I want to be able to write a good FPP May 24, 2006 6:11 AM   Subscribe

I want to be able to write a good FPP (reposted from AskMeFi)
posted by talitha_kumi to Etiquette/Policy at 6:11 AM (84 comments total)

You've been reading for (at least) a year and a half and you still can't figure it out? Maybe you should give up.
posted by rxrfrx at 6:12 AM on May 24, 2006


I read a whole bunch of stuff on the web nearly every day, and a lot of the time I feel like other people might enjoy or appreciate reading the same stuff. That's pretty much the whole ethos behind MetaFilter in the first place. But I never seem to be able to make the connection between thinking "This is a good article. They'd enjoy this" and actually putting together something that might pass muster as an entry on my LiveJournal or even (the holy grail itself) as a MeFi FPP. So how do I make myself make this jump? I suppose in particular, how do I go about crafting a good FPP for MeFi? I've read enough pile-ons to know that a single-link FPP is almost never a good idea, and a bunch of links without any kind of editorial link between them is also frowned on. And a deeply editorialised screed on a hobby horse is less attractive still. But how can I take a middle course between these pitfalls without getting tied up in knots about what people will and wont find interesting?

And how can I get my brain to stop reading the next article before I've sat down and done something with the one I just finished? It's like I've got ADHD, but only in my online persona.

And just as an aside, this article by Shirky was what I was reading when I started thinking this time about writing an FPP and got scared off. I have no idea where I could develop this past that single link.
posted by talitha_kumi at 6:12 AM on May 24, 2006


rxrfrx, assume I'm a slow learner, ok? I joined MeFi as a lurker / reader, and never really intended to start posting. But I was hoping to start participating in a more meaningful way. I'm sorry if that offends you.
posted by talitha_kumi at 6:13 AM on May 24, 2006


What you do, see, is find a link that is interesting, write a sentence about it, and post it. Sometimes you don't even need to write a sentence about the link. Also, sometimes, you can post several links at one go; they should be related, but you can be creative.
posted by chunking express at 6:35 AM on May 24, 2006


As I said before, just post single links, there is nothing wrong with them. I'd rather a single cool link than an essay.
posted by Orange Goblin at 6:37 AM on May 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


I've read enough pile-ons to know that a single-link FPP is almost never a good idea

The only people who pile-on single link posts on the sole basis that they have a single link haven't been reading or participating here very long, I suspect.

I think you're worrying too much. (Though I know the feeling, hence in part the pathetically sparse posting history you'll see upon clicking my username.)

Practice makes perfect, they say - if you get stuck in, maybe you'll catch some flack or get a post deleted, but it might be easier to learn by posting than by reading. I really wouldn't be surprised if there were users here known for consistently making great posts who started off with a few duds. Anyway, best of luck!
posted by jack_mo at 6:57 AM on May 24, 2006


"I've read enough pile-ons to know that a single-link FPP is almost never a good idea"

Single link posts are by far superior to the link-vomiting dissertation posts that a vocal minority here seem to like. MetaFilter is about the link. If you have a good link you don't need to dress it up in fancy ribbons and bows, and you don't need to punch it up with some wizzo ad copy.

A good link is a good link and people who think otherwise are wrong.

I would suggest just making sure you have the thick skin for it and then posting however you want. There is no best way. And finding a way that's right for you is better than trying to please this rabble.
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:19 AM on May 24, 2006


talitha_kumi writes "how do I go about crafting a good FPP for MeFi?"

Find something cool that preferably hasn't been posted everywhere. Avoid hot button and hobbyhorse topics unless they really are bringing new angles. A single link can be the best of the web. Don't editorialize. Be clear and concise and let people know why they should bother clicking.

I note the piece (about social software) you were reading is 3 years old. I didn't read it but that would suggest off the bat to me that it is unlikely to be a whizz bang post - just a feeling. I don't know the subject but you could use it as a basis to go searching for up to date/excellent material. I'm not saying do it or don't do it - it's only of passing interest to me.

It is true in a way that you have to just post to find out. You can't predict the reception. I've been amazed and mystified in good and bad ways by reactions. But the essence remains: is it a cool thing?* and if so then post it.

*Are you really really sure the linked material is cool? (always bears repeating...........but if you really need to ask yourself twice, then maybe it isn't front page cool)
posted by peacay at 7:29 AM on May 24, 2006


Please find a single fascinating thing to link to and do just that. There are at most two MeFites that regularly do the essay thing and do it well. The rest of them are just boring editorialized nonsense.

If you post a single link to a fascinating thing, less than 20 people will post "Thanks, talitha_kumi!" and you'll know you've done something right. If the comments in your post are full of opinions about the topic, and not the site you linked to, you'll know you've failed.

Just my opinion, of course.
posted by dobbs at 7:54 AM on May 24, 2006


I've read enough pile-ons to know that a single-link FPP is almost never a good idea

No, no, no, no, that's not true at all, and frankly I don't know anyone who espouses this idea. I think the misperception arises because single-link posts to an op-ed, or single-link posts to a news story appearing on the front page of a major news source are bad. When this happens, people go in and criticize the "single-link post," but actually they're just using "single-link post" as a shorthand for "single-link post to an op-ed" or "single-link post to a news story appearing on the front page of a major news source." But then some people don't realize they're using that shorthand and get the perception that all single-link posts are considered bad.

One thing to keep in mind, that new posters sometimes forget, is that discussion is secondary on the blue. The discussion is an important part of what makes MeFi what it is, but it is less important than the link(s) itself. Before posting, ask yourself, "would this be a good post even if people couldn't discuss it?" If the answer is no, don't post it.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:55 AM on May 24, 2006


why hasn't anyone mentioned crunchland's essay on this very topic, yet? or the faq? or the wiki? why is this thread open?
posted by shmegegge at 8:00 AM on May 24, 2006


There is no such thing as a good FPP. There are people that will love it, and people that will hate it. Just post the FPP and let it go. Pile-on? Who gives a shit? As long as you don't self-link or do something horrendous, you won't be banned. Which means you get to try again. And again.

That which doesn't kill you, theoretically, should make you stronger. Of course, if you let it get to you and get caught up in MeFi drama, it's just as likely to turn you into a bitter husk of a droid whose self-importance is tied to the size of your user number and how many comments your FPP can garner.
posted by Eideteker at 8:13 AM on May 24, 2006


People who criticize single link posts are attempting to compensate for umm.. you know... that thing... the one time... in the place... with that guy.... You remember, don't you?
posted by blue_beetle at 8:35 AM on May 24, 2006


There is no such thing as a good FPP. There are people that will love it, and people that will hate it. Just post the FPP and let it go. Pile-on? Who gives a shit?

Well said, except maybe the "who gives a shit" part. Some of us don't like being piled on. But that's the name-of-the-game around here. If you want to post, you have to be thick skinned enough to put up with a certain about of abuse. Put another way: you can't please everybody.

Which is not to say the suggestions here are bad. You can get a general sense of what MOST people here think and go by those rules. You'll still piss SOMEONE off -- that's inevitable -- but the pile will be a small pile.

Oh, and don't make my mistake and post a FPP with NO links. I'd been hanging out on AskMe for too long and forgot that MeFi played by different rules.
posted by grumblebee at 8:55 AM on May 24, 2006


I think that link would make a fine FPP all by itself. The good multi-link FPP's tend to fall into 2 categories:
  • Clarifying links about the main link, usually with more info about the author (if he/she isn't widely known outside their field, yet are interesting/important in-and-of themselves, or topically relevant) or subject (ditto).
  • Posts about an idea that the poster happens to know something about, or is currently researching for some reason or another. Often the "main" link is notably only for its relevance to the topic, not the quality of the link itself.
The latter style of post is typically the most problematic, and IMO the direct opposite of the classic MeFi gestalt of, "here's an interesting link I found, check it out". When it's done right, it's great, but you also wind up with the hobby-horse posts that people find annoying. Or Wikipedia links because the poster felt the need to "pad out" a post.
posted by mkultra at 8:56 AM on May 24, 2006


Oh, one more:
  • Posts by y2karl. Love 'em or hate 'em, they're in a league of their own.
posted by mkultra at 9:03 AM on May 24, 2006



I've read enough pile-ons to know that


usually, people who participate in pile-ons don't know shit about constructing an interesting fpp and their lame or non-existent posting history proves it. ignore them, just follow the example of users you think are doing a good job. pile-ons don't mean shit, a lot of great posts are single links. consider the example of madamjujujive, who's arguably one of the best posters if not the best poster around here -- so many of her posts are single links. so what? you sound like a smart person, take a crack at a fpp, and fuck the peanut gallery
posted by matteo at 9:26 AM on May 24, 2006


Make sure to make your FPP using different links in every single letter. Those aren't annoying.
posted by ninjew at 9:44 AM on May 24, 2006


MetaFilter is about the link.

No, delicio.us is about the link. MeFi is about ideas and discussion. I wouldn't visit at all if it were just to look at a page of links.
posted by Miko at 9:55 AM on May 24, 2006


no, we've had this discussion before. mefi is about the link. the discussion is important, but secondary.
posted by shmegegge at 9:59 AM on May 24, 2006


no, we've had this discussion before. mefi is about the link. the discussion is important, but secondary.

I haven't had the discussion before, and I disagree anyway.
posted by Miko at 10:00 AM on May 24, 2006


we means metafilter, and you're free to disagree.
posted by shmegegge at 10:01 AM on May 24, 2006


MeFi is about ideas and discussion.

Ack! Absolutely not.
posted by dobbs at 10:02 AM on May 24, 2006


If MetaFilter is a "we", then there's really no definitive answer to this, only collected individual opinions, of which mine is as valid as anyone's.

The link is important in presenting a topic for discussion. But if the link were all-important, and discussion were secondary, comments would be disabled.
posted by Miko at 10:04 AM on May 24, 2006


no, if the discussion were all important, then you wouldn't need to have a link on an fpp to the blue, which you do.
posted by shmegegge at 10:05 AM on May 24, 2006


Miko writes "But if the link were all-important, and discussion were secondary, comments would be disabled."

That does not logic follow.
posted by peacay at 10:07 AM on May 24, 2006


The link is the means by which a discussion begins.
posted by Miko at 10:15 AM on May 24, 2006


the discussion, like the site, is all about the link.
posted by shmegegge at 10:16 AM on May 24, 2006


Whatever. I have a feeling this thread is about to get even more boring than it already is, so I'll end with this.

MetaFilter works pretty well by providing a platform for people with my orientation (toward topic-based discussion and intellectual community) and people of your orientation (toward finding stuff on the web and linking to it) to interact, using a link as a starting point for a discussion in much the way a historian uses a material culture object. Link and discussion are equally important to the project design. Without one or without the other, you simply don't have MetaFilter. There's really no need for further argument.
posted by Miko at 10:19 AM on May 24, 2006


the discussion, like the site, is all about the link.

You must be reading a different MetaFilter than I am!
posted by Miko at 10:19 AM on May 24, 2006


Whatever. I have a feeling this thread is about to get even more boring than it already is, so I'll end with this.

don't forget to take your snot with you.

also, nobody said we should eliminate discussion from the site. i'm not even sure you know what you're trying to argue for anymore, but discussion IS secondary to link around here.
posted by shmegegge at 10:23 AM on May 24, 2006


Kids, the playground is big enough for both of you.
posted by mkultra at 11:00 AM on May 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


you sound like a smart person, take a crack at a fpp, and fuck the peanut gallery

That sums up my feelings pretty well.
posted by bardic at 11:10 AM on May 24, 2006


but discussion IS secondary to link around here.

I'd almost go so far as to say that the fewer the comments, the better the post.
posted by jack_mo at 11:13 AM on May 24, 2006


Here's my recipe: find something interesting, copy the part where they explain what it is, paste this into the "post" box along with a link to the site. Simple.
posted by signal at 11:13 AM on May 24, 2006


I'd almost go so far as to say that the fewer the comments, the better the post.

i don't think it's a causal relationship, but I have noticed this correllation myself. kind of a shame how few comments the really interesting stuff around here gets, sometimes.
posted by shmegegge at 11:16 AM on May 24, 2006


but discussion IS secondary to link around here

Like all worn-out mantras, this simply isn't true any longer, IMO. There are plenty of sites that do links, but mefi's reputation is built on the (generally) strong quality of discussion threads (I mean, people use capital letters around here--that's a qualitative jump from most sites). If the "links > discussion" thing is needed as a motivating illusion for people to continue to post, contribute, and visit, it doesn't bother me, but let's face facts.

From a negative angle, why is it that flame-wars and flame-outs get so much attention? There are people who live to read and/or actively participate in them. That's not so much to condone anyone's behavior as to say that "Best of the Web" has been meaningless since around 2002. "Things Someone Has Found and Put into an Interesting Context Worthy of Some Discussion" would be more accurate, but less catchy and membership-worthy, I realize.
posted by bardic at 11:42 AM on May 24, 2006


I think the take-away message of this thread is that you won't get MeFi'ites to agree on basically anything, so if you have something interesting which hasn't been posted before, just post it (assuming it doesn't break any guidelines, like self-linking).

If you know of (or find) background links that will make the reader get more out of the link, all the better. Also, maybe mention enough of what the link is about that readers will know whether they want to read it or not.

But then, I only have one FPP under my belt, so take my advice for what it's worth.
posted by JMOZ at 11:43 AM on May 24, 2006


yeah, but those discussion threads are based on links. it starts there, and while you can have an undiscussed link stay on the blue, we don't tend to let unlinked discussion threads stay on the blue. again: discussion is important, but links are mandatory.
posted by shmegegge at 11:44 AM on May 24, 2006


(Anecdotally, take a look at today's sidebar. While I realize that axme is based around comment threads, most of the world equates the green with mefi as much as it does the blue, if not moreso. From the sidebar: "this comment is essential reading," "Fired blogger comments on the MeFi post about her situation," "Today I called Verizon customer support to protest my information being divulged to the NSA," (from the comment thread, not in the FPP)," etc.

If you don't agree with me that discussion > FPP's, your beef might be with Matthowie, since that's explicity how me markets mefi these days (and it makes perfect sense to me).
posted by bardic at 11:50 AM on May 24, 2006


first me=he

Dr. Freud being paged as I type...
posted by bardic at 11:52 AM on May 24, 2006


i'm not following your logic, here.

1. the sidebar is decided on by mathowie. occasionally, he takes suggestions in meta for it, but it's largely just him, not the world that the sidebar is emblematic of.

2. yes, he is marketing mefi as askme primarily, with the rest thrown in, but askme is most assuredly NOT about discussion. it's supposed to be for answers to questions. we've been arguing about discussions place in askme in the chatfilte threads, actually.

so I'm not seeing the connection between askme's popularity and the importance of discussion, here.
posted by shmegegge at 12:11 PM on May 24, 2006


metatalk, though, is for my typos. that is where i keep them.
posted by shmegegge at 12:12 PM on May 24, 2006


Don't feel obligated to make a post to "give back" or whatever, wait until you have something really, really cool that has not been widely posted elsewhere. It is OK to participate in discussions and never make an FPP. Don't post about politics or current events--if CNN is covering it, we don't need it here again. Use standard spelling and grammar, including capital letters where appropriate. And remember that you don't own the thread. Once the post is up, the discussion will go off in a direction you did not expect, so don't try to moderate your own thread.

And never start a MetaTalk thread. You will be piled upon in no time flat, unless you luck out and the commenters begin attacking each other.
posted by LarryC at 12:17 PM on May 24, 2006


most of the world equates the green with mefi as much as it does the blue, if not moreso.

If true, I find that rather saddening, to be honest.

Of course, AskMe is a very useful thing. But so are glove boxes. And AskMe is definitely the glove box in the roaring sports coupé that is MetaFilter proper.
posted by jack_mo at 12:30 PM on May 24, 2006


Two of my three "anecdotal" pieces of evidence re: why "It's about the links" is an empty platitude come from comments made in discussion on the blue. And I agree with matt, they're good comments, and the sort of thing that would catch my attention and make me want to come back here and eventually become a member. By my logic, the sidebar represents the "best of mefi" for someone coming here for the first time--maybe "marketing" is too clinical a term, but that's what it is, and seemingly, the best of mefi tends to be about user comments made in the green (where that's sort of the point) and, these days, in the blue, despite the cherished canard that "it's all about the links, not the discussion." If anything, that's a postive testament to the quality of members here, and it should be recognized, if not officially, at least in the sense that "Best of the Web" means something very different than it did in 1999. (And I think that's a good thing myself, but I think many here, especially more established members, would disagree.)
posted by bardic at 12:34 PM on May 24, 2006


Just post something that interests you. Ignore the haters. Only very rarely will you make a post that doesn't cause some knee-jerk to chime his petty little opinion in. And the worst that can happen is that Matt or Jess will delete it, and you can try again tomorrow.
posted by crunchland at 12:37 PM on May 24, 2006


I wish when people said things Metafilter IS this and Metafilter IS that, they'd explain what they mean:

1) It's Matt's site, and he's clearly stated how he wants things done, and I'm a believer in following the site-owner's rules.

2) This is how the majority of people want Metafilter to be.

3) This is how the most vocal people want Metafilter to be.

4) By observing the site, I've be able to determine that this is how the site works.

5) This is how I WANT the site to be.

6) If people would follow these rules, the site would work better (and by work better, I mean...?)

Several people here would benefit if they spent a year writing in e-prime.
posted by grumblebee at 12:45 PM on May 24, 2006


By observing the site, I've be able to determine that this is how the site works.

isn't "metafilter is all about [x]" another way of saying this? must we explicitly state that we base our beliefs on observance of the site every time we make said observance?
posted by shmegegge at 12:50 PM on May 24, 2006


I don't know, shmegegge, is it? I suspect people mean different things when they make "is" statements about Metafilter, and some of the arguments stem from conflicting ideas about what such statements mean.
posted by grumblebee at 12:52 PM on May 24, 2006


I love the fact that the author of that Wikipedia article on E-Prime wrote it in E-Prime.
posted by staggernation at 2:10 PM on May 24, 2006


Well, almost:

E-Prime, short for English Prime, --> IS < --/strong> a modification of the English language that prohibits the use of the verb "to be" in all its forms.
posted by grumblebee at 3:22 PM on May 24, 2006


Oops: meant to point out the use of the word "is" in the first sentence of the article, but I stupidly used arrows made from dashes and greater/less-than signs. And that caused all sorts of HTML weirdness. Sorry.
posted by grumblebee at 3:24 PM on May 24, 2006


DevilsAdvocate gets it exactly right; it's the single links to mainstream news stories/op-eds that are the problem. Single links to cool sites are one of the throbbing hearts of mefi.
posted by mediareport at 3:47 PM on May 24, 2006


I suspect people mean different things when they make "is" statements about Metafilter, and some of the arguments stem from conflicting ideas about what such statements mean.

fair enough.
posted by shmegegge at 8:43 PM on May 24, 2006


You can't win. Half the people here are going to say "Post X." The other half are going to say "Make sure your post does not contain anything resembling X."

Just find something you like, if you feel like it needs more than one link - include as many as you feel will get others excited about the subject.

Then sit back and watch the chaos ensue.

In short, I agree with crunchland:
Just post something that interests you. Ignore the haters. Only very rarely will you make a post that doesn't cause some knee-jerk to chime his petty little opinion in. And the worst that can happen is that Matt or Jess will delete it, and you can try again tomorrow.

BTW, crunchland's profile contains a really good FPP writing guide. I think most of us can even agree on that.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:09 PM on May 24, 2006


Ok, so I bit the bullet and wrote my first FPP on the glycemic index, which is a subject that currently interests me. Did I mess up too badly? How could I have improved it?
posted by talitha_kumi at 2:25 AM on May 25, 2006


Too long. If you find yourself making paragraph breaks, you should put some of it inside. Other than that, it seems fine to me.
posted by languagehat at 5:27 AM on May 25, 2006


I agree with languagehat that it could have used a "more inside," but it's not like it's a failure because of that or anything.

most importantly (pot calling kettle in 3... 2... 1...) remember that any skill, even posting skills, require practice to develop well. don't worry so much about whether something will be a good fpp. just make sure you don't break the guidelines and post away. if there's a problem, people will let you know. let the snark roll off your back, learn whatever lesson you take away from the experience and keep posting.

otherwise, fine post. keep it up.
posted by shmegegge at 6:05 AM on May 25, 2006


The other thread - 11847 - is still open, but might as well turn on the lights here, get the wifi working.
posted by Cranberry at 11:20 AM on June 9, 2006


Whoa, who turned on that bright light? And where am I? And what am I doing in this shopping cart? I think I fell asleep at a birthday party in 11847. I had this amazing dream about a giant room filled with giant sugarcubes . . .

And now I'm here. Oh well. We seemed to be confusing the locals in 11847:

Uh, aside from all that, what's up with the mefiswap?
posted by whir at 1:08 PM PST on June 8 [+fave] [!]

posted by Nice Donkey at 2:49 PM on June 10, 2006


Okay, I turned off the ceiling light ( the cat hated it) and put a few table lamps on. Better?
I feel kinda bad about whir. He must think he fell into a parallel universe. I considered advising him to email someone, but thought he could figure that out for himself.
posted by Cranberry at 12:40 AM on June 11, 2006


So what's up with Omni, the Noob posting all those panda pics anyway? I mean, he thinks he can just "make up" the panda meme? wtf.
posted by If I Had An Anus at 1:01 PM on June 11, 2006


I want to be able to write a good FPP reposted from Assparade.
posted by If I Had An Anus at 1:03 PM on June 11, 2006


Omni? A mefite named OmniWise should know enough to post pictures of whatever pleases him.

Roses are red,
FPPs are blue,
Pandas are black and white,
Maybe OmieWise is too.
posted by Cranberry at 1:44 PM on June 11, 2006




Wow, IIHAA, I kind of liked liver before I looked at that picture. I think I just became a vegetarian.
posted by Nice Donkey at 12:58 PM on June 12, 2006


According to Jennifer, it smells as bad as it looks.
Tender? It doesn't look tender.
posted by Cranberry at 3:22 PM on June 12, 2006


Jennifer would know. I trust Jennifer.
posted by Nice Donkey at 9:44 PM on June 14, 2006


Jennifer is ok, but I prefer Daisy because she won't tell.
posted by Cranberry at 2:57 PM on June 15, 2006


Yeah, but Daisy pulled my hair once. I like Emily better. She has a snow cone machine.
posted by Nice Donkey at 10:23 PM on June 15, 2006


Emily isok, I guess, but she uses all artificial flavorings instead of free range.
I see Daisy go into the Hairpullers Anonymous meetings - the group meets in my buliding. I will tell the moderator that Daisy has not reformed.
posted by Cranberry at 11:07 AM on June 16, 2006


Oh, Daisy goes to HA now? Maybe we can be friends again, after she gets her 30-day chip.
posted by Nice Donkey at 7:26 PM on June 16, 2006


Goodness, Nice, you and Google seem to know a lot about addiction. I had never heard of the 30 day chip, but I wish Daisy well.

Do you think she is getting revenge for "He loves me, he loves me not"?
posted by Cranberry at 11:01 PM on June 16, 2006


Oh, my, yes! Poor Daisy! She's put up with a lifetime of persecution from people wondering if they are loved. I hereby proclaim today International Daisy Appreciation Day!


posted by Nice Donkey at 1:51 PM on June 17, 2006


There were daisies among the table flowers at a dinner I went to Saturday night. Out of respect for your declaration of IDAD and Daisy's compulsion, I did not pull off a single petal.
posted by Cranberry at 1:08 AM on June 18, 2006




Alas, poor Daisy. Technology has made her redundant. She joins the buggy whip and the mimeograph on the dusty shelves of history.
posted by Cranberry at 12:36 PM on June 19, 2006


Wow. Even more reason for IDAD! Have you appreciated your daisy today?
posted by Nice Donkey at 9:22 PM on June 20, 2006


Well, I might if it is not a Shasta - they stink.
posted by Cranberry at 9:42 PM on June 20, 2006



posted by If I Had An Anus at 5:42 AM on June 22, 2006


Exterminator Academy, Roach and Rat 101

Speaking of exterminating - this thread will close in a day or two.

Is anyone interested in going on to ?
posted by Cranberry at 12:27 AM on June 23, 2006



posted by Nice Donkey at 11:45 PM on June 23, 2006


And, yes, I am quite interested in the 12049 idea expressed in button-format above. The occupants of 12049 appear to have moved out long ago. What luck!
posted by Nice Donkey at 11:51 PM on June 23, 2006


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