I’ve never been a registered MetaFilter user, but I’ve relied upon it as a resource many times over the past decade. Despite not being an active participant, I’ve always had a lot of respect for the operation – it’s one of the few online communities that’s stood the test of time, and seems unspoilt by success.
So I just have to give a shout-out to MeFi founder Matt Haughey, who’s put out some really stunning stats on the site’s growth and activity. What I love most is how they do business. As he puts it:
In the past few years I’ve been contacted by representatives at some major companies sniffing around for acquisitions, but when they find out the moderation and maintenance of the community is all done by hand and we have to talk to thousands of people like grown-ups instead of some amazing whiz-bang python script doing it all for us, the conversation ends and we go back to work.
I’m not saying that some more automation might not be a good thing for MeFi – as I said, I’m not a registered user and I have no idea. I’m not against making life easier. But there’s a balance between automation and an unhealthy distance between entrepreneurs and their customers, and I admire the heck out of Haughey and his team of five for staying close to the people who pay their bills.