The one guiding principle in my life is that I improve this world while I’m in it. I want to leave this place better than when I started, and that guiding principle has worked out pretty well for me when deciding what projects or jobs to work on. If I can’t find an angle that gives the world some net improvement, I move on.
MetaFilter played well into this. I started by just wanting to create a blog that brought people together. And at first, it was merely about interesting weird finds on the internet, but grew to really help people out with advice from others. Over sixteen years I’ve gotten to know thousands of friends, become informed about numerous issues from different perspectives, and spent years reacting and talking through difficult situations.
There were downsides of course. Elections brought out three years of pent-up rage every four years. There were death threats and physical threats and lawsuit threats that became background noise. Eventually there was so much stress, anxiety, and depression that I had to step away to save my sanity. And it has blossomed ever since thanks to the wonderful community and staff.
Despite any setbacks, it’s been a net good, and I wouldn’t trade a single minute of my time working on it.