May 21, 2014

metafilter & google

Matt Haughey lays it all out re. the current state and future of Metafilter. There is a lot of heartbreak in his post; I haven’t been active on Metafilter for years, but I appreciate and admire the community that Matt and his team have worked so hard to cultivate and grow. Like, really hard:

We have a total of over ten million comments across on all our sites combined and we spend so much time and energy tracking the few problem comments down that I would be hard-pressed to find even a single public comment that could be considered comment spam.

Which makes Google sending emails to domain owners (who in turn email Matt) complaining about “inorganic links” on Mefi so frustrating.

Every time I investigate these “unnatural link” claims, I find a comment by a longtime member of MetaFilter in good standing trying to help someone out, usually trying to identify something on Ask MetaFilter. In the course of explaining things, they’ll often do a search for examples of what they’re describing and include those for people asking a question. Whatever was #1 in Google for “crawlspace vent covers” in a question of “How to reduce heating costs in the Winter?” might show up, and now years later, the owners of sites that actively gamed Google to get that #1 spot at the time are trying to clean up their act but unfortunately I have a feeling MetaFilter is suffering as collateral damage in the process.