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MeTa wormholes?
March 28, 2007 12:10 AM   Subscribe

Ooh ooh- I've got an idea. Picture this- you open a thread (AskMe or MeFi), and at the top of the thread, there is a small note that says "This thread is currently being debated in MetaTalk.", with a link to the MeTa thread. This way, people have no excuse for taking a big steamy dump in threads. People posting MeTa complaints could fill in a field with the post ID, and some database magic could occur to link the two. Just floating this out there to see what others think.
posted by potch to Feature Requests at 12:10 AM (89 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I like this idea.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:18 AM on March 28, 2007


Me too. This might keep people from dumping in threads. Can we get a pair of animated gif eyeballs whenever admin's looking at a page?
posted by phaedon at 12:25 AM on March 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


This is a good idea.
posted by Rumple at 12:30 AM on March 28, 2007


Thirded. I think it's a good idea.

But.... NO GIFs! sorry.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:30 AM on March 28, 2007


Ooops. Turned out it was fourthed.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:31 AM on March 28, 2007


What happened to having an automatic meta discussion page for all posts? Wasn't that imminent once?
posted by cillit bang at 12:35 AM on March 28, 2007


What happened to having an automatic meta discussion page for all posts?

Now that strikes me as a bad idea.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:36 AM on March 28, 2007


Good idea.
posted by Wolof at 12:48 AM on March 28, 2007


Me too. This might keep people from dumping in threads. Can we get a pair of animated gif eyeballs whenever admin's looking at a page?
posted by phaedon at 12:25 AM on March 28


That could be interesting. Just which admin was looking would be indicated by the eye color. Those not chosen to admin would be indicated by green eyes.
posted by Cranberry at 12:56 AM on March 28, 2007


Similarly, it should be indicated when a Meta thread is being debated in another Meta thread, as sometimes happens.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 12:58 AM on March 28, 2007


Also, when a user has been called out, every page viewed by that user should indicate "YOU'VE BEEN CALLED OUT."
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 1:00 AM on March 28, 2007 [5 favorites]


Meta.
posted by item at 1:32 AM on March 28, 2007


This is only a good idea if thread-dumpers receive aggressive, no, spectacular administrative punishment for their transgressions. Otherwise, without severe hammering or sudden death in the offing, what's the point?
posted by cgc373 at 1:39 AM on March 28, 2007


Every page already has a :Talk page, just cli---oh wait, wrong site.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:16 AM on March 28, 2007


Wouldn't making callout threads too easy to find have a negative impact their high qualiHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHHHHHHHHHH coughcoughcough heartattack
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 2:42 AM on March 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


There's two problems that contribute to "thread dumping", one cultural and one both cultural and practical.

The first is the tradition of commenting in threads that are supposedly going to be deleted. Which is fine, I guess, if everybody guesses correctly and the thread is, in fact, deleted. Otherwise, it's unintentional thread dumping.

The second, and the reason I and others (I imagine) complain about the quality of a post in a thread is that very often there isn't a metatalk thread and I don't think the complaint warrants one. In my opinion, making a meta callout is the most serious thing one can do. But beneath that threshold there's still posts that don't belong. Secondly, only a minority read meta. Thirdly, there's flagging, and that usually should satisfy what otherwise is missing, but it doesn't always. Anyway, the rule is not to complain in the thread and everyone should follow it. I've had a hard time with it. It's just too tempting to complain about a shitty post.

Anyway, I think that this is a good idea. When a metatalk thread is made to complain about a post, a crosslink should be added to the post or somewhere that indicates the discussion. That would at the very least raise the awareness of meta and its purpose.

Making a meta or the equivalent for every thread is a bad idea, obviously.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:42 AM on March 28, 2007


I like this idea.
posted by sveskemus at 2:50 AM on March 28, 2007


item for the win.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:58 AM on March 28, 2007


People are always wanting to automate stuff that doesn't really need automating.

When starting a MeTa thread, we've been putting comments in the offending spot that say Metatalk with a link to that thread since forever. Works good, tastes great.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:25 AM on March 28, 2007


In my opinion, making a meta callout is the most serious thing one can do.

On one level, EB, I agree with you. But without taking a hypothetical stand on a hypothetically good or bad post, let's take the "grey area" maybe good, maybe bad post. I think part of the allure of subFilters is that they allow for the possibility of separating "positive or negative comments related to the post" from "positive or negative comments related to whether the material should have been posted in the first place".

Unfortunately, most threads that contain both of these kinds of conversation in the same page tend to bottom very quickly, and some even get deleted. Moderating posts is inevitably going to be easier than moderating threads. And I'd rather deal with the bottleneck of getting my post deleted than having my comments deleted. One could more easily be offended by that sort of pruning on the blue.
posted by phaedon at 3:55 AM on March 28, 2007


Look, a riot.
posted by buzzman at 3:57 AM on March 28, 2007


When starting a MeTa thread, we've been putting comments in the offending spot that say Metatalk with a link to that thread since forever. Works good, tastes great.

I think this is better because it will alert people that there is a MeTa thread before they begin reading the comments (assuming the automated message will go above the comments, of course).

Not everyone is going to read all the comments in a 100+ comment thread and notice a MeTa callout.
posted by sveskemus at 4:10 AM on March 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Not everyone is going to read all the comments in a 100+ comment thread and notice a MeTa callout.

Aye, good point.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:17 AM on March 28, 2007


I haven't even read all the comments in this thread!

I like this idea.
posted by OmieWise at 4:33 AM on March 28, 2007


People presently have no excuse for taking a big steamy dump in threads, yet they still do. What makes you think this will change anything?

(I think you've confused "there's a metatalk thread" with some sort of disciplinary action.)
posted by mendel at 4:36 AM on March 28, 2007


In my opinion, making a meta callout is the most serious thing one can do.

no, cutting off your hand is the most serious thing you can do
posted by pyramid termite at 4:43 AM on March 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Actually, I think you're missing the point of etiquette that's being raised. If there is some kind of "more prominent" way of indicating that a MeTa thread has been started in a blue thread, that will provide us snarkers with a means to criticize (and more importantly, redirect) individuals who continue to dump in that particular thread, when there is an explicit pointer to the MeTa thread up top. The collective looking down upon that takes place around here is about as effective as disciplinary action. And in any case, if the MeFi threads are patently abused by a particular user, yes, a means for possible disciplinary action.
posted by phaedon at 4:43 AM on March 28, 2007


Works good, tastes great.

stavros, you've been assaulting your taste buds with super-hot and spicy Korean food for too long to actually know what tastes great anymore! ;-)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:04 AM on March 28, 2007


If there were to be a notice, I don't think a top-of-page notice would be all that effective, or at least not significantly more so than the current [meta] comment method.

You want visibility where it matters? Throw it right on top of the comment widget. That's the one place people are pretty much guaranteed to see it—even if they didn't really read the thread, top or middle.

Mockup: warning.

Me too. This might keep people from dumping in threads. Can we get a pair of animated gif eyeballs whenever admin's looking at a page?

You realize, of course, that we'd just set up a script to randomly display The Eyes on way more threads than we're actually looking at an any given time? Panopticon, baby: you are being watched.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:32 AM on March 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I like this idea.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:55 AM on March 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


that will provide us snarkers with a means to criticize (and more importantly, redirect) individuals who continue to dump in that particular thread

Because, historically, those dumpers have really cared about this one bit, right?
posted by mendel at 5:58 AM on March 28, 2007


If the, "note: Ask MetaFilter is as useful as you make it. Please limit comments to answers or help in finding an answer. Wisecracks don't help people find answers. Thanks." notice doesn't help, why would this be any different? I mean, hell, people don't even read the question fully half the time. Do we really expect people to notice that or even care?
I also like things nice and simple looking and don't like the idea of adding new fluffy text.
posted by jmd82 at 5:59 AM on March 28, 2007


mmmmmm... fluffy!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:05 AM on March 28, 2007


It's almost as tasty as pancakes at midnite.
posted by jmd82 at 6:19 AM on March 28, 2007


The first is the tradition of commenting in threads that are supposedly going to be deleted. Which is fine, I guess, if everybody guesses correctly and the thread is, in fact, deleted. Otherwise, it's unintentional thread dumping.

Well you could also put up a warning if the thread has more than 10 flags or something:

"Warning: people think this thread sucks so don't get too invested in your comment."
posted by smackfu at 6:22 AM on March 28, 2007


Can the MeTa link indicator be this .gif? (http://www.jpilot.com/images/dwarf_male120x.gif)
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:28 AM on March 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


This is good.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:34 AM on March 28, 2007


This might get some more people seeing a MeTa thread and I guess that's a good thing (?!).

I once had a job of looking after the blood gas machines in a hospital - vital monitoring equipment for places like neonate intensive care and the operating theatre. These are hugely fragile bioelectrical systems measuring oxygen etc from arterial blood squirted in from a syringe. Result accuracy was vital as physicians would decide for instance if someone was brain dead etc etc.

The machines would break down periodically and require timeconsuming and risky maintenance which put a great strain on the rest of the biochem lab resources, not to mention putting people at risk because their tests were delayed.

Statistically speaking the greatest problems were caused by undertrained staff being overly zealous when introducing the specimens. Some of these problems could be reduced by giving talks to staff in each of the respective hospital areas. We would also rely upon the experienced staff in those wards to alert new staff to required practices. It had some effect, most noticeably with the more permanent staff who established their own good practices I guess.

Additionally I used to put signs on the machines themselves giving clear and basic instructions how to perform the tests. These signs worked well for a short time and then the incidence of machine problems would eventually start rising again. So I started making many signs. Colourful signs with stars and smileys. Signs with big lettering and with skull/crossbones and lots of exclamation marks on them. And I would rotate them so that no single sign stayed up on any single machine for more than a week. For the 6 months or so that I had this job, staff testing problems with the machines were reduced by about 50%. Success!

I only mention this because I think we all have our own stories about how the behaviour of people is almost never modified by the use of signs. Even in a place of the utmost importance it is nigh on impossible to get people to read them.

So I don't hold out any great hopes for less thread dumping by having a popup sign telling us when there is a MetaTalk thread. Or it will need more than a few exclamation points at any rate.
posted by peacay at 6:39 AM on March 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


Another thing that could be automated is having a sign that says:

"Unless stated otherwise in a specific comment, we are not doctors, lawyers, electricians, plumbers, copyright agents or truth commission researchers. If you didn't know that you have to take this problem to a specialist, you do now."
posted by micayetoca at 6:51 AM on March 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


You want visibility where it matters? Throw it right on top of the comment widget. That's the one place people are pretty much guaranteed to see it—even if they didn't really read the thread, top or middle.

You could always stick the text in the actual comment box. I know it adds an extra step to posting a real comment, but really it's only a matter of hitting Ctrl-A to select it before you start typing (I assume it's similarly easy on a Mac).
posted by teleskiving at 7:01 AM on March 28, 2007


The more text you add, the less likely people will read it. Have you seen the AskMe posting page lately? There so much bold and hilighted that it's easy to miss the originial guidelines.
posted by smackfu at 7:10 AM on March 28, 2007


I don't think this is really necessary, but if it's put in, I hope we use a word other than 'debated'. I really don't think metafilter is or should be a debate site.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:16 AM on March 28, 2007


the behaviour of people is almost never modified by the use of signs.

Sure, but this is more than a sign. It provides the means to follow the instructions as well as providing instructions. It alters the structure of the machine making it easier to not make mistakes; as such, it's more like changing the equipment so the staff can't jam in the samples as easily than it is like posting notices of good practices.
posted by carmen at 7:17 AM on March 28, 2007


Well, I guess Cortex's execution of the concept would be effective to a degree, but I think it might lead to over-use of MetaTalk callouts.

I'm concerned that some future member may turn out to be an attention hog/attention whore, and use this feature to drive traffic to the MeTa trainwreck, where he or she can properly flame the iniquitous, right wrongs, etc. There is no one like that here now, but there are such people on the internet, I am told.
posted by Mister_A at 7:44 AM on March 28, 2007


Here are but a few of the problems with this suggestion:

1. Usually thread dumping occurs before a callout. In the worst cases, a thread has been well and truly hijacked and derailed before anyone drags it over to MeTa.

2. Item #1 means that by the time the MeTa thread is underway and the administrative King Ghidora has added the "this thread is in MeTa, stop pooping in it" warning, it is too late for whatever good that might be accomplished to be accomplished. (I'm not sure I like the idea of giving random Joe user the power to automatically generate the "This is in MeTa" warning simply by posting a callout. There's some bad incentives there.)

3. Do we need yet another widget?

4. I don't subscribe to what seems to be a new sort of MeFi teliology overly sensitive to snark, lark and offtopicness. I guess I like my MeFi a little rougher and prefer to avert my eyes when they see something they don't like.

5. Most importantly, this will lead to even more whiny MeTa threads. There's nothing like a good callout and there's nothing worse than a whiny callout.
posted by kosem at 7:51 AM on March 28, 2007


Too much automation could possibly thwart the action of the community enforcement of norms. I thought that above all, metafilter was a kind of anthropology/sociology experiment. It only resembles a link aggregator and discussion board on the surface.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:54 AM on March 28, 2007


In my opinion, making a meta callout is the most serious thing one can do.
no, cutting off your hand is the most serious thing you can do


Ethnic cleansing is way more serious than either of these things.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:05 AM on March 28, 2007


Without automatically starting a meta thread for all Metafilter threads, I don't see how this could be implemented.

Would all metatalk threads require the poster to include the url for the thread they're complaining about? Or is it something the mods have to turn on?

To be practical, people are gonna do what people are gonna do. There will still be people who dump inside a thread whether there's a link or not.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:10 AM on March 28, 2007


seriously, though, whatever happened to that talk page idea?
posted by shmegegge at 8:19 AM on March 28, 2007


Neat idea. I don't think cortex's mockup makes the note prominent enough. Howz about this?
posted by Rock Steady at 8:29 AM on March 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is silly. People already "have no excuse for taking a big steamy dump in threads". More vigour with the banhammer is the answer.
posted by nowonmai at 8:34 AM on March 28, 2007


Is this really a problem? It would be informational, but couldn't someone put together a greasemonkey script? I really doubt it will help curb down on stupid comments, but it could be useful in letting those of us who do not check metatalk constantly that it is being discussed elsewhere.
posted by geoff. at 8:41 AM on March 28, 2007


The talk page idea was basically this, and yeah, it followed how wikipedia handled things.

I built a working prototype, but once built, I realized it didn't really help anything, because it was hard to track all the talk threads all over the site. Yeah, it could keep all "this post sucks" comments off the main thread, but they'd be buried in talk threads in thousands of places on the site.

On the one hand, it could clean up the site a little, but on the other, it did two bad things -- gave a permanent home to bitching about mefi, and since it was so distributed with no center, it was impossible to track and would lead to an administrative nightmare.

In the end I realized it created more problems than it solved, so I scraped the idea.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:59 AM on March 28, 2007


I like potch's idea, and I like cortex's mock-up... But I agree that the thread-shitters are the ones who are the least likely to pay any attention to the notices... In their eagerness to get to the comment box, they are blind to any other text (including warnings or notices) on the screen.
posted by amyms at 9:03 AM on March 28, 2007


Yeah, to be clear I'm not really onboard with the idea—I'm not convinced about how much net good it would do one way or the other (though the tiny info-architect on my shoulder likes the idea of rigorously and in standard fashion linking metatalk threads to the bits of the site they're about).

The mockup was an example, not an endorsement.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:06 AM on March 28, 2007


matthowie
posted by MasonDixon at 9:08 AM on March 28, 2007


Oops. Thought I was typing into my Firefox Find Box to see if he had commented upon this idea. Feel free to delete both these posts.
posted by MasonDixon at 9:09 AM on March 28, 2007


Heads up, MasonDixon—it's only one 't', mathowie, so you would have struck out anyway.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:13 AM on March 28, 2007


One advantage of the message would be a warning to all in the thread. It could be assumed that they'd read the notice, and anyone continuing to threadshit could be timed out.
But that's more police work for the three cops.
posted by klangklangston at 9:24 AM on March 28, 2007


I think it'd be nice more as an informative tool than as a warning to thread-shitters. New people who don't quite understand the community are both more likely to get called out in MeTa, and less likely to know about MeTa. This seems especially true for people who mainly hang out in AskMe, where the convention of adding a MetaTalk link-comment doesn't seem to have caught on. I've had the impression more than once that a new-ish user has no idea that their question is being hotly debated elsewhere on the site.
posted by vytae at 9:35 AM on March 28, 2007


One advantage of the message would be a warning to all in the thread. It could be assumed that they'd read the notice, and anyone continuing to threadshit could be timed out.
But that's more police work for the three cops.


That's my whole issue with this notice. People shouldn't be shitting on threads in the first place. Put a sterner message saying, "Thou shall not shit." There, notice served. Do we really need a second warning when there's already a bloody notice right underneath the comment area. If they ignore that notice, I don't don't see them caring about another one.
posted by jmd82 at 10:07 AM on March 28, 2007


I think it'd be nice more as an informative tool than as a warning to thread-shitters.

I agree with this. It won't help with the shitters, but it might do some good letting people know what's going on.
posted by languagehat at 10:27 AM on March 28, 2007


Reverse this. You open a thread (AskMe or MeFi), and at the top of the thread, there is a small note that says "This thread has not yet been called out in MetaTalk."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:28 AM on March 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


We could parlay that into a verisign-typosquating-esque opportunity... "Quick! It looks like this thread has not been MeTa'd yet! Get your own callout now for only $4.99, act quick!"
posted by Rhomboid at 10:35 AM on March 28, 2007


I like it too--maybe it just needs to be an icon near the plus sign? An MT, or asterisk or something?
posted by amberglow at 10:42 AM on March 28, 2007


I love this idea!

I also don't think it would lead to some dramatic rise in callouts or anything; it's not streamlining that end of the process.
posted by mkultra at 10:47 AM on March 28, 2007


Side benefit: Having people put an explicit link to a post in their MeTa FPP means it can be displayed on the MeTa homepage, which means less having to wade through obtuse references like "This post pisses me off".
posted by mkultra at 10:48 AM on March 28, 2007


Not a bad idea. But, unless the entire page is blinking with large block letters indicating the resulting discussion then I doubt most people will either notice, or care even if they do.

You'd have to make it inconvient in some way.
posted by purephase at 11:23 AM on March 28, 2007


This way, people have no excuse for taking a big steamy dump in threads

You speak as if people actually needed an excuse to take big steamy dumps in threads.
posted by jason's_planet at 12:22 PM on March 28, 2007


I feel that usually people put a link in-thread, if it's warranted, and this seems to work almost all the time. I don't speak for the other admins but I feel that once there's been an explicit MeTa callout, I feel a little more comfortable directing people there and removing thread-shitting from threads.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:28 PM on March 28, 2007


It's gotten pretty intuitive by now (to me) when reading a thread that there's bound to be a Metatalk thread going, just by the nature of the "conversation." While it's a fair idea, I don't see it really helping too much in the long run, and it would add clutter, which to this point, Metafilter is relatively free of.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:11 PM on March 28, 2007


no, cutting off your hand is the most serious thing you can do

And cutting off the other one is the most difficult.
posted by davejay at 1:59 PM on March 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


the behaviour of people is almost never modified by the use of signs.

They do seem to cut down on the number of long-haired, freaky people seeking employment.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:27 PM on March 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


There's always been a little bit of a disconnection between "don't dump in threads, take it to MeTa" and once you take that advice "this doesn't warrant a callout! OMG you're overreacting."

Just an observation.
posted by norm at 2:31 PM on March 28, 2007


There's always been a little bit of a disconnection between "don't dump in threads, take it to MeTa" and once you take that advice "this doesn't warrant a callout! OMG you're overreacting."

Just an observation.
posted by norm


Norm posted a good observation about this norm.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:37 PM on March 28, 2007


because clearly it's too difficult to check MeTa every once in a while. maybe someone should write a markovian callout generator too while we're at it, and then we won't need MeTa at all.

WHAT. THE. FUCK. CORTEXMATTANDJESSAMYN.
posted by spiderwire at 4:29 PM on March 28, 2007


because clearly it's too difficult to check MeTa every once in a while. maybe someone should write a markovian callout generator too while we're at it, and then we won't need MeTa at all

I happen to know that no less than three regular MeFi posters are bots.
posted by roll truck roll at 5:02 PM on March 28, 2007


I happen to know that no less than three regular MeFi posters are bots.

pancakes!
posted by spiderwire at 5:48 PM on March 28, 2007


I happen to know that no less than three regular MeFi posters are bots.

I'm sorry, I don't know the word "MeFi."
posted by shmegegge at 6:34 PM on March 28, 2007


Does that question interest you?
posted by Dave Faris at 6:45 PM on March 28, 2007


People act more morally when they think they're being watched. It's hard to believe, but this effect manifests itself even when people are being "watched" by an image of eyes (cite).

Of course, sticking a picture of some watchful eyes by the Post button would look a wee bit intrusive and contrived. Unless the eyes could be somehow naturally integrated into the site design. Say, on the Preview button. And put a pencil image or something on the Post button for symmetry's sake.

As weird as it seems, I bet it would reduce trollish behavior.

(I'm joking, of course. But only kinda.)
posted by painquale at 6:56 PM on March 28, 2007


It should be these eyes.
posted by peacay at 7:45 PM on March 28, 2007


It should be these eyes.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:05 PM on March 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Where's the picture of matt with his glasses off kilter and a nerd-rage face? It should be that one.
posted by boo_radley at 10:14 PM on March 28, 2007


This idea is okay but if you do implement it, whatever MeTa indicator you provide should also indicate the likelihood of a flameout. I'm thinking either a dial or some kind of animated smoke.
posted by owhydididoit at 11:44 PM on March 28, 2007


?
posted by roll truck roll at 12:28 AM on March 29, 2007


More like smoke.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:32 AM on March 29, 2007


...indicate the likelihood of a flameout. I'm thinking either a dial or some kind of animated smoke.

How about a thermometer with temperatures replaced by various goals, like "GOES TO ALL CAPS", "chops off hand", "says, 'I guess this is what you people call a flame-out' ", etc.
posted by Mister_A at 9:30 AM on March 29, 2007


Dare I say it?

Bingo card.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:48 AM on March 29, 2007


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