The MetaFilter extract from 'Design For Community'
August 21, 2001 3:56 AM   Subscribe

The MetaFilter extract from 'Design For Community' is now online for your reading pleasure.
posted by kchristidis (16 comments total)
Hey, now I know a lot more about Metafilter than I did before -- the low traffic rate during the first six months for instance. Thanks so much, Matt, for sticking with it!
posted by tweebiscuit at 6:10 AM on August 21, 2001

well bugger me sideways
posted by pilau at 6:26 AM on August 21, 2001

When was this written? I mean, it mentions MeFi having "over 2,000 members," but we've been long past that for quite a while now.
posted by zempf at 6:45 AM on August 21, 2001

The intro to the piece says the author exchanged email with Matt in "early January, 2001".
posted by donnagirl at 6:57 AM on August 21, 2001

That article should be required reading for anyone wishing to join Metafilter. Good job, Matt.
posted by ColdChef at 6:58 AM on August 21, 2001

I started the interview in January of 2001, when the membership was in the 2k range. Here's someone that was probably member number 2500 or so. The numbers I mentioned in the interview are a bit off.

A point worth mentioning: since the site being linked has a discussion area, and there's one here, it's kind of unclear where someone should leave a comment. I'd say if you have something to ask or comment on, directly related to the text in the interview, do it on the design for community site, and other stuff like questions about it, ask here (does that make sense?).
posted by mathowie at 6:59 AM on August 21, 2001

matt's wonderful article on digital web is also worth noting.
posted by lotsofno at 7:05 AM on August 21, 2001

Matt, posts that go to that 'design for community' discussion area you are talking about , should be relevant to the question Derek asks (bottom of the page): How do you interlink content and community?

In this discussion area, people can post comments about the interview, generally.

Seems pretty straight-forward to me.
posted by kchristidis at 10:22 AM on August 21, 2001

Hi gang!

Yes, the interview took place in January, 2001. I could have fixed the numbers to be more current, but the interview is intended to capture a moment in time.

For those who don't know, each chapter in my book ends with an interview with someone who's got experience in that area. Chapter 2, which is all about content, ends with an interview with Matt!

As for what to post there (vs. here), the only relevant issue, really, is who you want to talk to. If you want to talk to the MetaFilterites, post here. If you want to talk to what I'm calling "the community of communitarians" (or, people who are reading the book and building community spaces on the net), post at DfC.

Of course, I was also hoping people might post followup questions for Matt on DfC, and that he might appear like the Great Pumpkin to answer them....
posted by fraying at 11:01 AM on August 21, 2001

too bad Netscape chokes on the page's formatting... ohwell. . . :)
posted by tomplus2 at 2:35 PM on August 21, 2001

How can Mathowie tell Derek Powazek the following – 

Also remember that once you get the site going, stopping it is almost out of the question. A very successful community creates a special place in a lot of people's hearts. People are what make a community great, not necessarily the administrator or moderators, so when someone on top says they might bring the whole thing down, people have something of theirs that they're in danger of losing. I remember the outcry that came when a few sites I frequented in the past closed. Members didn't want to lose the community, and at the very least, they wanted to be able to extract an archive of their postings.

yet tell us, his loyal subjects, the following?

The thing I find weird when stuff like this comes up... is that people seem to have a strange sense of entitlement with regards to free web content. When it’s a company that offers free services that goes out of business, everyone mourns, but it’s fine in the end. But if it’s a personal project, somehow everyone feels cheated and treated unfairly, and somehow they think they “own” part of the work since they’ve read it and enjoyed it, and it’s the “duty” of the site owner to keep it all online. k10k and dreamless don’t owe anyone anything, and it’s good that they will be taking breaks when they feel they need to.

K10K and Dreamless were community sites (not as freewheeling as MetaFilter, but all are cut from the same cloth), so it's not as though Mathowie was talking about community sites in the former case and personal single-voice Weblogs in the latter.

Also, it's gratifying to finally see some recognition that person X may set up a community discussion forum but everyone who uses it are the actual owners. But wait – doesn't Mathowie contradict himself in the latter citation, complaining that we think we “own” part of the work? Well, we do, don't we, or why would we be concerned about retrieving our postings (first citation)?

posted by joeclark at 2:36 PM on August 21, 2001

joe, the quote "...that people seem to have a strange sense of entitlement with regards to free web content" was mostly written in regards to companies closing services versus something like closing down. Although dreamless is a community thing, I think the headaches Joshua Davis has had to deal with the whole time outweigh the loss to the community. Same with k10k, though I'd argue that's more of a portal of news and weekly featured content than a community in the strict sense of the word.

I stated opinions from both sides, since I can understand the motivations of both a community user and a community owner. It's a tough call either way.

The real question is who owns the community?
posted by mathowie at 3:07 PM on August 21, 2001

there are degrees of community. metafilter is not a community like {fray}, which is not like the comment forum of powazek, on one end of the spectrum (closer towards restriction and streamline of content). on the other end of the spectrum, metafilter is distinct from the most liberal of all communities: the unmoderated newsgroup.

while a community is controlled by an administrator, it is governed under that administrator's rules. once that site is handed off to someone else, in spite of how well the former admin feels that the next person can run the site, the community will face a degree of uncertainty. what if the next guy suddenly decides to kill the site? while we could also ask the same question of the current admin, in that case we could at least say "but they have not done anything like that so far, so we can relax."

i would like to say that, in cases where administrativa is in flux, no one owns the community. or, i should say, be prepared for anything, for nothing is set in stone. it is wonderful to state that everyone in the community should have some stake in its ownership, but in practice i think that this is a difficult standard to achieve. it's safer to say that when considering any community, its potentially tenuous nature should be given and accepted up front.
posted by moz at 11:29 PM on August 21, 2001

Heh. Wait till you guys get ahold of the excerpt from chapter 11: How to kill your community. ;-)
posted by fraying at 11:55 PM on August 21, 2001

Be careful with those excerpts Derek; they might hurt your book's sales :-)
posted by kchristidis at 1:49 AM on August 22, 2001

I think it's all very interesting - all the excerpts, essays and particularly interviews are really very interesting. If there's one in each chapter, cor!
Methinks I shall wander to Derek's Amazon UK link and clickity-click to buy.
posted by williamtry at 2:41 AM on August 22, 2001

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