stating the obvious archives | about

A MetaFilter Proposal
Oct 26, 2001 :: Michael Sippey

For Preventing the Growing Community of MetaFilter From Being a Burden to Average MeFi Readers, and For Making the Site More Beneficial to the Public

It is a melancholy object to those who click through to the great site of MetaFilter, when they see the front page, the comment pages and the MetaTalk sections crowded with chatter, with noise, and with meaningless posts that should have never seen the light of the submit button. Readers, instead of being able to rely on MetaFilter as a trusted source of daily diversion, are forced to employ all their time in scrolling to beg sustenance for their starving minds: which, as they evolve over time, either whither into dust, or abandon their dear MetaFilter for sites unknown.

I think it is agreed by all parties that the prodigous number of posters is, in the present deplorable state of the Web, a very great additional grievance; and therefore, whoever could find a fair and easy method of making these MeFi posters useful members of the community would deserve so well of the public as to win a Webby statuette for public service.

Having turned my thoughts for many minutes upon this important subject, and maturely weighed many alternate schemes, I propose that the front door of MetaFilter be closed to only posters that are willing to pay to have their links appear there. Such an action would cause the nattering nabobs to pause, consider and reflect before wasting valuable pixels on pointless pointers to opinions on Palestinian politics.

The details of my MetaFilter proposal are quite simple...

First, MeFi members interested in posting items to the front page would buy scrip from a MeFi bank using the appropriate credit mechanism. The "price per post" would not be static; rather it would be dynamically adjusted based on the current site traffic volume, the number of items already posted on the front page for the day, and the current whim, mood or fancy of the site's primary beneficiary, the fine and honorable Matthew Haughey. When traffic is light and Mr. Haughey's happy, posting rights are cheap. When traffic is heavy or Mr. Haughey is feeling a tad dyspeptic, posting rights are dear.

Second, a front page poster would have the ability to earn back up to half the spent scrip based on a new "post quality" rating provided by his or her fellow MeFites. Value begets value. Even more scrip could be earned back based on the traffic generated to the comment page of the post, assuming that Mr. Haughey will, in due time, extend his delightful, entertaining and profitable text ad venture to the interior pages of the community. For if the poster spurs much discussion and generates additional revenue for Mr. Haughey, he or she should share in the spoils. But not too much.

Third, in order to maintain some sense of order and prevent the MeFi masses from rising up in revolution against the kind Mr. Haughey, privileges for posting comments would remain free, for the time being. However, Slashdot-style moderation features could be provided to users who have purchased a minimum amount of MeFi scrip.

I think the advantages of this proposal are obvious and many, as well as of the highest importance.

First, as I have already observed, the quality of the MetaFilter discourse has decreased in proportion to its quantity. Providing a simple economic filter on front page posts would force members to actually think before submitting, reducing the quantity of items, making the site much more readable by a potentially wider audience.

Second, providing a feedback facility tied to scrip rebates would provide further incentive for members to increase the quality of their content.

Third, my proposal would provide additional revenue and income opportunities for Mr. Haughey, who dedicates an inordinate amount of time to maintaining and moderating his site as a service to the denizens of the World Wide Web.

I profess, in the sincerity of my heart, that I have not the least personal interest in endeavoring to promote this necessary work, having no other motive than increasing the public good.



Other pieces about online publishing: