Colin Marshall sits down in Portland’s Slabtown with Matt Haughey, founder of MetaFilter, the most civilized community on the internet, co-founder of Fuelly, and creator of several other sites as well. They discuss his escape from San Francisco’s “goofball startup culture”; what it means for MetaFilter to be “civilized”; his desire not simply to create “a safe place for people to yell past each other”; the importance of keeping personal identity out of debates; the strange backend provided by MetaFilter’s question-and-answer service Ask MetaFilter; the second-most popular Ask MetaFilter thread of all time, Colin’s own “What in life did it take you a surprisingly long time to realize you’ve been doing wrong all along?“; the strange popularity of questions about how to talk to girls, relate humanity, and/or live life, also known as the “forever alone” series; what it takes to become one of MetaFilter’s ten worst users, drunk on power or stupidity; the hyperarticulate sourness that makes bad comments on MetaFilter especially bad, and how it leads to users pre-emptively armor-plate their sentences; Portland as a setting for the simple life, but also the good one; advertising’s domination of internet business models, and the bite mobile browsing even now takes out of that; who’s actually clicking those ads that ostensibly support everything; the benefits of living down the long tail, and of executing difficult-to-describe ideas that are therefore difficult to replicate; where to shut yourself off from the net in Portland, be it on a bike or at a food cart; and how a Portlander can possibly react to a kid on a unicycle, in a Utilikilt, playing a bagpipe, topped with a Darth Vader helmet.
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