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July 30, 2007 9:56 PM   Subscribe

Why is this thread on "penalties for abortion" still here? And the FPP is a Youtube one-link yet.
posted by davy to Etiquette/Policy at 9:56 PM (131 comments total)

Abort it! Abort it!
posted by hackly_fracture at 9:59 PM on July 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


Because it hasn't been deleted?
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 9:59 PM on July 30, 2007


Because it's interesting and there is some interesting comments.
posted by juiceCake at 10:01 PM on July 30, 2007


I'm not saying it should be deleted, just asking for the rationale behind its persistence.
posted by davy at 10:04 PM on July 30, 2007


Q: Why is X still here?

A: I AM GOING TO EAT YOUR SOUL AND CRAP HAPPINESS
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:05 PM on July 30, 2007 [19 favorites]


Why can't we just delete all threads and ban all members? Then everyone will be happy!
posted by Citizen Premier at 10:08 PM on July 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


It has a good beat and you can dance to it.
posted by Sailormom at 10:08 PM on July 30, 2007 [4 favorites]


It's there because we decided to play it gentle, despite the potential for a trainwreck, and just let stand and see what happens. Jess and I have both been doing some pruning to try and keep out some of the lousy/baity/noisy shit that's showed up, but as neither of us has felt like spending the night glued to the screen refreshing it obsessively there has still been some pretty ugly stuff going on.

One of the things that's been suggested about contentious issue posts in the last week's string of threads is the idea that we should let the post stand and concentrate on the comments—address the behavior instead of playing the odds on historic shitstorm trends early on in a threads life. I understand and appreciate the argument, but this is a pretty classic example of why that's not workable with a pair rather than a platoon of moderators—it's impossible for us to cut out the worst of the comments right as they happen with enough consistency to prevent nasty tete-a-tetes and derails and a general descent into shitty behavior.

There's some interesting comments, and I'm willing to work the argument that the link content is interesting even if I personally think it's a bit one-note and doesn't leave a hell of a lot to discuss in the thread (so much as just prompt the general topic of abortion activism = dumb). But there's also some of the worst behavior we see on this site. To argue that the thread hasn't gotten damned ugly (and this is despite some really lousy stuff being removed) strikes me as willful denial.

That's my take, anyway. Jess may or may not be asleep or enjoying a good book or something at this point.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:11 PM on July 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why is this thread on "penalties for abortion" still here?

Uh, nine month term until a new thread is born?
posted by KokuRyu at 10:11 PM on July 30, 2007


ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT DUMB INTERNET ARGUMENTS.
posted by fishfucker at 10:18 PM on July 30, 2007


A: I AM GOING TO EAT YOUR SOUL AND CRAP HAPPINESS

Q: Are you sure you don't mean someone else's?
posted by Tuwa at 10:19 PM on July 30, 2007


Because there's a give and take, an ebb and flow to the deletions. Everything stands and people whine. So the deletions go up for a while. People whine about the deletions, so they're cut back. I flagged the post knowing full well there was no way in hell it would be deleted. There's nothing really surprising about it if you've been paying attention.
posted by justgary at 10:20 PM on July 30, 2007


I'd like to know if it was flagged to hell or not.
posted by puke & cry at 10:28 PM on July 30, 2007


Since there are only 3 people who can delete posts, there are only 3 people who can explain the rationale for ANY post not being deleted. So I wonder why you didn't ask them directly.

And while I do believe very strongly that "best of the web" should be a criteria for materials linked on MetaFilter, I don't think there's anything about a video in general or a YouTube video in particular that would disqualify it from being best of the web. I know this is a general question, unrelated to this MeTa thread, but why do YouTube videos catch so much flack around here? It seems rather like hating novels because you didn't like The Great Gatsby.
posted by chudmonkey at 10:37 PM on July 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


WHY AM I NAKED AND WHAT ARE THE POLICE DOING HERE? HOW LONG HAS THIS BEEN GOING ON AND WHEN WILL IT STOP?
posted by jonson at 10:40 PM on July 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


WHY AM I NAKED AND WHAT ARE THE POLICE DOING HERE? HOW LONG HAS THIS BEEN GOING ON AND WHEN WILL IT STOP?

Also known as: another Saturday morning at chez wonderchicken.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:44 PM on July 30, 2007


I think it's a wonderful thread. I am thinking of doing a similar poll when the National Right to Life rally comes to Washington again.
posted by parmanparman at 10:45 PM on July 30, 2007


Policemen and policewomen enjoy being naked also.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:46 PM on July 30, 2007


Since its such a kewl thread and all I decided to participate. I want to BELONG!
posted by davy at 10:49 PM on July 30, 2007


I wanted to be long too, but those pills were a scam.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:52 PM on July 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


but why do YouTube videos catch so much flack around here?

Based on observation...

The majority of YouTube videos linked here are a few minutes long, or longer, and so determining if it's a worthwhile time investment will require a lot more up-front time than scanning a static web site to see if the author is credible, or is batshitinsane.

A person who puts up a single YouTube link without supporting links, then, is essentially saying "You must invest a few minutes of your time to determine the credibility of this video, but I myself could not be bothered to spend a similar few minutes locating additional supporting material to provide context and/or help you determine credibility."

The implication is that someone saw the video on YouTube, took it at face value, and is throwing it to us as-is; we're left to do the dirty work.

That, plus the few YouTube videos short enough to be judged credible (or not) within seconds are generally too short to be truly interesting, and are instead funny or wacky or pepsiblue -- not particularly respectable material.

So, if you want a YouTube video to be taken seriously as an FPP, it cannot BE the FPP; it should either be supporting material for something larger, or should itself be supported by other material (ideally not just other YouTube links.)

Here's an example: say I happen to stumble across a YouTube video of an arguably attractive (albeit creepy at the same time) young woman preaching the gospel from a linguistics frame of reference, and I find it fascinating.

So I post the video to the Blue!
"You'll hear the gospel preached from a position of faith, and debunked from a position of fact, but rarely from this position [youtube]."
The resulting conversation would mostly be about what people thought the link was going to be (NSFW, for one thing) and would be mediocre at best.

However, if I did a few minutes' research on the name superimposed on the video -- "Dr. Gene Scott" -- I'd quickly discover some interesting stuff, and would probably end up spending a good hour or more wading through it. Then I'd post an FPP like this:
"this young woman [youtube] is actually Dr. Gene Scott's last wife (and now widow); she's carrying on a televangelist legacy that some say Dr. Gene started on dubious merits and by questionable means, and that the path from then to now was fraught with interesting tidbits, linguistic and otherwise."
And THAT would be an interesting conversation, and a good FPP (I assume.)

hey, you asked!
posted by davejay at 11:01 PM on July 30, 2007 [5 favorites]


i thought it was an interesting twist on this issue that i haven't seen covered before ... and considering this subject was beaten to death 10 years ago on usenet, that's saying something

i suppose once in awhile, we have to talk about abortion ... so this is this year's abortion thread

we can live with that, right?
posted by pyramid termite at 11:04 PM on July 30, 2007


I just want to know if anti-abortion vegetarians can eat eggs.
posted by freebird at 11:07 PM on July 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hey Davy?

Shut up.
posted by loquacious at 11:07 PM on July 30, 2007 [4 favorites]


A person who puts up a single YouTube link without supporting links, then, is essentially saying "You must invest a few minutes of your time to determine the credibility of this video,

not in this case ... an accurate description was given of the video's content and it was an idea that really doesn't need supporting links to be worth considering
posted by pyramid termite at 11:07 PM on July 30, 2007


Here's a thought I had about a week or so ago, after the "National Review Cruise" post got deleted :

There are some posts that have value and merit on their own, although their comment threads will most likely be annoying and worthless.

So.... Why not just disable commenting on some threads?
posted by Afroblanco at 11:27 PM on July 30, 2007


There's a reason it only costs $5 to post on metafilter. Evidently, mathowie don't mind if a few undesirable characters (like, say, myself) come along and express some unpopular views on his site. If you want everything you deem to be unworthy of discussion to be censored, I think there's some issues about yourself you need to examine.
posted by tehloki at 11:48 PM on July 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Afroblanco writes "Why not just disable commenting on some threads?"

Dude. The Supreme Court has ROUNDLY REJECTED prior restraint.

It's not a bad thread. Insightful comments and meaningful exchange are taking place. It's actually a thread that makes me happy with MeFi's level of maturity. Thanks for letting it stand.
posted by mullingitover at 12:00 AM on July 31, 2007


LOLMEFITES
posted by blenderfish at 12:16 AM on July 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


davejay: Very nice, thank you.
posted by chudmonkey at 12:42 AM on July 31, 2007


It's actually a thread that makes me happy with MeFi's level of maturity.

Agreed. I am pleasantly surprised by the conversation in the thread (as a reader, I mean, since I haven't jumped in to speak). Kudos to everyone (unless I missed someone who took a shit, then no kudos for you, whoever you are).
posted by amyms at 1:00 AM on July 31, 2007


1) Flag.

2) Move on.
posted by nenequesadilla at 1:12 AM on July 31, 2007


3) Did I miss the section of the FAQ that requires a rationale behind persistence?
posted by nenequesadilla at 1:16 AM on July 31, 2007


you know whats funny? Within a millisecond of reading the word "abortion" in the FPP, I knew there was going to be a callout here on the gray.

I, for one, cannot understand the mentality behind this idea of "man theres a ton of stuff we can't talk about anymore because it makes people angry and sad and gosh, man -- nobody's mind ever changes -- thats just the shits, man -- can't we all just chill and talk about music, man? its all good, man."

Life is full of conflict, and it doesn't go away even when you ignore it.
posted by Avenger at 1:46 AM on July 31, 2007


Wait a sec... you called out the thread and then made two on-topic comments?
posted by the_bone at 1:55 AM on July 31, 2007


Why it this thread still here?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:27 AM on July 31, 2007


I'm not saying it should be deleted, just asking for the rationale behind its persistence.

Yeah, it's strange...the topic of abortion is just so dull and virtually no one has a strong opinion on it.
posted by zardoz at 2:35 AM on July 31, 2007


But there's also some of the worst behavior we see on this site.

Said behavior being that of MeFi members, who should be given timeouts, if the behavior is that bad. Deleting comments is no deterrent to bad behavior. It's also apparently a lot of work. Are timeouts harder to apply than deletions?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:45 AM on July 31, 2007


You read it, you can't unread it.
posted by Eideteker at 5:04 AM on July 31, 2007


davy: "I'm not saying it should be deleted, just asking for the rationale behind its persistence."

I'm not usually one for moratoria, but I'd like to call for a moratorium on callouts where the caller refuses to take a position. If you don't mind that something exists, don't complain about it. This thread pushed something nice off the front page of MetaTalk and it's totally unnecessary.
posted by Plutor at 5:30 AM on July 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


Moderators, pony request -- could you please start another site, say, meta.metatalk.metafilter.com, and post justifications for keeping/deleting each thread as it arrives? One benefit is that you can keep working on perfecting the robot that we all know works behind the scenes, creating those deletion justifications. (Plus, once it achieves sentience, you can all just sit back and enjoy your giftcards.)
posted by inigo2 at 6:36 AM on July 31, 2007


What Kirth Gerson said. cortex/jess, have the people whose "lousy/baity/noisy shit" you had to remove been given timeouts? That's the only way things have a hope of changing in these threads.
posted by mediareport at 6:58 AM on July 31, 2007


How is this any different than the post that was a single link video of a bunch of jerkoff Young Republicans talking out of their asses about the war?

This post was deleted for the following reason: This is just seven unsurprising, axegrindy minutes of "point and laugh at the stupid college students". Yuck. Take it to Kos. -- cortex

Or the National Review Cruise ship post?

This post was deleted for the following reason: seen it. -- jessamyn

How does that attitude not apply here, of all places?

These posts were deleted within ten fucking minutes!

This is just seven unsurprising, axegrindy minutes of "point and laugh at the ignorant pro-lifers". Yuck. SEEN-IT. TAKE IT TO SOMEONE WHO CARES!

Asinine hypocritical horseshit, gg
posted by prostyle at 7:19 AM on July 31, 2007


The video was interesting, he really pinned something down that I can't recall seeing demonstrated so starkly before.
posted by The Straightener at 7:25 AM on July 31, 2007


As a pro-lifer myself, I found the video and thread much more interesting than other abortion threads here. The video was spot on- most pro-lifers don't think about what the consequences, should abortion become illegal of performing an abortion should be. The members concentrate so much on the short-term that the long-term effects tend to be neglected. It's not as if the recorder got lucky. In my experience (and I've had a fair amount of it), that's more or less how it is on this side of the fence.
posted by jmd82 at 7:25 AM on July 31, 2007


D'oh, "Most pro-lifers don't think about what the consequences, should abortion become illegal, of performing one should be."
posted by jmd82 at 7:31 AM on July 31, 2007


Isn't the default that the threads live, rather than die?

Oh, it's disingenuous Davy. Never mind.

I do agree that time outs might be a better solution, though the 'FASCIST! CENXORSHIPS!" quotient would go up (but then those people could be timed-out too, without significant loss, I think). Maybe it's just that advocating a more authoritarian position makes me feel a bit toady-ish...
posted by klangklangston at 7:59 AM on July 31, 2007


I'd like to know if it was flagged to hell or not.

It was flagged to heck, at least. Probably about 15, unless I missed some (possible); definitely what we'd normally consider Something Is Wrong territory.

So.... Why not just disable commenting on some threads?

Because than we'd be an op-ed linkblog. Anything designed to improve Metafilter by breaking it needs a fundamental rethink.

It's not a bad thread. Insightful comments and meaningful exchange are taking place. It's actually a thread that makes me happy with MeFi's level of maturity.

It's not a bad thread because of the good stuff in it, it's a bad thread despite that. Most posts to mefi don't generate the kind of awful interpersonal attacks and shitslinging and clothes-rending that we get in these.

If I didn't think there'd be any possibility of some good stuff in the thread, I wouldn't have blinked; I'd have deleted it right off. I know there are a lot of smart, insightful people on metafilter—that's a big part of why people like it here—but some things just melt down on the front page, and with shocking regularity, and it's not just a small handful of people who get ugly in these threads, so it's not reducible to a bad-apple problem.

What Kirth Gerson said. cortex/jess, have the people whose "lousy/baity/noisy shit" you had to remove been given timeouts? That's the only way things have a hope of changing in these threads.

We said as much in previous recent threads, but the problem with this is that it creates a special category of metafilter posts that (a) require a tremendous, really comparatively tremendous amount of attention to keep up to reasonable standards of civility, and that (b) carry an uncharacteristically heavy penalty for users who get hot under the collar. That's no better than the bemoaned special category of metafilter posts that get deleted for not being great considering what a shitpile they tend to turn into—it's just more work and way more heavy-handed.

"Just give a whole lot more people timeouts" is not a minor tweak to the site's philosophy. That it means we get to spend our days refreshing ugly threads that we know ahead of time will get ugly, pruning an abnormal number of comments, sending timeout emails, replying to same, and addressing the inevitable metatalk complaints about the sudden up-tick in capricious timeouts or unjustified blah blah doesn't really sound like great compensation for such a bold move.

Asinine hypocritical horseshit, gg

And this is what we get for even exploring the situation. Did you even read my previous comment, prostyle? Because it seems like you were mostly looking for any excuse there to tell us to go fuck ourselves.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:12 AM on July 31, 2007


cortex, I'd vote for you for senator or something. I'd even look the other way if you were taking bribes or kickbacks.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:19 AM on July 31, 2007


I continue to find it somewhat amazing that people keep pushing more timeouts as a solution to this problem. As I said near the end of the last politicsfilter discussion, the problem with this solution is that it will inherently change the atmosphere of the site, and irrevocably so.

Despite all the whining and moaning, the three admins here at MeFi tend to be extremely patient (almost to a fault) with even the biggest assholes who deign to grace us with their presence. The upside of this is that MeFi is not run with an iron fist, and people tend to feel that they can post here without fear for being banned for no reason. The downside of this is that it is infrequent that a shitstorm is really averted; the moderating here tends to be cleanup, rather than prevention.

To change this for politics posts alone seems impossible. Even if you ignore the lack of mod resources, and assume that there are enough people with the power to give timeouts to monitor all political threads and lay down the law, I don't think it could stop there. It would inevitably lead to whining about why someone in a non-political thread did something way worse and yet they didn't get banned or timed out, etc. Over a long enough time, I really do think this would mean that in order to keep up an appearance of fairness, all topics would end up more heavily moderated.

The only way I could see it remotely working to do this for only politics is with a politics-specific subsite, with a site-specific charter ala AskMe. Unfortunately that's something that mathowie has not seemed keen on implementing. It also won't change the fact that people would likely still push politics into the blue, which would require more mod resources to handle both that and all the hypothetical moderating going on over on the hypothetical politics subsite.

I don't know if I have a specific answer, really, but it's no secret that I think that the answer lies more towards not having frequent imminent shitstorm threads in the first place, as opposed to changing the very tenor of the discussion on the whole site, and creating a ton of work for the people who run it.
posted by tocts at 8:32 AM on July 31, 2007


I continue to find it somewhat amazing that people keep pushing more timeouts as a solution to this problem.

It worked with rockhopper. There's a handful of users who think that shitting in a thread as a way to get it deleted is much more effective than that little [!] icon, and if it's obvious you're trying to kamikaze a thread you should be given a time out. There's a difference between "this is a shitty post" and "I'm going to shit in this post so it becomes shitty."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:43 AM on July 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yes, but rockhopper was an unusual case in that he was one guy flipping out and going on a hardcore serial shitting spree. There's absolutely nothing unusual about his getting a timeout under existing practices.

It's the folks who aren't pulling a rockhopper that we're talking about. That's where a fundamental shift in account management would be springing on to the scene after eight years.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:50 AM on July 31, 2007


A: I AM GOING TO EAT YOUR SOUL AND CRAP HAPPINESS

That's one of the funniest things I've read in quite sometime. I'm going to take note of it and attempt use it in everyday social intercourse.
posted by ob at 8:51 AM on July 31, 2007


Believe me, I'm not saying timeouts should never be used, and rockhopper certainly deserved one. However, in a lot of the political threads that go badly, it's not just one instigator trying to torpedo the thread; oftentimes, we see instead a number of people who are acting in varying degrees of asshattery, none of whom singularly are as bad as rockhopper was being, but collectively are creating a big ol' mess.

Typically, these people are not given bans, because they aren't, on their own, being incredibly out of line -- they're just continuing to prop up an already shitty situation. Thus, the only way that more timeouts is going to improve the situation is if timeouts start getting handed out much more liberally to people who may have only barely crossed the line, but are nonetheless contributing to the shitstorm.

As I've said, I think this would very much change the tone of discussion on this site, and I'm not sure what we gain in return (more political discussions) is worth it.

(on preview, cortex has pretty much said what I'm saying, with less words)
posted by tocts at 8:55 AM on July 31, 2007


Who would Jesus ban?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:32 AM on July 31, 2007


Who would Jesus ban?

The priests, the scribes, and the Pharisees -- from the Temple, that is!
posted by ericb at 10:16 AM on July 31, 2007


My question had to do with what prostyle said: comparable and equivalent threads were deleted early on, yet this one stands. There had to be a reason for that; there is a rationale of some kind behind most policy decisions, on Metafilter as in the Real World. That's why I asked an "etiquette/policy" question on Metatalk, which is one of the things Metatalk is for (you can tell because "etiquette/policy" is featured in that little dropdown "choose a reason" thingy that shows up when you go to post here); that's also why I didn't take a stand on the issue of abortion in my question here, because my question concerned Metafilter policy, not U.S. politics, and because it was not just a rhetorical question. (Shall I define 'question'?)

And that's clearly one reason cortex was chosen for the Mod Squad: he understood what "a question regarding policy" is and answered it. That answer turns out to be consistent with the Metafilter Moderators' policy of whimsy, of arbitrary autocracy, which while evil in the Real World is, for the administration of a website, as good a policy as we're likely to get in any gated community of the blogosphere. I differ with cortex on many things, the ultimate wisdom of administering a website like this with consistent inconsistency among them, but at least he's got at least half a brain in that pretty head. As deputy despots go he's not totally unenlightened, unlike many of those whose posts and comments he prunes as he will; I'll bet he even understands I'm singling him out here because he's the only Mod to comment here.

And yes, I posted on-topic comments in that thread on the Blue; comments are what there's a Comments box on the Blue for, and not every comment need concern solely what I have in my pants (and/or in my Paypal account). Since cortex felt like leaving that thread up and since I do have an opinion on that topic (the content of which should be obvious from the tenor of my comments there) I figured I might as well attempt to enlighten the Mefite Masses as well. (And yes I DO have rhetoric in my pants!)

I hadn't thought the question I asked was such a hard question for so many to understand. Maybe democracy IS wasted on The People.
posted by davy at 10:32 AM on July 31, 2007


I think cortex has pretty well covered this, but he and I have been talking about this thread since it was posted and decided, on balance, to leave it. Part of this was in response to all of the "quit deleting all political posts, you fuckers!" discussion, part of it was to really try the heavily-moderate-and-not-delete approach since it was what some people were suggesting might be a good approach to hot button topic threads.

And you know what? It's sort of sucked. cortex and I have had to spend way too much time paying attention to that thread, checking out flagged comments, removing flags about that thread from the flag queue so that we can pay attention to the rest of the site, talking to each other (not so much of a burden, but asking every few hours "do you still think it should stay?") and reading and answering in MeTa. These threads take a disproportional amount of time to deal with.

Basically whether we remove a hot post like this or not, there is a lot of extra moderator work. Not like you guys should all cry us a river, but when we do delete posts like this, one of the rationales is so that we have more time to pay attention to the rest of the site and the rest of our jobs here. cortex did the lion's share of the moderating in that thread (he's got a day job, I'm on nominal vacation) and while I'm sure that there are some people who feel differently, that's a lot of attention to give to a thread/topic that many people feel isn't even central to what MeFi is about. Next time, with a thread like that, we'd likely err on the side of removing it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:39 AM on July 31, 2007


"Who would Jesus ban?"

Apparently, only people who blaspheme the Holy Spirit.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:41 AM on July 31, 2007


For the record, I did not and am not advocating banning more people.

Deleting threads based on their subject does nothing to discourage commenters who behave badly in threads. Deleting comments that constitute bad behavior does nothing much to discourage that behavior, either. Both of those approaches deal with the behavior as though it were some kind of natural event, inevitable and without an actor. There are actors though, and if you really want to discourage that behavior, aim your action at them. I agree with XQUZYPHYR that there are users who deliberately mess up threads hoping that the thread will go away. Acting like the problem is the post subject, rather than the people, just encourages them.

Giving timeouts for bad behavior does not "create a special category of metafilter posts." It encourages a respectful tone across the board, regardless of the subject of the post. If member X gets hot and bothered in abortion posts, to the point that he incurs a timeout, he's eventually going to either stay out of them, or learn to be civil. In fact, treating posts with hot-button subjects differently is what creates a special category.

If a post really is just an update containing nothing substantively new, or is otherwise fecal, then by all means delete it, but apply the same standards for that to all posts, regardless of subject. Also apply the same standards for timeouts to all comments, regardless of subject.

...that's a lot of attention to give to a thread/topic that many people feel isn't even central to what MeFi is about.
What, exactly, do you see that as being?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:11 AM on July 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


Said jessamyn: "Next time, with a thread like that, we'd likely err on the side of removing it."

So the upshot is that that thread remains up to provide a rationale for deleting "threads like that" in the future: 'We've tried it the other way, and "it's sort of sucked," because "there is a lot of extra moderator work."' Of course then there'll be people complaining they deleted those FPPs & threads they do delete, but we Users get to be more consistent than the Mods because we have no reason not to be.
posted by davy at 11:15 AM on July 31, 2007


Konolia either needs to answer to OC or state that she is not going to. If neither of those happens then we're in for an afternoon of 'ANSWER THE QUESTION, CLAIRE'
posted by pieoverdone at 11:15 AM on July 31, 2007


Kirth Gerson, given that the Internet is for Pr0n, Metafilter exists so the kind of people most likely to become Mefites can go to Meetups to meet other Mefites to make sex tapes of.

How well Metafilter does that says a lot about the general competence of that kind of people.
posted by davy at 11:21 AM on July 31, 2007


So the upshot is that that thread remains up to provide a rationale for deleting "threads like that" in the future

No, the upshot is that the thread is there because we were trying out something that people suggested instead of dismissing it out of hand. I was only hazarding a guess as to whether we'd do it again. It didn't go so well this time, in my opinion.

As a group, Users (meaning everyone on MeFi) are always going to be wildly more inconsistent than Mods (meaning me and mathowie and cortex and maybe pb) because there are more of them, their opinions are all over the map, they don't have to justify all their actions on the site and the individuals that make up the group are changing all the time.

...that's a lot of attention to give to a thread/topic that many people feel isn't even central to what MeFi is about.
What, exactly, do you see that as being?


My point is that MeFi is not, at its core, a political blog. People post about politics here, sure, like they do about a lot of other things. The links to political things should still be something neat on the web that most people likely haven't seen before that might encourage discussion form others. My argument is that some of the political posts don't really reach that level but people stll flip if we remove them.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:24 AM on July 31, 2007


davy, I'm almost certain it's been brought up before, but for the benefit of the inexperienced, if you chafe so much under the yoke of the mods, why post something like this to metatalk? Do you expect people to rally to you and overturn mod decisions? I just don't follow.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 11:30 AM on July 31, 2007


STV, you're getting colder. Try again.
posted by davy at 11:33 AM on July 31, 2007


There had to be a reason for that; there is a rationale of some kind behind most policy decisions, on Metafilter as in the Real World. That's why I asked an "etiquette/policy" question on Metatalk, which is one of the things Metatalk is for

Are you saying you posted this just so we could have this stupid discussion again? Anyone who has been reading MeTa for the past week and has at least six brain cells to rub together is probably capable of 1) figuring out why this post was left up 2) not caring enough to bother. Why the hell did we need this MeTa to rehash a bunch of dumb drama for the umpteenth time? If there's anyone left here who can't understand what goes on with posts like these and the moderation thereof, they can read the bloody archives. At this point, there's really nothing new to discuss; it seems pretty clear that posts like this are just another opportunity for GRIND GRIND GRIND and a time-wasting derail fro the mods who have to come here and defend every little move they make, instead of attempting to moderate comments as so many anti- deletion enthusiasts suggested. You have made it very clear that the mods are damned if they do or don't; if I were them I'd no longer bother to respond to MeTa's at all since all the explanations in the world fail to penetrate a significant number of certain member's skulls.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:46 AM on July 31, 2007


I'm not trying to bait. I mean, I was a bit surprised it stood, but the thread itself doesn't seem to be too bad. I'm not quite sure what it is you would want. It seems perfectly normal to want to experiment from time to time. If there was a contract of sorts outlining mod behavior I could understand, but there isn't. Would you want one? (I'm not trying to aggravate you, and I'm sorry in advance if I sound obtuse.)
posted by StrikeTheViol at 11:46 AM on July 31, 2007


"As a group, Users (meaning everyone on MeFi) are always going to be wildly more inconsistent than Mods."

But we consistently behave here as we always do here, as individuals and en masse, and our behavior (expressing our opinions in those ways we do so) is what y'all moderate. IYKWIM.

But then I think I've figured out what the REAL purpose of Metafilter is: to form a coherent cadre to restore the Fourth International! Or maybe it's to restore the restoration? You go, comrades! All power to the Soviets! (Yes, I might be kidding; would you rather be held responsible for say quonsar+fishfucker Xtubery?)
posted by davy at 11:47 AM on July 31, 2007


I'll state it here.

I am no longer going to answer each and every question put to me on certain subjects. I will say what I wish to say, and answer what I feel like or have time to answer, and then I will go find something else to do. Because:

1: I have other things to do with my life besides discuss issues on a thread, and:

2: I've gotten tired of being misinterpreted over and over and over again, so I'll not be wasting my time on those types of queries.

I pretty much have said all I am going to say on that thread. The rest of you, feel free to carry on.
posted by konolia at 11:52 AM on July 31, 2007


STV, what I meant by "you're getting colder" is that I'm becoming reconciled to "the yoke of the mods." (I'm sorry, I thought that was clear from the tone of my remarks, but then I am tone deaf and I can't write for toffee.) I reserve the right to bitch & moan about whatever decisions they make, but somebody has to "moderate" Metafilter and I don't want that job.
posted by davy at 11:55 AM on July 31, 2007


Sounds like a good plan, konolia.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:10 PM on July 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


If a post really is just an update containing nothing substantively new, or is otherwise fecal, then by all means delete it, but apply the same standards for that to all posts, regardless of subject.

Actually, we pretty much do. A lot of super lightweight newsy crap and updatefilter on non-contentious newsfilter also gets nuked. We don't see much "update" stuff on non-news subjects because it doesn't apply as often, but on the occasions that some posts a "hey look this place updated in the last six months since our last post", we tend to lean toward kill unless the update is something fantastic.

And stupid/bad posts of all stripes on all subjects do get the axe. The difficulty with this comparison is that we'll never get everybody to agree on what qualifies as stupid/bad, so as long as there are either of Youtube posts or political grinding there'll be a dozen vocal dissenters hollering at us about it.

And that's the thing: you may not want poli/issue posts to be in a special category—god knows I don't—but it is a fact of mefite behavior. We treat them differently, to the extent that we do, specifically because they go differently. For that matter, the perfectly consistent mefites that davy is conjuring upthread seem to complain about these things from either side of the aisle more often. So it's annoying but not a willful (or even at all desirable) invention on our part: this brand of post is in a de facto category, based on years of observable evidence on site.

Also apply the same standards for timeouts to all comments, regardless of subject.

But this suggests that we'd not only start being much more heavy-handed with timeouts and deletions in the threads that characteristically cause problems and in which derails and jabs and snark tend to inflame things; we'd also start doing so in threads where a stray bullshitty comment doesn't tend to start problems. That's an even bigger and even more heavy-handed reaction.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:10 PM on July 31, 2007


The links to political things should still be something neat on the web that most people likely haven't seen before that might encourage discussion form others.

When you say "should" here, are you saying that it should be that way in order to not be deleted? Or are you merely saying that a good post should be that way, but mediocre posts will probably still be left up?
posted by shmegegge at 12:11 PM on July 31, 2007


If a post really is just an update containing nothing substantively new, or is otherwise fecal, then by all means delete it, but apply the same standards for that to all posts, regardless of subject.

Actually, we pretty much do. A lot of super lightweight newsy crap and updatefilter on non-contentious newsfilter also gets nuked.


This isn't really consistent. if you have to differentiate between "super lightweight newsy crap" and OTHER newsfilter that does not get deleted, then "apply[ing] the same standards" is precisely what you do not do.

Not that I'm complaining. You guys have said that different topics get different treatment, and for good reason, in previous meta threads, and even in the very comment I've quoted from. But let's be clear that it's not "regardless of subject" by any means.
posted by shmegegge at 12:17 PM on July 31, 2007


"The perfectly consistent mefites that davy is conjuring upthread seem to complain about these things from either side of the aisle more often."

And we complain consistently!

And shmeggegge, I doubt you're going to get any more/better consistency from Mefi's deputy despots than you've been getting; arbitrariness is a hard thing to clarify without sounding like Louis XIV, a tone this Mod Squad only takes in deletion "reasons."
posted by davy at 12:25 PM on July 31, 2007


Arbitrariness is not always bad.
posted by davy at 12:27 PM on July 31, 2007


This isn't really consistent. if you have to differentiate between "super lightweight newsy crap" and OTHER newsfilter that does not get deleted, then "apply[ing] the same standards" is precisely what you do not do.

I'm not sure I'm clear. When I say "super lightweight newsy crap", I'm thinking specifically of, say, "Richard Gere issued warrant by Indian Gov't" or "Man gets stuck in tree trying to save kitten"—it's a specific and common brand of post and a lot of them get axed for being blippy little three-para feed stories and nothing else. That's something that is decided disjoint from what I think most people mean by "newsfilter", which is why I mentioned it specifically (but not, in retrospect, in clear enough detail).

The point is that the "delete lousy or updatey posts" thing does apply across subjects. That "update" applies mostly to news stuff is a circumstance of news, not of posting habits—a non-news "update" is usually a straight doublepost. We aren't any less inclined to prune those, they just aren't visible to the same degree because people aren't carrying around a constant awareness of the narrative of, e.g., 15th century woodcuts like they are with Mitt Romney's pres. campaign.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:32 PM on July 31, 2007


When you say "should" here, are you saying that it should be that way in order to not be deleted? Or are you merely saying that a good post should be that way, but mediocre posts will probably still be left up?

I'm quoting from the site guidelines and this is in line with what cortex is saying also. We get a lot more update type posts about political topics, way more than any other topic type on MeFi. "eh" updates don't get to stay just because the topic Is Important but this is a bone of contention with people who would like to see more current events type political posts on the site.

Here is how current event political posts are different

- they get a lot of comments
- removing them or leaving them up often winds up in Meta. Seriously, I feel like every other political post is in here for one reason or another.
- people editorialize in the posts (this happens much less with "hai look at this website that does a neat thing!") which can set them off to a bad start
- people get hot under the collar in the thread and sometimes act badly towards other members
- they require way more moderation than all but the most twistedly weird AskMe posts
- they often link to one news article or something that would otherwise be considered weak sauce for a MeFi post (nothing wrong with single links, but one link to an editorial is rarely a good post)

So, they're not like most other posts which tend to not share all of these characteristics.

And davy, I don't know what your point was with this thread originally and I understand even less now. If you have a specific problem say it out loud, but petty little digs and namecalling aren't really getting your point across unless your point is that you just like drawing attention to yourself.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:36 PM on July 31, 2007


That "update" applies mostly to news stuff is a circumstance of news, not of posting habits—a non-news "update" is usually a straight doublepost.

Yes, you're right about that.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:43 PM on July 31, 2007


Jessamyn, I'm sorry if it comes across as "petty little digs" at you and/or cortex; "the Mod Squad" etc. is meant to be as much self-parody as anything else. As for what I'm up to, it seems I'm thinking out loud while 'becoming reconciled to "the yoke of the mods,"' though if you'd rather I not become reconciled please say so. Is it that you've become so used to being attacked that you can't tell when I'm defending you?
posted by davy at 1:01 PM on July 31, 2007


So if a post is pure shit but generates good discussion then it stands?
posted by docpops at 1:07 PM on July 31, 2007


Dear Moderators, please enroll me in your Vanguard Party. And maybe Burhanistan too.
posted by davy at 1:10 PM on July 31, 2007


Is it that you've become so used to being attacked that you can't tell when I'm defending you?

Calling us despots, arbitrary autocrats and describing us as doing something that is "evil in the real world" is defending us?

I get that your general point is that you sort of get why we do what we do, that you wouldn't want to do it, and while the yoke "chafes" you're resigned to it, but if you really want to be helpful, this isn't the way to do it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:10 PM on July 31, 2007


"Calling us despots, arbitrary autocrats and describing us as doing something that is "evil in the real world" is defending us?"

Yes! Or at least I think so!

Oh wait, you mean "tongue in cheek" doesn't work so when when one has "head up butt"?
posted by davy at 1:12 PM on July 31, 2007


davy, in full-on benefit-of-the-doubt mode here: you should consider staying away from "playful" descriptions of folks you're defending if you've had a history of (even unintentionally) antagonizing folks on a regular basis. While I can pick-axe my way down to the compliment in, e.g. "half a brain in his pretty head" or "as deputy despots go he's not totally unenlightened", it's a far damn cry from how most folks would go about defending anyone.

Use plain, non-loaded statements if you don't want your comments to be misread according to the baggege of the words you choose. I don't think it's that Jessamyn has gotten so used being attacked in general as it is that we've gotten kind of used to you being really contentious and unpleasant to us at times. It makes it hard to read a weird or mixed-message comment generously, try as we might.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:15 PM on July 31, 2007


Hey cortex, I said you have 'AT LEAST half a brain.' Paraphrase "at least" as "more than." Which is more than most people seem to have, including Yours Truly some days.
posted by davy at 1:30 PM on July 31, 2007


I'm not sure I'm clear. When I say "super lightweight newsy crap", I'm thinking specifically of, say, "Richard Gere issued warrant by Indian Gov't" or "Man gets stuck in tree trying to save kitten"—it's a specific and common brand of post and a lot of them get axed for being blippy little three-para feed stories and nothing else.

That's what I figured, and that's pretty much precisely what I meant when I said that you don't apply the standards the same way. The Richard Gere thing might be an easy delete, but there's a whole thought process and experimentation phase that apparently goes into deciding whether or not to delete the youtube video of prolifers being asked how to punish women who get abortions. This is not a bad thing.

I suppose what I'm saying is this: There's an imprecision in how you guys sometimes address these issues in metatalk. I think that anyone who follows meta threads with a mind for admin policy decisions could find a clear trail of comments from you and Jessamyn in thread after thread saying "Look, it's not a set in stone thing and we handle sensitive topics on a case by case basis and based largely on what the expected workload will be and the expected community reaction." BUT! Anyone who does not regularly read meta, or who for whatever reason has not been keeping a running tally in their heads of how you guys address this issue may be confused by a given comment here or there. They may simply not recognize a conistent effort on your parts to hip us to the fact that you mod organically, trying to stick to specific guidelines but allowing for exceptions where community nastiness (or some other contention) may be a factor. And not being clear in comments contributes to that. It's not really our job to keep your history of comments straight in our heads, so it has to fall to you guys to keep driving the right points home.

I can't tell you why I've decided to make this thread the place where I bring this up. The best I can figure is that there's a definite attack stance that a bunch of mefites seem to have taken against you guys recently, and there's been a resultant defensiveness (to an extent) from you guys. This thread seems to have a decent example of both sides in it, I guess.

So I think what I'm getting at is that if people aren't understanding what you've already said a thousand times over, then it's even more important than you might realize to be exceptionally precise and clear when you come into MeTa. Not clear in "THESE ARE THE RULES, ACCEPT THEM" but clear in how you speak. I think there's a part of you that wants to defend yourself when someone says "you're inconsistent! bad moderation!" or whatever by saying "we're not! we apply the same standards to all the posts!" when really that's just adding fuel to the fire. Of course I can only guess at your motivations, but I'm not making this shit up when I say that individual statements you guys make occasionally contradict the general point you're trying to get across.

Maybe you guys just shouldn't be as present in MeTa as you tend to be? I don't know. I think it's a good thing that the admins of the site are as willing to talk to us on individual matters and address our concerns. But when it gets to the point that there's such a massive volume of material you guys contribute for us to look through to try to understand what is and isn't kosher, there's bound to be ample room for misinterpreting or reinterpreting what you've said on the whole based on what you've said on one occasion, especially for people who aren't really keeping track of your arguments from time to time. For instance, let's take the past 2 months. I don't think I'm alone in recognizing that you and Jessamyn have been coming under a lot of (in my opinion) undeserved fire from a lot of directions these past months. It's actually been kinda nuts. Now compare the number of times somone has outright insulted you, or insulted jessamyn, or called you or jessamyn out specifically, from the past 2 months to the number of times it has happened to mathowie in the past 2 months. I'll exaggerate the ratio and say it's about 1 bajillion to 1. And he's barely present in MeTa these days.

Now, I'd guess that it's part of your job to take on the responsibility of addressing the community face to face so that he doesn't have to. But I'm only guessing. Either way, the result is that the people who are trying to make themselves available to us, to put a human face on the process of moderation, are the ones being attacked. That, and you guys sign your deletions. I can see why you guys would have thought that was a good idea, but I don't think it really was. Either way, you guys keep coming under fire, and every time you do, and try to respond it's just another time where you might say a sentence or a comment imprecisely enough to let someone who doesn't know any better think you mean the precise opposite of what you really mean.

But you guys are only human. No one can be expected to just spit out these perfect sentences that eliminate all problems all the time. So what the hell is the solution? Weeelllll, there're no doubt a lot of people who can give you a lot of ideas. I don't know if I have any good ones, but the few things that occur to me can't hurt to mention. For one thing, it seems to me that if thousands of users are filling the halls of metatalk to gripe about this or that, and you guys feel like you've been over this a thousand times already, it's probably not because you've sufficiently handled the issue and thousands of other people are just really stupid. It's probably time to create a fixed spot where you guys outline the general philosophy behind your decisions, probably on either the guidelines page or the faq or its own page which is then linked on the posting page and the guidelines page. BIG LETTERS. "Here's how we moderate the site so that you'll understand why your post or comment might get deleted. If you have any further questions send us an email." But understand, I'm not talking about the guidelines. I mean, talk about the fact that certain issues get handled more sensitively, and with greater caution and on a case-by-case manner. Explain that it won't always be consistent, but it'll make your jobs easier or cut down the best you're able on community shitfests. The second thing, to my mind, would be to drastically cut down on individual snowflake requests for clarification in meta. Point to that link. Say "we do these things on a case by case basis. It looked like a shitstorm, we canned it. Better luck next time." and that's it. Getting into debates is just opening up opportunities for rules lawyers to come in and say "ah HA! but yesterday you said the opposite!" and thereby allow people to get on your case more. It sucks, you guys are the authorities, here. You might want to consider acting a little more authoritarian. We all like jessamyn our mefite buddy an cortex our mefite buddy. But we can see those guys in the friendlier threads. In these shitfests we're not talking to our mefite buddies, anyway. We're talking to THE MAN, so act like THE MAN (as in, the symbol of authoritarian power, not the male.) and be a wall.

That's my 2 cents, anyway. Stop trying to explain why each instance of moderation is consistent with how you've always moderated. Just tell people that you make your decisions on a case by case basis, and that one looked like [problem x] better luck next time no hard feelings. if they get all in a huff, that's their concern. you guys don't need to engage in it any more than that. if that's all you say for any instance of this nonsense, then you'll find it'll eventually sink in, albeit probably with a lot of bitching and moaning before it does.

Or not. whatever. see if i care.
posted by shmegegge at 1:33 PM on July 31, 2007


Some general advice:

If you are at the bottom of a hole, quit digging.
posted by konolia at 1:34 PM on July 31, 2007


I think shmegegge and I are pretty much getting at the same thing here in our critiques, although I'd rather resign myself than try as hard as he does to be clear and constructive.

To quote shmegegge: "Stop trying to explain why each instance of moderation is consistent with how you've always moderated. Just tell people that you make your decisions on a case by case basis." I'd put that as "admit you're arbitrary arbitrators."

I mean hey, if you Mods can think of a better way to run this website than the "enlightenedly despotic" way it's always been done go ahead, but hey, whatever. Why waste the kind of obsessive-compulsive consistency that might go into the formation of yet another Trotskyite subsect on a "community weblog"?
posted by davy at 1:45 PM on July 31, 2007


I just want to be clear that I don't know that davy guy, and do not want to be associated with calling the admins despots and trotskyites.
posted by shmegegge at 1:48 PM on July 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just tell people that you make your decisions on a case by case basis, and that one looked like [problem x] better luck next time no hard feelings. if they get all in a huff, that's their concern.

I think that's been said on many occasions. It's ok to accept that an omniscient and always consistent computer isn't running the site, and the mods, like you, think and decide differently about similar things at different times. Enjoy the variegated wildflower garden and stop pining for perfect grocery-store cooler odorless roses.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:02 PM on July 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


it was an idea that really doesn't need supporting links to be worth considering

To you, perhaps, but one person's judgement != everyone else's judgement. I personally think it's a bit arrogant for an FPP author to assume "I think it's interesting and relevant, so everyone else will" without bothering to do a bit of preliminary contextual legwork (and so leaving hundreds, if not thousands, to do that work redundantly as they initially judge the worth of your FPP.)

Perhaps it's because I'm used to having various people working hard to attract my attention, and doing the preliminary legwork to justify my attention (ie "they put a lot of time into it, they must *really* believe it's worth the time" versus "they just threw up the link without much effort; it's probably not worth much time for me, either.")

This is also, I think, why single-link FPPs that aren't YouTube also get slagged.
posted by davejay at 4:13 PM on July 31, 2007


shmegegge said: "I just want to be clear that I don't know that davy guy, and do not want to be associated with calling the admins despots and trotskyites."

Ditto! I don't want to be associated with somebody who doesn't realize that "playfully" calling someone a "deputy despot" beats seriously slagging one as "Stasi," nor do I need my reputation sullied by hanging with somebody who doesn't know an allusion to Love & Rage when he reads one. And you know what? I don't think anybody around here is so stupid as to think shmegegge and I are in a close alliance, or that we're the same person, or confuse one with the other; I will concede ahead of time though that more often than not I've exclaimed 'Nobody's THAT stupid!' only to be quickly proven wrong.

Nevertheless, if somebody's looking for a thoughtful consideration of the issues at hand in this thread one could do worse than shmegegge's comment. (Which is not to say that I agree that much with that much of it, just that it's more of a 'thoughtful consideration' than I'm up to now.) Even if he'd finger me to the Stasi in a heartbeat just to prove he's not like THAT.
posted by davy at 4:38 PM on July 31, 2007


"If you are at the bottom of a hole, quit digging."

But digging clear through is how Bugs got to China!
posted by davy at 4:39 PM on July 31, 2007


By the way, let the record show I don't call people tramps and whores, and I think it is out of line totally that someone called a family member of mine by those terms on that thread. I flagged it, and I am protesting here.
posted by konolia at 4:39 PM on July 31, 2007


I said 'Why waste the kind of obsessive-compulsive consistency that might go into the formation of yet another Trotskyite subsect on a "community weblog"?'

This is NOT "calling the admins trotskyites." This is pointing out one possible cause for the huge number of Trotskyite subsects. E.g., was the USSR "state capitalist" or a "degenerated workers' state"? And what would have been the correct line for the Vanguard Party to have taken over the Hungarian revolution of 1956, and where would the jots and tittles in the correct formulation have been placed? Etc., etc., etc. It is to pull one's own hair.

What the history of the Trotskyite "movement" has to do with the administration of Metafilter is not much, and I'm glad of that. But if these admins do start a Vanguard Party I'd like to join. Their party conventions would be a blast, including the serious speeches.

And on preview, unlike konolia I do call people tramps and whores, but those are not terms I'd use of Metafilter's administrative personnel. Some things are just over the top. (As is insulting konolia's family. You apologize now, or I'll get the soap!)
posted by davy at 4:58 PM on July 31, 2007


davy, it's cool. I was just screwin' around. really.
posted by shmegegge at 5:58 PM on July 31, 2007


99 Metatalk comments in the thread, 99 Metatalk comments...
posted by davy at 6:12 PM on July 31, 2007


Giving timeouts for bad behavior does not "create a special category of metafilter posts." It encourages a respectful tone across the board, regardless of the subject of the post. If member X gets hot and bothered in abortion posts, to the point that he incurs a timeout, he's eventually going to either stay out of them, or learn to be civil.

I really don't see any rebuttal to Kirth's comment above that makes any sense at all. He's right: until people start getting timeouts for "lousy/baity/noisy shit" in political threads, nothing's going to change. Which may be what the mods want - an excuse to just start deleting all political posts - but on the eve of another U.S. election, that's just madness.

Seriously, matt, jessamyn and cortex: start giving timeouts to people who act badly in political threads. It's the best option facing you, by far.
posted by mediareport at 6:55 PM on July 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


Seriously, matt, jessamyn and cortex: start giving timeouts to people who act badly in political threads. It's the best option facing you, by far.

Almost true. However, mediareport, you yourself cited the one better option available:

just start deleting all political posts

Perfection.
posted by dersins at 7:03 PM on July 31, 2007


That's gonna piss off far more members over the next 14 months than giving timeouts to jerks who ruin political threads, dersins. You know that's part of the calculus here.
posted by mediareport at 7:55 PM on July 31, 2007


It seems that it should be deleted, anyway: YouTube has taken the video down, so those of us late to the party can't even see what sparked all the discussion.

("This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by a third party.")
posted by aberrant at 8:23 PM on July 31, 2007


Why even bother with pruning crap comments in contentious threads? I can see when somebody is being an ass. Ten people will jump up to proclaim that somebody is being an ass.

I get that conversations tend to progress more smoothly when you don't have people being an ass, but why not let their words stand and represent them?

The first 10 to 20 comments matter because they set the tone for the thread, but after that, why not just take a here be dragons approach to a thread and let the asses fall where they may?
posted by willnot at 11:21 PM on July 31, 2007


Why even bother with pruning crap comments in contentious threads?

Because then it's 10 times longer than it needs to be and it doesn't end well - if it ends.

Bonsai moderation is a lot of work, though. Review on a case by case basis is the best way to go forward.
posted by lysdexic at 3:03 AM on August 1, 2007


@mediareport: I'm not technically rebutting Kirth's comment, because I already addressed why it's a bad idea before he said it, but I'll reiterate here: it's a bad idea.

What Kirth is suggesting is pretty much that the mods become much more heavy handed, and start enforcing a much stricter code of conduct than they have for the past 8 or so years. This will inherently change the discussion on this site, and for what? So we can talk about politics more?

The fact is, outside of politics threads, the vast majority of the time, the mods don't need to do that kind of pruning, because one stupid comment doesn't result in a 200 comment cesspool of filth. If someone says something stupid in a thread about ancient ukranian artifacts or something, it typically gets ignored. And yet, the same level of stupidity, and with the same people reading the thread, results in essentially the worst case scenario for nasty, angry shit flinging if it happens in a politics thread.

This latest thread on abortion is pretty much proof of what we already know: otherwise reasonable people on this site cannot discuss most political topics without it turning really, really nasty. So, why should we put into effect policies that are going to cause a whole lot of extra work for mods, and that will, in the end, completely change the dynamic of the conversations in even non-political threads, just so we can have yet another place on the internet where we can have political "discussions" full of barely contained rage and hurt feelings?
posted by tocts at 6:31 AM on August 1, 2007


I am not suggesting that the mods "become much more heavy handed." I'm suggesting they redirect their energies from deleting posts about certain subjects to applying sanctions on members who behave badly, and that they apply those sanctions uniformly, regardless of the subject of the post.

There is a faction of members who are all for eliminating any political discussion. It's pretty obvious that their reasons for wanting that are not the ones they present. My suspicion is that a lot of them don't like having their heroes portrayed as bad people, especially if the portrayals are accurate. Some of those members make a habit of trolling political posts with the goal of having them deleted. Even when that doesn't work, it fuels this attitude that political discussions are "inevitably" polluted. Since there is seldom any personal consequence of the trolling, expect it to continue.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:20 AM on August 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Kirth: I'm not sure how you can say that you want mods to "redirect their energies from deleting posts about certain subjects to applying sanctions on members who behave badly, and that they apply those sanctions uniformly, regardless of the subject of the post.", and claim that that somehow isn't the same as being more heavy handed.

You are suggesting that the solution to the problem that we demonstrably cannot have (on the average) polite political discourse here is for the mods to increase the level of penalties waged against bad posts across the board. This is pretty much the definition of a heavier hand of moderation -- going from deleting a comment here or there, to giving people much harsher penalties, even in threads where the bad comments really don't matter nearly as much. This is an enormous change in the tone of moderation for MeFi.

As for heroes, give me a break. I have no heroes for whom I'd shed a tear if you wanted to tear them a new asshole in a political thread. That doesn't change the fact that I don't like political threads here, because they have historically been the worst of the worst on this site, when it comes to how they affect the community. They overtax the mods, they quite rarely result in any real discussion that isn't an echo chamber, and very frequently result in otherwise good members of the site acting like complete assholes.
posted by tocts at 7:52 AM on August 1, 2007


There is a faction of members who are all for eliminating any political discussion. It's pretty obvious that their reasons for wanting that are not the ones they present. My suspicion is that a lot of them don't like having their heroes portrayed as bad people, especially if the portrayals are accurate.

You really believe this? What you've said is vague enough that I can't tell if you're painting all people who dislike politicsfilter or just the ones you don't like out of that group. But to think that "they're contentious shitfests and we have too many of them on the front page" is a disingenuous argument is ridiculous.
posted by shmegegge at 8:30 AM on August 1, 2007


Because then it's 10 times longer than it needs to be and it doesn't end well - if it ends.

Well, it will end when the thread is closed to new comments after 30 days or whatever, but beyond that... So What?

Pages scroll, it doesn't matter how long they get. It's not like having a few threads that are 10 times longer than they would have been takes significant resources from the site, and after they scroll off the front page, the only people reading them are the people who want to be in there slinging mud anyway, so seriously, what's the problem?
posted by willnot at 8:31 AM on August 1, 2007


willnot: the problem is pretty much the "broken window" theory. As simply as I can put it, the more shit you allow on the site, the more people will believe that shitting on the site is completely OK. While it may be that the only people directly affected by shitty politics threads are the people who choose to make themselves a part of those threads, the whole community suffers indirectly as that sort of behavior starts being viewed as perfectly OK for MeFi.
posted by tocts at 8:34 AM on August 1, 2007


You are suggesting that the solution to the problem that we demonstrably cannot have (on the average) polite political discourse here is for the mods to increase the level of penalties waged against bad posts across the board.

I have no idea what you're trying to say with, "we demonstrably cannot have (on the average) polite political discourse," but no - I am most definitely not advocating for "the mods to increase the level of penalties waged against bad posts across the board." That is exactly what I have been repeatedly saying is the wrong approach. Bad posts should be treated as they are now, by deleting them. That a post is about politics does not make it a bad post. That a few agendeers show up and try to derail a thread into noisome murk does not make it a bad post. Deal with the people, not the subject.

Looking back over your consistent mischaracterizations of what I've written on this subject, I think you're either unwilling to or incapable of addressing what I am saying. Combined with a hyperbolic and dismissive voice, it makes you somebody I'm not going to spend much effort trying to reason with.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:55 AM on August 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


...I can't tell if you're painting all people who dislike politicsfilter or just the ones you don't like out of that group.

You can't tell because I'm not doing that. I said I have a suspicion. In some cases it's a strong suspicion; in others, not so much.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:58 AM on August 1, 2007


Kirth: I'm not sure how I can be mischaracterizing this. Let's break it down:

redirect their energies from deleting posts about certain subjects = stop deleting political posts that will likely turn into shitstorms pre-shitstorm

to applying sanctions on members who behave badly, and that they apply those sanctions uniformly, regardless of the subject of the post. = start handing out more penalties for bad behavior, and not just on political comments, but on all comments uniformly

Please point out the mischaracterization.
posted by tocts at 9:01 AM on August 1, 2007


I said I have a suspicion. In some cases it's a strong suspicion; in others, not so much.

You also said the following:

There is a faction of members who are all for eliminating any political discussion. It's pretty obvious that their reasons for wanting that are not the ones they present.

So I'm asking if you believe that anyone who thinks politics should be disallowed from the site has some weird personal ulterior motive besides thinking they're crappy posts that engender bad sentiment.
posted by shmegegge at 9:52 AM on August 1, 2007


I give up. Maybe starting this thread was a bad idea.

Maybe it should be closed so shmegegge and tocts could go ahead and get a room.
posted by davy at 10:20 AM on August 1, 2007


what are you on about this time?
posted by shmegegge at 10:23 AM on August 1, 2007


tocts - here's your latest misreading and repurposing of what I said: start handing out more penalties for bad behavior, and not just on political comments, but on all comments uniformly. I never said that there should be more penalties, I said to apply different ones, and to use the same criteria for timeouts in and out of political threads. I don't know whether that would result in more penalties in other threads, and neither do you.

If you can't pick out the obvious misreading I pointed out in my prior reply to you, I can't make it any clearer. You've been doing this for days. You're not reading what I write, so there's no point in writing any more of it for you.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:12 PM on August 1, 2007


shmegegge wrote:
I'm asking if you believe that anyone who thinks politics should be disallowed from the site has some weird personal ulterior motive besides thinking they're crappy posts that engender bad sentiment.

Not "anyone," and I did not mean to imply that every member who hates politics posts has that agenda. I think some of them do, though.

"Crappy posts" is such a broad brush, such a subjective judgment, and so counter to what a number of us feel, that it can't be used as a reason. That leaves the argument that they "engender bad sentiment." Are you saying that the mere presence of posts about politics makes people feel bad? Isn't that their problem?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:22 PM on August 1, 2007


Not "anyone," and I did not mean to imply that every member who hates politics posts has that agenda. I think some of them do, though.

word. I had hoped that I was mistaken about what you were saying, so I'm all relieved and shit over here.

"Crappy posts" is such a broad brush, such a subjective judgment, and so counter to what a number of us feel, that it can't be used as a reason. That leaves the argument that they "engender bad sentiment." Are you saying that the mere presence of posts about politics makes people feel bad? Isn't that their problem?

Well, I don't really have a dog in that fight (I hate hate hate polifilter, but I also don't think that what I hate should be the metric by which we measure a post), but I'll answer anyway. I tend to believe that politics posts which are not good posts (in that, they don't link to anything spiffy on the web, and are largely about creating a discussion rather than sharing an interesting link) get a soft touch around here because there are so many people who want to talk about the latest development in gonzalesland or what-have-you. I, myself, would have loved to discuss the latest developments in our government if it weren't for the fact that discussions around here about politics are almost universally shit flinging chip-on-the-shoulder fests. I avoid them, though, and that has worked for me. So that's how I use the idea of "crap posts." And no, the mere presence of political posts does not make anyone feel bad, but they undoubtedly attract the most vitriolic debaters of the community and they are the topic our most vitriolic debaters get the most frothy about. I feel this fits within the intended meaning of the phrase "they engender bad sentiment."

But, as I said, I've long since decided just to avoid those threads. If other people want to spend their time on mefi that way, it is entirely up to them and more power to them. Really, I don't intend to ever tell anyone that they shouldn't like politicsfilter, or that participating in it in anyway ruins metafilter as a whole.
posted by shmegegge at 12:47 PM on August 1, 2007


Kirth: I'm sorry, and you can go ahead and ignore me, but I'm not sure how you can think that it's crazy for me to interpret you asking for mods to begin "applying sanctions" on members who behave badly as you asking for more penalties. Please, point me to what part of the phrase "applying sanctions on members who behave badly" says anything about new or different sanctions.

If your ideas for solving this problem involve new and heretofore unheard of moderator options, you can't just keep that in your head and assume that everyone else can read your mind. As your comment reads, you are asking for more sanctions to be taken against misbehaving members. The only sanctions currently available to the mods are timeouts and bans. You are therefore, logically, asking for more timeouts and bans.

If you want to say you weren't clear, great, but don't give me any of this mischaracterization horseshit. There's nothing there to be mischaracterized, based on what you have actually said.
posted by tocts at 1:50 PM on August 1, 2007


Part of this was in response to all of the "quit deleting all political posts, you fuckers!" discussion

Which is what I said earlier. I'd rather the admins rely on their judgment rather than bow down to bullying.

Sounds like a good plan, konolia.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero


No it doesn't. A good plan would be to not participate in those type discussions. Konolia comes in with her predictable responses, gets called on it, and then runs away claiming to be a victim (which is ironic considering how often she condemns others).

I love to see opposing views in tired debates. There are intelligent, grounded, articulate members of the pro-life side that could at least make the conversation worthwhile. Konolia is not one of those people.
posted by justgary at 10:12 PM on August 1, 2007


No it doesn't. A good plan would be to not participate in those type discussions.

So, selfcensoring unpopular opinions is a good plan?

There are intelligent, grounded, articulate members of the pro-life side that could at least make the conversation worthwhile

Probably so. Until they show up, you're stuck with me.
posted by konolia at 5:44 AM on August 2, 2007


"So, selfcensoring unpopular opinions is a good plan? "

You can't have it both ways— either you don't express your opinions, or you deal with people (rightly) calling you out on them.
posted by klangklangston at 9:22 AM on August 2, 2007


Welcome back my friends to the thread that never ends.
posted by davy at 10:03 AM on August 3, 2007


It seemed to have ended yesterday.
posted by shmegegge at 11:37 AM on August 3, 2007


all my troubles seemed so far away
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:48 PM on August 5, 2007


now I need a place to shout "ur ghey"
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:15 PM on August 6, 2007


you've found it now, so shout awaaaay!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:17 PM on August 6, 2007


whyyyy thiiiiis
silly thread's going on
i just don't know
whaaat the
hell here's just one more
now I have to go
go go go....

davy's thread
can't believe it hasn't gone to bed
won't someone just come and shoot it dead
or cortex close it now instead

cor-tex
close it
now
in-steeeeeeeaaaad.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:25 PM on August 6, 2007


There can be no following that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:52 PM on August 6, 2007


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