Metafilter is a website, but it’s also, judging by usage both on MeFi and off, a verb. But what does it mean?
Searching for “to metafilter” is asking for trouble; uses of ‘metafilter’ as a noun referring to the site itself dwarf verb-form uses, and “to metafilter” turns up lots of hits for, likewise, noun forms with to as prepositional glue (“subscribe to metafilter”, “strong connections to metafilter”, “POSTING ASCII ART TO METAFILTER”), dwarfing whatever infinitive “to Metafilter” cites might be out there.
Alternate tack, then: search for “metafiltering”. And this works pretty darned well, dishing up in total a few dozen uses of the phrase on mefi itself as well as some off-site usage (some related to the site, some not). It turns out that metafiltering can mean a few different things.
(Note: there are at least a couple other obvious suffix-based tactics which I have ignored for this writeup: “metafiltered” and “metafilterer”. Both turn up some interesting results, but I’ve found “metafiltering” to be the most engaging of the three; +ed and +er will have to wait for a separate writeup.)
So what sorts of things does “metafiltering” mean?
1. to post something to the front page of Metafilter. Transitive verb: the object is either some content elsewhere on the web or the text (including one or more such links) as presented in its entirety as the content of a Metafilter front page post.
- I considered metafiltering them with the tagline: Fire that PhotoShopper!
- I don’t think you have enough faith in your post to survive its Metafiltering intact (poss. alt. notion of ‘metafiltering’ as “being reacted to or criticized by the mefi userbase”)
- I would think twice before MetaFiltering something that could potentially get the blogger in trouble.
- thank you for metafiltering, I’m serious, I don’t own a TV and just realized that everything I know about the coolest programs is from here.
- let me point out that two of the three deleted posts involved things I had seen elsewhere on the Web and decided myself were not worthy of MetaFiltering
- After blogging and Metafiltering Making Sense of Marcel Duchamp I was pleased when the author showed me that Yahoo had featured the site as a pick with a great review in the Yahoo! Picks blog.
2. to overwhelm or cripple a website or page due to bandwidth consumption and/or server load resulting from a Mefi link to same. Transitive verb; object is the site or page or server that has been linked to. Compare with the older “Slashdotting”, named for the unusually heavy spike in traffic directed to a site when linked from Slashdot.org; this has also been referred to as “the Slashdot Effect”. (A google search for “the Metafilter Effect” turns up a small scattering of results, some of which are analogies of this.)
- thanks for fucking up the game I was just beginning to enjoy by Metafiltering it.
- I guess they forgot the How to Survive a Metafiltering part.
- A MetaFiltering isn’t quite as bad as a /.ing but it isn’t insignificant either.
- (actually, that link seems to have disappeared, at least for the moment, perhaps victim of a metafiltering)
- Metafiltering / Slashdotting does more harm than good to many sites, which end up closing because they can’t support the amount of bandwidth (both technically and finantially) demanded.
- Oooh, I would love a Farking, a Digging, a Metafiltering, and a whatever else. And yes, my server can take it!
- (which is now broken, thanks to my silly idea of MetaFiltering it)
(See also: 2003 metatalk thread on the destructive influence of metafilter posts on small sites.)
3. to organize or filter web/internet/media content. Apparently intransitive from the available cites; the implicit target of this kind of metafiltering would be the vague sum of all extant web content, I suppose.
- Isn’t that kind of peer review precisely what the whole idea of metafiltering is?
- You know, best of the web? That metafiltering thing?
- There are the metafiltering, trendsetting a-listers that you really can’t not read like boingboing or kottke. (In context, it’s not clear whether “metafiltering” here is at all intended as reference or allusion to MeFi itself; while Jason Kottke and Cory Doctorow were both among the early a-list members of the site, both of them run highly visible link-aggregation sites of their own.)
3a. esp. to filter/organize some sort of existing metafilter content. Minor variation.
- MetaFiltering MetaFilter, eh? An idea whose time has come.
- if there were actually categories for threads, like /. and metatalk, then maybe people could actually do some metafiltering on their own.
4. to read or comment at or otherwise spend time on Metafilter. Intransitive verb. This is easily the most common meaning; there are many more cites, on and off-site, beyond those documented here.
- I went almost a day without Metafiltering, and then I find this news?
- Would that I could beam my working self (OK, metafiltering self) to that beach and watch those guys walk.
- I’ve got to stop trying to work while I’m MetaFiltering.
- Signal, you slays them. Excellent metafiltering! (wordplay thread)
- three librarians in a row. woo. metafiltering librarians unite.
- Does anyone here consider those examples of stellar metafiltering?
- Have you ever gotten into trouble for MetaFiltering at work?
- Sometimes it seems someone makes a post here and all the “mefi-er than thou” crowd can summon is some sort of “you’re not Metafiltering properly” diatribe.
- their message board lured me away from constant metafiltering about a a year and a half ago
- Surfing and MetaFiltering should be just fine on this machine. (as something a computer is sufficiently powerful to do)
- The way it feels? For regular surfing, metafiltering, googling, slashdotting, perfectly fine.
- My wife often asks me when I’ve been up till it’s time to get up if I’ve been Metafiltering again.
- Jessowietex — the bandaid raincoat. Condoms for safe Metafiltering. (wordplay on admin staff username concatenation)
- Have expressed web activities become expressions of specific activities: ‘I’m Googling’, ‘Goofing off on My Space’, ‘Metafiltering’?
- Objectives for this week: … Start MetaFiltering again (see also “SuicideGirling”)
- I spend less time online lately, but the Metafiltering is a thing I still do every now and then
- List-making, coffee-brewing, clothes-sorting, tiny-how-are-you-and-happy-new-year-email-sending, nail-trimming, sweater-changing, cat-amusing, reference-hunting, clock-watching, worry-warting, speculating, metafiltering, weblogging. These are the symptoms of General Paralysis of the Soul.
- That’s good MetaFiltering, in my non-contributive read-mainly opinion.
4a. esp. to engage in the intended use of metafilter, rather than non-canonical behaviors?
- and now back to the actual metafiltering. (Following sidebar argument between two users, apparently.)
4b. esp. as something that is notable to do at work. Recurring theme; the subject of mefi at/versus work is a recurring one in general on the site.
- Still, how much work can somebody get done if you’re so busy metafiltering at work?
- Obviously that should have been ‘specifically’ and ‘headscarves’. This is what comes of metafiltering at work.
- I also have work I should be doing instead of Metafiltering, so I don’t have enough time to think about it any more
- if certain images are offensive in your workplace, then possibly your MetaFiltering habit should be postponed for off-the-clock hours.
- “If my boss catches me MetaFiltering one more time, he won’t fire me, he’ll kill me”
5. to act in a way consistent with metafilter user activity. Intransitive.
- Hey, quit metafiltering up this thread. (Use in prepositional phrase, like “mucking up”.)
- to argue pointlessly … Bob and Joe metafiltered for hours last week over whether Saddam Hussein was “evil” or “extremely evil” (An actual definition!)
Miscellaneous citation grab-bag. Several cites use “metafiltering” in a way that doesn’t clearly and cleanly fit with any of the above meanings, or is otherwise unusual.
- I Hormeled when I read yeti’s Metafiltering. (as brand-diluting trademark verbing, ironically)
- OMG Hitchens has an opinion on something contrversial. Stop the
metafilteringpresses! (Snowclonish play on website-as-print-mechanism)
- How long before meta-aware robots are metafiltering themselves? (“robots…metafilter themselves”, unclear what exactly the robots would be up to)
- “how–how’s Fiona changed your, uh, changed your metafiltering” (as spoken by Jessamyn during podcast [cite is of a transcript by cortex], on Matt Haughey’s administration of mefi, i.e. Matt’s daily interactions with the site — arguably a variation on definition (4) above, but the vocation vs. recreation angle is unique)
- scandals and issues that could use a little MetaFiltering (give a topic a metafilter-style analysis/critique/dissection, specifically?)
- And congrats to the hat for the best MetaFiltering piece of BlueSky I’ve ever heard on the GoodDog radio, you CubScouting SillyOldBear… (MetaFiltering as replacement for “motherfucking” in string of pseudo-curses?)
- Not all communities are created equal. The web needs Metafiltering and less YouTubing. (commenting like Metafilter? Unclear what the scope of Metafiltering is, here. Also interesting the lack of a “more” to match the “less”.)
- Discussed here, to continue the metafiltering (meta-metafiltering?)
- Sometimes he asks, “Are you Metafiltering it?” Or, “Wheredya hear that? On Metafilter?” (Interesting report of “are you metafiltering it”, +it construction.)
- Metafiltering (Twitter update, simply “Metafiltering”. Twitter updates often seem to be answering the implied question, “what are you doing right now?”, though it’s unclear from the utter lack of context what sort of Metafiltering they’re up to.)
- MetaFiltering All Rational Thoughts says: (nonce portmanteau-ish incorporation in mocking pseudonym)
Uses unrelated to MeFi itself. Uses include the general idea of information filtering; of filtering internet/web content specifically; and of “metafiltering” as a jokey or made-up concept.
- If Learn could combine with some clever metafiltering, we could get some useful, easy-to-digest buzz analysis.
- What are the tools that bloggers need to be a better politcal machine? Better metafiltering, RSS Feeds, and resource trading/notification/bartering systems…?
- Without Berners-Lee’s hyperlinks, imagine what technologists might be marketing today: the latest Gopher interface, “now with trans-Boolean metafiltering!”
- Yes, the information was good and timely by comparison to other metafiltering attempts (at least earlier on in the war, anyway) (sorting and aggregation of news sources)
- Metafiltering the web takes minutes, people. Minutes. (of personal-blog link-dumping?)
- I mean you can add ‘meta’ to the front of any word and it would sound cooler. Metaverse, metafiltering, metacrawl, metadata, metawhore…. ok maybe not that last one. (nonce formation)
- With the rise of technologies such as XML, the promise of the true metafiltering and metaprogramming alluded to by Johnson are firmly within our grasp.