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July 18, 2007 9:39 PM   Subscribe

This post was deleted for the following reason: seen it. -- jessamyn Huh?
posted by homunculus to Feature Requests at 9:39 PM (149 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

It's been posted a few times today. They deleted those too.
posted by ALongDecember at 9:46 PM on July 18, 2007


Here and here. Don't feel bad, I almost posted it too.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:46 PM on July 18, 2007


My spider sense tells me you could have figured this out by reading the comments to your post.
posted by blacklite at 9:47 PM on July 18, 2007


Huh, I was just looking for the original post of this earlier and couldn't find it. Good thing I didn't post it!
posted by pombe at 9:49 PM on July 18, 2007


Er, this was supposed to be under etiquette/policy. Sorry.

Okay, but why the other deletions in the first place? I know it's been all over the web today, but it's as good as anything else I've read lately.
posted by homunculus at 9:50 PM on July 18, 2007


See how jessamyn makes her name a clickable link in that deletion reason. So you just click on that and check it out, there's her email. Hmm, now what?
posted by nanojath at 9:54 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


A crappy deletion, kow-towing to nutty right-wingers. Oh well.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:57 PM on July 18, 2007


Okay, but why the other deletions in the first place? I know it's been all over the web today, but it's as good as anything else I've read lately.

I'm going with "How is this not just a LOLNEOCONZ pileon. Also: alternet, really?"

Really, there's been a sort of minor explosion of political/agenda-y stuff brewing; we're not really hurting for excuses to yammer about it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:59 PM on July 18, 2007


A crappy deletion, kow-towing to nutty right-wingers. Oh well.

Heaven help us.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:00 PM on July 18, 2007


A crappy deletion, kow-towing to nutty right-wingers.

You have got to be fucking kidding me.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:01 PM on July 18, 2007


No, not at all.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:03 PM on July 18, 2007


I completely missed the other MeTa about censorship, and I am *totally* holding on hope for this thread.
posted by dhammond at 10:08 PM on July 18, 2007


A crappy deletion, kow-towing to nutty right-wingers.

Reality - it helps to stay in touch with it.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 10:11 PM on July 18, 2007


Which nutty right-wingers, precisely, are we talking about? And how did the kow-towing go down? These are important details.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:11 PM on July 18, 2007


I'm just going to have to call you Cortex Hitler and Eva Jessamyn from here on out, you fascist goons.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:12 PM on July 18, 2007


MWAAhaahaa... the secret it out. I have acquired "special" photographs of Jessamyn. That's why she's now an agent of the dreaded Neocon Conspiracy™. MWAAhaahaa...
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:12 PM on July 18, 2007


I'm going with "How is this not just a LOLNEOCONZ pileon. Also: alternet, really?"

Well, no, not alternet, not originaly. But LOLNEOCONZ? Sure. These NEOCONZ have a lot of influence and have fucked up the world pretty badly recently, and worse may be yet to come, so getting this kind of rare, humorous and candid look at their lunacy seems like a good thing to me. But whatever, it's your call.
posted by homunculus at 10:12 PM on July 18, 2007


Blazecock Pileon: "A crappy deletion, kow-towing to nutty right-wingers. Oh well."

Irony.
posted by justgary at 10:18 PM on July 18, 2007


SCDB and jessamyn? It all makes sense now.
posted by homunculus at 10:19 PM on July 18, 2007


And how did the kow-towing go down?

I think cortex got a blowjob that was meant for me.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:24 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think cortex got a blowjob that was meant for me.

Semen is a powerful drug. But seriously, it's a crap deletion when a post gets removed shortly after you get called out by name in the original thread, and it's a crap deletion when The Independent is considered the equivalent of Alternet. Whatever, it's your call.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:34 PM on July 18, 2007


It's considered equivalent because it's the exact same story printed in both places.
posted by puke & cry at 10:40 PM on July 18, 2007


Dude, have you seen the snazzy MetaFilter Blue Hummers the mods all get if they delete all Dangerous posts? I would so kow-tow for one of those. If I knew what kow-towing was. Oh you can show me, cool! Hey keep your pants OHMYGOD
posted by freebird at 10:41 PM on July 18, 2007


Bad deletion(s), I think. Not a great link, but a more than post-worthy one - better than most political links we see here. And going after Alternet in a case where it's functioning as an aggregator is just crazy, jess.

You guys really aren't listening when folks ask you to be clear in deletion reasons, are you?
posted by mediareport at 10:42 PM on July 18, 2007


Metafilter: Whatever, it's your call.
posted by dhammond at 10:45 PM on July 18, 2007


NotMetaFilter: kow-towing to nutty right-wingers
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 10:45 PM on July 18, 2007


+1 bad deletion, lack of kow-towing aside. Obviously I agree with deleting doubles, but the original post was an interesting article with some interesting discussion going on. The fact that it got posted 3 (or more?) times should say something as to the general interest.

Are we seriously at the point where anything that takes a real look at a particular group will be deleted for LOLSOMEGROUP?
posted by 0xFCAF at 10:52 PM on July 18, 2007


---I know it's been all over the web today, but it's as good as anything else I've read lately---

--Not a great link, but a more than post-worthy one - better than most political links we see here--


These are not what I would call convincing arguments. Come on, it's no great loss.
posted by peacay at 11:11 PM on July 18, 2007


I've got a few resentments hanging round that i can't be bothered looking at, anyone want them ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 11:14 PM on July 18, 2007


Your post was deleted because it sucked, OK? That's always the reason.

Yeah, sometimes the admins choose to say more, and then you read it as, "your post sucked, and..." but sometimes they don't.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 11:17 PM on July 18, 2007


I vote that from now on every deletion consist of "This post was deleted for the following reason: fuck off."
posted by puke & cry at 11:19 PM on July 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


Sorry, not to stick to the letter or anything, but wasn't this deleted because it's a repeat?

If that is the case it seems fair. Right?

I'm from the south. I'd need beans (or pancakes?) for this to make sense, I guess is my point.
posted by metasav at 11:22 PM on July 18, 2007


If the post gets reinstated I'll be fully deja vuing.
posted by tellurian at 11:36 PM on July 18, 2007


Yes. You're right, metasav. This post was deleted because it was a repeat of the previous one that was deleted because it was a repeat of the previous one that was deleted for the following reason: How is this not just a LOLNEOCONZ pileon. Also: alternet, really? -- jessamyn

So no post exists now. And several people, in a forum designed for reconsideration, are asking jessamyn to reconsider her judgement. And when was the last time she did that?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:44 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


A crappy deletion, kow-towing to nutty right-wingers.

There are like FIVE nutty right-wingers at Metafilter, maybe SIX... Okay, I'll be generous and say maybe TEN... How, and why, would Jessamyn be kow-towing to them?... Sheesh.
posted by amyms at 11:46 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


People are always interested in mocking neocons (and I thought the article was kind of interesting), but I guess I understand Mathjessatex's itchy trigger finger with regards to PoliticsFilter.

It seems like we're getting started with election season so damn early this cycle, and given the potential for practically every post on the topic to turn into either masturbatory LOL(insert group here) or some kind of shitstorm (both of which are probably a pain in the ass to moderate), I don't really blame them for having a heavy hand.

I suppose kow-towing to right-wingers would be consistent with the agenda of the conservative Christian cabal...
posted by dismas at 11:50 PM on July 18, 2007


On his site, Hari says he wrote the piece for the New Republic. I have no idea where that stands on the spectrum of US media legitimacy, but Hari is a writer of some note, in the UK at least.
I'd not be offended if an article of a similar standard exposing some of the bullshit that's gone on in left-wing groups I've been active in was posted. I have no difficulty in believing Hari's given a reasonable (no doubt selective) account of what actually was in fact done and said.
posted by Abiezer at 11:50 PM on July 18, 2007


Actually in fact! Jaysus.
posted by Abiezer at 11:52 PM on July 18, 2007


Even worse: Actually was in fact.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:54 PM on July 18, 2007


Ам И тоо лате фор тхе бловйобс?
posted by Meatbomb at 11:59 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


To follow up what Dismas said, I think this was an example of "Fixing broken windows" in the site moderation.

Excessively-polarizing political posts can rapidly spin out of control, both within threads and simply the sheer number of them.

The best way to fight a big fire is to put it out when it's still little. That's what your post was: a little fire, which was ruthlessly put out so that it didn't lead to a bigger fire later.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:59 PM on July 18, 2007


Oops. Ahem.

Am I too late for the blowjobs?
posted by Meatbomb at 12:00 AM on July 19, 2007


"Itchy trigger finger," "heavy hand," other cliches rounded up and shot. Film at 11.
posted by dismas at 12:02 AM on July 19, 2007


This might have been interesting if it had been posted when it came out.

Last month.

Or someone had included a link to Steyn's self-parody of a response.

Three weeks ago.

But no, it's all about the lynching we must have today, for we have not discussed the craziness of neocons even once on MeFi in the last eight years.

I'm all for deleting it. I mean, it's a fascinating, hilarious, and horribly sad article, but at some point, all you're doing is kicking the dead dog and breeding more outrage fatigue.
posted by dw at 12:06 AM on July 19, 2007


I get your point SCDB, but then isn't the problem the community rather than the post? Hari's screed's got its slant, but it's still part of a discourse and I can imagine a number of responses a pro-neocon could make.
There's some guy has a blog of pictures of looney placards he takes at anti-war demos. His probable intent is to slur the entire anti-war movement with some fringe ideas. My response to someone posting that wouldn't be to ask for the whole post to be pulled in case we got in a row, and I wouldn't be attempting to deny such fringe types are easy enough to find if you look.
posted by Abiezer at 12:07 AM on July 19, 2007


And, SCDB, the difference between a fire and an FPP is that people are free to enter or ignore an FPP. Nobody gets hurt either way, and the world goes on.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:13 AM on July 19, 2007


Actually, I think Den Beste has the right idea here. Better to stamp it out fast before it grows into a politically-polarizing shit-storm. Lord knows we've had enough of that crap in the past.
posted by puke & cry at 12:41 AM on July 19, 2007


So these neocons, they vibrate?
posted by timeistight at 1:22 AM on July 19, 2007


Abiezer, the "fire" is agenda-driven posting. The worst case is two (or more) opposing factions trying to out-do each other by making lots of politically polarized FPPs.

It's happened before here, and really ruined the place. (The run-up to the 2000 election was like that.)
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:27 AM on July 19, 2007


Remember when this place used to be self-policing?
posted by Optamystic at 1:46 AM on July 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


I think all of you should reflect long and hard on the fact that this was a GMS-enabled FPP.
posted by trondant at 1:52 AM on July 19, 2007


Or GSM, even. I'm going to bed.
posted by trondant at 1:57 AM on July 19, 2007


self-policing

If I wanted to stir things up, I would point out that self-policing becomes less prevalent when there is more active commenting by those with power, and cortex comments an awful lot more than jessamyn or mathowie, and so now it's sort of beginning to feel like The Admins are more of a presence rather than just a behind the scenes cleanup crew, and maybe it's affecting the dynamic a bit.

But I'm not sure, and I got free beer last weekend, so I am pretty inclined to think they're good people, all three. So it's more like that it's just been a rough last couple of weeks for Mefi and everyone's tired of the idiocy.

It really does feel like things are getting a little more vehement lately. And/or dumb. Is it time to raise the membership price yet?
posted by blacklite at 1:58 AM on July 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


So these neocons, they vibrate?

No, they float.
posted by Deathalicious at 2:02 AM on July 19, 2007


For the record, I think it was a very interesting, very readable article. We get to read quirky things all the time, and this was one of them, it's just a shame that this had a political slant to it but I think it was more a reflection on the ability for any group do both delude themselves and hold positions which seem to the average person to be a bit ridiculous. I don't even think most neocons are this way, just slightly batty, devoted National Review readers who would willingly shell out $1200 just to be with people with their same political leanings.
posted by Deathalicious at 2:05 AM on July 19, 2007


Your worst case makes more sense as something to be avoided, SCDB.
I don't think it changes my view that an agenda isn't necessarily a bad thing if it isn't pursued regardless of the quality of the available material (which I guess is your fear). I suppose I thought the article was different enough in what it offered (inside view of a political event few if any of us will have experienced in person) to stand. And similar to Optamystic's point, I think I'd prefer the community to have a chance to keep it adult rather than pre-emptively removing any potential sources of contention.
posted by Abiezer at 2:10 AM on July 19, 2007


This deletion complaint is much less entertaining than the closed "most dangerous video" one.

However, I also almost posted a link to the article.
posted by loquacious at 2:12 AM on July 19, 2007


So these neocons, they vibrate?

No, they float.


YOU FLOAT TOO!
posted by puke & cry at 2:22 AM on July 19, 2007


Ok so maybe there are too many deletions, but don't forget how well our Jess meatholed that moonbat with the "dangerous video". That was awesome, right?

So, bygones.
posted by The Monkey at 2:36 AM on July 19, 2007


I have acquired "special" photographs of Jessamyn.

e-mail's in profile
posted by Eideteker at 3:21 AM on July 19, 2007


Neoconfascists hate like this, Islamofascists hate like this.

Fuck it, I want you all off my planet. Anyone who claims a strong political affiliation. Anyone dedicated to making me feel outrage about the same things day in and day out. And all the shitty drivers. Seriously, if you're not driving because you love to drive, get off the road. Get a bicycle.

Oh, and pls blast all the white folks into space. But leave the wimmens. Thank you, MeTa Claus.

Luv,
Timmy, age 8
Dubuque, IA
posted by Eideteker at 3:34 AM on July 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


but I think it was more a reflection on the ability for any group do both delude themselves and hold positions which seem to the average person to be a bit ridiculous.

Absolutely. It's just a question of which group you're talking about, the neo-cons in the article or the folks here.
posted by yerfatma at 4:24 AM on July 19, 2007


Man, I wish I was a nutty right-winger. They always get their way on MetaFilter.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:46 AM on July 19, 2007


I like both jessamyn and cortex. They do a stellar job. I just wish they'd delete less. I know it's essentially editing a site, choosing what content to air, but I like MetaFilter messy and laidback.
posted by Kattullus at 4:49 AM on July 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't think it changes my view that an agenda isn't necessarily a bad thing if it isn't pursued regardless of the quality of the available material (which I guess is your fear).

Exactly so. If there's too much agenda-driven posting, then more and more people find and post things "because they support my side of the argument" rather than "because they're actually interesting and worth reading". Tit-for-tat agenda-driven posting becomes one big argument.

And bad can drive out good. I've seen it happen. If that kind of thing isn't kept under control, pretty soon only agenda-driven posters hang around the place.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 5:29 AM on July 19, 2007


I think the article was "ok" at best, which makes it a good deletion. There was plenty of outrage in the article, just not much there there. The best part was the part about Buckley and Podhoretz, but even that was thin and revealed nothing new. It was mostly a chance to make mock. I believe in mocking those nutjobs as much as anyone, but I'm not convinced we need another front page post to do it in.

(The fact that it was posted several times does not say anything about either its quality or post-worthiness. I think it says much more about the desire of folks to mock cons.)
posted by OmieWise at 5:34 AM on July 19, 2007


Remember when this place used to be self-policing?

Self-policing is another one of those terms here that's lost a bit of its potency over the years (Best of the Web is another). That doesn't mean that there's less self-policing going on—those of us who read MetaTalk have a good idea on how self-policing works here, and the flagging system is apparently well-known on the rest of the site—it's just that we don't rally around a 'self-policed' banner so much anymore. We (as a user group) are able to police the front page and inside the threads, notify judges for sentencing the offenders, and then publicly mock them when they make appeal in MeTa. Whether people participate in the self-policing or not, or if it's the same 200 people every time, I can't tell. But the mechanism for it remains in place and functioning fine.

I would point out that self-policing becomes less prevalent when there is more active commenting by those with power, and cortex comments an awful lot more than jessamyn or mathowie, and so now it's sort of beginning to feel like The Admins are more of a presence rather than just a behind the scenes cleanup crew, and maybe it's affecting the dynamic a bit.

This is an interesting point, but I appreciate the transparency cortex has brought to the moderation around here. He's always been able to see and explain the heart of a matter to everyone else who may be caught up in some personal aspect of the issue at hand. Aside from that, more comments from the mods is better. The flagging system is semi-transparent (only the person flagging an item knows it's been flagged) so when we hear from an admin that something's been flagged a zillion times we get a peek at another aspect of our self-policing policy. Those comments also serve as a reminder that mathowie, jessamyn, and cortex are not operating on whims and fantasies (or prejudices and rules) when they edit/delete—they are serving the voice of the community as seen through a flag queue.

I just wish they'd delete less. I know it's essentially editing a site, choosing what content to air, but I like MetaFilter messy and laidback.

From what I've gathered reading much of the site over the past year or so (and less of the site for the previous 6), the editing process here is reactionary and hardly preventative. When some shit goes down the mods swoop in and clean up the battlefield. Sometimes they take away the battlefield, and encourage all who would reinstate said battlefield to go eat a peach instead. If you're really worried about the Administrative Vision shaping what you read on the front page, go take another look at it. Read the whole frickin' thing. Then read the deleted posts blog or install the deleted posts greasemonkey script and take a good long look at what's been deleted. I think their reasoning will be a little clearer with that perspective incorporated. We still see a huge variety of things at MeFi; controversial things, fucked-up things, super ultra neat-o things, interesting tidbits, etc. for the most part presented in a way that's fun and/or engaging. The mods' pruning makes for a fuller, livelier front page, and I think they do it just enough.
I think that's the longest comment I've ever written here. Which explains why perhaps the sense-making doesn't flow throughout.
posted by carsonb at 5:35 AM on July 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


Whether or not it appeared on Mefi, it's an old story.

It was all over the place last month.

I do think it's an appropriate post, though. A good idea for a story, though the execution was a little disappointing, I thought. Maybe Jess thought it already had been posted?
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:39 AM on July 19, 2007


I like MetaFilter messy and laidback

I just realized that this isn't terribly clear. What I mean is that I wish MetaFilter was edited-for-content less. I know that this could result in some horrible blowouts, but I don't see that as a problem. Yeah, I've gotten mad at MetaFilter posts and comments, and yeah, bad blood has been engendered for scant reason, but that's just part and parcel of having a 50000+ member community. I don't like petty arguments and political crapflinging, but I don't want them gone. I don't think the article by Johann Hari (which I read and enjoyed in The New Republic one lazy afternoon in Borders) needs to be kept off the site. It's a funny, well-written, incisive article. This is, frankly, the first time a post-deletion has completely baffled me.

Yeah, it could have turned into a poothrowing nightmare of a thread, but any post has the potential to do that. This perhaps more than some, but I still think that it was an unnecessary deletion.
posted by Kattullus at 5:49 AM on July 19, 2007


The only thing that really aggravates me about the wave of deletions is that some crap posts inspire lengthy conversation; you kinda wonder whether you should bother when you don't know whether the thing will still be there in ten minutes (or a few hours). That said, of the three deletions I noticed in the last day, the 9/11 post was WackaloonFilter, the SUV post was AgendaFilter, and this one...well, other than its ancientness, I saw no problem with it as an article, but I agree that it would probably have inspired a screaming match and wasn't exactly something the site couldn't live without anyway. (I got about three pages in and quit. There weren't any surprises, and at this point the neocons just make me feel tired all over.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:51 AM on July 19, 2007


Frankly, I view deleted posts as a challenge to make better posts. Rather than bitching and moaning about the cruelness and censorship of an internet site, you could channel that energy into doing better. Sure, it won't give you the self righteous soapbox or spawn a 300 comment thread, but you can't have anything.

The National Review boat trip link could have been part of a larger post about infiltrating groups by reporters and the ethics of doing so.

Or a look at what people say no one is watching.

Or a historical look at people infiltrating groups, both for positive and negative reasons.

Or a look at the crazy shit that political parties say behind closed doors.

But instead we got a series of crappy posts that amount to nothing more than "Hey look the conservatives really are stupid/racist/crazy"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:14 AM on July 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


I think the lesson here is that if a three-week-old article that makes conservatives look stupid suddenly pops up on BoingBoing, everyone should just assume it's been posted to MetaFilter by the time they get to it.
posted by Partial Law at 6:18 AM on July 19, 2007


That's a good point Mr. Blatcher.

Protest Warriors, The Creation Museum, and a lot of work by the Yes Men - could have all supplemented that post.

I feel no outrage over this deletion, and can't read the username Blazecock Pileon without giggling and then having nightmares about herpes.
posted by chlorus at 6:20 AM on July 19, 2007


It's not censorship, it's editing.
posted by Dagobert at 6:21 AM on July 19, 2007


I give Jess a hard time about AskMe, where I think we just have different conceptions of it, but I'm behind her all the way in the blue. The very post itself was a derail.
posted by bonaldi at 6:28 AM on July 19, 2007


The very post itself was a derail.

From what? The theme of MetaFilter?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:48 AM on July 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


What that cruise really needed was more catgirls and some quality steel-melters.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:00 AM on July 19, 2007


Yeah, it could have turned into a poothrowing nightmare of a thread, but any post has the potential to do that. This perhaps more than some, but I still think that it was an unnecessary deletion.

But if it's your place, and you see that certain topics create more problems than others -- more divisiveness, more insults, more work -- wouldn't you have a disposition towards deleting threads in that topic because past experience suggests it will spawn snark and pooflinging more than real debate?

And in the end, don't these LOL$group threads just spawn the same sort of smug dismissiveness these TNR people show in the article? Is that really OK? Do we have to pile on groups just to make ourselves feel better?

I mean, honestly. This is a board filled with college-educated, middle-to-upper class, liberal/libertarian whites. Not exactly being black in the South in the early 20th century here. And yet, there's this persistent need to smugly LOL other groups and out-outrage one another.
posted by dw at 7:17 AM on July 19, 2007


I support this all and all deletions, but especially this one.
posted by LarryC at 7:25 AM on July 19, 2007


But if we can't post this stuff, how will everyone know that this is the way they all really are, so everyone should join my team instead? Isn't this what Metafilter is for? Sharing the Truth?
posted by dios at 7:56 AM on July 19, 2007


What I mean is that I wish MetaFilter was edited-for-content less.

I get that. If I thought it would make the site work, I'd be absolutely for it. But as a reality, I don't, and so I'm not.

I've had reason to trawl through some ugly, stupid, vicious forums that hold that character as a necessity or even a badge of honor: it's a practical result of the "we're not pansies, we're not censors" view combined with the free run of the folks most likely to use that to their personal betterment. If that's the sort of place someone wants to spend their time, that's fine, but I don't think that describes metafilter, now or ever, and I'm certainly not going to help steer the site in that direction just to avoid metatalk grief about deletions.

I blinked at the original post. Inches from the kill button, didn't follow through, Jess deleted it later. We really do get too much of this sort of thing. I don't kill half the politics/agenda stuff that I would if I let my personal preference drive these decisions, believe me.

Getting a post deleted doesn't make you a bad person, and it doesn't necessarily mean the linked material is bad material, but christamighty if this place isn't better when it's got variety on the front page. A political dish-job that is making the rounds like crazy is not sort of great post that makes Metafilter good.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:12 AM on July 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


Getting a post deleted doesn't make you a bad person, and it doesn't necessarily mean the linked material is bad material, but christamighty if this place isn't better when it's got variety on the front page. An political dish-job that is making the rounds like crazy is not sort of great post that makes Metafilter good.

This is pretty questionable as in it doesn't make any sense whatsoever. This is not the first political "dish-job" that's been posted to the blue and it certainly won't be the last. If you think the blue has seen to much political content lately then just come out and say 'the blue has too much political content'. I'd even be inclined to agree with you. But this 'protecting the community from itself' and 'editing' BS not only doesn't make much sense but it's pretty patronizing and insulting. Nobody seriously thinks an FPP deletion is all that big a deal and, similarly, nobody can seriously think not deleting an FPP will turn the blue into a ugly, stupid, vicious forum. Come on. Like the infamous msquare deletion yesterday that carried the oh-so-witty deletion reason 'Tin. Foil. Hat. Sign. My. Petition.' this deletion is reasonable but the reasoning provided is stupid and insulting. So yeah, delete away, but let's be more transparent and blunt about the reasons for deletion.
posted by nixerman at 8:35 AM on July 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nobody seriously thinks an FPP deletion is all that big a deal and, similarly, nobody can seriously think not deleting an FPP will turn the blue into a ugly, stupid, vicious forum.

I hear what you're saying, nixerman, but on those two points specifically I have to disagree. For the first one, the index of Metatalk says otherwise: a lot of the traffic here is very much driven by people upset about deletions being a big deal—of their posts or of others'.

For the second point, yes, I seriously think that not routinely deleting bad/repetitive/grinding posts from the front page would make the place uglier and stupider and vicious. I like what Brandon Blatcher said upthread:

Frankly, I view deleted posts as a challenge to make better posts.

Making better posts than unmoderated internet baseline is, if anything is, what makes Metafilter Metafilter. That things get flagged and deleted and discussed in the grey is a sign of health around here, and of a degree of collective self-awareness that sets the place apart. Moderation and community-feedback practices that send the message "try harder" rather than "fuck it, go nuts" seem like a good thing, as much as the results may sometimes chafe some folks.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:49 AM on July 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't know. Generally, I couldn't care less what gets deleted, but in this case it does seem that it crossed a line into excessively heavy moderation.

I read about half of the article when it was linked off some other site. There's no reason that article shouldn't have been linked off of MetaFilter that I can see, and the fact that it's been posted several times now suggests that others would agree.

Heavy moderation in Ask is fine and probably serves the site pretty well. However, in MeFi proper, I feel like a lighter touch would be better.
posted by willnot at 8:57 AM on July 19, 2007


For the first one, the index of Metatalk says otherwise: a lot of the traffic here is very much driven by people upset about deletions being a big deal—of their posts or of others'.

Perhaps that's because the mods are so unclear about their reasons for deletion in the first place? From what I can tell, the deletion process works like this:

1. mod deletes post and provides some silly 'joke' as a reason
2. upset poster reads said joke and thinks 'WTF?!'
3a. upset poster comes to metatalk to complain. After much back and forth eventually the real reason for deletion is revealed
or
3b. upset poster sends email to mod to explain the deletion. The result is a bunch of long emails about one silly post. Eventually the real reason for deletion is revealed/

Does this make any sense at all? Not only is it big waste of bandwidth but it does in fact raise questions about whether the mods are deleting things for good reason or behaving in an arbitrary manner. If deletions reasons were more direct and clear in the first place then all this drama could perhaps be avoided. (Yes, some people would still come to the gray to complain anyways but at least such threads could be more focused if the initial deletion is clearly explained.) I think overall the mods do a good job and I hate attempts to formalize and politicize moderation but, in the interests of mutual respect, I don't think it's too much to ask for clearer deletion reasons.
posted by nixerman at 9:07 AM on July 19, 2007


Personally I'm all for Mods behaving in an arbitrary manner. Or in a manner that only they need know the reasoning behind. It keeps things interesting.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:17 AM on July 19, 2007


Well except that all of that is kind of disingenuous on the part of posters, at least I think it is. There are really very few reasons for deletion, which is what allows the room for the jokey reasons in the first place. Either the post is a double, and therefore deleted, or it's not a very good post. That's pretty much it.

Sometimes things aren't good posts because they're a single link to a short op-ed, sometimes they aren't good posts because they seem designed to incite a clusterfuck, sometimes they aren't good posts because the topic has been covered ad infinitum on MeFi before. But in nine out of ten cases the reason is abundantly clear to anyone who cares to think about it for a second, and the jokey deletion reason provides just enough context to figure out 90% of the left over 10%.

I understand that people feel like there is too much deletion, but I read very very few "why was this deleted" threads that aren't actually "my post did not suck" attempts at justification. It's dreary, repetitive and a pain in the ass. It's just a fucking website. If your post is deleted for being "too dangerous" you can post it somewhere else. If you want to post it here then that seems like an implicit endorsement of how the site is run. The community here is presumably here because it's a better (for many different definitions of better) place than others to hang out. Deletions are part of the reason for that.
posted by OmieWise at 9:20 AM on July 19, 2007


Above responding to nixerman.
posted by OmieWise at 9:21 AM on July 19, 2007


And, you know, this thread is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. The deletion reason makes perfect sense and is just an echo of the many calls of "double" in the thread. This thread is disingenuous in that it presents itself as an inquiry into the reason for deletion, but it's really an attempt to argue against the deletion. It's fine to do that, although boring, but it's not correct to say that a cryptic deletion reason is the cause of threads like this.
posted by OmieWise at 9:28 AM on July 19, 2007


cortex: I've had reason to trawl through some ugly, stupid, vicious forums that hold that character as a necessity or even a badge of honor: it's a practical result of the "we're not pansies, we're not censors" view combined with the free run of the folks most likely to use that to their personal betterment. If that's the sort of place someone wants to spend their time, that's fine, but I don't think that describes metafilter, now or ever, and I'm certainly not going to help steer the site in that direction just to avoid metatalk grief about deletions.

Well yeah. Moderation is fine. I'm glad MetaFilter is moderated. I just think moderation should be done in moderation.

Both jessamyn and cortex are integral parts of the MeFi machine, and I'm glad they spend a large part of their life doing it. However, they're not all-important. MetaFilter was chugging along fine before cortex took up the job, and it was also in fine health before jessamyn started.

I'm absolutely not advocating that either of them should stop, I'm grateful for their work, if only because then mathowie can spend his time making MetaFilter more awesome, instead of paying attention to stupid flamewars or figuring out why a comment in AskMe has been flagged eighteen hundred times. Moderation is good, moderation is important, but more moderation does not equal better moderation.
posted by Kattullus at 9:40 AM on July 19, 2007


I agree that I think there should be more deletion. The quality of posts today has been very nice, in my opinion. There is a great mix of the historical, artistic, silly (bacon salt!... maybe that should be 'yummy'), scientific, and just generally interesting things. The 'youtube' as revolutionary change post is borderline. The only one that is really worthy of deletion today is the Benny Hinn lolxtians post (I'm surprised it hasn't been deleted already; out of all lolxtians posts, that's one of the worst... no attempt at a broader context, no relevant point made, not funny apart from the context of mocking, just pure and simple 'look at this people and mock'... it is unabashedly lolxtian and is not a quality post).

A day like today makes me happy for moderation. Without moderation, this website consistently proves the broken windows theory. Almost without fail, when one piece of naked political claptrap is left up, other's follow. So I applaud deletions. Lets have more posts like the ones today. Three cheers for the moderators!
posted by dios at 10:04 AM on July 19, 2007


For all the talk of agendas, bias, politics, news, editing, best of the web, etc, I fail to see how these arguments will ever stop until the guidelines are updated. The way that page stands now, a number of deletions make no sense, and are clearly either subject to the mood or sensibilities of Cortex and Jessamyn, or the mob rule, pile-on mentality. Frankly, if the video in question yesterday or the story about neocons gone wild hadn't been posted before, I can't understand what rule or guideline they break, and therefore why they were deleted beyond someone's subjective opinion of what "belongs" on the site and what doesn't. I agree with others who say delete and edit away, just be consistent, and clearly spell out what topics will be subject to more scrutiny (like the Iraq and I/P warnings that have been up in the past - add 9/11 truth, global warming and the bush administration to the done to death subjects list?). I know it's hard to clearly articulate policy without suffocating the community, and it's hard to be consistent, but I bet it's easier than justifying deletions over and over, and it will piss off a lot fewer people.

And if the number of flags a post receives influences a deletion decision (as appears to be the case), that should also be made clear upfront.
posted by loquax at 10:12 AM on July 19, 2007


hey, do you guys think bam margera is getting fat?
posted by fishfucker at 10:21 AM on July 19, 2007


And if the number of flags a post receives influences a deletion decision (as appears to be the case), that should also be made clear upfront.

That's what "community policing" means, it's everyone's subjective opinions about what belongs on the site.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:28 AM on July 19, 2007


That's what "community policing" means, it's everyone's subjective opinions about what belongs on the site.

I would have thought community policing meant bringing something to the attention of an admin, or setting an example, or arguing against a position, not "majority rules" smackdowns of unpopular subjects, people or posts. Deciding whether or not a post or comment breaks the guidelines should be the sole job of the admins, not the unwashed masses. If the flags play a direct role (as in 50 flags and it gets deleted) in the moderation process as opposed to just highlighting potential problems, and if you and Cortex are now actively editing for content on the site as opposed to simply enforcing the guidlelines, I think that needs to be made clear, because it's certainly not what I understood the site to be about. Maybe I'm wrong.
posted by loquax at 10:36 AM on July 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


I would have thought community policing meant bringing something to the attention of an admin, or setting an example, or arguing against a position, not "majority rules" smackdowns of unpopular subjects... not the unwashed masses.

Down with vox populi! Up with the braying rules-lawyers and dead horse whippers!

Smug glibness aside, I take "community policing" to encompass the flag system, the give and take between members, and the transparency of the admin's decisions. Everyone, including myself, is probably a little correct in their respective definitions of what community policing is, but I think it's a mistake for anyone to think they know exactly what it is and should be.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:44 AM on July 19, 2007


Yay! loquax is here! Let the fun begin!
posted by dersins at 10:52 AM on July 19, 2007


I would have thought community policing meant bringing something to the attention of an admin, or setting an example, or arguing against a position, not "majority rules" smackdowns of unpopular subjects, people or posts.

Nor did anyone, least of all jessamyn, suggest that majority rules smackdowns were what is meant by community policing. This, too, is disingenuous. You've been around the site long enough to get a sense of how the flag system works, loquax. You may still be pissed about your crappy Arafat post getting deleted, and the crappy Arafat post before that, but acting like you've been rudely awakened from a restful sleep to find the site gone to hell is stupid. If you care about the site so much presumably you've been keeping up with the community norms.
posted by OmieWise at 10:53 AM on July 19, 2007


I would have thought community policing meant bringing something to the attention of an admin, or setting an example, or arguing against a position, not "majority rules" smackdowns of unpopular subjects, people or posts.

Actually, it's all of those things. Matt didn't close down metatalk when the flag queue went active, or remove his email or the contact form, or tell people to never again discuss the merits of posts or comments or decisions.

The flag queue is a useful tool. The correllation between a lot of flags and deletion is stastictically significant, but it's hardly unity. What it is is a good way to get less intense/contentious feedback about stuff, and it works pretty well for the minor things and as an early-warning indicator for the not-so-minor things.

A pretty wide variety of folks flag content, so in that sense it's arguably a better method to hear a spread of voices than the much smaller selection of folks willing to start a metatalk thread or email one of us.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:54 AM on July 19, 2007


Maybe I'm wrong.

Yes, you're wrong. Every deletion decision is made by humans here. It would be easy to have some sort of bot that removed everything that was above a certain flag threshold. We don't do that. Either you have some example that you're not sharing where you think that some deletion decision was NOT made by one of us, or you're being obtuse to a depth rarely see in MeTa.

It may just be that you disagree with the deletions or the reasons given or the policies on the site itself, but all of those are open for debate and discussion. At this point I seriously don't understand what you are alleging is happening that is NOT a moderator deciding a post is bad and deleting it, but you're stumbling perilously close to "they don't appreciate my good ideas! they all laughed at me at the academy! I'll show them!" territory which I'm hoping does not reflect your opinions and/or thought processes.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:06 AM on July 19, 2007


Sometimes, a post I think is OK gets deleted, and I try not to get bent out of shape about it. I thought the story was interesting, I thought the rebuttals from NR were interesting. And I even think the Benny Hinn thing was OK, though not great.

But I accept that sometimes things that I think are OK get axed in the cause of moderating MeFi, and that's fine by me. That's why I'm a socialist.
posted by klangklangston at 11:16 AM on July 19, 2007


"Every deletion decision is made by humans here."

No, I'm pretty sure I heard somewhere that cortex was a robot.
posted by klangklangston at 11:18 AM on July 19, 2007


EXTERMINATE
EXTERMINATE
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:29 AM on July 19, 2007


Cortex, the musical robot!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:35 AM on July 19, 2007


Well I'm sorry if I'm being obtuse, and I would have hoped what I said would have been taken as constructive criticism of the system, not of you personally.

Jessamyn, I'm sorry, I see the guideline page, I see the deletion reasons, I've seen the number of flags a post received referenced as part of a deletion reason many times. There is a disconnect there. I have no idea what instructions you and cortex have from Matt, or what your subjective views are on what the "policies" of the site are, but from the policies posted (the only thing I have to go on) these deletions are wrong. I'm not saying you're doing a bad job of being an admin, I'm just saying the guidelines are either misleading, out of date, or no longer valid, and that causes confusion about what your role is and what is and isn't acceptable on the site. Clearly I'm not the only one confused.

And none of this has anything to do with matt and it being his site. As far as I'm concerned, what he says goes, it's his site, I never even paid the 5 bucks (though I did donate), and I have no complaint with him ruling by decree. If he comes here and says screw the posted guidelines, jess and cortex are total arbiters of content and that's the end of it, fine.

Until then, the only thing that I'm "alleging" is that criteria other than the posted guidelines are being used for deletions and it's causing confusion and arguments. All I'm looking for is rule of law rather than ad hoc decisions, which I'm noticing more and more of. Of course there will always be exceptions, but they should really be exceptions. I'm not sure that's the case today. I just really don't think it would be that hard to tighten up the guidelines to the point where they wouldn't affect what stays up on the site much, if at all, but would prevent 90% of the conflict.
posted by loquax at 11:40 AM on July 19, 2007


But I accept that sometimes things that I think are OK get axed in the cause of moderating MeFi, and that's fine by me. That's why I'm a socialist.

I've had a couple of posts deleted recently, and I accepted it, too. That's because I believe in private property.

Matt owns this server; he can do what he wants with it. He lets me use it, and I'm grateful for that. But since he owns it, my use of it is subject to his terms and conditions. If I don't like how he (or his proxies) run the place, my only choice is to walk away.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:43 AM on July 19, 2007


Moderation is good, moderation is important, but more moderation does not equal better moderation.

Given the number of blowhards and single-issue rantmonkeys we have here, I think anyone with any experience of the place would equate more moderation with better moderation.
posted by jason's_planet at 11:47 AM on July 19, 2007


Three cheers for the moderators!

Two, two cheers. Only love--the eternal republic--deserves three.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:52 AM on July 19, 2007


If you guys think the admins here are bad, you should try kuro5hin. They raised 70,000 bucks for the site administrator to spiff up the site, and a whole lot of nothing happened. The site has been dying a slow death for years. Consider yourselves fortunate that you have admins who participate and give a shit.
posted by chlorus at 11:54 AM on July 19, 2007


If I don't like how he (or his proxies) run the place, my only choice is to walk away.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:57 AM on July 19, 2007


No, I'm pretty sure I heard somewhere that cortex was a robot.

He's better than a robot.
posted by homunculus at 11:57 AM on July 19, 2007


loquax: All I'm looking for is rule of law rather than ad hoc decisions

I think ad hoc decisions are fine. I prefer fuzzy guidelines to ironclad rules. Yeah, the posting guidelines could be updated, rewriting this kinda stuff is good every couple of years. You could even propose changes you'd like to see made to them.

Anything that makes the jobs of the moderators easier is a good thing.

The reason I prefer guidelines is that every once in a while a great post appears that violates the letter of the guidelines, bu not the spirit of MetaFilter. I'd hate to see those disappear.

jason's_planet: Given the number of blowhards and single-issue rantmonkeys we have here, I think anyone with any experience of the place would equate more moderation with better moderation.

And the most egregious ones are smacked down. I don't have a problem with that. What I worry about is moderation creep, that because the awful stuff gets justly consigned to the abyss, that the borderline comments and FPPs will be deleted too. I want the borderline to stay.
posted by Kattullus at 12:08 PM on July 19, 2007


All I'm looking for is rule of law rather than ad hoc decisions, which I'm noticing more and more of.

Believe me, I understand this desire completely. And I haven't been able to convince those in charge that there are good reasons why every civilized country has laws and "the rule of law" is such a prized concept in society. It eliminates as much as possible the issues of arbitrarinesses, bias, and fairness. It also allows people to act with confidence with respect to the acceptability of their actions. These are good things which is why societies develop law and applaud the rule of law.

But I've come to accept that Matt does not want to have rules (other than self-link and double post). Matt believes in loose guidelines over rules. If the great weight of evidence hasn't changed his mind by now, it's not going to happen.

So short of that, we turn to the system we do have in place. And given the sub-optimal design, I think it does tend to work pretty good. We are lucky to have extremely patient and fair-minded people in charge. They are working in the absence of any firm groundings for their actions, but they do a pretty good job. In fact, I think they do a good enough job that I think if they did more, it would improve the quality here. I think my only concern is consistency. They are good at spotting bad, but they are inconsistent in doing stuff about it. That is why I would like more. I don't recall them every deleting good stuff, only bad. And the problem that I see them facing repeatedly is the consistency charge when they let some bad stuff slide.

But all things being equal, given the refusal to adopt rules to be applied firmly, I think our moderators do as well as a three individuals can be expected to do in such situations.
posted by dios at 12:23 PM on July 19, 2007


What I worry about is moderation creep, that because the awful stuff gets justly consigned to the abyss, that the borderline comments and FPPs will be deleted too. I want the borderline to stay.

Understandable, and a well-voiced concern. The great difficulty is in determining the placement and width of that borderline, however, and we're essentially damned to be forever shifting it to accomodate as best we can the feedback we get from the community, knowing that at any moment there are folks standing to either side feeling frustrated that the line has not been shifted farther yon.

If the relative volume of those flanking crowds is running about even—more or less equal doses of "more!" from the one side and "less!" from the other—that's probably as close to optimal as we can get the system.

Yeah, the posting guidelines could be updated, rewriting this kinda stuff is good every couple of years. You could even propose changes you'd like to see made to them.

Yes! Honestly, I have no problem with suggestions there. Standard disclaimers about guarantees re: using/refusing/abusing/juicing apply, natch, but explicit recommendations of "the guidelines could include this / say this differently / update this / omit this" are definitely not considered harmful.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:32 PM on July 19, 2007


"Believe me, I understand this desire completely. And I haven't been able to convince those in charge that there are good reasons why every civilized country has laws and "the rule of law" is such a prized concept in society. It eliminates as much as possible the issues of arbitrarinesses, bias, and fairness."

I had an interesting discussion a couple years ago with a woman who was studying law here, after being a lawyer in Spain for several years. The reason why she really liked the American system of law was that it was based primarily upon precedent, rather than upon principle. In the Spanish system, every law theoretically derives from some indivisible concept, and each situation is seen as being fundamentally novel, instead of being bound by what's come before. And, obviously, the situation isn't nearly as distinct as that: American laws are bound, at some level, by the principles enshrined in the constitution, and Spanish laws are, at some level, shaped by the real experience of a huge body of law. But her belief was that because of the emphasis on precedent, American law was much less fundamentally arbitrary.
posted by klangklangston at 12:49 PM on July 19, 2007


klangklangston: I think what you are getting at are the distinctions between common law systems and civil law systems. Civil law is what most countries have and are based on codes(and almost all of Europe; Spain is a civil law country derived from the Napoleonic Code). Common law is what the United States has that we got from merry ol' England.

I'm familiar with the argument about how interpretation and application of a statute can vary when there is no precedent, thereby putting arbitrariness in civil law system. But I think it is incorrect to quantify it as more arbitrary. In common law systems, precedents are constantly distinguished, e.g., what is ok when X did it, is not ok when Y did because of distinguishing fact Z. Precedent is as weak as the ability of an attorney and a judge to distinguish it away (hell, that's what I do all day). The reality is that any system that is based on application by people will necessarily involve some degree of inconsistency and arbitrariness, whether it be civil or common law.

This distinction between common law and civil isn't really at issue here because the legal concepts I was more addressing is closer to criminal law in this country: you are free to do what you want within these specific boundaries. And in reality, the United States is increasingly becoming more of a civil law country. Our criminal law is already code based. And administrative laws are multiplying. We've had many attempts to develop codes in other areas (e.g., Uniform Commercial Code). So we are moving away from common law in most areas other than torts. But there is a good reason that we have criminal codes, and its the reasons I alluded to above. They are absolutely necessary. Common law in the criminal context would be abhorrent to anyone observing it.
posted by dios at 1:13 PM on July 19, 2007


Yes! Honestly, I have no problem with suggestions there.

- Then I'd re-iterate what I've said - if there are subjects (like I/P, Iraq or the '08 elections) that are going to be subject to greater content scrutiny, then add them to the posting page, tell people upfront that even though what they're posting may be new to the site, there's a higher bar for this topic.

- Clarify what a "troll" post is. Right now the guidelines say that a good post will inspire a discussion. If a post that will receive tons of flags due to its content will be deleted, despite its being posted in good faith, say so. If I were to post a thoughtful, theological essay in favour of overturning Roe v. Wade (not that I would), it would get hundreds of flags, I'm guessing. Maybe highlight issues like SUVs, gun control, climate change, whatever that don't make for good discussion here and actively discourage them. If somebody posts and it gets deleted due to a combination of flagging and administrative fiat, at least they were warned.

- If there are sites that are banned on metafilter, spell it out. LGF, MEMRI, Vanguard, DU, DailyKos, whatever.

These are easy things to do (I think) with some thought, and I think they'd make things a lot easier when it comes to deletions and conflict. Deletion reason: Not good enough to stand as an election post; links to prohibited site; please don't post Roe v. Wade links without a very good reason, etc. Much better than "wingnutfilter", "meh" and so on. There will still be many opportunities to get in good deletion reasons for obvious nonsense and double posts.

Finally;

note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the
issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.


Either enforce this or remove it from the site. I firmly believe that some of these "disaster" threads could have been salvaged by aggressive deletion of off-topic noise, condescension, and insulting comments rather than by deleting the post. Yes, it requires more effort on the part of admins, and yes, it will probably result in Metatalk threads about why their nonsense comments are deleted, but it would encourage civility and discussion based on content and ideas, rather than really lame internet jokes and one-upmanship. There are plenty of opportunities for that, in Metatalk, in joke threads, wherever, but allowing those comments to stand in the blue just encourages more of it, and it bleeds into every other thread (how many people wished death on reklaw in that owl thread?). As it stands, whether you intend to or not, when someone posts and it's lambasted, it looks like you let everyone pile on and have their licks (and most of the time, it's idiots who haven't even read the links) and delete the thread with a jokey comment that makes it look like you're joining right in.

American law was much less fundamentally arbitrary.


But much more practically arbitrary, where you rely on judges to be wise, impartial and have enough of an understanding of the law that they won't botch rulings. Which is why you have the right to appeal. Even still, in common law cases are published that highlight and clarify the law to the point where it can be used pretty much as if it were written law. And most criminal law is codified anyways, so everyone knows where they stand. I'm just suggesting that the casebook be published not that it remain static and not that it be all-encompassing. Give us more of a firm idea of what's cool and what's not, beyond just "best of the web" and "what fits with the site", because that's clearly not all there is to it.
posted by loquax at 1:20 PM on July 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


How much work should mods do just to clarify "Don't be an asshole?" I mean, it's like you're arguing that because you were being a cock, not an asshole, you deserve exemption.
posted by klangklangston at 2:33 PM on July 19, 2007


How much work should mods do just to clarify "Don't be an asshole?"

See, it's almost like we have different definitions of what being an asshole is...weird...
posted by loquax at 2:41 PM on July 19, 2007


- Then I'd re-iterate what I've said - if there are subjects (like I/P, Iraq or the '08 elections) that are going to be subject to greater content scrutiny, then add them to the posting page, tell people upfront that even though what they're posting may be new to the site, there's a higher bar for this topic.

That has been done a couple times in the past—both alerts (complete, sometimes, with flashing police light or dancing santa gif!) on the posting pages of different parts of the site and through catchall "talk about subject foo here" posts to the sidebar. The complicating factor is that these prohibitions are likely to be fairly dynamic, and giving them a permanent home in the guidelines strikes me as suggesting a much firmer and more static prohibition than exists.

- Clarify what a "troll" post is. Right now the guidelines say that a good post will inspire a discussion. If a post that will receive tons of flags due to its content will be deleted, despite its being posted in good faith, say so.

But how would you codify that? The difficulty with trollish posts is that they depend as much on execution/presentation as they do on topic. I'd be happy to see the distinction between discussion material and hate-on/pile-on/shit-fest material explained in a single sentence, but I'm not sure what that sentence would be. For example:

If I were to post a thoughtful, theological essay in favour of overturning Roe v. Wade (not that I would), it would get hundreds of flags, I'm guessing.

If you were to post a well-built, non-editorializing thread presenting a post-worthy essay, I think that would not be the case, actually. There's a difficulty here: the correspondence between posts on the subject of hot-button topics and posts that in their presentation push people's buttons is (anecdotally speaking) pretty damn strong.

That's not to say it wouldn't get any flags, but we routinely leave up posts that do receive a number of flags, whether because they seem weird or because they are on a contentious topic. There's a difference between 8 flags and 50, though, and that difference is a pretty clear indicator of a strong community reaction and is usually a reflection of the presentation rather than any specific topic. I'm not sure it's a general, briefly expressible set, though again I'm interested in seeing a compelling example.

Maybe highlight issues like SUVs, gun control, climate change, whatever that don't make for good discussion here and actively discourage them. If somebody posts and it gets deleted due to a combination of flagging and administrative fiat, at least they were warned.

There's a disagreement here in how you and I feel about deletions: I don't think they need to be justified by more explicit warnings. There are issues that more often than others will produce lousy discussion, and those do get deleted, but the topics themselves aren't verboten—essentially nothing is, if done well. If a post is deleted and the poster didn't see that coming (which, honestly, is to some degree the case for almost all deleted posts), that right there is a meaningful warning. Disatisfyingly post-hoc for the poster, maybe, but far from the end of the world—and if the problem was presentation rather than content, they can (and have!) successfully posted a stronger version a day or a week later.

The FAQ addresses some of the contentious things in top-level detail as is—see why was my post deleted in particularl. That document is something we're planning to get more visible—placement in the header on every subsite, etc—but it might or might not make sense to add that to the guidelines page itself. I'm very much the junior partner as far as that sort of thing goes.

- If there are sites that are banned on metafilter, spell it out. LGF, MEMRI, Vanguard, DU, DailyKos, whatever.

The main problem with sticking that in the guidelines, to my eye, is the notion of going from general "not a great idea" oral history to explicit and official condemnation of those sites. Cross-site snubs as guideline seems like a poor thing to canonize. Besides that, none of those are banned. There are occasions when a link to kos or DU or whatever might make sense, even if on their own they generally make lousy front page material, so why ban them? If the only goal is to prevent a user from being caught out by a deletion, it doesn't seem to me to justify the cost of making that a policy.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:55 PM on July 19, 2007


Clarify what a "troll" post is.

I don't think that's the issue. The issues are axegrindfilter and LOLfilter, which are extensions of the original "troll" post rules; the difference is that they're not trolling because they're not intentionally out to get a rise out of anyone or out to dynamite the pond.

Trolling requires intent, i.e. trying to piss people off and create inflammatory derails. The -filter articles are about sharing things you think are relevant/interesting in areas where inflammatory derails.

Right now the guidelines say that a good post will inspire a discussion. If a post that will receive tons of flags due to its content will be deleted, despite its being posted in good faith, say so. If I were to post a thoughtful, theological essay in favour of overturning Roe v. Wade (not that I would), it would get hundreds of flags, I'm guessing.

It would, but it were thoughtful, or good, or interesting, or heaven forbid The Best Of The Web, why would the flags matter?

Maybe highlight issues like SUVs, gun control, climate change, whatever that don't make for good discussion here and actively discourage them. If somebody posts and it gets deleted due to a combination of flagging and administrative fiat, at least they were warned.

See, here's where I start having problems. I don't want "taboo" topics. I don't want to have a wholesale ban on, say, LOLXIANS, or political threads.

But it has to be GOOD. It has to be stuff that isn't the daily RedState/Kos sort of blog crawl. It has to be FRESH. It can't be an AlterNet reprint of an Independent reprint of a month-old New Republic article. It has to be THOUGHTFUL. It can't be one giant axegrind or smug LOL. It has to be INTERESTING. It needs to provide a new angle, or new information, or a new insight. And it has to be WELL-BUILT. Why the article or video is interesting is explained, contextualized, and designed so it gives a person a reason to actually read the post.

You know why I like MeFi more than Digg? Because Digg is single-link axegrindfilter slash "X reasons you should do Y" posts. MeFi is circumspection, intelligence, and a desire to find the interesting, not just game the system in some form of social networking masturbatory fantasy.

And that means no banned topics, no banned sites. I don't think LGF links should be banned, because one day, about when Jesus comes from clouds descending, someone will manage to construct a good FPP out of a LGF link.

What I do want is The Best. Screw the "of the Web" part at this point, because everything's frikkin online now. Given the billions of pages and videos and sounds and Flash games and applications out there, everyone on this site should be able to construct one post that ranks as The Best in their lifetime. Maybe it's the optimism of a million monkeys typing Shakespeare, but I really do think it.

Like I said before, this board is filled with educated and intelligent people. It should post educated and intelligent things. Or in lieu of that, stupid one-link YouTube posts and worthwhile Flash Friday posts.

Don't proscribe ideas. Don't proscribe websites. Proscribe the Boring. Proscribe the relentless crawl of the same old political and religious outrage. Promote the Good. Promote the Best.

End rant.

Now, who wants to see a video of a religious conservative senator blowing the ending of Deathly Hallows to the soundtrack of a Peter Bjorn and John song? I'm going to tag it "breastfeedingisstupidamirite"!
posted by dw at 3:10 PM on July 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


Finally;

> note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the
issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.

Either enforce this or remove it from the site. I firmly believe that some of these "disaster" threads could have been salvaged by aggressive deletion of off-topic noise, condescension, and insulting comments rather than by deleting the post. Yes, it requires more effort on the part of admins, and yes, it will probably result in Metatalk threads about why their nonsense comments are deleted, but it would encourage civility and discussion based on content and ideas, rather than really lame internet jokes and one-upmanship.


Actually, enforcement (with all the attendant effort and Metatalk backlash) does happen sometimes. It's a lot less common (and has a much higher threshold) on the blue than on the green, as a point of comparison, but it happens.

But the measurement of the work required to do that is always going to be set agains the measurment of the quality of the post itself. We're going to work a lot harder on an unpredictable trainwreck in a well-presented thread linking to interesting web content than we are on a completely predictable trainwreck in a provocative "hey let's yell at each other or mock others" link to news or an op-ed or similar such.

If you're asking for either complete and unrelenting enforcement or removal of that note, you're going to come away dissatisfied.

There are plenty of opportunities for that, in Metatalk, in joke threads, wherever, but allowing those comments to stand in the blue just encourages more of it, and it bleeds into every other thread (how many people wished death on reklaw in that owl thread?). As it stands, whether you intend to or not, when someone posts and it's lambasted, it looks like you let everyone pile on and have their licks (and most of the time, it's idiots who haven't even read the links) and delete the thread with a jokey comment that makes it look like you're joining right in.

To be perfectly clear: it's rarely the situation that we "let everyone pile on"—a deletion of a thread that has gone trainwreck in the time between when it was posted and when it started getting flagged as a trainwreck is a deletion that happens once the problem has actually manifested. Some of the things we delete look like they will almost certainly become a trainwreck, but we don't really sit around popcorning it and waiting for a satisfactory number of hours worth of licks to accrue before we do something. In general, we deal with stuff as it comes up. If the result of that reactive system is the weird perception on some folks' part that we must have been aware but letting it stand for shits and giggles, so be it.

This is why some things that look like they'll be problematic get nuked early: an often gut-driven analysis of the potential for a pile of unhealthy, disrespectful hollering. It means that posters sometimes feel rug-pulled, and I sympathize with that, but I don't consider any one flawed post to be so sacrosanct as to deserve preferential treatment over the general health and sanity of the front page and the discussions therein.

>American law was much less fundamentally arbitrary.

But much more practically arbitrary, where you rely on judges to be wise, impartial and have enough of an understanding of the law that they won't botch rulings. Which is why you have the right to appeal.


And here we are! Shit even gets turned over on appeal now and then.

Even still, in common law cases are published that highlight and clarify the law to the point where it can be used pretty much as if it were written law. And most criminal law is codified anyways, so everyone knows where they stand. I'm just suggesting that the casebook be published not that it remain static and not that it be all-encompassing.

That's where I think practically it breaks down and pretty much flies in the face of Matt's long standing anti-rules, anti-policy vision for the site. Insofar as there is a static rule book, it's pretty well encapsulated in the guidelines and the FAQ; if there are specific things that could use adding or tweaking, that's one thing, but the idea that we'll fundamentally alter the system by adopting strict codification is veering well away from the spirit of the thing. The casebook is the whole archives of the site, and the idea of elevating and adhering to strict precedential arguments don't really make sense when the matter is running a community rather than executing criminal sentences.

Give us more of a firm idea of what's cool and what's not, beyond just "best of the web" and "what fits with the site", because that's clearly not all there is to it.

For all my counter-arguments here and above, I dig this sentiment. As a fundamental notion, finding some brief but clear sentiments to help increase the utility without increasing significantly the size or changing significantly the character of hte guidelines isn't all that objectionable. But it needs to be (a) accurate, (b) concise, and (c) general enough to capture the general spirit, not just harp on the exceptions. That's a bit of a challenge, and I'd be genuinely interested to see the responses that could match it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:13 PM on July 19, 2007


"See, it's almost like we have different definitions of what being an asshole is...weird..."

Yeah, but when I get deleted, I think "Hey, maybe I was coming across as an asshole. I'll try to avoid that in the future."
posted by klangklangston at 3:32 PM on July 19, 2007


Wow. I would have thought the Hari piece had made the blue by now. It's an excellent and disturbing piece of writing.

I guess my least favorite deletions lately are sort of the equivalent of "payback" calls in the NBA or NFL. Like, you know you might have messed up a bit a while ago, so you overcompensate on the next one, especially when a resident conservative/Republican masquerading as an "apolitical" mefite whines about something.

That said, the mods here should in no way feel beholden to give "equal time" to, say, a neo-con author who infiltrates the YearlyKos meeting or something. If such a piece of writing did exist, and was as masterful as the Hari piece, then go for it. I'd enjoy reading it myself.

Thing is though, it doesn't exist, and I really doubt it ever will. Argue for deletions on the given merits of an FPP, but please spare us the tired SCDB "ZOMG LIBRUL SLIPPRY SLOPE AMIRITE???" Metafilter, being comprised mainly of Americans, is not your boogie-man "Marxist" paradise. It's a reflection of the American populace at large with a bit of a lefty "red-shift" due to demographics and income and profession. Republican and/or Neo-con politics are the fringe of American political views right now, and will be for quite a while. Get used to it, and stop whining about how reality is persecuting you.
posted by bardic at 3:36 PM on July 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


these prohibitions are likely to be fairly dynamic

I'd be happy to see the distinction between discussion material and hate-on/pile-on/shit-fest material explained in a single sentence

I don't suggest a flat-out ban on any topic, but I think the flashing police light worked well to draw attention to the fact that posts on those subjects would be subject to a lot more scrutiny (from the admins as well as the membership) than others, therefore, post at your own risk. The standards for content will be higher, and the standards for trolling will be lower. Or something like that.

In general, I'm not fully disagreeing with anything you say, but what it all boils down to is that your (and jessamyn's, and Matt's) subjective opinion of the post, it's subject matter, its presentation and its links become the only real standard. If this is the case, that's fine, but I genuinely did not believe it to be so prior to last week. I thought if a post wasn't a troll, a double post, or a self link, and was at least coherent, it would stay up. I remember "train wrecks" going on for hundreds of comments without deletion or moderation, sometimes with positive results after the usual suspects got their snarking out of the way. If this is not the case, then at a minimum I would recommend that in flashing letters, right beside the "post" butting, that despite the guidelines, the faq, and anything else, ultimate discretion lies with you guys. And anytime someone complains, quote it, give a reason and close the thread. Maybe it's self-evident, but I can only speak for myself when I say that that didn't seem to be the case in the past (perhaps because there were less moderators - not something I'm advocating). I can also tell you that it would have shut me up real quick, rather than what I perceived as rationalizations on your part encouraging me to debate guidelines and intentions for days.

To be perfectly clear: it's rarely the situation that we "let everyone pile on"


I didn't really mean to suggest that, and I know it's a lot of work to cull through hundreds and thousands of comments, but I really do think it's out of control, and some people either are flying under the radar or given way too much leeway. I don't know how to fix this without bans and more work than is reasonable, or if it would even be desirable in the end, but right or wrong, the end result is that there's considerable alienation of those being piled upon, and the perception that the admins are doing nothing. For what it's worth.

some brief but clear sentiments to help increase the utility without increasing significantly the size or changing significantly the character of hte guidelines isn't all that objectionable

I really do think that having a list of touchy subjects, or subjects that metafilter doesn't do well, or does too often anchored to the posting page will serve as a good reminder to people to either not post the nth story about whatever, or at least double check to make sure the post is strong enough to survive, given the warning. If it has to be updated occasionally, so be it, no?

In any case, thanks for the response, I do appreciate it.
posted by loquax at 3:45 PM on July 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but when I get deleted, I think "Hey, maybe I was coming across as an asshole. I'll try to avoid that in the future."

That's sort of what I'm trying to do here. What are you doing here besides calling me an asshole? Or is it a cock?
posted by loquax at 3:47 PM on July 19, 2007


yeah, bam is totally getting fat.
posted by fishfucker at 3:51 PM on July 19, 2007


In general, I'm not fully disagreeing with anything you say, but what it all boils down to is that your (and jessamyn's, and Matt's) subjective opinion of the post, it's subject matter, its presentation and its links become the only real standard. If this is the case, that's fine, but I genuinely did not believe it to be so prior to last week.

Well, here's what I see as the tricky bit: our subjective opinions of posts will always be part of the act of deletion, because it's infeasible to do otherwise: we don't—can't—start a metatalk thread to discuss everything that looks problematic and see what folks think. That's why the flagging system exists and why we list our email addresses and have the contact form and Metatalk: if we're going to decide, we have to decide and then go from there after.

So in that sense, yes, absolutely: I look at a post (because I'm skimming the front page, or because someone emails me about it, or because there's a metatalk thread, or because there's 1-50 flags on it when I check the queue) and I think about it and make a call. Matt does the same, Jess does the same. I read the post, check the links, scan through the comments, check the flag queue and metatalk if that's not how I got to the thread in the first place. And, ultimately: delete or don't, based on the final subjective math.

But if I'm not sure, sometimes I'll leave it alone. I might leave the flags undeleted so that Matt or Jess can see it on their own and make the call one way or the other. For something novel or weird, I'll email them to discuss it. Sometimes, if a thread seems like potential trouble but is going well enough so far, we will keep an eye out and see if it's going to make it or not. In that case, odd nasty blips might get culled, but a wave of unsurprising badness might get it nuked.

All of that is pretty much uncodifiable. It's impossible to be absolutely objective and still keep shit from exploding, in my opinion, because it caters to the idea that the letter and not the spirit of the law is paramount. There are plenty of things that could be done according to careful observance of a set of rules and still be shitty, and "don't be shitty" is one of the key ideas in what we do. We can't do it perfectly, and there's some lousy behavior that I'd liek to see less of and which we deal with how we can in accordance with the character of the site, but all of that requires a degree of subjectivity and gut to even function.

Moderation is not and has not ever been a pure and inflexible and rules-based thing around here, from when Matt kicked things off in 99 right up to today. We're not going to try to run the site according to our whims, but we have to make judgement calls every hour of the day. It may be that, yes, in that specific sense you've just been imagining a different site than has actually existed. It's been (well-intentioned, considered, hopefully pretty fair, community-minded) gut calls and discussion after the fact since day one.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:06 PM on July 19, 2007


"I don't suggest a flat-out ban on any topic, but I think the flashing police light worked well to draw attention to the fact that posts on those subjects would be subject to a lot more scrutiny (from the admins as well as the membership) than others, therefore, post at your own risk."

How about you pay attention to, I dunno, the last couple YEARS of MeFi? Because it's pretty clear to anyone who reads what is likely to inflame the community and what isn't. It's not like there's a sudden and unexplained uprising against posts on Chilean Sea Bass— these patterns are pretty apparent. If it's newsfilter, if it's thinly sourced, if it's, I dunno, a momentary blip in third-rate political tabloids without a larger story to accompany it, the post deserves and will likely receive higher scrutiny from both mods and members.

"That's sort of what I'm trying to do here. What are you doing here besides calling me an asshole? Or is it a cock?"

I'm also subtly suggesting that the longer you bitch and moan about how because things weren't perfectly sparklingly clear and immediately apprehendable to YOU, the the site needs to change, the more you come across as some sort of Aspie and less as someone who's genuinely interested in interacting with humans.
posted by klangklangston at 4:12 PM on July 19, 2007


Moderation is not and has not ever been a pure and inflexible and rules-based thing around here

True dat. But IMO you've reached diminishing returns with your visibility and transparency, cortex. It's great that you're willing to give paragraph upon paragraph of apologia for your moderation decisions, but in most cases less would be a lot more.

We're big boys and girls around here. We know that moderation can't please everyone, all the time. And that, once in a while, you'll be told to eat a bag of cocks. But you aren't embracing the obvious as much as fluttering around it.

Toughen up. Realize that you can't have everyone love you any longer.
posted by bardic at 4:38 PM on July 19, 2007


Buh? I don't give a crap about having everyone love me; I care about transparency for transparency's sake. I care about doing as solid a job here as I can, and that means having it out at length sometimes when I don't understand where someone's coming from.

loquax may or may not be inclined to shit on my cat given the opportunity, but I've got a better understanding of where he's coming from now than I did this time yesterday. If you prefer inscrutability, you're welcome to ignore every explanatory comment you come across.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:43 PM on July 19, 2007


IMO, these wheel-spinning sessions aren't really exercises in transparency though. As you and Jessamyn have pointed out, we'll always come to the same (valid) conclusions -- a) mods, being human, are imperfect, b) mefi, being what it is, would probably suffer from having a more hardcore enforcement policy, c) sometimes stuff you post will get axed, and it might no be entirely fair but you can always GYOBFW.

I mean, threads like this don't hurt, either, they're just getting to be pretty tedious.
posted by bardic at 4:56 PM on July 19, 2007


Rest assured, I am not so inclined, cortex. And I better understand where you are coming from too, and I thank you for taking the time to treat me like the unique snowflake I believe myself to be.
posted by loquax at 4:57 PM on July 19, 2007


threads like this don't hurt, either, they're just getting to be pretty tedious.

Amen to that.
posted by languagehat at 4:58 PM on July 19, 2007


bardic: threads like this don't hurt, either, they're just getting to be pretty tedious.

languagehat: Amen to that.

And here you both are, commenting in them.

WILL NO ONE THINK OF THE CATS GOING UNSCRATCHED BECAUSE OF THESE THREADS!
posted by Kattullus at 5:07 PM on July 19, 2007


I hate these circular threads. But I hate, hate, hate cats so much more.

LET'S GO ROUND AGAIN!!!
posted by dw at 5:09 PM on July 19, 2007


bardic, lhat, you two are members in good standing of the Fraternal Lodge of Metatalkers, which I mean in the warmest and most familial sense possible. You both know the site and the grey specifically like the back of your hands; what is pretty much instinctive reasoning or settled questions for you isn't necessarily so for other folks, and that's going to remain ever so as long as people are digging into an issue for the first time.

I know I get to talking, but I do so in this sort of situation because understanding the site dynamics and having the site understood matters a lot to me, and because it's not all useless wheel-spinning: even if we come full circle to the same point, there might actually be some useful stuff along the loop—a reinforcement of why those conclusions exist, etc. I apologize if it's tedious for you, but it's not really about keeping you entertained, and bardic's lead-in didn't have much of anything to do with even that complaint.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:13 PM on July 19, 2007


"Only the foolish learn from experience — the wise learn from the experience of others."

I think that many here, myself included, sometimes enjoy testing boundaries and having our mistakes spelled out, so that we can learn from them.

These discussions are tedious, and repetitious, but cortex is right, in that sometimes people will only learn from being told personally how things are down, or how the logic of moderation is applied. And so, MeTa does become extremely repetitious, but perhaps no less useful, as time passes.

I can certainly empathize with jessamyn for shortening her deletion reasons. God knows how many e-mails she receives and sends out on a daily basis from complaints, questions, deletions, etc. But these deletion reasons are often the public face for what would otherwise be pretty much "invisible hand" moderation. So perhaps better discretion would be necessary in times, especially when making a moderation decision about a particularly heated topic.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 5:26 PM on July 19, 2007


it's not really about keeping you entertained

WHAT? NOBODY TALKS TO ME LIKE THAT! FUCK YOU, I'M CUTTING OFF MY RIGHT HAND YOU BASTARD!

*goes off to compose fevered MeTa post, remembers cat needs scratching, does that instead*
posted by languagehat at 5:26 PM on July 19, 2007


See, that's the good stuff.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:28 PM on July 19, 2007


Meh.
posted by jeffamaphone at 8:16 PM on July 19, 2007


More straightforward reasons for deletion would help, as would either sticking to the guidelines or updating them. Maybe deleting could automatically include a link to the FAQ about possible reasons.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:28 PM on July 19, 2007


Yeah, but when I get deleted, I think "Hey, maybe I was coming across as an asshole. I'll try to avoid that in the future."
posted by klangklangston at 6:32 PM on July 19


If at first you don't succeed...
posted by juiceCake at 3:09 AM on July 20, 2007


Mine's a results-based doctrine.
posted by klangklangston at 9:21 AM on July 20, 2007


I was about to ask for clarification as to why this thread lived while the TNR cruise post was deleted, but then you deleted it, pretty much wasting everything I'd written.

So, never mind.
posted by dw at 9:22 AM on July 20, 2007


Mine's a results-based doctrine.

No Asshole Left Behind?
posted by dw at 9:22 AM on July 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


The secret top priority guideline is actually "waste dw's time", see.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:27 AM on July 20, 2007


The secret top priority guideline is actually "waste dw's time", see.

I've reached the point where I'm included in the plans of the Secret Cabal? I'VE FINALLY ARRIVED AS A MIDDLING MEFITE!!!!
posted by dw at 9:51 AM on July 20, 2007


Don't flatter yourself; that's strictly sub-committee stuff.

However, there is no sub-committee.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:27 AM on July 20, 2007


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