On the Future of MetaFilter

Matt Haughey:

Since we’ve never seen a return to our pre-Fall 2012 traffic levels, I have to assume whatever hidden law we broke we’re still breaking, or that Google sees us as a home for comment spam even though we boot every single one we can find though a series of sophisticated methods, and the whole experience has been frustrating to say the least. At this point, I’m at wits end trying to figure out why our high-quality site, featuring good advice from a dedicated community of real people with a best-in-industry 24-hour moderation staff has seen such big decreases.

On the flip side, I’ll accept that MetaFilter is from “two or three Internets ago”, and perhaps this is Google’s way of saying they’re changing with the times and we’re not. I’m ok with that too, but since Google is a giant black box to outsiders, we’ll never really know.

Depressing news.

Update: Says Marco Arment:

Google owns the ad-driven web: their search brings all of your pageviews, and their ads bring all of your income. You’re just along for the ride, hoping to stay in Google’s good graces — an arbitrary, unreliable, undocumented metric that changes constantly. (Google’s only “open” with the trivial, unprofitable parts of their business. Search and ads are closed, proprietary, and opaque in every possible way.)

This is one reason I’ve never tried to monetize pageviews at Daring Fireball. My goal has always been to increase readers — to reach and appeal to people who want to come here to read what I write, on a daily or at least regular basis. I get thousands of referrals every day from Google, but I don’t try to monetize them. My only hope is for a few of them to like what they see and come back.

I think I can keep writing stuff that people want to read. I don’t know how to write stuff that Google’s ever-changing algorithms will return as highly-placed search results, so I’ve never really tried.

Friday, 23 May 2014