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Moderation in moderating
May 23, 2007 11:44 AM   Subscribe

What standards of consistency to moderators apply in redacting comments? Can anything give rise to standards? I ask not so much to seek the retention of my own comments; the world wouldn't be worse off if all of them were deleted. But I am flabbergasted at the inconsistency in treatment -- e.g., the comments on this thread -- and amazed that there's no attempt to explain or even to identify the party responsible.
posted by Clyde Mnestra to Etiquette/Policy at 11:44 AM (86 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I think you flabbergast too easily.
posted by mcwetboy at 11:47 AM on May 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


I am absolutely floored by this MeTa post. Gobsmacked, even. Shocked - shocked, I say!
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:50 AM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Here in the internet we have this thing called HTML. It works surprisingly well. Please try to use it when you're posting links but don't bother with that img src stuff here.
posted by baphomet at 11:54 AM on May 23, 2007


Can anything give rise to standards?

What does this mean? What does the "party responsible" part even mean? This reads like a 18th century aristocrat is offended and trying to slap moderators with a white glove.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:54 AM on May 23, 2007 [10 favorites]


Sorry, I take flatulex for that, but it's not too helpful.

What I don't get is that there is no apparent consistency in reckoning when comments are constructive; one can imagine taking the view that the community should decide in any conceivably close case, or at least noting when comments have been redacted in order to establish some remote sense as to how often it happens, even if it's wholly unappealable, or better yet who wields the iron hand. As it stands, zero accountability, and the sense that as much justice is done as if one were to fire bullets randomly into a teeming apartment building.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 11:55 AM on May 23, 2007


Answer: None. There aren't any rules, just guidelines. Sometimes one comment will be deleted and a more or less identical comment in another thread or by another will be deleted.

The moderators do their best. If you don't like know why a comment was deleted or not deleted, you're free to ask about it, but don't expect anything much to change.

It's just a messageboard. If it bothers you that much, go take a walk outside or something.
posted by empath at 11:55 AM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Are you sure you're not dumbfounded? It's not our job to mollycoddle the flabbergasted.

The problem with exacting standards is, there's always a need for an exception. At any rate, as long as this is a privately owned and maintained website, then the membership pretty much has to accept the whimsey of the site owners. Fortunately, they don't tend to display the kind of rampant whimsey that chases too many members away. I'm all good with it, anyway.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:56 AM on May 23, 2007


Be careful mathowie, he might demand satisfaction.
posted by baphomet at 11:56 AM on May 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


uh-- meant to say "... or by another user will not be deleted"
posted by empath at 11:56 AM on May 23, 2007


18th century aristocrat is offended and trying to slap moderators with a white glove.

I dare say so.
posted by ericb at 11:58 AM on May 23, 2007


Kirth and Baphomet, you forgot to introduce me to this new toy of irony you've discovered. Bet you even have a certificate!

Mathowie, not sure what you mean, and sorry you have taken offense. Did not mean to seem aristocratic. What I meant was simply whether there was any possibility of improving on the present system. I like the explanatory comments left when threads are removed, and realize that is more than could be managed for comments. I honestly have no sense as to how much pruning you all do.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 11:59 AM on May 23, 2007


Could you provide a little more specific detail about this particular situation? Which comments should but weren't or weren't but should, as far as deletion goes?
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:00 PM on May 23, 2007


I think the notion of private ownership proves too much -- there's a lot of effort to explain and rationalize here that usually takes place before playing that card.

I would hope there'd be some alternative to objecting in each case, and to state the obvious, that doesn't take care of instances in which comments other than one's own are taken out.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 12:02 PM on May 23, 2007


Translation: Boo Hoo I got pissy in the Cat/Roommate AskMe and Jessortexahowie deleted my bad posts.
posted by Megafly at 12:04 PM on May 23, 2007


Is Clyde Mnestra some sort of Metatalk bot? He certainly sounds like one.

Tell me a joke.
posted by chunking express at 12:05 PM on May 23, 2007


*Grabs bowl of sweetbreads, sits upon divan, uses peasant for ottoman.*
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 12:06 PM on May 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


jessamyn makes a great point.
posted by grateful at 12:06 PM on May 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


mathowie wrote This reads like a 18th century aristocrat is offended and trying to slap moderators with a white glove.

Looks like you'll have some fodder for your next powerpoint!
posted by chuckdarwin at 12:08 PM on May 23, 2007


The phrase "we wuz robbed" must be as old as baseball. The fans/players/ umpires rarely see things the same way. Differing perspectives. Surely the same can be expected among 50,000+ mefites.
Some laugh out loud at a post or comment, some angrily mark it as offensive. Take a tip from the French: learn to shrug.
posted by Cranberry at 12:09 PM on May 23, 2007


Cortex,

Thanks for the question -- I didn't want to blather (insert anticipated mockery of word "blather"). I think the comment, which I cannot recreate, could be deleted on the ground that it was more whimsical than helpful; it was an attempt to defuse a thread that was increasingly taking a tone that was either hostile (fuck you cat people) or already ridiculous (I will take a goldfish over any person any day). Deletion did no particular harm, but seemed so random or mindless as to make me wonder what else went on.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 12:09 PM on May 23, 2007


Megafly -- comment was opposite of pissy, if anything. But thanks for venting!

Chunking express -- I could, but it would be deleted before you saw it.

Cranberry -- I read your comment as supportive. Why not let the reader decide, rather than allowing drive-bys?

Will follow the link provided -- thanks.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 12:12 PM on May 23, 2007


Is Jessortexahowie the official portmanteau now?
posted by djgh at 12:19 PM on May 23, 2007


I like the explanatory comments left when threads are removed, and realize that is more than could be managed for comments. I honestly have no sense as to how much pruning you all do.

Sometimes we'll leave a comment in a thread that got significant pruning—a quick note of the deletions in brackets and a gentle "cut that shit out" message, usually—but not always. And if it's just a comment here or there instead of a great big derail, we might not leave a message at all.

How much pruning varies from day to day, but it's not much. AskMe gets about 1000 comments a day, and I'd say we might delete 10ish on average.

it was an attempt to defuse a thread that was increasingly taking a tone that was either hostile or ridiculous

Ah. Which is a nice idea, and I'm not saying it's never been done will in an AskMe context, but I think that in general if a thread is getting weirdly hostile or ridiculous it's usually better to flag the stuff that's out of line than to try to actively defuse in-thread.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:21 PM on May 23, 2007


Cortex,

Again, thanks. As to the last point, I'm a little surprised that flagging would be better than cajoling/rerouting -- it creates more work and tends to result in black-box and erratic solutions, per the original question here. Plus marketplace of ideas and other idealistic claptrap.

But I sense that few here share my concern, so whether this is an owner-driven decision or a representative democracy (if this thread represents a good cross-section, anyway), I guess I would lose.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 12:27 PM on May 23, 2007


it was an attempt to defuse a thread that was increasingly taking a tone that was either hostile or already ridiculous. Deletion did no particular harm, but seemed so random or mindless as to make me wonder what else went on.

Not sure if it applies to that cat thread... but, suppose there's a slew of nasty comments followed by a few defusing-type "Come on guys, play nice" comments. If the nasty comments get deleted, deleting the defusing ones as well would make some sense. Otherwise, there'd be a seemingly random "Come on guys, play nice!" stuck in there.
posted by CKmtl at 12:29 PM on May 23, 2007


OH NO NOT THIS AGAIN

please stop making me rant in LOLCAPS kthxbye
posted by languagehat at 12:30 PM on May 23, 2007

The humor of Much Ado about Nothing does not depend upon funny situations. (...) The comedy of Much Ado derives from the characters themselves and the manners of the highly-mannered society in which they live.
posted by bru at 12:31 PM on May 23, 2007


CKmtl,

The defusing was more indirect than that, so it would not have stuck out, FWIW. As to whether nasty, hostile, totally unreasonable, sheerly repetitious, or ignoring-the-question comments were actually taken out at the same time . . . well, who knows?
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 12:32 PM on May 23, 2007


The masses tend to defer to the triumvirate in these cases.
posted by empath at 12:32 PM on May 23, 2007


As to the last point, I'm a little surprised that flagging would be better than cajoling/rerouting -- it creates more work and tends to result in black-box and erratic solutions, per the original question here.

Part of the goal of the moderation style in AskMe is to keep it somewhat blackboxed, is the thing. There's some value to the shades of conversation that we get in some threads, but fundamentally AskMe is about answering questions and solving problems, not freeform discussion of the topic. So while cajoling/mediating responses might (depending on the situation) be effective at mediating some of the derailiness, it isn't effective at reducing the net level of noise.

It's a hard line to draw in some threads, certainly. A cat vs. roommate proposition is going to be much more provocative than "how do I fix this network issue", and the emotional and antagonistic properties of the comments that get posted scale accordingly. When it gets to really tough call stuff, we'll generally nuke things that are actually causing problems, and otherwise leave stuff alone. There's a lot of gut in it, for me at least, and I'll often err on the side of caution if I'm not sure what'll happen.

Cleanup of comments related to deleted comments is something we try to do, as well, but it's not always easy to quickly identify everything that is a reaction to something deleted (as reactions often aren't flagged even if the original comment is), nor straightforward to settle whether some of those comments are mostly reaction or mostly independent substantive comments. Sometimes the compromise we end up with leaves a couple of slightly mysterious references to things gone, rather than nuking helpful comments that happen to mention something previously nuked in passing. We don't really edit individual comments inline for content.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:39 PM on May 23, 2007


Did someone get a word-of-the-day calendar for their birthday, or have I stumbled into a Dickens novel by mistake?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:41 PM on May 23, 2007 [7 favorites]


I saw delete all comments at midnight every night, that is a fair and consistent practice.

Outside of that I suggest a small select team of people who generally have the best interest of "the community" in mind, a benevolent dictatorship if you will... hey wait a second!
redact, REDACT!
posted by edgeways at 12:44 PM on May 23, 2007


Kirth and Baphomet, you forgot to introduce me to this new toy of irony you've discovered. Bet you even have a certificate!

Now I am perplexed - or possibly nonplussed! OP's comments appear to have some meaning, but their actual import is occult! Where is the key, the legend, the codebook for deciphering this mysterious text?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:44 PM on May 23, 2007


a 26k'er just getting around to noticing the inconsistency which is the hallmark of the metafilter experience. BANHAMMER!
posted by quonsar at 12:44 PM on May 23, 2007


URLified the link in the post text, btw.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:44 PM on May 23, 2007


ok, so it wasn't pissy for that I appologize profusely.
posted by Megafly at 12:45 PM on May 23, 2007


Cortex,

Very helpful, and thanks for spending the time to reply. My only thought -- take it for what it's worth -- is that I've detected occasional "level of noise" redaction (into which my own deleted comments probably fall, especially if one is pruning with a heavy hand) that has no apparent prospect of "actually causing problems." If it's to be condemned, it's as fluff, not as an incitement to riot -- as I said, I think the opposite if anything, while the spitballing continues unabated.

I guess I don't know in this context whether erring on the side of caution means being cautious in expunging, or stepping in to prevent any derailing. I would urge the former, or greater rigor in the latter, but not my call.

Again, thanks.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 12:52 PM on May 23, 2007


it's fluff.
posted by taz at 12:57 PM on May 23, 2007


Oh, wow. I just noticed that there was a full-on resolution to the problem in the cat thread. How immensely satisfying.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:01 PM on May 23, 2007


I've detected occasional "level of noise" redaction (into which my own deleted comments probably fall, especially if one is pruning with a heavy hand) that has no apparent prospect of "actually causing problems." If it's to be condemned, it's as fluff

Yeah, we can stuff that's just fluff/noise/jokery too. I didn't mean to imply that the stuff I address above is the sole metric for deletion—just that it becomes a primary metric in that particular thread-management swamp.

One liners, contentless Me Toos, random snark and such gets pruned pretty regularly, and usually without comment because they show up in isolation. And it's kind of entertaining how many of them start with some variation of "I have nothing to contribute, but..."
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:03 PM on May 23, 2007


Mmmm ... fluff.
posted by ericb at 1:40 PM on May 23, 2007


WUT STANDARDS OF CONSIST3NCY 2 MOD3RA2RS APLEY IN R3DACTNG COM3NTS?!!!!?!! WTF CAN ANYTHNG GIEV RIES 2 STANDARDS????! OMG I ASK NOT SO MUCH 2 SEK TEH RETANTION OF MAH OWN COM3NTS DA WORLD WUDNT B WORSE OF IF AL OF TH3M WER3 DEL3TAD!!111 WTF BUT IM FLAB3RGAST3D AT DA INCONSISTENCY IN TREATMENT - EG!11!1! OMG LOL TEH COMENTS ON THES THREAD - AND MAEZD TAHT TH3RAS NO ATEMPT 2 AXPLANE OR AV3N 2 IEDNTIFY DA PARTY R3SPONSIBLA!!1111! WTF LOL.
posted by yeti at 1:47 PM on May 23, 2007


Yeti,

How droll! Or to simulate your simulation, "OMG I must weigh in to comment scornfully in a way that demonstrates my perceived superiority." I don't have the skill to translate fully, as I'm sure you anticipate.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 2:08 PM on May 23, 2007


Cortex,

Thanks. I'm (virtually) persuaded, and appreciate the thoughtful reply.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 2:11 PM on May 23, 2007


You're Ignatius J. Reilly, aren't you.
posted by smackfu at 2:21 PM on May 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


I refuse to waste any more of my precious time reading the on-line rantings of a puny elfin-skinned puttock. Zounds! What wretched puleing fools you all are. Delete at will O deletors of all things deleted! I must needs lower the black flag on this tragedy, raise the white and reluctantly surrender to you unwashed mewling and puking mountebanks. Farewell! I shall darken your threshold no more forever!
posted by Floydd at 2:22 PM on May 23, 2007


You're Ignatius J. Reilly, aren't you.

For that, my friend, you deserve a hot dog. And so do I, for my valve.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 2:30 PM on May 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


metafilter: elfin-skinned puttocks and puking mountebanks
posted by quonsar at 3:15 PM on May 23, 2007


"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 3:22 PM on May 23, 2007


"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Righto -- the trick is determining when it's foolish. Presumably the consistent, reflexive citation of this adage would not qualify.

I do concede that the original question was foolishly over-the-top and apparently hopelessly naive. With any luck, that concession makes me optimally inconsistent.

P.S. Love "elfin-skinned puttocks," whatever the hell that means.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 3:40 PM on May 23, 2007


For that, my friend, you deserve a hot dog. And so do I, for my valve.

Not just any ol' hot dog, but a Lucky Dog!
posted by ericb at 3:58 PM on May 23, 2007


I have been taken by the notion that we, my dear Mefites, ought to establish a "Talk Like a Fop Day."
posted by deborah at 5:10 PM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sweet lord, if your lordship were at leisure, I should impart a thing to you.
posted by languagehat at 5:16 PM on May 23, 2007


I will receive it, sir, with all diligence of spirit. Put your
bonnet to his right use. 'Tis for the head.
posted by RMD at 5:25 PM on May 23, 2007


*changes username to languagebonnet*
posted by languagehat at 5:46 PM on May 23, 2007


TOO MUCH PASSIVE VOICE
posted by Firas at 7:18 PM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


No wait, it's not passive voice is it? TOO MUCH AFFECTATION
posted by Firas at 7:20 PM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's only a model.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:40 PM on May 23, 2007


You're Ignatius J. Reilly, aren't you.

"Is my paranoia getting completely out of hand, or are you mongoloids really talking about me?"
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:54 PM on May 23, 2007


Okay, okay, "flabbergasted" and "amazed" are, as I tried to admit earlier, over-the-top, and the tone regrettable. (Aristocratic surprises me a little, but in for a farthing . . .) Apologies. I can't say I'm wowed by the tone of many of the replies, but I suppose that's something I brought on, or just the in-speak. Catty, which is I guess appropriate in context.

I appreciate cortex's explanation. As to the prevailing advice to "deal with it," I expect that's a frontal assault on the whole etiquette/policy category, but consistency is overrated.

Model 2.0 in the offing. I mean, works.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 8:10 PM on May 23, 2007


I don't ask much. I don't ask much. I don't ask much. I beg only that a man be left at liberty to get through his considerable day's duties without having an infernal model flung upon his tender sensibilities. A model, forsooth! No cellar in this realm has wine enough to console us; not as chivalry's very spirit lies a-drowning, gripped under the icy fingers of these here "no-literal-policy" advocates. You'd be mistaken, Sir, to assume they're uncontaminated Mefites run amok. Hah! Pernicious elements lurk among them; many a letter has passed between them and Gallic factions stationed well south of the Queen's jurisdiction. Ah Beelzebub! Woe is the honest subject of the realm today. Woe is the God-fearing pastoral wife, woe are her husband's sun-kissed fields. Mefi's very bosom bleeds from the unbounded license in the air; not an ear of corn grows save a larcency sprouts forth. It is time that all right-thinking men agreed to cease these vagaries. We must codify a discipline. Grudge my person the limitation of your caprice, if it makes you gladder. It is not for my own health that I patter away. I shall suffer your insults far better than I suffer your perverse depravities. It wouldn't worry me, it would be none of my concern, but this raving imbecility saps the moral fibre of the masses so speedily that our very nation teeters on the edge of irrelevance. The bumpy-headed plebes are being slowly contaminated with the seeds of sickly freewheeling socialism. This shall not do. None of this shall do. No, what Mefi needs these days is a purebred Wellington to kick these—these beret-topped grenouilles o'er the Channel and back, snifters in hand!
posted by Firas at 8:48 PM on May 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Prithee, good sir, I confess your pretty talk of perverse depravities doth intrigue me, and I would like to subscribe to thy newsletter.
posted by taz at 10:57 PM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I come to felicitate Clyde Mnestra's palpable bonhomie sustained 'midst a veritable plethora of nincompoopery, and likewise the ministrations of good sir cortex, fulsome as he was in his discoure 'pon matters moderational.
posted by Abiezer at 11:09 PM on May 23, 2007


's' redacted for cod 18th century difcourfe effect
posted by Abiezer at 11:11 PM on May 23, 2007


Gentle lady,

I fear your confidante mistook me in her dry-mouthed excitement! It is perverse depravities I expressed familiarity with. For the perverted confections, I recommend you write to Monsieur de Sade.

*spins on heel, stalks off grumbling about bloody libertines and the world today and so forth*
posted by Firas at 11:37 PM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


With apologies to, well, everyone.

Jeeves and the Un-named Fear

It's a rummy thing, isn't it? The way life has a nasty habit of making you think everything is fine and dandy just before it pokes you in the eye with a stick and tells you, in no uncertain terms, just what it thinks of you. Just when one thinks the sky is at its bluest and that the clouds could not possibly be more fluffy and angelic, the thunderstorm of fate blows a force eight and pours heck and fury onto the garden party of one's life, if you know what I mean.

I made this point to Jeeves one morning as he served up the usual Eggs and B.
"Indeed, sir?" he said, scarcely raising an eyebrow.

I've said it many times before; Jeeves is truly an amazing cove; one in a million if you want my opinion, but not one I believe blessed with the Wooster ability with prose. He showed no appreciation of the thunderstorm/garden party simile, instead opting to refill the old tea-cup with what can only be described as a pained look on his face.

In ordinary circs. this would not have narked me so, Jeeves being as he is something of a stick in the mud when it comes to literary endeavour, but I confess that on this particular morning I was feeling a little delicate and in no mood for frosty batmen.
"I say Jeeves, is something the matter" I said.
"No, sir." he said
"Then why the long face, dash it."
"Sir?"
"The pout, Jeeves. The petulant expression. You look like a man on whose shoulders the weight of the world rests, similar in many respects to that Roman bird...What was his name now?"
"I believe the name you are searching for is Atlas, the hero of Greek mythology."
"Quite, quite. Yes, Jeeves, your countenance this morning resembles old Atlas'. A mortal man caught between the grumbles of the Gods." I said, warming to my theme and striking a suitably thoughtful pose at the table. "What is the matter, man?"
"I have recieved a most disturbing communication sir."
I blanched immediatley. "Aunt Agatha?" I said, my visage I'm sure, a picture of horror and stupification.
"I fear not sir."
"Well! Phew for that, what?" I said, colour returning to the old cheeks and pulse rate settling at the norm. Aunt Agatha as I'm sure I have mentioned, is not the type of person a chap like myself likes to discuss at the breakfast table.
"Yes sir."
"Well who is it from Jeeves? Spill the beans."
"It is from Mr Haughey, sir."
"Haughey?"
"Haughey, sir."
"Haughey, eh?"
"Yes sir."
"Well, Haughey has surfaced has he?"
"It would appear so sir."
"And what is it that he wants I wonder? Hand over the telegram like a good fellow Jeeves."
I reached for the communiqué and I'll be dashed if Jeeves didn't flinch a little as my hand neared it. "Jeeves" I said, "You appear to be reluctant to hand the thing over."
"Yes sir."
Well, this blatant disregard for the natural way of things piqued me a little, but we Wooster's are a patient breed and I decided to lay off the disapproval for the nonce and investigate further.
"Why ever would that be?" I enquired.
"Well, sir. I deemed that Mr Haughey is hardly the kind of person with whom a man of your means should be associating."
Well frankly I was shocked. Lord knows Jeeves has stooped to some low things in his time, you remember of course the affair of Pongo Twistleton and my Aunt Dahlia's Russian tiara, but I have always been able to say confidently that Jeeves performed these low deeds with a higher purpose in mind, namely to bring about the victor of the underdog over the oppressor. You know, that kind of thing. But this, this was something altogether more sinister. It boded, if that's the word I want. We Wooster's have our limits and it appeared that Jeeves had reached mine.

I put this to him in no uncertain terms, "Dash it, Jeeves, if this isn't the limit." I began. Forceful, I know, but one can't pull punches when it comes to uppity butlers.
"Yes, Sir."
"Not cricket, what?"
"Yes, sir."
"And dash it Jeeves, stop saying `Yes, sir` in that tone of voice."
"I'm sorry, sir"
"It jars, if you know what I mean."
"I shall endeavour to avoid using the expression in future, sir."
"Right ho then Jeeves, now if you will allow me to peruse the aforementioned document I shall give it my undivided a."
He handed it over - reluctantly I might add, and I gave it the old once over with my good eye. The document read:

Bertie. Come now. Imp. matter. Need assistance. Up to neck in troub. Moderation called into question once again.

ps: Bring a few botts of red.

I can't say I was surprised that Haughey was in trouble again, he being one of those birds who always seems to be up to the elbows in soup of one flavour or another, but I was surprised that he needed my assistance again so soon after the rummy affair of the img tag. Nevertheless, a friend was in need of assistance and whatever else is said about we Woosters, it can never be said that we don't muck in when the going gets slippy. I don't know if you know that poem by Kipling? A dashed clever bird. A poet, if you understand me. Wrote that one "If." If I recall it goes something like:

"If you can keep your head when all about you are losing their's then tumpty tumpty tumpty tumpt tee tumpty tumpty tum and you shall inherit the tumpty tumpty tum"

I give you the gist.

Anyway this Kipling bird was talking about remaining calm in emergencies, and the upshot of the whole affair was that he who can maintain his stiff upper lip when things are going askance is truly a bird to be reckoned with. It was this poem that I was thinking of when Jeeves shimmied back into the room to clear away the breakfast things. He still looked offended but, as they say, needs must when a pal is in trouble.
"Jeeves." I said, "Pack my white tie, my smoking jacket and my best whangey and place them in the two-seater. We are going to take a brief jaunt to rural Portland."
"Very good, sir." he said, and shimmied out.

/Wodehousefilter
posted by Jofus at 2:22 AM on May 24, 2007 [23 favorites]


I can't say I'm wowed by the tone of many of the replies, but I suppose that's something I brought on, or just the in-speak. Catty, which is I guess appropriate in context.

No, no, no. Fun, my good man, fun! You take it all too seriously by half.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:59 AM on May 24, 2007


Hey Clyde Mnestra —

Yo think some shits goin down wit flaggn and da madderation and mebbe you be dead on. mebbe no. Yo say no record. no account. Yo say der ant notin else. fuck that you taste the shamin dis day, you stench da powa of a self-policing community. f da mod. Yo probs da crowd. MeTa peeps, word. read da archives.
posted by carsonb at 4:04 AM on May 24, 2007


Kirth Gerson/carsonb/Herbert Kornfeld: the parody, I like, lots. And so, I guess, the mob, though the "shut up and lump it you clueless whinging newbie" replies struck me as unhelpful and unreflective.

Actually, I thought my original point was that I trusted in the mob more than in selective pruning, and this is a fiendishly designed test of that proposition.

As to Wodehouse, always a delight. The part about "undivided a" led me to revive something I've always wondered about Bertie, on whom I model myself: Did anyone actually speak in that abbreviated way, or was this entirely Wodehouse's invention? Nowadays, I hate to think of the interpersonal consequences if I offered someone my "undivided a."
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 7:22 AM on May 24, 2007


I think that Bertie the character never actually abbreviates, but Bertie The Narrator frequently does, so the abbreviation is purely a literary device, as opposed to figure of speech. Or rather, if you were reading Wodehouse aloud, you're not supposed to actually pronounce "eggs and b." *


That's what I always thought anyway. There again, my dad always pronounced Psmith as "Peesmith", so perhaps I'm not one to judge.

*I think I'm right in thinking that Richard Usborne discusses this in one of his books about Wodehouse.
posted by Jofus at 7:36 AM on May 24, 2007


Consistency? Here's a recent comment of mine that was deleted from this thread:

...feel barely competant in a lot of areas
Please help me create a competant, if not accomplished, image...


Spell check.

Posted by: weapons-grade pandemonium


How does this not answer the question? The poster wants to be a good professor, yet has misspelled competent. It is still misspelled in the thread. This was not a snark. I resisted the obvious oxymoron joke. Is jessamyn just a bit slow, or is her hand really this heavy?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:42 AM on May 24, 2007


Are you saying it's not snark because you didn't intend it to be snark, or that it's not snark because a person couldn't reasonably read it as snark?

Because the distinction surely matters, but it's case number two that's going to drive flagging and admin spit-takes, and I can tell you that it does read like snark. It sucks that you were misread, but it's pretty dang understandable when you go for the ultra-pithy like that.

If you want to expand on the thought a little to make it clear that you're advocating they watch their spelling/copy and finding the tools to supplement whatever personal difficulties they have with that, cool. As it is, your comment as presented here reads to me as unhelpful "ha ha, you spell bad" stuff.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:23 AM on May 24, 2007


Actually, I thought my original point was that I trusted in the mob more than in selective pruning, and this is a fiendishly designed test of that proposition.

OP is correct in suspecting a fiendish test, but his post and the subsequent thread are not the test. The test is the very inconstant moderation that prompted him to MeTa, and his post has spawned a flurry of data points in the Grand Howie Experiment. We're all mice in a maze, or perhaps Bozos on a bus.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:24 AM on May 24, 2007


Incarcerated Rattus Norvegicus, boiling anger notwithstanding?
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:27 AM on May 24, 2007


weapons-grade, that poster was upset and overwhelmed, and asking for substantive advice from academics about how to order their workflow, and your response was to take a cheap shot because they misspelled one word.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:49 AM on May 24, 2007


No, it wasn't a cheap shot. It was neutral and to the point. Spelling errors are common; everybody makes them. In this case it was pertinent--professors should check their spelling if they want to appear competent. I could understand my comment being deleted if the correction was made in the original post.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:44 AM on May 24, 2007


Oh baloney. Do you think the poster doesn't check his/her spelling on professional documents? Do you think the reason they're having a hard time managing the workload of a professor has anything to do with spelling? It was a cheap shot, not relevant to the person's actual problem.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:12 AM on May 24, 2007


We're all mice in a maze, or perhaps Bozos on a bus.

I prefer to think of us as Bozo Bop Bags. On a bus.
posted by grateful at 11:35 AM on May 24, 2007


if you were reading Wodehouse aloud, you're not supposed to actually pronounce "eggs and b."

I disagree. The fact that Bertie might not have said "eggs and b" in "real life" (as it were) has no bearing on the matter; if you're reading Wodehouse aloud, you're supposed to read what he wrote, which is "eggs and b." The abbreviation is there for humorous effect; to ignore it is to eliminate the humor. And I'm not at all convinced that people didn't use such abbreviations in speech in Bertie's circle, a century or so ago.

weapons-grade pandemonium, your comment sounded dickish, and you're sounding dickish here (not to mention like one of the garden-variety twits whining about their comments being deleted, the ostensible complaint never being "Waah my comment got deleted" but "Dear me, this is surely an example of moderation run amok, the fact that it's my comment being purely coincidental"). Like the man said, if you want to say "better spelling might help," say it, don't drop a cute little turd that contains that as a hidden message.
posted by languagehat at 11:45 AM on May 24, 2007


Hey, I'm a whining garden-variety twit! I guess that means I'm not a UNIQUE kind of twit, which is a relief. And at least I'm not "sounding dickish," like weapons-grade pandemonium and, just maybe, somebody else.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 12:09 PM on May 24, 2007


Is jessamyn just a bit slow, or is her hand really this heavy?

You did not just say that.

The OP did email me to ask me to correct the spelling mistake. Your comment, in light of a one letter change suddeny made no sense and seemed extraneous. Actually, that's true only if my correction preceded the comment deletion [mine? cortex's? I don't know.] which it did not. One word pithy answers that can get read in a dickish voice sometimes get removed. If you are worried about that, please feel free to be a little more clear in your advice to the OP.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:21 PM on May 24, 2007


w-g p: I think jessamyn just doesn't like you. anymore, anyways...
posted by LordSludge at 12:48 PM on May 24, 2007


I commented in the same AskMe thread that weapons-grade pandemonium is referencing... My comments were also deleted, and with good reason... I had intruded upon the poster's question with my own personal vent, and I got scolded in-thread for it (I also got a very polite and friendly email from the scolder)... That snapped me out of my venty mood and I immediately regretted my comments... I was relieved later when I saw that Jessamyn had cleaned up the mess...

weapons-grade pandemonium, your comment in that thread (while not as overtly snotty as mine) DID come across as insulting (as opposed to a legitimate answer), and the deletion of it was just as deserved as mine was... Eat some humble pie and move on.

/my two cents
posted by amyms at 1:25 PM on May 24, 2007


languagehat Hmm...I'll bow to your superior knowledge. I'd always just assumed that the people who do talk like that are doing so after the fact. It actually does make more sense your way though. (Confound you.)

Incidentally, Wodehouse pastiche is hard. It's almost like he was the most talented writer of the English language ever to "sit down at the typewriter and swear a bit" or something.
posted by Jofus at 2:30 PM on May 24, 2007


To be clear, and a little less poncey, I'd distinguish sharply between deleting insulting stuff likely to start a battle -- which I gather accounts for weapons-grade and amyms -- and fluff, which seems to be much more of an aesthetic assessment. As I said, fluff can be helpful in avoiding the other problem, just like many of the lighthearted/digressive comments on this side of things. But cortex has been generous about explaining the official stance, and whether I like it or not, no one seems exercised about it.

P.S. Next time, could the moderators let some stupid joke of mine pass, but take out words like "flabbergasted" and "amazed"? Extra credit if you edit them into something by languagehat.

P.P.S. Thanks on Wodehouse. The narrator/dialogue distinction never occurred to me, though it should have, and appreciate the counterpoint too.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 3:07 PM on May 24, 2007


Could we talk about circumcision now?
posted by johngumbo at 7:08 PM on May 24, 2007


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