A fundraiser for Metafilter


A painful read and it mirrors my situation with Google. I used to get good organic traffic from Google having done no SEO – just, you know, having a site that people liked. Then Google updated something and 80% of my traffic slid away.

What’s distressing is that there’s no point of contact, human or otherwise, that could shed light on what the issue is. Some sites get warnings in Google’s Webmaster Tools, but I never have.

I’ve spent countless hours reading forums and implementing suggestions and as Haughey says, it’s as though Google flipped a switch somewhere and there’s a permanent penalty applied. Nothing I’ve done has had any effect.

The irony of this is that in their efforts to kill spam, Google has put sites who have never touched SEO in the position of urgently needing SEO. Or buying AdWords. Of course, Google would never be so unethical as to sabotage a site’s traffic to force them to buy AdWords, which is their primary source of revenue.

Anyway, best of luck to MetaFilter. I suppose I should contact them to have links to my site removed. Sigh.


What’s amazing is that he was able to pay a staff of seven just on the money generated from google text ads for as long as he did, and it’s an indication of what kind of person Matt is that he didn’t resort to a plea to his devoted userbase for funds sooner.

I used to spend WAY too much time on MeFi’s various sites… I loved my time there and I like matthowie a lot too. But I wonder how much of AskMe’s decrease in traffic is due to some sort of Google penalty, and how much of it is the related to the rise of Stack Exchange? Why would people spend $5 to register and ask questions on Ask Metafilter, when they can just go to one of the various Stack Exchange sites and ask there for free? It seems like any time I google just about ANYTHING these days, I get results from a Stack Exchange site.


Compassionate, but not too business savvy, as he seemed to think that adding two more moderators was going to somehow increase traffic? And then he left the site lose money for 18 months before doing anything at all about it. if the site’s not sold within the next 2 years I’d be shocked.

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I never understood that place. I found it impossible to post anything there without pissing everyone off. I haven’t looked at it in 8 years.

Damn the man!

I donated!

I never even saw the forums, but I can remember back when all search engines sucked pretty hard, MetaFilter would kind of average out the suck and deliver some useful links. But then they got Google to work, and for me it became redundant.

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I have to admit that I am not familiar with them, because my primary association with the name is “unwanted search results”. Fair or not, that may be connected to their problem.

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I don’t think Matt was ever looking to pay the bills with the $5 registration fee.Whenever he’s written about that, he said he has used the $5 more as a barrier to keep spammers and drive-by trolls away. And there was a time not too long ago when Ask Metafilter was always one of the highest ranked sites in Google results. I’m kind of surprised by the “unwanted search results” accusation. I always found the posts on Ask Metafilter to be way better than anything you’d get from sites that have come along and copied what he made.


I imagine it’s both. I’m sure it’s a lovely community, but that can go too far as well, I’ve lurked there a bit and the discussion of MeFi family, ((((({HUGS}))))) and online “spouse/spices” gets a little culty for me. I imagine it’s easier to capitalize pure information (as available on StackExchange) versus the feels people get from a tight-knit community and its bloggy/LJ style interchanges.

It’s good that people have their safe space, but the discussions came up a bit cloying in my search results. While I’d MUCH rather see these coming up in my searches than HuffPo-style content-farm drek, I can see why changes in search algorithms may have hit this as well. The community isn’t creating content that’s as valuable outside the community.

It’s also interesting to see how MeFi has fared versus a similar heavily curated/moderated (regardless of what you might think of their slant) community like SomethingAwful. Much more in SA’s budgetary favor, I don’t think the mods/admins are paid. Or at least, weren’t the last time I checked.

Of course, a farmer like “Free Range Content” who serves up content nobody wants would NEVER blame Google for getting banned for Black Hat SEO.

Metafilter I feel sympathy for, these guys, not so much.

Meanwhile, another Matthew with a web site is driving his new Tesla.

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The real testament to Matt’s character is that he didn’t ask the userbase for help at all. He explored all his options to fix the problem behind the scenes, spent all the savings, then finally cut overhead (staffing) to be in the black. It was the news of the staffing cuts that prompted the MetaFilter userbase to seek out a long-neglected ‘Donate’ link that was buried in the FAQ. The ‘Help Fund MetaFilter’ page was a response to the overwhelming call for an easier way to give the site money. Matt never asked for anything except understanding.

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I suspect that its decline is at least partially a result of the culture fostered there. While the goals of being inclusive to all genders, creeds and stripes was very noble, but practice to was to ostracize anyone who accidentally marginalized a vulnerable demographic, and who you know is prone to accidentally marginalize a vulnerable demographic? EVERYONE.


Well, I don’t know if “marginalization” has so much to do with its lack of perceived value and downturn of users, but the same curation of users and keeping away the riff-raff is going to hamper growth.

Oh yeah, I’m well aware of the reasoning for having the $5 registration fee. But what I’m saying is, while it’s an effective barrier to spammers and drive-by trolls, it also keeps some genuine users away as well, and when there is a good free alternative (Stack Exchange), people are going to flock to that instead.

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