Almost certainly in a link from Boing Boing, back in the misty dawn. I read both sites initially simply to find great things online. This they delivered, and the links led me into a sticky web of many fine blogs. MetaFilter became hard to join right when I really started wanting to participate. I got my own damn blog, but then I got into MeFi as well, back in 2002 when a handful of people were let in for free every day but Matt was also starting to allow $5 sign-ups. I had my $5 all ready but good luck and timing were with me and I didn't have to pay it.
I'd pay a lot more than $5 for what I've gotten out of MetaFilter. Don't tell anybody.
It's Made of People!
My first meetup (followup), where names in phosphor (we used phosphor back then, kids!) became flesh-and-blood people. It's not that I didn't know this before, but I still think it began to change the way I read things online, especially here at MetaFilter. Perhaps it stimulated the empathy part of my brain (and if there's anything the Internet could use a little more of, it's empathy). This is probably part of why MetaFilter feels a little more real to me. And when I go back to that first meetup thread I see that nearly every name has a little star next to it. You were my first MeFi stars, people!
By the way, the links to my photos were all broken. Now they're not. I did this for you, dear readers!