MetaFilter is ten years old today. It feels both like a long time and it went by in a flash, if that's possible. I guess it's safe to say the first five years were an atrocious slog in terms of my life/work balance and how much energy and free time I put into it, while the last five years have gone quickly as I've gotten to work on it full time and have several people helping out.
I remember Chuck Olsen interviewing me for Blogumentary (it's not in the final cut of the movie). It was spring of 2003 and I'm at the lowest of low when we discuss MetaFilter. The site is sucking the life out of me as I'm trying to juggle running MetaFilter on my own along with a full time day job, a marriage, the expense of living in the Bay Area while at the same time trying to save up for a move to Oregon and a house. My world was crumbling as I was doing a mediocre job at everything while still devoting hours everyday trying to keep things civil at MetaFilter. I talked to a couple people that had had some internet success, asking them what they'd do if they were in my shoes, but I didn't get any good answers. Thankfully, I just kept my head down and slogged through a bad year.
Late that year I set up Ask MetaFilter after repeated requests for a Q&A forum. Early on I could tell it was special and could lead to something great. Normally online communities sort of start out, get good, then slide downward into oblivion. Ask MetaFilter renewed my faith in the community I helped build and I felt like it reset whatever downward slide had taken place in the previous year or so.
Today, the site is bustling, doing an insane amount of traffic (mostly due to Ask MeFi). Four other people work on the site along with me. The front page of MetaFilter continues to be a wonderful mish-mash of interesting things on the web and Ask MetaFilter astounds me everyday with the great questions and answers about stuff I've often wondered about. My life is richer for having built it and having ran it and (especially) having read it for all these years.
I noticed a lot of people on twitter are thanking me personally, but I'd rather thank the people that got MetaFilter to where it is today. Every one of the thousands of account holders have contributed things both big and small to the site and its culture and without them the site simply wouldn't exist so I'd like to thank anyone that has ever joined the site, posted a comment, posted a question, attended a meetup, or even simply read the site as an outsider.
The site could not continue without the incredible staff working behind the scenes. Jessamyn became the first employee on the site when I noticed she was doing a better job of explaining the site than I was. I'm thankful for her balanced moderation that helped mold all the sites into wonderful places to hang out. I couldn't keep up with both the endless parade of new feature requests as well as the constant site maintenance and thankfully I soon got a ton of help from Paul. His work is amazing but even more so when you consider the site spits out roughly 18 million pages to 9 million people a month using ColdFusion and just three servers (one web server, one database server, and one just for images and other static files). Paul has re-engineered the entire codebase to the point where I can barely understand what makes some features on the site actually function. Josh became the third employee when he, like Jessamyn, was doing a better job than me explaining things on the site but he was also doing it faster than I ever could. Josh also alleviates the monster workload Jessamyn and I were working under trying to moderate a hundred new threads and a few thousand comments that were added daily. Eventually we realized since we're all in the USA, the time we sleep became a problem and thankfully vacapinta stepped in from Europe to save our butts many, many times at 3am our time.
Many others have helped along the way. My first real web job at UCLA was cool enough that the director let us run hobby sites on our own hardware under our desks. When I left to join Pyra, Ev and Meg let me run the server under my desk there as well. When I left in 2001, Jason Levine stepped in and graciously shared his personal home bandwidth and closet space to house the server at not just one but two apartments on the east coast.
Over the years I've met thousands of MetaFilter members at organized MeFi meetups, at technical conferences, and sometimes just walking down the street. Often I was surprised by this and given my introverted personality, I usually never know what to say to members I meet randomly, but I do want to say from the bottom of my heart I thank you for helping make the site more amazing every day.
This weekend we're celebrating the site's 10th anniversary at one of almost seventy places on Earth's seven continents. There will be thousands of people celebrating and I hope anyone that has ever been a part of the site can join in.