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Thread closing, generally; self links, particularly.
August 24, 2007 2:27 PM   Subscribe

Can we keep threads open a bit longer, until the discussion covers some of the nuances of policy? Even when everything make sense to admins, it seems like the reason to have it on MetaTalk instead of via email is to clarify it for the rest of us. E.g., the recent "self-link" post was about someone getting banned for posting an article published by the same magazine he writes for. Presumably the magazine is just promotey and not cool or something, but I would've asked in thread if it were left open (I'd assume the same standard wouldn't apply if you were published by the New Yorker or something)
posted by mdn to Etiquette/Policy at 2:27 PM (55 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

What?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:31 PM on August 24, 2007


mdn: I was sad to see my thread closed. I appreciate you reopening it.
posted by Stynxno at 2:33 PM on August 24, 2007


As a metatalk discussion grows longer, the probability of such discussion devolving into retarded injokes approaches one.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:36 PM on August 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


PANCAKES
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:37 PM on August 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


What are you talking about? The guy wrote the article that was posted. Seems pretty much an open and shut case with little to discuss.

When we leave particularly self-link threads open forever, they often fill up with stupid "authorname blows goats and killed my dog" comments that often come up in google and har de har but people get really pissed six months later that google searches for their name turns up momentary lapses of judgment and people looking to hire them that aren't aware people were joking take it seriously. At that point it starts to approach something like slander and libel and I delete stuff by request in that regard but it's gonna bite us (espeically me) on the ass one day.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:38 PM on August 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also, and I don't meant this at all facetiously: it's pretty well-covered ground. I closed that thread because the self-link in question was pretty open-and-shut (in fact, was taken care of by the time Stynxno hit post on the MeTa thread, I think), and as entertaining as the pitchforks-and-torches routine might be it's not really something we need to try to make a home for.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:40 PM on August 24, 2007


Oops, he didn't write the article, but did post about his employer. Seems too close for comfort, if not a direct self-link.

And yeah, if Malcolm Gladwell signed up to mefi and posted yawn-worthy pieces at the newyorker.com by his chums, we'd delete them and ban him in a blink.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:42 PM on August 24, 2007


You see that stuff that mdn wrote? Please do the exact opposite of that.
posted by ND¢ at 2:42 PM on August 24, 2007


This thread is closed to new comments.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:50 PM on August 24, 2007


Get it? A Blink!
posted by sneakin at 3:03 PM on August 24, 2007


that's freaky.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:10 PM on August 24, 2007


In general, I agree with mdn.

There's a silent majority thing going on here: sure, leaving threads open paves the way for nonsense and longboatery and what have you not, but closing them leaves no-one a voice for reply.

And I'd venture to say that Matt's Googlebombing argument is valid but irrelevant: if that's the problem, I feel the case is for deleting those comments, not closing the thread.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:12 PM on August 24, 2007


I never got a chance to find out what Mesothelioma is.
posted by Poolio at 3:19 PM on August 24, 2007


This will not Gladwell.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 3:26 PM on August 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, I'm glad.
posted by dersins at 3:29 PM on August 24, 2007


TWENTY BUCKS SAME AS IN TOWN

The thing is, closing a metatalk thread is not the same thing as closing every metatalk thread. There's not really anyone to answer back in today's self-link thread—it was an unquestionably dick move by a sleeper spam account with no posting history, who was banned by the time the thread came out. It's far from the first self-link callout we've had, so it didn't seem like there was a lot of need for (or much evidence so far of) discussion of the thing.

As always, though, there's room for the meta-meta if the closure did bug someone, so, hey, here we are.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:29 PM on August 24, 2007


Can we talk about boys?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:32 PM on August 24, 2007


(And to deepen further the potential dissatisfication from the let's-discuss-self-links perspective: sometimes, we ban self-linkers and there's never even a thread.)
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:40 PM on August 24, 2007


(And to deepen further the potential dissatisfication from the let's-discuss-self-links perspective: sometimes, we ban self-linkers and there's never even a thread.)

OMG WTF IT'S LIKE MINORITY REPORT.
posted by eyeballkid at 3:44 PM on August 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Not intended as a joke, but a SERIOUS inquiry: I write (freelance, occasionally) for the Entertainment Section of MSNBC.com. Does that mean I should nevereverever have a link to any part of the site in one of my infrequent Front Page Posts? Not the Tech, Health, Politics or Sports sections, where I know nobody? I know that using a current front page story on MSNBC.com in a NewsFilter post when everybody else has the story would be tacky, but bannable? No links to Olbermann's Countdown (even though the TV and the .com are separate entities on opposite coasts)? Or Newsweek Magazine (whose web presence is under msnbc's umbrella)? Or all the local NBC TV stations that do the same? And wait... the official site name is msnbc.msn.com and a couple of my stories have been picked up by the msn homepage (although I have no idea who made the decision and did not get paid extra for it), so is the entire Microsoft Network off limits? What about other parts of the NBC/Universal media empire? No SciFi.com? No Bravo.com? No Brilliantbutcancelled.com? No Universal theatrical films? Am I on thin ice just by mentioning the Mathowie lookalike on "Heroes"?

Am I subject to the same restrictions as MetaFilter's Own GaelFC, who's fully employed as the site's TV Editor (and usually MY editor, and a wonderful, beautiful, talented editor too!)? And what happens when-and-if I get freelance work at some other ubiquitous site? This nationally-inquiring mind honestly wants to know.
posted by wendell at 3:48 PM on August 24, 2007


I'd venture to say that Matt's Googlebombing argument is valid but irrelevant: if that's the problem, I feel the case is for deleting those comments, not closing the thread.

I'm trying to come up with an analogy but they're all really bad. I'm simply saying maybe closing threads that lead to bad comments a great number of times is simply preventing them from ever happening and thus, no googlebomb mess to clean up.

Honestly, I think there's a lot to be said about whether or not we might jump the gun and close a thread too early or too often, but this specific thread we're discussing about a self-linker leaves no doubt in my mind (and other members said hey why not close this) so I'm not sure what controversy there is here worth discussing.

mdn, what specifically did you want to say about the radar post that you didn't get a chance to say?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:00 PM on August 24, 2007


Sounds like mdn is saying that if you close a thread, you should leave it open longer after it's closed so we can all ask why it's closed. If it's closed, we can't clarify why it's closed in the closed thread. So the logical solution is to leave the closed thread open long enough to clarify why it's closed.
posted by The Deej at 4:17 PM on August 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


It's just that cortex likes coffee so much, is why he closes threads.
posted by boo_radley at 4:29 PM on August 24, 2007


sorry, what I'm getting at is what wendell asks above. This guy wrote a different article for the same site, right? He didn't write the article linked. Right?

As for closing threads, it just seems kinda arbitrary, like this one seemed like it got closed before it was clear what it was even about (most people who read it probably thought it was a direct self-link, not a link to the magazine that he writes for) while others stay open into PANCAKEland for days...
posted by mdn at 4:33 PM on August 24, 2007


I think mdn wanted to leave the thread open so questions like wendell's could be asked. Yes, granted, this almost-self-linking may have been a no-brainer, but how far does the prohibition against linking to material from broad sources you may have a tangential relationship with extend? And the answer is, as always, it depends. A member in good standing making a good-faith post will probably get the benefit of the doubt - unless, of course, the post sucks. In which case, all bets are off.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:35 PM on August 24, 2007


I have no preview skills.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:36 PM on August 24, 2007


why not just start deleting jokey crap as it happens? then people may start to think twice before doing it.

perfect world and all that.
posted by PugAchev at 4:43 PM on August 24, 2007


mdn, this guy wrote a lot of articles for the same site: see this, which was linked in my deletion reason on the original thread, which was itself linked in Stynxno's callout. Dude had made exactly five comments before posting his link, at least two in a row today right before linking in order to get over the minimum threshold for posting. I'm sorry if all of that wasn't laid out in the thread explicitly enough, but it's all there to be found if you're really interested in the particulars.

wendell's question is a good one, and I think it's fair to say that there's a matter of degree that's key to the whole thing: the smaller the organization and the closer you are to the portion of it producing the content, the more likely we're in Really Problematic territory. I think something as big as msnbc or youtube sort of stretches past the limit of applicability if there's no other ties—once a content-provider or host moves past "company" into "force of nature", it's less likely to be an issue.

That said, if wendell was posting links to content authored/engineered/whatever by some folks at msnbc that he was on friendly terms, we're moving into squick-town. If wendell worked as a non-exempt fulltime employee of msnbc's web news team, that'd be a bigger problem yet. And so on.

Linking to your own company/group isn't really cool. Signing up with the sole and express purpose of doing so is just plain fucked in the head. There's some grey area in there that's hard to outline in detail pro-actively; it's going to get dealt with on a case-by-case basis, but the sound advice remains this: when in doubt, don't. Or, if you're really burning up about it, drop us a line and get a spit take.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:46 PM on August 24, 2007


why not just start deleting jokey crap as it happens?

I don't much mind jokey crap in Metatalk. You could reasonably argue that my fondness for jokey crap in Metatalk explains my badly lopsided comment count.

The best I can sum it up is that, practically, closing stuff that's essentially done and which contains a contentious element helps reduce the amount of shitty stuff that happens in here. We do very little comment pruning in the grey, which is I think generally for the best, and we don't really want to change that, but there have been some really awful shitstorms in here over the years and they can pretty much universally be described as things that were left open and got out of hand.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:48 PM on August 24, 2007


When we leave particularly self-link threads open forever, they often fill up with stupid "authorname blows goats and killed my dog" comments that often come up in google and har de har but people get really pissed six months later that google searches for their name turns up momentary lapses of judgment and people looking to hire them that aren't aware people were joking take it seriously.

well, matt just said he kinda sees it as a problem, unless I read this wrong.

personally I HATE the jokey-ness because it makes the actual discussion of things/policies difficult, which is one of the main reasons meta is here.
posted by PugAchev at 4:57 PM on August 24, 2007


And yeah, if Malcolm Gladwell signed up to mefi and posted yawn-worthy pieces at the newyorker.com by his chums, we'd delete them and ban him in a blink.

well, in this case we're talking one yawn-worthy piece, that actually the discussion doesn't give an indication is particularly weak (i didn't read it), but ok, fair enough. I guess I didn't realize self-linking was so broad (except when it's not, of course...).

Sorry to be a bother - I mostly just wanted to suggest we rely a little more on self-restraint and a little less on closing threads to keep MetaTalk from devolving entirely into MetaChat, so that silly little q's or follow ups can get addressed without it being a big deal.
posted by mdn at 5:00 PM on August 24, 2007


or evolving, of course :)
posted by mdn at 5:06 PM on August 24, 2007


WOW! What matt and cortex are describing metatalk devolving into is some sort of shit-storm, NOT what happens at metachat! MetaChat is all about bunnies, and funny links, and other good stuff. There's no need to bring MetaChat into this.
posted by philomathoholic at 5:36 PM on August 24, 2007


mdn, the thing with this user is that they recently went from zero activity on the site to a bunch of comments so they could make a post, just to post about radaronline.

I would put a new user boosting comments so they can link to their employer on a different level than a longtime member that does occasional freelance stuff for a big news site.

It's pretty easy to see why someone at radar (or viceland, or gawker, or any other site) would get a lot out of pushing links to their site onto a bunch of blogs. a longtime member here posting a link to an already major site, not so much.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:40 PM on August 24, 2007


Also, saying on the one hand that we shouldn't close threads but delete more comments sure sounds weird. It's like getting advice saying "don't be such a stick in the mud, but please go around shushing everyone I don't like"
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:41 PM on August 24, 2007


I was halfway thinking about posting a meta thread saying thanks for closing threads earlier. It just makes sense that when the question/issue has been answered/resolved to the satisfaction of all parties involved, that the thread should be closed. I second the advice that if someone has a question about a closed thread, then email the mods or make a new thread (like this one!). I think the current policy on closing threads is working well.
posted by philomathoholic at 5:42 PM on August 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Of course, the only reason you got to make that comment, philomathoholic, is because this thread was left open after the question had been answered several times.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:45 PM on August 24, 2007


Pssst... your thread is open...
posted by wendell at 6:00 PM on August 24, 2007


philomathoholic, I heart metachat, I just thought it was the silly jokey stuff that old threads become that was the problem, not shitty contentious stuff. I guess I didn't know how messy some of the old threads get sometimes.

anyway, this clears things up,
Linking to your own company/group isn't really cool. Signing up with the sole and express purpose of doing so is just plain fucked in the head.

- I guess I was a bit slow on the uptake & wanted things spelled out as this case didn't seem as obvious as some to me. But if old threads turn bitter, it's not like I'd have suffered that badly if I'd never learned the truth.

Honestly, it was just one of those things where I was about to post in the old thread to ask for clarification, and the thread closed, so I began a thread I might not have considered necessary if I'd just waited.
posted by mdn at 6:10 PM on August 24, 2007


Early thread closing irks me too, especially when one sees half a dozen in a row. I think it stems from a feeling I've being shut out of the discussion just because I'm not refreshing Metatalk like a crack monkey.
posted by Mitheral at 6:15 PM on August 24, 2007


It's totally not complicated or hard to understand.
posted by Divine_Wino at 6:22 PM on August 24, 2007


IRFH: it's that part ...of all parties involved... that hadn't been true. mdn still seemed to be asking questions, and so this thread stayed open.

mdn: about the metachat thing, I only read the closed thread after I posted (sorry). I do see how it's all chatty and not at all shit-storm-like. I think that in general, that is not what metatalk posts become.
posted by philomathoholic at 7:08 PM on August 24, 2007


Why does everyone want more rules? Were you raised by hippies or something and want to rebel?

Less rules is better. Grey areas are good. Mod discretion is awesome.
posted by smackfu at 8:52 PM on August 24, 2007


It was just a joke, philomathoholic. Didn't have a point to prove.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:55 PM on August 24, 2007


Mod discretion is awesome.

They seem to be doing ok on thread closings. Check the August archive; I did a quick count of about 18 closed threads out of 125 or so. A big chunk of those are simple technical or "help me find this post" questions, with a couple of grudgefilters that should never have been posted in the first place. The rest look like they'd average about 50 or 60 comments before getting shut down, with at least one going over 100.

Once in a blue moon I see a thread I think was closed too soon, but I don't think there's much of a problem here.
posted by mediareport at 9:06 PM on August 24, 2007


*sigh* I knew it was sarcastic/jokey IRFH, I just felt like pointing it out. But, I guess I just need to work on my tone of voice, when I'm writing in text. Maybe the solution is to include more smileys. : )
posted by philomathoholic at 10:04 PM on August 24, 2007


Sorry I'm late, sleep and work (yes, on a Caturday) got in the way.

mathowie: Also, saying on the one hand that we shouldn't close threads but delete more comments sure sounds weird.

I can see where you're coming from. But it sure doesn't sound weird to me. There's an important qualitative difference between silencing a transgressor or transgressors and silencing everyone, isn't there?

And I'm not playing Devil's advocate here, and I have no suspicion whatever that the sky may be falling - I just happen to agree (in principle) with the concern expressed in the OP. However:

mathowie: this specific thread we're discussing about a self-linker leaves no doubt in my mind (and other members said hey why not close this)

That we can agree on. It's a really bad example.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:02 AM on August 25, 2007


Honestly, it was just one of those things where I was about to post in the old thread to ask for clarification, and the thread closed, so I began a thread I might not have considered necessary if I'd just waited.

I think sometimes in the interest of efficiency we can close threads early when a lot of the inside baseball parts of what happened are still left hanging for anyone who wasn't following things on a minute-by-minute basis. I know that for some of the self-link stuff I can be sitting here thinking "wha, who now?" and don't even understand how the connection was made. This particular sitation was both this issue and also the viceland guy issue which was in another earlier closed thread and I only know what was going on because I saw the email side of things as well.

My only concern is that once a MeTa thread starts going bad, it's the worst time to close it -- it spawns multiple other MeTa threads, of not weird FPPs as well -- so we walk the line trying to close what needs to be closed and leave open what needs to be open. But in any case, making sure open thread issues are resolved before they get closed is something we can pay more attention to generally.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:17 AM on August 25, 2007


"authorname blows goats and killed my dog"

I don't know about that, but John Updike used to write rather odd descriptions of female genitalia.
[...]

"My only concern is that once a MeTa thread starts going bad, it's the worst time to close it"

I've showed up. Does that mean anything?
posted by davy at 9:42 AM on August 25, 2007


No worries - Your tone came through just fine, philomathoholic. I was just clarifying to err on the side of over-communicating.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:47 AM on August 25, 2007


"Matt's Googlebombing argument is valid but irrelevant: if that's the problem, I feel the case is for deleting those comments, not closing the thread."

Seconded, as a matter of general policy. Some threads could be closed or deleted entirely without doing any damage, and I think most threads could be subjected to automatic closing after a certain length of time, but closing a thread because of a dodgy comment or two seems like overkill.

But then if I were a despot here I'd ban people for typing things like "your a looser."
posted by davy at 9:50 AM on August 25, 2007


I've showed up. Does that mean anything?

Kind of sums up your Metafilter oeuvre that sentence, doesn't it?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:52 AM on August 25, 2007


GNFTI, you're so gullible.
posted by davy at 9:56 AM on August 25, 2007


closing a thread because of a dodgy comment or two seems like overkill.

it's not the dodgy comments that are at all the problem, it's the repercussions from them. Someone does something stupid on the site, then people start doing weird Googlebombing things to their name, then some time goes by, then the offender Googles their name, finds the MeTa thread and wants it wiped from the face of the earth. Sometimes it's hard after the fact to remove one or two comments in a long thread and we try not to remove commetns in MeTa at all. However, since MeTa is where a lot of hashing out of policy happens, having someone want a thread removed can cause a rift in the force, so to speak, so we try to avoid it. If all that's left to do in a thread is Googlebomb a self-linker's name, it's usually over anyhow.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:32 AM on August 25, 2007


Come to think of it, I don't see how Googlebombing attempts aren't nipped in the bud by text string replacement, where

Spammy McSelflink is a pheasant mother feather plucker

becomes

[NAME REMOVED] is a pheasant mother feather plucker.

I mean, it's a form of censorship I could get behind. Instead of simple removal we could also have our own Alan Smithee, maybe Plato Beanes or something.

And if people start yelling "boo censorship!", well, gently caress them.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:19 PM on August 25, 2007


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