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Metababy Lives. Long Live Metababy

Betamaybe 'Betamaybe' http://www.betamaybe.com/ (actually... that seems to be dead too!)

A PHP emulation of Metababy is located at http://www.evilzak.com/yakuzamcgee/

As of today, 12 Aug 2004 Metababy goes to Greg Knauss' index page. Metababy is dead. And bridna killed it.

14 Aug 04: Greg answered me on an email I sent him. "Check back in a week or so, and it'll be back up." -- MattisManzel




A combination of performance art and a web grafiti wall. A bit like a wiki (anyone is an editor), but... --- metababy.com IMO seems to be a spider-trap. there is nothing significant there. -- idknow


It's a RawHtmlWiki. No validation, no help.

There's no VersionHistory. Well, there's no history built into the site. RecordKeepers sometimes keep manual archives of pages they like, and repost them when they get deleted. DavidChess has a [metababy gallery] with copies of favourite pages of the past. This gives (and completely fails to give) some flavor of Metababy, without the danger of goatse images, or everything having been deleted when you go to look at it.

Once upon a time you could email metababy@metababy.com, and the email would automatically become a page (at /MBv1/x, where x is the UNIX timestamp). Then that email address got picked up with spam harvesters, and signed up for various mailing lists, and for a while metababy was irredeemably spammed. Then the email address got disabled, and now it is mostly free of spam. And anything else, often enough.

The homepage is set to the last updated page. Sorta OneRecentChange. You can also see the 25 least and most recently changed pages, but have no idea what might have changed on them: no diffs, no prior versions.


Often none. Rarely as many as a hundred pages. Low value. Transient. When not deleted by hand, deleted by bots. Also flooded from time to time.



Do MetaBaby users communicate directly with each other? Does everyone remain completely anonymous?

The MetaBaby community was deep. People would spend months and months defending the site, often reposting deleted pages from archives they kept manually (RecordKeepers?), moderating each other by editing pages, and having long meta-discussions with each other. Some contributors were well-known, having build reputations, whereas the troublemakers were often newcomers who wreaked havoc because they could. MetaBaby had similar patterns of behaviour as a wiki, except it was a RawHtmlWiki with no in-built VersionHistory. Culturally they were more dadaist and completely unwilling to UseRealNames. However, due to the amount of power TheIndividual had over TheCollective, MetaBaby culture devolved into one of fighting to hold the gains instead of building. Every so often, the whole site would be erased. In a stoic resolve, people took the attitude that destruction was a good opportunity to rebuild, like a divine spring cleaning (although this was contravened by the RecordKeepers? who reposted material). As such, nothing of great value ever got posted onto MetaBaby--just small artworks--and cultural roots remained in CommunityLore rather in writing. This made MetaBaby even more fragile, but it's interesting that the same cultural patterns kept reemerging on MetaBaby even after people maintaining it got bored.

One noteworthy aspect of MetaBaby is that isn't not really possible to tell if a community is developing. Sometimes there are/were things that look like communication between people with a certain amount of shared background assumptions and CommonContext (as good a definition of community as I have in hand at the moment), but it's never possible to tell if that's what's actually going on, or if it's actually someone reposting some old discussion that happened years ago, or even years ago on another site, or if the most recent changer of the page has subtly altered some or all of the previous statements in the (apparent) discussion. Or, for that matter, if all parties of the apparent discussion are really the same person, having fun pretending to be multiple trolls (I know that happens because I've done it myself!). One standard MetaBaby meme is that only two people have ever posted to it ("you", and the person who posts everything that "you" don't post). See for instance [1]. Identity is similarly slippery; identities tend to be transient and sometimes functional; "the mass deleter" is whoever last erased the whole site. "The Phantom Fooker" is whoever adds "fook mah pook!" to various pages; whether or not that's actually the same person one month to the next isn't clear. Other characters (including "brenda", who tends to write within pre elements, and who uses the anime-style ^-^ smiley) have been (I suspect!) passed from person to person over the years.

Nothing of great value gets posted to MetaBaby. That's not really the point. The thing of value is MetaBaby itself, as a bundle of odd happenings and events that would not otherwise have occurred. It's a style of collaboration that isn't necessarily superior to any other, but that's certainly different.

Plotting a MilitaryCoup

idea (has this already been implemented? how would we know?): an AI that recognizes porn and deletes it from metababy (an AiThoughtPolice??; note that i don't think such a thing would be beneficial to wiki like entities that can survive without them, but obviously metababy cannot). a high error rate would be fine; a significant amount of annoyance to non-spammers would be worth getting many of the spammers to leave. i bet if 40% of porn was auto-deleted, the spammers would get somewhat discouraged. more importantly, (see FixBrokenWindows), a lower amount of spam might encourage the non-spammers.

here's another idea: put up a superstructure on another site that moderates metababy. specifically, all new pictues posted get auto-deleted by a robot and put into a queue where they don't get put back onto metababy until x number of distinct IP addrs approve.

this relies upon some assumptions:

  1) most metababy users who would visit the queue are benign
  2) spamming pictures is more tempting than spamming text

-- BayleShanks

Views from a longtime metababy user: You would impose your conceptualisations of "porn" and "obscenity" through the use of a software attack upon a site that no one made you visit anyway? What is it about freedom that frightens you? If you do not like metababy then, don't visit it. Why would you will to impose your sense of righteousness there? To quote Nietxsche [snip].

Interesting to see the strength of fear of such a coup, even if it is implicitly allowed by the nature of the site. But of course, the "bad guys" can make bots too. You'd just get an arms war between two bots.


Why is that interesting?

It shows what happens when absolute freedom is given without the BalancingForces of ReversibleChange, PeerReview, etc.

MetaBaby whoa! Can't we figure out something that things do not get lost anymore? Seems like it has been huge yet. Is all the stuff gone? How "programmable" is it? Making this work would be in fact the nicest piece of art and a real collective intelligent human "meta baby". I'd love to make it work! 050425 -- MattisManzel

Why do you think, it doesn't work?

In fact canceling things there till people start to talk to each other and collaborate is another fine piece of art and it seems to be of preparative importance for the firstmentioned one. I think it could work. It's a question of Zauber. <br>
Right now there are three pages on MetaBaby, one of them links here, the other two are spam. Almost nothing. It might have been hundreds of pages yet. Maybe these were all stoopid pages, and it's not really worth bothering, but I actually don't think so. Pretty likely there is less on it now than once. So yes, as a measureinstrument for Zauber Metababy works, sure. But that's not what I meant. I meant I'd like to make "people" "work". Just because you hear noise too it doesn't turn it into music. 040527 -- MattisManzel

You're thinking of MetaBaby in wiki terms, Mattis, and so it doesn't make much sense. Think of it as performance art: pages are made, modified, moved, deleted, combined... it's never the same. Sometimes it is at about a hundred pages, then the whole thing is wiped. That's the idea. -- StephenGilbert

Alright. Performance art you say. What about a MetaChild? - now that the sever doesn't make MetaBaby come up on my screen anymore? I wrote a mail to Greg today. No condolations and the best whishes for rebirth, but a simple "it's a pitty!". MetaBaby is a loss for wikilandiam I think. And: No, it is not dead! You can not see it anymore, it has no face anymore, it is buried, but it's not dead. Not yet. The energies in people, the memories on how it felt to people, when beeing free to publish freely in a raw and savage sourrounding, as a creature that you are in the jungle including all consequences of to kill and to be killed are still there. This felt great to people. They love it, they remember it, they still want it. It had two decisive aspects they loved about it (in order of importance):

 * A: They could switch it off whenever they wanted (F4, reboot, pull the plug)
 * B: They and everybody could behave in whatever way. 

It shouldn't be so difficult to recreate this situation.

A PHP emulation of Metababy is located at http://www.evilzak.com/yakuzamcgee/

someone should host it. Greg should put a redirect on the old metababy url. That's it.

I prepare a personal wiki on my box here, I made it (somehow) to install it. It works on localhost already. I have to solve a problem with the configuration of our router to get it online. My skills on networking, html and pretty all other relevant are nil or lousy. Me hosting it would take it beeing online for ten minutes until I run into unsolvable problems. For a good geek it wouldn't take that much time. And if money is a problem, let's coollect. I give 5 ? a year for Metababy to exist.

HelmutLeitner has just some days ago put up a raw html page om Gr├╝nderwiki to practize on. http://www.wikiservice.at/gruender/wiki.cgi?MattisManzel/HtmlTest. It's actually that, isn't it?

And here, just in this very moment an idea comes to my mind. I could ask Helmut, if Metabayby coul be continued there. Just as a fast emergency maybe until we find a better place. Metababy shall be reborn. Ci`ao fio'i!

Mattis, I call this a RetroWiki. Can you explain to me, why you are so excited about MetaBaby? -- HelmutLeitner

In '98 I first took a flight again since actually 12 years of not having traveled by airplane. It took me from Berlin to Amsterdam and further to Sao~ Paolo where a friend from Berlin picked me up. It was my first time abroad of Europe. We spend a night in the place of a friend of his in suburb and next day headed for the village on the atlantic ocean about 140 km ESE (East-South-East) of Sao~ Paolo where my friend was constructing a nice house these days (It's ready by now) and where I spent the following month before returning to Berlin. It took hours and hours to get out of the city. Gradually we left the huge traffic jam and took up speed and gradually the urban surroundung turned more and more rampant nature. The further we drove the less and the poorer the people seemed living in the housings along the highway until after some hours - it was getting dawn already -, we finally were surrounded by nothing but the rain-forest. I hung my head out of the car's window and smelled this completly unkown and completely familiar deep and old-as-water-is-old smell of this forest. We took a rest. The panorama couldm't have been amy differemt milions of years ago. The only thing that told of the existance of humans actually was the road, a dead apshalte stripe through a surface of sheer life. The last 5% of what is left of the atlantic tropical rain forrest that existed 10 years ago, still hundreds and hundreds of kilometers of it. The exchange of biomass, that is how fast materia turns part of a living oranismn which dies and returns back into a living organinsm in this forrest is with distance the highest existing on earth. You can cut off an 8 cm thick banana palm tree with one strike of a sharp facau, that's what bowie-knives are called in Brasilian. We did it. When you come back a day later the new sprout that comes out of the cut off banana tree trunk is already 25 cm longs. Metababy has a smell similar to this forrest. -- MattisManzel

So this is not the [new Metababy] page, but it shows that other places could be made fast for it. Helmut protected the page with a password. I expected this and I prefer it like that. Gr├╝nderwiki is used for something that is not better or worse than a rampant and savagely growing djungle, it's just that you wouldn't like an uncontrolled cubic meter of it your working room. Greg obviously did not give up MetaBaby. He mailed me back (see on top of this page). He wants to code something to protect MetaBaby from the deleting robots. I'll write him back and point him here - maybe we can find a solution together. My non-coders mind thinks of something as the will for life. All organism have such a will. During the lifetime of an organism this will for life transforms and goes through different stages, eventually it deminishes until the organismn dies. But when being born, when sprouting all organismns are loaded with this will for life. A simple way to plant it into Metababy would be to say: Metababy can grow, you can create new pages whenever, but to delete a page you first have to create a new one. Not the solution as stiff and predefined. The users of metababy should define its will of life simply by using metababy. Something like that, know? Creating life sometimes can be really frustrating and tiresome. ;) -- MattisManzel

I wonder how can we prevent deletion robots to destroy things on Metababy? -- MattisManzel

Should be simple. Just create a jungle. Any deletion or change just transfers the old content to a new page (random name). There is no fixed access point, the script always chooses a random page. Any page holds in its frame a fixed number (lets say 5) of links to other pages, but one if it (chosen randomly) is changed on any access. An IP that deletes (not really) a page is blocked for three days. This should create a jungle of spreading and overwhelming life. If you like, add an genetic algorithm that seeks for save splitting points within the HTML code and splits and joins pages randomly. -- HelmutLeitner


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