It's not as simple as it sounds, really. Because the truth is, I discovered and rediscovered MetaFilter repeatedly over several years. I couldn't say when I first noticed that I'd discovered you, because to a certain extent, it just felt like you were always there. There in the top ten search results for whatever arcane subject I'd fixated upon. There in my favorite bloggers' lists of favorite sites. There on the other end of a link in my email inbox from some geeky friend who just had to share this amazing new thing they'd discovered. There, and there, and there, behind every virtual corner. Inevitably, almost dismayingly often, there you'd be, chatting away. Scientists, mathematicians, technonauts. Artists and authors. And celebritants, both minor and major. Every stripe, color, political, biological, and bio-mechanical configuration. Experts and amateur enthusiasts on any given subject rubbing eLbows with skeptics and 10th degree ninja snarkers. Which would have been enough, frankly. An embarrassment of riches for any other site. But the real richness of MetaFilter - what truly makes the site stand out as a damned good resource - is the depth of the bench. The people. Thousands of voices and experiences and perspectives from around the globe (and possibly some from the hollow core), dropping wisdom and bon mots with almost violent abandon. Good, smart people, eager to share. For a certain type of mind, MetaFilter is a pure HeadOn speedball of data: apply directly to the forebrain. First hit is five dollars (SAIT). I always wound up lingering no matter what had brought me at the time. Then came the lurking. Then, magically, perhaps even foolishly, you let me in the door. The rest is a matter of public record, and will almost certainly someday be subpoenaed into evidence. But I've said too much. Again.
Putting the Me in MetaFilter
If it was the fire hose of information that blew me in, it was the Humanity at the heart of this place that truly made me a MeFite. And that heart was there by design. Design, and careful, sometimes painful, often tedious, nurturing. Thank you, Matt, for your heart, and for the foresight to trust your community with it just enough. For seeding MetaFilter with a virtual version of that heart. Thank you Jessamyn and Josh for tending the seed so diligently (and for sneaking into the MetaGarden late at night to plant virtual seeds of your overripe hearts). And thank you MeFites for your huge friggin' pile of huge friggin' hearts and for your tireless, virulent insistence that this community website is a Community first, damnit!, and last, and foremost. And it is that community that gave me all of my fondest memories of MetaFilter (of which I have many, but will represent with the following few).
Memories! You're talking about memories!
Despite my best efforts at keeping you all at arm's length, I have made a number of personal connections with MeFites, which, at the risk of being square and corny for a brief moment, I would like to acknowledge. Every one of you means a lot to me. That said, most of those connections have occurred behind the scenes, and can't be easily pointed to here. Instead, I'd like to point to four moments that moved me in especially strong and strange ways, and so can safely serve as placeholders for the many thousands of other instances when you all have amazed me. I say "strange" because the first two examples are not the most obviously poignant examples I can think of, but they meant a lot to me. So I guess I'm saying that these choices say something about me, too. And, yes - I'm saying (at least in part), that I am strange. Like that's news to anybody.
The Heart of the Mods
In which Jessamyn and Josh swear for charity (and I laugh until actual tears run down my IRL face, and my wife later wonders why the credit card is listing a payment to a food bank in Vermont)
In which the Mods read classic comics for an April Fool's Day podcast prank (and a very sick IRFH is so very grateful for the hilarity)
The Heart of the Sunrise
In which I am riveted to MetaFilter during Hurricane Katrina and the horrible aftermath (the TV gave me pictures, but the real story was here) In which my wife and I stay up all night watching reports on the earthquake and Tsunami in Japan (and even my wife is asking what they're saying about it on MetaFilter)
Thanks, MetaFilter. You people rock my world!