The MetaFilter Proposal
October 28, 2001 6:04 AM   Subscribe

The MetaFilter Proposal is an interesting idea, but would it fly with metafilter users?
posted by sean17 (53 comments total)
Corresponding MetaTalk discussion.
posted by gd779 at 6:06 AM on October 28, 2001

Second, a front page poster would have the ability to earn back up to half the spent scrip based on a new "post quality" rating provided by his or her fellow MeFites.

This "tyranny of the majority" would mean that - in the present climate - people like me who post anti-war links and essays would have to pay full price, while others who post those gushy, ra-ra, let's get 'em pieces will likely get the nod and the resulting rebate.

No thanks.
posted by mapalm at 6:39 AM on October 28, 2001

...and people like me who decry the namby-pamby, weak-kneed liberalist screeds in this forum would also be negatively impacted. Let the debates rage, I say.
posted by mrmanley at 6:51 AM on October 28, 2001

Three posts to thread hijack. A new record?
posted by darukaru at 7:04 AM on October 28, 2001

In Times Of War....

Truth be told, this "war on terrorism" has brought a lot of heated debates from both sides of the table, soiled the internet with endless points-of-view op-ed and littered once wonderfully insightful, diligent reporting sites with mundane articles of any unnewsworthy item that can be deemed war-related.

Basically, this whole damn war thing has ruined my internet and it's getting to me.

So before we throw our hands up and charge those who contribute, let's consider separating the chaff from the corn and Filtering the posts into categories like "war related" "technology related" and whatnot that can allow users to just filter out all the war related articles (heck, it could even be set up to filter out one side of it (say pro-Arab or pro-American)).
posted by Zebulun at 7:09 AM on October 28, 2001

I would gratefully support any mechanism that causes posters to write meaningful link names. One of the most basic principles of web design is that users should know where a link takes them before they click it. I simply don't want my time anymore clicking every link. I only consider exploring the ones that allow me to evaluate whether the link will be worth my time.

The "rating post quality" would bring these posters in line. I'd rate every obscure post with the lowest quality rating. Slashdot takes the other approach of approving and rewriting poster submissions, and that works well too.
posted by fleener at 7:25 AM on October 28, 2001

er, "want my time" = "waste my time"
posted by fleener at 7:26 AM on October 28, 2001

It's nice to see that the extremists on both sides recognize that any system in which quality is rewarded would hurt them.
posted by rcade at 7:30 AM on October 28, 2001

Who is this Michael Sippey guy?
posted by monkeyJuice at 7:34 AM on October 28, 2001

ZachsMind, in the concurrent MetaTalk discussion, said it for me: Sippey's trash is my treasure. He wants to fix something that I personally believe is working fine.

Is there a problem? Not in my experience.

I'm not against paying for a quality service on the 'Net, and MeFi definitely falls in that category. I just don't see the point. I like MeFi very much just the way it is.

Besides, the popular new TextAds feature is providing more revenue than expected, and each of us can still choose to make individual contributions to support the site.

As far as Zebulun's point, I disagree. The War is a Very Big Deal, and is getting a corresponding amount of attention on these pages -- as it should be, I think.

And I largely, although not entirely, disagree with fleener. Yes, a pointed, apt description of a link is a good thing, and thankfully, I've clicked on some I wouldn't have had there not been such a compelling intro. But I also prize the witty, intentionally cryptic posts whose links are something of a mystery until you click on 'em -- that's their charm.
posted by verdezza at 7:44 AM on October 28, 2001

> Such an action would cause the nabbering nabobs to pause ...

Maybe they paused cuz they didn't know wtf "nabbering nabob" meant. Okay, okay ... he made an innocent typo. No harm, no foul. He meant "nattering". Still makes no sense (chattering men of wealth and influence???). The full phrase of Agnew's chestnut is "nattering nabobs of negativity" (chatterers rich in negativity). Now that pretty much tips his bias and make msippey's otherwise well thought-out proposal a bit suspect. I did enjoy reading it and concede he has some valid points, but I don't want to be shielded from either rabid rightwingers or tree-hugging liberals.

Honestly, I think the solution is pretty obvious. I've seen it bantied about by others. MeFi might wanna consider using a few broad categories. By a few, I mean 3 or 4 tops. No more. World Events, Sites to Ponder, net.culture, and Misc.

By the way, I'd subscribe to a paid version of MeFi in a heartbeat, though I'm not sure that's what Matt really wants. It would change the complection -- maybe for the better, maybe not. Perhaps he might wanna take a cue from the EZboard crowd and ease into it. Before you have universal subscription, test the water first with a "benefactor" type system. You'd pay (on a sliding scale) for the priviledge of being a 1st, 2nd or 3rd tier benefactor (and maybe get an extra perk or two). On the face, it doesn't sound like much, but it works surprisingly well on the EZboards I frequent. Board contributors grow rather protective of their environment.
posted by RavinDave at 7:44 AM on October 28, 2001

Although I don't post to the mefi frontpage frequently, and my posts wouldn't be considered quality posts in some peoples minds, I would not even consider posting to the mefi frontpage in the future if it were to cost me money. I would be just as happy keeping what I thought was interesting or entertaining to myself than I would be if I shared it with everyone. On the other hand, maybe this is exactly what Michael Sippey had in mind?

I do however like the idea posted above about post categories, but I would imagine this would take quite some work to implement, and I would assume all old posts would just be stuffed into a 'general' category.
posted by howa2396 at 7:49 AM on October 28, 2001

I agree that I think it's easy to over-estimate the supposed problems on MeFi. From a user standpoint I would like to emphasise that I really enjoy the site and do not feel it is in any way broken.

At the same time I think it's time that Web users begin to learn they have to at least support those who create sites like MeFi, which may extend to some form of payment system. I would be happy to see a tiered subscription - which might have the side-effects of lowering the number of contributions to the front page as well as paying Matt's bills.
posted by skylar at 8:02 AM on October 28, 2001

If it aint broke dont fix it
the load is a fuction of the very confusing times and captilizing on this would only move the crowd to someother log
posted by timetostepback at 8:05 AM on October 28, 2001

ZEBULAN-"chaff from the corn" that term is generally applied to Wheat, not corn. your thinking-husks. I'm sorry the "war" has ruined "YOUR" internet- AL.
posted by clavdivs at 8:05 AM on October 28, 2001

Metafilter reflects the anarchic chaos of the very real world, just the way it should be. We have enough information sources driven by (and censored by) the profit motive.
posted by Voyageman at 8:33 AM on October 28, 2001

I'm just shocked that I have said something to which someone else actually agreed! Wow! Has this ever happened before? I think I'm gonna go have a lie down for awhile. I'm overwhelmed.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:51 AM on October 28, 2001

What kind of didactic beuacratic crap is this? The open-posting nature of Metafilter is what drew me here and has proven to be the greatest value of the site. It was a breath of fresh air after too many looks at Slashdot's arrogant and clubhouse-oriented editing of posts.

It's the posts that create the value. How does the author of the proposal expect to accurately judge what posts will continue to deliver that same value. Get over your own editorial self.
posted by holycola at 9:45 AM on October 28, 2001

My only qualm -- and it is only that, not even a complaint -- is not the quality of the front-page posts, but rather the quantity. The growth in the number of front-pagers has grown according to the growth of the number of users. One possible solution is to create separate MeFi's -- with a limit on the number of members. For instance, MeFi #1 would have 4,000 members, MeFi #2, would have 4,000 members, and so on. When the most recent MeFi reached a critical mass, with the number of front-pagers breeding rapidly, a new MeFi could be created. Anyone could view any MeFi, but you could only post to the MeFi that you belong to. Does that make any sense at all?

And, BTW, I too would pay $$ for fee-based membership.
posted by davidmsc at 9:54 AM on October 28, 2001

The question seems to be: how will MeFi scale? What many seem to prize about the site -- its eclecticism, the slightly fey nature of the posts, and the commentary -- are exactly the kinds of things that suffer as more and more people join the site. You can be small and boutique and cater to a certain well-defined taste, or you can be big and more mainstream. There really is no way to do both.

What I value on MeFi is the conversation, not the links themselves per se. I can find unusual and interesting stuff at other sites; MeFi gives me commentary on that stuff.

What concerns me is that a vocal minority of MeFi users are taking elitist umbrage at some of the content here. No one elected them as content-cops, but that's the purpose they see for themselves. I would hate for MeFi to go the way of USENET, but I would hate even more for a claque of self-appointed watchmen to turn MeFi into something it shouldn't be. That is antithetical to the whole idea of a weblog.
posted by mrmanley at 10:12 AM on October 28, 2001

If you like MetaFilter, then you should visit the site, read it, and maybe post once in awhile. If you don't like it, there's a really big internet out there, and you can probably find something elsewhere that will suit you. Why does it have to be any more complicated than that?
posted by spilon at 10:22 AM on October 28, 2001

Went right over your heads, obviously.
posted by gsh at 11:04 AM on October 28, 2001

chaff from the corn

Ah, clavdivs, but the Brits call wheat corn ("corn" being, etymologically, a generic term for grain, resulting in its application to America's "generic" grain, maize).

Unfortunately, Sippey's bio suggests he's not a Brit (BA from Colgate), which would force his readers to conclude, from about 100 different pieces of evidence in his short essay, that he writes incredibly pretentiously.
posted by Zurishaddai at 11:23 AM on October 28, 2001

verdezza, that's fine as long as your acknowledge that MeFi's potential audience is stunted because of obfuscated links. But perhaps that's a plus in your book.
posted by fleener at 11:28 AM on October 28, 2001

MrManley: I agree. In case anyone missed my point, I am NOT advocating "content filters" or a High Council. My only concern is sheer VOLUME. If MeFi/Matt/We were to segregate into several different communities, with all other rules just as they are now, then I suspect it would be "manageable." A front page for MeFi Community #1, for example, would have a number of threads that community members could actually peruse and comment on; same with MeFi Com#2, etc. One big MeFi -- the one we're heading for -- will soon have so many front-page links that many members will become frustrated and not even bother trying to scroll down to see "what else" is posted. But no Content Kings -- never. 'Cept for Matt, of course, and he does an admirable job. (huge sucking noise)
posted by davidmsc at 11:29 AM on October 28, 2001

He's right, you know. It's a damn shame that we have to tolerate the differing opinions of what's "important" in an open-community weblog.
posted by RevGreg at 11:40 AM on October 28, 2001

posted by dhartung at 11:41 AM on October 28, 2001

Forcing members to think. Yum, yum...

[I have to agree with people on the volume issue, but we need to remember we are going through a historically convulsive period. But, either now is not the best time to judge how MF would/could/should work over time, or we need to give some serious consideration to those periods when the volume is not high at all. Mr. Haughey has already implemented the once-a-day post the current rule and I think that's fair.]

Basing MetaFiltro on a credit mechanism, an economic structure, is likely to produce a world of Micosoft, Dell, Compaq, HP, Gateway and Apple posters. The 'invisible hand' and what sells the most... Can't anybody think of any more original models than the market for community discussions?

The post quality rating depends on users who have the time and dedication to generate a quality assessment of the post. How many have the first to start off with? How many are likely to offer their time for such a thing? What happens to the quality assessment of those who don't have the time? Essentially you just say that those who have the time and do such things should rule here; this counts as a proposal but it should be explicitly stated that it favors such audiences/members. That this is better in nature than the present situation is unclear to me. I believe there are many valuable posts that would not appear under this system, that currently make it into MetaFilter.

Slashdot generates a huge amount of crap. Part, but only part of this, is attributable to anonymous posting. The rest of what happens there is a function of the general focus of the site and the natural audience it attracts. MetaFilter has an audience of participants and content that swings back and forth depending on the time of day, day of the week, and the political/social/economic events. In part, it is interesting and captivating because of this. It is also interesting because of the acceptably civil level of discourse that occurs on the site naturally. This last element is worth its weight in the current precious metal of choice.

Also, as the MetaFilter guidelines states: " might warrant discussion from others." I take this as a post could well be worthwhile even if it generates no discussion. A good post may not generate any comment traffic whatsoever, why not? (Does everything in life have to be commented on?)

This proposal doesn't really make Mr. Haughey's life any easier. It could generate some economic rewards. I would imagine the rewards would be fairly low, so low as to not really merit much attention from Mr. Haughey personally except insofar as it reduces exisiting economic liabilities of the functioning of the site; this is a worthy goal.

This proposal focuses on two things: 'improving the quality of MF posts/commentary (content); 2) improving Mr. Haughey's life and/or econmic situation. I would suggest a more controlled anarchy proposal: leave it the way it is and have community members make Mr. Haughey's life easier in ways Mr. Haughey himself suggests. He owns the site, knows it best. The site is a reflection of his decisions and attititude. I take my hat off to Mr. Haughey for his achievement.
posted by mmarcos at 12:36 PM on October 28, 2001

verdezza, that's fine as long as your acknowledge that MeFi's potential audience is stunted because of obfuscated links.

Wow, fleener, I just don't agree. Whether the MeFi audience would grow or shrink because of the proliferation of "obfuscated links" is pure speculation. I wouldn't draw the same conclusion you did at all. (Besides, I thought this was a discussion about what existing users think of the kind, quality and quantity of front page links, not what prospective users might think.)
posted by verdezza at 12:41 PM on October 28, 2001

All I've figured out via this thread is what's missing from rebeccablood's wishlist...

Hmm...I gotta get one of those...

I got there diagonally, of course, but seriously, ba da bump, folks, that's what gives me pause about any considerations that involve partitioning or limiting this place:

It places a lower upper limit, as it were, on serendipity.

Matt deserves kudos and a big shout and is Pope here, to boot, and gets no kick from here about any of that--but this isn't three guys emailing each other their thoughts on Zork and Star Trek any more.

"It's the community, stupid" is my bumpersticker/mantra du jour in this instance and being of the Let A Hundred Flowers Bloom school, rather than limiting membership I propose a MetaFilter IPO with 100 shares for everyone signed up as of now plus fabulous salary, benefits and corporate jet for M. Howie...

All we have to do is create a few more Bert 'n Osama type internet crazes for proper word of mouth and then launch the next boom...
posted by y2karl at 1:22 PM on October 28, 2001

Seems to me that this "Metafilter Proposal" wants to do something about the quality of the posts, but would do so by diminishing the quantity of them. However, there's absolutely no guarantee that these paid posts would be better posts.
Perhaps this would even backfire : it could provide more room for self-promotion ("hey, I paid for it, might as well have this little link to my website in here") or posts to things someone feels very strongly about, while someone with the occasional nice idea would be scared away ...
posted by houbi at 2:44 PM on October 28, 2001

I'm relatively new to mefi - been lurking for a while tho, but I think this proposal would destroy mefi. Indeed, a mefi clone would just pop up immediately, and the community would be fractured. What's wrong with Slashdot's system?
posted by djacobs at 3:22 PM on October 28, 2001

verdezza, it is not "mere speculation." It is called "Web Design 101." Go read up on user interaction. This is the single largest issue that limits MeFi's audience. But again, I'd argue that people who enjoy "exploratory links" (what I call obfuscation) will ardently disagree with me. That's fine. It will keep MeFi small.

The principle at play is very simple. A link should indicate the content the user will see, *before* the user clicks the link. Anything else is exploratory. It is a HUGE paradigm shift and will attract two vastly different audiences... with the larger audience preferring clarity.
posted by fleener at 3:44 PM on October 28, 2001

Also, for me, obfuscated links on MeFi are about as useful as links that read "Click here." I don't want to click there, tell me where the hell it goes.

You might argue that the links are accompanied by teaser sentences to entice me to click and provide some vague hint of the destination. Well, I scan pages. Most people do. So I'm reading link names and skipping the paragraphs, then I stop and read the paragraphs that accompany interesting link names. This is how most people read web pages (again, study up on interaction design). But, again, I'm whacked out on that crazy idea of increasing MeFi's audience, which it doesn't want to do.
posted by fleener at 3:50 PM on October 28, 2001

i know we're all too busy looking cool in sunglasses

but i'm prepared to spare a minute or two to read a page full of links that can inspire, bore, depress or anger me

however i understand that sheer size can be a problem

so how about a membership cap ?

allow people to apply and wait for other's membership to lapse (if they don't surf back in for a month let's say)
posted by mrben at 4:05 PM on October 28, 2001

allow people to apply and wait for other's membership to lapse (if they don't surf back in for a month let's say)

In to the realm of speculation. I think that we have many people reading that do not post or comment. So they show up as surfing in and reading. They registered in case they wanted to comment.
posted by bjgeiger at 4:19 PM on October 28, 2001

is anyone going to respond to poor djacobs' comment?

i think the signal to noise ratio is climbing a bit around here, personally. what (sans the post-editing bit, which could be done away with easily) is so terrible about the slashdot system? a simple quality filter let's everyone hear/say everything, and the hapless user can filter their way to happiness.

(hunkers down with asbestos jacket)
posted by prosaic at 4:56 PM on October 28, 2001

Why not wait a few weeks? The phenomena msippey alludes to only really started after 9/11, when lots of people joined, and started posting and commenting.

There's good odds that soon the "news" links will diminish, along with the kneejerk responses, and mefi will again be the quirky, thoughtful haven from the world it once was (and in part still is, come to that).

And Zurisahaddai: the piece is a nifty rewrite of Jonathan Swift's "A modest proposal". I thought it was kewl.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 5:02 PM on October 28, 2001

i am blaming it all on kaycee nicole.
posted by bunnyfire at 5:22 PM on October 28, 2001

The diff between Swift and Sippey: Swift was funny. Sippey reads with more seriousness, but then when Swift wrote his, most of Ireland took him seriously too, and were outraged. I don't equate Sippey's proposal as satire. If that was his true intent, he should go back to the drawing board.

What one writes, and what others read, is rarely the same exact thing.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:21 PM on October 28, 2001

The Metafilter Proposal:

Liz, will you marry me?
posted by alex3005 at 6:32 PM on October 28, 2001

posted by Hackworth at 7:04 PM on October 28, 2001

watch a sunset.
posted by Satapher at 8:08 PM on October 28, 2001

must... escape... humorless... pedast...
posted by verdezza at 8:39 PM on October 28, 2001

I don't think there is ENOUGH on MeFi! Post more links! More news!

NOT LESS! If you don't want to read it - don't f-in read it.
posted by QrysDonnell at 8:40 PM on October 28, 2001

whew... gsh, it's a good thing you posted that link. i was halfway down this page and worried that no one was getting it. ah, good old jonathan swift.
posted by zerolucid at 10:51 PM on October 28, 2001

Apparently no one is getting it? (save the four of us?)
posted by canoeguide at 1:00 AM on October 29, 2001

I don't think there is ENOUGH on MeFi! Post more links! More news! NOT LESS! If you don't want to read it - don't f-in read it.

Or, like, choose what you read or comment on. My sentiments exactly, QrysDonnell. If I may be allowed two additional heresies: newbies are good for MetaFilter and "We're all in this together" MetaFilter is getting better and better!

Less is not more. More is more. And, sometimes, like the pop song I can't remember, even too much is not enough.

*with a Brookyln accent and a Jewish intonation* Nu, Metafilter? What's there to save? It's saved already!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:31 AM on October 29, 2001

Brooklyn, dammit.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:32 AM on October 29, 2001

i am blaming it all on kaycee nicole.

Gee, Bunny, I woulda thunk you woulda blamed it on Hillary Clinton ;)

On the topic at hand though, if this "proposal" isn't satire, it should be.
posted by terrapin at 7:37 AM on October 29, 2001

Last I heard Matt Haughey is alive and well, and so, is still the Metafilter god. Which means, no one selected *you*, Michael Sippey, to decide who gets to post and who doesn't. MeFi is working just fine the way it is, as I'm sure you will recognize from the majority of responses to this post. Your suggestion sounds like the most egregious kind of snobbery, and I suggest if you wish to have far fewer posts to sort through, that you start your own community website.
posted by Lynsey at 10:33 AM on October 29, 2001

Sarcasm is dead.
posted by Hackworth at 8:06 AM on October 30, 2001

Here's the original. A brilliant piece of satire, Mr. Sippey.

And well spotted.
posted by walrus at 3:36 PM on October 30, 2001

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