A fundraiser for Metafilter

Hard times for MeFi. Founder Matt Haughey explains how the popular 15-year-old online community ended up in a difficult financial situation that now threatens its existence. One factor in Metafilter's revenue demise: Google's algorithms. Another: the changing nature of online advertising. There's a donation page for one-time or monthly contributions.

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  1. maxp says:

    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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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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