often than I come across any other: it’s 1) a horrible negative place where everybody hates everything, and 2) it has too many women and trans people and every other kind of person going on and on and on about how bad the rest of us are being, boo hoo hoo. The negativity, I think, has been around from the beginning; but what’s astonishing to me is that this site didn’t start out as some sanctified bastion of liberal thought. (Certain old-timers are quick to remind us of this fact.) It evolved that way. Over years and years of threads, of bitter bloody feuds, of arguments and flameouts and all the good jolly fun, we slowly pushed towards being slightly less awful to each other. Slightly. But the effect over time was cumulative. Now MetaFilter is an astonishingly welcoming general-purpose forum, considering where it started out. And it only got that way because of how hard its moderators fought, and still fight, to let people have their say in threads, regardless of how many other users they infuriate in the process. Which is why the site feels so negative at times, but when I look at the smarmy uplifting positivity of other places and watch how dissenting opinions, even useful or necessary ones, get snuffed out, I can’t help but feel that that’s a part of the secret sauce.

In any event, I think it’s pretty clear what happened. Society caught up. People flocked to the web in waves. And as they flocked there, Friendster and MySpace and Facebook showed up to give people ways of re-establishing normality, of worrying even more about how they come across to their friends than they ever did before. Digg and Reddit were established to provide people with a quick way of finding the single most appealing and unchallenging stories they could possibly digest, and now editors have worked out their secrets and just write Upworthy and BuzzFeed directly. Google, which started out as a weird nerd tech haven, has become a tool for companies, and as companies use Google more and more Google makes more and more money, and I dunno what happened in what order but now it definitely feels like Google gives more of a shit about Google than it gives a shit about weirdness or nerdiness or any of the things that made it so unique. (They make you use real names on fucking YouTube, for Christ’s sake. YouTube! The pinnacle of awful commentary, and now they want you to use your name on it! Talk about fixing the wrong fucking problem.)

Now there are still bastions for oddity on the Internet, but they’re increasingly coexisting with larger monolithic sites that have a large contingency of “normal” people on them as well. Weird Twitter coexists with Oprah. Tumblr’s dark hidey-holes exist alongside NBC’s official Hannibal page. In a sense there’s something cool about watching the two bleed together and interact, but when I was a young whippersnapper, the Internet was an escape from it all. Flat-out escape. Not some semi-subversive performance of identity. I could lie about my age and pretend like I was a Final Fantasy character and who gave a fuck? Nobody, because they were all lying too. Now there are few places that encourage and embrace your ability to go wild and just do your own thing and it’s a godawful shame.

If you want to point your finger at any one cause for all this increased shittiness, I think you want to point it at gamification — or rather, at our collective insistence on assigning ranks and numbers to things that don’t necessarily correlate to anything valuable whatsoever. I had the most frustrating argument of my life earlier today with an engineer and good friend who was arguing, quite sincerely, that pretty soon we’ll be able to replace Roger Ebert and cultural criticism with algorithms. Because hey, Rotten Tomatoes already does this! It was such a flabbergastingly ignorant view of what made Ebert a good critic that I pretty much was at a loss for words. This idea that a formula can replicate qualitative human experience is a pernicious one, and an ignorant one, and a fairly dominant one in today’s tech culture. It certainly took hold in “41 shades of blue” Google. And it’s a cornerstone of the ideas which propel contemporary democracy, capitalism, and mass media.

Cynical as that might sound, I’m generally an optimist in that I think the Internet enables people to do this weird crazy shit and it won’t stop doing that any time soon. Even YouTube and Tumblr and Reddit spawn all sorts of delicious bizarro cultures, you know? The Internet isn’t gonna turn read-only any time soon. The only question is whether or not people will choose to use it in interesting and wonderful ways. My hope is that as we start recognizing that something here is stagnating and degrading, more and more of us will start thinking of what weird shit people might be allowed to do, and start throwing it out there, in the hopes that it’ll lure people away from their staid lives of continued normality.

History is one long struggle between awesome weird shit and the crushing normalcy of the status quo. And terrible diseases or whatever. I dunno, I’m not much of a humanities guy. In the meantime I hear there’s a dog wearing Google Glass who gives you great wifi reception, so I guess things are chuggin’ along in one way or another. Gives me a few neato ideas for a weird Internet thing myself…

* Except for Captain Falcon’s recurring appearing in the Super Smash Bros series, which I don’t count.
posted by naju at 8:14 PM on May 22, 2014 [85 favorites]




Is it too late to go back to webrings?
posted by filthy light thief at 8:18 PM on May 22, 2014 [12 favorites]


Yahoo answers is what Google thinks the 21st century web should be like IS like.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:20 PM on May 22, 2014


Yahoo answers is what Google thinks the 21st century web should be like.

Maybe Marissa Mayer called in a favor.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:24 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


I've been looking at this site daily for a third of my life.

So have I, although I had to do the math three times before my brain would believe this. Wow.
posted by spacewaitress at 8:24 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure if everyone asking for this is being super meta, we had "I [+] Metafilter" shirts in December 2010. Ironically I can't find the relevant thread on Google.

Edit: Shirts for sale! Get your shirts! Nov 9, 2010.
posted by nathan_teske at 8:27 PM on May 22, 2014 [12 favorites]


I'm more of a lurker than I want to be here, but I tend to read the site only a couple of times a day, and usually when I'm about to go to sleep. Still, it's part of what I consider "the Internet" and I've been on the web almost as long as that's been a thing.

I feel like I have something to add to this conversation, since I was at Google back in the day (I left about 8 years ago). I joined Metafilter while I was still there, and I think I heard about it from a Googler (it may actually have been Matt Cutts, who is referenced in many of these links, so I'll just go out on a limb and claim that people pretty high up at Google have been using MeFi for a while.)

But regarding the whole business about Google manually changing results... One of the few times my name has appeared in print was in Wired Magazine. One of the things I didn't like about that page then was that it implied that I, if I had decided, could have "fixed" the search results if I didn't like them. (This wasn't in any way true.) I'd be very surprised if Google's preference for fixing problems through algorithms had changed over the years.

At any rate, I think this is a very hard problem to solve. I'm disappointed that Metafilter is suffering due to changes in Google's behavior, but Google has a very hard problem to solve here. There's an incredibly large incentive to fake out Google here.

It makes me glad today that I'm in a completely different business today (though, unsurprisingly, online advertising is important, so it's not like I've gotten completely away from Google...)
posted by grae at 8:28 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


As an American-founded and domiciled website and one with a largely American membership/user base but an international audience MeFi has, in my non-American opinion, done it's country a great service. It has, despite the awful Bush/TeaParty years, the lurid excesses of American media and the rampant corporate greed (not only American) now plaguing our civilization, revealed to the world a different and better sort of American citizenry. People of intelligence, compassion, civility, diversity and good humor coming together to shoot the shit and help each other. Not something that fits neatly into a search-ranking algorithm perhaps but a valuable contribution nonetheless.
posted by islander at 8:30 PM on May 22, 2014 [35 favorites]


I'm glad I'm not the only one who remembers dogs in elk. I probably should have stopped reading Salon back when they killed Tabletalk...
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:30 PM on May 22, 2014


nathan_teske: "I'm not sure if everyone asking for this is being super meta, we had "I [+] Metafilter" shirts in December 2010. Ironically I can't find the relevant thread on Google."

Here it is. I went to metatalk.metafilter.com/tags/tshirts.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:31 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]



My friends without computers know Mefi as the "internet". As in " What are you doing on your phone?" "Reading the internet." I am sure they think all the internet is full of green and blue pages.

I quite often get "Oh, that's a good question. Get kanata to ask the internet!"


I do that too! And when I participated in one of the gift swap things, the internet sent me a present.
posted by Weeping_angel at 8:34 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


skepticbill: "MeFi will only scale so far (and that's OK) because it is thoughtful, funny, articulate and a good bit of weird."

Learn how a guy in Oregon figured out one weird trick to make a great website. Google hates him!
posted by double block and bleed at 8:42 PM on May 22, 2014 [12 favorites]


From a friend who wishes to be unnamed:

I don't know who that person is but I bet they could talk a lot about the Rory Marinich Experience
posted by shakespeherian at 8:50 PM on May 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


FAQ - split 50/50. I snuck in a MeFi.
posted by unliteral at 8:54 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


I better get some more ice...
posted by vrakatar at 8:57 PM on May 22, 2014


"I snuck in a MeFi."

More please! Anyone tipsy and in the mood to record?

I think I say Me like you but then it sounds more like Fee at the end....
posted by travelwithcats at 8:59 PM on May 22, 2014


Out of curiosity, I did a google search for "where should I live in the Bay Area?" which is a question I've found Ask Metafilter very useful for in the past. Some of the websites that show up before Metafilter does:

The Metafilter thread shows up on the second link in DuckDuckGo, FWIW.

But this is what's so frustrating about this: Google considers Metafilter a spam site and effectively de-ranks them, while my search results are still littered with shit like fixya, askmefast, ewikihow, and other nakedly spammy SEO sites.

On the flip side, if I search for, say, a problem with my car on Google, in between the spam sites I get several topic-specific forums that discuss the problem at length. If I do the same search on Bing or DuckDuckGo I get a bunch of sites trying to sell me products, and maybe one or two of the forum links. So I find myself still having to search Google.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:59 PM on May 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


This is what the internet will become. They're going to make us pay for absolutely everything. We might as well go back to party-line phones.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:01 PM on May 22, 2014


Theoretical applicants might need to know whether to go for the Viagra or the saltpeter.

Saltpeter men: explosively hot
posted by NoraReed at 9:02 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think I say Me like you but then it sounds more like Fee at the end....

I've always said Mee-Fie, but I'm totally changing to Mee-Fee. I love it!
posted by Weeping_angel at 9:03 PM on May 22, 2014


Tomorrow is payday, think I will send along a few dollars.

I like to say "fack" because it's like saying "fuck" at work, and I'm mentally 12 years old so I think that's funny.

I do pronounce "Mefi" as "meffy" but I think "mefites" should be pronounced "meefites" because you can have a sort of vague Britishy accent that way. But I never verbally discuss this website with anyone but the husband and I just say "Metafilter" when I do, so it's really about what I want it to sound like in my own head.

I did once flabbergast an IT dude because he saw the blue screen on my desktop "YOU read METAFILTER??" but there was no follow up so I don't know if he was impressed or horrified.

I am on this site more than I'm on Facebook or my email. It's basically my homepage, an anchor of sanity in a linkbait world. I am baffled and irritated by threaded comments and ad-crufted sites, and even the best ones don't have commenters half as good as the ones here.
posted by emjaybee at 9:08 PM on May 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


Does anyone else just pronounce it "Metafilter"?
posted by mudpuppie at 9:09 PM on May 22, 2014 [11 favorites]


Going by her Tumblr, elizardbits would prefer to be rewarded with...

...a lovely bouquet of Doritos.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:12 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


I believe it is spelt DORITES
posted by mudpuppie at 9:15 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


I would be more than willing to pay for a subscription for the site. I've used it multiple times daily since 2000 and feel like you guys are a third brain to me, after my wife of course, who holds second brain status (though she would probably consider herself first brain)

The community and level of discourse that I find here gives me hope about humanity and I am glad that I am not the only one that refers to metafilter as reading the internet.
posted by Divest_Abstraction at 9:18 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Also, from the look of the screenshot of Matt's inbox, there clearly needs to be a note about the fact that Metafilter doesn't remove links from archive pages on the contact form so the admin team can stop wasting time with these chuckleheads who are asking them to.

Believe me, there's approximately zero chance that writing something on the contact form page will dissuade most of the spammy or form-letter crap we receive. If asking nicely was all it took, the web wouldn't be in this mess in the first place.
posted by cortex at 9:21 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


I can only speak for myself, but I'd be more than happy to oblige the companies that don't want to be linked, and even go further by blacklisting them in my browser.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:33 PM on May 22, 2014


Believe me, there's approximately zero chance that writing something on the contact form page will dissuade most of the spammy or form-letter crap we receive.

I should hope so! Otherwise there would be no material for Shit my contact form says.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:42 PM on May 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


We need a Next Generation Tim Berners Lee to develop a system of "anti-linking"...
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:42 PM on May 22, 2014


If Google's black box thinks Metafilter is a link farm, maybe we could stop using links most of the time, only in the FPP, others cleared by a white list (1) of reliable news and reference sites, or links to Metafilter itself. People can simply put a footnote in their post and then display the text of the link at the bottom.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitelist
posted by Brian B. at 9:46 PM on May 22, 2014


Hang on, I have a little Pernod in the lazy susan.
posted by vrakatar at 9:50 PM on May 22, 2014


Pronunciation question; Am I wrong in separating Google into two words - Go Ogle?
posted by X4ster at 9:51 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


I pronounce it 'Meffy' as in Meffy the Bullshit Slayer.
posted by islander at 9:54 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


but we're all a bunch of damned Gileses
posted by The Whelk at 9:57 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Shut your mouth, Giles is awesome.
posted by cmyk at 9:58 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


not Google Giles?
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:59 PM on May 22, 2014


do you have any idea how much tweed i own
posted by The Whelk at 9:59 PM on May 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


The Mefi: blue curacao, grapefruit juice, fresh lime, and a splash of proseco.
posted by vrakatar at 9:59 PM on May 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


Another former luker officially signing on.

If it wasn't for sheer epic laziness I could've been a four-digit user. Maybe even a three-digit contender! Came over from robotwisdom around the turn of the century and never left: Y'all are family, even if I was outside looking in. So time to pony up. I'll be making a recurring payment as soon as I figure out my finances.

Just a small way of saying thanks for the hundreds of hours I'll never get back, and to make sure there's just as many for me to lose in the future.
posted by bulgroz at 10:00 PM on May 22, 2014 [25 favorites]


I should hope so! Otherwise there would be no material for Shit my contact form says.

I did not previously know about SMCFS and now I am laughing so hard my cat is notably concerned.
posted by KathrynT at 10:01 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]




Well, yes. We all need help to see the magicods. They're freaking magic - how are the rest of us supposed to compete with that?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:07 PM on May 22, 2014


If Google's black box thinks Metafilter is a link farm, maybe we could stop using links most of the time, only in the FPP

Since FPPs in MetaFilter are basically about awesome stuff you found someplace else online, this would result in zero FPPs being made.
posted by hippybear at 10:10 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


Think long and hard about your username. Really.
Too late. :(
posted by Reversible Diamond-Encrusted Ermine Codpiece at 10:15 PM on May 22, 2014 [53 favorites]


"What jerk signed up with my handle at Metafilter?" turned into "Apparently I started the registration process a very long time ago, but never actually followed through with the Paypal part." What better time to complete the transaction than now! I could probably wax on about my own observations running a news site for fifteen years, seeing how different trends affected readership as well as my own desire to maintain the online equivalent of an old building, but for now I'll just say that I'm glad MeFi keeps it pretty simple, and I'm glad to throw some money into the hat.
posted by Leviathant at 10:16 PM on May 22, 2014 [15 favorites]


Add me to the list of former lurkers who finally got with the program. I really should have done this sooner, as Metafilter's been a perpetual open tab on whatever browser I'm using for about the, oh, last 8 years. (Sometimes, I'm slow.) The site's been a great resource to me for years, and I've always been astounded by the community here, even just from the outside watching.
posted by ultranos at 10:16 PM on May 22, 2014 [22 favorites]


Since FPPs in MetaFilter are basically about awesome stuff you found someplace else online, this would result in zero FPPs being made.

You took the opposite meaning of what I intended to say. I proposed that only in the FPP should any links be encouraged, vetted, etc. The rest are whitelisted or footnoted. Google is seeing something they don't like and we don't know what it is. I would guess it's a few spam links sprinkled in amongst dozens of non-related links to an otherwise topical post.
posted by Brian B. at 10:20 PM on May 22, 2014


I would guess it's a few spam links sprinkled in amongst dozens of non-related links to an otherwise topical post.

I would guess you are wrong. Spam links are quickly rooted out by the obsessive readers here, reported and flagged, and deleted. Some links may APPEAR to be spam to a non-human like Google's spiders, but any ACTUAL spam doesn't exist here for long.

If there is one thing MetaFilter has been good at for many, many years (and there is definitely more than one thing), it's moderator removal of spam links.
posted by hippybear at 10:24 PM on May 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


Autostraddle have written before about losing Google traffic to "wealthy SEO-optimised sites" like HuffPo and Buzzfeed, and generally they've been parsing this as "well our topic is not so niche anymore". However, I wonder if they're actually another casualty of whatever it was Google did that affected Mefi.

Mefi and Autostraddle have quite a bit in common:

* "Best Of The Web" status for their content (with Autostraddle's focus on a specific demographic, but still pretty broad)
* Ridiculously engaged and active userbase who want you to SHUT UP AND TAKE THEIR MONEY
* Well-written comments and discussions
* Lots of shared content, sometimes from other sites, by a wide variety of contributors (Regular and occasional)
* A shared site culture where the website becomes its own distinct community, complete with injokes and references and such
* Not that big, considering the sheer amount of content and work put into this (Autostraddle does have paid staff writers but their core team is pretty small)

Are there any other websites with the above similarities that have faced this same problem? It took us 2 years to know what happened to Mefi, and Autostraddle hasn't really considered Google algorithms as potentially the problem (or they might have, I don't recall), but if there is a pattern then we can start honing down on what exactly Google's problem is, if there are ways to fix it, and if other search engines will present the same issues.
posted by divabat at 10:30 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


but any ACTUAL spam doesn't exist here for long.

Perhaps they redefined actual spam.
posted by Brian B. at 10:33 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


If you have any examples to offer, I would love to see them.
posted by hippybear at 10:35 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


The idea of what is and is not "social media" is interesting, and worth a bit of explication.

Social Computing (by some academic standards) constitutes the following, which I'll quote directly from Wikipedia:
In the weaker sense of the term, social computing involves supporting any sort of social behavior in or through computational systems. It is based on creating or recreating social conventions and social contexts through the use of software and technology. Thus, blogs, email, instant messaging, social network services, wikis, social bookmarking and other instances of what is often called social software illustrate ideas from social computing, but also other kinds of software applications where people interact socially.

In the stronger sense of the term, social computing has to do with supporting “computations” that are carried out by groups of people, an idea that has been popularized in James Surowiecki's book, The Wisdom of Crowds. Examples of social computing in this sense include collaborative filtering, online auctions, prediction markets, reputation systems, computational social choice, tagging, and verification games. The Social Information Processing page focuses on this sense of social computing.
So, here we have an interesting distinction resulting from 'strong' and 'weak' forms of the same essential idea, which is to say network supported communication.

In a very direct sense I feel that this is at issue here with Metafilter's recent financial problems.

In the WEAK sense of the term Metafilter fits perfectly. Social Computing is a recreation of the cafe, the salon, the public house. Places that people have been meeting and sharing ideas for centuries. The difference is that we aren't necessarily bound by geography. Instead a bunch of dispersed people come together, connecting from anywhere that Internet access and free time are available, to discuss specific ideas and topics and artifacts with one another. This discussion is facilitated by the necessary vagaries of the web. We need to have this platform and this platform needs to have money and to have money we need to have advertising impressions. So it goes.

However, in the STRONG sense of the term, Metafilter is maladroit. We have a bunch of people commenting and sharing ideas and submitting content, but systematically this doesn't feed out to a larger ecosystem. Indeed we are doing collaborative filtering (check the title, I mean) but our filtering is a small, social, cultural activity. To put it bluntly, there's no profit there. In the STRONG sense of the term computation is primary and social is secondary. You can't run statistical analysis on us, you can't make us make something go viral (I speak in broad generalities for rhetorical purposes - in truth Metafilter has been influential before). On a network visualization, on an earnings report, we provide very little information, and therefore very little earnings. Welcome to the information society.

The tendency is to paint Google as an arch-villain. But, instead, I would call it what it is: a very large system run on statistical analysis. And within statistical analysis places like Metafilter don't really factor. That isn't to say that places like Metafilter aren't important (in fact: necessary).

Current net profitability metrics for assessing value are limited, and for the backbone of our communication metrics are key. Therefore Google, for however much its engineers might embody our core values as a community, are mathematically forced to ignore us. In this instance I think it's possible to observe a necessary tension of the future of the Internet. We desire connection, but we also desire an unencumbered access to that connection. The access necessitates capital gain, but the capital gain relies upon a statistically determined "mass market" to make the access profitable.

At the moment advertising is the only way to conceive of profitability. It's difficult for us to imagine a way out of this fix, since (to me at least) it often seems like a totality. To imagine the web not supported by advertising is almost to imagine a world without capitalism. Still, I think that there must be a way forward, if not necessarily a solution.
posted by codacorolla at 10:39 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


Aaand, donated.

This actually marks the first time I've given Metafilter money, which is pretty shameful on my part.

My account was a birthday gift from my boyfriend, who introduced me to the site. That was back in 2008. We're still together, because he was clearly a keeper.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 10:41 PM on May 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


cmyk, You Can't Tip a Buick, you are not even the only two who remember dogs in elk. I read it as it happened on TableTalk.
posted by caryatid at 10:43 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Here's my unsolicited "SEO" advice for Metafilter:

1. Add robots "no-index" to unanswered ask.mefi question pages - This shows Google you only want them to care about your most "useful" pages

2. Add rel=next & rel=prev for any pagination See http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/09/pagination-with-relnext-and-relprev.html - This spoon feeds Google your pagination structure

3. Go into the URL Parameters section of Google Webmaster Tools and spell out the intention of any random parameters that show up - this saves Google resources when crawling

(That you have to do this sorta stuff these days is part of the problem...)
posted by ejoey at 10:44 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]




To imagine the web not supported by advertising is almost to imagine a world without capitalism.

I don't have to imagine it, I was using Mozilla very very shortly after it was released, and I lived in the web free of advertising for quite a while before it was broken by the pursuit of the dollar.

It was personal, it was idiosyncratic, it was social, it was glorious.

It was also tiny (you could look at a list of every new webpage created and indexed and read all of them every day, if you wanted).

What we have now, in its totality, is much more rich and wonderful, but perhaps demanding that little-to-none of it cost anything as users and leaving the actual paying (of the actual costs of the actual real-world requirements of equipment and energy required to have the internet exist) to advertising is the poison.

I made a joke on twitter earlier today when I saw the voluntary recurring donation form for MetaFilter that it had become the NPR/PBS of the internet. But then, I remembered that NPR just laid off some rather significant number of employees and had cancelled some shows in order to balance its own budget, and suddenly that subscription model didn't seem like a joke anymore.
posted by hippybear at 10:49 PM on May 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


I have but one word:

MetaFilter!
posted by BlueHorse at 10:55 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Thanks divabat, that's a great thread. I anticipate (blindly guess) that Metafilter will see a "Google recovery" akin to what RapGenius saw, although in that case they were actually trying to game to search engines a little bit rather than genuinely being good internet citizens as Metafilter is.
posted by ejoey at 10:58 PM on May 22, 2014


1. As a long time participant, new monthly subscriber, registrar of countless $5 sock puppets, owner of 4 t-shirts plus the one I gave hadjiboy, buyer of exactly 300 rounds at meetups, I would trade it all for one of those *free* sub-14,000 accounts.

2. The best part of my involvement here has been the dozen or so times people have reached out to me in my professional capacity in the real world and I've been able to directly impact the lives of my fellow gangsters. You people know who you are and I love you.

3. Bourbon, straight up, as always.

4. Fuck the internet. This place would be just as good if we quit and made MeFi a dial up BBS. I could live without almost everything else. In the early days, no one cared about ad revenue. Profit driven companies chased the content creators and figured out how to make money off of them. This whole thing is their problem, not ours. Long live Usenet!
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:59 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


I read as much of this as my eyes could take, but can't do it all.

I think the big problem with MetaFilter is that the material posted here is simply over the head of most internet users today. Think about it - most Facebook and Twitter users and others like them are completely lost when it comes to carrying on a conversation about anything other than movies, music, sports, celebrities, make-up and makeovers, muscles, fashion, the undead, etc. Those folks simply can't participate here - they don't know what we're talking about.

And I have to laugh - when we talk about how this is text-based, they think that means txt - no punctuation, no capitalization, but also a shortened thought process to go along with the shortened form of a sentence. Their form of communication is clever, but superficial only; it makes perfect sense to them, however, because superficial is all there is in their world.

I expect that time will eventually leave us on the scrap heap, but it's not happening yet, not just to keep Google out in front, no sir; this is MetaFilter and it doesn't go down without a major war. I'd be more than willing to find another search engine and eliminate Google if that's possible. I'm already burned out with their Google Chrome, which consistently forces me to refresh and refresh and refresh again before I can access a website anymore. I though it was just my old system, but my friend is going through the same thing and her setup is much newer than mine. Wouldn't it be something if it turned out that this whole mess was a bug in their Chrome browser that threw off the numbers? Ha!

elizardbits, you're one in a million.

As for spam, I think 90% of everything on the internet is spam - because it isn't anything I want. I can't help but wonder what criteria they're using to define spam - I'd certainly call anything to do with Justin Beiber or Lindsay Lohan spam ...

Long Live MetaFilter!

And have you ever actually read the comments in the Yahoo version of Ask? Oh, Lord - it's BAD, folks.
posted by aryma at 11:00 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Aaahh ... sorry about the snippy and snobby in my comment. I, too, am in a mood - and not mincing any words. I could be nicer - I'll try - later.
posted by aryma at 11:05 PM on May 22, 2014


I think the big problem with MetaFilter is that the material posted here is simply over the head of most internet users today. Think about it - most Facebook and Twitter users and others like them are completely lost when it comes to carrying on a conversation about anything other than movies, music, sports, celebrities, make-up and makeovers, muscles, fashion, the undead, etc. Those folks simply can't participate here - they don't know what we're talking about.

Yeah see, this sort of attitude just makes MetaFilter less inviting. If I wasn't already a member for quite some time now this would spur me to go "Fuck this site" and move away, because it's highly patronizing.

Many of the FPPs I've posted here, including the ones that are really well-received, are from places like Tumblr (and not some super-specialised mini-Mefi version of Tumblr either, but the very same people who also make tons of fan edits and speculate about the motivations of TV characters and other things that make people go "kids these days") or Facebook or Twitter. Indeed we've had some strong FPPs here about Twitter hashtags leading to social commentary. The MH370 post leading to the project I co-ran about it? Heard it from Twitter and was surprised that no one else had made a post before I did. etc etc.

Metafilter users are not some sort of special snowflake usergroup that's more enlightened than anyone else. I joined a month before my 20th birthday, in 2005. I look back at my old posts and see a lot of places where I really should have been more mature (and I won't be surprised if this comment elicits such a response too) and also some places where I was more kick-ass than I remembered. Mefi brought me to a lot of new opportunities and interests, and I've also channeled a lot of new opportunities and interests to Mefi.

Pitching ourselves against various other sites or social media hubs as though this was some sort of competition will only hurt instead of help. Look at the sheer amount of support other sites have given to us, and see how other sites and groups (Autostraddle, German academic publishers) have been dealing with the same issues. Collaboration and cooperation will help us - we can help each other, without needing to rely on Google's mercurial moods.

We can all be the best of the web.
posted by divabat at 11:22 PM on May 22, 2014 [40 favorites]


but we're all a bunch of damned Gileses

Woah. See, I've always pictured the whelk as more of a Xander-esque figure, with elizardbits being Willow (especially with the flaying caused by the remark earlier).

Jessamyn, being Buffy, isn't so much leaving Sunnyvale as going on a series of heists world-wide with the other mod-slayers (Season 8 was real to me, for a while, dammit).
posted by Ghidorah at 11:33 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was Googling my username as one does these days, and not only are most of the results from the infodump, rather than MeFi, but if you do it without quote marks, stupid Google asks if I meant to seach for Alvin Rampersand. Alvin Rampersand!!! What kind of stupid faqing made-up name is that?!?

Also, someone also named Alvy Ampersand has posted presumably sexy pictures of Phoebe Cates in various places on the internet in 2006. While I agree that Ms. Cates is an incredibly attractive woman, that is totally not me, since I have sense to keep my creepy separate.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:35 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think the big problem with MetaFilter is that the material posted here is simply over the head of most internet users today. Think about it - most Facebook and Twitter users and others like them are completely lost when it comes to carrying on a conversation about anything other than movies, music, sports, celebrities, make-up and makeovers, muscles, fashion, the undead, etc. Those folks simply can't participate here - they don't know what we're talking about.

No, that's really not it. Unless you are claiming that all the smart people are here already. Because that's just nonsense.

We don't have to be all things for all people. More importantly, we don't have to be all things for some people. If I want to trade cat and baby pictures and keep up with my friends food choices, I can do it on Facebook. If I want to trade witty one liners, I can go to Twitter. And when I want to argue about the future of 3D printing and exoskeletons and WW2 cartography and narrative in forgotten superhero TV shows and site moderation policies, I can do it here.

What we do, we do well. But we don't do everything. And we shouldn't try.

And we certainly don't need to look down on people if what we like isn't what they like.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:39 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


dear lord, Wesley or Lorne, at least, depending on alcohol consumption
posted by The Whelk at 11:47 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


rogue-demon-hunter Wesley, or bookish dweeb Wesley?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:01 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yes, please do not compare any person you think fondly of to Xander fucking Harris, the fedora'd nice guy entitled douchebag of sunnyvale.

whelk is more like sweets imo
posted by elizardbits at 12:02 AM on May 23, 2014 [6 favorites]


Leviathant: ""What jerk signed up with my handle at Metafilter?" turned into "Apparently I started the registration process a very long time ago, but never actually followed through with the Paypal part." What better time to complete the transaction than now!"

omg we are totally mefi twins
posted by Rhaomi at 12:14 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Reading people's takedowns of the Washington Post article high up in the thread are making me laugh in strange new ways.

I've now gotten as far as laughing like the black cat from Cat Town's Animal Hat Gang. HURR HURR HURRR.
posted by JHarris at 12:18 AM on May 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


Wesley is by far my favorite but I wouldn't wish being him on anyone I like.

I was looking for answers to a question on google the other day (it was about athletic gear) and all the top results were from people selling the gear in question, shitty sites like eHow, and sites like WebMD and Livestrong of mediocre to dubious quality advice. Google is getting worse for certain kinds of information.
posted by NoraReed at 12:35 AM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Metafilter, the only site I read and love every day.

Who needs evolution when you have excellence.
posted by angelplasma at 12:36 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Wow. I'd never encountered such Xander hate before. Sniff... It was supposed to be a compliment.

Backhanded, maybe, but still a complement. Plus I imagine the whelk would look nice with an eye patch.
posted by Ghidorah at 12:38 AM on May 23, 2014


I read this entire thread, 500+ comments, yet I balk when I have to read two pages of an article on another site. That's how much I love this place.
posted by littlesq at 12:54 AM on May 23, 2014 [18 favorites]


What we do, we do well. But we don't do everything. And we shouldn't try.
quoted for extreme truism

The real challenge right now should be to find ways to attract eyes and make money that don't NEED the Google algorithm. Yep, sounds like a monumental (and whole-lotta-no-fun) task, but with nearly 2000 supporters counted on the Funding page, over 1250 of them with recurring payments, we're making some serious progress. There are a lot of people here who believe the BlueBeetle quote more than Matt does did until very recently. And The Deck ads here are one way to get advertising support with even "ONE WEIRD TRICK"... there are others. And as I previously pontificated, the more independent MetaFilter is, the brighter its long-term future...

BTW, Buffy-wise, I'd love to be Angel, but will probably end up as Andrew.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:26 AM on May 23, 2014


So, what are we drinking tonight all you wonderful people?

1/4 oz Chartreuse
1/4 oz Amaro Ciociaro
6/4 oz gin
A dash or two Jerry Thomas' [sic] Decanter Bitters

Serve on the rocks but give it a minute to melt a bit because really it just should have been shaken but you know what? Fuck it.
posted by aubilenon at 1:30 AM on May 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


So, what are we drinking tonight all you wonderful people?

La Crema Chardonnay (Monterey)
Cheap cava from Safeway

Boy, am I tired! *yawn*
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 1:32 AM on May 23, 2014


Very strong coffee, beaten, not stirred -- because some of us live in the future. (already morning here, but I plan to get with the cocktailswilling like the rest of you dirty textgobblers sometime after the workday ends).
posted by taz at 1:37 AM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


You're so right - my comment is nasty in the first place, but more importantly it's wrong. The world is big and there's room for everyone in it. Thank you for putting me in my place.
posted by aryma at 2:24 AM on May 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


Another long-time lurker (2002?) finally getting around to signing up. The web would not be worthwhile without Metafilter. It's actually the extremely high quality of the comments here that meant I never previously overcame laziness and the PayPal problem to get an account; I would read a thread and want to make a comment only to find that someone else just made my point.
posted by sedna17 at 2:40 AM on May 23, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'm not trying to be all "get off my lawn," but the author of the WaPo article was in elementary school when Matt started MetaFilter. It... it shows. I'm a little embarrassed for her.
That puts it all in perspective. Sometimes I wonder if the fact that Mefi took off as it did was somehow related to 9/11. If somehow September 11 itself caused a kind of boom in online reading and played a part in normalizing "reading the internet at work" as a social practice.

Back at the turn of the millennium, I was a bored book slave in the local public library. I'd worked there pretty much right through university and beyond, into the shadowy adult world that stretched out beyond graduation. Duties involved long desk shifts where nothing much happened. In the mid-'90s, I'd maybe glance at a book, talk to whoever I'd been rostered on with about whatever—bands, mostly—or stare off into space. Then we got networked PCs on the desk, because our managers assumed we could answer customer inquiries using ... THE INTERNET! It all seems so quaint now. What a revolution! Now I could take a peek at the Guardian website on work time! But just for a moment, because I was supposed to be working.

Then, very shortly afterwards ... September 11. Suddenly all my coworkers were obsessively reading everything they could possibly find on the internet about 9/11. Goofing off reading online newspapers at work had become normalized. The Guardian and the Independent were bottomless tunnels of speculation. And the American internet had gone weird. It was all so ... patriotic. To find anything like a Left perspective, you had to turn to obscure culture jamming proto-blogs or ZNet. And from the blog roll on one of those, in maybe October 2001, I found a link to Metafilter. It was like the perfectly engineered solution to a three-hour evening shift in the newspaper room, minding the subset of Auckland's homeless population who hung out there 'til closing time. Wow.

So, because of her age, this WaPo journalist can know nothing about what I'm going to call the 9/11 Enabled Online Reading Revolution (NEORR) that swept workplaces in 2001-2, its implications for the future, and Mefi's small role in it. I feel sad now.
posted by Sonny Jim at 3:03 AM on May 23, 2014 [23 favorites]


I'm not a bad person; I'm just middle aged.
posted by The corpse in the library


Don't you mean you were middle-aged?
posted by Pyrogenesis at 5:12 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I linked to matt's piece on medium on my fb page, and a friend shared it. Pretty sure she's not a mefite. And this morning I see that a friend of hers is all "hey, I'm a mefite, and I'm gonna subscribe, are you a mefite?" and I got all YAY MEFITES EVERYWHERE!
posted by rtha at 5:45 AM on May 23, 2014 [8 favorites]


Hopefully the residual ad earnings and the subscriptions will get us over the hump. Longer term, the world does not owe us the money to pay for our hobby. I am guessing we will tend toward being more self-supporting or have to try an adapt to what people are paying for.

AskMe is my goto resource for lots of questions, but in the day of StackOverflow, I would never ask a coding question here any more. Will that happen to book recommendations too? Who knows.

I think a paid position to draw blog posts out of MetaFilter, like a super best of blog with 10 posts per day, should be considered as that is what people seem to be paying for these days.

That or drawing out more exhaustive collections of AskMe advice for people to purse, like ReadMe which I have not updated in years but is actually fun to peruse in a text-only sort of way.

If we are going to survive on advertising, we should at least package stuff in the way that maximizes our chances of earning money.
posted by shothotbot at 5:45 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I knew we should have switched to a professional white background!
posted by Drexen at 5:45 AM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


So, because of her age, this WaPo journalist can know nothing about what I'm going to call the 9/11 Enabled Online Reading Revolution (NEORR) that swept workplaces in 2001-2, its implications for the future, and Mefi's small role in it. I feel sad now.

I dunno. I was in university when that massive 9/11 thread went up, and we didn't have fancy laptops so it's not like we could read in class. I guess you feel sad for me too! But that thread was huge for me for many of the same reasons you listed, especially on the day of the attack—I had two televisions going and the Metafilter thread to tell me what the fuck was going on. I couldn't get enough; I needed to know more; Metafilter was by far the best place to do so. That, I think, is a pretty universal impulse.
posted by chrominance at 6:06 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I got lots of favourites for my comment, and the rest of the Internet still doesn't understand us.

Yes! Still an Internet teenager!
posted by But tomorrow is another day... at 6:27 AM on May 23, 2014


Drexen: "I knew we should have switched to a professional white background!"

Seriously, I don't think that's a bad idea to present the white for lurkers and only enable to garish blue/green/gray for logged in users. It would be a quick way for to change the site to look a little more modern for casual users.

I have to say that I've been using the professional white background option for five years or so and cringe when I see the "normal" view of Mefi now.
posted by octothorpe at 6:38 AM on May 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


I've lurked this magnificent place pretty much daily since the days that memberships were a limited thing. I've bookmarked, saved, cut-n-pasted, and referenced countless of its pages for the past decade plus. But it took this:

it's called text you hapless gibbering app-fondling touchscreen cretin

to get my $5, and it really shouldn't have. Thanks for being what you've always been, Blue. Don't go changing.
posted by Doc Ezra at 6:39 AM on May 23, 2014 [12 favorites]


I was also in elementary school when Matt started Metafilter. We can get off your lawn, if you really want, but I think you'll miss the contribution of us mefites who cluster around the age of the Washington Post journalist. Say goodbye to Blasdelb, for one.

(and as a 13 year old, I turned to the internet right after September 11. BrOaDwAyGaL99 might not have found her way to Metafilter, but she was also on the NY Times website and in the New York aol chatroom trying to figure out what the hell was going on).
posted by ChuraChura at 6:43 AM on May 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


Frequently the site I am trying to reach appears in the top search results for just an instant and then is forced off the page altogether by a stack of paid ads that have nothing to do with what I am searching.

I do not like the ads that come up with google searches when I'm using other people's computers. They look too much like actual search results. If you use Firefox and don't want them, adding the following text to userContent.css might help. (It's ~/.mozilla/firefox/*/chrome/userContent.css on my system, where * is some kind of profile ID, and on Windows it's under AppData/Roaming.) Create the directory and file if they don't exist.
@-moz-document domain(google.com) { div[name="tads"] { display:none; } }
@-moz-document domain(google.ca) { div[name="tads"] { display:none; } }
@-moz-document domain(google.co.uk) { div[name="tads"] { display:none; } }
I usually don't block text ads, but these ones deserve it and Google makes more than enough money already.
posted by sfenders at 7:03 AM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


In this context, I don't understand how Google is "evil" if MetaFilter is relying on Google Adsense to generate revenue. It was a business decision on the part of people running MetaFilter.

Well, because Google has lost sight of the wood for the trees, and is now penalising linking which is what makes the web the web. It leads to links being seeing as a bad thing, and emails flying around begging webmasters to remove good links to sites. It leads to suggestions, a few posts below yours, like:
If Google's black box thinks Metafilter is a link farm, maybe we could stop using links most of the time
If we stop using links, Google has won. We might as well go back into Compuserve and AOL and forget this whole web thing entirely.

That's the real reason I'm against all the "MeFi should just tweak their SEO because after all it was their choice to use Google Ads". Nope. Google should fix their shit.
posted by bonaldi at 7:04 AM on May 23, 2014 [15 favorites]


It would be a quick way for to change the site to look a little more modern for casual users.

Nothing looks more 90s web then black on white websites.

we just deployed office 2013 sitewide here, and holy shit is it UGLY
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:28 AM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Pretty much everything I wanted to say has been said, so I'm just leaving this here for posterity and so I can be part of this thread. There's nowhere else on the internet that means enough to me to do that. Off to donate.
posted by HumanComplex at 7:29 AM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Generally speaking, Google's intention (from what I understand) is to penalize linking for the sake of linking. Until around 2012, it was common knowledge that the more links your site has, the more it will help your Search ranking. So SEO's would try to get links from any old place. At best the links (for people doing linkbuilding) would be from sites that are totally irrelevant, at worst totally spammy.

It's like one of my clients, a chiropractor, getting links from a totally irrelevant source, a luxury resort on the island of XXX in the Caribbean (another client). It doesn't make any sense, especially if the luxury resort has absolutely no content about chiropractors.

It was also quite common to do "link exchanges." Obviously, the people doing the linking aren't doing it "naturally."

So, the algo updates are intended to deprecate the value of irrelevant links.

MetaFilter is (perhaps; we don't know why site traffic dropped off a cliff 24 long months ago) collateral damage.

However, there is a laundry list of basic technical fixes (like robots.txt) that can be implemented first.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:42 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Wasn't there a Pintrest clone April Fool's gag a few years ago? We could just dust that off.
posted by shothotbot at 7:44 AM on May 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


Pogo_Fuzzybutt: "Nothing looks more 90s web then black on white websites."

A quick review of my open tabs and 90% of them are either black on white or black on light gray.
posted by octothorpe at 7:45 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am of the mind we should switch background colors too. But I've been using the professional white background since (close to?) it's inception, so I'm biased. I've also run into the wall of trying to get friends interested because of the color scheme. If people are bouncing because of the eye sore that is the current colors, then that isn't helping metafilter any. And let's be honest, if it wasn't a deep attachment to the site, most people here would to. I'm guessing most of you have done it on other search results "ew, can't read" *back*

Not that I think that's the problem with Google, but I'm certain it's not helping any.

(I do also wish the mobile support was better, like real responsive design and larger touch targets. That's my pony request. But the mobile experience is decent, and has evolved to be better. Like the favorites/flag on a new line with reasonable spacing. Thank you team Metafilter for implementing that.)
posted by [insert clever name here] at 7:46 AM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Would be interesting to know the % of active users who use white versus green.
posted by Mid at 7:50 AM on May 23, 2014


Oh yeah, and fuck Google and it's breaking of links. Both from the spamming links it created am market for and then deciding links are bad. Thanks for breaking the Internet, jerks.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 7:51 AM on May 23, 2014


(I do also wish the mobile support was better, like real responsive design and larger touch targets. That's my pony request. But the mobile experience is decent, and has evolved to be better. Like the favorites/flag on a new line with reasonable spacing. Thank you team Metafilter for implementing that.)

You should give swipe to favorite a try! I really like it.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:55 AM on May 23, 2014 [8 favorites]


Look, there's no point in talking as if the WaPo article actually had some kind of point. That would be falling for BS.

The reason MeFi has been having trouble is already well-understood and doesn't require all this second-guessing. The evidence is clear and really unequivocal.

The search rankings dropped and so did the resulting clicks. It's not sociology or psychology. It's not about color schemes or not being link-baity enough (except to the extent Google's algorithms deliberately or inadvertently privilege link-bait now).

Don't accept the framing of those articles that make this a MeFi problem. Google's bad site ranking algorithms (which quite frankly I think are now tasked with doing the logically impossible, if links to external sites are suddenly a bad thing). The reality is, Google search and a lot of other online products are all starting to suck as they respond to economic pressures. Basically, Google has a de facto monopoly on search, so when something goes wrong with Google, it touches everything on the internet.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:56 AM on May 23, 2014 [15 favorites]


You know, we could make the non-logged-in colors the professional white, and make it a logged-in option to go back to blue/green/whatever. It's just changing the defaults.
posted by Houstonian at 7:58 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm sure it's just what I've gotten comfortable with, but I find the blue (and green) comforting and soothing next to all the white-screen-with-giant-image-on-top that's in vogue now. I don't have trouble loading it, either, unlike the sites with all the animation and ads and funky formats that my browser doesn't like for whatever reason.

If you hold on to a look long enough, it becomes retro and cool again. Let's do that.
posted by emjaybee at 8:00 AM on May 23, 2014 [6 favorites]


I switched to the white years ago...

of course, that was only because it is less obvious when I'm reading MeFi at work . . . .
posted by fimbulvetr at 8:07 AM on May 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


It's not called the "professional" white background for nothing...
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:09 AM on May 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


Incidentally, this question I asked yesterday might be a good example of the kind of thing that once upon a time would have been on pg. 1 of a google search for the relevant terms, and currently is buried (I know it is indexed because it shows right up if you add "metafilter" to the search). In part I asked it because the google results that do show up were extremely unhelpful to me (wall after wall of difficult-to-evaluate company pages, most of which it seems aren't actually local but pretend to be so for SEO purposes). Though the answers aren't giving me what I was immediately looking for (since maybe it mostly doesn't exist), they have been extremely helpful.
posted by advil at 8:09 AM on May 23, 2014


The search rankings dropped and so did the resulting clicks. It's not sociology or psychology. It's not about color schemes or not being link-baity enough (except to the extent Google's algorithms deliberately or inadvertently privilege link-bait now).

Wait a minute, do you mean to tell me that 40% of visitors to the site didn't suddenly decide the color scheme was a bridge too far, totally coincidentally at the same time that Google dropped a search algo update? Crazy talk!

Anyways, color schemes can only do so much for the "old school" look of Metafilter, the sheer amount of text is still an issue. And "fixing" that in a more modern way... could you imagine reading a comment thread this long with the wide margins, larger text and large amounts of negative space that more modern web designs use to deal with lots of text in a visually appealing way? I mean, if you think long Mefi threads require a lot of scrolling now... Even the front page would be an issue if you took more modern design cues - more content would end up below the fold, for one.

I'm not saying Metafilter has a perfect look, but I think taking cues from more modern designs is largely the wrong way to go. It always needs to err on the side of utility over aesthetics with this much text.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:11 AM on May 23, 2014 [6 favorites]


I find that the white background looks better on smaller screens, and the colored background is easier to read on large screens (like when I use my 32" TV as my monitor). I'm sure there's some scientific reason for that, but I switch back and forth all of the time depending on what device I'm using.
posted by desjardins at 8:12 AM on May 23, 2014


Your Google score has become your credit score. Arcane black box magic. Have debt, but not too much but not too little. Have links, but not too many but not to few. Do this to your robots.txt. Give your credit cards to robots. Oh, that didn't work? Well fuck it, we don't even know how this shit works.

Fundamentally search is broken in 2014. I suspect a new Google will have to rise, but I doubt that's even possible in the entrenched Internet of today.

(I do think there are some things that would make Ask more friendly to people who come via searches, like having a legend showing how "best answers" are marked, and probably promoting them to a separate section a la Stack Exchange or [shudder] Yahoo, but I think Matt & Co have gotten enough unsolicited advice that -- oh wait, I already did, didn't I?)
posted by dirigibleman at 8:17 AM on May 23, 2014 [7 favorites]


I use white mainly because it warms up nicely with f.lux at night. It does make copy/pasting easier.
posted by moira at 8:18 AM on May 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


No, you got that for free.

I want "flagged with futility" as a t-shirt option.


"I flagged this comment and I didn't even get told to move on."
posted by Going To Maine at 8:21 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


The green color of the Green was what clued me into the fact that the best advice was coming all from one site!
posted by chainsofreedom at 8:22 AM on May 23, 2014 [19 favorites]


I'd be interested to see the numbers of the new member signups over the past month. Based on comments in the three monster threads, there have been A LOT of long time lurkers signing up due to this situation.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:24 AM on May 23, 2014


It was also quite common to do "link exchanges."

A couple of times a month I get emails (at work) from people asking if it's okay if they put a link to something of ours on their site, like it's 1995 and they're all Hey can I be in your webring?

I write back politely and say something like Of course! but inside I'm screaming THIS IS THE WEB IT'S MADE OF LINKS!!!
posted by rtha at 8:25 AM on May 23, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm now plugging metafilter on okcupid which feels weird but you know what maybe it will warn away those who message with how r u your hot!
posted by angrycat at 8:27 AM on May 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


Is this the start of the great Intitialism vs. Acronym War of 2014, or did the Tardis (or tee-ay-ar-dee-eye-ess, if you prefer) drop me off at the wrong time again?
posted by johnofjack at 8:28 AM on May 23, 2014


If we're going to change anything, it should only be that we view this place as ours in terms of needing to consistently support it. We can be the Green Bay Packers of the internet. It's our site, we like the colors, and we like the links. It's always been about the links.

If Google can't handle that or manually make a change so that our generally high quality website is recognized as such, too bad for them and their users. They are the ones missing out.

If there is going to be any actual structural change, I have the same suggestion I have had for the past five years. We come up with a way to summarize and distill the reams of good information, theory, practices, insights and literature that gets put down on the regular.

Perhaps it's time we lead the internet where it should go. Civilized discussion for the most part, learning, fun, and sharing knowledge and understanding. An interface that reminds you of when you are about to do something productive, write, create and share rather than the typical interface of the day which is at its core "shit everywhere". The common interface of the day which is to put barriers, pop-up windows and additional pages between you and the content. Or to give people in general a way to dull and essentially remove the voices of those who they don't want to hear from for any reason under the sun, as a workaround. But instead the staff here works. They work to not only manually cull spam and derails and keep things productive and useful, but also personally correspond with many users. In a community of tens of thousands, that's not the past, that's the future. And I can't think of another place I frequent whose structural changes are open to community discussion and member-suggested changes are implemented in minutes if deemed helpful.

And our members are awesome enough that even as all of that gets read, someone is thinking about historical contexts in previous generations, other lands and a varying number of society in which similar initiatives have succeeded or failed, and how we can take those lessons and apply them to our current situation. I personally believe we have all the tools in place to remain as Metafilter as ever, while growing and retaining our sense of community even as we now incorporate a business-like eye toward our future structure. To me we've already taken a huge step in rallying around our site and getting more engaged in what comes next. It's rare that you give money to something as notable and feel like you're truly giving it to yourself by way of the community, rather than to a collection of unreachably wealthy folks behind private security and sprawling estates.

All I know is this place is the future. It's a great and constantly evolving community for the most part, and we should keep it that way.
posted by cashman at 8:28 AM on May 23, 2014 [35 favorites]


I have been using the blue background because I frequently read late at night and white backgrounds hurt my eyes (so, the majority of websites...) but maybe I'll try the other colors.
posted by gucci mane at 8:32 AM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Leverage the userbase - we get into local teams, wearing suits the color of Mefi and Ask and the other subsites, and spread the word door to door like Jehovah's Witnesses. "Have you heard the good news about MetaFilter today? Here, have this pamphlet of this week's top posts and comments!"
posted by jason_steakums at 8:35 AM on May 23, 2014 [6 favorites]


Your Google score has become your credit score. Arcane black box magic. Have debt, but not too much but not too little. Have links, but not too many but not to few. Do this to your robots.txt. Give your credit cards to robots. Oh, that didn't work? Well fuck it, we don't even know how this shit works.

This reminds me of mathowie's awkward conversation with that credit score expert bloke who was all NOOOOO UR DOIN IT RONG because #1 had pointed out that contorting your financial activities to fit the scoring algorithms didn't seem exactly map to sober, low-risk behaviour.
posted by holgate at 8:36 AM on May 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


So does no one want free beer? Really?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:47 AM on May 23, 2014


I do.
posted by h00py at 8:51 AM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have been away for a week or so.
And this news sucks.
I mean, I paid cash money to post here, and I love it.
I will actually consider a donation (as soon as I remember and reset my Paypal).


So does no one want free beer?

ftp://ftp.my-mouth.gullet.
posted by Mezentian at 8:52 AM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


You are too far away Shakes not unless you want to send it via auto gyro.

It just occurred to me that Mefites being The Brotherhood Of Steel is not that far off...
posted by The Whelk at 8:55 AM on May 23, 2014


Okay, I was joking with my comment, just to be clear! I hate white backgrounds, I find them at once boring and too intense. They also do not play well with vitreous floaters. I find Metafilter with the default colors to be just about the most readable website I know of, and the color scheme is also iconic and distinctive.

Anyway -- it looks like the MeFi subscriber numbers are climbing steadily and I intend to join them soon. Never change, Metafilter, you are a big part of my online life.
posted by Drexen at 9:00 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's pronounced Me. Fi. As in Me Fi Fo Fum because HULK SMASH!
posted by sexyrobot at 9:10 AM on May 23, 2014 [9 favorites]


Just remember money talks and words...... Well they are fun, informative, frustrating, fun, sad, enlightening but they do not pay the bills or the staff. hoping all who post and lurk make a contribution(s) appropriate for them.
posted by rmhsinc at 9:15 AM on May 23, 2014


No, it's Mifi!

(Just wait, I have a bloated java/flash interface, with SO MUCH PROFESSIONAL WHITE that will be uploaded to Me.Fi that Facebook will be spending billions on us soon. Soon will be when my new interface finishes loading. It will take time).
posted by Mezentian at 9:15 AM on May 23, 2014


Yes. Me. Fi. People who pronounce it meh-fee concern me, because I worry that they are hyperventilating and I should be going to find them a paper bag.

Also: fantastic, if depressing, post. Very well pulled together.
posted by quin at 9:16 AM on May 23, 2014


QED (pronunciation left as an exercise for the reader).

"Queued," because one thing follows logically from the other.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:16 AM on May 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


Wait.... can we monetise favourites?
posted by Mezentian at 9:18 AM on May 23, 2014


I'd still like the beer, if it's available. And if you can pack it, and send it to Japan. That would be swell. Thanks.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:18 AM on May 23, 2014


We can be the Green Bay Packers of the internet.

Please to explain the Metafilter version of the Lambeau Leap.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:33 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Meeefiiiii

And askme, like hey, ask me...
posted by sio42 at 9:35 AM on May 23, 2014


I'm in.

To whom am I writing the check out? MetaFilter Network Inc.?
posted by fizzix at 9:37 AM on May 23, 2014


Please to explain the Metafilter version of the Lambeau Leap.

I think that's when I celebrate a deletion by jumping into a terrible pun.
posted by cortex at 9:38 AM on May 23, 2014


Askme I won't say no, how could I?
posted by h00py at 9:39 AM on May 23, 2014


This whole argument about the color scheme has me setting my preferences to the blue background and Lucida Console as a font, FWIW...
posted by JoeXIII007 at 9:40 AM on May 23, 2014


Wait.... the big issue here: did Mathowie actually say (or, more probably, write) "staff down"?
posted by Mezentian at 9:41 AM on May 23, 2014


Another decade-plus* lurker signing on for the first time. The way I explain the site to other people who have noticed me spending an awful lot of time on webpages with a professional blue background: "You know how you should never read the comments on the internet? Metafilter is the exact opposite." Other websites have come and gone from my daily rotation over the years (often after eye-watering redesigns coupled with a marked downturn in quality), but Metafilter has stayed the same high quality place. Only, somehow, always just a little bit better.


*The oldest email reference I could find was from 2006 where I casually stated that I "spent a while browsing the time sink that is metafilter", but I had been happily sinking my time here for years at that point.
posted by puffyn at 9:44 AM on May 23, 2014 [18 favorites]


Wait.... the big issue here: did Mathowie actually say (or, more probably, write) "staff down"?

Presuming what you're asking about isn't that literal verbatim pair of words but the question of whether we announced having to do layoffs, yes. Here's Matt's metatalk post form Monday.

And while job one right now for us is to get finances stabilized and savings rebuilt while we make the transition to a sparser mod team coverage rubric, the way the community fundraising has been going, it looks like we can look seriously at trying to turn at least some of that around in the near future, which is heartening news.
posted by cortex at 9:49 AM on May 23, 2014 [6 favorites]


Would "down staff" have been preferable?
posted by mudpuppie at 9:54 AM on May 23, 2014


Google has lost sight of the wood for the trees, and is now penalising linking which is what makes the web the web. It leads to links being seeing as a bad thing, and emails flying around begging webmasters to remove good links to sites... If we stop using links, Google has won.

From my cold dead hands.
posted by homunculus at 9:54 AM on May 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


OH NOES for MeFi, YESSSS for Open Library. Is it possible to sniffle and fist-pump at the same time?
posted by bartleby at 9:56 AM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't like to read webpages that are not blue.
posted by Golem XIV at 10:06 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


FAQ is pronounced fack, I think. Except when I have to explain the acronym to someone. Same as "AIDS" being pronounced like "aids" and not "ayy eye dee ess".

Am I the only one who sometimes pronounces "QED" as "Quod Erat Demonstrandum, baby" just to see if anyone follows up with "Oooh! You speak French!"
posted by rmd1023 at 10:10 AM on May 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


Wait.... can we monetise favourites?

Nobody's told you yet?
posted by Gygesringtone at 10:17 AM on May 23, 2014


IF METAFILTER DIES WHAT THE FUCK WILL I DO ON CAPS LOCK DAY
posted by fungible at 10:20 AM on May 23, 2014 [8 favorites]


Wait.... can we monetise favourites?

I've been saving mine up for the clock-radio.
posted by drezdn at 10:21 AM on May 23, 2014


I read MetaFilter and Ask 90% of the time on my phone in bed before I go to sleep (I know, a big no-no) - the blue and green backgrounds are rather easy on the eyes. Websites with white backgrounds and black text seem to glow? after awhile and it really puts a strain on my eyes. So. Much. White.
posted by littlesq at 10:29 AM on May 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


Wulfhere: "hovering mechanism for linked graphics (noting the irony of linking a Chrome extension in the Google-being-evil thread. Surely there are equivalents for other browsers too!)"

If you have Greasemonkey, you can use the Mondo Image script.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:30 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


We're green and blue thorough and thorough!
posted by littlesq at 10:31 AM on May 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


GIF is pronounced like saying "fig" backwards. Therefore FAQ should be pronounced like "qaf" in reverse. Qaf isn't a word (according to Scrabble) so we'll need to go with "quaff". Therefore the correct way to say FAQ is "fwock".
posted by sfenders at 10:37 AM on May 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


I should hope so! Otherwise there would be no material for Shit my contact form says.

This is the best thing ever!

SEO

i am a busnies man


I'm not a busnies-man, I'm a busnies, man!
posted by TwoWordReview at 10:40 AM on May 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


I was asking about the literal phrase "staff down" since it's so corporate and ... wrong.
So very, very wrong, in a Beyond Down-sizing way.
And it didn't seem right.
But I see it was.

#darkest timeline.
#Ironic

I, for one, am stupid enough that if I could remember my Paypal password and such (which I need to reset because Ebay) I would be happy to set a $1 a month - or whatever - autopay but would it change anything?

Because I love it here.
posted by Mezentian at 10:44 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't think any one person's donations change things, Mezentian. Together, though, we make a difference.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:47 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't like to read webpages that are not blue

Metafilter leads the conversation to Happy Happyism!

Blue blue blue dream of blue....
posted by The Whelk at 10:47 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Now that the news of Mefi's troubles due to Panda have been news all over the internet, have any other websites come forward and said they have felt this too? I see upthread there are mentions of NPR and mlkshk, any others? Has there been discussion about the response here, and how is this being viewed around the net by other websites who might see what has transpired here as a partial solution to their own problems?
posted by marienbad at 10:52 AM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


I am happy we're still discussing how is FAQ pronounced.
As an ESL speaker I tend to spell it out as I'm never sure if I am about to swear. (That also applies in general, I am never sure when I am about to swear).

Donated & signed up before the page was up but probably will do so again. I visit Mefi more than any other site, period.
posted by olya at 10:54 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Google had to decide between 41 shades of blue, but Metafilter had the right one all along.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 10:57 AM on May 23, 2014 [8 favorites]


I've been online since before browsers even existed. I don't even remember how I found Metafilter, but I've been here a long time. It took the death of MCA to get me to give five bucks (FIVE BUCKS! That's nothing!) because I wanted to actually be part of this community and comment lamely on the post about him. Can't afford to do a monthly right now, but did pony up a one-time 20 buck donation. The fact that so many new people are signing up, and so many old-timers are willingly giving money with nary a second thought about it says a lot about this place. (Although please don't ever reach a point where it's like pledge week on NPR.)
posted by old_growler at 11:06 AM on May 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


If you're not the busnies man, you're the man being busnied.
posted by maryr at 11:08 AM on May 23, 2014 [11 favorites]


Now that the news of Mefi's troubles due to Panda have been news all over the internet, have any other websites come forward and said they have felt this too? I see upthread there are mentions of NPR and mlkshk, any others? Has there been discussion about the response here, and how is this being viewed around the net by other websites who might see what has transpired here as a partial solution to their own problems?

There's been a lot of coverage of the very most recent panda update from a few days ago. Here's a breakdown of some of the effects; I don't recognize a lot of the sites, but it is perhaps a bit depressing that buzzfeed actually gets a boost from all of this. There's a lot of coverage of ebay getting hammered by it. Ask.com took a big hit too.
posted by advil at 11:10 AM on May 23, 2014


Holy crap, I just remembered how I got here for the very first time. When the Segway was first released, some long dead daily blog (Suck.com maybe?) linked to this Meh-Fee thread. It would be a while longer before I became a member, but I've been here several times a day ever since that first visit. Nothing else on the web has been a constant for me as long.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:27 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


You should give swipe to favorite a try! I really like it.

I have it enabled and it's buggy on Android devices, and it's two "clicks". Sometimes I use it, sometimes I don't. It does interfere with pinch-to-resizeand dragging the screen if it's over to far. Deal breaker? No. I know and lube metafilter. An annoyance, for sure.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 11:32 AM on May 23, 2014


> I know and lube metafilter. An annoyance, for sure.

?????

Is this some bizarre new fetish practice that I'm going to regret asking about? I read on the professional white background at work.
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:48 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


That list of winners and losers from the 'panda update' advil linked to is just more bad news for the Intelligent Web... (whosdatedwho.com up 250%, columbia.edu down 20%) We SO need more Google alternatives, or just promote the @#$% out of DuckDuckGo...
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:00 PM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


We Are All Metafilter Lubers Now.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:05 PM on May 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


It puts the metafilter on its skin
posted by The Whelk at 12:17 PM on May 23, 2014 [7 favorites]


So, a mefite with the word "insert" in their username makes a comment about "lubing mefi." I'm so glad i'm not 13 years old...
posted by marienbad at 12:20 PM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


What I love about this thread is how much it highlights how much of a family we really are. We are all quick to mock, yell at and curse our fellow members - but when someone from the outside tries that shit OH HELL NO. BAND TOGETHER.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:24 PM on May 23, 2014 [12 favorites]


Lutoslawski: "OH HELL NO. BAND TOGETHER."

POWER MEFITES ASSEMBLE!!!
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:28 PM on May 23, 2014


I used to be really active on a BBS called Echo. That was the days of the old, weird Internet. This place is the closest approximation of that vibe I've found since.
posted by old_growler at 12:40 PM on May 23, 2014


I can meet you halfway, shakespeherian. Let's say, the largest truckstop on I-80 just outside Davenport? One condition--you'll need to take about a case-worth of dubbel, lawnmower, ESB, and dry stout off my hands. I obviously need to drink more or brew less.
posted by Fezboy! at 12:45 PM on May 23, 2014



I find that the white background looks better on smaller screens, and the colored background is easier to read on large screens (like when I use my 32" TV as my monitor). I'm sure there's some scientific reason for that, but I switch back and forth all of the time depending on what device I'm using.


That's interesting, because I use the white background on computers, but the green/blue on my phone. I agree, though, that on a 32" screen, the white would be jarring.
posted by Weeping_angel at 12:56 PM on May 23, 2014


Yay just made a new sockpuppet account to support MeFi :)
posted by a tall hot cup of bob benson at 1:01 PM on May 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


It puts the metafilter on its skin.

I knew this was The Whelk before I read the username. Hannibal for the win!
posted by Pendragon at 1:02 PM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I just love all the long-time lurkers signing up, saying some variation of - like the punchline of the old joke- "I never spoke up before, because everything was fine." I'm the same way- I've been here since 9/11/01, probably got here from a link from a slashdot thread- and a member since '04, and I've made an average of, what, a little more than one comment a week because somebody else almost always says what I was going to, generally in a smarter, better-informed, or more compassionate and patient way than I would have.

I actually used to go nuts trying to sign up, in the limited-signup days, because I always missed the windows. It was IMPORTANT because in those days jonmc was always being Wrong About Music on the Internet and I wanted to point that out in the strongest possible terms. (It was IMPORTANT because he and I share enough of the same taste in music that I'm sure we could fervently argue, or agree, about music for many a beer-soaked evening if we ever met.) Then, by the time I actually did sign up, I never got the chance, and so I still mostly just read, because damn, you can learn a lot around here from listening.

Metafilter has taught me important stuff about how science works (and science journalism doesn't), about how not to be a dick about feminist issues online or anywhere, and about a million specific other things that I never would have known I was interested in if someone smart and passionate hadn't written about them here.

I had to point to a single thing here that sums up why I love the place and what it's taught me it'd probably be this ask. Because the answers are poster after very-familiar poster here, saying, basically, in the most modest and helpful away possible, "I'm supposedly/apparently/reputedly/unfortunately as smart as you say you're obsessed with being, and not only is that not the point, but if you're usually the smartest person in the room, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG."

And that's why I love metafilter - because around here, I never have to worry about that.
posted by hap_hazard at 1:06 PM on May 23, 2014 [7 favorites]


I, too, was totally turned off by the interface/background of mefi and didn't join until an IRL friend recommended AskMe as a substitute for the NaNoWriMo questions forum. I have told IRL friends about the site and how good it is and encountered specific background-related resistance. I know "professional white background" is a joke around here, but I think it's possible that it's really leading to an increased bounce rate, and it seems like running a study to see if non-members coming in from google who are randomly assigned white vs. old colors bounce more would be relatively easy to do.
posted by NoraReed at 1:06 PM on May 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


NoraReed, go to the About MeFi page, play the video, and skip to about 9:30.

(I personally love the current design, find it far more usable than other "modern" sites, and think MeFi might have the best mobile stylesheet of any site I use regularly. But I've been coming here for nearly 15 years so I have absolutely no idea what a newbie might make of the design.)
posted by stopgap at 1:15 PM on May 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


I wouldn't mind if I saw Professional White when logged out and MeFi Blue when logged in (unless otherwise specified). I'd find it a nice visual reminder that I'm part of a community when logged in.
posted by maryr at 1:25 PM on May 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I get that the past discussions about colour changes haven't gone over well (I think I might have been present for one) but I don't see why we can't try what everyone else has suggested and have white backgrounds for non-logged in people.

I'm looking at Shit My Contact Form Says and it seems that for a lot of people who are new to the site (especially Ask Mefi) it's not the most intuitive interface. Even just an introductory paragraph could make a lot of difference.
posted by divabat at 1:28 PM on May 23, 2014


I first starting lurking in 99, when I was 17, and like many others it took me years to finally sign up for an account.

Metafilter has profoundly shaped me. I rarely participate vocally, often because someone will say what I would want to say, and more elegantly. Or rather, when I read the back and forth dialog on various topics I am able to come to a conclusion as to my own thoughts on the matter.

In 2 more years I will have been reading this website for half of my life. Half of my life! And I look forward to being a Mefite for the rest of it.

Mefites never say die!
posted by special agent conrad uno at 1:28 PM on May 23, 2014 [9 favorites]


This google search & adsense mess is what happens when you feed the internet behaviour of a world where half the population is below average intelligence into a machine learning algorithm. It really shouldn't be surprising that the results consistently disappoint at least half the population.
posted by srboisvert at 1:30 PM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


How about a variant on April Fool's 2008 where new sessions (based on a browser cookie) get a white background, but it gradually becomes blue/green? [only half joking]

data point: I use the white background on my desktop because I find it easier to read, but blue/green on mobile
posted by Emanuel at 1:33 PM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


when you feed the internet behaviour of a world where half the population is below average intelligence into a machine learning algorithm

Can we please not do the "non-Mefites/most of the Internet is stupid" thing here? It's not like we're super awesome at discussions (if the Metatalk threads about working with material from marginalised backgrounds are any indication) and while yes, comments here tend to be of a higher quality than many other places, placing others on...well, whatever the opposite of a pedestal is is really not helpful.
posted by divabat at 1:34 PM on May 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


NoraReed, go to the About MeFi page, play the video, and skip to about 9:30.

That's the thing about the full redesign, right? I'm talking about just the background.
posted by NoraReed at 1:35 PM on May 23, 2014


whatever the opposite of a pedestal is is really not helpful.

A ha ha?
posted by Chrysostom at 1:37 PM on May 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


I paid my five bucks in 2004 and I've mostly lurked ever since. Metafilter and it's component sites are my home, and while you don't know me I know many of you intimately. I didn't realize how important Metafilter is to me until the shocking announcement a few days ago. Although I became a monthly subscriber as soon as I read the MetaTalk announcement, I have waited until now to post to any thread. I don't have anything significant to say but I felt that I had to post and express my support. I also have pledged to myself that I will become more active on Metafilter. I've been around the Internet a long time....since Gopher was the cutting edge....and I know I have a lot to contribute....from this moment on I will!
posted by tzuzie at 1:40 PM on May 23, 2014 [16 favorites]


I'm sorry, Chrysostom, but this is no laughing matter.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 2:06 PM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


> I know and lube metafilter. An annoyance, for sure.

?????

Is this some bizarre new fetish practice that I'm going to regret asking about?


I fail at metafilter.

It was supposed to read 'lurve' as in the goofy way of saying love. But Autocorrect struck again. Even the edit window can't save me from myself.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 2:19 PM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


No reason why Professional White couldn't be A/B tested.

Thinking more broadly, you see in apps like Foursquare's Swarm and Facebook's Paper how big social sites are spawning simplified models of interaction that mine their datasets, and I wonder whether something nifty could be done with AskMe's vast repository of DTMFA wisdom.

But we don't want to break pb.
posted by holgate at 2:33 PM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


A thought about professional white backgrounds: if it is decided to try out having a white background for logged-out users (and I don't know if this is under any serious consideration or not!), how about making the link text match the color of the subsite? So white-background MeFi would keep the blue links in the current plain theme, but white-background Ask MeFi would have green links, MeTa would have gray links, et cetera.

This would help new readers understand the terminology "the Blue", "the Green", and "the Gray" better than the current strip of color at the top on the plain theme and also visually emphasize that the three sites have different cultures and guidelines without adding clutter to the interface.
posted by beryllium at 2:35 PM on May 23, 2014 [13 favorites]


NoraReed, go to the About MeFi page, play the video, and skip to about 9:30.

(I personally love the current design, find it far more usable than other "modern" sites, and think MeFi might have the best mobile stylesheet of any site I use regularly. But I've been coming here for nearly 15 years so I have absolutely no idea what a newbie might make of the design.)


I watched that video for the first time today, and that's not surprising 2010 was about rich, textured, colorful backgrounds. 2010 was a generation ago, web design wise. I have the screen grabs to prove it (for a while I was doing yearly screen grabs of popular sites). Today, the landscape is very different. I couldn't say how just changing everyone over to the Professional White Background would do, as many pointed out other sites are image heavy and metafilter is imageless. But it would be an interesting thing to explore. As would a redesign entailing more recent tends (bigger font, yes pls.). Is that what caused the drop in traffic? Probably not, but it wouldn't hurt to see what a change could do. (via a/B testing as mentioned had been utilized in the first test.)
posted by [insert clever name here] at 2:38 PM on May 23, 2014


The logged out font size *does* seem kind of small.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:47 PM on May 23, 2014


As one of MetaFilter's younger users (50 in 2018) I am thankful for MF's "wonky, old-school navigation — not to mention its throwback interface".

Meanwhile, when was the last time I looked at the Washington Post in any of its incarnations? St Never's Day, that's when (unless it was off a MetaFilter link, natch.)
posted by chavenet at 2:49 PM on May 23, 2014


I have sentimental fondness for the colors, but I read, logged in, on white. À chacun son goût.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 2:49 PM on May 23, 2014


This thread (and all the others) have been particularly magical because of the number of new and rarely seen members popping up. Thank you all for saying how much MeFi means to you - I love remembering that this is a whole lot of us, not just the people with the most visible usernames. It's wonderful.
posted by stoneweaver at 2:59 PM on May 23, 2014 [14 favorites]


Can we please not do the "non-Mefites/most of the Internet is stupid" thing here? It's not like we're super awesome at discussions (if the Metatalk threads about working with material from marginalised backgrounds are any indication) and while yes, comments here tend to be of a higher quality than many other places, placing others on...well, whatever the opposite of a pedestal is is really not helpful.

It was an observation of the decline of Google search result quality. And I think it is defensible.

Google's only goal is to sell ads. It does this via it's dominance in search and it maintains that dominance by giving the majority of it's users the results they want to click on with distracting ads at the top of the page. For the most part (barring internal google properties like youtube, maps, home, android, and some internal produced search results like weather and calculations/conversions) it does this by not by giving them the information that is correct or that they might need but by giving them what other users have clicked on.

Now if most people are distracted by boobies then you get queries for amazing intelligent women returning top 100 beautiful women. So it really matters how intelligent all the datapoints going into the machine learning algorithm are because dumb people click on wrong or distracting links and pollute the training dataset from an accuracy/validity perspective ( but not from the behavioural perspective that google favours).

Google is becoming the smooth talker that tells you what it thinks your want to hear in order to get the ad clicks it needs rather than what you actually need.

I do think the internet is getting dumber by the day. Part of that is that it is just becoming more and more accessible and reflecting the entire population rather than just a tech savvy minitory who could clear hurdles like installing winsock and configuring TCP/IP . Interfaces have gotten all the way down to the want-point-get stage. Would "How is babby formed" even stand out today? I don't think so. Those people are contributing to google's page ranking system.
posted by srboisvert at 3:09 PM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: Unprofessional, non-white and very foreground.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:19 PM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't think all this can be laid at the feet of Google. I myself feel that the downhill slide started when the [img] tag was eliminated.

/hamburger

Also, n00bz, come say hi in chat. It's like a luvverly English pub without the warm beer.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 3:41 PM on May 23, 2014


I had a thought that worries me. Has anybody else considered that perhaps something was broken before and that in November 2012 Google fixed their search so it was the way it was supposed to work?

I ask because my reading of the quotes from Matt Cutts indicates that they don't seem to have any idea what might have changed on that particular day. I wonder if somebody in Mountain View messed up their code, was over representing MeFi as a result and if GOOG surreptitiously repaired that code on the DL.
posted by Megafly at 4:42 PM on May 23, 2014


I'm sorry, Chrysostom, but this is no laughing matter.

"Not to be confused with laughter"
posted by krinklyfig at 5:14 PM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sorry to hear this. Many good memories here. Jessamyn is one of the first Internet people I ever met in person. I hope all works out for Matt and CO.

-CP
posted by crasspastor at 5:36 PM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


> I had a thought that worries me. Has anybody else considered that perhaps something was broken before and that in November 2012 Google fixed their search so it was the way it was supposed to work?

Yeah, I've wondered if what happened on 17 Nov 2012 was a bug fix. From all available information, it seems like Google's blacklisted MetaFilter because we post too many links here. (Of course, posting and discussing links is what we do here.) There may have been a bug that kept the site from being blacklisted prior to that date despite our propensity for posting and discussing links, which Google then caught and fixed.

(Google will never say anything, of course. It's just: You deserve to be gone, so you're gone. You don't deserve an explanation.)
posted by nangar at 6:08 PM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm watching season 4 of Good Wife and this episode is around how a search engine penalized a website on purpose. Mind - blown.
posted by olya at 6:34 PM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Someone is sharing links on the internet" is the new "someone is wrong on the internet".
posted by ersatz at 6:34 PM on May 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


"but if you're usually the smartest person in the room, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG."

Or, "Why Dr. House can't have nice things." Circumspection really does pay dividends.

p.s., Love Is Blue.
posted by Chitownfats at 6:38 PM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


A lot of websites with in-jokes aren't really very funny.

But hamburger, that one I enjoy every time.
posted by kiltedtaco at 6:40 PM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Good Wife is consistently good at translating tech news into entertaining stories in a way the general audience can grasp without messing up too much of the details. Really underrated show, glad it is getting more attention lately.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:51 PM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Blackberry Gin Smash.

6-8 blackberries
5 mint leaves
muddle
.75 oz simple (or honey)
2 oz gin
shake, pour over new ice

Then be careful, 'cause this shit tastes GOOD.


I can report back that this is quite good!
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 6:55 PM on May 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I've wondered if what happened on 17 Nov 2012 was a bug fix. From all available information, it seems like Google's blacklisted MetaFilter because we post too many links here. (Of course, posting and discussing links is what we do here.) There may have been a bug that kept the site from being blacklisted prior to that date despite our propensity for posting and discussing links, which Google then caught and fixed.

It may point back to Panda itself, where a ratio is applied that compares search queries for Metafilter to the back links pointing to Metafilter, which is then compared to a site with the same number of them, such as a site as popular as Metafilter. A site that advertises or is exposed on TV would have a favorable profile, driving the curious to a search engine and mentioning the brand, perhaps correlating the money spent on production or advertising and money spent on "quality" site content. This is what we're up against if Panda is involved. Predictably, as an extension to page rank, sites that have general media attention or word of mouth "pointing" at them, are rising in the ranks.
posted by Brian B. at 9:34 PM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


My takeaway is that money spent on outside-of-internet advertising is key to a site's rise or fall under Panda's rule. In that regard Google is just reporting the advertising success.
posted by Brian B. at 9:42 PM on May 23, 2014




fimbulvetr: "I switched to the white years ago... of course, that was only because it is less obvious when I'm reading MeFi at work . . . . "

Count me in as another member of the Secret Work MeFi Club!
posted by barnacles at 11:27 PM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also meant to add: I love all the long-time lurkers who are joining up finally, and based on some of the jokes and snark and one-liners yall are throwing out: you shoulda come on in years ago!
posted by barnacles at 11:31 PM on May 23, 2014


i'm posting this just because i really want to contribute to this particular thread. i've become a subscriber, made a one time donation, navigated multiple life-crossroads thanks to mefi*, and released 2 records on this site. shit ain't going down without a fight, and it's not a fight i have any intention of losing. i let loose a little cheer every time i read about a lurker who has finally signed up.

mathowie, what an amazing thing you (and the mods) did and do. from deep within - gratitude.

*i have no fucking idea how to pronounce mefi because i don't end up discussing it out loud with people. so clearly i need new friends.

(also, can we all agree that no one has as much fun as the whelk?)

lastly, whatever is on the front of the shirt, can the back please say "note: help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand - not at other members of the site"?
posted by fingers_of_fire at 11:34 PM on May 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


My takeaway is that money spent on outside-of-internet advertising is key to a site's rise or fall under Panda's rule. In that regard Google is just reporting the advertising success.

If that is so, either accidentally or by design, it really is something that ought to be deliberately negated.

The last thing we need at this point in history is to make the entire internet a giant echo and amplification chamber for Big Media.

The whole promise of the internet was to come at some of these issues from a different and independent direction--to be a counterpoint to other media and advertising not just an even more potent extension of them. If the Google steers the entire internet to simply become another even bigger echo chamber for giant well funded corporate advertising campaigns we might as well just pull the plug now on the whole shebang . . .
posted by flug at 11:53 PM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I just gave 20 bucks for all the 5 dollar noobs and lurkers. We see you, we see you.
posted by The Whelk at 12:06 AM on May 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


I can report back that this is quite good!

had to substitute blueberries + raspberries for the blackberries (regional realities), yet I must concur. Best loaded Gin option I've ventured in a while. Badfinger sound atom-smashing good right now.
posted by philip-random at 12:07 AM on May 24, 2014


mediocre: I'm honestly more interested in what that giant spike in usage was sometime in January was.

mathowie: It was the day the story of the decoding note cards question went viral. It was basically everywhere for 24hours.

Haven't finished reading all the threads and just dropped down to the bottom of this one to make a couple comments, so I apologize if this has been covered elsewhere... I find it shocking that that the decoding thread going viral spiked traffic up only to the level where it used to be on a regular basis.

It's kind of interesting given how the WaPo piece talks about "sideways" browsing (from FB or wherever) being the Current Big Thing, while obviously just plain old search still has the potential to drive far more traffic on a regular basis.

Also--in one of the MeTa threads a bunch of users were googling their own usernames and finding no Mefi footprint at all in the results. Does anyone who understands this algorithmic stuff better than I do (i.e., understands it at all) have an theory to explain that? Those results would suggest Metafilter was practically blacklisted, not just downgraded in page rankings. I guess my question is, how come google traffic to Ask didn't drop even more than 40%, considering users can't even find their own Metafilter activity in a google search? (I mean a search for a unique user name is about as targeted as a search can get.)
posted by torticat at 12:47 AM on May 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


Torticat can you spec out the self search query more exactly? My username returns different results than what I'm thinking you're saying.

When I googlesearch my username & mf on my phone I get non username hits for obvious reasons & I get an f-ton of FanFare hits (too new to be hack-blacklisted?)

But I also get this neato thing!
posted by tilde at 1:17 AM on May 24, 2014




Torticat can you spec out the self search query more exactly?

Well, Rhaomi might have had the most comprehensive description here, and then there was discussion from other users that followed that. popcassady was maybe the first to observe it, a bit earlier.

But, rereading, I may have been mistaken that the searches returned NO mefi results. Still, considering the specificity of the search and the very meager and low-ranked results, it seems like the problem would have caused much more than a 40% drop in Ask traffic.
posted by torticat at 1:31 AM on May 24, 2014


Yeah I'm too generic to be a good search query for this test. I can open mobile chrome incognito & search on tilde & metafilter but that not much help. A compressed ask list & a mix of mainsite & fanfare posts.

Curse me seven years ago not going superunique!
posted by tilde at 1:49 AM on May 24, 2014


I think the most damning thing is that a search for mathowie -- a term mentioned in 386 posts and 13,452 comments across MeFi and god knows how many inbound links -- does not pull up anything from the site he founded until the bottom of the second page, a veritable ghetto in Google terms. Stuff that ranks above it? Not just the usual suspects (Flickr, Twitter, Wikipedia), but stuff like Stellar.io, Huffduffer, ThinkUp, and an old Kinja profile. No, I've never heard of those sites, either.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:50 AM on May 24, 2014 [13 favorites]


Yeah, I tried jessamyn and got not a single link to metafilter after clicking through 13 pages (gave up after that). Plenty of stuff on jessamyn, of course, on other sites, but no metafilter.
posted by torticat at 1:53 AM on May 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


!!!
posted by tilde at 2:02 AM on May 24, 2014


This really is sounding more and more like a convincing conspiracy theory, maybe someone who works at google and reads this can chime in, but they are probably restrained from doing so by secrecy clauses in their contract.

Or has this affected other users of those sites listed by advil (thanks for the reply and links - interesting reading) which saw a decrease in their traffic?
posted by marienbad at 2:41 AM on May 24, 2014


My user name search came up an IRL halfway down page 2 and nothing else from mefi anywhere.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:00 AM on May 24, 2014


Mostly I'm a quiet MeFite, but just want to say I will happily, gratefully provide monthly support.

I go a little wild at the thought of a MeFi-less existence!

/user name justification ftw
posted by quietalittlewild at 4:34 AM on May 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yet another news story that I heard about first on MetaFilter.

The instant a story has gone 'viral' it means a journalist finally got wind of it.
posted by Pudhoho at 4:46 AM on May 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


I wonder if part of the algorithm change is about putting more emphasis on the ranking of a particular page and less emphasis on the ranking of the site as a whole. A search for "'ask culture' 'guess culture'" brings up the relevant AskMe page as #3 behind only the Guardian article and one other, which makes sense. But that's a thread that's been heavily and specifically linked to a ton.
posted by nobody at 5:11 AM on May 24, 2014


I tried searching for "MeFite" and "beanplating" on Google. Both these terms are pretty specific to MetaFilter. Both searches return a list of MetaTalk posts on the first page, but no results from MeFi or AskMe in the first five pages. This does suggest that MeFi and AskMe are effectively blacklisted by Google, but the other MeFi subsites are not. (Other people have reported getting results for FanFare and IRL as well as MeTa.)

The only difference I can think of is that other parts of the site have fewer external links than AskMe and MeFi. (The other subsites are also smaller, but I doubt if that's an issue.)

Even a complete elimination of traffic from Google searches to AskMe and MeFi (which seems to have happened) does not eliminate all traffic. We still have traffic from Yahoo, Bing and DuckDuckGo searches, traffic from members and regular readers of the site and people who have the site bookmarked, and traffic from posts about AskMe and MeFi posts elsewhere (blogs, reddit, etc.).

A comment about AskMe:
AskMe is less link-heavy than MeFi, obviously, but AskMe threads probably have more links than most Q&A sites. It's part of site culture to link to sources of information about what people are asking about. This makes AskMe a lot more useful for askers, of course, but apparently counts as bad behavior as far Google's bots are concerned.
posted by nangar at 6:15 AM on May 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


"2010 was a generation ago, web design wise. [...] Today, the landscape is very different."

I don't think it is wise to follow trends, especially since they are so fast moving. In its 15 yrs history, how many times would have Mefi had to change its design in order to be current? Mefi's design is a brand and it attracts a certain kind of person. Exactly because it is not all shiny and flashy and requires users to use their brains. The effect is a very engaged user base, who spends a lot of time here. I think we need new members, but not en masse. You know how the $5 entrance fee is a bit of a barrier, I think the design helps to separate the wheat from the chaff, too.

For those who try to find their Mefi usernames on google, I believe some parts of the site are deliberately marked as "no-index" for privacy reasons.
posted by travelwithcats at 8:08 AM on May 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


We still have traffic from Yahoo, Bing and DuckDuckGo searches, traffic from members and regular readers of the site and people who have the site bookmarked, and traffic from posts about AskMe and MeFi posts elsewhere (blogs, reddit, etc.).

OH I see. I had thought that one graph showed traffic to AskMe specifically from google. But rereading Matt's explanation, I see that he said "this is a Google Analytics graph of traffic on Ask MetaFilter," which is obviously not the same thing. My mistake.

(Still shocking of course to see google traffic drop to almost zero.)
posted by torticat at 8:40 AM on May 24, 2014


I googled my username and found this. Who knew? And who has that much open floor space?
posted by octothorpe at 8:45 AM on May 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


For those who try to find their Mefi usernames on google, I believe some parts of the site are deliberately marked as "no-index" for privacy reasons.

Profile pages, specifically. You should not be able to google your Metafilter profile page, or turn up Metafilter results for strings of words that only ever appear on that page. Comments and posts on the site, however, are all publicly indexed and Google has in the past in fact shown itself to really, really aggressively index new thread content on Metafilter. One of those things where you could make a comment in a new thread and then google it five minutes later and turn up the thread.

(There was an odd thing at one point a few years back, since apparently silently resolved, where a few profile page's existence were being indexed, but none of the content; so you could google up my profile page with a "cortex metafilter" search, but the actual indexed content of the search result was apparently correctly nil at least. In practice that wasn't a privacy problem once you'd ever made any comment anywhere on the site since you were indexed as present already at that point, and it seemed only to affect from my spot-checking folks who were in fact pretty heavily present on the site, but it was spooky and I don't think we ever got an answer to why it was happening during the window where it was happening. My vague suspicion is it was an artifact of Google working on more active blog/author-centric indexing and something that shouldn't have been surfaced was being surfaced after all for a while. But who knows. Certainly it was troubling that they were in some capacity indexing no-index pages.)
posted by cortex at 8:54 AM on May 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


> For those who try to find their Mefi usernames on google, I believe some parts of the site are deliberately marked as "no-index" for privacy reasons.

Just to clear this up a little: Yes, we know that. MeFi profiles are inaccessible to non-members and search-engine bots, but if your username is unusual and used mostly here, searching for your MeFi username will yield a list of your posts and comments by you on MeFi if you're searching on Bing, and this used to be the case on Google. (Doing a site-specific search on Google still works.) It's just a quick way check if looking for MeFi-specific stuff still works in Google (it doesn't), and it's something some of us have done for fun in the past, so we can compare now and before.

If Google refuses to return results for searches as specific as Rhaomi's or divabat's usernames or the term MeFite from the site, then people will never find AskMe threads on topics they're searching for information on through Google search.
posted by nangar at 10:12 AM on May 24, 2014


Over in the Metafilter SEO thread, madamjujujive has made an interesting discovery.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:44 AM on May 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


If we're talking website design - it might help to consider optimizing the site for mobile readers. On my phone (not super top of the line but not super old either) the long posts with a zillion comments crash my browser, the text field doesn't work great, and the direct link to comments isn't always reliable.

I check Mefi all the time on my phone and also use an Android tablet - it'd be great to have the mobile site be more functional!
posted by divabat at 9:51 PM on May 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


Some more international coverage of this:

Benedikt Fuest in Die Welt - Macht Google jetzt das Internet kaputt?
In their business section; a fairly good, detailled summing up, including links to all of Matt's posts, The Awl and WaPo. Interestingly, since it's practically impossible to "get" MeFi's significance from without (linguistically/culturally), the description of MeFI isn't exactly spot-on, so the pretty plentiful comments concentrate on the loom of Google - which is the real point for the rest of the world.

Filippo Corti on Bicyclemind.it - MetaFilter e il volere di Google
Summary from a couple of days ago; the only other Italian mention is in an SEO forum.

(As far as I can tell, nothing in French or Dutch, and nothing new in Spanish. Other languages?)
posted by progosk at 12:28 AM on May 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


About the whole mess, I do have to say, this is the first time I've ever considered abandoning Google as my search engine of choice.
posted by JHarris at 3:08 AM on May 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


I already have, I did some comparison searches with other engines and google was the worst of the three.
posted by The Whelk at 7:14 AM on May 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


this is the first time I've ever considered abandoning Google as my search engine of choice

I seriously considered it as well, but in my experiments with a few searches I still found the Google results overall a better match to what I was generally looking for than Bing.

One of the queries I tried was "metafilter google", where Google prominently throws up a whole bunch of stuff about this current fiasco while Bing turns up things like the Mefi home page, Mefi Google+ page, Mefi on Google Earth and such. Pages about this current thing are there, but lower down.

Overall my impression is Bing takes queries more literally and gives more weight to exact matches to the search term, while Google does a better job at guessing the intent behind the search.

Another example of this is from the Slate article, "most amazing woman ever". Bing leans more towards exact matches, Google goes more for what the average searcher who would type such a thing most likely meant. Because realistically most people who type that query are not going to be looking for Marie Curie, and most people who want to discover the Marie Curie's of the world are going to word the query differently. ("Greatest woman ever" gets a very different set of results, also not overly hung up on exactly matching the search term.)

Another difference is Google seems to give less weight to user-generated content sites than Bing does. Sure Mefi turns up in Bing for the "most amazing woman" search, but so does Hubpages and even higher up, and so do Yahoo Answers, YouTube etc.

All things considered, I have put both Google and Bing on my bookmarks bar. Sometimes one might be better, sometimes another. Mostly Google is finding what I'm after, and other than the collateral damage to Metafilter I don't have a big problem with it.

Hopefully they can figure out a way of determining that Mefi in general has more authority than Hubpages and the like. I'd have thought there would be enough incoming links from high reputation sites to ensure that, but apparently not.
posted by philipy at 9:50 AM on May 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


One of the queries I tried was "metafilter google", where Google prominently throws up a whole bunch of stuff about this current fiasco while Bing turns up things like the Mefi home page, Mefi Google+ page, Mefi on Google Earth and such. Pages about this current thing are there, but lower down.

I just tried this and I get all the current stuff up top in bing. In fact, I don't have any of the three things you mentioned in the first page of bing results. Is it possibly you somehow have news results turned off or something?
posted by advil at 10:56 AM on May 25, 2014


This event prompted me to try and use another "meta" site that I used to frequent and had kinda forgotten about - Metaspider (a search engine aggregator) - but it has been squished by a domain squatter. Anyone know of any other such services available?
posted by Golem XIV at 11:33 AM on May 25, 2014


Overall my impression is Bing takes queries more literally and gives more weight to exact matches to the search term, while Google does a better job at guessing the intent behind the search.

Sometimes when I search the internet I don't actually want the engine trying to guess what I mean. I'll add Bing to my search toolbox for those instances.
posted by JHarris at 9:31 PM on May 25, 2014


The way I'd try to design a modernized, SEO-aware version of PageRank would be to kind of iteratively define link value. That is, the value of links on a page are themselves powered by incoming links. Also, ranking a site more highly if its links comes from known-good sites, and also from a wider variety of sites. If ten particular sites are linking back and forth to each other that's a lot easier to game than a hundred.
posted by JHarris at 9:34 PM on May 25, 2014


Isn't that how PageRank has always worked? (Hence something being posted on MetaFilter giving a site a lot more Google juice than something posted on an individual's blog, hence spammers bothering to pay the $5 here when there are thousands of blogs with comment boxes available.)
posted by nobody at 8:55 AM on May 26, 2014


Oh, but it sounds like you're maybe suggesting starting over with a "known good site" whitelist to wipe the slate clean of years of chicanery?
posted by nobody at 8:56 AM on May 26, 2014


I'm gonna cut the default search engine on all the school browsers (130 computers) over to DuckDuckGo tomorrow and see if anybody notices. Been using it myself for a while now. Seems to work just fine.
posted by flabdablet at 10:23 AM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


nobody: Why not? The problem of deciding which sites are not spam is very difficult for any algorithm to determine. It's difficult for a person sometimes. Yesterday I found a site as the first hit in a Google search that looked exactly like generated content, a word salad that seemed to contain ideas that didn't logically add up. I almost reported it here, but on further examination it did add up, and instead the writer was probably not a native English speaker. In fact a site like Metafilter, with heavily moderated curated content, could be invaluable in compiling just such a whitelist.

However, technically you don't have to start with a whitelist to use such an approach, which is why I suggested using an iterative algorithm. Start all websites off with the same value for the first pass, then using incoming links from varied sources to determine the strength of that site's outgoing links for pass n+1. Well, it is the idea of a random internet layabout, please take with as much salt as that would suggest to you (may put you at risk of hypertension).
posted by JHarris at 11:58 AM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Couple days later and the Downfall generator finally emails me that the video's done: here.
posted by klangklangston at 1:14 PM on May 26, 2014 [50 favorites]


If you're interested in comparing Google and Bing, there is Bing It On, a sort blind tasting tool made to help promote Bing.

After I found it I ran through it 4 times, i.e doing 20 searches in all. The searches were realistic, either things I wanted to find info on for real, or things I'd researched in the past. I was surprised how consistently I preferred the Google results. I picked them in 15/20 cases, called it a tie 4/20 times, and only picked Bing on 1/20.

Not that either was dramatically better or worse usually, often there was a fair bit of overlap with differences in the order of results more than the total set. Still I called it a tie when I didn't feel there was a lot to choose either way, but when I felt one set had an edge over the other, maybe small but still callable, it turned out to be Google almost all the time.

Clearly YMMV, but for stuff that I personally use search for, it seems Google has the edge.
posted by philipy at 3:13 PM on May 26, 2014


Okay it's a sad situation for a lot of good reasons but good lord that MeFi Downfall parody is hilarious.
posted by localroger at 4:14 PM on May 26, 2014


Laughing so hard at the downfall parody - sheer genius!
posted by leslies at 4:48 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


That's a work of art, klang.
posted by naju at 5:16 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


I Downfalled on the Floor Laughing.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:36 PM on May 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


I scared some cats I laughed so hard at that video.

MetaFilter: Under these circumstances, all I want is a tumblr full of puppy gifs.
posted by rtha at 5:40 PM on May 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oh man, Hitler has never been funnier than he was in that parody.
posted by MoonOrb at 5:56 PM on May 26, 2014


...and now we know why mathowie has never grown a mustache.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:00 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


klangklangston: "Couple days later and the Downfall generator finally emails me that the video's done: here."

Oh dear god. My face is bright red from laughing and I can't catch my breath. "Fucking Pandas!"
posted by octothorpe at 6:08 PM on May 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


Today I found out it's not just us: they're shooting their own properties in the foot as well.

Somebody at work asked me about the likelihood of being able to recover hundreds of hours of not-backed-up work from a sat-upon USB stick, so I said I'd give it a crack, and I wanted to show them this.

I couldn't remember exactly where I'd stashed it because it's been a few years, but I knew I'd uploaded it to Picasaweb.

Anybody else able to get a useful result for flabdablet usb recovery picasaweb? I can't, on any search engine I've tried. But I know for sure that the same thing worked last year.
posted by flabdablet at 11:51 PM on May 26, 2014


"I will not let Marissa Mayer design the logo"

Even in extremis, there's a leader who has his priorities straight.

Nice work, klang!

whimsical as all fuck
posted by flabdablet at 12:11 AM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


The latest Gadget Lab Podcast features discussion about the State of MetaFilter issue.

From the podcast blurb: "On a sadder note, both hosts are all torn up over the recent troubles at MetaFilter, a long-running community website that's having a difficult time staying afloat thanks (or no thanks) to Google's ever-changing search rank adjustments. Mat [Honan] and Mike [Calore] get mopey about the future of independent publishing on the web."
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 1:34 AM on May 27, 2014


Just here to say how much MetaFilter has done for me.

In fact, this morning I saw a bumper sticker in our parking lot that read, "Ordain women or stop dressing like them," and I felt negatively about it. Not because I'm Catholic, which I am, but because of the gender essentialist assumptions about how women dress.

Thanks, MetaFilter.
posted by charred husk at 6:59 AM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Andrew Leonard: The internet as we know it is dying
posted by scody at 11:29 AM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


The Leonard article talks about "the downward spiral towards viral inanity ". The self-same page has Buzzfeed and Upworthy widgets in the sidebar.
posted by philipy at 5:30 PM on May 27, 2014 [4 favorites]


The self-same page has Buzzfeed and Upworthy widgets in the sidebar.

Let Salon be Salon!
posted by Going To Maine at 6:25 AM on May 28, 2014


The self-same page has Buzzfeed and Upworthy widgets in the sidebar.

And the footer bar(s). The garbage on that webpage is far larger than the space that Leonard's article occupies.
posted by bukvich at 7:02 AM on May 28, 2014


Maybe what we need are some Mefi widgets for people to put in those places instead.
posted by philipy at 7:26 AM on May 28, 2014


Maybe what we need are some Mefi widgets for people to put in those places instead.

Fighting monsters, abyss, looking into, etc etc.
posted by Etrigan at 7:29 AM on May 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


The garbage on that webpage is far larger than the space that Leonard's article occupies.

That's certainly part of the irony, given what Salon used to be and what it's had to do to survive.
posted by scody at 9:20 AM on May 28, 2014 [4 favorites]






Google Maps Mania Dropping Google Maps

Wow, what a cool site! It's definitely worth an FPP. Thanks for mentioning it, and I'm glad they're stepping up, too.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:24 PM on May 29, 2014




Metafilter is linked in this Atlantic article on internet comments/moderation under "forums that build community"
posted by triggerfinger at 3:09 PM on June 5, 2014


Some recent-ish news: Matt Cutts went on the record in some detail regarding Metafilter at the June 11th SMX Seattle conference. There isn't video of the full talk I can find, but here's coverage of his remarks from various places:

Google’s Matt Cutts: MetaFilter Hit By Previously Undisclosed Algorithm Filter
Last night, at SMX Advanced, Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search quality, confirmed MetaFilter was indeed hit by a previously undisclosed algorithm filter or “update,” as they are often called. Such filters aim to prevent a wide range of sites from ranking well on Google. [...]

Cutts said that Google is working on its side for a solution that will help MetaFilter and other false-positives caught by this algorithm. Google has not been working with MetaFilter directly on this but rather doing the work on its own, in reaction to the issue MetaFilter’s situation raises.

Cutts also said in a tweet that a solution might come in the coming “weeks or months” and stressed that MetaFilter received no “special advice.”
You&A With Matt Cutts at SMX Advanced 2014
Matt unequivocally stated that MetaFilter was not hit by Panda. Matt said that MetaFilter is a typical high quality site, though he did notate that it was a typical high quality site with an outdated design/UI.

He then reiterated that not only was MetaFilter not affected by Panda, but that it was also not affected by Penguin. He added “there’s a lot of different algorithms we launch”. He mentioned that when MetaFilter did their post about their traffic loss, one of the things they suspected was that Google may have viewed them as spam as a result of an email they received where Google had supposedly cited a link from them to a webmaster as an example of a “bad link”.

Matt said they “checked their records” and that in fact, they’d never cited MetaFilter as a spam link to anyone – someone had taken the Google template and inserted the MetaFilter link on their own.

Matt seemed to imply that MetaFilter was not getting any manual help with their traffic hit but that instead Google was looking at what went wrong that they hit a quality site in the first place and instead planned to fix that algorithmically.
Matt Cutts You & A at SMX Advanced LIVE Google+ "Blog"
Danny: What happened to metafilter (like Digg before Digg)? Looked like he got hit by Panda, but Google said there was none at the time.

Matt: Was not Panda. I have a ton of respect for Matt (the owner). Affected by an algorithmic update, but not Panda or Penguin. Owner's report was good feedback for their engineers. They've been in touch with him. Haven't yet found signals that could help, but they're working on it. Owner was concerned about all the link removal requests he was getting. Cutts said that was not the problem. Google had not told anyone that the MetaFilter site was a problem for their links.
SMX Liveblog: You & A with Matt Cutts
Danny: What happened to the MetaFilter site? Was it Panda?

Matt: It wasn’t Panda. What happened is that it was affected by an algo update that wasn’t Panda or Penguin. Even though the site is slightly out of date, it’s a good quality site. Google is working to figure out how to improve the algo based on this incident. Google does not think that MetaFilter is spammy or has spammy links. Google had never sent a notification saying that MetaFilter was spammy.
Danny Sullivan’s Questions for Matt Cutts
Q1: Meta Filter – What really happened?

Cutts: It wasn’t Panda, nor was it Penguin. In fact, it was a different algorithm that undeservedly punished Meta Filter. We’re always on the lookout to improve our algorithms, and this is on our radar. It’s not due to link disavow requests.
[sorry for the cross-posts, but there are a lot of relevant threads]
posted by Rhaomi at 7:31 AM on June 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


"Matt said they “checked their records” and that in fact, they’d never cited MetaFilter as a spam link to anyone – someone had taken the Google template and inserted the MetaFilter link on their own."

What does the bit in bold mean? How does that actually work? Can anyone explain or show a picture to explain to those like me who don't understand words?
posted by marienbad at 11:31 AM on June 18, 2014


Someone took a standard email that Google sends out to webmasters, basically warning them that they're being linked-to from spammy linkfarms (the implication being, "cut that shit out, dumbass, we're on to you"), and put Metafilter in there as the linking site.

Basically: someone forged an email from Google, claiming that Google said Metafilter is a linkfarm. That's the long and short of it. Why someone would do that, I have no idea.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:51 AM on June 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


We're through the looking glass people
posted by The Whelk at 11:55 AM on June 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


My thoughts on it are that either, a) Google is mistaken, and they did actually cite us as a site that has inorganic links, or b) the site with the Google penalty hired an "SEO"* person or business to clean up their links as per the Google guidelines, and they took the Google verbiage, put it into a boilerplate email, then did a search and made a list above and beyond the specific sites Google mentioned and sent out the email to everyone linking to the site. (I think this is what Google is claiming here, but either way it's their own monster they animated.)

I think it's highly unlikely there's someone faking emails from Google to say Metafilter is causing them a Google penalty. It seems like part of a process wherein the penalized site contacts Google about the problem, Google responds with, "well, your site shows up on these spammy, low quality sites which is why you've been penalized," and gives them a list of such urls, and suggests they try to have their site removed. Which, that last bit is actually pretty bizarre, when you begin to grok the incredible raw number of link removal requests and manhours and emails and reminder emails and "last request" emails involved in this that has been in play for the last couple of years. (We were no-following anyone who asked for a long time, and even after we would do that and respond to the email -- usually within minutes -- they would keep sending the same request, like THIS IS THE THIRD TIME WE'VE CONTACTED YOU AND YOU HAVEN'T RESPONDED, and we'd respond again to say, yes, we responded on [DATE], and then again the second time you mailed on [DATE], etc. -- it's totally bizarroworld). At first I thought it was sort of hilarious that sites that had been hiring companies to spam for them now had to hire companies to try to get rid of that same spam, but it's gone so far beyond that ... it's simply mindboggling how deeply, convolutedly fucked it is. The carbon footprint alone has probably earned Google a new ring in hell.

* Scare quotes, just because an awful lot of people/businesses claiming to be SEO experts are basically just opportunists who don't really have any particular understanding, skills, or insight about any of this stuff. We get great mail from them every day.
posted by taz at 12:35 PM on June 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


We were no-following anyone who asked for a long time

I don't understand why MetaFilter or anyone else would bother to comply with these requests. They're basically saying, "Dude, I'm trying to score here but you're so ugly and uncool that you're scaring off the chicks. Could you stop linking to me?" To which the only civilized response is to sit closer and fart louder.
posted by straight at 12:44 PM on June 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Because we have 15 years of links on our site, and we couldn't understand why Google was shitting on us, and we didn't want to have us showing up on their lists over and over (because we have so many links, and thus so many people asking for link removals) as a "disavowed" link -- in other words, "this awful spam site refuses to remove us, so we are disavowing the link," which is ANOTHER of the arcane weird processes involved in all this: if the site can't have links to them removed or no-followed they submit some Disavowal thing. We just figured, fuck it, we'll no-follow, just in case it makes it even worse for us to be showing up as a "disavowed" site a lot.
posted by taz at 12:51 PM on June 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't understand why MetaFilter or anyone else would bother to comply with these requests.

Because snake oil. It's totally unclear exactly why things go up or down in Google rankings and we had enough people believing that their rankings were going down because MeFi was linking to them. It's sort of like PayPal chargebacks. You're allowed to use that feature but if you start using it a lot, people start scrutinizing you. MeFi has zillions of links and it was unclear if the regular "Hey we're getting a penalty for linking to you" allegations were true, sort of true, sort of false or totally false and Google wasn't saying. Also the people emailing at the time were occasionally harassing and jerkish about this so it was easier to nofollow them then deal with a buttload of cranky email.
posted by jessamyn at 12:54 PM on June 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


While I was researching this question about Lorn's Diamond, I came upon the budiman patty website which has the question embedded at the base. Is that a spammy site linking to MetaFilter?
posted by unliteral at 4:36 PM on June 18, 2014


Yeah that's a spammy (or at least, it looks spammy to me; who knows what Google thinks of it) site linking to MeFi. But that's not the issue people are talking about.

The issue is links on Metafilter linking to other sites, causing the owners of those other sites to complain to Matt et al that being linked-to from MeFi was hurting their Google juice, and asking to have links removed. Basically, it's Google (or someone forging emails from Google, depending on who you believe) telling random site owners that MeFi is basically a spamblog or linkfarm.

Which it's obviously not, so if Google really was sending those kind of messages out it just shows that Google's algorithms have been broken as hell for a while, and there wasn't anyone minding the store.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:35 AM on June 19, 2014


« Older Puccini didn’t even want that.   |   Snowing, even! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments