Urgent Site Fundraising Appeal: Who is Responsible for the Banner?
November 8, 2022 9:51 AM   Subscribe

Over the last few days, there have been numerous comments on the Gray, the Blue, the Green, and on MetafilterMeta on Reddit asking why the fundraising banner in the Metafilter menubar isn't communicating the site's fundraising needs both more urgently and more noticeably. It's well-known that not everyone reads the Gray, yet the non-Gray readers, long-time lurkers, and friends of the site are not being well-served here. Who has control over the banner, and why isn't this a priority?

As numerous people have commented, when Wikipedia puts its fundraising banner up, you can't miss it: It is big, it is obnoxious, the most noticeable version is bright yellow, and it always includes a dire urgent appeal, with links, and multiple giving options. (To all appearances, WIkipedia's fundraising banner is currently triggered by a second site search. Thus, it did not open when I searched for Fundraising, but it did appear when I then searched for Crowdfunding.) Why can't Metafilter create its own version of Wikipedia's fundraising appeal today?

Keeping in mind the Metafilter site likely has technical limitations that precludes some of those niceties, I still don't understand why:
  • The current banner doesn't include a link to a detailed summary of Metafilter's current dire budget shortfall, fundraising needs, and options for giving. As nice as the auction is, it only offers one giving option, rather than many. More importantly, it does not communicate just how depleted the site's operating reserves are.
  • Who is responsible for this? Is this something the SC can jumpstart? What about the mods? Jessamyn? Frimble?
  • Why no SC member—or delegated volunteer—isn't assigned to post on all the main sites and subsites (in the tradition of Brandon Blatcher during the sitewide survey) to ensure that as many users as possible are apprised of the urgent state of the site's finances?
posted by Violet Blue to Work & Money (29 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think you meant to post this in MetaTalk?
posted by iamkimiam at 9:54 AM on November 8, 2022 [4 favorites]


Response by poster: @ iamkimiam
Thanks but, no, I didn't mean to post this in Metatalk. Only a fraction of the site's users visit the Gray, and it strikes me as pretty critical that everyone understand that there is a problem with an attached timeline—and that even the messaging about that problem is, well, with all due respect kind of problematic.
posted by Violet Blue at 9:58 AM on November 8, 2022 [21 favorites]


I agree - if we're weeks away from shutting down the site due to a precarious financial situation, the banner needs to reflect that urgency.
posted by M. at 10:02 AM on November 8, 2022 [4 favorites]


I agree too! But your questions are about the site itself and are directed at the SC and MetaTalk staff, which seems best discussed (and actioned) in MetaTalk than in AskMe (which is for seeking answers from the community about your own questions).
posted by iamkimiam at 10:06 AM on November 8, 2022 [2 favorites]


Anyone who wants to can, it seems, make fundraising posts. I have, NotLost has, someone put a plug for the fundraiser in the "more inside" part of their question. Maybe it can be the next potato fad.
posted by aniola at 10:06 AM on November 8, 2022 [5 favorites]


Those are awesome examples of fundraising posts, thanks for sharing, aniola! I have an upcoming AskMe and will find a way to work in a plug for helping MeFi out.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:13 AM on November 8, 2022


The banner has changed a couple of times to bring attention to new elements of the fundraiser - right now it is the auction because that is the most recent big thing that had changed. There is another update due shortly, so the banner will likely change again as a result of that. We have done posts on the main sites, as well, when we have significant updates to make. I am a member of the SC, but I haven't vetted this post with other members so I am speaking for myself here.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:13 AM on November 8, 2022 [1 favorite]


Hi! I'm on MeFi literally every day. I'm active enough on FF that I've made something like a fifth of all the movie posts there ever. I had no idea the financial situation was this bad until I read this post as I only check the gray sporadically. I just doubled my monthly contribution and sent a one-time donation to boot.

I'm also now taking very seriously a proposal aielen had sent to me to do a fundraising event on FF. It was interesting before, but now it feels like the least I can do and I am absolutely compelled.

And again, I did not previous grok how bad the financial hole was.

This post was useful, at least to me.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:18 AM on November 8, 2022 [56 favorites]


Coming in to second that I too am on metafilter a lot but rarely go to Metatalk. I know that's "the place" for these site discussions, but that method is clearly not working.
posted by Saucywench at 11:15 AM on November 8, 2022 [5 favorites]


It's all well and good to say the family doesn't discuss money at the dinner table.

But if that's the only time most of us are in the same room together and the family is going broke, it's probably better to bring it up over supper rather than lose the house, y'know?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:19 AM on November 8, 2022 [26 favorites]


The banner text is literally smaller than the post text. Might as well boost it to 20% of the site area.
posted by Iteki at 11:25 AM on November 8, 2022 [9 favorites]


It's not even just the size - regular "hi, we're fundraising!" messages don't convey the need or urgency. Something like "<red>Metafilter is nearly broke</red> - help us stay alive" might.

(I'd vote for the banner linking to the Week 2 fundraising update when it's up, which should have both a clear, legible progress meter and a tl;dr description of the situation right at the beginning of the post. This should super-briefly recap the situation for anyone who hasn't been following all along. Right now, even the (awesome) front-page fundraising posts by aniola et al. provide a ton of links and sources and if you haven't been following or are short on time or energy, you're not going to know where to quickly find the relevant information and properly reading up on it might feel like a major time and attention sink.)
posted by trig at 11:44 AM on November 8, 2022 [22 favorites]


Yep. I'm on here *all the time*, including checking MetaTalk from time to time, but I don't read every single post, and I missed the financials update one. So until the fundraising posts started to proliferate, I assumed the banner was "hey, some people are new here since the last time this came up, we should let them know donations are appreciated" rather than "we are in dire financial straits, and if you're in a position to increase your donation amount[*], now is the time".

"Metafilter is nearly broke - help us stay alive", in a bigger font than the usual header messages, on a brighter background, and linking through to the information about how big the shortfall is, would have brought me up to speed much faster.

[*] I am in such a position, and I've just done so.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 12:06 PM on November 8, 2022 [20 favorites]


Yeah please don't underestimate how much MetaTalk has acquired an aura of being, putting it politely, the Worst of the Best of the Web... I've tried to keep up on important posts as a lurker, but dealing with meatspace and its issues really increasingly left me more and more inclined towards only spending the time I have to spare on the areas of this site that channel its less fraught tendencies.

Anyway, another thank you for the highlight here, this is obviously an issue that needs more exposure to prompt the action needed.

I'm also better enough off now than a few years back and have been able to put a decent multiplier on my monthly donation.
posted by protorp at 12:27 PM on November 8, 2022 [13 favorites]


"Metafilter is nearly broke - help us stay alive", in a bigger font than the usual header messages, on a brighter background, and linking through to the information about how big the shortfall is, would have brought me up to speed much faster.

I know absolutely nothing about fundraising but my vote is to rustle up something at least as vibrantly urgent as Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales banners but a notch below DCCC fundraising emails.

(I've kicked in some cash, but a shouty banner would genuinely have kicked me into gear earlier)
posted by BungaDunga at 1:21 PM on November 8, 2022 [5 favorites]


The banner has changed a couple of times to bring attention to new elements of the fundraiser - right now it is the auction because that is the most recent big thing that had changed. There is another update due shortly, so the banner will likely change again as a result of that. We have done posts on the main sites, as well, when we have significant updates to make.

The wee cheery words at the top of the screen do not convey the urgency of the situation. They didn't before, and they don't now. Is or is not Metafilter at imminent risk of shutting down due to lack of money?

Will the next banner update be more urgent sounding, or will it just be another breezy, easy to miss message? Can possibly the text stand out more from the rest of the site? Can the message be put in more places that aren't posts that get pushed down the screen as soon as someone else makes a new post?

Is there some technical reason why the text of the banner can't change? I honestly don't understand why this is the messaging that has been chosen, given what's going on.
posted by wondermouse at 1:34 PM on November 8, 2022 [19 favorites]


Um, yeah, I didn't want to say anything, but "it's fundraising week" is entirely different from WE ARE OUT OF MONEY AND SHUTTING DOWN IN A FEW WEEKS IF YOU DON'T GIVE US A LOT OF MONEY RIGHT NOW. If this is dire-on-fire-screaming-emergency territory, y'all need to be screaming it from large, bold, obnoxiousness from the rooftops and probably at least at the top of every page, if not every single page. Because as a money numbnuts, I read the financial report and frankly, am not smart enough to have comprehended exactly what that meant (there are reasons why I don't run my own business even though everyone tells me I should) and you have to spell it out to idiots like me who turn every financial report into gibberish upon reading. (Yes, I can see you wrote it out very clearly, but I'm still dumb at math anyway, so.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:28 PM on November 8, 2022 [25 favorites]


@Violet Blue:
thank you for posting this, I had no idea!
Finally joined, after lifetimes of just reading.
Indeed, the banner sounded nothing like what I am used to hearing about donation drives on Wikipedia or Archive of our Own.
posted by liketheoldweb at 3:01 PM on November 8, 2022 [14 favorites]


Is there some technical reason why the text of the banner can't change?

You know what? Forget having a progress meter inside a metatalk post that too many won't see - and that updates only once a week anyway.

"Metafilter is nearly broke - help us stay alive. Current shortfall: $xx,xxx." -- in a bigger font than the usual header messages, on a brighter background* -- updated daily.

That way it's easy to see what the current situation is; it's easy for people to track the progress; and, for those of us who are easily gamified, it provides some extra motivation to see that number shrink.

Secondary banners about current things like the auction can exist simultaneously - we've had double banners before.


* and maybe with judicious use of the blink tag
posted by trig at 4:12 PM on November 8, 2022 [16 favorites]


(A daily-updated "Metafilter needs $yy,yyy $xx,xxx more in monthly donations to stay alive" message on social media channels could also be a good fit for our tl;dr, retweety age.)
posted by trig at 4:26 PM on November 8, 2022 [8 favorites]


Another moderately active user here who doesn’t spend much time in MetaTalk who had NO IDEA things were this bad.

I 100% thought the new SC was just getting more organized about funding in general. I already donate monthly so like a public radio sustainer during a fund drive I ignored it because I thought “I’m contributing.” I’m headed now to up my donation but yeah more urgency is needed here.
posted by jeoc at 4:26 PM on November 8, 2022 [13 favorites]


I'm yet another regular who thought those were just your standard public-radio-style fundraising messages up top. This site has been a lifeline to me for over a decade & I'd be devastated if it went away. I just made a donation.

Please make the urgency more obvious.
posted by belladonna at 4:54 PM on November 8, 2022 [9 favorites]


I re-upped my donation after seeing one of aniola's posts here.

I also hadn't even realized the banner wasn't part of the top menu - I've been using various parts of Metafilter so long I don't even see the menus anymore. I'm always in dark mode and it all blends in, so I agree it needs to be more eye-catching.

If we don't want to make it bigger because it's against our HOA rules or something, maybe we could at least make it a different color. Say make it Fanfare Purple on the Blue, and Blue on the Green, etc?

Also seconding that I don't really go to the Gray anymore, it got really grimdark for a while there and I have ::gestures vaguely at the world:: all this, for that.
posted by invincible summer at 7:20 PM on November 8, 2022 [1 favorite]


Hey, this is Kim from the Steering Committee - thank you for posting about this. Yes, it is frustrating that we can't easily make these very important things happen quickly and they're things that I (me, Kim, personally) wish we could have had figured out before we had to launch the fundraiser.

I'm going to take this back to the Steering Committee Zulip (our team platform) and see what we can get rolling. The sidebar text should be easiest to get changed.

Thank you.
posted by kimberussell at 7:49 PM on November 8, 2022 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Yes, it is frustrating that we can't easily make these very important things happen quickly
see what we can get rolling.

It's not about anyone getting frustrated, It's literally affecting the continuing existence of Metafilter.
This is something that could make the difference between Metafilter going under or surviving the next few weeks.

Meaning it should be addressed immediately - taking priority over any small stakes fundraising tasks.

Immediately like today or tomorrow at the latest.

If the site goes under all the other stuff will become irrelevant anyway. It should also be prioritized over elaborate status reports. It's literally a few words on a banner. The current message is seriously downplaying the stakes and changing it should be a no-brainer.

Seriously, this is a big deal and it's urgent.
posted by M. at 9:50 PM on November 8, 2022 [10 favorites]


Even if we can't change the shape/style/implementation of the banner with current resources, we can at least change the text to something relating the urgency of the current situation, right?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:53 AM on November 9, 2022 [5 favorites]


I think (?) the banner has contained emoji before, so at minimum a new message with some klaxons might grab attention. (And social media messaging can also be done immediately.)
posted by trig at 1:09 AM on November 9, 2022 [3 favorites]


I stepped away from Metafilter for a few years - I don't know why. I've been back every day for a couple of months now and can't imagine not having it. I had been skipping the fundraising messages and shouldn't have been.

So, thanks for this. I needed prodding and have started to make amends.
posted by yamel at 5:08 AM on November 9, 2022 [2 favorites]


Response by poster: For those interested in participating or following along, a continuing conversation is occurring on MetaTalk.
posted by Violet Blue at 10:16 AM on November 9, 2022 [2 favorites]


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