You Think You Know a Site
October 21, 2023 5:15 PM   Subscribe

I’ve known since I was 11 who these people, this Eyebrows McGee and this languagehat, are. After graduating from college, I still thought of Metafilter as a rarified club of experts that I’d somehow snuck into. I also thought of Metafilter as a perfect window onto the world. I was sure I could better understand different life experiences because I read strangers’ thoughts, freed by anonymity to be honest. I knew I lived in a tiny bubble, and Metafilter seemed my best defense against that insularity.

This was trending on
posted by mecran01 (238 comments total) 174 users marked this as a favorite
I have only skimmed this, but this is pretty great. I am looking forward to a closer re-read.

I liked the ending, and it's inspiring me to maybe go do the same.

Also, I miss a lot of people whose names I haven't seen here in a while - languagehat, Eyebrows McGee, sonascope (who actually just made a FPP a couple weeks ago, and has been commenting, so probably I'm just hanging out in the wrong threads). kathrynm. I bet when I go back and re-read the Emotional Labor thread they're all going to come rushing back to me.

I hadn't seen this elsewhere, and I'm glad to get to read it. Thank you so much for posting it here, mecran01!
posted by kristi at 5:30 PM on October 21 [27 favorites]

Metafilter: A Slab of Raw Beef

"The process, compared to a well-managed executive conference, was a slab of raw beef compared to a wiring diagram. Raw beef, however, functions better than a wiring diagram would, in its place — inside a living animal."
Ursula K. Le Guin from The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia
posted by ApplAuD at 5:46 PM on October 21 [17 favorites]

Metafilter: like a very small scale Reddit

(this essay is really nice. I love when people talk about what some specific social media means to them.)
posted by Nelson at 5:53 PM on October 21 [16 favorites]

Metafilter: like a very small scale Reddit

Hmm. Reddit definitely does not seem like a very large scale Metafilter.
posted by senor biggles at 5:56 PM on October 21 [56 favorites]

Metafilter: white, American, left-wing, and upper-middle class. Anything outside that frame can end poorly.

On a much different note, I love this article and how it describes the experience of participating in the community. I have read AskMetafilter for a very long time and only regularly posted in the last few years, part of a general boost in self-confidence that happened in my early forties. There are other online communities I remember reading from the 90s and aughts: the Fat!So? forum, a forum spinoff of HipMama called Mamatron, The Toast comments...and only Metafilter survives.
posted by lizard music at 6:01 PM on October 21 [18 favorites]

Hmm. Reddit definitely does not seem like a very large scale Metafilter.

Reddit is just a web interface to a centralized version of usenet.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:03 PM on October 21 [46 favorites]

Note fwiw: article was from Feb 2021
posted by lalochezia at 6:10 PM on October 21 [4 favorites]

Very recognizable, right down to finding a comment I liked and realizing Past Me wrote it.

My love for this place hasn't changed, and I don't think it needs to be Like Other Places, but as a safe place for younger me to find her way into the late 90s internet, it was so important. I have found so many other good places via this place.
posted by emjaybee at 6:27 PM on October 21 [64 favorites]

The one I love is reading a comment in a Fanfare thread and getting ready to respond to it and then realizing I wrote it.
posted by corb at 6:29 PM on October 21 [58 favorites]

overwhelmed at the best extant record of who I’ve been and what I’ve thought.

In 2004, I was a new everything. A transplant to a strange and hostile place; a new wife; a new mother; and, after several attempts, a $5 noob. MetaFilter was my lifeline to other people. I would nurse my baby and click into stories, perspectives, and experiences not my own with a sense of gratitude for the connection. I found people who were willing to talk, to share, to advise, and they were all so much smarter and funnier than I was! Making my first post was scary, and I thought about that recently when I wrote a long piece of advice, with an assurance and a compassion that have been shaped by this place.

I often find myself saying “thank you” here. And I mean it. MetaFilter has remained—for better and worse—recognizably human. It’s helpful, and curious, and fighty, and full of real people, a few of whom it has been my pleasure to meet. Others I just know from their voices. And so many MetaFilter voices have been important for me over the years, keeping me grounded and helping me learn. Thank you.

HuronBob, rtha, Anitanola, I miss you still. I miss a number of MeFites who have left. I am grateful for those who have stayed.

This place has been part of my becoming. Meeting my younger self here, in my comment history, reminds me of that. Thank you for being here, MetaFilter.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:32 PM on October 21 [123 favorites]

I'm definitely a lot more honest on here than on other 'social' media and the backwater feeling contributes to that ... I've also thought of metafilter as a kind of exclusive club, along with which is where the professional music writers hang out.

If I think about the impact reading metafilter has had on my life ... it's the only "news" website I've managed to read consistently year in year out, because interspersed with the news is the cat photos so it's not as heavy as the actual news (and I know it only works as a "news" website because im in that demographic mentioned by the essay author - white, american, left-leaning, upper middle class, and i would actually add living in the NYC metro area to that).

So I'd say I'm better informed than I would be otherwise, though there are lots of other websites that would objectively work better as news-delivery sites.

Probably the most concrete benefit I've gotten from being on this site is that my writing has improved... there are a lot of great writers here!
posted by subdee at 6:47 PM on October 21 [7 favorites]

posted by clavdivs at 6:47 PM on October 21 [20 favorites]

I have something to say but I can't really articulate it (feel free to 'Metafilter:' this, or not). Metafilter has meant a lot to me over the past 2+ decades, and I am a better person today than I would have been because of it. But I think I'm glad I encountered it (not like I had a choice) in my late 20s rather than earlier. I guess I'm just glad I had a chance to more or less grow up before the internet as we know it now has come into being.
posted by mollweide at 6:56 PM on October 21 [22 favorites]

This is great, very relatable.

By MetaFilter's own ???

[Also, the word is rarefied]
posted by chavenet at 7:23 PM on October 21 [4 favorites]

I relate.
Found Metafilter via Leo Laporte on TechTV. c. 2001. It had to be around then because I remember doomscrolling the 9/11 threads in my room with John Stewart on the TV. There was no $5 fee to join then but the site was closed to new members except for once or twice a year.
First time I went out to a bar was for a MeFi meetup. I was 16, I think? The folks were chill. They were not geniuses like I'd imagine but they were kind adults and didn't baby me or call attention to my age. I was welcome as a peer and that felt validating. Back then I also haunted the IRC where the same dynamic applied. The atmosphere there was certainly more playfully adolescent (antagonistic) than on the .com

Like the author of the posted article I've lingered on, lurking, noncommittal. That's ok. There's a comfort in the Blue but I no longer feel sentimental about it.
posted by Evstar at 7:47 PM on October 21 [9 favorites]

I run a modest and altruistic reddit sub with 20,000 subscribers and every time I take action I think to myself: What Would MetaFilter Do?
posted by furtive at 8:15 PM on October 21 [31 favorites]

Metafilter: This is great… [Also, the word is rarefied]
posted by No-sword at 8:26 PM on October 21 [22 favorites]

10 years, 10 years
Got my $5, I been here for 10 fukkin years
I see you on the blue any given Sunday
Get 23 favorites, log off till the next day
If you ain't no mouth breather holla, "We want moderators"
( we NEED moderators)
It's something that I need to have
Cuz when I leave my comments half u wanna beat my ass
I ain’t saying I’m a shit poster
But u ain’t messin with no Reddit hosers
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:26 PM on October 21 [13 favorites]

A few weeks ago one of my friends asked me how I always seem to have deep understanding of world events, politics, science and technology even though I have no higher education in any of these topics, and my answer was that I read MetaFilter everyday. Here my thinking is deeply informed by the facts, analysis, and understanding gleaned from hanging out eavesdropping on some of the most informed and carefully thoughtful conversations I have ever found. I thank my MeFite friends every day for making me a more informed person and also a kinder person.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 8:30 PM on October 21 [66 favorites]

Metafilter: feel free to 'Metafilter:' this, or not
posted by doubtfulpalace at 8:45 PM on October 21 [15 favorites]

It me in many ways too - the way MetaFilter is a window on the world and a kind of education, the way comments can form a sort of diary, and so on. I got hooked on MeFi after seeing it on some best sites on the internet list and am so grateful. Something to think about though, as the author says the place has gotten much sparser, so I wonder for those starting out on it now how much drawing power it still has. I frequently find myself here, not doomscrolling but metascrolling? hoping for new posts and comments.
posted by blue shadows at 8:58 PM on October 21 [3 favorites]

Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter:

Core dumped...
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 9:06 PM on October 21 [21 favorites]

There are two usernames in Metafilter's history that really call out to me.

The first is amberglow. (I don't remember where I got the idea to boldface usernames in comments from, but it seems appropriate since username bylines on comments are boldfaced by the interface.) They used to make these wonderful, knowledgeable posts that I greatly appreciated. When Obama was running the first time, they were not as gung-ho about their candidacy as others were. I presume that's why they left. Now, like (wow) 19 years later, with the benefit of hindsight, it seems more obvious that Obama wasn't a game-changer but a stay-the-course kind of candidate. Navelgazer picked up some of the slack in making their kind of posts for awhile, but now I hardly ever see them either. I hope wherever amberglow went, that they're doing well.

The other user I miss I've lamented about here multiple times before, oneswellfoop. I'm still greatly saddened by the fact that I have no conclusive evidence of whatever happened to him. He was MST Club's most ardent follower, and we miss him greatly. He was in assisted living and having trouble getting online. It's also known that he had heart issues. He just stopped coming to MST Club, and posting on MeFi, one day. I seem to remember asking here somewhere about what happened to him, although I can't find where I did using search. But then, as a response to my question, he appeared in the thread, and did the whole "rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated" thing, ha ha. And he started going to MST Club again! For a while, everything was happy again. But then, once again, he stopped appearing there, and stopped posting to MeFi. That was around 2020; I can't give you an exact date for the reason in the parenthetical comment below. The consensus is that he's probably passed away by now. So it goes.

(Aside: is there any way to lessen the chances that user comment searches, from the links on a user's profile page, could be made to not time out with a Server Error so often? Most of my comment searches using profile page links end that way these days.)
posted by JHarris at 9:10 PM on October 21 [34 favorites]

I was reading Metafilter since... I want to say 2003, but I actually had to wait till Feb 2005 before I could sign up for Metafilter, because I didn't have (wasn't yet eligible for) a credit card back then. I didn't want to use my debit card for an online purchase. I know at least one person who (at least as of 2019) still reads through the website without ever posting anything or signing up for an account.

By and large, though, I’d get to the meetup, look for the group meeting each other for the first time, and find that my window on the world was not so vast after all. The group was generally whiter, shyer, and more rumpled than I’d expected and worked in a small sliver of white collar jobs. I’d feel a sharp inhale of surprise, alerting me to just how detailed my subconscious expectations had been.

I'm probably in a very narrow segment, but I happened to have attended meetups in three cities in three countries across two continents. Gosh, I'm forgetting the username now... that girl who did a PhD on how folks pronounce "Mefi" in real world even gave me a physical [+] card because I briefly held forth on how the pronunciation was different based on the dominant language in the group.

And yet:
In one infamous thread, an Asian user asked for help deciding what percentage of their salary to give to their parents. White users rushed in to call this absurd and declare that adults didn’t owe their parents anything. Prolific Asian users disabled their accounts out of frustration, never to come back.

This too happened, yes. Sigh.
posted by the cydonian at 9:41 PM on October 21 [12 favorites]

For some reason I won’t try to over-analyze, I still distinctly remember the moment I became aware of this site, a blue Netscape tab on a friend’s Dell I was borrowing to check my Hotmail in an apartment in Greenwich Village in [checks notes] 2001. That’s interesting, I thought. Can I join? No? Damn. Eventually patience paid off—now that I think of it I also, weirdly, remember the moment I officially climbed on board, in a hotel room in Panama a few months later—and here we are. The internet equivalent of a childhood friendship that has never faded or gone sour.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:01 PM on October 21 [5 favorites]

Well I joined in 2015 after reading for a couple of years and I never saw it in 1999 or what have you. But it’s been damn great for me. Personally and professionally and more importantly personally. This is the best place on the internet.
posted by kerf at 10:02 PM on October 21 [13 favorites]

That piece touched a nerve for me. MeFi has been a daily presence in my life since 2001. Every now and then I marvel at how it has managed to stay largely the same, while everything else on the internet changed five times over. But mostly I take it for granted. Reading something like that helps to keep better perspective.

When I was ready to join, MeFi wasn't officially accepting new members. But there was a "backdoor", where if you signed up on another site that mathowie was involved with, you got a MeFi account automatically. That's how I managed to sneak in, before the $5 fee got instituted.

Back then there was some cachet attached to having a low user number, and I remember being embarrassed about having one (13942) that was over the 10,000 mark. Now it feels funny to be telling tales practically from the time of the founding!
posted by epimorph at 10:34 PM on October 21 [12 favorites]

Thank You Metafilter “Be curious, not judgmental.”
– Ted Lasso
posted by robbyrobs at 10:42 PM on October 21 [12 favorites]

Metafilter: Uh, it's MetaFilter.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:09 PM on October 21 [12 favorites]

No matter how obscure the topic, someone on Metafilter would be an expert on it . . .
In ~2007, I was asked to do a day of computational biology at the local college as part as a summer science week for tweens/teens. The running theme was a murder mystery - sprawled body outlined on floor, spooling DNA from a banana homogenate, forensic report of pocket-contents, etc. My day started with an evidence-related DNA sequence which we had to identify.
Self: "Where would you go to find an expert on Caribbean plants"
Tween: "Bebo"
The top-quoted MetaFilter assertion fails to counter-weigh all the blather where no expert appears, including their own "Objectively, I had no business writing that comment". I'm waiting for someone to post about synonymous codon usage in microbes: I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a SCU bum , which is what I am, let's face it.
posted by BobTheScientist at 11:48 PM on October 21 [2 favorites]

Two years ago, I was looking up advice on negotiating and saw quite a helpful comment. When I went to bookmark it, I noticed that attached to the comment was my own username. I checked the timestamp. At that point, I’d never had a full-time job and certainly had never negotiated. But lots of people had bookmarked the comment.

nthing that this has happened to me multiple times. Good job, past me.
posted by limeonaire at 12:48 AM on October 22 [10 favorites]

I miss amberglow too, who I met in real life, a sweet, kind, generous person.

I also miss paulsc, who wrote long, long erudite answers, and was sometimes controversial, being a product of a certain generation older than the average MeFite.

He and I talked a lot on Metachat, and then in Nov 2013 he disappeared. I tried to find out what had happened - I knew where he lived and a bit about his family circumstances, caring for a younger brother with disabilities (whose name I also knew).
Emails to him went unanswered, and I grieved the loss of my friend.

Then earlier this year I searched again, and came across a recent obituary - not for him, but for a woman, from the same city. It said she'd had two brothers, Paul, who had predeceased her, and the other (named) brother.

So there was my answer - paulsc has died, probably in Nov 2013.

posted by essexjan at 2:23 AM on October 22 [86 favorites]

posted by Meatbomb at 2:30 AM on October 22 [8 favorites]

I love Metafilter.
posted by Paul Slade at 2:59 AM on October 22 [7 favorites]

Just dropping a note that if you don’t read MetaTalk and like me never really see the banner, you might not know MetaFilter is looking for inaugural board members.
posted by warriorqueen at 3:43 AM on October 22 [11 favorites]

“That was around 2020; I can't give you an exact date for the reason in the parenthetical comment below. The consensus is that he's probably passed away by now. So it goes.”

Literally — true literally — last night I thought about Wendell. There are several older (as in age) mefites who I sometimes worry about and then think that I might never know if they've passed.

Oh, right. Having written that just this moment, I recall the larger train of thought, which was a bit of a contrarian "is this really a community if a well-known person can die unnoticed?" thing that is in keeping with my yearlong slow-moving crisis of feeling that I have only a few years left to live and "what has it all meant" and "well that's been a disappointment". From this very personal, self-indulgent depressive musing I was more carefully considering once again the question of community. Because I don't think I've ever been a part of community, for so long, and feel that it's so important to me, while also feeling like that connection is paper-thin.

And nothing leads me to consider the last bit, again and again, when I think (as I often do) of so many mefites from long ago, who I feel like I really know and that aren't around anymore, and wonder how they are doing. And I feel like they're too easily forgotten. The idea that Wendell (his two usernames are spoonerisms) and so many others could just disappear from MetaFilter unremarked deeply upsets me.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:22 AM on October 22 [43 favorites]

I am so biting my tongue regarding a name mentioned. They were mean as Hell on people they didn’t like, to that I can attest. And I mean personally and intentionally mean. But tastes and memories differ. Beyond that I will bite my tongue.

As for languagehat, we could use twelve dozen more like him. His astute, incredibly well read, wise, kind and generous presence is sorely missed by more than just me, that I know for sure.

I can think of another someone we've driven away. This place can be so stupidly cruel and collectively short sighted. That seems to be a feature more than a bug.

Also, I did not know the backstories about onefellswoop or amberglow. This was sad sad news to me. But then life is short and Death is written over all.

On the other hand, of members still here, clavdivs and Katullus come first to mind for me. I appreciate their presence more by the day. We are so blessed they are still present and active. We owe them so much for still sticking around. And each of you can think of more who are or surely should still be here.
posted by y2karl at 5:02 AM on October 22 [34 favorites]

I forget all the old users, and then one gets mentioned and I’m sad that they’ve gone or stopped using the site or vaporized their entire account history all over again.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:12 AM on October 22 [7 favorites]

Thank you, everyone, for just showing up.
posted by mikelieman at 5:24 AM on October 22 [20 favorites]


I came here from the WGB, as I think others did too. I read the site a couple of years before registering. I have learnt so much here, thank you all! There is probably not any place on the internet that is moderated as well, so special thanks to the mods.
posted by mumimor at 5:39 AM on October 22 [8 favorites]

Shoutout to y2karl who I see above! Was always a friend to me here.
I've been here a looong time and seen so many good people and posts.
What a wonderful place! Damn, I'm getting old.

Some controversial older accounts I'm remembering from the early days, like steven den beste?

I cringe reading my old posts, did I do that?
posted by nofundy at 5:49 AM on October 22 [10 favorites]

One of the things I like the most about Metafilter is that it has grown up. The work of all the participants and moderators has not been perfect, but it has over time shifted the culture to be more inclusive and often more insightful. It undoubtedly has further to go, but being able to both take part in and revisit that shift is something very speical.
posted by plonkee at 5:52 AM on October 22 [33 favorites]

I want to express gratitude for the diversity of voices on the blue.I believe that hearing multple viewpoints has made me a better person.

Metafilter has been my safe room through crises, fresh air when it’s most needed, and reassurance when my real world spins out of control.

As an intensely introverted loner I feel safe and welcome here even when my comments are less than brilliant. Metafilter is the only place where I regularly get to hang with others.

I’ve learned a lot, had some great laughs, questioned things and gained compassion by being here and continue to be thankful for all the illuminating, contentious and engaged members of this community.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:56 AM on October 22 [14 favorites]

I ran the NYC meetups for a few months. It feels weird even typing that, but it's basically true- I was the one who posted a location and time and people showed up. I checked my comments on New York IRL and about half of them were me canceling. Although that makes sense, I tended to just reply yes and show up to ones that I was attending. At least I hope so. I looked up a few of the people who were regulars when I was as well. Some are still around, some have left. The user names that mean the most to me are generally from those people.

It's amazing how core Metafilter was to my life for a period of time. These days I still stop by and comment, but I still haven't gotten around to writing that post on Susan P Baker that I've meant to for multiple years. I haven't tried for a meetup in ages, and given that I'm in a much smaller city these days, I don't have much hope for it.

I still remember how I found Metafilter - I had been, in the heady days of the early 2000s, a member of sensible erection (now long defunct, even the subreddit looks dead) and I remember the announcement that users could now post things to the page. "More Metafilter, less Memepool." I knew about Memepool, but this Metafilter thing sounded interesting. I think it took me two years to get around to joining after I started reading regularly. Which means I've been looking at stuff here approximately half my life.

There have been speculation that the age of mass social media is dying, especially with xitter going down the toilet. I hope that means that there will be more smaller communities like Metafilter and sensible erection, but I just don't know. I know there is a risk of an echo chamber effect, but that's just as true in Reddit or Facebook, where people are self-segregated into areas of interest.
posted by Hactar at 5:58 AM on October 22 [11 favorites]

Fifteen years I've been here? That seems weird. I'd originally gotten interested in the site before then, but that was during one of the times that sign-ups weren't available, and occasionally looking back at posts from earlier in the aughts, I'm not sure that I would have stuck around if I'd signed up earlier. I eventually did sign up, probably at just the right time for me, since a forum that I was involved with heavily for a while (itself composed of refugees from another forum that had been shut down by its now-notorious founder) was starting to fall apart. I'm glad that this is still here.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:18 AM on October 22 [5 favorites]

The Emotional Labor thread was a really amazing moment here, and well worth the time to read. But the pdf of the thread - and especially how it was shared widely without the permission of the people who posted personal information in the thread - wasn’t handed well. And it caused at least a couple of longtime members to quit the site. Looking back at the thread, the number of women there who are no longer here is noticeable. I’m glad people are still finding benefits from the document, but it did surprise me to read that it’s still being circulated.
posted by Mchelly at 6:26 AM on October 22 [21 favorites]

One of the things I like the most about Metafilter is that it has grown up.

Yes. MetaFilter was usually a little nicer than most of the internet, but it is certainly a more welcoming and inclusive and patient place in 2023 than it was in... oh wow I started my account in 2001.

That's got to rank it in the top five sites I've been visiting in terms of longevity, and it's a much more pleasant community than one of other other ones on that list I can think of.
posted by Foosnark at 6:29 AM on October 22 [9 favorites]

Metafilter was the place to get info on what was happening in NYC when 9/11 happened, thanks to the high percentage of NYC Mefites. With family in lower Manhattan and no other way to contact them, I joined with only that in mind. But Metafilter is way more than that - I've stayed ever since. Like the article writer admits, for a while I was drawn to the Twitters and Reddits that came after but even before they crashed into a wall of enshittification, Metafilter still shined a light that nothing else ever seemed to.
posted by tommasz at 6:32 AM on October 22 [7 favorites]

I joined the week of 9/11. I was 21 years old. It didn't cost anything to get in, that I remember, and was a salve during that time, struggling to find a job after college on a Gateway computer in my parent's basement. I've since changed my user name because how embarrassing some of the things I said back then - so young, so unaware of internet anonymity concerns, and not realizing my words would exist still on this site, 22 years later.

This site shaped my life and taught me a lot, mostly, to listen to other's perspectives and really take them in. And it's still fantastic at cool things on the web creation. The main draw now for me is Ask, where you can still get thoughtful answers.

I do not like the name dropping, how some users are a little shiny. I don't like the repeated provocateurs, although some have left over the years. And shit talking an FPP is a little less now but some of that web meanness still persists. All in all though, at least your comments can't be downvoted because a few other redditers are cranky that day.

There's a lot to love, but this 2021 critique is still accurate. We DO need more users, diversity, perspective. I hope the way forward into non-profit status is a new chapter.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:51 AM on October 22 [15 favorites]

Any club willing to tolerate me as a member can't be all that great.
posted by sotonohito at 6:59 AM on October 22 [27 favorites]

I am a part of a couple of 90's online communities, and they also follow similar trajectories of recruitment, but at different moments.

One had a large norm change around 2012. It improved the conversation. It likely improved the mental health of some members who benefited from being banned.

but the norms did kill recruitment, as well as the volume of written contributions.

To many, the site was 'dead' for the loss of drama.

There 's also 'pivot to video' will just killed recruitment on these sites by way of changing digital nativity.

But I definitely wouldn't recruit to metafilter or these other sites by saying "it s a small reddit". !

I would say "it. Is a place where you can have a conversation where you learn something, espe ially about X, especially regarding people from Y, instead of yelling at people and getting yelled at"
posted by eustatic at 7:07 AM on October 22 [9 favorites]

Oh and those other sites have always been membership collectives, not even non profits, just associations of kids with servers, now with kids of their own.

Others work on tithes or dues. Thanks metafilter For being more open
posted by eustatic at 7:12 AM on October 22 [3 favorites]

Interesting meta-article about Metafilter.

I joined in 2006 (I had to look); I was mid-40s and deep into my second career in web app development, and had been lurking for awhile. I was active for almost a decade, then left it alone for quite a while, and drifted back maybe 3 years ago.

I've stayed out of most social sites: I've never joined Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. I'm not that "social", and right off I sensed how big a timesuck they could be. I joined Reddit last year to interact with others over a professional and hobby interest - but too many punters and you get sick of the same 6 n00b questions every week, and some holy wars over sacred oxen. I dropped my membership there after their disruptive changes last spring.

From age and life path, I'm not exactly smack in the middle of the MeFi demographic, and I occasionally disagree with the consensus here on some things. Nonetheless, my politics are mostly progressive so there's a resonance. I find intelligence, ethical thought and considered commentary here that I don't find elsewhere. This has forced me to think harder, probe a bit, and reconsider many things.

To sum up - I find the people here are generally smarter that me, and they express or point to ideas, authors and sources that I wouldn't find otherwise. I hope Metafilter can keep going.
posted by Artful Codger at 7:41 AM on October 22 [15 favorites]

I cringe reading my old posts, did I do that?

You and me both. If there.was a queue, I would be so far ahead of you in line.
posted by y2karl at 7:57 AM on October 22 [8 favorites]

Mefi was always ardently multicultural in theory and brutally unwelcoming to non-American content in reality.
posted by Phanx at 8:34 AM on October 22 [23 favorites]

I've been here for a solid decade and change. I've more or less been on the periphery I guess. Never made any friends here or gone to any meetups. Still, this place means a lot to me. Do you know how hard it is to find a good conversation online? A place where I'm not invariably the most left-leaning in the room? A place whose web design isn't a 3mb blob of javascript talking to a rest backend? This place may have been the best five bucks I ever spent. A huuuge thank you to the moderation team, who make it all possible.
posted by signsofrain at 8:42 AM on October 22 [35 favorites]

I came across MetaFilter in early 2001, just before I turned 20, first tried to join in 2002, and finally got in about a year and a half later. Any way you look at it, I’ve been on here half my life, and all my adult years. During that time I’ve lived in three different countries, six different towns and cities, and have had to find new social nets of my own. But MetaFilter’s always been there, an island village I carry with me around the world. There are dozens of MeFites, even hundreds, whose personality I have a sense of, many whose comments I recognize long before I reach the “posted by”, and plenty I’ve had the pleasure to meet in person.

This community, all those individual MeFites, everyone reading this thread, has had a profound effect on shaping me as a person. It’s helped me understand parts and aspects of the world that were opaque to me and some I didn’t even know existed. It’s shown me life from countless perspectives, leading to see my own life in new and revealing ways. And I’ve just learned so much in general.

MetaFilter will never be one of the big cities of the internet, it’ll always be an island in the web, a small town that people find their way to and stay a while, sometimes a long, long while. I honestly think I’ll be logging on and taking part until it’s no longer possible. I think people underestimate how remarkable that a website has been the home of a community which is as disparate as this one is, to the point that, as Carrie Tian astutely observes, no one can define what it is.

I think, honestly, that’s a strength. There are many ways to be a MeFite, my main interest is the Blue, the links and discussion about them, but AskMe, FanFare, Music and MeTa are all really interesting, and function in different ways. There’s no way to say “this is what MetaFilter is” and encompass all of that, much like you couldn’t look at a town in the real world and define it in a sentence or three.

Though for me, MetaFilter is my home on the internet, and sometimes, when I’ve been adrift and lost in the world, it’s simply been home.
posted by Kattullus at 8:44 AM on October 22 [41 favorites]

Good piece, resonates like hell. My own trip through the heart of all this has been so central to my life that even a year and a half after stepping away from direct responsibility for it I'm still often pretty overwhelmed by feelings when I get this close to the subject for more than a passing moment. The value this place has had to me, the presence it has had in my life, as my daily thing, and the sense of reevaluating over time what my needs from and expectations for it are over time has been a constant part of my mental landscape for 20-something years. I love MetaFilter, I worry about MetaFilter, I try to keep some distance and I never find anything quite like it. It's too big and too long-lived to be all good or all bad; it's too much a part of the fabric of my life to ever cut out, even as I needed to start putting up some serious partitions eventually.

that girl who did a PhD on how folks pronounce "Mefi" in real world

Dr. iamkimiam. You can get at her dissertation at this archive link; linkrot comes for us all.

There was a brief period in 2015—between when I had just taken on managerial responsibility for the site from a very burnt-out mathowie and when Trump crashed into US politics and began precipitating my own burnout—where full of energy and excitement I tried to start a second, short form interview podcast for MetaFilter, Out of the Blue. I managed to get two episodes out, one with nicebookrack about a long-lived snail, the second with Jess Zimmerman who wrote the emotional labor essay that lead to the discussion thread and PDF mentioned at the start of the essay.

The third episode was going to be an interview with Kim about the dissertation and her background on MeFi and in linguistics; we managed to record an interview through some dodgy background noise issues, and then my spare time and capacity to focus ended up shot to hell and I never got the whole thing put together. And I still feel bad about that, having that fun creative co-venture just drop out of sight in among the Everything Else, leaving iamkimiam hanging on a fun capstone to something we'd chattered about a bunch of times before in less formal contexts, over beers and scotch at meetups etc.

That's part of the strange weight that comes with spending so much time for so long in one online place; the internal stakes, the personal and emotional ties, stack up in a way they don't in something more fleeting or patina-deep like riffing on twitter or participating in an always-on-topic subject matter forum. What folks have said above about remembering folks since gone, whether they've wandered away or left decisively or died, that gutting duality of both knowing a notional stranger well enough to miss them when they're gone and knowing that so many people's presence can be abstract enough to just slip away until years later you find yourself wondering "whatever happened to...".

MetaFilter is a weird, vaporous, muddled idea of a place, an emergent artefact of the people who are here and make it what it is. I think that's part of why it has struggled to find some clear concrete characterization over the years—even I still don't know how to sum it up satisfactorily in an elevator pitch—but also why it has continued to be and to evolve instead of breaking down entirely because it was shackled to some inviolable functional or commercial pitch. When the core purpose of a place is to continue to be, to make a home for whoever needs to be there instead of to leverage those folks for a make-or-break business bet etc., that place can keep lumbering along. I'm glad we're still lumbering along.
posted by cortex at 9:04 AM on October 22 [80 favorites]

"It looks like it was designed in 1999, because it was."

This is one thing I really like about Metafilter. It's just enough to get the job done without all the contemporary web BS. It just works.
posted by 3.2.3 at 9:22 AM on October 22 [36 favorites]

I cringe reading my old posts, did I do that?

Myself as well though the only reason is likely because of MetaFilter so that's a win
posted by Mitheral at 9:24 AM on October 22 [12 favorites]

I became aware of the site from the article on matt in Brill's Content.

Reading between the lines of comments, I am convinced Eyebrows has lived the most fascinating life.
posted by mmascolino at 9:34 AM on October 22 [10 favorites]

Wow. I’ve been here 19 years. I looked at my stats and they’re pitiful. But I find that reading these conversations frequently enlightens me to the substance of alternate/opposing views, and my own opinions seem much less urgent to share. This has bled over into meatspace, for sure. I know a lot less now than i did before, and I’m grateful.
posted by Carmody'sPrize at 9:40 AM on October 22 [20 favorites]

Compared with many other online communities, Metafilter is the only one that feels personal to me. I'm not sure why that is, but I like that it's a place that is okay with being small, and that carries in its DNA the ideas of community from when the web was a smaller place.

I think my elevator pitch for Metafilter would focus on the name. It's about rejecting garbage: garbage links, garbage discourse, and garbage ideas about what a website should be.
posted by swift at 9:42 AM on October 22 [11 favorites]

I have always really enjoyed Loquacious' long rambling Tales of the Pacific Northwest. in fact, I think they could be bound and published as a narrative memoir of an interesting life and perspective from the trees. those beautiful trees.
posted by supermedusa at 10:00 AM on October 22 [14 favorites]

This is my longest relationship next to my wife, and it’s close run.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:19 AM on October 22 [10 favorites]

I looked up the author and I didn't expect there to be another Asian girl who was way too online way too early to be on this site lmao. We probably have friends in common, even. I also share the same hesitation to mention this site IRL
posted by airmail at 10:28 AM on October 22 [6 favorites]

MetaFilter: I Am.

(Sometimes it's downhill from there, but we keep at it. Whattaya gonna do?)
posted by mule98J at 10:47 AM on October 22 [2 favorites]

I was almost 40 when I got here. And it's been twenty years! That there are people who've been on the site almost as long but started as children really blows my mind. I keep being reminded lately that twenty years is a long time. Long enough someone to go from 11 to their thirties.

I'm aghast at the influence we've had on someone so young, but then I realize that they were on the Internet elsewhere, of course, and I'm glad that they were here because everywhere else was an even worse influence.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:50 AM on October 22 [24 favorites]

I came across MetaFilter in 2007 when I was in library school, doing research for a paper that led me to, blog of a certain Jessamyn, who had linked something from MF on her sidebar. I had spent a lot of time reading Usenet from 1990-2000, eventually giving up on it when it became too spam-choked, had a kid in 2002, and had pretty much gotten out of the daily Internet habit except for school. MetaFilter to me felt like coming home to pre-Eternal-September Usenet, except even in 2007 it was a lot nicer than Usenet had ever been. I'm mostly a lurker here, just as I was mostly a lurker on Usenet, perhaps being the only person in the world who took seriously the rn warning that my message would cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars to send all over the world and did I really want to do that? But this is the first place I come every morning (after the New York Times puzzles and Guess My Word) and the last place I visit before shutting off the computer every night. I'm glad you're all here.
posted by Daily Alice at 10:55 AM on October 22 [17 favorites]

I keep being reminded lately that twenty years is a long time.

As Fran Lebowitz recently remarked, it was easier be 20 in the 70s than to be 70 in the 20s. But then she is the Luddite's Luddite in never having had either internet nor cellphone. She and Jonathan Richman are like peas in their own separate pods.
posted by y2karl at 11:16 AM on October 22 [5 favorites]

Living abroad in 1999, MetaFilter was an essential source of information and perspectives and intelligent discussion that became the gravitational center of the internet for me. After lurking for a decade, finally joined in 2009. I'm so happy that it's still here. A heartfelt thank you to this website and its community. Viva Metafilter!
posted by Bartonius at 11:43 AM on October 22 [4 favorites]

Got a little choked up reading the anecdote about the author making a cross-country move to take a job after talking to mathowie. The ways that we affect each other can be so real and so powerful, in this shared space. I'm a better person for having been here for 15 years (and counting) and I am truly grateful.
posted by merriment at 11:53 AM on October 22 [8 favorites]

To me metafilter is my third place. Like a coffee shop, a library really, down the way full of people in many ways like me. Who prefer the linear style and clarity of text. Who wants a conversation that simultaneously includes the post, the context of the post and it's source, the framing of the meta post, and the discussion itself.

A spot where my thoughts, my idle comments, basically stand on their own. A home online. I'm always welcome, where it doesn't feel like my own missteps and idiocy of youth are held against me. Or how long I've been here. I will read your post, and I might like it or not. Or reply. Maybe I'll post. Then I'll see who wrote it. then the Almighty fav count.

For a long long time it always felt like someone would say what I wanted to say, but better. With a nuance that would inform my own thinking. Or bring up an additional context that I hadn't considered. But then I realized that the stakes are low to make my own contributions, that I don't feel pre-judged here.

There have been threads and posts here that have not just altered my take on things- but profoundly changed me. Like the emotional labor thread. Like sorting out on a text based social medium full of long winded posts that, surprise, maybe it's ADHD. For this I feel a profound connection and gratitude to this community.

Sometimes I recognize the 'voice' of a user and I think those folks are often elevated primarily because they are memorable or for their intensity. I want to celebrate everyone who are just here - just being my good neighbor in our little online neighborhood.
posted by zenon at 12:52 PM on October 22 [20 favorites]

I’ve been here for 22 years and I plan on being here until I can no longer read. This isn’t the longest relationship that I’ve had, or the most consistent but it’s a relationship that I don’t ever want to end.

I’m not a lurker but I’m definitely not prolific in part because I don’t feel that I’m all that witty or wise or that I can put together a sentence in a way that is interesting to others even if there’s validity and relevance to what I’m saying. Not all that different from real life, to be honest. There have been so many comments that I’ve erased…I should probably work on my self worth a little bit. 🙂

I used to think that I was somewhat smart and that I had some insight into things. I still think that, actually, but I also think that I have a lot to learn about how to use my intelligence and insight. MetaFilter has been great about providing me with examples on how to do this, over and over again. I have learned so much about so many things because of MetaFilter and I don’t think that I have the words to explain how grateful I am that MetaFilter exists. MetaFilter has also taught me some humility.

When I say “MetaFilter” though, I’m not referring to just the website. I’m talking about ALL OF IT, the personalities, the fights, the kindness, the wisdom, the trolls, the humour, the points of view, the esoteric, the beautiful obsessions, the inane, the depth of knowledge. Unlike a lot of of “similar” websites, MetaFilter is human in a way that they aren’t that is hard to explain, hard to describe and, in my opinion, somewhat unique. This place, this curated encyclopedia of all things, this home to so many has grown in such wonderful ways and in so many directions that it’s not a surprise that when we, or at least, I, try to explain the fascination that I have that people don’t understand and their eyes glaze over. “Just give it a chance! Stick with it and you’ll find that it’s beating heart is right there, welcoming.” Really, ashbury?


Just like real life, people come and people go and we miss them for a while and then we kind of forget that we miss them until somebody or something reminds us of them. Nostalgia and melancholy for what we’ve lost or forgotten sets in. For me, I sometimes get a sense of missed opportunities; why didn’t I reach out to that person? Why didn’t I use mail and chat more often? Why didn’t I try harder to be more a part of this vibrant community? Now they’re gone. I know that I can’t be alone in thinking this and this too is why MetaFilter is the way/what it is, it’s all part of the personality of MeFi. MeeeFie, by the way…..

It’s no surprise to me that people study MetaFilter and do phd’s about it; why wouldn’t they? It’s a fascinating piece of sociology and in internet time, anthropology. It’s also no surprise to me I can feel sadness at the loss of somebody that I don’t know who has been part of a thing that has brought me comfort for 22 years. Or that some people were children when they started here and now have children of their own. What an amazing accomplishment.

Don’t ever leave me, MetaFilter; I promise that I will never leave you.
posted by ashbury at 1:05 PM on October 22 [29 favorites]

I've totally become a lurker over the years (got busy and distracted, what else is new), but I have to say that with so much upheaval and disappointing changes elsewhere across the web and various other media, there remains a real welcoming and homey feel here on the blue. Wow - I just checked and it's been more than 23 years since I joined. I agree with most others above, very glad this place exists and retains so much of its original essence, even if it seems undefined, that feels like a bonus to me.
posted by kokogiak at 1:46 PM on October 22 [9 favorites]

𝕞𝕖𝕥𝕒𝕗𝕚𝕝𝕥𝕖𝕣 𝕤𝕦𝕔𝕜𝕤

this has been your bombastic lowercase pronouncement for caps lock day
posted by bombastic lowercase pronouncements at 2:10 PM on October 22 [9 favorites]

I was so slender until I started taking anti-depressants. You could see my ribs. I got fat, but I didn't think this was a problem. I had jolly belly to rub for the first time. Then I had a heart attack at 42yo, and this year I've been diagnosed with diabetes 2. The doctors are pretty blunt about it. Lose weight or die.

I don't talk about this on metafilter. I don't want the argument. I trust the doctors. I see comments get deleted for just using the word fat. I've been admitted to hospital six times in the last three years, but I don't talk about that here.

I only mention this because there's a wall of well deserved praise above. There are things I don't like about metafilter.

I do enjoy the high degree of literacy here. People here know how to write like educated adults, a skill absent from the vast majority of internet comment sections.
posted by adept256 at 2:28 PM on October 22 [35 favorites]

Navelgazer picked up some of the slack in making their kind of posts for awhile, but now I hardly ever see them either.

Hi JHarris! Still around, busier these days, mostly doing stuff on Fanfare these days (like trying to finally fill out the Discworld Book Club over there!)
posted by Navelgazer at 2:36 PM on October 22 [26 favorites]

MeFi is my morning coffee since 2007. Rather repeating what many others have already said, it is an important part of my Life and I have learned a lot. I have only posted 25 times but have commented 780 times and enjoyed it all, and the intelligence and wit that exists here (for the most part).. Speaking of those who don't seem to be around anymore whatever happened to flapjaxatmidnight? I can't find much when I searched.

Thank you MeFites for some great stuff that makes you think (for the most part). It has survived and enhanced the web and that's saying something these days.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 2:45 PM on October 22 [6 favorites]

flapjax is still jammin’ ‘round Tokyo, according to his website

I remember being absolutely flabbergasted when I found out who flapjax is

incidentally if you don’t know his music, he’s got an absolutely amazing back catalog

one random thing I listened to just the other day is his wonderful cover of one of my favorite Beatles’ songs, Dear Prudence

if I’m not mistaken, that’s Billy Martin, out of Medesky Martin & Wood, on drums
posted by Kattullus at 3:17 PM on October 22 [19 favorites]

I was a terrible user when I first joined way back in the early days. Mostly shitposting and putting together hyperlinked word salad fpps. I was immature, self-righteous, unkind and offensive.

I gave my username to my irl friend from childhood whose account had been banned and he made it even worse. I think I may have taken it back at some point but I had really poisoned the well by that point.

At a certain point metachat arose and I joined there and stayed for quite a while, showing a lot more of my actual self in constructive ways but also engaging in what then felt like shenanigans but from my perspective now feels like bullying. I could be a real asshole and I was bigoted in a lot of ways. Intolerant and easy to anger. I’m probably remembering my worst moments.

Things happened and I gradually grew up, as one does. I Brand New Day’d here and have been a lot more constructive, though it’s been a process and I still get comments yanked. I still need to work on the latter half of Flag It And Move On. I think the mods make me look like a more constructive user than I actually am, and for that you all have my apologies and appreciation, in equal measure.

I read a lot more than I write, and I write a lot of comments that I decide not to post. That’s been the biggest improvement.

The rest is just reading a lot more of what people write. I still have trouble with all-lowercase writing, it’s very hard for me to parse and I just give up.

Big changes involve mostly moving from thinking that knowing right about people and the world, but joking around with wrongness was acceptable.

I moved through grief and into love. I moved from comfortable desperation in the polyglot capital of the world to a joyful and challenging existence at the edges of a marginally welcoming monoculture. Big changes outside but the constant has been the series of lightbulbs turning in as I learn new angles from commenters in here.

I’m not there yet and I never will be, and that’s one of the best things about the work in progress that is Metafilter. It’s meant to be that way, always growing with us, giving us chance after chance to take steps toward a constantly evolving ideal. Ain’t life grand?
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 3:37 PM on October 22 [18 favorites]

is there any way to lessen the chances that user comment searches, from the links on a user's profile page, could be made to not time out with a Server Error so often?

Send a note, with specifics, to the Contact Form and we can get frimble to take a look.

I'll "memorialize" the paulsc account. May his memory be a blessing to those who knew him, he was incredibly cruel to me as a moderator. This site has a lot of backstory, it's sometimes surprising it can even exist in the present.

I'll post a thing to MeTa closer to the date but I was thinking it might be nice to have a MeFi Memorial Day, maybe on the site's half-birthday, January 14th I think, where we can just have a MeTa post talking about the people who aren't here any longer (dead, or wandered off, or buttoned). I know I miss anitar and rtha and some other old timers. Neat to see some names here I haven't seen in a while. Some of the people who aren't here anymore still exist in the larger internet world (I know I still follow flapjaxatmidnight on facebook as one example) but it's a weird thing, to not know if people exist somewhere else too or not. And now I'll rtfa. Hugs.
posted by jessamyn at 3:37 PM on October 22 [59 favorites]

I still thought of Metafilter as a rarified club of experts that I’d somehow snuck into.
I still do.

There are just so many people who used to be here and who made MeFi, in many ways, into what it continues to be. I too miss amberglow and paulsc and so many others. So many people that shaped my life in small ways, particularly in opening my eyes to a world of thinking I'd never found elsewhere and still haven't. To try and be objective about it, there have been some horrible things said and done here over the years as well but, on balance, more good than harm. Remembering some of those people who are no longer with Mefi for whatever reasons would be great, although somewhat bittersweet.
posted by dg at 3:42 PM on October 22 [5 favorites]

I have always been more of a lurker than a commenter here, more because I don't feel like I can focus on the conversations productively and because I rarely feel like I have the most valuable things to say. That said, I've been a member for almost 19 years now, and a reader for longer. If I could be said to have a home site on the internet, MeFi would be it.

I miss more people who've left than I could even remember by name. Some of them I miss for their wisdom, some for their ability to launch a cutting diatribe. A memorial day sounds delightful, jessamyn.
posted by ChrisR at 3:45 PM on October 22 [6 favorites]

Have rtfa. Definitely had a "nothing gold can stay" vibe to it (in a good way). Always good to hear people's take, even if it's pointing out truths that may be tough. I can't imagine what it would have been like to have grown up with MetaFilter and this helped me imagine.
posted by jessamyn at 3:53 PM on October 22 [11 favorites]

Twenty years of lurking off and on, and only in recent years created an account. I agree with Zenon, Metafilter is an enduring third place. Over the years I've gotten insights into lives and places, recommendations of books and music, and language for experiences I had struggled with. I remember the Emotional Labor thread unfolding over days, and it was like waking up and seeing a room clearly.

Most of my third places imploded or just turned out the lights over the years, I'm glad the Blue carries on.
posted by My Cat Painted That at 4:05 PM on October 22 [7 favorites]

BTW: I get the feeling that my memories of amberglow above are regarded with the air of an obituary. I want to make it clear, I don't know if they passed away or not. They could be having a happy life away from Metafilter for all I know. I hope they are, in fact.
posted by JHarris at 4:16 PM on October 22 [7 favorites]

What a lovely bunch of posts. I joined in 2004 after lurking because memberships were closed. I immediately plunked down my $5 when memberships opened up and immediately posted my first FPP. That FPP was nearly deleted (a metatalk thread was started and Mathowie wrote with a sigh in response to why the post was still up something like 'well, it's Friday and sometimes you just want to watch the fireworks'. The place was going ballistic with the wittiest comments.

So long story short, I came for the smart ones and stayed for the witty ones.

You are all a bunch of very witty people and I love you all.
posted by bluesky43 at 4:19 PM on October 22 [10 favorites]

I came for the smart ones and stayed for the witty ones.

Same, and that sentence just saved me a whole lot of typing because I can't improve on that. That's it in a nutshell. My first account was a 3-digit user number, and here I still am, sometimes more, sometimes less.
posted by ctmf at 4:25 PM on October 22 [6 favorites]

(I sent an email to amberglow, using the address on their profile page. Maybe they're still alive! Let's hope!)
posted by JHarris at 4:29 PM on October 22 [2 favorites]

mayor curley is another name I haven't seen in a long time. I checked and their account is closed. (I didn't know this was a thing.)
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 4:51 PM on October 22 [6 favorites]

I miss Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The, silent without note since Feb 2019.
posted by ovvl at 5:14 PM on October 22 [14 favorites]

What a great essay by Carrie Tian and it's generated an excellent thread.

Currently, I'm mainly a lurker but still a Mefite at heart. I joined 21 years ago at the age 50 and was fairly active for a decade and a half. Much like Carrie, I stayed relatively quiet on the topic of age because that can be a lazy way to discount people's contributions.

I've loved everything I learned and all the people I interacted with here on mefi over these decades. It's been dispiriting to see so much of the early promise of the internet eroding and turning to crap, but Mefi still stands in the "best of" class, imo. Thanks to all mefites for keeping it that way, particularly our long-suffering and dedicated mods.
posted by madamjujujive at 5:29 PM on October 22 [47 favorites]

Hey madamjujujive! I'm at the age you were when you joined here!
posted by JHarris at 5:34 PM on October 22 [7 favorites]

That was a really great read and a good reminder that every time we post something on Mefi (or anywhere) we have no idea who we might be impacting.

Holy cats I've been a member for 21 years and lurked for at least a year before that. How did I get this old so quickly?
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:06 PM on October 22 [9 favorites]

Yeah, I joined in 2002. Don't know how or why.

But despite all the drama, MF has made me a better person.

I post on another site a lot, the Religion, Sex , and Politics guild at Bardgamegeek. I can get away with a lot more snarky, joky comments than I can on here. Sometimes forget where I am posting, (sorry mods).

I didn't even have to pay $5 to join!

I miss all the folks that have left, and those that have passed on. But Metafilter continues. And does so in the best way I can imagine.

Favorites for all those who continue to make Metafilter the "best of the web"
posted by Windopaene at 6:31 PM on October 22 [6 favorites]

for better or worse, the thread that first truly grabbed my attention on MeFi was the 2005 mushroom thread. i think i lurked around occasionally before that, having found the address from asking for slashdot alternatives following some forgotten perceived slight or malicious maneuver from management over there. perhaps this speaks poorly of me but the level of um... whatever it is on display there in that thread really made me feel like i had found my people, and i signed up for my first account shortly thereafter.

over the years i struggled with a lot of stuff. the most impactful to MeFi was my daily drinking and posting hurtful & ignorant & stupid things while i was drunk and depressed. i quit drinking 9 years ago so now it's just my depression i inflict on you all. 😅

one of the things i cherish is how humbling it is to be on this website with all of you. you are all so damn smart and live such amazing lives. i am daily awed and amazed that you crowd let me stay here. i feel like i'm some underage kid that managed to sneak into a real grown-up's party but no one else seems to mind.

posted by glonous keming at 6:42 PM on October 22 [21 favorites]

I love many small things about MeFi, as well as the big ways that it made me more thoughtful and kind and humble. I'm not perfect, but I'm not nearly as bad as I used to be.

I never made it to therapy, but the way people here have shared life lessons has shown me many valuable things for free -- and sometimes I have even been smart enough to take the lesson.

One of my favorite things is the array of jokes and allusions and identities in so many usernames. Learning them is like learning a secret, a game within the game of reading & commenting here.

I don't have many IRL friends, having spent 25 years as a suburban parent, focusing on my kids. But the names and voices here have become my social circle.

None of us is perfect, but as a community we are pretty good. I am glad you'll still have me.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:30 PM on October 22 [23 favorites]

Speaking of users from long, long ago, my all time favorite has been delmoi. They always seemed to have the smartest, most knowledgeable, and most definitive comment in every thread...
posted by blue shadows at 7:57 PM on October 22 [9 favorites]

Three users I miss: DaShiv, who took a flattering picture of me at a meetup which I still use on social media; stavrosthewonderchicken (who may be lurking, still?) and michelle in california.
posted by Rash at 8:07 PM on October 22 [11 favorites]

“Lowest common denominator” isn’t even the full truth. I actually mean white, American, left-wing, and upper-middle class. Anything outside that frame can end poorly. In one infamous thread, an Asian user asked for help deciding what percentage of their salary to give to their parents. White users rushed in to call this absurd and declare that adults didn’t owe their parents anything. Prolific Asian users disabled their accounts out of frustration, never to come back. Similar tussles kept happening across each axis of social location. The dominant viewpoint drowned out relevant minority perspectives, causing minority users to leave, and the cycle would repeat, strengthened, in another thread.
This is true about MetaFilter. It is hard to have a discussion that considers many points of view.

Also, sometimes an interesting discussion can be completely hijacked and derailed by a single user.

When reddit links first started appearing here, the early comments were about how threaded discussions are terrible and we should never have them here, but multiple threads allows for more points of view, and it prevents the entire conversation from being dominated or derailed by one user.
posted by rajbot at 8:12 PM on October 22 [13 favorites]

Are we talking about people we wonder about and miss? I miss reading things by LarryC and Michelle in California and Hildegarde and Mathowie. I miss gman. I was travelling when he died and didn't know he had died until someone mentioned it sometime later. I think of him from time to time. I miss live meetups in Toronto, because lots of Toronto mefites are really cool and interesting. I know some have happened that I have missed, but now I have a son I can't just off to a bar on some random evening.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:23 PM on October 22 [8 favorites]

If only I had a penguin, you have possibly my favorite username here. Not biased at all :)

I first found MeFi in 2002. Lurked for a long time until I noticed one day you could sign up for $5. No site is perfect, and this one is no exception. But most people here do try to be good, and that’s really all you can ask from people in a community space. The discussions here are intelligent, instead of the flame wars or constant attempts to “own” others seen elsewhere. AskMeFi is an absolute wealth of information. Most of all there’s a lot of respect for each other’s humanity. It’s the corner of the internet where you can find good reading and good discussion and not have to deal with all the constant noise and screaming. Not quiet like a library (speaking of libraries, appreciate you, Jessamyn!) but just a place where you can just be. There are very few places online where you can do that anymore.
posted by azpenguin at 8:42 PM on October 22 [10 favorites]

But the site had a $5 joining fee, payable only via credit card

I know when I signed up - it was 2013, it says so on my account
- but when I think about when I started reading the site, it must have been 2007? Can that be right? It’s not the total length of time that seems unfathomable, there are web communities I’ve been part of on some level for even longer than that, but was I really lurking for half a decade before I was ready to pay my $5?
posted by atoxyl at 9:32 PM on October 22 [5 favorites]

Hey nofundy, you and I joined MetaFilter the same week. It's nice to see someone who has been here almost exactly the same amount of time and who still remains active.

Upon further investigation, we joined the same week as cortex did. Perhaps my claims around remaining active should be revised downward by comparison...
posted by yellowcandy at 9:52 PM on October 22 [4 favorites]

If it's any comfort, I didn't get *really* active until like 2005 when I got laid off from a shitty temp job and had a couple months to do nothing but dork around on the internet in my bathrobe.
posted by cortex at 10:42 PM on October 22 [10 favorites]

we have to pay to join now?
posted by inpHilltr8r at 11:33 PM on October 22 [6 favorites]

If anyone here joined MeFi after reading a short review of it in the Sunday Times in late 2000, I wrote that.
posted by Hogshead at 3:10 AM on October 23 [26 favorites]

I think a later Guardian article drew me in. Just coming up on my 21st MeFi birthday now. I lurked for a while before deciding to join, and then had to stay in my office at work till 8pm so I could sign up. Pretty jammy that I did as I think sign ups closed the next day for a year (IIRC).
posted by biffa at 3:41 AM on October 23 [2 favorites]

Metafilter was the only tech-nerd forum/comment section I could find in 2013 that was capable of engaging constructively with Ari Schlesinger's post about feminism and programming languages (in between repeated attempts to explain why the deletion of a proto-gamergate github repository was not, in fact, a violation of misogynists' free speech). So I started lurking.

Prior to that I remember thinking it was an offshoot of metacritic.
posted by polytope subirb enby-of-piano-dice at 4:45 AM on October 23 [7 favorites]

*Remembers to link the mefi thread exactly when the edit window closes*
posted by polytope subirb enby-of-piano-dice at 4:52 AM on October 23 [3 favorites]

I'm not sure signups ever required a credit card, maybe in the early days? Otherwise you've been able to send a cheque, money order or cash to mathowie/cortex; PayPal has been option for a long time and for a while there jessamyn would even accept stamps or presumably postal coupons.
posted by Mitheral at 4:58 AM on October 23 [2 favorites]

(reading comments above about missing users...). It's always tough when a member of an online forum disappears due to death, illness or other trouble. In one other online community I was a member of, we had a special memorial section. The site admins also had a regular practice of reaching out to members who hadn't shown up on a while. That was an"Real names" kind of place though so a bit easier. I wonder (especially as the average mefite age gets up there) if it's worth setting up an easy mechanism for next of kin to send some kind if message, like a dedicated email address or form or something?
posted by thefool at 4:59 AM on October 23 [6 favorites]

Interesting, I looked at my account and it's only from 2010. I think I must have had an account before that but can't for the life of me remember it. Maybe that's why I opened the second :). (And almost 100% sure it was advil that turned me on to Metafilter?)
posted by thefool at 5:12 AM on October 23 [3 favorites]

Back at ya' yellowcandy! Just an old codger now is all I am. Wondering about postroad and the origins of that name... So many memories being awakened, like how the amazing jessamyn climbed my butt for being all snarky ( I deserved it) when she started moderating. Can't even remember how many years I just lurked before joining. Love all you guys!
posted by nofundy at 6:08 AM on October 23 [6 favorites]

I know how I found this place.
Around 2004 or 2005, my brother, LeLiLo, would send me emails with links to interesting things, and they all pointed back to here.
I lurked a little until I felt compelled to comment. (The first of many post-ending comments)

I don't think I paid attention to Favorites until he complained that I had more favorites than he did, and he'd been here 5 years longer. We were neck and neck there for a while, but after he died it wasn't as much fun.

I've only met two others IRL [that I know of]- jessamyn, when she was part of a ukulele group I sometimes went to, and SirStan, who was behind me in line at a store downtown, and I recognized him from Meetup pictures my brother had taken.

I don't really explore the internet except from here. I feel safe here.
I am probably more open here than any other place in my life.
posted by MtDewd at 6:23 AM on October 23 [13 favorites]

This post made me cry...
posted by Pyrogenesis at 7:59 AM on October 23 [7 favorites]

I was introduced to MetaFilter in probably late 2001 or early 2002 by slkinsey. I was in my mid-20s at the time and we were both working as floating secretaries for an NYC law firm while trying to pursue careers in opera. In short, I had plenty of downtime at work and MetaFilter was the perfect way to occupy that time.

Years pass - I moved out of NYC in 2004, had a couple kids, went to law school. After more than a decade of lurking, I finally paid my 5 bucks in 2014 because a parenting story made me so angry that I had to comment. :)

Happy to still be here 9 years later. Even as busy as I am now, I still take the time to read MF every day. Thanks for the memories.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 8:14 AM on October 23 [3 favorites]

I forget exactly which friend's blog lead me to this place, it was a year or so before I bothered to make a username in 2001. I've been thinking more and more, lately, about how different the Internet is compared to those days. I used to have dozens of bookmarked personal sites, now there are 5 that everyone uses -- and they're all terrible.

I've spent a lot of time lurking in the past decade, but I check the site at least once a day. I've kept the classic blue theme, as a small marker of stability in a world that changes faster and faster as I get older.

It is wild to reflect on all the usernames I remember, all the niche, MeFi-specific memes. Before this ends up sounding like a eulogy, I'll just say that I look forward to another ~23 years of posting.
posted by Dark Messiah at 8:20 AM on October 23 [7 favorites]

I cringe reading my old posts, did I do that?

I feel like the 17 year old kid who signed up for my account was from a different species, when I look back. Growing up has been a long process, I'm still working on the finer points even after turning 40 this year. I can thank this site for giving me a lot of food for thought over the years, ultimately reconsidering some of my louder, dumber positions on things.
posted by Dark Messiah at 8:44 AM on October 23 [6 favorites]

I've been thinking about what to say here. Lately I've been frustrated with Metafilter. It seems so dysfunctional these days. I am hoping it can be saved, and I appreciate the work Jessamyn and others are doing to save it. I get mad at all the fighting and all the negativity. Someone wants a car with slightly more clearance and they are reminded three times that BIG CARS KILL BABIES. You can't discuss The Blues Brothers, the most fun movie ever made, without someone reminding you that John Landis killed babies with a helicopter that one time. You can't discuss anything without someone reminding you that somewhere, somehow, this thing, this wonderful thing that should be fun and filled with joy, is somehow connected to a dead baby. It is absolutely maddening and makes me want to throw things. Nothing against babies, I like babies, I just don't constantly need to be reminded that everything that anyone seems to do somehow kills a baby. I mean, is there anyone who knows about Metafilter that doesn't know about John Landis, or that big pickup trucks are dangerous? No. There is nobody here who doesn't know this, because we are all on the internet. Yet someone, in every goddamn thread, needs to remind us about those things and suck the joy out of the room. Can't anything just be FUN? The world is a terrible, terrible place filled with all sorts of bad things. Sometimes it would be nice just to enjoy a fun thing.

But yet I have remained here for something like 24 years. Metafilter changed my life. I have a bunch of friends all over the world because of this place. It seems every time I travel to a city I have a friend to have a meal with. I had lunch with McMikeNamara in Chicago last week! Remember him? I went to a city I'd never been to before and I *knew* someone. This suburban, middle aged dad had a meal with a single, karaoke-loving gay dude that I would probably otherwise have never known. Because of Metafilter. Then we walked around Chicago in the rain and had coffee in the same place they took that Last Supper photo with Cortex. Remember that? So many good times. Because of Metafilter.

I have mentioned before that it is not a stretch to say my child might not be alive if it wasn't for the things I learned on Metafilter. When she came out I was educated and somewhat prepared because of all the fine, fine people here teaching me things.

I love Metafilter. Every day I think about buttoning but I can't bring myself to do it. I think I'm still into the *idea* of Metafilter. I'm still trying to believe Metafilter is what it was at its best. It's not there anymore. Can we get it back? Maybe. Maybe not. Can we get back to the sense of community we once had? Maybe. I hope so.

It may just be me, I dunno. Perhaps I'm having a "no, it is the children who are wrong" thing going on. Maybe I've changed. Maybe the community is still around but I'm not seeing it. I don't think I'm alone though.

A former Mefite said to me recently "it just feels like nobody is friends there anymore" and that really hit hard. Again, maybe it's me, maybe most of my Metafilter friends have moved on (not all, I see a few of you in this thread. Hi!) but I'm not so sure. I'm sure Covid and the death of IRL meetups didn't help.

So, yeah, I love you, Metafilter, but lately you're pissing me off. Let's get some counseling and see if we can't get back to the way we used to be.

Oh, and a couple weeks ago I finally gave away the Death Star costume. Some little kid in my town who has no idea what Metafilter is will be trick-or-treating as The Death Star that some of you people helped me brainstorm many, many years ago.
posted by bondcliff at 8:50 AM on October 23 [83 favorites]

Nofundy and cortex, I poked around and also worked out that drezdn also joined that week. If you look at his bio, it explains that he found MetaFilter through a piece on Brill's Content.

The instant I saw that, I knew that's where I must have read about MeFi, too. Any chance that's true for either of you? I haven't thought about his website in years.
posted by yellowcandy at 9:07 AM on October 23 [3 favorites]

for a while there jessamyn would even accept stamps or presumably postal coupons.

Still do.
posted by jessamyn at 9:21 AM on October 23 [17 favorites]

Enjoyed that piece, and felt especially verklempt at this:

I keep looking at my old comments and bookmarks and emerging hours later, wild-eyed, overwhelmed at the best extant record of who I’ve been and what I’ve thought.

I don't much journal, and I really feel like Metafilter is a chronicling of my interior world in a way that nowhere else is. It's a kind of reverse facebook. Over there everyone posts their outsides, what they think the people who know them would like to see. Here, I post the things that are genuinely going on inside me, to people who don't know me. Though actually I never go back to look at my bookmarks, as much as I think I will when I make them.

I'll hit my 20th anniversary here next year, snuck in through the pre-$5 back door and was gifted a membership for my 30th birthday by my brother, aka fabius (who knew mathowie and arranged it). I'd already lurked for a few years by then. I love how little it's changed. It feels like home.

I wish I was better at coupling usernames and comments, and really building a picture of people from them - for reasons I don't understand, I'm too prone to absorb comments, recognise usernames, but not really put the two together. I guess never going to an IRL meet up is partly why. I think it's also part of the fact that, to me, Metafilter is often like one big (mostly) wise voice. Having developed an Ask voice in my head has been one of the most valuable things to have grown from my participation here. Often, when faced with a problem, I can think about how I'd write it to post on AskMe, and I'll know right away what advice I'd be given, and be able to proceed accordingly. And I like that. But I wish I was better at coupling comments with usernames and conjuring you all up in my imagination as a result. Anyway. You're all very dear to me, even if I'm sometimes a little like someone with face blindness at a crowded party.
posted by penguin pie at 9:36 AM on October 23 [13 favorites]

bondcliff: is there anyone who knows about Metafilter that doesn't know about John Landis

I realize I sound like I'm trying to clown, but this is honestly the most interesting thing I've learned today. I recognize I'm absolutely someone who should've known about this, but I didn't. There was a post about it ages ago, but somehow it didn't catch my eye.
posted by Kattullus at 9:53 AM on October 23 [10 favorites]

Penguin pie, we had a IRL meet up last Thursday! Only two of us, but it still counts. You even asked me, as you approached the table, if I was "a friend of Jessamyn". What could be more MeFite-y than that!
posted by essexjan at 9:55 AM on October 23 [5 favorites]

I wish I was better at coupling usernames and comments

That's my main complaint with Metafilter as social media; it's hard for me to form a picture of a person. You're a perfect example, penguin pie, I see your posts frequently and I'm like "I should know who that is" but even after 22 years of being here I still don't really associate names with people. Even folks I know IRL I often miss that it's them commenting, it's like the username is invisible to me.

About 10 years this bothered me enough I wrote an extension that highlighted comments from particular users. (TBH, I did this to mark posts from people who I knew regularly pissed me off). It was a little useful but not enough that I kept it working.

Arguably de-personalizing comments is a feature. It encourages readers to focus on the content of the post and not their history with the poster. But it's at odds with this being a social space and is a barrier to me forming relationships with people here.

FWIW I feel the same thing about Reddit. Their UI is substantially similar and it has the same result for me.
posted by Nelson at 9:56 AM on October 23 [5 favorites]

I agree that sometimes MeFi seems fighty. But I remember that it's always been fighty in one way or another? I used to call it the Internet Capital of Snark, and back then I meant it positively.

A former Mefite said to me recently "it just feels like nobody is friends there anymore" and that really hit hard. Again, maybe it's me, maybe most of my Metafilter friends have moved on (not all, I see a few of you in this thread. Hi!) but I'm not so sure. I'm sure Covid and the death of IRL meetups didn't help.

We really need to get meetups started again eventually, maybe with suggested masking? Then maybe I could finally get to go to one....

And I kind of feel differently about the friends thing? I mean, I've always tried being friendly here, even when people haven't been friendly to me, unless I'm really really pushed. I'm a huge softie about things like that. Any of you who wants to say hello please feel free to do so!

Aside: I've thought lately about trying to come up with a good delineation of the ages of the World Wide Web so far. Whatever they are would have to account for the debuts of Netscape, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, smartphones, Something Awful, 4Chan, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, and other prominent events that don't immediately leap to mind. If someone wants to discuss this, my MeMail is open!
posted by JHarris at 10:06 AM on October 23 [6 favorites]

"Friend of Jessamyn" is a great phrase.
posted by JHarris at 10:07 AM on October 23 [9 favorites]

Any chance that's true for either of you? I haven't thought about his website in years.

I didn't even know what Brill's Content was until I saw people riffing on Matt's cover photo at some point. I got here via a friend who was a fellow memepool reader and was like "check this out, it's like memepool but blue and there's comments".
posted by cortex at 10:16 AM on October 23 [4 favorites]

I'm trying to imagine if "Friend of Jessamyn" is more like a friend of Dorothy or a friend of Bill and really, both work pretty well.
posted by Nelson at 10:19 AM on October 23 [13 favorites]

I cannot recall how I found this place but it was before Brill's wrote about it. I do remember how the original code was a bit clunky but matt kept working on it with me thinking " he wrote in whaattt?"
posted by nofundy at 10:22 AM on October 23

Penguin pie, we had a IRL meet up last Thursday!

We did! And it was delightful. I think genuinely my first experience in 20 years, of knowing someone on MeFi and then meeting them IRL (as opposed to the couple of times I've discovered someone I know IRL is an occasional MeFite, and then mumbling that I keep my MeFi username to myself!) A shame on the one hand, but on the other, like the writer of the article in the post, there's definitely been something deliberate about preserving at least a slight anonymity here. It's what's made it possible for me to be more honest, and talk more about my personal experiences here, in the interests of supporting others going through similar, than I probably would anywhere else online.

And, interestingly, essexjan, I think our meeting IRL probably stemmed from you being my Secret Quonsar gifter a couple of years ago, so it happened because we had a connection above and beyond just seeing one another in the comments.

"Friend of Jessamyn" is a great phrase.

Way back, people used to talk about saying "Are you a friend of mathowie?" to identify fellow MeFites. I updated it in my mental lexicon to "friend of Cortex" during that era, just in case I ever needed it, but still never had cause to deploy it. It's taken me three reigns to finally get to use it, and even then I actually only remembered part of the way through the evening :)
posted by penguin pie at 10:25 AM on October 23 [5 favorites]

Back in the day, it was "Friend of Matt."

15 years for me, plus an additional 2-3 years of lurking, we've all grown and changed a lot and it's kind of amazing that we're still here at all. Like bondcliff, I do feel like the vibes have been off the past few years, but who can blame us? The past few years have been A Lot.

Grateful for this community, and the offshoots of it, the parenting group and my IRL friends who started or solidified due to our association with this place.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:30 AM on October 23 [6 favorites]

I realize I sound like I'm trying to clown, but this is honestly the most interesting thing I've learned today. I recognize I'm absolutely someone who should've known about this, but I didn't. There was a post about it ages ago, but somehow it didn't catch my eye.

I just looked at your profile and did some math and if you were one year old when something happened you get a pass.

Obviously I was not being literal in my comment but my point was that we don't always have to toss in a "yeah, but what about this bad thing?" in every goddamn thread.

And I recognize the irony of me taking a dump on Metafilter in what is a mostly-positive thread about Metafilter.
posted by bondcliff at 10:35 AM on October 23 [15 favorites]

There's a lot of tension in the world, and I know that I come here for some relief from that. Like bondcliff, I want to laugh and to learn, to listen and be heard, and maybe to escape Real Life for a while.

I would venture that the tension means we're all a little less forgiving and a little bit more on edge when we load up that blue or green web page. Maybe "Everybody needs a hug" should be in bigger letters on the masthead or something?

Some MeFites are clean out of fucks, though, and less forgiving of my ignorance & prejudices when they show. *shrug* Honestly, I don't blame them: they have the same right to be in a place that won't dump on them. I don't mean to be an ass, and I am trying to be a better person, but I ain't finished with me yet.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:46 AM on October 23 [11 favorites]

Mefi was always ardently multicultural in theory and brutally unwelcoming to non-American content in reality.

This is to be expected by the internal contradictions. Multiculturalism is just a fancy way of describing cultural partitions. On the surface it appears to protect an enclave from encroachment, but it first serves to protect a home enclave from outside encroachment. (It's a form of denial to pettifog colonialism after the brutal fact, like it never happened.) It is difficult for a culturally dominant viewpoint to see the mistake of assuming cultural identity like a mandatory armband. It is likewise contradictory to use cultural boundaries as a tool of correct thinking internal to one's own culture. Transculturalism is the alternative; it avoids the trap of only existing as a faithful member of a cultural tradition, the point being that colonialism internally begins by keeping those traditions. The philosophical pedigree to multiculturalism (subjective relativism with tradition grounding) is Martin Heidegger, the unrepentant former you-know-what.
posted by Brian B. at 10:56 AM on October 23 [1 favorite]

I recently made one of the comments about big cars killing babies.

I hit a kid on a bike.

It sucked! The teen rode into me from between two cars and he turned out 'fine' if a bit shaken. It was all recorded, I called the officials and was cleared of fault. I think about it all the time. I was in a car - if it was a taller vehicle he would not have rolled up on the windshield and onto the roof. A taller vehicle would have been harder to maneuver - and harder to stop.

I think about it every time my kids go out for a bike ride. I think about it when folks are talking about cars, but don't usually talk about it because that really sucks the joy out of everything. It's the sort of thing that is just total context collapse.

I like machines and talking about cars and there is lots of cool cars that don't externalize risk to others for just the feeling of safety. I have no idea what they might know, but I am just trying to answer their question, even if it is often variations of buy a safe, reliable car best fitted for your primary purpose or use.
posted by zenon at 11:07 AM on October 23 [10 favorites]

And I know all that, zenon. I didn't mean to call anyone out, those were just the examples that were in my head. I absolutely agree that big trucks are dangerous and all that. I think we all have a couple "what if..." things that we can't get out of our heads. It's an awful thing to live with.

There are certainly threads where that sort of thing* is valuable and important to bring up. It doesn't need to be brought up in every thread. Sometimes it feels like every thread has to include a bunch of "yeah, but what about..." comments and it really turns me off from this place. I know I'm not alone. That's all I'm saying.

*not your specific thing, just pick any "bad thing."
posted by bondcliff at 11:18 AM on October 23 [11 favorites]

I know I'm not alone.

Not at all.
posted by Dark Messiah at 11:42 AM on October 23 [6 favorites]

I've been here since 2007, though only recently under this name. I am happy that we have a text-focused way to communicate with each other.

MetaFilter has always felt more comfortable than other online communities to me. I started from a position of enough privilege that, almost every time MetaFilter made me uncomfortable, it was because I had something to learn from it. That's clearly not been a universal experience; I hope that organizational changes (recent and to come) will help make the site better for people with fewer dimensions of privilege as well.
posted by a faded photo of their beloved at 11:43 AM on October 23 [1 favorite]

Thanks Kattullus for rhe update on flapjax.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 11:58 AM on October 23 [6 favorites]

Sometimes it feels like every thread has to include a bunch of "yeah, but what about..." comments and it really turns me off from this place.

This is all Instagram is now. Cute video of a baby = comments of imminent doom or hate for the parents. Cute dog? Comments = this dog is abused. Etc. At least on Mefi we know the comments aren't bots.

This does remind me to post more positive FPPs though.
posted by tiny frying pan at 12:15 PM on October 23 [7 favorites]

🎶.I lit out from Reno
I was trailed by twenty hounds
Didn't get to sleep that night
Till the morning came around

Set out runnin' but I take my time
A friend of the Cortex is a friend of mine
If I get home before daylight
I just might get some sleep tonight....🎶
posted by y2karl at 12:36 PM on October 23 [11 favorites]

Oh and also on Instagram...then 500 comments of people telling the original asshole or bot they are an asshole. Then people arguing with those people. Hate all the way down. Not that Instagram is the same as web curated content but

Here is much better.
posted by tiny frying pan at 12:45 PM on October 23 [2 favorites]

Coming up 20 years. I was old then in comparative terms. There are some fascinating and knowlegeable people still here. Sadly many have moved on. I love the links in political + current affairs threads to in depth analysis which I otherwise would not find on my own. I'm frequently surprised in a way that Metafilter is still here and I hope that the new impetus to reform as a non profit shows success. I post less that previously. Frequently my Art post got few comments so I wonder if anybody is really interested. Being a European living on my third continent since joining I feel this to be a sort of home in many ways and I keep an eye out for posts by those I admire, I'm 73 soon but I will still continue to check the Blue regularily especially when there is some earth shattering event where mainstream media totally fucks up the reporting. Thanks for keeping this place together Jessamym.
posted by adamvasco at 12:47 PM on October 23 [17 favorites]

I know a lot of good people have buttoned from the site, and that makes me sad.

A counterweight is the number of people commenting in this thread (and others) that they learned a lot from MetaFilter. If you consider the ripples that caused -- the relationships saved instead of scuttled, the humane choices, the MFs that someone DT'ed, &c. -- it strikes me that MetaFilter has put a lot of good into the world since the "boy zone" days wound down.

Sure wish we hadn't lost the passionate people who left, though.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:51 PM on October 23 [14 favorites]

cool I made it to the thread before tehhund...
posted by tss at 1:09 PM on October 23 [18 favorites]

I joined in 2009 after reading somewhere or another that there was a website where a $5 fee cut the trolling Internet bullshit to near zero. Have gone through waves of greater and lesser engagement here, I have almost always primarily used AskMeFi until very recently, when I started reading the blue and even, eventually (and against my better judgment), the grey.

I think what happened is that the Internet sucks so much now that I needed something to curate my experience of it, and the natural thing was MeFi. Truly, the only websites I use now in my personal life are the newspapers I subscribe to, a handful of music websites, and MetaFilter. MetaFilter is my gateway to whatever remains of the useful Internet.

Because of my cycles of using and not using the site, I think I missed that there was a dynamic going on from 2014 to 2017 where a lot of tension and fighting and so on led to a lot of departures. But I do recall dropping by at some point and realizing there were many fewer posts and fewer of the old usernames I recognized. (My biggest MeFi frustration is not knowing what current usernames represent old, buttoned user accounts!) Less of a hive mind available to AskMe questions. I'm sad about that, but I'm glad that this site is still trucking along and that engaged users and staff are actively thinking about its future.

(Related, but probably more for MetaTalk than MetaFilter, I always wish that fundraising campaigns were followed up by recruitment campaigns. You know what I mean, if x number of engaged users invited y number of new users, then there'd be z number of active accounts, etc. etc.)
posted by kensington314 at 1:16 PM on October 23 [8 favorites]

I've only been with Metafilter just under 5 years in total, and I'm more of a lurker, but have a huge appreciation for the positive aspects of the site. It fits a perfect void in my life where I want to consume interesting content but not completely destroy my attention span, while also not having to commit to sitting down and engaging in a full book, which feel too strenuous after a long day of work. Similarly with the discussions in the comments, they're more in-depth than most social media comments while still being skim-able when you're not very invested in a topic.

I also find Ask to be unbelievably helpful. I've engaged in other message boards where my amateur questions on a lead to people quite literally mocking me in the only replies I receive to my question. The ability to also ask anonymously when you're dealing with something very sensitive is invaluable and has helped me on a few important occasions in my life where I felt I needed some outside opinions. People on Ask are generally extremely helpful, and I've learned a ton.

I'm under no illusion that there aren't problems. I've been in some threads where I'm shocked how the hivemind thinking quickly takes over (especially on sensitive political topics), and have sadly read of the many users (often from minority communities) who have left over the years because of unhealthy discourse they experienced. But for all its problems, Metafilter still feels like the only site I visit where many people directly engage with each other, directly engage on the decision-making and future of the site, and care a lot about how its run. Most people aren't here to score points, and the objective seems always to be about the content and discussion, not building your status on the site. Despite all its challenges, especially in the current internet media landscape, I hope Metafilter can continue to build on its strength and remain a quirky, interesting, and thoughtful refuge for many years to come.
posted by unid41 at 1:16 PM on October 23 [9 favorites]

Wild thread to see near the top when visiting the blue for the first time in years.

The article definitely resonated. I have a lot of appreciation for MeFi, for sure. But there's a lot of hurt as well. I'm glad the article didn't shy away from some of the flaws, and to everyone's credit really, for the most part I don't usually see other users shying away from them either. Unfortunately acknowledging them doesn't really fix them.

I've found other places personally but I'll always be happy to see Metafilter still kicking. There are a lot of memories here, good and bad.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 2:22 PM on October 23 [4 favorites]

I've found other places personally but I'll always be happy to see Metafilter still kicking

I personally feel that one of the big things the modern Internet is missing is compartmentalization. The old forum model was far from perfect, but it was nice to have separate groups of people in different places. Social media feels like you're being waylaid by the same professional outrage merchants no matter where you go, I miss the days when I could just not go to my music forum if I wanted to avoid Jam The Annoying Stoner Rock Guy. It's not like politics were any less polarized and stupid...
posted by Dark Messiah at 2:37 PM on October 23 [7 favorites]

I joined around 2000, when I was in graduate school. I was following the blogger soap opera and the career paths of that crowd, and stumbled across the site, probably on

In my memory I had joined about two years into the program, like 1998, but 2000 would have put me four years in. In actuality class work was completed and I was two years into my dissertation and not making much headway, and then I found Metafilter, a great way to stave off loneliness and procrastinate even further.

Looking over my awkward early posts (as opposed to my awkward recent posts) I can pinpoint the exact date when I discovered Malcolm Gladwell, who I used to find delightful but whose recent series on guns fills me with a rage that is difficult to articulate. Arguably, many things now fill me with anger, some of it traceable to egregious behavior and other expressions that come swimming up out of my body like little deadly jelly fish.

In 2001 I was still working in the same computer lab, and I called the support desk for something, and after putting me on hold for what felt like a long time, the technician said, "That's weird--a plane just crashed into the twin towers." I assumed it was a small tourist aircraft and tried to get my question answered. Then I went to Metafilter and watched the horror unfold and folks sharing information, trying to help.
posted by mecran01 at 2:42 PM on October 23 [10 favorites]

uh well i just came here to heckle Metafilter's Own cstross cause i could not comment on his broke-ass blog site

j/k, script blockers are a thing & metafilter does not mind them... so far. i lurked for a long time, still lurk for the mostly.

the user i miss the most is YouCantTipABuick ... thanks for the insights & giggles there tippy, i will pour one out for ya when i get one
posted by Rev. Irreverent Revenant at 3:20 PM on October 23 [8 favorites]

METAFILTER: my gateway to whatever remains of the useful Internet.
posted by philip-random at 3:20 PM on October 23 [9 favorites]

Frequently my Art post got few comments so I wonder if anybody is really interested.

I've learned to deal with those kinds of meh responses by just going forward and making them anyway. As long as even one person like the post or so I tell myself, it's worth it.
posted by JHarris at 4:28 PM on October 23 [17 favorites]

I'll say this: my other online communities died off with social media, I am glad this one is still around.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:31 PM on October 23 [14 favorites]

Well, jenfullmoon, will always favorite your comments about your trials and tribulations about trying to get parts in various shows.
posted by Windopaene at 4:39 PM on October 23 [4 favorites]

My 13th anniversary is coming up on Saturday. I lurked for a couple years before that. I was living in S. Korea and couldn't figure out how to join given no US credit card and no Korean credit card. I ended up sending Jessamyn 15,000 Won in Korean bills in exchange for a membership.

I'm glad I found all of you nuts.
posted by kathrynm at 4:46 PM on October 23 [14 favorites]

Mefi was always ardently multicultural in theory and brutally unwelcoming to non-American content in reality.

True in general, but Mefi has been disproportionately Canadian for as long as I've been here.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:47 PM on October 23 [8 favorites]

“As Canadian as possible, given the circumstances”?
posted by clew at 4:50 PM on October 23 [11 favorites]

"What about Canada? It's Pines and Ice.
Morning comes in freight ships while you're sleeping..."

Canada seems pretty fucking awesome.
posted by Windopaene at 4:54 PM on October 23 [3 favorites]

Many of us in Vermont are waiting for an invitation to join.
posted by MtDewd at 5:02 PM on October 23 [7 favorites]

It sounds so good up there, but let me tell you about the time Canada maimed a couple babies with helicopters.
posted by nobody at 5:04 PM on October 23 [19 favorites]

the user i miss the most is YouCantTipABuick

I thought he was around, rebranded, but there are a couple of verbose users with verbose usernames who I get mixed up sometimes.
posted by atoxyl at 5:19 PM on October 23 [4 favorites]

Yeah, it's been a fun ride with a few bumpy stretches. So many awe-inspiring insights from my favourite commenters! A few ugly pile-ons in the past, they're rare, but they also still stick in my head years later. Much appreciation for our good Mods who patiently moderated my unconventional thoughts when I was up too late at night in previous years.

(I've actually pondered compiling a book of all of my various Metafilter comments, with notes on how wrong or right I seemed to be at the time in retrospect. But it's a silly idea, and I probably won't get around to it.)
posted by ovvl at 5:40 PM on October 23 [4 favorites]

does anyone read the posts down here?
posted by Nelson at 5:45 PM on October 23 [19 favorites]

Oh wow, 11 years since registering and I'm still a year and some change away from having more Mefi time with an account than I had as a lurker
posted by jason_steakums at 5:50 PM on October 23 [3 favorites]

"does anyone read the posts down here?"

Indeed. Indeed.
posted by bz at 5:56 PM on October 23 [3 favorites]

posted by Windopaene at 6:04 PM on October 23 [1 favorite]

I joined when it was still possible to post images on this site, and I still miss those wild-west days. Also back then I put Metafilter prominently in my online dating profile as a shibboleth (and it worked.)

It's so great to see usernames I haven't seen for a long while in this thread. Two of the users I have been missing and don't see mentioned yet are carter, who used to post prolifically on visually pleasing things, and troutfishing, who I met in a Beijing meetup in the early 2000s.
posted by of strange foe at 7:01 PM on October 23 [4 favorites]

but let me tell you about the time Canada maimed a couple babies with helicopters

posted by ctmf at 7:31 PM on October 23 [7 favorites]

Now that I've read the original article and the book review linked from it of "Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees", I hope that Carrie Tian might see this comment and know that I love this book too and it's a title that fellow Mefis recommended on this site and I owe them thanks.
(I owe so many thanks to so many Mefis.)
posted by of strange foe at 8:21 PM on October 23 [4 favorites]

I don't think I'm a username anyone recognizes anymore (but maybe I am). Count me as another person that pretty much grew up here. My Metafilter membership spans - and, indeed, exceeds - the entire lifetime of my college-bound child. I once wrote this about Metafilter -- "I feel like I'll always have a home here. A community, where it's ok to be a nerdy shy girl who wants to talk about Big Things." and to a great extent that's still true.

Starting in 2019-2020 it started to feel a lot less like home, and I left for a long time because of a conversation I had here which I won't recount.

It has taken me a long time to realize it wasn't Mefi that had changed. It was people. That people everywhere were just more angry now, with less patience and more vitrol.

I'm super grateful to Cortex and to Jessamyn for keeping the lights on around here, and for caring so much about the future of the site, as well as to many of the people who have worked in good faith to make this space more truly inclusive.

Its been nice, recently, to see some of the old in-jokes coming back (CROCKETY BLOAT) and from time to time a sense of the kind of community that existed here in the early 21st century. I'm under no illusions it will ever be the same - it should not be the same - but I'd really love it if there was more empathy and connection and more listening to each other. Perhaps one day I'll go back to making posts about origami or

A lot of the people I admire from my early time on Mefi I followed on Twitter and I have no idea if I'll be able to connect with them again now that its been burned to the ground, but a few names that are a blast from the past: Mr_Crash_Davis, Mayor Curley, ColdChef, Secret Life of Gravy, yhbc, docpops, madamjujujive, Wendell, filmgoerjuan, lazaruslong, matteo, theora55, Marie Mon Dieu, JanetLand, miko (who I know is still around), languagehat, item, Stavrosthewonderchicken, JonMC, and MiguelCardoso
posted by anastasiav at 8:22 PM on October 23 [53 favorites]

I've been reading since 2002. Joined in 2004. A bunch of friends are still here, including my actual real world best friend (who was my roommate in the old days and now lives a fives or six states away). I still like it here, even though i get bummed out sometimes. I'm still up for hosting meet-ups (I used to love to host meet-ups).
posted by thivaia at 8:41 PM on October 23 [10 favorites]

bondcliff, I cannot say anything useful about how Metafilter today compares to the heyday you remember -- but I'm a newer user (2018) and this place matters to me, and it says something I think that it can come to matter to new people, now.
posted by eirias at 8:46 PM on October 23 [15 favorites]

It's my 47th birthday and I've been here under a couple of user names since at least 2007.

I'm an Indigenous, brown, queer woman and all I want is for this place to be my safe space.
posted by Heaventhenthesea at 8:54 PM on October 23 [30 favorites]

Thanks to bondcliff for expressing what I also feel. Used to be I could hardly keep up with all the interesting content here and now sometimes it's more like an appetizer - but improving from a 2020 nadir thankfully. And yes, every once in a while going back to some of those classic old threads hits you with what has been lost (as well as what has been gained).
posted by blue shadows at 11:03 PM on October 23 [5 favorites]

I recognise you, anastasiav, as one of those people that's been here forever. I recognise every name on your list, too and miss every one of them. The only one I know anything about apart from the couple that are still here is JonMC, who is active on MetaChat along with his long-suffering wife pips and a few other names from the days of yore.

I also think there's been some resurgence of 'community' here lately, although I can't see it getting back to the same level, which is partly bad but comes with the kinder MeFi I guess, because some of that sense of community was got by othering certain groups. There was certainly never an all-encompassing community feeling in my memory. Oddly, I do even miss some of the people who would have been very much at odds with the Mefi of today.
posted by dg at 11:39 PM on October 23 [16 favorites]

Too many thoughts and memories to type so …

[This is good]

Now I want to have a meetup. Been years. At the last one I attended — and hosted — in 2019 mathowie surprised us with his attendance and bondcliff nearly hurt himself on a broken stair off my porch and I felt so guilty. And the fact that he is an accomplished woodworker made it worse. I have fixed the stairs.

I have had all three owners of this place at my house but only 2 at the same time— twice.
posted by terrapin at 5:01 AM on October 24 [16 favorites]

I don't think I'm a username anyone recognizes anymore (but maybe I am).

You are. It's good to see you.
posted by bondcliff at 6:29 AM on October 24 [16 favorites]

and bondcliff nearly hurt himself on a broken stair off my porch and I felt so guilty.

Come to think of it, I just had to have surgery on my knee. I'm sure I could find a connection if I tried. /s.

I don't think I was very accomplished back then, but thank you. I'm glad you fixed the stairs. That was a great meetup! Might have even been the last official one I attended.
posted by bondcliff at 6:32 AM on October 24 [2 favorites]

Joined in 2005 after a couple years of lurking, only ever been this username here. I agree with every superlative shared in this thread, but have been participating here much less lately because conversations are often needlessly fraught.

I think the essay in the post offers some excellent criticism that has been mostly overlooked in a thread that became gratitude-sharing. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that but the linked essay offers more than just ‘ain’t Mefi great.’) Lots of excellent contributors have buttoned in the past few years, it’s worrying to me.
posted by LooseFilter at 7:34 AM on October 24 [11 favorites]

So many names...

No one has mentioned TheWhelk yet. Did that end poorly? One of the names I most remember from the past...
posted by Windopaene at 7:45 AM on October 24 [17 favorites]

Re: The Whelk, I'm not sure, the last I saw they were on Twitter. I don't know if they're still there, due to the troubles.
posted by JHarris at 8:00 AM on October 24 [4 favorites]

The Whelk is definitely still kicking around on other socials.
posted by tofu_crouton at 8:03 AM on October 24 [4 favorites]

The Whelk is very active on bsky.
posted by bondcliff at 8:09 AM on October 24 [9 favorites]

You know, I have been missing the Whelk of late, and was clubbing my brain trying to remember his government name so I could try to find him again. Is he on Mastodon?

I also miss Cold Chef's gentle/wicked contributions, among others.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:11 AM on October 24 [15 favorites]

Mod note: Thanks for posting this, it's been shared to the Best Of blog!

posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 8:22 AM on October 24 [9 favorites]

I said it in a birthday thread a while back, but Metafilter is one the most consistent and constant presences in my life, since I first lurked for a few years and then joined in '05.

I also remember feeling like a newbie and nervous about commenting much less creating my own posts and now it's suddenly nearly two decades later and there aren't many (any?) online spaces from back then that I spend time on.

I'm a casual regular so while I recognise many of the names from over the years I don't know anyone that well individually.

I just think this place is neat. Thanks to everyone for making it that way.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:00 AM on October 24 [11 favorites]

METAFILTER: I have fixed the stairs.
posted by philip-random at 9:18 AM on October 24 [9 favorites]

Hello there.
posted by ColdChef at 10:30 AM on October 24 [81 favorites]

Related: I was looking at an obituary post for a MetaFilter friend and I was surprised at how many people I still interact with on a nearly weekly basis. WolfDaddy
posted by ColdChef at 10:34 AM on October 24 [17 favorites]

As a relative newb (joined 2016, lurked a few years before that) I was reluctant to jump in here, but seeing as this is also sort of a tribute thread, I wanted to drop in two names, people who kept me coming back in there and eventually signing on.

One is miko (glad to see the note above that they're still around), author of what to me is the single greatest post in Metafilter history.

The other is filthy light thief, whose profile notes he's not around much any more, but also describes himself as an "infoholic" and could be counted on for a dazzling variety of fascinating posts. His bio indicates that maybe the pilers-on got to him one too many times, and that's just so sad.

Thanks to so many people who still make it a great place, and whose comments always get me stop scrolling and slow down and really read. Off the top of my head: Eyebrows McGee, hippybear, loquacious, Rhaomi... and let's raise a glass to some newbs (I think?) who always brighten the day: chariot pulled by cassowaries, I'm looking at you here.

oh, and a grateful wave at wenestevedt, who's been a good friend off the Blue and maybe someday we'll actually meet!
posted by martin q blank at 11:00 AM on October 24 [13 favorites]

High five, martin q blank! I'll see you next time you're through the area. :7)

Hello there.
posted by ColdChef
...really needed an orchestral flourish.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:10 AM on October 24 [11 favorites]

The "comments as a sort of diary" observation has me could I download my comments?? (In my case, AskMe answers.) Would there be a straightforward way to manage this? Should I just copy and paste them all into a Google doc? Even sans questions I think they are a body of writing of mine that I would like to preserve.
posted by amaire at 11:35 AM on October 24 [2 favorites]

You can export your comments from your profile settings...way at the bottom once you go to edit your profile. I've not tried this.
posted by tiny frying pan at 11:36 AM on October 24 [6 favorites]

You all did love Metafilter once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for it?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Mefi,
And I must pause till it come back to me.
posted by Sebmojo at 11:53 AM on October 24 [9 favorites]

The writer has made a critique that resonated with me, and I'm mulling. Let's call it MetaFilter's Chipotle Problem.

If someone, on my recommendation, went to check out Metafilter, they might notice that conversations can fall to the lowest common denominator. An article is shared that dissects a specific regional Mexican cuisine. 5 comments in, someone mentions how much they love Chipotle. It’s barely relevant, but that topic is easier to participate in, so the rest of the conversation devolves into debating: Chipotle good vs Chipotle bad.

“Lowest common denominator” isn’t even the full truth. I actually mean white, American, left-wing, and upper-middle class. Anything outside that frame can end poorly. In one infamous thread, an Asian user asked for help deciding what percentage of their salary to give to their parents. White users rushed in to call this absurd and declare that adults didn’t owe their parents anything. Prolific Asian users disabled their accounts out of frustration, never to come back. Similar tussles kept happening across each axis of social location. The dominant viewpoint drowned out relevant minority perspectives, causing minority users to leave, and the cycle would repeat, strengthened, in another thread.

I'll be wrestling with this.
posted by kensington314 at 11:57 AM on October 24 [19 favorites]

We are all near sighted burritos kensington314, and many unrepentantly blinded too.
Where's the avocado and spice when diversity is called for?
Can we get a bit of salsa over here?
Wrestling burritos gets really messy!
posted by nofundy at 12:22 PM on October 24 [2 favorites]

You can export your comments from your profile settings...way at the bottom once you go to edit your profile. I've not tried this.

I’ve tried it. It worked. In fact, all of my comments since have been written by a bot trained on my corpus of contributions. It saves a lot of time!
posted by atoxyl at 3:51 PM on October 24 [8 favorites]

I've been thinking about what to say here. Lately I've been frustrated with Metafilter. It seems so dysfunctional these days. I am hoping it can be saved, and I appreciate the work Jessamyn and others are doing to save it. I get mad at all the fighting and all the negativity. Someone wants a car with slightly more clearance and they are reminded three times that BIG CARS KILL BABIES.

Man, I can't believe this got so many likes. I mean, what is the difference between Republicans not wanting CRT in schools or burning books they disagree with and this? They want to control the narrative, and not 'yuck my yum' with inconvenient truths I might have to spend a second thinking about as I scroll past. Sorry they use the power of law rather than 'gentle reminders' on a website.

Metafilter is fundamentally extremely conservative occasionally.

You are actually free to like things even if they have negative consequences, because metafilter doesn't have a secret army policing you in real life. And everything has downsides. Even things most people like.

I mean, if this is what people want, then get rid of the paid moderators and let people who start threads moderate their own thread, able to delete any comments they personally disagree with. At least it would save some money.

But who would honestly want to engage with that? You think the user numbers are shrinking now, do that for a while.
posted by The_Vegetables at 3:57 PM on October 24 [2 favorites]

Sometimes I want a celebration, sometimes I want a serious discussion.
posted by wenestvedt at 4:06 PM on October 24 [4 favorites]

I also find it ironic that this person appreciated the terrible advice about college but lowest common denominator advice about chipotle or questioning cultural signifiers (things maybe she personally knew something about) was bad. Maybe metafilter was never the collection of experts but rather just other people offering their opinions as well?
posted by The_Vegetables at 4:17 PM on October 24

A few weeks ago one of my friends asked me how I always seem to have deep understanding of world events, politics, science and technology even though I have no higher education in any of these topics, and my answer was that I read MetaFilter everyday

You know, I was thinking about this in the context of the recent post to the blue about whether a news break is actually healthy for us, and I think that one of the kind of stealth benefits of Metafilter is that it provided a lot of us with a curated way to consume the news. I stopped watching television news, oh, probably back in 2008 or so? And I stopped reading newspapers around 2014, when I left New York. But Metafilter, I've always been on Metafilter.

I have a loved one who consumes the news for two hours every morning and they are deeply agitated by it every day. I am *just as informed* - in fact, sometimes I'm the one telling them about new events - but I'm way less stressed about it, because it's just me reading the threads, and every now and again, putting my own piece in when I come across a piece of news good enough to add to the pile.

I wonder if we will ever know the breakdowns we've avoided, the mental health we've gained, the tiny pieces of peace we have had just by having that little buffer between ourselves and the firehose that is news built for attention...

Which is to say, here's to you, Metafilter, and thanks.
posted by corb at 4:30 PM on October 24 [28 favorites]

Hey ColdChef! I still remember it was you who got me hooked on watching Foodfight over and over and over again, and I'm glad you're still around! I'm looking forward to inflicting it on people late late night this Christmas.... (Or was it you? Maybe it was someone with the same stress pattern in their name, which appears to be one of the shorthands my brain uses to remember names.)
posted by JHarris at 5:17 PM on October 24 [5 favorites]

Man, I can't believe this got so many likes. I mean, what is the difference between Republicans not wanting CRT in schools or burning books they disagree with and this?

Never change, Metafilter. I love you.
posted by bondcliff at 6:31 PM on October 24 [32 favorites]

corb, I don't know you, but I love reading your thoughts. I am really glad you're here.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:38 PM on October 24 [5 favorites]

JHarris, it was me and I apologize.
posted by ColdChef at 8:48 PM on October 24 [4 favorites]

sixcolors Is in her 30s.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:54 PM on October 24

— Todd Lokken Lives!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:02 PM on October 24 [8 favorites]

I think I suffer from a similar type of aphasia that has kept me from successfully connecting screennames to full-fledged personas, but there has been a (periodically reconfiguring) number of contributors here that have consistently made the blue (and its gamut of spaces) a unique ecological niche on the internet for years now, making it a homestead to so many of us. There’s no denying the Gesamtkunstwerk of it, warts and all. It’s rare to see real-word attempts at actually making things better, something that, even in failure, surely sets an example to draw hope (or other inspiration) from. A kind of epic. And a privilege - thanks to all for keeping on keeping on.
posted by progosk at 12:05 AM on October 25 [6 favorites]

I've been here lurking since, oh, 2004 or so, paid up in 2006. Always had a Mefi tab open whenever my computer was on and would check in every now and then. I don't comment a lot, especially these days, but I read as much as I can, especially about things outside my sphere.

“Lowest common denominator” isn’t even the full truth. I actually mean white, American, left-wing, and upper-middle class.

There is a way you have to exist online if you are not white, American, left-wing (in that often peculiarly centrist American way), and upper middle class. You gotta keep the mask up and be aware of your surroundings, pick your battles and watch what you say. I've been online since the mid nineties, and have cultivated a lot of fairly neutral profiles - no gender, no sexuality, no visible markers. In anonymised spaces it's easier to make the mask work for you, and so I did. I still do, in a lot of parts of the Internet. Where I have to use my name I just don't interact with strangers the way I did pre about 2004. The game has changed so much that you have to assume everyone online is a troll, a bot or otherwise actively hostile.

So I guess I haven't noticed as much of a decline in the overall 'friendliness' of Metafilter, because for all I love it I've always been aware that I am participating in the equivalent of a pleasant cafe visit with some well intentioned genteel Americans who may or may not have the frame of reference to deal with anything else outside, and who from time to time may well melt down if challenged. That friendliness may well evaporate if I'm too gay, too foreign or too female. I've had some more hostile than is optimal discussions with people over the years, especially around class, feminism and queer issues. Often not even particularly controversial takes!

But it is, still, without a doubt, far better than every other online space, always ahead of the pack. Even the shitty behavior is a world away from places like SomethingAwful or the chans or the birdsite. That the moderators even attempt to reign in the tantrums is remarkable and always has been, and people who are trolling out of trauma are often handled with a grace that would be unfathomable in other places. You don't get that elsewhere on the internet. We have a whole other level of introspection about how the site runs - the meta of meta! - and how to keep it a positive place to be. I really feel that while there's a lot of people who have left who are missed, there's a good handful who needed to either check themselves or head off to trollier fields, and I can think of a good few names I'm happy to not see in discussions anymore. Even the regional Mexican cuisine example, after a few rounds of Chipotle it's not uncommon for someone to go "oh, here's an obscure link to a book on Google Scholar about pre Columbian peasant food from Chiapas" and it'll be back on track and hard, and that person may well be a food historian growing heritage corn as an experiment. The good far, far outweighs the bad, for me at least.

And I honestly think think the site is much, much friendlier to other perspectives these days. I know I get into fewer gender and class based shitfights now, and it's clear that people are a bit battle scarred from the world events of the last six years or so, and everyone's a bit more gun-shy and I don't begrudge people who do take a break or button. I was off for about six years with two small children, post partum depression and no mental landscape to deal with anything at all. I would say I've only really been back the last two years or so, and I didn't realise how much I missed it till I came back. The parts that are good are still here - well thought out posts, discussion that isn't polarising ragebait, people trying at least to live up to that 'genteel' part of the cafe. And there's more of us foreigners, a bit more space to not be American than there was before, and I can wear a bit more of my actual self on my sleeve in a way I wasn't always comfortable to do in the past.

This place has grown up a lot. The vigour of youth might be gone but we have a lot of wisdom as a result, and I think that counts for a lot.
posted by Jilder at 12:08 AM on October 25 [33 favorites]

I've been reading Metafilter since, I believe, the beginning. Or very close to it. After a year or so I made an account. That was more than 23 years ago. In a way, Metafilter was the continuation of the late 90s weblog scene for me - something the various social media platforms never managed to capture. I am glad it is still here, though I do not post much these days.
posted by Nothing at 5:26 AM on October 25 [9 favorites]

Jilder, I definitely see "a pleasant cafe visit with some well intentioned genteel Americans ," even as I recognize myself in that description. It's a good reminder.

Now, last week I had a thought bubble appear that said, "I wonder what would happen if there was a FPP at MetaFilter that wasn't in English?" Would it get flagged a lot? Deleted? Would there be a MetaTalk thread about it?

I've been working on my French again, and listening to podcasts to try to improve; I would definitely give a non-English thread a look as a way to see real language in use (as opposed to the simplified diction that DuoLingo shows me).

Could MeFi have handled a post in Spanish ten years ago? I kind of doubt it, not seriously. Could we now? I really would like to see it!
posted by wenestvedt at 7:12 AM on October 25 [3 favorites]

I think there have been FPPs in languages other than English. I faintly remember at least one in a language that goes right-to-left, and hasn’t there been at least one in French?
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:41 PM on October 25 [1 favorite]

I officially joined in 2017, but I'd been lurking on AskMF since 2007, when a former roommate told me about it. (I do not know her user name ... she could be one of the people in this thread for all I know! I'm still grateful to her for pointing me in this direction.)

I am historically an EXTREMELY anxious person (though this has gotten wildly better since starting meds in 2016). I can't tell you how much AskMF has helped over the years -- not just threads about grappling with anxiety, but as a distraction when my mind is racing and I need something else to focus on. And to echo penguin pie, I have composed HUNDREDS of asks in my head over the past 15+ years, and just thinking through the question and anticipating the answers has been hugely helpful.

I also resonate with folks who refer to MF as a "third space." FOR SURE. I love living alone, but sometimes I wish I could just wander down the street to a community space that was always open, and always had smart, well-meaning people talking about interesting things. MF has given me the online equivalent for many years.
posted by leftover_scrabble_rack at 4:21 PM on October 25 [12 favorites]

Like @Nothing, I've been here forever. It definitely has been a wonderful place for me, user #1461. Still a daily reader!

Thanks, all, for the words written and thoughts shared.
posted by acridrabbit at 6:17 PM on October 25 [4 favorites]

Wow, I can't believe I didn't actually join until 2005*. I distinctly remember MetaFilter on 9/11, and since at least then it's been the smartest place I know on the internet.

*Oh right. It took me a while to join MeFi because I was still holding a candle. Sorry MeFi, I'm in deep reminiscence now but it's not for you.
posted by bjrubble at 7:28 PM on October 25 [1 favorite]

Could MeFi have handled a post in Spanish ten years ago? I kind of doubt it, not seriously. Could we now? I really would like to see it!

I think there have been FPPs in languages other than English. I faintly remember at least one in a language that goes right-to-left, and hasn’t there been at least one in French?

Had a look and found one in German (from 2010) and a deleted one that was (a video) all in French (2012). (Not sure this one in Esperanto (2006) counts, or this crypted one (2005).) Pretty sure there have been others; it's a question that's been discussed repeatedly: 2003, 2005a, 2005b, 2007, 2010, 2012, and 2015.

More generally, Mefi tends to toy with other languages, though sometimes it gets somewhat more serious.
posted by progosk at 4:45 AM on October 26 [2 favorites]

hello i guess this is where some of the old metafilter crew would show up if they did

i'm not dead. i even have kids now. crazy huh
posted by fishfucker at 6:47 AM on October 26 [22 favorites]

do they...take after their mother?
posted by cortex at 8:11 AM on October 26 [14 favorites]

I have to admit, I'm getting a kick out of seeing people post "I've been here forever, right from the start, possibly longer", mousing over their username and finding a five-digit #.
posted by Hogshead at 10:10 AM on October 26 [6 favorites]

Many people like myself have new usernames. Definitely was still here in 2001 and posting!
posted by tiny frying pan at 10:35 AM on October 26 [4 favorites]

Not that 2001 was the start. Looked back and my first user name had 5 numbers, back from 2001. Now it's 6 for new accounts I guess, unless we're up to 7 numbers, not sure how to check.
posted by tiny frying pan at 10:36 AM on October 26

Now it's 6 for new accounts I guess, unless we're up to 7 numbers, not sure how to check.

Sounds like it's time for a Tiny Sock Frying Pan Puppet.
posted by kensington314 at 12:39 PM on October 26 [2 favorites]

Nah I don't do that secret account thing.
posted by tiny frying pan at 12:54 PM on October 26

FEELS like forever. I am a better person for being here (mostly!) so thank you to all.
I still cringe occasionally remembering a couple early, bad/not-helpful comments I made based on quick or poor skimming of questions.

I also do the thing where I recognize SO MANY names but can only really conjure up some kind of identity based on comments for maybe 15 or so usernames. HOWEVER, it's been a long time since I confused EmpressCallipygos and Serene Empress Dork.

[I went to double check spelling and discovered a third empress: Hello to caveat empress if you are around!]
posted by Glinn at 12:55 PM on October 26 [5 favorites]

5 digits? N00bs.
posted by terrapin at 5:41 PM on October 26 [4 favorites]

This post really resonated with me as I feel like Metafilter made me grow up a lot too.

I am so glad I did not join in 2001 when I first came across Metafilter, because one of the things I gleaned from AskMe was the power of psychotherapy. The USA focus of the site, often an annoyance to many at times, was useful in demystifying or de-stigmatising therapy as a source of personal empowerment, something that many other cultures, even white colonised countries like my own tended to pooh-pooh. I signed up for therapy, and continued to glean secondhand therapy from users here sharing their insights on strugglers presenting their problems. Some people had a knack for sharing their thoughts without the gotcha/ rush to simplicity that sometimes gums up AskMe threads. There was a gentle chick called MegMurry and I miss her. That amazing AskMe contributor Natty who wrote answers so raw, revealing, aching and powerful that I would cry and re-read and bookmark, and still read years later, and cry again at her insights.

I feel like there were so many Metasisters assisting me on my therapy journey well before I joined. I opened my laptop each morning and a Metafilter tab was always there ready in my tabs bar. I too thought I was seeing smart, almost famous people be glamorously smart all over the site. The Pink Superhero was like the Prom Queen. The Whelk, her beau.

The thing I most related to in the article is the reaction the writer has when she finally goes to a meetup. She awaits the discovery of glitterati and instead sees a bunch of average strugglers, kinda introverted and kinda odd.

This is so true for the story of my most significant Metafilter meet up.

One person whom I thought always had the answers and a wide life experience became my memail buddy in the 2000s. Then email buddy. Then I paid for her to fly to Australia for a visit. I am not rich by any stretch but I dunno, I was going through a weird time in life. She seemed so sure of herself, so worldly. Yet during her visit I saw the person with a facade of internet fame was shrivelled and truly mean in real life. It was excruciating. The advice bravura concealed an in real life cluster b disorder, profound narcissism. After her visit I re-read her long posts, usually about how amazing she was at everything, and I couldn’t un-see my new awareness and, obviously, lament my parasocial co-dependency. I think this site might have twigged too, because as she told me, her favourites were falling, and someone criticised her once so she felt ‘hounded out’ by the ‘way the site had changed.’

I think her attitude about things like this is not an outlier on buttoned users, although I think a lot of buttoners were hounded out by MetaTalk pile ons that, back in the day, had a colosseum atmosphere. An atmosphere that was enabled or overlooked the moderators because MetaTalk was a known gladiator sport. [Mayor Curley told me to hang myself and a bunch of other violent things in a thread *about bullying* and that comment is probably still there, no one batted an eyelid. I had to talk about it in my therapy sessions for two weeks.] People were mean, mean, mean. I am feeling much safer in this environment now and am now parasocially crushing on BrandonBlatcher for his swift mods.

Metafilter taught and continues to teach me a lot, but it has mainly taught me that discourses really matter, and are worth the angst we put into removing xenophobic, racist, essentialist discourses from how we operate here.
posted by honey-barbara at 9:04 PM on October 26 [25 favorites]

I haven't been here forever (not under this username at any rate) but I've been here long enough, and in enough corresponding stages of my own development, to have gone through all of the stages of Metafilter-as-surrogate-parent-hood:
  • ❤️ Metafilter is so smart and funny, Metafilter knows everything, Metafilter is the best ❤️
  • OK Metafilter is pretty smart but it doesn't know *everything*🙄
  • Well, Metafilter is sometimes pretty smart and sometimes pretty *cringe*, did you see that, like *wow* 🤦‍♀️
  • I've been away from Metafilter for a while and realizing I kinda miss them, plus there are things I really want to ask, I wonder if we get along better now
  • I see Metafilter now more as a smart and funny peer that's not perfect, and some things we'll never agree on, but I think they mostly mean well and I can live with that
  • I should go see Metafilter today, we don't spend as much time together lately but I enjoy our visits
  • Gee, Metafilter is getting older now and not getting around as well as they used to, but they're still pretty great and I love them and I'll see what I can do to help
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 12:44 PM on October 28 [19 favorites]

I ended up here from the kuro5hin met4filter merger April Fools joke which, when I look it up was 2002. Joined a few years after that under a different username, forgot the password for that one, and rejoined in 2016 but have been here the whole time. I'm here every day which is just remarkable to me because it's probably the only thing I've ever been that consistent with.

It's crazy to see all the user name callouts and recognize many of them. It's dusty in here because I'm learning some are gone for the first time.

I wasn't a kid but I definitely "grew up" here. I don't even want to think about the horrible person I would have been without this site. It gave me a window into the internal lives of other people and how who I was impacted them. I'm not saying I'm a good person now but I was a worse person then. Thank you for that, Metafilter.
posted by Defective_Monk at 6:40 PM on October 28 [14 favorites]

I belong to another community, of sorts, people who write regularly to the Guardian’s minute-by-minute reports of soccer matches. One regular was a diehard Everton fan from California, named Mary Waltz. She would write, pretty much without fail, every time Everton played. But since August she’s been silent. I haven’t found any obituary online, so I hope for the best. But even so, there would be no place to memorialize her in the context of that strange little community. I’m thankful that MetaFilter has MetaTalk, where we can gather to voice sorrow for our dead.
posted by Kattullus at 7:16 AM on October 29 [10 favorites]

Ha Kattallus, I've seen your comments more than once on the MBM. Hope your penpal Mary resurfaces.
posted by Rumple at 1:09 PM on October 29 [2 favorites]

honey-barbara, thank you for that story!

I wonder if the superseding of this site by others was part of the reason things have slowly gotten better around here. MeFi was the Internet Capitol of Snark, but then Something Awful came along and did that shtick much better (worse). Then 4chan came along, and the process repeated.

This is not to say that the people who left here went there, or that it happened that way chronologically. But there is a kind of sense that when a web community gets sufficently bad, if the people there have any respect for themselves at all, that they improve. Maybe as they gain respect for themselves, they

Or, maybe whatever the big internet gathering spot is at that moment, it causes some to want to do some performative cruelty? And that might explain some things about the biggest social media sites.
posted by JHarris at 8:54 PM on October 29 [3 favorites]

I didn't get an account until 2008 but I've been here since 2000 or 2001. I was already here when 9/11 happened. And despite not participating all that much, for reasons I've commented on before, I visit every day. Every single day. When something big happens, it's where I go first. I want to know how you all are feeling about it, I want to know what you have to share.

Metafilter did change my life. Metafilter did make me a better person. I'm not sure whether I miss the people who used to be here, or the way this place used to feel, or just how I used to feel when I was twenty years younger and less ... fearful. Or all three. But I love and am grateful for Metafilter. I'll always be on the fringes here (and most everywhere) but I'll be around for as long as I'm allowed to be.
posted by penduluum at 2:03 AM on October 30 [4 favorites]

"Maybe as they gain respect for themselves, they"

Aaah sorry for leaving that sentence unfinished. I was distracted as I wrote it. I'm not sure what I meant to finish it off with. "Maybe as they gain respect for themselves, they" go out and have an ice cream cone?
posted by JHarris at 2:10 AM on October 30 [6 favorites]

no one reads the comments down here.

"It must be the posts , I'm post n in
It must be for real, 'cause now I can feel
And I didn't mind, it's not my kind
It's not my time, to wonder why
Everything gone white, everything's grey
Now you're here, now you're away
I don't want this, remember that
I'll never forget, Tarquinius' cash
Don't let the days go by
Sibylline, Sibylline.
I'm never wrong, I'm wrong all the time
Are you at one, or do you lie
We live in a wheel, where everyone feels
But when we rise, it's like elysian fields
If I treated you bad, you'd bruise my face
Couldn't love you more, you've got a beautiful vase.
Don't let the days go by
Could have been easier on you
I couldn't change though I wanted to
Should have been easier by three
Our old friend fear Romulus/Remus and thee.

Don't let the days go by,

Oh, Sibylline, Sibylline
Bad moon arising
slow loon careen
As she falls around me
I needed you more, we wanted us less
Could not miss, just regress
It couldt just be clear, simple, and plain
Well that's just fine, that's just one of my names
Don't let the days go by
Could've been easier on you you you
Sibylline, Sibylline
Sibylline, Sibylline
posted by clavdivs at 5:36 PM on October 30 [3 favorites]

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