Upsetting the plate of beans. November 28, 2007 9:53 AM   Subscribe

I miss the old metafilter.

I liked it when lame FPPs sometimes got no comments.
I liked it when you still had to write "email's in profile".
I liked it when profile pics didn't have to be 140x140 pixels.
I liked it when we LOLed at cats in scanners more often than cats with captions.
I liked it when we were still proud to be accused of having a blazecock pileon. (The concept, not the person)
Most of all I liked quonsar.

I am hugely supportive of the work that goes into maintaining the site, and I know that the site is bound to evolve over time. However the many changes made in the last year seem, to me at least, to be insidiously eroding what, for want of a better phrase, has been called our culture. The last week in particular has been tumultuous. Is it possible to have greater consultation with users before implementing pony requests and other changes?
posted by roofus to Etiquette/Policy at 9:53 AM (355 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

/makes glib sarcastic comment, removes from recent activity

Someone stole your linebreaks!
posted by prostyle at 10:04 AM on November 28, 2007


Yeah, MetaFilter was a lot cooler before I was a member, too.
posted by peep at 10:06 AM on November 28, 2007 [6 favorites]


omg I'M SORRY FOR THE LAME POST ROOFUS.
posted by exlotuseater at 10:10 AM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Roofus - I'm curious as to how you feel that the the tumult of the last week has been caused by Matt/Jessamyn/Cortex implementing pony requests and other changes. I know one pony-type change was made as a result of the tumult - or certainly largely influenced by it, but I don't get the rest of your argument. I'm honestly willing to be convinced, however.
posted by Sk4n at 10:14 AM on November 28, 2007


I liked it when all the FPPs were by mathowie
posted by criticalbill at 10:14 AM on November 28, 2007 [7 favorites]


At least half the changes you mention are not the result of pony requests or site changes. You can't stop evolution.
posted by amro at 10:14 AM on November 28, 2007


I miss my youth. And I am also drunk.
posted by GuyZero at 10:14 AM on November 28, 2007 [7 favorites]


Also, I miss the old Michael Jackson.
posted by amro at 10:15 AM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Your blog got metafiltered and the bad boyfriends there are having their usual blazecock pileon over it. I won't comment in the metafilter thread because I refuse to pay $5 to join a blazecock pileon so I'll just say here that "You Can Be A Better Boyfriend" is funny and you have a good ear, I mean that with intense seriosity, this is near Achewood-quality diversion. And the metamorons all hate Achewood, too and don't see why it's funny. So there you go.
posted by Mister_A at 10:15 AM on November 28, 2007


Is this a coded way of asking not to have to think about sexism?
posted by OmieWise at 10:17 AM on November 28, 2007 [6 favorites]


Is it possible to have greater consultation with users before implementing pony requests and other changes?

Most pony requets and changes to the community result in Metatalk threads that are several hundred comments long. What more do you want?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:17 AM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Can someone please post a link to the tumult? Please hope me, you are my only help.
posted by Mister_A at 10:18 AM on November 28, 2007


posted by roofus Is it possible to have greater consultation with users before implementing pony requests and other changes?

So the pony you want is the ability to vote on the ponies other people want? No problem! Let's start by voting on your pony. I vote no.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:20 AM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


I vote no.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:20 AM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I vote, what and where is the tumult? Is this the tumult right here?

Your favorite tumult sucks, natch.
posted by Mister_A at 10:22 AM on November 28, 2007


"Most pony requets and changes to the community result in Metatalk threads that are several hundred comments long. What more do you want?"

The img tag. And free alcohol.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:24 AM on November 28, 2007 [6 favorites]


There is consultation though, as has always been the Mefi tradition, new features are rolled out, and then, if we hate them people complain about it on Metatalk until it is removed (oh say, the suicidegirls ads-- remember when that site wasn't considered sleezy?)
posted by drezdn at 10:27 AM on November 28, 2007


I vote for FDR.
posted by ersatz at 10:28 AM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
posted by mattbucher at 10:29 AM on November 28, 2007


I liked it when the voices were just my imagination.
posted by katillathehun at 10:31 AM on November 28, 2007


To quote the great Michael Scott, "Adapt, react, readapt, apt. Alright?"
posted by inconsequentialist at 10:32 AM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I liked it when people didn't post shitty MetaTalk threads.
posted by cmonkey at 10:33 AM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


I vote for FDR.

Sadly, he's not as good as he used to be, either.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:34 AM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


GET OFF MY LAWN!
posted by purephase at 10:37 AM on November 28, 2007


Well, roofus, all those hazy golden yesterdays are still with us, immortalized in html, forever. You can go read them. So can the nostalgia, have a prune, and deal, ya simpering reactionary.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:37 AM on November 28, 2007


I liked it better before people called feature requests ponies.

I mean, in all the pictures I saw of immigrants on boats coming into New York harbor, I never saw one of them sitting on a pony. Why would anybody come here if they had a pony? Who leaves a country packed with ponies to come to a non-pony country? It doesn't make sense.. am I wrong?
posted by found missing at 10:37 AM on November 28, 2007 [7 favorites]


I liked Rufus before Chaka Khan became a Republican.
posted by klangklangston at 10:38 AM on November 28, 2007


I liked it when people didn't post shitty MetaTalk threads.

.
posted by Mister_A at 10:38 AM on November 28, 2007


Uh, you can pretty much still do/like/appreciate these things.

Is it possible to have greater consultation with users before implementing pony requests and other changes?

Oh, is that how it was in the olden days?
posted by desuetude at 10:39 AM on November 28, 2007


Ponies aren't all they're cracked up to be. Have you ever seen a pony get decapitated by a sunroof? No.
posted by Elmore at 10:41 AM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I miss the old metafilter.

Sure, it's put on some weight, gotten a few wrinkles, takes bit longer to get aroused and some parts are sagging, But deep down, it's the same bipolar shizo that you feel in love with.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:42 AM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


(oh say, the suicidegirls ads-- remember when that site wasn't considered sleezy?)

Um...no?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:42 AM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


You had me at "I miss the old metafilter." Unfortunately, you lost me at "Most of all I liked quonsar."
posted by MarkAnd at 10:44 AM on November 28, 2007


I liked it when callouts weren't passive-agressive.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:44 AM on November 28, 2007 [4 favorites]


Is this the post where we all complain about minor things that make our lives slightly less covered in glory?

Because last night I kept waking up because I was cold. But I was too sleepy to get up and get another blanket. I wish someone would fix that for me. Thanks.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 10:44 AM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


One of the nice things about having pb on board is that we're able to actually accomplish a lot of things that have been back-burnered for, in a lot of cases, literally years. As a result of that, it really has been a pretty busy and productive year, and I can see there being some apprehension and a sense that Things Are Changing as a result of that.

But I think it's pretty important to separate the things that are owed mostly to fiat development decisions (new profile features, subsite additions) from the things that are pretty much organic consequences of a site being around and increasingly popular for going on a decade. Of course FPPs get comments without fail these days—there are a lot more people around. Memes come and go, and so do users; I dig the nostalgia but that stuff is by and large the natural march of time.

As far as ponies go, we're trying to really think out what does and doesn't get pursued, behind the scenes, before anything comes out. There are things that we brainstorm and talk out at length and then just sit on because we can't see how to make it worth adding to the site; it's not like every random idea we have or someone suggests just gets plopped into play. We're trying to take a reasonably conservative approach to the whole thing, but the site will continue to change and grow a bit, both in response to community pressures and according to Matt's desires/vision of the site.

(As an aside, Matt and I were just talking the other day about how it used to be a running ha-ha-not-funny joke that Mefi was going to be slow-to-unresponsive every single weekday, just by default. It's kind of stunning; you don't think about it because it's not happening, but, hey, that's not happening any more.)
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:47 AM on November 28, 2007


In the olden days nobody would say "roofus is a doofus". But nowadays this happens, and then even in that very disingenous as-if-quoting kind of way.
posted by jouke at 10:48 AM on November 28, 2007


"jouke is a puke!"
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:50 AM on November 28, 2007


Sometimes a pony gets depressed.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:50 AM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Is it possible to have greater consultation with users before implementing pony requests and other changes?

Did you call the Podcast Hotline?

More seriously, the answer is sort of "no" as much as I like the answer to most questions to be yes even if it's sometimes "yes, but..." The site is too big and the users' opinions are all over the place and if we consulted with people any more than we do already we'd have to hire people whose job it was to just tally opinions and then we'd be.... some other site with a different vibe than this one. Having a decent balance between trying to get people's feelings on things and also being able to move and retool quickly enough for a site with only a few employees is a pretty tenuous plate-spinning act.

quonsar is still around and no moderator fiat made him not be. He Is Welcome Back, let me be clear about that. Most of the changes you describe have very little to do with moderating and a lot to do with how people are using the site differently. We can't control that any more than we can say "no more lolcat" and really have it happen. Loose guidelines mean fewer editorial fiats, but also more "well what happens happens" shrugging when the unexpected happens which is surprisingly often.

So, sorry to be a big hippie about this, but if we were more dictatorial people would flip out and leave (and I would not blame them) and if we do less moderating stuff other people would flip out and leave. I think it's fair to say that while people might not flip out and leave because we didn't get profile photos available fast enough, a lot of people had been pony-requesting more intractivity options with profile pages and friending and whatever.

I'm sorry the site isn't everything to everyone. I'd sort of like it to be. But I live in a dreamworld most of the time anyhow.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:51 AM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


HAHAHA, Alvy doesn't know Dutch pronunciation.
I can only imagine your burning shame
posted by jouke at 10:52 AM on November 28, 2007 [8 favorites]


(Man, we both said "fiat".)
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:52 AM on November 28, 2007


One of the nice things about having pb on board is that we're able to actually accomplish a lot of things that have been back-burnered for, in a lot of cases, literally years.

OMG! You've have turned into George Lucas! Next you'll be remastering Matthew Chan is spamming!

*sets himself on fire*
posted by nola at 10:53 AM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Jouke is low key?
posted by boo_radley at 10:54 AM on November 28, 2007




I miss the image tag.

So, in-stead here is a random string of unwarranted profanity. Don't try this at home, kids - profanity is the crutch of an inarticulate motherfucker!

Fuckshit bilgesuck. Jackoff. Dick. Asshole. Fuckwit-dangle shitburger. Fuck. Asshole salad. Whorefilthy nougat-burgler. Shit. Jizzmop, novice. Jizzmop, expert. Bung-wronger. Butt chutney. Crackmonkey. Felch-filcher. Drank-drunk droog-dookie. I'll fuck your sunshine, sunshine.
posted by loquacious at 10:55 AM on November 28, 2007 [4 favorites]


"OMG! You've have turned into George Lucas!"

s-o-m fires first!
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:56 AM on November 28, 2007


how about a unicorn story to cheer you up?

what.
posted by exlotuseater at 10:56 AM on November 28, 2007


Next you'll be remastering Matthew Chan is spamming!

It was never my intention, when I first scripted that, to have matthewchen spam first.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:56 AM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


~dons asbestos suit~
posted by exlotuseater at 10:57 AM on November 28, 2007


Metafilter: The democracy that's not.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:57 AM on November 28, 2007


"HAHAHA, Alvy doesn't know Dutch pronunciation."

It rhymes if you imagine that Alvy speaks like Mark E. Smith.
posted by klangklangston at 10:59 AM on November 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


God dammit, crash.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:59 AM on November 28, 2007


Things Are (A) Changing - yes, particularly The Times. Does anyone use bugmenot anymore?

Wait - Chaka Khan is a Republican?
posted by Sk4n at 11:00 AM on November 28, 2007


OMG! You've have turned into George Lucas!

Yep. A dewback just walked across my screen.
posted by brain_drain at 11:00 AM on November 28, 2007


It's approx. pronounced Yowkah (yowzah with a k).

The shame, it burns! And thanks for the pronunciation!

*Heads over to rhyming dictionary with vengenance in my heart*
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:01 AM on November 28, 2007


Shut the fuck up. I have no tolerance for creatures like you. Make your own damn website.

This goes for anyone who propagates the trope that "Metafilter was better before Afroblanco and most of his friends joined the site."

You guys will hopefully make fun of this comment - because this is MetaTalk, and if you didn't, I'd be disappointed - but this is in fact my real, unvarnished opinion, and you can take it for what you will.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:03 AM on November 28, 2007


I guess what roofus might mean is that he misses JRUN
posted by adamvasco at 11:03 AM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm with you, roofus.
posted by dead_ at 11:03 AM on November 28, 2007


What on Earth where you thinking when you made that post, roofus?

In the old days you'd have been mounted on a spit and sent careening down a mountainside towards a pack of marmots baying for your pancreas. Sure, MeFi's changed, some for the worse, a lot for the better (most, I'd say). In fact, the recent tumult felt like a good positive change to me. There was a lot of talk and concrete changes came out of that discussion. That's good. Some other bad things happened (I like EB, quonsar, jennydiski and vronsky and I'm sad they're gone) but on the whole it's reaffirmed my belief in the potential of the site.

Also, another sign that MeFi's improving is that no one's said "this will wendell" yet.
posted by Kattullus at 11:04 AM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


*Alvy heads over to rhyming dictionary with vengenance in his heart*

ONOES! I'm going to find a rhyming horsehead in my bed!
posted by jouke at 11:06 AM on November 28, 2007


I liked the internet better when it was 'text only'.
posted by Dr-Baa at 11:10 AM on November 28, 2007


roofus?? Damn' near killed us!!

*sobs zombie tears*
posted by Kwine at 11:11 AM on November 28, 2007


"Metafilter was better before Afroblanco and most of his friends joined the site."

Fixed that for you.

/bans self
posted by iconomy at 11:13 AM on November 28, 2007


A couple of things to address here:

1. I liked it when callouts weren't passive-agressive. - Oh, that's OK I guess, I mean if you like that, fine. I said fine. What do you mean it's not fine if I say "fine"?
2. In Jessamyn's dreamworld, we are Vikings
3. Lists will be banned in the near future.
4. Liszt was in a band in the distant past.
5. RON PAUL !!!11!111!!!1
6. Profit.
posted by Mister_A at 11:13 AM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Chaka Khan

Goddammit, If I'm gonna have to have Tell Me Something Good stuck in my head, I'm gonna take you all with me.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:15 AM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Profanity is the spice of language.
posted by zoinks at 11:18 AM on November 28, 2007


I'll see your Tell Me Something Good and raise you one I Feel For You.

Because I think I love you
posted by Sk4n at 11:21 AM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Fuck yea, fuckers!
posted by Mister_A at 11:21 AM on November 28, 2007


I was going to write a limerick here, but I decided that the universe would move more in the direction of balance if someone else wrote one about me instead.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:21 AM on November 28, 2007


this will wendell.
posted by Horken Bazooka at 11:23 AM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Thanks for ruining Metafilter, jerks. You're all going in my killfile.
posted by Krrrlson at 11:24 AM on November 28, 2007


I miss the days when I cared about MetaFilter. [NOT METAFILTERIST]
posted by tr33hggr at 11:28 AM on November 28, 2007


You know when you live in a dreamworld none of your dreams really need to come true.
posted by Sailormom at 11:29 AM on November 28, 2007


You're all going in my killfile

Finally I get in somebody’s killfile
posted by French Fry at 11:29 AM on November 28, 2007


I always thought it was:
Limerick = "Stab City" in Ireland
Limrick = There once was a poster called Roofus....

But googling seems to be inconclusive. If only we had people here on this site who were good with words and shit.
posted by Sk4n at 11:31 AM on November 28, 2007


Don't you mean your Krrrlfile?
posted by fandango_matt at 11:32 AM on November 28, 2007


If only we had people here on this site who were good with words and shit.

If I wasn't busy, I'd register "Shitsworth, the Scatological Vocabularist" right now.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:35 AM on November 28, 2007


How much longer would it take you to register that than it just took you to explain how you were too busy to do so.

ZING!!!

COWBELL!!11!
posted by Mister_A at 11:41 AM on November 28, 2007


If only we had people here on this site who were good with words and shit.

You're talking about the art of letter-pooping, right?

Or as I call it, "crapligraphy".
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:42 AM on November 28, 2007


Good catch, but I guess that would be coprography or scatography gnfti.
posted by jouke at 11:45 AM on November 28, 2007


Shitsworth, the Scatalogical (you know, for short) - didn't he just leave the site?
posted by Sk4n at 11:45 AM on November 28, 2007


I'm not upset.

Signed, the plate of beans.
posted by nkknkk at 11:49 AM on November 28, 2007


When I first read this, I thought that this was simply one of those generation gaps between the veterans like roofus who joined back when the internets were still made of lead pipes, and anonymous noobs like myself who came in and spoiled the party when the doors were thrown open wide to anyone with $5 in their sweaty paw. Then I noticed that roofus joined exactly three days before I did. So my question is: WTF happened here on November 20th, 2004?
posted by googly at 11:49 AM on November 28, 2007


Wolfdog has a Siberian husky
A breed that some people call trusty
There was not much to glean
from the profile I seen
plus my limerick skillset is rusty
posted by Don Pepino at 11:52 AM on November 28, 2007


By definition, you liked how Metafilter was when you joined.. or you wouldn't have joined. Well, it changes. I remember the way it was way way back for the years I lurked. That's different than it was when I joined. That's different than it is now.

There are many things/people/policies that are now defunct here that I sorely miss. There are many things/people/policies that we have now that I love. It changes. Sorry.

It's still the best site on the web.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 11:53 AM on November 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


"Wait - Chaka Khan is a Republican?"

Yeah, she did fundraising for Dubya.
posted by klangklangston at 12:06 PM on November 28, 2007


I liked MetaFilter better when I couldn't sign up because you had to wait for a friggin eclipse, or live in Portland, to sign up. That was great because it helped me to stay hungry. Now, for $5, I can gorge at the trough of MetaFilter intemperately, and my pants are too tight.

Whenever I say pants I think of Quonsar [sniff}
posted by Mister_A at 12:10 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nice marmot.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:12 PM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Burning Man was better last year, too.
posted by scalefree at 12:14 PM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


I miss Mark E. Smith. Why can't we have more Mark E. Smith? A Mark E. Smithless MetaFilter just isn't the same.

This video has no Mark E. Smith in it. AND IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT.
posted by maudlin at 12:15 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


(Man, we both said "fiat".)

I liked it back when the mods didn't shill for Italian cars.
posted by languagehat at 12:17 PM on November 28, 2007 [5 favorites]


Well I think it's resolved—we're all going to travel back to the year 1999 in Al Gore's fantastic time-travel machine. And we're going to warn people about things, and bet on sporting events, but mostly we are going to party.
posted by Mister_A at 12:21 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't know how much I agree with the original sentiment behind this post, but there HAVE been an awful lot of changes to adjust to lately, with predictably mixed results as everyone figures out what that means to them.

Maybe new member sign-ups should be closed for a while. Let people adjust to who and what is already here before moving on.
posted by hermitosis at 12:27 PM on November 28, 2007


Matt and I were just talking the other day about how it used to be a running ha-ha-not-funny joke that Mefi was going to be slow-to-unresponsive every single weekday, just by default. It's kind of stunning; you don't think about it because it's not happening, but, hey, that's not happening any more.

Stunning might be a little strong. It is nice though.
posted by justgary at 12:30 PM on November 28, 2007


Actually, I don't know if you guys noticed, but I did quit lurking for a while because of the issues with the server not serving well.
posted by Mister_A at 12:34 PM on November 28, 2007


Did someone call for a unicorn in this thread?

Sorry, thought I heard my name.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 12:35 PM on November 28, 2007


The unicorn thread is over there ------>

And it is an abomination.
posted by Mister_A at 12:40 PM on November 28, 2007


"Wait - Chaka Khan is a Republican?"

Yeah, she did fundraising for Dubya.


She's still hot.
posted by tommasz at 12:41 PM on November 28, 2007


Maybe new member sign-ups should be closed for a while. Let people adjust to who and what is already here before moving on.

I had the same thought recently, but immediately realized that this could not happen any more because this playground of ours is now Matt's primary source of income. That may have been the biggest change of all, and the principal reason for the undercurrent of - well, not exactly unhappiness with the changes, but at least recognition that things have changed around here.
posted by yhbc at 12:43 PM on November 28, 2007


What I have been thinking recently is that there should be a longer gap between signing up and being able to post (even comments.) Some people wouldn't like this, 'cause it'd kill of the 1-a-week AskMe workaround, and some of the hilarious (I gather) screen name jokes, but...
posted by Wolfdog at 12:47 PM on November 28, 2007


Stunning might be a little strong. It is nice though.

Oh, I didn't mean that the solid uptime is stunning; I mean the way it was a sort of big constant resigned thing, with Jrun on the lips of one and all, and now, not many months later, it's just...gone. Like realizing, halfway across the Atlantic, that one of the kids isn't on the plane.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:48 PM on November 28, 2007


I had the same thought recently, but immediately realized that this could not happen any more because this playground of ours is now Matt's primary source of income.

Not that this is an argument for closing signups, which in my gut I feel like is not a great idea, but Matt's said more than once that the income from new accounts isn't a major chunk of the site's revenue.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:50 PM on November 28, 2007


I miss the Fametracker forums. Now THOSE were forums!
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:52 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Holy crow! Mister_A has stumbled onto the critical step for the New Economy. In the business plan:
1) Bad Idea.
2) Series of question marks.
3) Profit!

Step number two is clearly, always:
RON PAUL
posted by verysleeping at 12:57 PM on November 28, 2007


I miss buying 20c of mixed lollies and getting a whole big bag.
posted by pompomtom at 12:58 PM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Man, you know metafilter was better before Afroblanco and most of his friends joined the site.

I sometimes wonder if the old metafilter has wandered to a new, seekret metafilter and all these changes are some grand social experiment/performance art.
posted by Skorgu at 1:01 PM on November 28, 2007


I found a picture of myself as a young man the other day, and I miss being that age.
posted by maxwelton at 1:02 PM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Wow. All these comments after what is actually a death knell (at this early pre-coffee hour, in my mind, for much of what has been good about Metafilter
Is it possible to have greater consultation with users before implementing pony requests and other changes?

[...] More seriously, the answer is sort of "no" as much as I like the answer to most questions to be yes even if it's sometimes "yes, but..." The site is too big and the users' opinions are all over the place and if we consulted with people any more than we do already we'd have to hire people whose job it was to just tally opinions and then we'd be.... some other site with a different vibe than this one. Having a decent balance between trying to get people's feelings on things and also being able to move and retool quickly enough for a site with only a few employees is a pretty tenuous plate-spinning act.
and nary a raised eyebrow.

You're right roofus, things have changed.

The site is too big and the users' opinions are all over the place

Also, this is weak weak sauce. Pesky democracy, so messy and unmanageable with such a multitude of differing opinions, better to just drop it and issue fiats, amirite?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:03 PM on November 28, 2007


Ummm, Skorgu, I don't know how to tell you this, but .......
posted by Afroblanco at 1:04 PM on November 28, 2007


Not that this is an argument for closing signups, which in my gut I feel like is not a great idea, but Matt's said more than once that the income from new accounts isn't a major chunk of the site's revenue.

You could jack the price up (temporarily) to $10 if that's an issue, which I've wanted for years now. Not because there haven't been plenty of excellent new contributors, but because I wish there were a bit less content, particularly on the green. Threads on the blue can also move too quickly for less-obsessive participants.
posted by gsteff at 1:08 PM on November 28, 2007


MetaFilter membership is WORTH ten dollars. It really is.
posted by hermitosis at 1:12 PM on November 28, 2007


Jacking up the price and limiting the number of daily sign-ups to half of whatever the average amount is would be interesting.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:15 PM on November 28, 2007


I knew it Afroblanco, I've known it all along. There is a cabal. They're all laughing, I can hear them!
posted by Skorgu at 1:18 PM on November 28, 2007


KHAN!!!

Chaka Khan
Let me tell you what I wanna do
I wanna love you
Wanna hug you
Wanna squeeze you too
Let me take you in my arms
Let me fill you with my charms
Chaka
'Cause you know that I'm the one
To keep you warm, Chaka
I'll make it more than just a physical dream
I wanna rock you, Chaka, baby
'Cuz you make me wanna scream

posted by porn in the woods at 1:22 PM on November 28, 2007


So my question is: WTF happened here on November 20th, 2004?

Well, we cured cancer, definitively answered whether God exists, invented a perpetual motion machine, saved the whales, reunited a mother and her daughter who had been abducted decades ago, and all the while we got along -- boys and girls alike -- in a spirit of complete peace and harmony. Of course, as was probably inevitable, that night the government stormed Matt's house and forced him to delete it all from the archives and replace it with (clearly fake) banal posts like "Pepsi Holiday Spice."

Too bad you missed it.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:24 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


A static culture is a dead culture
posted by edgeways at 1:38 PM on November 28, 2007


better to just drop it and issue fiats, amirite?

Issue me a Fiat and I'll sign my pony dreams away, no problem.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:41 PM on November 28, 2007


I don't remember what metafilter was like when I joined or even why I joined. Therefore it was better then. Quantitative comparisons will reveal that my then was also better than your then. So, then, I hope that settles things.

I can't forget this comment soon enough.
posted by prosthezis at 1:42 PM on November 28, 2007


Pony request: Can there be a new section of the site called MetaWhinger? If I see one more thread like this in MetaTalk, I am going to . . . I'm going to . . . I'll . . .

I DON'T LIKE IT.

That said, I agree completely with this particular post. I had been lurking for years, loving MeFi, and then the moment I paid my five bucks, whammo, shitsville.

So I guess it's all my fault. Sorry, folks.
posted by Reggie Digest at 1:43 PM on November 28, 2007


I spoke to the business agent of the pony union. He neighed that ponies do feel a certain nostalgia for the old days when they were props for snapshots of human children. They also feel that while being used as a humorous synonym for human cravings is a bit demeaning, any publicity is good publicity.
posted by Cranberry at 1:46 PM on November 28, 2007


"...this playground of ours is now Matt's primary source of income..."

Other than the meth, yeah.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:49 PM on November 28, 2007


"Also, this is weak weak sauce. Pesky democracy, so messy and unmanageable with such a multitude of differing opinions, better to just drop it and issue fiats, amirite?"

Yes, stavros, we should return to when there was a vote on every issue to decide the best course of action. If only we had some way of going back to never…
posted by klangklangston at 1:50 PM on November 28, 2007


Cran!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:51 PM on November 28, 2007


Pesky democracy, so messy and unmanageable with such a multitude of differing opinions, better to just drop it and issue fiats, amirite?

Uh, stav, are you under the impression this was ever a democracy? 'Cause it wasn't. Matt's always done what he wanted. Sometimes he'd look at a pony request and nod, and lo, it was granted; most times he'd mutter and turn away and there was no pony and children wept under the Dawkins Tree. Some things have changed around here, but not that.
posted by languagehat at 1:51 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Dammit, klang.
posted by languagehat at 1:51 PM on November 28, 2007


Also, this is weak weak sauce. Pesky democracy, so messy and unmanageable with such a multitude of differing opinions, better to just drop it and issue fiats, amirite?

And this is a weak noodley straw-legged bludgeon you've been hammering on that dead-for-years horse here in MeTa.

My point, which I've made to you innumerable times, was that we consult with users nearly constantly and are answerable to them, even to you, always. Not just when it's convenient, but always. The fact that you don't like the answers doesn't skip the fact that they are there for the asking and often offered before that. The question was could we be more answerable and my guess is probably not. How would that work?

There has never been a point in time in MeFi where mathowie -- before me and cortex and pb -- asked people to vote or even thumbs up/down an idea before he implemented stuff so I don't know what you're remembering and wanting to get back to, and I don't get the democracy jab. Sometimes requests in MeTa get implemented and sometimes they don't. Sometimes top-down decisions get discussed to death in MeTa and sometimes they don't. Sometimes mathowie has an idea and he finds a way to build it and roll it out over a weekend. It's always been like that.

Seriously, spill it, what is it that you miss? When mathowie was the only person answerable so if he said yes the answer was yes, otherwise it was no? When there was one person's opinion making every moderation decision with absolutely no user input, except emails or IMs to him? When the site was totally unmoderated when he was away or sick or or on vacation or asleep? Get back to me after coffee and put a finger on the timeline when the site was the way you wanted it. I'll wait.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:52 PM on November 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


As far as ponies go, we're trying to really think out what does and doesn't get pursued, behind the scenes, before anything comes out.

Ya, this behind the scenes thing is.. Not so good.

Obviously things are running way more smoothly now than ever, and I can see why that seems like a good thing. However, there is less and less tension between 'community' and 'mathowie's site'. I don't know what you do about the practical issues around participation either, but that doesn't mean you stop trying. True, MetaFilter is just a website, but it is the community aspect that makes this place compelling.
posted by Chuckles at 2:00 PM on November 28, 2007


They miss when I wasn't here I think.

[sniff!]
posted by Mister_A at 2:01 PM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


The roofus,
The roofus,
The roofus aims higher!
posted by pardonyou? at 2:02 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


(I liked metafilter better when I wasn't such a jerk.)
posted by pardonyou? at 2:03 PM on November 28, 2007


Get back to me after coffee and put a finger on the timeline when the site was the way you wanted it. I'll wait.

Ooh, this reminds me...maybe there should be a timeline of Imaginary Points in Metafilter History in the Wiki. With links to all of the FalseNostalgiaFilter posts.
posted by desuetude at 2:06 PM on November 28, 2007 [5 favorites]


I sometimes wonder if the old metafilter has wandered to a new, seekret metafilter and all these changes are some grand social experiment/performance art.

THERE IS NO SECRET METAFILTER.

Now, please to return to snarky discussions of unicorns and cats and chaka khans, and speak no more of secret sites.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 2:12 PM on November 28, 2007


Bah. Whatever. Conservatives are there to be ignored. The good old days were never as good as they say they were.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:12 PM on November 28, 2007


I think Metafilter really has changed, and it has nothing to do with the moderators or the things that have been done to the site... well, aside from making it more reliable.

Truth is, it's just gotten too crowded here. When a thread like this gets 200 replies in 4 hours, when every thread gets 200 replies in 4 hours, it's just information overload. Who has time to keep track of all this pointless chattering dreck anyway? Not me.

For whatever the reason, I've lost the interest to load the site more than once or twice a day. And I just can't keep up with all of it. It's just not scaling well, in my opinion, and there are all these names and memes that pop up that I don't recognize, and don't care to learn.

Not Matt's fault. Not pb's fault. Not jessamyn's fault.

Probably cortex, though, with all that animal magnetism.
posted by Dave Faris at 2:13 PM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


There has never been a point in time in MeFi where mathowie -- before me and cortex and pb -- asked people to vote or even thumbs up/down an idea before he implemented stuff

Ya, but mathowie used to be so run off his feet that it didn't matter as much. The community would run along ahead of him, causing the debate to be fully framed by users, and he would catch up where he could. Sure, he sometimes made arbitrary decisions ahead of community input, but when it was a bad idea he would back off - see Suicide Girls. For practical purposes, there was a lot more community influence.

we consult with users nearly constantly and are answerable to them, even to you, always.

This will sound more aggressive and personal than I want it to, but.. That has the ring of corporate PR.
posted by Chuckles at 2:13 PM on November 28, 2007


Damn, you knew I should of kept the can opener away from all you worm-can-wielding freaks.

/me likes metafilter just as it is now...
posted by bkudria at 2:13 PM on November 28, 2007


...I knew I should have...
posted by bkudria at 2:15 PM on November 28, 2007


I like it here.



Also, I generally am down with UK English spelling, but I am just never going to read "whinging" and think anything but "win-jing."

posted by god hates math at 2:22 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


> As far as ponies go, we're trying to really think out what does and doesn't get pursued, behind the scenes, before anything comes out.

Ya, this behind the scenes thing is.. Not so good.


Would it make more sense to have every administrative brainstorming discussion we ever conduct take place in a metatalk thread for public dissection? It would be a good thing to panic people with un- and half-baked ideas that, after some thinking, we realize should never see the light of day?

I really like transparency, and I think there's a lot of it and I try to be a part of that because I know Matt in particularly doesn't always have the time or energy to get verbose in the grey. But talking about stuff behind the scenes—the four of us trying to hash out ideas and anticipate what problems and objections we can before throwing an idea out for consideration.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:23 PM on November 28, 2007


Probably cortex, though, with all that animal magnetism.

Faris, you dog!
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:24 PM on November 28, 2007


Stop the world mefi, I want to get off!

Not really. That would be boring.

However the many changes made in the last year seem, to me at least, to be insidiously eroding what, for want of a better phrase, has been called our culture.


See, the strange thing about culture - much like life, it's constantly in flux. If it wasn't, it wouldn't be culture, but history.
posted by pupdog at 2:30 PM on November 28, 2007


I liked it when MTV still played music videos.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:37 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]



Would it make more sense to have every administrative brainstorming discussion we ever conduct take place in a metatalk thread for public dissection? It would be a good thing to panic people with un- and half-baked ideas that, after some thinking, we realize should never see the light of day?


Oh god, please no. MeTa already has a factor of ten too many threads.

Seriously, I think you three do an excellent job of separating wheat from chaff, and keeping the masses abreast of what's going on. I'm actually surprised at how much transparency there is, especially since I'm sure you're aware of how much bitching will come of it. I understand the sense of ownership that comes with being a part of this community, but there's a lot of us who need to pull it back a bit, and understand that not everyone cares as much about feature creep or round corners as one might think.

Just breathe, people. Slow, deep breaths.
posted by god hates math at 2:38 PM on November 28, 2007


we consult with users nearly constantly and are answerable to them, even to you, always.

You people call me at home, I don't know what else to call it, but yeah point taken.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:41 PM on November 28, 2007


I liked it when lame FPPs sometimes got no comments.

This is what it used to be like. I like it better now, personally. Get with the retrotagging and relive some randomly-selected golden days of yore, roofus. Or live them again for the very first time, since it appears we're both part of the Nov '04 wave.
posted by mumkin at 2:41 PM on November 28, 2007


you know what helps with 200 commented posts? nested comments, or threads. Too bad they're metafilter's kryptonite.
posted by garlic at 2:46 PM on November 28, 2007


It's only now that I realized "gnfti" is just an acronym. I had always assumed it was a username, pronounced "Nifty".

Dang.
posted by everichon at 2:50 PM on November 28, 2007


What I have been thinking recently is that there should be a longer gap between signing up and being able to post (even comments.) Some people wouldn't like this, 'cause it'd kill of the 1-a-week AskMe workaround, and some of the hilarious (I gather) screen name jokes, but...

I've been a member for only 2 months, and lurked for over a year. I wish I had spent more time reading archives before I was able to post anything, if for no reason other than to see who 'everyone' (the regulars) was/were. As a n00b there is so much here to get your head around - or react to, or post intelligently on. It's probably best to sit and watch a while longer before diving in...like everything. Otherwise, it's one of the best places I know of to visit. I always learn something or see something cool...
I'd have paid $10 without a thought and would have waited for longer than a week........*skips rope back to n00bsville*
posted by greenskpr at 2:51 PM on November 28, 2007


Wait - Chaka Khan is a Republican?

Yeah, she did fundraising for Dubya.

Huh, a metatalk post actually made me scream OH GOD WHY. I guess it had to happen sooner or later.

Also, this post is much better if you imagine it in the dulcet tones of Paul Harvey.
posted by melissa may at 2:53 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Would it make more sense to have every administrative brainstorming discussion we ever conduct take place in a metatalk thread for public dissection? It would be a good thing to panic people with un- and half-baked ideas that, after some thinking, we realize should never see the light of day?

Well, I'd like that. That's my kind of fun.
posted by timeistight at 3:02 PM on November 28, 2007


I would have deleted this I mean really, is a one link post to amazon.com the best of the web?
posted by nola at 3:02 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also, it was better before Dylan went electric. Judas!
posted by onlyconnect at 3:05 PM on November 28, 2007


I usually respond to these threads with, "There were no good old days. What you remember is a lie."

But this time I think Dave Faris has a point. There are a lot more active users on this site. Hell, there's a whole AskMe crowd that I know nothing about since I divide my time between Meta and MeFi proper. We're getting to a saturation point where it's hard for individual users to stand out in the crowd. I don't think the new ponies take away from the sense of community as much as help to extend it by taking this giant explosion of users and letting us filter it down to our own smaller MetaFilters. At this point, without contacts, favorites and MefiMail, most of you would look like the millions of slashdotters to me.
posted by eyeballkid at 3:05 PM on November 28, 2007


I love MetaFilter, even though MetaFilter doesn't love me.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:08 PM on November 28, 2007


Let's remember that the USA is a democracy, but MetaFilter is a privately owned virtual entity that some members paid to join and some elderly deadbeats did not pay to join. The owner has been refreshingly approachable about all the changes that troublemakers some members have asked for.
To demand changes/ponies and whinge if they are not forthcoming is ill-mannered. Do you want casual readers to think that we are a bunch of louts and yobbos?
posted by Cranberry at 3:15 PM on November 28, 2007


Ah, I miss the old days. Me mammy sending me out into the rain soaked street of Limerick in me stockinged feet to find some turf or an old boot for dinner. God Bless the good old days.
posted by Elmore at 3:16 PM on November 28, 2007


To me, MeFi (by which I mean MeFi and AskMe) is a big site with lots of other people. What distinguishes it from other sites is that the users here are more intelligent than the average person, or at the very least are capable of carrying on an intelligent, chatspeak-free discussion.

To my mind, this is something that has not changed over the years. I've been reading MeFi since early 2004, and I have seen no degradation as a result of increased membership. AskMe, in my opinion, has actually gotten better - more users means more questions, and more questions means more interesting questions.

However, I think that there are some people on this site who want MeFi to be their own private little fishpond where they know everybody and everybody knows them, and it's a nice little tight-knit community or whatever. And that's fine and all, but I don't see why these people don't just get their own blogs or hang out on Facebook. The internet is a big place, and MeFi is a big site. I don't read MeFi because I want notoriety. I read it because it's a good site.

True, I'll never know most of the users here beyond their usernames. However, there are names that I see frequently, and over time I've associated personality characteristics with them. The fact is that if you want to stick out on a big site like this, you have to actually do something worthy of attention. Maybe at one point in time all you needed to do was post a few comments or make a few posts, but if that time did exist, it's long past, and it doesn't look like we're ever going back.
posted by Afroblanco at 3:34 PM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


god hates math: Also, I generally am down with UK English spelling, but I am just never going to read "whinging" and think anything but "win-jing."

Well, it's actually pronounced that way, and I hate it. It's an awful word, and it seems to have completely supplanted "whining" around here. If you're not British, don't say whinging, and don't sign your emails with "Cheers!"
posted by team lowkey at 3:35 PM on November 28, 2007


I think whinge has a certain je ne sais quoi, don't you? And yobbo is so OZ, as our several members. Not to imply that the Aussies specifically are yobbos; just to accept interesting expressions and slang from other countries.
posted by Cranberry at 3:45 PM on November 28, 2007


Stop your whinging.

Cheers,
A colonial
posted by timeistight at 3:45 PM on November 28, 2007


wanker
posted by timeistight at 3:46 PM on November 28, 2007


Amen lowkey.
posted by Mister_A at 3:46 PM on November 28, 2007


I think there's a disconnect between Metafilter-as-website and Metafilter-as-community. The more people join the more compelling it becomes as a site but (I think) the less compelling as a community. That's what I was (awkwardly) getting at with the secret metafilter thing. I do, semi-seriously wonder if there is a site that has a similar small-community over-educated neighborhood pub feel. Not to replace metafilter but to augment it.

Of course as you said most small communities are closed networks of existing friends and obviously not open to new members. I didn't say it was particularly sensible.
posted by Skorgu at 4:02 PM on November 28, 2007


Cortex: Would it make more sense to have every administrative brainstorming discussion we ever conduct take place in a metatalk thread for public dissection?

I'm not sure about every, and it wasn't my suggestion, but why not? Something in that direction could be great.

To extend the idea in my previous comment.. mathowie hasn't ever had a public to do list, and that always made sense because it would have created unfulfilled expectations, and unnecessary nastiness. Nowadays new features get rolled out on a regular basis, and things that were previously unthinkable are implemented quickly (like remove from recent activity). The reasons for keeping new feature discussion behind the scenes aren't nearly as relevant anymore.

As for god hate's math's "there are too many MetaTalk threads already", thing.. I really don't like the consumer mentality reflected in the sentiment, but to each his own. MetaTalk is a perfectly good place to put more discussion - it is kind of the purpose of the place - but if people don't want that here, there are approximately infinite other places you could put it..

Cranberry: Let's remember that [...] MetaFilter is a privately owned virtual entity

I believe many people contribute selflessly (or, if you want, with the selfishness of philanthropy) to this community because it is easy for them to ignore the question of ownership. Honestly, I don't see what purpose is served by bringing it up at this time..
Okay, I admit, I do see a purpose. It cuts off discussion. And, it is probably time for me, but.. Well, anyway :P
posted by Chuckles at 4:05 PM on November 28, 2007


Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.

Ecclesiastes 7:10.
posted by MasonDixon at 4:08 PM on November 28, 2007


I miss Crunchland.
posted by klangklangston at 4:10 PM on November 28, 2007


I miss the old metafilter.

...says mr 18719.

whinging pommy noob.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:12 PM on November 28, 2007


I do, semi-seriously wonder if there is a site that has a similar small-community over-educated neighborhood pub feel. Not to replace metafilter but to augment it.

like metachat, do you mean?
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:14 PM on November 28, 2007


Well, it's actually pronounced that way, and I hate it.

Wow. Just wow. It's like "moist," or "flaccid," but much, much worse.
posted by god hates math at 4:27 PM on November 28, 2007


nola: Aww, c'mon. It was a completely different kind of site. The bar wasn't quite as high back in the day.
posted by mumkin at 4:32 PM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure about every, and it wasn't my suggestion, but why not? Something in that direction could be great.

What I'm getting at is that "something in that direction" is really pretty much where we are already. When I talk about "behind the scenes", it's a question of the practical point at which we decide that something is ready for public consumption/debate vs. not. It's not a carrot-dangle or a Hee Hee Seeeecrets! thing; I was just trying to acknowledge and address the notion that we're just firing away with features, nary a thought given to the consequences.

The reasons for keeping new feature discussion behind the scenes aren't nearly as relevant anymore.

The thing is, I can't think of any features that appeared out of nowhere from behind the scenes. There's a big backlog of ideas that have come up over the years, many of them several times, and it happens that lately we've been able to implement them more readily. I think it's probably intentional on Matt's part that he doesn't maintain a super-public To Do list, because the pacing of how and when things get worked on is never going to satisfy the folks who think that their favorite feature is what should be happening next.

As it is, the threshold for finding out about said favorite not-here-yet feature is to write an email, or start a metatalk thread, which I think makes for a pretty good throttle—someone has to care enough to either knowingly bring it up again or (for newer or less metatalk-attentive users) independently come up with the idea of the feature. And at that point, we're generally pretty dang comfortable having the discussion (again) and talking about what is and isn't in the offing; and such a thread might well prompt Matt to take a second look at something and consider putting it forward on the priority list a bit.

So I feel like there's a pretty good existing balance of transparency vs. overexposure, of energy spent working on things vs. energy spent instead talking about working on things.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:34 PM on November 28, 2007


I really don't like the consumer mentality reflected in the sentiment, but to each his own.

Eh? I'm not quite sure what you mean by that. Let me clarify my stance a little -

I like MeTa. It's nice to have a place where the rules are a little more relaxed. Here's the thing, though - MeTa is the only place where I've noticed a degradation in signal/noise. I think that's probably been true across the board, but because the amount of signal in MeTa is generally low, it's (at least to me) more noticeable when there's junk. I think there's a lot of stuff (quickdraw callouts, chatty crap) that should be happening other places (email, MeCha). Maybe that's just me, I really don't know.

Obviously, I don't think there are big problems with any of the sites - I spend all day at work yearning for new MeFi content, and then I read it some more when I get home. If there was one thing I could wish for, though - it'd be that people show a little more restraint before posting.

But as I said above - I like it here.
posted by god hates math at 4:43 PM on November 28, 2007


I enjoy recreational flatulence.

I guess I've come to the right place.
posted by jonmc at 4:46 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's only now that I realized "gnfti" is just an acronym. I had always assumed it was a username, pronounced "Nifty".

When I was first looking into AFS permissions, I was like, "Who is this rlidwka guy who has access on every machine??"
posted by transona5 at 5:03 PM on November 28, 2007


wow, i just found out quonsars ' i feel pretty' meme was ripped off from a film called ' anger management ' - i feel so used.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:06 PM on November 28, 2007


used rather than pretty obviously.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:07 PM on November 28, 2007


I miss the old Internet.

I liked it when web pages were center justified.
I liked it when porn was hard to find and you had to work for it.
I liked it when people used black backgrounds and flaming animated .gifs unironically.
I liked it when pop-up advertising was still a distant concept.
I liked it when there wasn't too much difference between browsing in Netscape and browsing in lynx.
Most of all, I liked JWZ.
posted by quin at 5:19 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


There was a link on some post or other recently to a FPP from 2004 and the quality of discussion afterwards was noticeable better. Admittedly I am very much part of the nosediving tone of the site, but so fuck.
posted by fire&wings at 5:23 PM on November 28, 2007


I still like jwz. Are we talking about the same one?
posted by roofus at 5:24 PM on November 28, 2007


Honestly, i thought he'd come out with this wonderful non-sequitur, looking ( if you hadn't seen the film ) as though he had came to the thread in drag.
If anything, i feel he owes this site an apology for ripping off adam sandler.
Perhaps by commiting meta-seppuku, he has redeemed himself from this heinous act.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:29 PM on November 28, 2007


Oh hey, jwz blogged my dorkery recently. Nerd crush fantasy fulfilled, right there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:29 PM on November 28, 2007


JWZ was my first very, very small moment of Internet fame; he linked to my JTHM site back in 1997 or so. It was the coolest thing because I didn't even know it 'till I was perusing his page and I saw a link to me.

I was so proud.

Still am in fact.
posted by quin at 5:45 PM on November 28, 2007


In case it hasn't been said before- fuck quonsar. I just don't get this nostalgia for him, his stupid/crass comments, and his all-around Look At Me immaturity. In fact, it really fucking annoys me that his antics are celebrated here. If there were ever an "old Metafilter" we should return to, it should be the one there was without him.
posted by mkultra at 5:45 PM on November 28, 2007


people move on pal, usually gravity helps pull them down, and after this dies there will be something new to dip your wick into. we haven't jumped the shark quite yet, be we have a bead on on it. Hit the gas Ritchie.
posted by caddis at 5:47 PM on November 28, 2007


wow, i just found out quonsars ' i feel pretty' meme was ripped off from a film called ' anger management '

I always assumed it was from West Side Story.
posted by Wolof at 5:48 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I saw Metafilter first at a party in Oakland where a Ms Blood demonstrated the site to me. When I saw it, it immediately attracted me because it was like a more freeform and immediate memepool. Lots of links, not so many comments, easy to bookmark and keep up with. Worth reading, not worth registering until the volume of postings increased to such a degree that some form of sticky permanence was required for navigation. Ironically, then, registrations appeared to become closed for long periods of time. After a while they became open again. So for me, it was the ability to own my comments that prompted me to register. Such is vanity. Also, the increasing variety of names in the interim meant it felt less like a private club. Anyway, avoiding evolving towards the feel of the Slashcode-y genre has been a winner for me over the years because I personally feel that the consensus voting schemes there distort contributions and opinions in a way I find constraining. Favourites are a thin end of that wedge when used as ersatz popularity meters instead of for, you know, bookmarking, but introducing them seemed to please a lot of people who like that sort of thing. Simple flags are a nice touch but expanding flagging into many categories could start to resemble a ratings system similar to MPAA/ESRB/PICS and that's a trend against the universality of the site about which I harbour reservations. While I see some evolution ongoing, I have been impressed by this site's idiosyncratic approach. It's featured some notable innovations. Going against the imageboard trend and disable the IMG tag, for example, has probably protected the site's discourse from becoming more Farkified/4Channed... as much as I miss the thrill of looking at copiously pissing elephants, constraining user behaviour to only text was ballsy.
posted by meehawl at 6:05 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm not going to say I miss the old Metafilter--I'm too busy missing Suck and Word--but there are definitely a few recent developments that drive me nuts. And, yeah, I'm sure they have been around since the very first Cat Scan post, but they seem to be getting on my nerves more and more lately:

*1*
The near-constant hurfdurfery present in every thread. You pretty much have to skip the first seven or eight comments of any thread because it's exclusively knee-jerk wisecracks, either about the subject or the post itself. And then, throughout the thread, there's that constant unfunny oneupsmanship where every single comment is quoted back in the service of some lame sarcasm or tired in-joke or stupid pop culture reference. Enough already. It's like watching ten episodes of The Family Guy at once.

I'm sick of re-reading my previewed comments twenty times to make sure there's nothing some Favorites junkie could latch on to and turn into a weak bon mot.


*2*
We have almost 63,000 users, yet I only ever see the same 100 names again and again and again.

To be clear, I'm not saying that these users are an elite clique or the cool kids or anything other than people who seem to have enough time to post comments all day long. In fact, I find Metafilter to be one of the most welcoming sites around, where you're judged by your contributions rather than your status; only very rarely have I seen one user call out another for being a n00b, and it was usually an egregious case of a new user not understanding the unique culture of our site.

Sure, in every community there will always be some people who participate more than others, but I really feel like having so many Big Names who seemingly post in every single thread does the discourse on this site a disservice, because having such a dedicated core of commenters makes new voices reluctant to join in.


*3*
More than liberal or conservative, more than Christian or atheist, more than cut or uncut, more than Republican or Democrat or Libertarian, more than British or Australian or American or Canadian, more than gym rat or buttereater, more than clawed or declawed...the one single word that defines and unites all Mefites is CONTRARIAN.

And sometimes this is awesome...hell, sometimes it's glorious. Recently, there was a thread exhorting us to buy low-rent homemade junk for Christmas--"Happy holidays, it's an old LP I melted into a bowl!"--and I was delighted, because I knew without even clicking the link that there was no way Metafilter was gonna let this stand. (I wasn't disappointed.)

But sometimes, doesn't it seem like almost every post is accompanied by a long thread populated solely by self-styled curmudgeons acting as though they've deigned to turn their jaundiced eye on this subject? Is that really what we want our site to be: the best of the web written off by a bunch of humorless dicks who think they're the second coming of Ambrose Bierce?

Last week I was putting together a FPP on Life Without Buildings, a post-punk Scottish band who put out one lost classic of an album in 2001 and then immediately broke up. The band is an acquired taste, to be sure, and I eventually scrapped the post. I realized that to make a truly effective FPP on the subject, to really get people to argue passionately about how great the band was and how worthy they are of rediscovery, I'd have to employ some sort of reverse psychology: "Life Without Buildings was this shitty Scottish band with a lead singer who ripped off Bjork. They put out one terrible album and then thankfully broke up. [more inside]"

And again, this lowers the quality of the site and stifles participation. A user finds something they really want to share and they post an FPP about it, only to be told in no uncertain terms by multiple users that the subject they were so excited about is boring, stupid, ugly, and awkward. Should the user toughen up and let the criticism roll off their back? Absolutely. But will they also think twice about posting another FPP? You bet they will.


There are possible draconian solutions, most of them worse than the problems they're supposed to cure. (For example, we could impliment the "no wisecrack" ban on the blue that we have on the green. Or we could limit participation: "You have 50 comments a week; use them wisely." etc.)

But really I'm not even saying these are problems that can or should be solved. All I'm saying is that these three elements, though with us from the beginning, have grown more and more pronounced as the site has expanded in the last couple of years, and to Metafilter's detriment.

But still, even with these compromises and degradations, I have to paraphrase Churchill and post my first and hopefully last tagline:

Metafilter: The worst site on the internet. Except for all the others.
posted by Ian A.T. at 6:10 PM on November 28, 2007 [10 favorites]


everichon: "It's only now that I realized "gnfti" is just an acronym. I had always assumed it was a username, pronounced "Nifty"."

It can be both.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:13 PM on November 28, 2007


You know the way some sites have that "other language" link that takes people to the exact same page, only in their own language? Metafilter could use a link that says "old school" and the one who clicks on it gets the exact same Metafilter, only without profile pictures and all the other things that they don't like. Perhaps it could even be programmed to filter out contributions from, I don't know, user 30 and on, so that they don't miss that private playground feeling.
posted by micayetoca at 6:37 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I obviously don't pay enough attention. You have an engrossing user page, gnfti.
posted by everichon at 6:39 PM on November 28, 2007


Ian— But I never really got into Life Without Buildings. And I thought she was supposed to be a Young Marble Giants ripoff.

(Post what you like—the snarkers come after controversy more than anything else, but while it's occasionally annoying, it's easy to roll with.

Of course, I'm probably one of those over-quippers to you, so take that as you will).
posted by klangklangston at 6:49 PM on November 28, 2007


I like MeTa. It's nice to have a place where the rules are a little more relaxed. Here's the thing, though - MeTa is the only place where I've noticed a degradation in signal/noise.

I would never have believed that a concept like signal to noise would even be applicable to MeTa, if it weren't for this last week. Can we have another "I don't like what I see" callout? Because we're all apparently allowed one now.
posted by dreamsign at 7:07 PM on November 28, 2007


"you're talking crap serenity...blah blah blah....west side story......etc etc"

Well we go around quoting leonard bernstein all the time dont we ?

any cursory search of mefi reveals the release of anger management and the introduction of quonsars use of ' i feel pretty' to be almost exact.

Now i know how jackmo felt, hoodwinked into writing lovenotes to jenleigh ( who for the benefit of our newer members wasnt a female from dundee at all, but a sockpuppet by a guy called dhoyt ).

Anyway, i think we're going to be slowly unearthing some sort of vast conspiracy.
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:17 PM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


[OPENING SCREEN]

Utterly black screen fades to misty forested glade.

[GALADRIEL (WHISPERS)]: "I amar prestar aen, han mathon ne nen, han mathon ne chae a han...

[GALADRIEL (OVERDUB)]: "The world is changed; I can feel it in the water, I can feel it in the earth, I can smell it in the air..."

PULL BACK TO WIDE PAN OF RICHLY WOODED HILLS, CONTINUE PAN TO HELI SHOT OF MAJESTIC PRIMAL MOUNTAINSCAPE.

[SOUNDTRACK]: SWELL TO MAIN THEME, WITH SUDDEN TRANSITION TO... Banjo music?!

CUT TO [CLOCK WIPE]:

INT - TV ROOM, RURAL MIDWESTERN U.S.A.

[MA] "The world ain't changin' honey, that's jest yer Cousin Earl. I done told him not to eat that whole plate of beans!"

[CUE LAUGH TRACK]
posted by lonefrontranger at 7:35 PM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: a bunch of humorless dicks who think they're the second coming of Ambrose Bierce.

(that was just too awesome to let lie without turning it into a tagline. i realise that Ian A.T. was already talking about metafilter, but i don't mind being that lame because lameness is...lameness is...um...lameness (n): a state of...um, christ...WWABW?)
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:22 PM on November 28, 2007


MetaFilter: a bunch of humorless dicks who think they're the second coming of Ambrose Bierce.

MetaFilter n. 1. a bunch of humorless dicks who think they're the second coming of Ambrose Bierce 2. flagged; moved upon 3. more like Fark every day 4. informal best of the web.

Fixed that for you.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:40 PM on November 28, 2007


Crap.
posted by Balisong at 8:44 PM on November 28, 2007


Blay's Cock Pylon
Order today!
Say goodbye to limp forever!
posted by Horken Bazooka at 8:45 PM on November 28, 2007


my post considering what quonsars new moniker might be when he returns has been rather sadly deleted............
posted by sgt.serenity at 9:56 PM on November 28, 2007


anyway, on with the eternal september.
posted by sgt.serenity at 9:57 PM on November 28, 2007


timeistight: "Would it make more sense to have every administrative brainstorming discussion we ever conduct take place in a metatalk thread for public dissection? It would be a good thing to panic people with un- and half-baked ideas that, after some thinking, we realize should never see the light of day?

Well, I'd like that. That's my kind of fun.
"
Yup, mine too.

cortex: "...I feel like there's a pretty good existing balance of transparency vs. overexposure, of energy spent working on things vs. energy spent instead talking about working on things."
For the pittance that it's worth, so do I.
posted by dg at 10:00 PM on November 28, 2007


I've been away from the computer all day, until now.

And this is a weak noodley straw-legged bludgeon you've been hammering on that dead-for-years horse here in MeTa.

Oh, nice one. It's belittling at 20 paces, is it? Awesome.

The reason that I've talked about so much about issues surrounding appeals-to-authority versus appeals-to-community is that neither you (nor cortex) nor Matt has deigned to even try to address those specific concerns in any kind of substantive way, that I can recall, ever. I've never asked for change; just for a little feedback, some discussion. But not even Matt's customary dismissive 'well, you're just wrong' has been forthcoming. Judging by emails I've gotten, there is a fair contingent of other engaged users who feel much as I do. The fact that I waste so much goddamn time being the freaking posterboy for hopefully-constructive pushback and trying to voice concerns and spur discussion of the issues involved, with a faint ray of goddamn hope that it might shed some light on the way the community is run might sound to you like beating a dead horse, sure. But if the horse is dead, then so is this much of what made this place different than any other penny-ante self-regarding bulletin board anywhere else, other than the personalities that are attracted to it because of its reputation (and who haven't gotten fed up enough to leave yet).

Perhaps you perceive my attempts at starting some kind of dialogue about this stuff as serial complaining (it ain't), and that explains your snarky response. In which case, either I'm not using language very clearly, or you're not paying attention, or both.

jessamyn:I don't get the democracy jab.
languagehat:Uh, stav, are you under the impression this was ever a democracy? 'Cause it wasn't.

I am aware of that, LH, duh. It was foolish at six in the morning, literally on the way out the door, to try to gesture with some shorthand. I was trying to say in a compact way that the same argument that jessamyn was using, which I find risible, is the same kind of argument that fools and demogogues use to argue that democracy doesn't work in the wider world. It's messy; it's inefficient. jessamyn is neither a fool nor a demogogue, I hasten to add, as far as I can tell. But the argument sucks.

Look, jessamyn, I'm not sure I can explain any further beyond the literal tens of thousands of words I've spent on this site over the past couple of years talking about what I perceive to be a flawed moderation strategy (silent flagging, silent deletion, appeal to moderator authority versus using Metatalk to achieve community standards rather than flog people and jerk off, et al). I find it hard to believe you guys see every sparrow that falls from the Metafilter sky, but have never read the dozens of times I've talked, in hopes of some kind of half-thought-out philosophicalish justification of decisions made or counterpoint to my concerns from Matt or anyone else who is actually running the site. Hopes regularly dashed. I find it hard to believe if the strategy has been thought through that none of you would ever have articulated it; that leads me to believe that maybe it hasn't really been thought through, that my concerns, unaddressed, might, in lieu of any argument to the contrary, have some validity. Sorry if the fact that I continue in vain to try to spur some discussion of it, frustrated by a lack of response (until you lose your temper and snark at me) is something that you find bothersome.

jessamyn: I don't know what you're remembering and wanting to get back to

I'm neither remembering anything nor wanting to get back to anything. Where have I said anything of the kind? I regularly join the ridiculing of those who long for the mythical 'good old days' and 'golden age'. And you have gall to call my arguments straw-legged! Yowsa.

Seriously, spill it, what is it that you miss?

I don't miss anything. I do think this place was more unique and a better place when we appealed more to each other on the site on matters of policy rather than to arbitrary authority, embodied by you and cortex. (Matt as the site owner has always been the last recourse, naturally. Can't get away from that.) I do think that it may portend ill for te future -- I've always wanted to talk about that, because, traditionally, talking about stuff is the way that you figure stuff out. Am I wrong about that?

I've fucking explained this so many times that, again, after you've complained that I've been repeating myself so much, which makes it clear you have seen what I've said, I find it really hard to figure out why you don't get it.

I've also said, been careful to say, literally dozens of times, that both you and cortex do a good job under the circumstances, and that I understand why Matt felt it necessary to bring on extra help as the community scaled (though nowhere as much as the bullshit, eye-towards-ad-revenue user count ('62622 members' as I write this) indicates that it has, of course).

Seriously, spill it, what is it about what I've said at such length and so carefully and so often that it clearly annoys you that you don't understand?

Get back to me after coffee and put a finger on the timeline when the site was the way you wanted it.

Fuck off, that's a cheap shot and you know it. It's not about how I want the site -- I've always been careful to say that I think the site is better now than it's ever been in many ways, I've always been careful to praise the careful and light touch of the moderators themselves -- my criticism has always been about what the future will bring, about trying to talk about ways that it can be better, and hoping in vain that there's some actual goddamn thought going on in the background, and that maybe you people would have the grace and respect for the userbase to actually discuss what thinking goes on about it, in public.

Want to play the moderation-philosophy cards close to your collective chest? Fine, tell us that. Playing the whole fucking thing by ear, from the hip, without a weathervane? Fine, tell us that. Have a well thought-out social-theory underpinning to how things are done? TELL US.

I'll say it yet again (and again and again): Metafilter's fine. I was not agreeing with the original poster in this thread, other than in exactly what I said -- that it has changed -- in the comment to which you responded so dismissively, jessamyn, I was pushing back against what you, specifically said, which was this:
The site is too big and the users' opinions are all over the place and if we consulted with people any more than we do already we'd have to hire people whose job it was to just tally opinions
and I still call that very weak sauce indeed, particularly in light of the oft-repeated mathowie canard (used to justify other management policies) that almost nobody reads Metatalk, relatively speaking. If that were the case, then the site is not at all too big to solicit user opinions here. If it's not the case, then what kind of justification is it for deprecating Metatalk as a forum for hammering out site policy?

Now how about you get back to me on the concerns I've been airing for so long rather than just spitting in my face? Take your time. I'll wait.

Or don't, 'cause that's been the usual. Or just pee on my head from a great height again, since I'm already all wet from your last sally.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:53 PM on November 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


Let me just be clear here, and I'm serious: if you, or cortex, or preferably Matt could just give some relatively comprehensive summary of why you think that the regime of silent flagging and silent deletion is the best compromise and that the benefits outweigh the negatives (Metatalk becoming a complainatorium, and thus seemingly deliberately downplayed as a forum, for example), and throw us a bone to help us believe that there was and is well-considered reasons for it, I'd be grateful and happy. If this has been done before and I somehow missed it, then I apologize. But I've never seen anything other than 'this is what we're doing' with a notable absence of 'this is why we think it's the best way of doing things'.

That's all I've ever wanted: some discussion of stuff, because that's supposed to be, unless I'm mistaken and things really have changed that much, what Metatalk is all about.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:09 PM on November 28, 2007


I'm often in threads about this very issue, stavros, complaining my head off about the same things as you. But I genuinely think that the discussion point thread was a step in the right direction. A lot of people had strong feelings about the sexism issue and spoke up about it. Others spoke against. A concrete step was taken to address the problem of sexism on Metafilter (and racism too). Have my ideal for MetaFilter and the real MetaFilter converged? No, and they never will, but I think the discussion point thread and the subsequent new flag language thread were huge steps in the right direction. Call me a bushy-tailed optimist but these developments, painful as their genesis was, made me happy.
posted by Kattullus at 11:14 PM on November 28, 2007


I'm fine with that too Kattullus -- I don't think it does much beyond a kind of gesture in the direction of 'we don't like sexism/racism here' on the part of the mods, which may well have been the whole idea, from what was said.

But my larger point is somewhat reinforced by that, though, I think. The discussions ended in results, sorta kinda tangible ones, and I'd argue that a more significant positive (even in the face of people quitting the site, which was said) came more from the fact of the existence of the Metatalk discussion than from any changes to the flagging terminology.

Like I've said before: I don't object in any way to flagging per se, but its implementation in the absence of any publicly visible feedback.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:22 PM on November 28, 2007


...which was sad...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:23 PM on November 28, 2007


Hmm. I agree with you, stavros, in that I don't for an instant believe you have ever meant any of your comments as anything other than constructive criticism and conversation starters. But perhaps you don't realise how aggressive assertive strong those comments sometimes appear. Maybe you are used to more robust debate around things that you consider important than some other people or something, I don't know. I do know that, without the context of people who have known you in the textual sense for quite some years now, many of your comments would come off as quite aggressive. It doesn't bother me, but I know that this challenges a lot of people (I have been criticised for the same thing in meatspace and gone "huh, what? I was just discussing ...").

I certainly agree that, over a period of time and on quite a few occasions, suggestions that you have made have been brushed aside or ignored where other voices seem to have been heard loud and clear. Perhaps it's because you are asking the tough questions rather than asking for simple ponies that can be granted with the flick of a chequebook in pb's direction, perhaps there's some other reason. I really don't know. At least jessamyn has had the decency to reply to you with equal passion, even if you don't like the content of her message. I have often seen mathowie brush aside something you said and thought "well, that was a bit rude", but I feel that he is reacting to your tone rather than your words.

Of course, I have been told I'm full of shit a few times, too, so this could be more of the same.

I'm not suggesting you should change the way you type-speak, by the way, just throwing in an observation.
posted by dg at 11:23 PM on November 28, 2007


The AskMe wait time extension and throttling of MeTas were policies which were both rolled back largely because of community/admin dialogues on the Grey, weren't they?

I realize you're probably going to say, "Yeah, TWO whole ill-considered ideas, big whoop," but anyhoo.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:24 PM on November 28, 2007


On non-preview, I would also love to see more meaty discussions of all things MeFi instead of the rampant silliness and childish complaints that seem to dominate these days. Yes, I'm part of the problem, lead by example etc etc etc. I know.
posted by dg at 11:31 PM on November 28, 2007


But perhaps you don't realise how aggressive assertive strong those comments sometimes appear.

Yeah, you're probably right there, dg. I always try, when my temper's not got the better of me, to leaven what I say with humour, or with (like I mentioned that I've always tried to do) praise for jessamyn and cortex, who I honestly do believe are doing a good job under difficult circumstances.

Friends were saying the same thing about my bluntness and er, strong language, decades ago, too, and believe it or not, I've been pretty successful at toning it down over the years.

For what it's worth, there's nobody here, least of all the owner or mods of this site, that I dislike. I get passionate because I am passionate: like I've said before, I value this place and the people here a lot. If I flog dead horses, it's because I hope some good will come of it, not for me, but for the community (the temptation is strong, sadly, for me to scare quote that word) as a whole. If it seems otherwise, I regret that.

The AskMe wait time extension and throttling of MeTas were policies which were both rolled back largely because of community/admin dialogues on the Grey, weren't they?

I think so, and that's totally awesome, and the way things should be. Matt backed down on the no-real-emails thing when he introduced MeFiMail as well, which was good, and proof that the system still works.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:31 PM on November 28, 2007


Confirmation bias.
posted by asuprenant at 11:37 PM on November 28, 2007


My life has been very tumultuous for the last 6 years. I've moved back and forth across the Atlantic. My life gone through many cycles of disintegration and renewal. MetaFilter is literally the only community I've belonged to continuously during that time (first as a lurker then as a member). I'm deeply emotionally invested in MetaFilter. I'm hopelessly infatuated with this place (I realize this makes me sound like a complete dork). However, I believe that a large chunk of regular MetaTalkers are just as emotionally invested in this place as I am, if not more so. I've never found anything like it on the internet. It's not perfect, it's never gonna be perfect, but part of what I love about MetaFilter is that it strives for ideals beyond any other sizable web community that I know of. I think the bedrock ideals of MetaFilter are sharing and discussion.

I believe in sharing and discussion. To paraphrase a much smarter Icelander than myself, I think freedom can be organized... how Scandinavian of me. The best way to organize a community as loose-knit as MetaFilter is to have it do it itself. Asking for ideas and feedback from the community, at least the part which cares to give some, is the best way to do so that I know. It leads to a better community. MetaTalk (jessamyn's idea, IIRC) is what makes MetaFilter work as well as it does. Yes, the first 10 or so comments to a MeTa thread are one-liner quips. God knows I make well more than my quota of them. However, a community that is consulted is going to be more dedicated and happy than one that feels like decisions are made without input (to be clear, I think MetaFilter is much closer to the former rather than the latter).

I also understand how dispiriting it can be for the mods to share a new toy and have it be snarked at. In fact, I believe everybody who's made front page posts to the Blue knows the feeling ;)
posted by Kattullus at 12:08 AM on November 29, 2007 [6 favorites]


I am with you there, Kattullus, 100%.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:11 AM on November 29, 2007


I don't have much more to add after Kattullus and Stavros. I agree that it's time for more openess about the way the site is run, and more care given to the way changes are implemented. When changes come seemingly unannounced it makes me uncomfortable, because it reminds me that this is an oligocracy, when I wish it was literally a democracy.
posted by roofus at 12:59 AM on November 29, 2007


I miss the image tag.

Eh, there have been a lot of interesting discussions that would have turned into noise otherwise. But i do still think it's crap we can't put image tags in our profiles.
posted by delmoi at 1:22 AM on November 29, 2007


I agree with Kattulus so goddamn much.

I think what stavros is verbosely getting at is that Metatalk posts (and comments) are increasingly directed right at the admins in an appeal to authority, instead of to the other users. I think that sucks too.
posted by blasdelf at 1:33 AM on November 29, 2007


Shut the fuck up Roofus, you noob.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:45 AM on November 29, 2007


It's the age old problem of babylon mashing up the scene and blaming the rastaman imho.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:06 AM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


The best way to organize a community as loose-knit as MetaFilter is to have it do it itself.

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. I do think that the nature of mefi as single-threaded conversation makes discussing issues with this number of interesteed parties...frustrating. Those sexism threads were making me tear my hair out because with so many people the discussion was moving fast enough that everyone was talking right past each other. Discussions get harder when more then a handful of people are really involved and impossible when there are more than about twenty.

That's a cost that you can't separate from the benefit of more unique and diverse users but there has got to be ways to mitigate it.

And UbuRoivas, MeCha and I never really clicked but that is a lot of the feel I was getting at.
posted by Skorgu at 5:44 AM on November 29, 2007


Heya, stavros.

Let me just be clear here, and I'm serious: if you, or cortex, or preferably Matt could just give some relatively comprehensive summary of why you think that the regime of silent flagging and silent deletion is the best compromise and that the benefits outweigh the negatives (Metatalk becoming a complainatorium, and thus seemingly deliberately downplayed as a forum, for example), and throw us a bone to help us believe that there was and is well-considered reasons for it, I'd be grateful and happy. If this has been done before and I somehow missed it, then I apologize. But I've never seen anything other than 'this is what we're doing' with a notable absence of 'this is why we think it's the best way of doing things'.

That's all I've ever wanted: some discussion of stuff, because that's supposed to be, unless I'm mistaken and things really have changed that much, what Metatalk is all about.


I think maybe this is where the disconnect is coming from, and what ended up getting Jessamyn's last nerve yesterday: without a more specific idea of what it is you're looking for, it feels like you're asking us to finally, for god's sake, talk about stuff that has been talked about a whole bunch.

What I mean is, there have been a bunch of discussions about e.g. silent flagging and silent deletion, and and a whole lot of threads where a new feature or a tweak or a moderation policy has been driven specifically by back-and-forth in Metatalk over the years. So saying that all you want is some discussion of stuff, some proof that there are well-considered reasons for anything we do, comes off as kind of a really lousy swipe because it feels like you're telling us to do something we already really, really try to do.

And the line about "well-considered reasons" feels kind of like a rhetorical slap, when you present it like you did: "prove you guys think about any of this" as some sort of ultimatum. I don't think you meant it nastily at all, mind you, but it does feel really goddam aggressive and demanding; and I appreciate what dg said, because I think there's more truth to that than to the impression sometimes gettable from this sort of clash that either or both sides here really dislike or disregard the other.

And I think I get that this is a matter of us talking around the same idea from two different directions and thus butting our heads together some, so to be clear: I'm not trying to dismiss the above by saying "you haven't been paying attention". I'm trying to convey where I think we're talking past each other.

You ask for a comprehensive summary of the justification of the silent flagging and silent deletion system as best compromise. So, that's a topic we've talked about a lot in various metatalk threads. Which is not to say the answer is "go read the archives"—for one thing, I'm guessing you read a lot of them as they were happening, just like I did—but that's part of where the frustration with the "why won't you explain this" angle comes from, because you're not some dewey-eyed noob unfamiliar with the history of the site or the content of Metatalk. But that complaint itself might be irksome, because it's reacting to the request instead of actually answering it.

So: the summary of reasoning is something I can sit down and try to put together some time, for the sake of discussion. There's no extant manifesto to offer you, though; Matt (as you yourself seem well aware) is not a manifesto kind of guy, and we don't work from a rule book or a style guide. We honestly work from something closer to an oral history and collective sensibility. And most of that oral history spawned out of this very subsite—I was unwittingly "studying" for years, in a sense, before I came on.

I'm not sure I have anything more I can really offer at the moment. I'm hearing the request, from you and others, for more discussion in Metatalk. I love discussion, so I don't really have a problem with the idea. If you want, specifically, discussion at length from and with Matt, you're going to have to push on dude himself a little, I think, because I think he doesn't love it quite so much.

If you have more specific issues you think need talking about, I'm all ears. This is a big comment already, and I think your comments from last night covered a pretty big territory, so I'd like to understand better some of the focuses of what you're talking about instead of talking in broadsides.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:22 AM on November 29, 2007


When changes come seemingly unannounced it makes me uncomfortable, because it reminds me that this is an oligocracy, when I wish it was literally a democracy.

Huh? Let me get this straight: you want a sort of Potemkin democracy, where the mods pretend for your sake that your opinion is just as important as theirs in making decisions? Don't you think it might be a little more adult to just accept that MeFi isn't a democracy and just play it as it lays?

Me, I'm all for more democracy in Real Life, where decisions affect my pocketbook and my freedom. But blogs are not Real Life, Matt has every right to run MetaFilter however he wants, and (here's the kicker) I think it runs a fuck of a lot better than it would if the users were consulted about every little thing and MetaTalk turned into the online equivalent of one of the condo association meetings I used to attend back in the hideous days when I owned a condo. "Yes, Mr. Blather?" "I want to talk about the problem of my neighbor's kids on my lawn. I've brought this up many times before, and nothing ever gets done. My neighbor..." [Cue twenty-minute repetition of labored explanation of boring squabble, repeated word for word from every other meeting I've attended.] He had the right and, from his point of view, the obligation to bring it up because it was Real Life and he felt it needed to be dealt with, and because it was a democracy we had to sit around and listen to it. But this is neither Real Life nor a democracy; it's words on a screen and it's Matt's blog, and the sooner everyone comes to terms with that the better.

If you like it the way it is, why this perfervid concern about some imagined future? If it gets worse, complain then. As me old granddad used to say, Don't Borrow Trouble.
posted by languagehat at 6:51 AM on November 29, 2007


Eh, that came off snarkier than I intended it. Of course we should bring up what's troubling us. But I still think that "I think the site is better now than it's ever been in many ways... my criticism has always been about what the future will bring" is odd. How can you criticize the future?
posted by languagehat at 7:27 AM on November 29, 2007


Stavros=John Titor.
posted by klangklangston at 7:46 AM on November 29, 2007


Now how about you get back to me on the concerns I've been airing for so long rather than just spitting in my face? Take your time. I'll wait.

I think cortex covered them fairly ably. What it sounds like to me -- when I wade through the "fuck offs" and call my responses peeing on you (really?) when for some reason you're allowed as much crotchetyness as you're able to muster -- is this.

It seems to me like you'd like us to explain how we make our decisions, notably some past broad decisions. It seems like you want us to issue some sort of once-and-for-all "This is why we think flagging is an improvement over what we used to have" and "this is why we don't think we've sacrificed anything functionality-wise or community-wise by having the flag queue and anyone who thinks so has their head up their ass" I don't, personally, see the change away from personal-mod-opinion moderation [which was always silent unless called out in metatalk] to what you call "silent flag" moderation [which was equally silent, though participatory, until called out in metatalk] as a step away from a participatory site. We may disagree over this or maybe I don't understand you, but it seems to me that it allows more people to weigh in on the MetaFilterworthiness of a particular thing and it's no more silent than moderation was before.

Thats the crux of my agrument that seems to address what you are really getting at: it's no more silent than it was before. Though there is one big change, right? Now instead of all the back and forth going on in mathowie's head, there is a back-and-forth flag queue that cortex and I and matt can see (and sometimes refer to) that is invisible to others. That's probably super annoying to people who like transparency because it's invisible AND a data point, so instead of explaining our thoughts on every contested mod action, sometimes we (get sloppy and, imo) refer to the flag queue and no one can check our work.

I feel like cortex here, I feel like we've been talking about this issue over and over, we've been explaining subtleties and also the pragmatic issues we have to deal with in working with a site of this size, depth and breadth. We've shown off the tools we use and explained how they work and explained how we intepret what we see. I feel like sometimes, in the explaining of this, you hear something you don't like and literally GO OFF, usually on me, about how something I said is the end of something that existed before and is ceasing to exist now and that's the thing that I'm not sure what exactly it is. I'm expecting you now to point to my last sentence and say something about how my lack of understanding is part of IT and my saying it proves something but literally I'm not getting it. I start off trying to explain something to some other user and I wind up getting an earful about how what I'm doing is revealing something that you say (this time) is the "death knell of what is good about MetaFilter" This happens frequently.

I know you're frustrated, but if I never hear "fuck off" from another user (and trust me, I hear it usually a few times a week and it stings every last time) for returning snark with snark, that's okay with me.

If you could put words into my mouth, or mathowie's that would say what you wanted to hear, what would it be? I go back and forth between thinking that you're just crabby on this topic no matter what the reality is, and thinking there might be some state of affairs where you would be happy and wondering what that would look like.

So, no fuck offs, no peeing, no snark. If mathowie or cortex or I were puppets and you could put words in our mouths is there anything we could say that would stop this regular tirade of (what I perceive as) hostile commentary here? If so, I'd probably be happier about that than you would.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:59 AM on November 29, 2007


Fixed that for you. tried to demonstrate that I'm cleverer than you are

Fixed that for you.
posted by lodurr at 8:00 AM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I only answer questions here, don't blame me. When I do post to the FP, you better believe it won't suck. In fact, I've been formulating the perfect post for almost a year. When you see it your eyes will totally, like, I dunno, trade places or something. Yeah. You'll like it that much.
(Not really...I got nothin'.)
posted by cowbellemoo at 8:01 AM on November 29, 2007


Communities are funny things. You start calling something a "community" and its "members" start thinking they've got some right to determine how it runs.

The really funny thing is that while that's always been true, it's seldom been the case that they ever really had as much control as they thought they did -- and it's never been practical for them to have as much control as they think they want.

"Community" is an intensely loaded term, to put it another way. Stavros's "community" is one where admins are beholden to the users who create value. There's some merit to that view, but it stumbles on the broken ground of what's actually feasible. That's the world that matt, jess, cortex and pb (geez, "lead"?!) have to live in, and in my experience it does little good to come at people who try to live good lives in that world with a steaming mug of umbrage as all one has to offer.
posted by lodurr at 8:09 AM on November 29, 2007


cortex: Maybe I'm reading it wrong -- but it seemed like what stavros wanted was an explanation of how things like flagging and deletion will work in the future as the site keeps growing and growing. It seems like a lot of the concerns (beyond the don't always be a snarky contrarian ones) are related to growth of the site making it not as good somehow. So if there's a plan on how to maintain site quality through site growth, thats what I'd like to hear about, and I think that's what stavros is asking for too.
posted by garlic at 8:09 AM on November 29, 2007


pb (geez, "lead"?!)

Word on the street is those are initials. Though he does have a dull luster and zero Thomson effect.

posted by cortex (staff) at 8:31 AM on November 29, 2007


It also occurs to me, upon reflection, that this may be one of those "I don't want you to give me flowers because I ASKED for them, I want you to give me them because it's a nice thing to do and you know I like flowers generally..." situations where you, stav, may be waiting for spontaneous sharing -- possibly by mathowie in specific -- cued by you and others expressing some of your desires for better general communication and MeTa interaction being part of the way things get done at MeFi.

In that case, all the "tell us what you want to hear" crap won't cut it and nothing I say will mitigate that either, but I do recognize the bind.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:45 AM on November 29, 2007


I think y'all are talking past each other honestly, I read stavros' and jessamyn's comments and its like they're talking about entirely different sites much less conversations.

What I took from stavros' comment (and what I agree with) is that there's a visible standard of behavior for users while there is nothing even remotely similar going the other way. There's no way, without following every single meta thread in obsessive detail to see what changes are afoot behind the scenes. So things like milfmail and user pictures just *appear* and that feels very abrupt.

Just like how little mostly innocent bucket-of-dicks jokes combine to form voltronboyzone, lots of little unexpected changes add up to the feeling that all this talking about stuff is nice and all but y'all are going to do what you're going to do anyway (like silent deletions and comment editing).

I don't think anyone wants The Community to have veto over ponies or anything, but maybe a little warning over when and what changes are coming would help smooth things along?
posted by Skorgu at 8:47 AM on November 29, 2007


Maybe Stavros is just feeling like he's among a short list of entitled elders who feels like he ought to be consulted when the tenor and inner-workings of the site -- one that he's devoted as much energy as he has -- changes so much.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:55 AM on November 29, 2007


I've got to admit to being a bit surprised at the contention that things don't get discussed enough around here, because the evidence suggests that almost all changes are discussed ad nauseum, and that decisions and policies are changed as a result. It's for that reason that I have a hard time not thinking that behind the "just discuss it" exhortation is really a "just do things my way" request. I'm not trying to be uncharitable, but it's hard to look at the evidence and see something else other than that.

Even the timing of this thread, coming on the heels of a contentious change in the flag list, seems to bear it out. Surely after close to ~2000 comments on the issue of sexism on the site (prior to the change) and a further ~1000 comments about the change itself after it was made, it's specious to suggest that the change was discussed? Jessamyn and, after her, cortex, have always been very responsive in MetaTalk, detailing their reasoning and their decision making process. Matt, who has been less responsive historically (I've read a lot of old MetaTalk threads) has almost always eventually weighed in with his reasoning for given changes. And, of course, members have written their fingers off. The thing of it is, all of that has produced change: suicide girls? gone. AskMe limit adjustment? unadjusted. self-linker called-out? banned. random deleted thread justified? restored. sexism dissected and complained about? solution proposed for trial adoption.

Of course the nature of large groups is that consensus is very hard to achieve. Where some welcome a change, some abhor it, and that's the nature of the beast. But just because one doesn't like the change, or even any of the changes, does not mean that they weren't discussed with users whose opinions were collectively considered. It's obvious that on a privately owned and operated forum the ultimate decision rests with the owner, and so it's easy to look to him or his representatives when one doesn't like a given change, but the hard truth is that when this happens in a democracy (and it happens all the time: GWB anyone? Hamas anyone?) it's more difficult to stomach because the object of one's disappointment is necessarily more diffuse.

I think the real issue here is that the number of MetaFilter members has risen dramatically over the past three years and is likely to continue to do so. It's hard, and I do wish that it would slow down some. I do think that there is a danger that too many new members on a continuing basis dilutes the culture of the site. I know I was reading the site for at least a year before signups opened, and I had a pretty good idea of what went on here. With no reason to wait before joining, there's less chance that people will even really know what Metafilter is like before signing up, and with so many new members, there is less chance of people being socialized to what makes the site great.

But with the new members, some technical changes to the site are inevitable. And, of course, we should have changes even if membership closes tomorrow. We've all seen enough derision on the front page for websites with good content that look like they were made in 1999 and never updated, with good reason, too, as the technology of websites has gotten much better since then. There is an understandable expectation that a good website will do more and offer more. Some of those changes will be on the admin side, and they should be. The site now has many many more threads and comments per day, and there has to be a way to handle that stuff that allows the community to keep running.
posted by OmieWise at 9:02 AM on November 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


*change wasn't discussed*
posted by OmieWise at 9:03 AM on November 29, 2007


I know you're frustrated, but if I never hear "fuck off" from another user (and trust me, I hear it usually a few times a week and it stings every last time) for returning snark with snark, that's okay with me.

I appreciate that it's not possible to prevent every single instance of the admins being verbally abused, but surely we can do better than "a few times a week" for jessamyn alone? Maybe it's time for a stronger and/or more visible policy on this?
posted by teleskiving at 9:04 AM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


What I took from stavros' comment (and what I agree with) is that there's a visible standard of behavior for users while there is nothing even remotely similar going the other way. There's no way, without following every single meta thread in obsessive detail to see what changes are afoot behind the scenes. So things like milfmail and user pictures just *appear* and that feels very abrupt.

There's a milf-specific mailing system? Seriously, though: *boggle*! This isn't a co-op.

In accordance with the same principle as the evergreen "flag it and move on, " if you don't like some of the new features, you could perhaps just not use them?

/didn't agree with the change to the offensive tag but some of this grousing and OMG you scared me with that alteration to the space-time fabric of Metafilter! I can haz WARNINGS!? is getting fucked up
posted by desuetude at 9:15 AM on November 29, 2007


The mods are the bandleaders; they let us take a solo now and again, but they don't let us suddenly start playing a different tune, like the Fark Shuffle, for instance.
posted by Mister_A at 9:20 AM on November 29, 2007


I appreciate that it's not possible to prevent every single instance of the admins being verbally abused, but surely we can do better than "a few times a week" for jessamyn alone? Maybe it's time for a stronger and/or more visible policy on this?

Yeah, maybe something like we all take some sort of pledge or something. There could be a button.
posted by Sk4n at 9:29 AM on November 29, 2007


You know what has ruined Metafilter? Dimwitted spares who think it is clever, funny, or somehow worthy of cred to make stupid inside jokes like the "plate of beans" bullshit you stuck in your title.

I hope your use of that was intended to be ironic or something because otherwise you are going to be sorry when I develop my army of internet-transmittable crabs to sick on the junk of anyone who makes lame in-jokes.
posted by dios at 9:29 AM on November 29, 2007


"You keep your fuckin' mouth shut, get the fuckin' beard off, or get off the band, right now. Now what do you think of that? Now that's a definite suggestion. When you go to work tonight, if I catch the fuckin' beard on you, i'll throw you off the fuckin' bandstand, O.K.?"
posted by klangklangston at 9:37 AM on November 29, 2007


(That was to Mr. A.)
posted by klangklangston at 9:37 AM on November 29, 2007


Well, at least dios didn't leave in the mass-mini-exodus. (No, I'm not being sarcastic.)

I suppose now is as good a time as any to admit that I just parse out the "plate of beans" jokes as absurdist nonsense, since even after reading something that was supposed to be an explanation I frankly don't get it. (Is it supposed to be a fart gag?)

I do that with most of the in-jokes, except the painfully obvious ones, because frankly they mostly just get in the way. The "fixed that for you" schtick got real old the second time it was used. Really, is there a single conscious person who doesn't see how hostile that gag is?
posted by lodurr at 9:40 AM on November 29, 2007


desuetude hey it's not my pony, I'm just trying to clarify.

Rationality: It's not a co-op, Matt et al are going to do what they're going to do. But that doesn't mean there's no room for better communication about it.

Snark: By your logic, shouldn't you be ignoring this entire thread?
posted by Skorgu at 9:43 AM on November 29, 2007


Actually, this quote woulda been better: "You're deciding what kind of phrasing. You're deciding who and what the leader is. You're gonna watch who you wanna watch...(turns to the rest of the band). Everybody's on two weeks notice tonight. I'm telling you, everybody gets two weeks notice tonight. I can't handle this anymore. You're all...(pauses thoughtfully) you're not my kind of people, at all."
posted by klangklangston at 9:49 AM on November 29, 2007


Haha! What films or what have you are those quotes from, klang?
posted by Mister_A at 9:53 AM on November 29, 2007


PS I laughed at #1 because I have a beard and my wife hates it.
posted by Mister_A at 9:54 AM on November 29, 2007


Here's what I miss about metafilter:

I miss when the people who said something funny weren't just rehashing a years old joke someone else who was actually clever once made. Specifically I miss when the funny moments on metafilter were genuine moments of wit and insight that enlivened a conversation rather than yet ANOTHER fucking "this will wendell plate of beans cameras vibrate circumcision lolfatties hurf durf" reiteration. All that knee jerk snark someone mentioned up above that poisons a lot of threads is the result of this constant need by too many people to make the first next best last METAFILTER WITTY MOMENT(tm) occur. I don't know when Metafilter gained the reputation as being "The place to let everyone know how clever you are," but I'm tired of it. People wonder why so many of us loved quonsar, and part of it is because there was a time where he was a razor scraping against the rubber exterior of the inflated egos of each of us when we thought we were dropping the BIG SCIENCE on the rest of the community. He was witty and to the point at his best with the kind of precision that was admirable and didn't seem so much like noise because once upon a time the entire sight wasn't filled with jagoffs trying to make the next one liner miracle that earns a billion favorites. You know what? "SURELY THIS WILL..." was hysterical the FIRST time someone said it in a GWB thread. the first. Now it's just more noise in the air. I swear, it's like the entire sight is just Michael Scott with 60,000 sock puppets.
posted by shmegegge at 9:57 AM on November 29, 2007


site. site. god dammit.
posted by shmegegge at 9:59 AM on November 29, 2007


Pitch: Paul Anka and Buddy Rich travel across the country in a Winnebago driven by Jack Rebney, trying to put together a band and make a name. Casey Kasem is their manager, who doesn't give a shit.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:06 AM on November 29, 2007


Mister_A: Buddy Rich, noted jazz musician and people person.

How I knew that, I do not know.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:17 AM on November 29, 2007


Someone needs to tase all your asses.
posted by dersins at 10:19 AM on November 29, 2007


This is, of course, an Internet site--a "Community Weblog" as the title of our little hangout reads--and as such, there is an owner, Matt, who can do as he pleases. This is a fact of MetaLife: the center of our universe rests on Him and those he has chosen to represent him. It's not a democracy, but for those in the peasantry, our voices are hardly forgotten.

After lurking on MetaFilter for years I came to be impressed with the way in which the site was run. There seemed so little moderation and leadership relative to the userbase size, yet in nearly every thread there remained civil, intelligent and humorous discussion about topics ranging from, well, everything to everything. I can only barely begin to say how much of my personality, philosophy and humor has been shaped by bits of MeFi wisdom. For years I read the site--without an account--and for years I delighted in "The Best of the Web," but even beyond the links, I was enamored with what happened in the threads, what happened in each post that so truly established MetaFilter as having it's own distinct culture.

That culture still remains, now that I and so many others have transcended from lurker to legitimate user. MetaFilter is still the same unique place, populated with iconoclasts and eccentrics, littered with idiosyncrasies and snark and all of the things we love to ruminate about over a cup of morning coffee. There are still callouts and in-jokes and flameouts and the occasional user vs. user MetaTalk squabble. There's some new features, and we've added some extra background colors to compliment ol' familiar blue. Though different, it's still our MetaFilter.

But something has changed, hasn't it?

If you ask me, the changes I've seen have been minor. As schmegegge points out, some of our wit has indeed been lost. As stav says, there are plenty of issues with our moderation and flagging systems. Me? Personally? I find that more than I've ever seen before, MetaFilter has a growing in-group/out-group divide borne from many of the site's practices, such as favorites, user linking, flagging, MeFi mail and more. Does this mean the old days were better? No. Does this mean our MeFi culture is dead? Certainly not. Does it mean that we should stop discussing the problems within our community? I answer with an unequivocal no.

Many of the ideas in this thread have merit, and both sides of the discussion have points, but I think what is most important to remember is that everyone seems to want to preserve one thing, the intangible spirit of MetaFilter that made us all come here in the first place. The amazing thing about groups of people is that over time, they change and progress--some people will leave and some people will hang in there. Throughout it all, there is talk of the intangibles that bind. I think that's why we're still here, some 240 comments later.

Perhaps this thead, and what's happening in it, is all part of the bigger MetaFilter consciousness, a microcosm of what we've been about since the beginning: what we are experiencing right now is a precise indication that although some things will change, some things will always stay the same. We can have nostalgia for time's bygone, but we should continue looking forward toward improvement.
posted by dead_ at 10:30 AM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


to this day I can't figure out why everyone keeps putting a c in my name.
posted by shmegegge at 10:34 AM on November 29, 2007


I was just about to post correcting that mistake. God dammit.
posted by dead_ at 10:36 AM on November 29, 2007


dead_: MetaFilter has a growing in-group/out-group divide borne from many of the site's practices, such as favorites, user linking, flagging, MeFi mail and more.

As far as I can see, the in-group/out-group divide springs primarily from the fact that a core group of people have five to six hours to spare five to six days a week to do nothing but type on Metafilter. That's why we see the same 100 names over and over again.
posted by lodurr at 10:39 AM on November 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


aw, it's ok dead_. doesn't really upset me. just surprises me that so many people make that mistake.
posted by shmegegge at 10:46 AM on November 29, 2007


Well, schmuck and schmendrick both get a lot more google hits than their c-less counterparts. The trend doesn't seem to hold for schmegegge, but you can hardly fault people for running with the odds, especially when lay-transliteration of Yiddish tends to be pretty verkakte ferkakte.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:59 AM on November 29, 2007


(I don't suppose anybody has made available good data on the c-fullness vs. c-lessness of Yiddish renderings of this sort? I suddenly want that very badly.)
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:00 AM on November 29, 2007


Yeah, the endlessly-repeated in-jokes are pretty lame. I think that people are hesitant to say "quit it with the in-jokes" because even if they're typically good natured or at very least benign. And any time someone does say "quit it with the in-jokes" the standard reply is "you have no sense of humor." And while I suppose that someone out there really thinks that 'eponysterical' is just the essence of humor, it's never fit my personal definition.

Still, from what I gather, retarded in-jokes have always been a part of MeFi. Is there any evidence that they've been on the rise?
posted by Afroblanco at 11:01 AM on November 29, 2007


I think that people are hesitant to say "quit it with the in-jokes" because even if they're typically good natured or at very least benign.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:02 AM on November 29, 2007


the standard reply is "you have no sense of humor."

or even worse, the remainder of the thread becomes endless repetition of said in-joke.
posted by shmegegge at 11:03 AM on November 29, 2007




Well, how about no sense of scale? Griping over people joking badly or too often is pretty lame. It's comes off as "your idea of having fun is disruptive to my droll and snooty quietude, please obtain a modicum of decorum if you wish to participate in the salon." If dorkiness is what bothers you, I laugh at your expense and have no with people poking you by doing it more.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:09 AM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: the endlessly-repeated in-jokes are pretty lame.
posted by brain_drain at 11:11 AM on November 29, 2007


cortektch, apparently, the more C's the better? What a question, anyhow, yooouuu...

shmendrik!
(6,930) schmendrik! (11,500) shmendrick! (10,700) schmendrick! (51,200)
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:20 AM on November 29, 2007


Metafilter aims to be a community with a human voice on the one hand. This is accentuated by the fact that admins use their account for personal member-like use of mefi and for administration. Admins seem to have a sizable part of their social network within mefi.

There's also the virtual bar on the corner 'where everybody knows your name' aspect of a small subset of members, an incrowd of old hands who invest a lot of time and emotion and get some social emotional payback from this.

On the other hand it's website that costs money to run and maintain and administrators need a salary to live. In this respect it's a very formal phenomenon where admins can unilaterally change things.

There's a tension between these two extremes; amorphous, emotional, egalitarian, social versus formal, hierarchical, orderly, unilateral.

The way I see it Jessamyn and Cortex take great pains to express themselves well, to address concerns, to be attentive of what's happening. Even bordering in this thread wrt stavros on the psychotherapeutic tone of voice.

I myself have sometimes felt that all the discussion in metatalk is like eating liquorice for a Dutchie: very enticing in the short term but it gets rather unfulfilling in the longer term.

It sometimes feels to me that metatalk fulfills the role of winning community acceptance for unilateral decisions by letting everybody vent & discuss & bicker & philosophise to hearts content but that the decision has already been taken and hardly ever anything is changed because of the decision.
Metatalk to me is largely social grooming.

I'm ok with that.

But I can imagine it's emotionally confusing for people who are very invested.

Hold still, I found a tick in your fur.
Let me.. There.
It's gone.
posted by jouke at 11:29 AM on November 29, 2007


Hey, who took my tick? I was saving that for a snack.
posted by languagehat at 11:35 AM on November 29, 2007


As far as I can see, the in-group/out-group divide springs primarily from the fact that a core group of people have five to six hours to spare five to six days a week to do nothing but type on Metafilter. That's why we see the same 100 names over and over again.

Is there a list of this core 100 somewhere? I'd like to see who they are.
posted by timeistight at 11:38 AM on November 29, 2007


Well. I found it on your back. So I'm sure you weren't able to get to it yourself.
It was crunchy with a slightly nutty flavour.
posted by jouke at 12:16 PM on November 29, 2007


Mefi User contribution index.

Yes, I do have 5-6 hours a day to devote to websurfing, since I get paid to babysit an inbox, and I park at least two tabs here for the duration. I would rather have a career. I'm workin' on it.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:30 PM on November 29, 2007


OmieWise: the evidence suggests that almost all changes are discussed ad nauseum, and that decisions and policies are changed as a result.

Perhaps, on the heels of the sexism debate, the timing is bad, but.. With a couple of exceptions, most MetaTalk threads nowadays are very cut and dried cases. The troublesome stuff, the lively debates of 2-3 years ago just don't come up much. Consider the way we've slid into the policy against AskMe questions that can be perceived as violating US laws (often really just violating policy of US corporations, but that isn't the topic here). Maybe there is good reason for this, maybe mathowie is regularly harangued by lawyers and state authorities, but us users don't know about it. How about the debate about professionals giving answers in AskMe.. Consider the debate in A link to NAMBLA is just wrong compared to a recent thread How do people feel about links to vdare. Sure, having these issues settled helps things run smoothly, and that seems like a good thing day to day, but it is also stagnation.

So to me, the problem is that there is less and less real discussion and policy evolution in MetaTalk. More and more cookie cutter and corporate responses - "Here, we'll explain why it is the way it is. What, change? Balance? Flexibility? No, no, no, this is the way it is. Can I tell you why again?"

Actually, it may be less the mods doing than the currently active users. For example, from _dead's comment:
there is an owner, Matt, who can do as he pleases. This is a fact of MetaLife: the center of our universe rests on Him and those he has chosen to represent him.
And, along those lines, from jouke's comment:
On the other hand it's website that costs money to run and maintain and administrators need a salary to live.
It is a website that makes money. A significant reason why it makes money is user contributions. Playing ownership as a bludgeon is as childish as fingers-in-ears calling out "blah-blah-blah, I can't hear you".
posted by Chuckles at 12:37 PM on November 29, 2007


Another point I forgot to get to in the above..

For me, all the new features flying out the door calls attention to the problems with the state of content moderation. I know that the individuals doing moderation aren't the ones doing development, but it feels like all the focus is on the fancy toys. All the content moderation seems to be about making the site easier to manage, rather than better. The solution to the sexism debate seems to support this, though I admit I didn't follow it that closely.

Basically, it is starting to feel a little sterile, and that isn't a good path to be on..


And..
cortex: What I'm getting at is that "something in that direction" is really pretty much where we are already.

See, this is what I get for moderating my language..
Of course stavros isn't getting much further with the not so moderate language :P
posted by Chuckles at 1:02 PM on November 29, 2007


Chuckles, I don't think you got my point. But if you want to stick the responsibility with the current state of affairs to me that's fine.
Rather unexpected result.
But I like feeling influential and special.

Or am I using the bludgeon again while sticking my fingers in my ears?
What's that? Just call me Shiva.
posted by jouke at 1:09 PM on November 29, 2007


Ya jouke, sorry, I misrepresented your statement a bit, but the point I'm making is important. Whether you belong in the category or not, there are a lot of users who like to push in the "must obey benevolent dictator" direction, and their primary argument is capitalistic.

Here is another recent example of what my issues are: Suggestion to reduce complaint-filter. WTF? And cortex "We've been talking about the pros and cons of doing something like that,". Much more moderate things were said later in that thread, but.. Maybe I'm the one who doesn't grok the MeFi?
posted by Chuckles at 1:22 PM on November 29, 2007


Chuckles, I mentioned in that thread that we'd been talking about the pros and cons of a Metatalk queue because, after it being suggested in previous threads, we had a discussion about it in email. To discuss the pros and cons of it. I'm honestly pretty much on the con side, and you'll note that no queue ever materialized. Instead, we get email now whenever a thread goes up, which allows us to react quickly to the occasional Bad Idea thread without imposing a queue.

So, that's the kind of frustrating bind I feel like we're in, speaking to the transparency question: unless you think we should have either (a) not ever had any conversations about the pros and cons of a metatalk-management change or (b) not ever admitted to having had said conversation, I'm not sure what could have gone differently from the admin side. From the user side, some people in the community prefer the benev. dic. model, to greater or lesser degrees; and more generally, have different preferences along any number of specific vectors about site standards and moderation and so on.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:39 PM on November 29, 2007


If a person feels there isn't enough discussion, they should start one.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:51 PM on November 29, 2007


I miss when the funny moments on metafilter were genuine moments of wit and insight that enlivened a conversation

Please supply sample of said wit and/or insight immediately so I may imitate. Thanks.
posted by meehawl at 1:52 PM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


We have profile pics now? Hey! Look at that! Just wait until I tell Quonsar.

Wait. What?

Well, at least I've still got good ol' EB!

Crap.
posted by Alt F4 at 2:09 PM on November 29, 2007


n00bfilter: what's a pony?
posted by nax at 2:25 PM on November 29, 2007


$20SAIT.
posted by dersins at 2:32 PM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sorry, that's just repeating a bad joke, isn't it?

I should answer your question sincerely.

A pony is a small horse.

Better?
posted by dersins at 2:33 PM on November 29, 2007


Well, how about no sense of scale?

Could be. However, it would seem that there are a number of people who are irritated by the constant in-joking, so perhaps are sense of scale is more accurate than you would think.

Besides, I don't think anybody is saying that it's the end of the world. Just that it's annoying and it would be nice if people went a bit easier on the in-jokes.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:37 PM on November 29, 2007


chuckles: It is a website that makes money. A significant reason why it makes money is user contributions.

Well, I doubt it makes that much money. But forgetting about that for a second...

You're right that the value of this place is down to member contributions. But it's a two way street: There wouldn't be a site if Matt hadn't built it; the tone was set by Matt; the tone is policed by the everyday actions of Mefites, to be sure, but there are admins to carry the sticks; and the ponies are provided by Matt and pb.

So you don't have value without the member contributions. But you also don't have value without the owner/moderator contributions.

(Nax, to answer your question, just think about what Lisa's always asking for: "A Pony!?")
posted by lodurr at 2:37 PM on November 29, 2007


also, MADNESS?!
posted by shmegegge at 2:46 PM on November 29, 2007


Brandon Blatcher: If a person feels there isn't enough discussion, they should start one.

Ya, I resemble that remark.. But, do I really want to be the person associated with the "Should MetaFilter open the accounting books" thread? The user base is becoming a little docile in that respect, really. Perhaps it is important to have a few users who are willing to be controversial :P

cortex: I'm not sure what could have gone differently from the admin side.

Just one possibility, but.. An admin could have started a thread saying "we're considering this".. Actually, no, that would have been too late. Initially, the admin who precipitated the behind the scenes discussion could have started a MetaTalk thread instead of writing an email.

Hell, maybe it wasn't even such a bad idea. It occurs to me that knee-jerk complaint threads make the majority of users less likely to use MetaTalk, because of the way those threads go.

Anyway, I'm not looking for "Action now!" It is an intractable problem, which is okay, but the way you handle it is important..
posted by Chuckles at 2:47 PM on November 29, 2007


It occurs to me that knee-jerk complaint threads make the majority of users less likely to use MetaTalk, because of the way those threads go.

That seems to me to be less of a problem with the complaint threads and more of a problem with the majority of users. They simply don't know how wildly entertaining these threads can be. We need to start an ad campaign. Like the tourism campaigns for various ports of call and resort destinations.

"Come to MetaTalk" And then a picture of some scantily clad and attractive couple walking on a beach and getting screamed at by a 13 year old with a laptop.
posted by shmegegge at 2:59 PM on November 29, 2007


But, do I really want to be the person associated with the "Should MetaFilter open the accounting books" thread?

If you can't take the heat, then don't start the fire.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:01 PM on November 29, 2007


Thanks so much everyone. Always nice to have confirmed that I'm a complete idiot. Remind me not to come to the puce.
posted by nax at 3:04 PM on November 29, 2007


If you can't take the heat, then don't start the fire.

He didn't start the fire. It was always burning since the world's been turning.
posted by shmegegge at 3:07 PM on November 29, 2007


Is there a list of this core 100 somewhere? I'd like to see who they are.

Here are 25, maybe.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:23 PM on November 29, 2007


Blazecock: who is this "Ethereal Bligh" person in your list? S/he doesn't appear to have an account.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:51 PM on November 29, 2007


Well, I doubt it makes that much money.

Well, this is neither here nor there, and makes no difference, and Matt has put a lot of his time and energy for years into this place. But the days of "let's pull together and buy matt a new server!" are over. Between new users and advertising I'm sure he's doing quite well with enough left over to pay 2 others. He quit his other jobs to do this full time.
posted by justgary at 3:54 PM on November 29, 2007


Make that 23.
posted by dogrose at 3:55 PM on November 29, 2007


I miss when the funny moments on metafilter were genuine moments of wit and insight that enlivened a conversation

Sorry, ever since I started getting (occasionally) published on a big-name news-site (this time, maybe, I WON'T make a self-promotional link...), I save my best material for when I get paid.

I know what you're thinking: HOLY CRAP, THAT'S HIS BEST MATERIAL?
posted by wendell at 3:56 PM on November 29, 2007


There's so much discussion about features around here as it is, I'm not sure I understand why there needs to be more. Do the people who want more debate want an "in two weeks we'll be having x new feature debut" thread from Matt, even before they actually have seen the feature? I don't think I've seen that on any other site (I could be completely wrong, though), and debating the usefulness of something that a) most likely has already been debated at least once and b) we only have a short description of and can't really evaluate seems excessive and impractical. If it is fear of the future changes like LH brought up earlier, do you really think that those future changes won't be discussed to death, too? I can't see that changing unless the mods close Meta and change their email addresses and phone numbers. And even then we'd find a way to hunt them down and demand answers.

I'm a lurker, but I've been reading faithfully for 8 years. I just don't get the anger about changes and the wistful "the way we were" posts. It has its faults, but it's a pretty great place, with interesting people and good discussion. My only vague concern is that I like the lo-fi-ness of it (I dig simplicity and straightforwardness), so I don't want it to become too full-featured and flashy -- but if it does, I doubt I'll stop reading.
posted by doubtful_guest at 4:08 PM on November 29, 2007


doubtful_guest, you clearly haven't spent enough time around here—you're far too reasonable and low-key. You need to run around your apartment screaming until your vocal cords are shredded and your mind is awhirl, then come back and see if you can do better. Remember, ALL CAPS help make a point clear!
posted by languagehat at 4:59 PM on November 29, 2007


OK, this is stupidly long, but, you know, somebody's got to take up the Ethereal Bligh Wordcount Pole Position, I guess.

cortex:So: the summary of reasoning is something I can sit down and try to put together some time, for the sake of discussion. There's no extant manifesto to offer you, though; Matt (as you yourself seem well aware) is not a manifesto kind of guy, and we don't work from a rule book or a style guide.

That would be something much appreciated, yes, for the sake of discussion, and thanks.

Skorgu:I think y'all are talking past each other honestly, I read stavros' and jessamyn's comments and its like they're talking about entirely different sites much less conversations.

Me, too, and I don't understand why, because, for my part at least, I'm trying awfully hard here.

Skurgu:What I took from stavros' comment (and what I agree with) is that there's a visible standard of behavior for users while there is nothing even remotely similar going the other way.

Yup, that is very much at the core of what I might grandiosely call my philosophical objections to the current system.

Dave Faris: Maybe Stavros is just feeling like he's among a short list of entitled elders who feels like he ought to be consulted when the tenor and inner-workings of the site -- one that he's devoted as much energy as he has -- changes so much.

You know, Dave, that's entirely possible; I've been very open with how much I love this place and how important the sense of community here is to me, and displaying such naked and unironic emotion opens one up to ridicule, I'm aware. But even if there is some element to that in my feelings, the only reason I can see for highlighting it on your part would be to belittle the actual points I'm trying to make in good faith, and derail what opportunities might exist for discussion of the issues I'm hoping to create.

Omiewise: I've got to admit to being a bit surprised at the contention that things don't get discussed enough around here

That is not my contention, at least, and never has been. That I'm not saying 'not enough' does not exclude my hope that there might be more, though.

dead_:Many of the ideas in this thread have merit, and both sides of the discussion have points, but I think what is most important to remember is that everyone seems to want to preserve one thing, the intangible spirit of MetaFilter that made us all come here in the first place. [...] Perhaps this thead, and what's happening in it, is all part of the bigger MetaFilter consciousness, a microcosm of what we've been about since the beginning: what we are experiencing right now is a precise indication that although some things will change, some things will always stay the same.

Precisely, and that's one of the reasons I always try to end my occasional long posts criticizing or querying the admins with praise for the site and for them. Some has been lost, I think, but much good remains.

jessamyn: It seems like you want us to issue some sort of once-and-for-all "This is why we think flagging is an improvement over what we used to have" and "this is why we don't think we've sacrificed anything functionality-wise or community-wise by having the flag queue and anyone who thinks so has their head up their ass"

No, I don't. I realize that my language was densely packed and more that a little parenthetical (which happens too often, I admit), but again (which cortex seemed to grok, at least): the flagging of items by users is silent (to users) and eventual deletion is silent (to users) and -- as I've said at length and I can only assume from your exasperation with the repetitious nature of my comments on it that you've read -- I think that makes the problems you try to address with those mechanisms worse. I reckon that it's precisely counterproductive for YOU THE MODS (we are the we are the we are the) and for the community, that, particularly for new users, when most of the results of active moderation are invisible, there is no visible, public, behaviour-reinforcing incentive to avoid or modify bad behaviour or substandard posting. There is no element of (mild) public censure, and repeated bad actors also receive no pushback other than the wildly ineffective and unpleasant pile-ons and 'callouts' in Metatalk, which seem to rise in frequency and viciousness precisely because it's the only place where the userbase can see negative reinforcement, or spur it. That makes Metatalk worse, and pushes you, the admins further away from using it as a forum, and helps the whole feedback cycle that silent flagging and deletion creates.

The mechanism (and the silent way in which it works) also encourages appeal to authority rather than appeal to the community. Both in terms of ideals and actual day-to-day operations, this fosters a cultural shift that new users (and old) take for granted, and regardless of the fact of who the authorities are (and I'd be hard pressed to choose better candidates than you people), I think that perpetuates and exacerbates the negative feedback loop.

This and nothing more, which I've said many times before and at even greater length, is the crux of my argument here. I fear, once again, that although it seems very clear to me, that my explanations of the issues are difficult to follow. I haven't repeated the argument in this thread because, after you, jessamyn, complained that I was flogging a dead horse, I assumed that you were totally familiar with what I was saying about the issue, despite the fact that, as an argument, despite what cortex said about discussions of this issue in the past, it has never been addressed, but instead, ignored or brushed aside by the admins. Such a wild array of suggestions of what I 'really mean' in this thread has been disheartening, but perhaps that's my fault for not repeating my argument more clearly. My entrance to the whole argument, in my comment that offended you (for which I apologize, because the way you took it was not the way I meant it, I think) at the opening of the thread, was the link with the system and appeals-to-authority, which I'll get to soon.

Now, having said all that, I'll repeat what I asked before, because it wasn't clear I guess, and you instead seem to wilfully want to hear me making 'head up their ass' broad-brush criticisms, which could not be further from what I'm trying to do, and is really, to be honest, kinda annoying already. (I try to make myself clear, and it sucks when people hear me through a filter they've got in place about what they expect me to be saying.) Here, again: clearly, the flagging system is a compromise. Nothing's perfect. I assume you guys understand and have thought and talked about the compromises involved. It seems to me that the system is counterproductive for the reasons I outline above and have talked about before, that they are, to put a finer point on it, destructive to Metafilter, destructive to community, and in fact make your own jobs harder. You (jessamyn, Matt, cortex) must obviously think otherwise about the balance of compromise, since the system is now entrenched. Why? I'd like to talk about why I'm wrong about this, because if I am, I'd be happy to bury the damn dry bone already.

I feel like sometimes, in the explaining of this, you hear something you don't like and literally GO OFF, usually on me, about how something I said is the end of something that existed before and is ceasing to exist now and that's the thing that I'm not sure what exactly it is.

I apologize if you feel that I go off on you. To be utterly honest, on my end, I feel like you (by which I mean specifically, you jessamyn, but also often Matt, though he stands well back from the fray these days) treat the ridiculous amounts of time and energy I personally put into talking about the site in hopes of more conversation about the deeper philosophical and sociological and allthatshit issues of web community (of which I think Metafilter is one of the greatest extant exemplars) with contempt. Maybe you think I'm all pretentious and shit, maybe you think I'm just full of shit. I don't know. You're not beholden in any way to address my concerns any more than you would those of others, but I honestly get a 'shut the fuck up and sit down stavros' vibe from you that I don't see you use with others. This is probably misapprehension of tone going in both directions, but, again, I just don't know. I am almost always careful to publically praise you and the other admins in a (failed, I guess) attempt to soften what may seem to be excessive, er, passion.

I know you're frustrated, but if I never hear "fuck off" from another user (and trust me, I hear it usually a few times a week and it stings every last time) for returning snark with snark, that's okay with me.

Look, tone is hard in text. I don't know about you, but when I'm exasperated with something that a friend says, I'll say 'Oh, fuck off...' in a falling tone to express that weariness and frustration sometimes. Is that a Canadianism? Anyway, that's what I was trying to express. We're all adults here, yeah? But, that said, if I never hear another glib dismissal from you, that's OK with me, too. Both you and Matt seem to do them all the time (and not only at me), these days, which is, yeah, frustrating. How about I leave off with the shorthand swipes that are not intended (but are being taken as) criticisms of you personally, and you try not to dismiss my concerns as tedious dead-horse beating? I respect you (even if you don't seem to think that) and what you do here, and I really would like it if there weren't animus between us.That would -- does -- suck. So, I'm sorry for the harsh words, but I really was feeling like you were deliberately taking cheap shots at me.

If you could put words into my mouth, or mathowie's that would say what you wanted to hear, what would it be?

It's not words, it's actions. Why would I want you to say something specific (of course) -- this isn't about ritual pronouncements. I tried so hard earlier to make this clear. The same issues keep coming up in Metatalk, when it's not puerile 'callouts' or 'why was my X deleted' (or meetup threads or chatfilter or whatever), with regards to the moderation strategy. I've outlined before (and above, in this stupidly long comment) why I think that's the case. I've said the same sorts of things since the introduction of the system, and I keep saying them because none of the admins has ever directly responded that I can recall (not even a 'yeah, I see what you mean, but you're just wrong' let alone 'wrong because...', and I honestly believe the system is feeding back on itself to make the site a worse experience for everyone concerned, including you guys. Talking about why the admins believe that the balance of compromise is the best one in the real world would be a useful thing, not only for me, but for a lot of people who have concerns about it, and I would hope that the discussion that ensued would be a fruitful one for all of us. There are a lot of smart people here, a lot smarter than me, anyway, and I don't see the downside.

I don't, personally, see the change away from personal-mod-opinion moderation [which was always silent unless called out in metatalk] to what you call "silent flag" moderation [which was equally silent, though participatory, until called out in metatalk] as a step away from a participatory site.

OK. I do, for reasons I've repeated above.

We may disagree over this or maybe I don't understand you, but it seems to me that it allows more people to weigh in on the MetaFilterworthiness of a particular thing and it's no more silent than moderation was before.

No, you're right, deletions, though more frequent (remember when there were heated, vociferous arguments about the fact that Matt might have the towering temerity to delete anything?), are just as silent as they ever were. Moderation, though, is not just deletions -- as you're totally aware, I know, it's the whole package. And my contention that the way that the flagging-deletion system works has unintended consequences to the whole moderation scheme that creates a feedback loop that throws the whole thing out of kilter, does not offer any intrinsic feedback to help guide user behaviour, does not scale at all well as the community scales, makes your jobs harder by creating through its invisibility disconnects between community disapprobation of items (resulting in flags), your responses (deletion), and subsequent user behaviour, does not offer disincentives to bad actors, makes Metatalk more of sewer because people do not see moderation activity, even if they flag, and feel disempowered unless they perform a ritual callout in Metatalk (for which they are inevitably excoriated by the 'flag it and move on' brigade, making calls for discussion of community standards even less likely to occur), and creates a culture of appeal-to-authority (the admins) rather than appeal to community, which I think is destructive to the ethos of the site, and makes the whole mess worse through self-reinforcing feedback loops.

I've said all this before. I'm not arguing, as I've said before in this thread and elsewhere, that flagging in and of itself is necessarily a bad thing. But the way it has been implemented? I worry.

is there anything we could say that would stop this regular tirade of (what I perceive as) hostile commentary here?

Tirade? Really? Well, OK, maybe that's the way it seems. But, you know, if I think that bad decisions are being made, I'll probably say so, and say why, in as reasonable terms as I am able. If my good-faith comments are belittled or ridiculed, I may lose my temper, though I pledge to try not to.

Such feedback from engaged long-term (or short-term, for that matter) users, offered in hopes of discussion that will result in a better site for everyone regardless of the outcome, would, I'd think, be welcome.

I don't know why this has to be an argument rather than a co-operative exploration of stuff, but I guess that's my fault as much as anyone's, as usual. Sorry.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:05 PM on November 29, 2007


Skorgu:What I took from stavros' comment (and what I agree with) is that there's a visible standard of behavior for users while there is nothing even remotely similar going the other way.

me: Yup, that is very much at the core of what I might grandiosely call my philosophical objections to the current system.

Shit, no wait, that's not it at all. What I'm saying (in part, specifically about user behaviour) amounts to the opposite, in fact: that silent deletion offers no way to allow development of standards for user behaviour at all.

Damn, sorry.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:27 PM on November 29, 2007


You know, stav, I realize your concerns are serious and you want serious answers to them, but I am boggled that you can't tell that you come across as hostile. I mean, when you say things like "rather than just spitting in my face," how do you think that's going to be perceived? It's been seeming to me that you're taking over the quonsar Fling Poo at the Mods Pole Position rather than the Ethereal Bligh Wordcount Pole Position, and I'm sure that's not how you want to be perceived, but, well, that's kind of how you're coming across.

That said, I'm curious to see the answers to your question, because now that I think about it I don't think it's really been addressed other than with hand-waving.
posted by languagehat at 5:28 PM on November 29, 2007


Damn, that was comment 300. SPARTA!
posted by languagehat at 5:29 PM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I like the part with the links to interesting things on the web.
posted by everichon at 5:33 PM on November 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


You know, stav, I realize your concerns are serious and you want serious answers to them, but I am boggled that you can't tell that you come across as hostile.

Uh, dude, I've already said several times in this thread that I can totally understand how my comments can come across as hostile, first in responding to dg, and then in my epic tome of a comment most recently.

It's been seeming to me that you're taking over the quonsar Fling Poo at the Mods Pole Position

If quonsar ever had offered a long and reasonable explanation rather than literal one-liner hit-and-run-poo-flings, I might agree. I have never seen him do anything of the kind that I can recall. But I understand where you're coming from, and all I can say is that I hope that Matt & co. don't dislike me for doing it, but I gotta say what I think when I think it's worth being said.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:34 PM on November 29, 2007


*flings poo straight up, gets out of the way*
posted by everichon at 5:34 PM on November 29, 2007


Tirade? Really?

Your last comment was 2449 words long. By many metrics, that could be considered a tirade. :)

there is no visible, public, behaviour-reinforcing incentive to avoid or modify bad behaviour or substandard posting.

I seem to remember this topic coming up numerous times under different guises, and generally one of the explanations (there were several) as to why this wasn't necessarily a good idea was that, there are people out there who would actually thrive on getting the negative flags. Kind of an anti-favorite. And by making this visible, it would give these folks a metric by which they could measure the irritation of the community. Sort of a troll-score, if you will, and all this will do is inspire them to act worse. Sure they will get shut down eventually, but until then, they are kicking over our trash-cans and knocking over our mailboxes and generally being disruptive assholes.

There are other, probably better, reasons to keep the flagging admin only, but this is the one I latched onto as making good sense.

And I think you underestimate the power of negative feedback in the form of comments. I've had people return fire when got a little out of hand, and I found it stung quite a bit. I really care what this place thinks of me (you tell anyone, and I'll flat out deny it.).

Finally, you have both eloquently and verbosely stated your point, and I think you have done it in a far less strident tone than you are occasionally accused of using. But I have a request, you keep asking the admins to speak to their feelings on how this should/ could be done, and I'm honestly curious, what do you think would be a better system?

It's likely you've described this in many other threads, so if I'm asking you to repeat yourself, I'm sorry. But because of your passion for this subject, I have to figure you have a great system in your mind to better address the failings of the way things are currently done.
posted by quin at 5:44 PM on November 29, 2007


Holy crap, stavros has just created the MeTa comment equivalent of Metal Machine Music.

Good job!
posted by Afroblanco at 5:49 PM on November 29, 2007


Stavros: I'm about to duck out, but one thing that strikes me about your position is that you don't offer any support aside from "this is how I feel." There's nothing objective there, which is why it's hard to get an answer more detailed than "I disagree."

So, yeah, what comes across as pissy+no specific examples gets a "UR RONG" response.
posted by klangklangston at 5:52 PM on November 29, 2007


OK, this is stupidly long

EB, you've come back!!!!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:09 PM on November 29, 2007


Sorry LH, I'll do better next time.

tentatively flings poo, ducks
posted by doubtful_guest at 6:25 PM on November 29, 2007


Stavros: I'm about to duck out, but one thing that strikes me about your position is that you don't offer any support aside from "this is how I feel." There's nothing objective there, which is why it's hard to get an answer more detailed than "I disagree."

Yeah, I am aware of that, but I don't think there's any way to quantify this. These are my opinions, and the only counterargument, if that's the right way to express it, would be other opinions. Hard data is not something that would help much here, I don't think, or is even possible to gather. I'm talking in fairly specific ways, though, I think, and I think the admin team must have different opinions about where the compromise balance lies between what I see as negatives of the current system and the positives (which of course, there also are). "I disagree" is cool (and even sufficient, I guess) -- I'm interested in the why part, though. Even just academically.

But I have a request, you keep asking the admins to speak to their feelings on how this should/ could be done, and I'm honestly curious, what do you think would be a better system?

Well, quin, implementation is always the hard part. I don't think what we have now should be thrown out wholesale, nor do I think that would be even possible. Far too disruptive. And, as I've said, I'm just fine with flagging per se.

If what I am saying is right (which I'm willing to be convinced is not the case), or at least right enough to be a valid concern, I think there are a few things that might disrupt the feedback loop. I hesitate to suggest them at this point, though, because the thread, if it keeps going (horrors!), then instantly becomes a thread arguing about my suggestions for implementation suggestions or policies.

So, most generally, without touching on how, at least right now, I reckon:

1) Bad behaviour should have public consequences (in the same way that good does now in the form of favorites, if through entirely different mechanisms) -- when someone makes an egregiously racist comment, say, or uncalled-for personal attack, or whatever, there should be some way for the deletion of that comment (even if not the content of it) to be known and visible, as a disincentive both to the individual user, a mild badge of shame, and as an example to the rest of the community, particularly to new users. This goes for whole threads as well. I'm NOT talking about downmodding or negative karma or anything of the kind by users, here, to be clear. Mods still respond to flagging through a deletion mechanism as necessary.

2) Metatalk should be positively and consistently promoted as a place to talk about community standards and policy. I get the sense that this is less and less the case these days. If, as Matt has said many times, the vast majority of users do not know about it or visit it, much less participate, initiative should be actively taken to change that. Grabassery and pooflinging will never go away because it's the only place it's really allowed, but that doesn't mean that we ought to give up on discussion of policy and standards and other supa-serious topsekrit stuff.

2a) Metatalk 'callout culture' should be actively discouraged. Individual users and threads should less be a focus of discussion there than larger questions (of which individual users and threads may be exemplars) of community policy. Pileons and flameouts (much as they amuse friend languagehat) should be discouraged.

3) There is no good reason that new feature ideas (larger than minor tweaks and stuff) and their prioritization could not be opened up to discussion before the fact. The final decision rests with the admins, regardless out the outcome, which we all know, but there are a lot of smart people here, and it is almost certain that at least some good ideas would result. Subsequent implementations will always have naysayers, but it's easier to change course on something before rollout than after, as any developer (or ex-dev, in my case) knows.

4) I reiterate that I think neither flagging nor deletion should be entirely invisible. Nasty comments should be deleted, I agree, for example, but all record of their existence should not be expunged. There are any number of ways of implementing this.

5) Flag-it-and-move-on as a response is destructive to development of community standards by the userbase. Stamp that idea out with extreme prejudice, except in the most obviously trivial of cases (double posts, say). But flagging is clearly a useful mechanism that we should keep.

I dunno, there's a hell of a lot more stuff that I think might be reasonable, but this is just me talking, right? Like I said earlier, there are a lot of smart people here, and though consensus can never be reached in a group this large (though, again, it's relatively small when we're talking engaged Metatalkers as distinct from the larger userbase), and circling back to my original comment in this thread, it's pointless to expect or seek perfect consensus. It never happens. The process itself should (as in democracy, which is where the link comes in in my mind (not, again to say that Metafilter *is* a democracy)) be the focus, not any quest for a mythical consensual discussion output.

Process-focus over result-focus is probably a good micro-summary of everything I've been talking about here and elsewhere.

I'm not suggesting that Metatalk doesn't serve a useful purpose still, it very much does. And I think that if I'm right about my concerns, it would't take more than small tweaks to break the feedback loop.

But, again, I might be wrong. That's OK.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:30 PM on November 29, 2007


If my good-faith comments are belittled or ridiculed, I may lose my temper, though I pledge to try not to.

Okay. However, your laying in to me about my comments were prior to me even mentioning you while I was actually trying to helpfully answer someone's question. Telling someone whose job is to keep a site going that they are actively killing it is, to my mind, tossing down the gauntlet.

To my mind you want an after the fact post-flag-queue implementation rationalization for what we're doing now and some sort of assurance that we really have considered the alternatives and feel that this is the best path. You are not so sure it is the best path. You think it may be a bad path.

You are worried that appeals to authority are replacing us all (everyone) discussing issues here because the flag queue and our use of it has assumed this middleman position as an entity in and of itself. You don't think that removing comments silently helps people know how to be a good member of MeFi the way talking about stuff in MeTa used to guide norms before. You think this approach is 1) worse 2) a mistake we made when we started doing the flag thing and haven't fixed or repaired yet. You think that MeTa has become a standard call-response where users say "why was this removed?" and mods say "rules" and/or "flagging queue" and nothing is learned about how to behave or treat each other. You feel that it's getting more like this not less. You feel that we, as mods, prefer this because we are stretched fairly thin because of how the site has grown and this rankles you because we could have made other decisions including limiting site growth.

Before I go on, do I have that approximately correct? If so I'll happily explain my own ideas of why I think what we have is the best balancing act of the possible balancing acts we could choose to run the site with.

I apologize if you feel that I go off on you.

While I would appreciate if you'd just, you know, apologize for going off on me, I'll accept that.

I don't know why this has to be an argument rather than a co-operative exploration of stuff

Everyone has their buttons that get pushed. Mine are that I spend a lot of time and effort here and I don't appreciate the implications and/or out and out statements that my presence makes this site actively worse. I don't like trying to explain something in MeTa and feeling I get some sort of "AHA!" comment from you out of noplace that detects bias and dismissal and contempt (of other users, of the site, of the process) where none exist and then puts a magnifying glass over it. I think it's a totally inappropriate way to behave if you want MeTa to work, not fail.

That said you have my sincere apologies for making possibly my most mean-spirited comment in MetaFilter ever as a (my own fault) result. Not cool either.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:42 PM on November 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


But, again, I might be wrong. That's OK.

Oh, crap, Dennis Miller has stolen stav's password!
posted by wendell at 6:45 PM on November 29, 2007


Before I go on, do I have that approximately correct? If so I'll happily explain my own ideas of why I think what we have is the best balancing act of the possible balancing acts we could choose to run the site with.

Yup, that's a fair summary, I think, and your thoughts would be appreciated.

While I would appreciate if you'd just, you know, apologize for going off on me, I'll accept that.

I have felt that you have been extremely dismissive of me in recent weeks/months, and have not understood why. Whether that feeling was justified or just my own fevered brain, I dunno, but there it is. I do not feel that I 'went off' on you in a way incommensurate with the way you've often been speaking to me (or my perception of it), which I perceived as contemptuous. I say this not to excuse myself but to make an attempt to explain why I was intemperate in my comments.

That said, I sincerely apologize.

Mine are that I spend a lot of time and effort here and I don't appreciate the implications and/or out and out statements that my presence makes this site actively worse.

I do wish that you would note (if just to yourself) as clearly how often and how frequently (and sincerely, though that is perhaps difficult to understand from text) I praise you and your work here. I do, and I have, and I believe what I've said. But I understand that we remember the hurtful things a lot longer than the kind. I am the same.

That said you have my sincere apologies for making possibly my most mean-spirited comment in MetaFilter ever as a (my own fault) result. Not cool either.

Thank you. And me too, seriously. This place is one hell of a lot better for you being here.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:58 PM on November 29, 2007


I more or less agree with the ideas and feelings stavros has been presenting, at least about the social engineering aspects of operating MeFi. I don't think this place needs the least bit of democracy, but it does need carefully considered design and management of its culture.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:09 PM on November 29, 2007


Here, again: clearly, the flagging system is a compromise. Nothing's perfect. I assume you guys understand and have thought and talked about the compromises involved. It seems to me that the system is counterproductive for the reasons I outline above and have talked about before, that they are, to put a finer point on it, destructive to Metafilter, destructive to community, and in fact make your own jobs harder. You (jessamyn, Matt, cortex) must obviously think otherwise about the balance of compromise, since the system is now entrenched. Why? I'd like to talk about why I'm wrong about this, because if I am, I'd be happy to bury the damn dry bone already.

Okay. Let me see if I can dig in a little. I'm a bit foggy headed from an awesome head cold, so bear with me.

The flagging system is a compromise; there are other approaches to community feedback, with different pros and cons, and I don't think any of the three of us would disagree with that. Obviously, yes, we do not think that it's a net negative as it stands right now; I disagree with the idea that silent flagging is more problematic than some direct flag-by-flag visible feedback, but not because I think silent flagging is perfect.

You enumerate, as quoted below, what you see as the negative consequences of the system as it stands, and I'll try respond point-by-point on that and see if I can go from there to anything more cohesive as an argument for the system as it stands.

And my contention that the way that the flagging-deletion system works has unintended consequences to the whole moderation scheme that creates a feedback loop that throws the whole thing out of kilter, does not offer any intrinsic feedback to help guide user behaviour,

One thing that I feel very strongly about is the fact that the flagging system exists not as the sole mechanism for community moderation on the site but as one segment of that process, a single mechanism fitted in among others.

If by intrinsic feedback you mean guaranteed, measurable feedback, agreed. Someone could flag a post or comment and that's all that ever happens—we see the flag, we check out what was flagged, we decide it isn't actionable, and we clear out the flag from the admin interface.

If the argument is that the flagging system is a problem because of this lack of guaranteed visibility, it's an argument I disagree with. I think the lack of visibility in cases where action isn't really needed is a good thing, because it allows (a) users to express their dissatisfaction without having to start a fight and (b) us to let things slide when someone's reacting via flag to something that doesn't merit public drama. That's a plus to the silent flag that lead to no action.

Flags that do produce action, as well as other mechanisms for community moderation, stand aside from the above, and I'll address them later.

does not scale at all well as the community scales,

This is tricky. Why do you feel flagging doesn't scale? Every user is capable of flagging, and the bigger the community (or, specifically, the community of flaggers—I'm anecdotally inclined to think they grow in proportion, but it's an interesting side-question) gets, the better the aggregate view we get through flags. More eyes means a better chance of problematic stuff getting caught sooner and acted on, which is the key thing the flagging system exists to accomplish.

The community is going to continue to grow, dire long-term measures re: signups notwithstanding. How to make the site—and moderation of the site—scale to that is a very important question, and I want to be clear that that is something we think about pretty much constantly. I'm not sure how often we address it explicitly, and if there's frustration there I can dig it. I'm totally interested in questions of scale. But I don't understand what you mean, that the flagging system itself doesn't scale.

makes your jobs harder by creating through its invisibility disconnects between community disapprobation of items (resulting in flags), your responses (deletion), and subsequent user behaviour,

Here, I agree with you: it does make our jobs harder in some respects—specifically, having sometimes to provide an explicit chain of evidence and reasoning when people inquire or complain, because they can't dig through the flags and view the deleted comments themselves.

There are alternatives that would (in theory, at least) reduce that disconnect. Some that come to mind:

- provide a viewable record of flagging activity
- leave placeholders where comments are deleted
- make deleted comments visible
- attach deletion reasons to deleted comments
- provide reasoning for dismissal / non-action on flags

I'm sure there are other ideas or variants on these. I'd be interested in what an alternative policy might consist of, as a mix of some of these. Some have been brought up a lot—deletion markers and some sort of visible flag record particularly—and I'll try to give my take in brief here.

I don't like the idea of a visible flag record—whether it's an aggregate "flagging activity" view like we have on the admin side, or flags attached somehow to the bylines of posts and comments. I see a big part of the usefulness of flags being that they aren't instant feedback—which means, in part, that people can flag badly without direct or dramatic in-thread consequences; and that, in part, people are not inspired to flag as an attack or commentary—because they know that their target won't see the flag, the incentive to use it to be petty disappears. Not just in theory, but in practice—we see very little of that in the flag queue. That lack of wide-spread, low-level flag-commentary noise saves us work, I think, that we'd otherwise be doing.

Generic deletion markers I could give or take. I'd prefer not to have them because I think it would make a cleaned up thread look kind of sloppy, and it'd be conspicuous enough that it might spawn questions about what was deleted and why when most deletions are pretty banal stuff. So I think not having them saves us some work, in fact, but again I don't feel strongly about them.

Deletion markers that include a username to identify who had the deleted comment? Worse than the generic sort—it puts the user on display as someone who Did Something Bad, but provides no context as to what they did or why. It's unfair to the deletee, and I believe it would generate drama/controversy unnecessarily.

Deletions that are viewable would be less bad than the marker-with-byline, in that respect, because the context would be available to folks who are curious. However, I think it'd be neutering the deletion system to go that route; it becomes instead more of a demotion system, which isn't an inherently bad model but feels (and I'm not sure how to quantify this) very, very un-metafilter to me. Like a public bullying, almost: look what they did! Look at the bad thing! It also defeats the noise-reduction goal of deletions as they stand now, because there's no longer anything preventing people from focusing on the deleted content in the first place.

Providing deletion reasons for comments, as an extension of the visible-deletion idea, would be an interesting approach to exposing the moderation process and (maybe) pre-empting questions and complaints about deletions. But I think it'd be tremendously tiring. It'd be a lot of work, not just to annotate each deletion, but to take care to do so in a way that doesn't cause further moderation headaches. Consider the pushback on insufficiently careful post deletion reasons, and multiply that by a factor of ten or twenty or fifty depending on the day.

Again, I'm interested in other variants—the above is top-of-mind stuff and I don't intend it to be exhaustive—and what folks perceive as counter-arguments to the concerns up there. But I do not think that it's at all clear that making flagging and deletion less silent would actually save us any work at all; at best it'd shift the work we do, and at worst it would multiply it to boot, and my instincts are not leaning toward the best case scenario.

does not offer disincentives to bad actors,

The intention of the flag system is not to provide direct disincentives to bad actors. It's to provide us with useful feedback from the community; the disincentives come after, according to the merit of the flags and the context of the situation. I believe—as much as it may clash with the idea of pure community policing—that from a top-down view, the three of us have, for all our imperfections of judgment and vision, a much better sense in most situations of what's sensible or not as justice/punishment goes than an individual user impassioned by whatever situation they're reacting to. The feedback system is absolutely vital, but so is having a more impartial, moderate hand on the trigger.

That may be a big point of disagreement, I know, but I really don't think the desire to be able to personally and directly punish/disincentivize another user is a desire that the flag system should be used to satisfy.

makes Metatalk more of sewer because people do not see moderation activity, even if they flag, and feel disempowered unless they perform a ritual callout in Metatalk (for which they are inevitably excoriated by the 'flag it and move on' brigade, making calls for discussion of community standards even less likely to occur),

There's a lot there. I don't really think Metatalk is more of a sewer because people don't see the moderation activity; my gut (for what that's worth, I know) tells me it's less so, because the threshold to start a Metatalk thread is a lot higher when someone needs a strong personal investment in what happened or is happening to kick things off. My belief is that a more visible moderation paper trail would lead to more callouts—whether of comments/users that currently would be unremarked upon because their comments, once removed, ceased to cause a problem; or of Matt or Jess or me, for deleting something a user considers valid or for failing to delete something a user considers deletable.

And I understand that it's possible Metatalk would be busier but not nastier. Maybe we'd have twice as many threads but they'd be more low-key, more carefully considered because the paper trail reduced the amount of speculation driving the callout? I can't say. I don't really think that's what would happen, personally. People make Metatalk posts because they're upset; I'd wager that right now, with fairly prompt flag-and-delete handling of stuff that's inappropriate, we see fewer callouts than we would because the stuff doesn't live long enough to fester and derail, on average, as it would if things were highlighted (through visible flagging or demotion) rather than nixed.

The problem of disempowerment and hence callouts does not, in my opinion, get solved by visible flagging or visible deletions. As likely as not, I believe a stack of visible flags on an undeleted comment or post would generate a sense of injustice in folks that would lead to more threads; and that visible flagging would lead to flagging pileons that would belie individual users' honest takes on content, again leading to drama and callouts otherwise avoided.

The conflict between the discussers and the flag-it-and-move-on folks is a complicated one. I think the latter folks are right a lot of the time but not universally—I wish, regardless, that Metatalk threads would open more considerately and gently than they do, but I don't believe the problem there lies principally or even significantly with the question of flagging it and moving on, but more in just the aggressive and snarky and (in my opinion) too readily dismissive culture of Metatalk. That's a big, separate issue, I think.

and creates a culture of appeal-to-authority (the admins) rather than appeal to community, which I think is destructive to the ethos of the site, and makes the whole mess worse through self-reinforcing feedback loops.

So here's where I find fault with the overall criticism of silent flagging and silent deletion: it is just one part of the community-feedback system, and I very strongly believe that it is a moderating rather than unbalancing part at that.

We have flags, yes. But we also have in-thread responses. We have Metatalk. We have email and mefimail—including user-to-user, user-to-admin, and admin-to-user. All of these have pros and cons, as community policing methods go, but we need to evaluate them as a gestalt, because changing or removing or adding a feature in vacuum doesn't make any sense when the rubber hits the road. It's the overall system that we're modifying.

In-thread rebukes are a tricky issue, because on the one hand they're a very good, very visible way for users to push back on behavior they consider out of line; on the other hand, it's easy for said comments to be more destructive to the quality and civility of a given thread than the comments that prompted them.

I can't say with certainty what the ebb and flow of moderation has been like, as far as curbing/discouraging in thread stuff. Certainly, we discourage and in extreme cases delete derailing arguments, but on the blue and even moreso in the grey that remains an uncommon practice. I know there's the flag-it-and-move-on argument, that flagging has obviated any need for in-thread responses and so said responses are out of line, but I don't think any of the mods actually feel that that's 100% the case. It's the over-the-line rebukes and attacks that are the problem, not the civil or restrained responses. It's always, always going to be a compromise on that front, and probably not a fixed one either, as the community mores and our moderation reactions to same shift around.

Obviously I can't know how much user-to-user communication happens by mail channels; as a community we hear glimmers of it (often in arguments, but not always) from users reporting that they've sent or received email from foo regarding bar, and sometimes folks will forward the mods email that someone else sent them or that they sent someone (again, usually re: some dispute). I'm presuming that what we hear about is a fraction of what actually goes on, but beyond that it's speculation.

As far as admin-to-user and user-to-admin mail goes, there's a pretty good chunk of it every day. A lot of the work we do is by mail, and here's an example of something that is not transparent, for good reasons that are analogous to the reasons I believe in silent flagging: the purpose of the communication should be to make the site work better and provide a good user and community experience. Not to jab at someone or punish someone or make interpersonal grievances public.

So we don't publish all the mail we send and receive on a wall for pubic consumption. We take what comes from those emails and try to figure out how best to act to keep the site healthy, drama low, noise low, etc. Arguably, publishing the emails would increase transparency a lot—people could see some of the day-to-day reasoning we go through that currently might only come out in a metatalk thread when someone inquires. But I don't think that transparency would be good for its own sake—obvious privacy issues aside, I think a degree of invisible consideration and deliberation resulting in concrete actions is better than the unvalved trail. It's more efficient, it's less provocative, and if someone really feels that what's done behind the scenes needs revealing, they can ask and we'll do our best to lay it out fairly and discreetly.

This is almost certainly the longest goddam comment I've ever written, so I think I'd better stop. I know that's a hell of a lot, but I hope it helps lay out in more useful detail how I see the current site moderation working, and why I feel like in general it's a pretty solid.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:11 PM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Which is to say I think he's on the right path with his five-point-plan above. There needs to be a better feedback system and consequences system.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:18 PM on November 29, 2007


Thank you, cortex.

This bit, though: Every user is capable of flagging, and the bigger the community ... gets, the better the aggregate view we get through flags.

They are a self-selecting population. Please do not mistake them as being representative of the overall population.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:26 PM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


A huge thank you for responding at such length, cortex -- it's going to take me a while to go through what you said and think about it, and (appearances to the contrary) my day job does occasionally occupy some of my attention and this afternoon will bring some things I have got to do, but I promise I'll get back to this thread with some thoughts.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:27 PM on November 29, 2007


They are a self-selecting population. Please do not mistake them as being representative of the overall population.

Absolutely. My main thoughts on the flagging population are (a) that we're in neither an optimal nor a particularly bad position with who is flagging and how much, right now, and that (b) if there's a good way to sort of raise awareness of and promote wider use of the flagging system, that'd probably be a good thing.

I ran some numbers a while back on the distribution of flagging, and the results were reasonably comforting: there are a lot of people who have used the flagging system. Definitely a minority of the userbase, but still four digits. There are folks who flag a lot, but it's a pretty sharp falloff from the top ten outliers to the median of folks who thrown up flags in the dozens rather than the hundreds since the feature launched.

So while self-selection and potential agenda-flagging are a reasonable concern, objectively we appear to have a healthy combination of heterogeneity and restraint in practice. Someday I'd like to sit down and dig in farther, see how it has changed over time and try and make more sense of how flagging is going on in something approaching real time. If anybody is a grant writer, lemme know.

As for promoting broader use of the system, I'm not sure how to pull it off but it's a question that interests me. We don't really throw out administrative directives, in Metatalk let alone site-wide, so the idea of saying "hey, flag stuff" is a tactical challenge in that respect. Something like a Metatalk post discussing the state of flagging and with some advice on how to use the system, maybe? It'd be kind of out of character, but I don't dislike the idea entirely.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:45 PM on November 29, 2007


No sweat, stavros. And of course a couple of hours of thread passed by while I was writing it; I like very much both Jessamyn's summary of her perception of your stance, and your five-point breakdown, and I'll try to respond to some of that as I get a chance as well.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:46 PM on November 29, 2007


more like boretex

yawn
posted by 29 at 9:02 PM on November 29, 2007


Let me quickly just respond to this bit from jessamyn's comment, too:

You feel that we, as mods, prefer this because we are stretched fairly thin because of how the site has grown and this rankles you because we could have made other decisions including limiting site growth.

I don't think this bit reflects my thinking, though the other parts are pretty accurate. I think that you guys, as mods, are run pretty ragged, and that with continued site growth, the current regime (which doesn't train-up users, if you get my meaning, because it's silent) means that a larger userbase means you will have more work to do, inevitably. You see what I mean? This is a key point that I'm trying to make: I don't think the current system produces better behaviour in the userbase by the sheer fact of its existence -- it still requires you as mods to step in and do something by hand and (this also being a response to cortex's asking me about scaling) that won't scale without more hands, or moderator amphetamine supplies. A system that was tweaked so that it automatically, programmatically created some disincentive for users to behave badly, and made it public so Joe New User who doesn't notice the subtleties can clue in to what's happening and hopefully never become a problem because he's being trained-up by using the site in community norms and standards (gaming metaphor ahoy: user training in Portal), would not only lessen your load now, but maybe even make the load lighter as the community scales, because the new feedback loop disincentivizes bad behaviour without moderator intervention (though hand-pruning is still a recourse, of course).

Second point is that I'm not rankled by decisions made -- any ranklage was I've felt my (I feel) valid concerns have not really been responded to in any substantive way until now (yay!). Limiting site growth hasn't been something I have advocated since well before the doors were opened to the 14kers, 50 thousand users ago. The focus of my concerns has been ways to manage site growth and, as FFF aptly terms it, social engineering that will make the user experience better and more congenial while making the task of the moderators easier and more scalable.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:04 PM on November 29, 2007


Sorry, I'm getting ahead of myself. For 'the new feedback loop disincentivizes bad behaviour without moderator intervention' read 'the new feedback loop disincentivizes bad behaviour as a result of more visible moderator intervention (or, depending on implementation) user-flagging, requiring, ultimately, less moderator intervention.'
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:08 PM on November 29, 2007


There is no element of (mild) public censure, and repeated bad actors also receive no pushback other than the wildly ineffective and unpleasant pile-ons and 'callouts' in Metatalk, which seem to rise in frequency and viciousness precisely because it's the only place where the userbase can see negative reinforcement, or spur it. That makes Metatalk worse, and pushes you, the admins further away from using it as a forum, and helps the whole feedback cycle that silent flagging and deletion creates.
Eggsactly.

There, in a nutshell, is what makes me uncomfortable about the flagging system of moderation. Unfortunately, I think it is a symptom of the way the community has scaled, rather than a problem in and of itself. The real problem with the whole self-policing model is that the users have to care about how others see them. At the moment, there are so many users that most are simply lost in the crowd and only get noticed when they do something very bad or very good. When someone does something very bad and gets banned for it, the entry barrier to get back in the door is barely even trivial. There is no real punishment that is or can be meted to serial baddies. Self-policing worked very well in the days when this was a more-or-less closed environment, so if you were kicked out, you were out and if you got a swift kick in the arse from mathowie, everyone knew it and it mattered to you.

I wish I had a solution but, as usual, all I have to bring to the table is more problems and a willingness to bicker about anything that is suggested with a passion that is as deep as it is ill-informed.
posted by dg at 9:18 PM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


stavrosthewonderchicken: gaming metaphor ahoy: user training in Portal

This thread's a triumph. I'm making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS. It's hard to overstate my satisfaction. MetaTalk lifers, we do what we must because we can, for the good of all of us except the ones who are banned.
posted by Kattullus at 9:30 PM on November 29, 2007


stavros, I've followed a lot of the discussions where you have brought this up previously, and I think you're expressing what your actual concern is more clearly here. Or, I'm understanding it more clearly.

I think cortex has covered this with admirable clarity above, and I'm just chiming in to agree with him that (IMO) the "silence" of the current system discourages the worst behavior and decreases drama.

Bad behavior: When bad behavior earns you a "that's not how we play here" email and your comment quietly disappeared, you are free to start fresh the next day. Nobody will see that you got a Black Mark yesterday, you don't have to respond in a public way because nobody is watching, so you don't have to get defensive and angry to save face (though some do anyway I guess, and we see them here). The main way to get attention at Mefi is to be a positive contributor of some kind.

Drama: Having secret information people can follow if they like gossip or (eg deleted comments feed) is an invitation for gossip, drama, extra focus on the deleted stuff. If all the comments from some in-thread fight stayed live in a secret underworld "deleted comments" page, rather than just being replaced by [a few comments removed - if you feel the need to talk about whether cats should be declawed, take it to Meta], how many more of those inane in-thread fights would stay live? I'm guessing plenty more. I don't really see that being beneficial; seems like it would bring more focus on "who was right?" "who's in a fight with whom now?" "who's on whose side?" etc rather than on, eg, discussions of interesting web content. Talking more about each other than about ideas/things outside of Mefi.

I agree that it would be useful to have people get more real-time feedback, but they need to get it in a way that doesn't make them feel defensive, or singled-out, or triumphantly offensive and ready for a fight in the limelight. Hard.

Maybe a set of representative deleted comments (with user info removed) could be added to the FAQ? I think examples are very useful for people who -- like me -- are willing to go looking for explicit guidance. But of course, even if it's useful for some, this is top-down and isn't the kind of intuitive user-training-as-you-go that stavros is talking about.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:40 PM on November 29, 2007


I'm making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS.

Heh.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:42 PM on November 29, 2007


the current regime (which doesn't train-up users, if you get my meaning, because it's silent) means that a larger userbase means you will have more work to do, inevitably.

I totally get that. I guess the counterpoint from my perspective is that we're actually not seeing a bunch of clueless n00bs wandering around bumping into things. In fact, the rare times we do see that, a quick email or a MeTa thread usually straightens it out. Most of the comment moderation I do in AskMe (which is mostly what I do here) is non-n00bs who just can't help tossing a dig into a comment or making the perfect joke. Not a huge deal. So, from my perspcetive, which is sort of unique, there's not a training-up-users problem at least not yet.

I think what makes THIS true is that there is a whole posse of people who do sort of get how things work here who, unbelievably I will say this but here goes, model decent behavior on-site and sort of keep the norm somewhat visible. So, while I understand what you're saying, it seems like things work as they should which is you hang around for a while and you sort of get how it's supposed to work without someone with a big stick laying down the law. I can't explain it, but it works really well or seems to.

The things that take up moderator time are, for the most part, really out-of-whack users, keeping an eye on monster MeTa threads like this one and the feminism threads of last week (not begrudging, just counting keystrokes) and sometimes clusterfuck-type threads in MeFi. AnonyMe threads take up time in AskMe (approving, watching, relaying answers). Feature rollout stuff and even the flag queue are not big timesinks. MeTa as a whole is not a big timesink and I think you and I both would like to see it used more fully.

Part of the deal is that from the way we look at things, we have the tiny set of tools that we need to do what we do and we'd rather spend our time making the rest of the site be awesome. Now you may disagree with what "awesome" means in this circumstance, but user-facing features not admin-facing stuff is generally what we think about. For us to build more admin-facing stuff other than the minimal stuff we have, we'd have to be seeing a problem that we're not really seeing. I know it might be smart to plan for some future MeFi with six digit usernumbers, but the tools have never been proactive in that regard, they evolve as needs for them evolve.

I also really want to stress what LobsterMitten just said which is that keeping the drama low is the only thing that, to my mind, keeps a giant community like this at all viable. Some of this is having different places where there are different norms (some like AskMe, some MeFi, some Music) so people can "chill out" in their own corners, or come here to Meta for a beer after work. Part of it is having three moderators who don't mix it up much and place value in not mixing it up much. Even though MeTa is a gloves-off sort of place mostly, none of the three of us do more than the pretty rare exasperated reply-snark. That's unusual I think, in big communities. Pointing out conflict rather than downplaying it seems to go against that core value and would be focusing attention the wrong way, to my mind. I'm also of the opinion, again, gut reaction, that removing a comment and dropping a user an email about it is a better tactic to keeping that user happy than a quickie timeout or anything public. My impression has been that most users when they're new would prefer that their screwups were not lorded over them eight ways from Sunday and I think it's one of the things that speaks to our decent user retention here. We joke about hazing, but there is very little hazing here.

I think part of the reason I don't think as much about the silent flagging aspect is because it's actually a small part of what I do here, as cortex sort of said above, we spend more time talking to each other, talking to users, answering email (I do a lot of that) and discussing various edge case situations on the site and reading the site because we like it. The flag queue directs our attention but doesn't direct our actions. I get the suggestions that you are making but each of them seem to also contain a capacity for redress (like everything here) which means that once you have users complaining about the tool, you might as well just have them just come to MetaTalk and complain directly.

I'm sorry this isn't a point by point reply. My angle was mostly going to be about how evolution of tools has historically happened here on the site. When AskMe started, before I worked here, before flags, I would IM mathowie all the time "hey someone asked this, is that an okay question?" or "um this guy is getting crazy out of hand in this thread?" and at some point he was going on vacation and knew he'd have limited access and so he put me in charge when he was away. I don't think I did pretty much anything, but was available just in case. I feel that if he'd gone to MetaTalk and said "I'm going on vacation, Jessamyn is in charge" it would have turned into a crazy brouhaha. As it was, he got to go on vacation, relax, and come back and stuff was basically the same. I got the feeling that he hadn't had a decent vacation in a while.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:11 PM on November 29, 2007


LobsterMitten:I agree that it would be useful to have people get more real-time feedback, but they need to get it in a way that doesn't make them feel defensive, or singled-out, or triumphantly offensive and ready for a fight in the limelight. Hard.

Well, I think we're getting into questions of implementation here, which is what I wanted to avoid, as I said to quin, as it derails questions of The Bigger Picture, I think. That said, I disagree. If someone has said something that was egregrious enough to be deleted, to hell with their feelings. I fear we're all a little too sensitive 'round here sometimes, good lefty gaia-loving inclusive hugmongers that we are at heart. A little tough love goes a pretty long way.

cortex: I think the lack of visibility in cases where action isn't really needed is a good thing, because it allows (a) users to express their dissatisfaction without having to start a fight and (b) us to let things slide when someone's reacting via flag to something that doesn't merit public drama. That's a plus to the silent flag that lead to no action.

I'm not sure I agree -- if something is bad enough for some threshold number of users to have flagged, I think it's bad enough to have a wee color gradient or something that subtly marks it as such. I'm not married by any means to the idea of non-silent flagging. An alternative that I think would be effective in the behaviour-mod way that I'm pointing towards would be a message in your MeFi inbox or your Activity stream that says (depending on whether you are flagger or flaggee) something like 'The item you flagged has been deleted' or 'This comment of yours has been flagged as X', just off the top of my head.

Arguments that people will take more stuff to Metatalk and it'll just be kaffuffley and brouhahanian, I don't buy. It's easy to condition people out of it, in the same way that people are being conditioned by each other to 'flag it and move on'. Short term dust cloud, long-term gain, potentially.

But I'm not married to the idea of non-silent flagging, entirely, although I do think flaggers should have some kind of feedback for their actions, even if it's private. It's more important for the social engineering aspect that the consequences of flagging (mod action) be more visible, I reckon.

But I don't understand what you mean, that the flagging system itself doesn't scale.

See my comment just upthread, in response to jessamyn for what I'm on about with scalability, here.

people are not inspired to flag as an attack or commentary—because they know that their target won't see the flag, the incentive to use it to be petty disappears.

Important point, and I agree that downmodding or its equivalent is pure death. Based on your datamining, I think you might be able to find a tipping point average number of flags after which a subtle indicator that means (or mouseovered, might say) 'this post/comment has been flagged a shitload and is in the mod queue for possible nuking', which could... damn it, I'm straying into implementation issues again. I always used to do this when I worked in the industry, and have tried in vain to cure myself of it. Damn.

Deletion markers (collapsed by default divs, say, that would take up zero space inthread unless a [+] or something over on the side were clicked, with the user byline and 'This comment was deleted because: X deletion reason' when toggled into visibility was my latest take on the idea, I think) is something I think would be a positive change. But that again, is implementation detail. In principle, I reckon it would achieve a great deal of good in breaking the cycle I believe us to be seeing currently.

These details of implementation are all to a purpose, though, and if they don't serve the purpose, then they're pointless. If we come to the conclusion that the purpose is not worth pursuing (or that it's just bollocks), then there's no need. It's the grand strategy I'm trying to tease out a bit. 'Cause I think it's fun.

The intention of the flag system is not to provide direct disincentives to bad actors.

I know. I'm saying it should, in some way, in essence. Or, more accurately, given our discussion right this minute, say set up a loop that looks like: flagging (with possible private or public threshold feedback) feeds mod queue feeds mod action feeds (via visible feedback, preferably public) user behaviour modification, individual and collective, which reduces bad behaviour, reducing flagging. The ultimate goal is to make flagged items virtually disappear (yeah, right, I know) and your jobs easier, and the community run more smoothly, of its own accord.

That may be a big point of disagreement, I know, but I really don't think the desire to be able to personally and directly punish/disincentivize another user is a desire that the flag system should be used to satisfy.

I agree, and it bears some thinking about because there are always unintended consequences, but I'm not sure that that would necessarily be the consequence of some well-thought-out feedback mechanisms added to tweak the system.

The problem of disempowerment and hence callouts does not, in my opinion, get solved by visible flagging or visible deletions. As likely as not, I believe a stack of visible flags on an undeleted comment or post would generate a sense of injustice in folks that would lead to more threads; and that visible flagging would lead to flagging pileons that would belie individual users' honest takes on content, again leading to drama and callouts otherwise avoided.

You may be right, and this is the traditional argument that Matt has used when he's waded into the argument (it's been a while), but I remain unconvinced that this would be a bad thing, or that it would be a permanent feature after the tweaks to the system settled in to the metageist.

OK, I gotta run for a bit, but I'll continue this pulse-pounding microanalysis of stuff that most reasonable people don't give a damn about soon. I want to respond to your thoughts about the appeal-to-authority issue, which is a really sticky, emotive, but key part of my general criticism of the way stuff is set up at the moment.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:21 PM on November 29, 2007


Is it possible that the flagging system doesn't seem silent to you, jessamyn, because it isn't? Is that part of the problem here - that users look at the site through a slightly different lens to moderators? I know that that little "edit" link under every comment and the knowledge that I may be held up and used as an example of acceptable behaviour often flavours my comments on MetaChat. I know there's hardly a comparison between the two sites, but it occurred to me that your viewpoint is necessarily a little different to most people's.
posted by dg at 10:25 PM on November 29, 2007


stavros: The point of keeping feedback as emotionally neutral as possible (making it private, for example, so a user doesn't need to save face) is not to coddle the poor helpless users' feelings. It's to keep users from acting like assholes. If you give people (newbies especially) feedback by giving them a ton of negative attention, I think it will tend to drive away the sane ones and fascinate trolls and attention-seekers. In other words it will encourage bad behavior.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:07 PM on November 29, 2007


Hmm. I'm not sure I see the connect, there, LobsterMitten, but it's been a long day and I'm getting a bit muzzy around the edges.

I'm not sure how a totally-mysterious-from-the-new-user's-perspective deletion of their comment or thread, without notification or warning of any kind that they can see, would be better than the alternative.

Conversely, I can't see too many new users abusing the system, whether flags are invisible or visible. After all, they can only flag something once.

And regardless of what we do, assholes will always appear and be assaholical in whatever ways they can.

I'll reiterate, though: something like a count of flags against a post or comment, the equivalent of downmodding, is a very bad idea, I agree.

It can't remember arguments in the past, but I think some part of the rationale for the current way of things is to minimize gaming of the system, but I honestly don't see it as a problem that would be anything other than an occasional annoyance no matter what tweaks (or lack thereof) are applied to the way things work.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:19 PM on November 29, 2007


there are a lot of people who have used the flagging system

My participation in MeFi and MeTa threads is practically my entire usage of Matt's resources. I don't use the mail, I don't use favourites much, I even withdrew from 'contacts,' because it's simply not manageable. Ten links is too many, let alone the 150 required for a full human "tribe."

But I've used flagging. Mostly on my own self, I believe.

What you need is to identify the users who naturally provide highly-reliable flagging. I suggest a simple Bayesian-style PopFile-style sorter/tagger would accomplish this exceedingly well.

I suggest baskets for 'twits', 'shits', and 'nits.' The latter are your nit-pickers, who provide flags that are trust-worthy; the former are the users who provide spammy flags; and the middle group are users who are frequently flagged.

I also suggest baskets for 'feast', 'foul', and 'fluff', which categorise flagged posts. Direct all great posts toward 'feast', which will allow you to identify your high-value writers; direct the crap, much of which comes via flagging, into the 'foul' basket. You can use it against incoming flags and your 'nits' list to identify hot-spots. Finally, direct fluff flags appropriately; this, along with your 'twits' list, will pre-filter the flags.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:27 PM on November 29, 2007


stavros - Yeah, I guess a lot of my worry is directed at proposals like downmodding, marking comments as "shamed", marking people's profiles as "naughty" or that kind of thing. If that kind of thing isn't what you have in mind, then I'm losing track of what you do have in mind. (I think the implementation matters a lot in the discussion of whether this kind of thing could be done productively.)

I think private notification of new users about why their comment was deleted is a good idea, though work intensive for the mods and I gather this kind of thing happens some of the time anyway.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:38 PM on November 29, 2007


Also: brouhahanian. Assaholical. heee.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:40 PM on November 29, 2007


I think private notification of new users about why their comment was deleted is a good idea, though work intensive for the mods and I gather this kind of thing happens some of the time anyway.

I'd see it, if it were something they were interested in doing, as completely automated.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:50 PM on November 29, 2007


Automated notification, with a set menu of deletion reasons for the mods to choose from? (presumably these would need to be more detailed and explainy than the flags are, to serve their educational purpose - maybe with links to FAQ)
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:00 AM on November 30, 2007


jessamyn: I think what makes THIS true is that there is a whole posse of people who do sort of get how things work here who, unbelievably I will say this but here goes, model decent behavior on-site and sort of keep the norm somewhat visible. So, while I understand what you're saying, it seems like things work as they should which is you hang around for a while and you sort of get how it's supposed to work without someone with a big stick laying down the law. I can't explain it, but it works really well or seems to.

Let me just register my immense approval of this approach.

removing a comment and dropping a user an email about it

I was under the impression that e-mails weren't sent out with every deletion, has that changed? Because if it has, that's pretty much my major objection to the current deletion process gone (I'd like there to be fewer of them on the Blue, but I've put that fight to the side now). As long as deletion reasons are clear to the user whose comment got deleted then things are much better.

stavros - One thing I worry about as regards your proposals is that it'll discourage people from using their words. I think it's better when hash out their disagreements in discussions rather than simply flagging and/or moving on. For instance, someone makes a misogynistic comment, I think it's better for there to be a callout than for the comment simply to amass a large number of offensive/sexism/racism flags. Hopefully both happen, but I think the callout is the more important of the two. I think flagging is fine for dealing with minor things, doubles, spam, self-links et cetera but things that matter need to be talked about. My worry is that making the "reprimanding system" wordless will discourage discussion. Yes, a lot of callouts are stupid. Some aren't, however. I'd rather keep the stupid ones than lose the important ones.
posted by Kattullus at 12:02 AM on November 30, 2007


I think the welter of words I've sprayed in this thread has served to confuse what I've been trying to get at, Kattullus -- I am absolutely in favour of Metatalk being used as it has been, to discuss issues with regard to community policy and standards. My goal with the suggestions I've made is to improve the flagging system so that it fills in what I see to be a large gap in continuity in moderation (not replace it, or Metatalk, god forbid), and in so doing, to also address some of the more esoteric issues with regard to things like authority versus discussion and results-orientation versus process-orientation and all that stuff.

It's t-minus 1 hour until beer o'clock now, and think I'm officially going to clock out of this thread until later in the weekend.

My thanks to everyone for humouring me and discussing all this stuff with me. Even if there aren't any 'results' of the discussion, I think it's good to have one.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:10 AM on November 30, 2007


When bad behavior earns you a "that's not how we play here" email and your comment quietly disappeared, you are free to start fresh the next day. Nobody will see that you got a Black Mark yesterday, you don't have to respond in a public way because nobody is watching, so you don't have to get defensive and angry to save face (though some do anyway I guess, and we see them here). The main way to get attention at Mefi is to be a positive contributor of some kind.

This is well said and I entirely agree.

Good thread.
posted by languagehat at 6:19 AM on November 30, 2007


Is it possible that the flagging system doesn't seem silent to you, jessamyn, because it isn't?

No, I'm certain that is the case, you're right. Part of this whole discussion has been useful for me to remember what MeFi looks like to those who don't see the tools and indicators that are part of my day-to-day interaction with the place.

I was under the impression that e-mails weren't sent out with every deletion, has that changed?

For any comment that I remove (mostly on AskMe) there's a quick analysis which includes

- total "out there" ness of comment
- newness of user (in time or activity)
- disruptiveness of comment wherever it was

that usually determines if I'll send the user a note. So, a comment like "yeah tase his ass! [sorry]" in an AskMe thread which is from an experienced user, clearly a joke and didn't mess things up, I'd tend to remove and figure the user is expecting it to be gone anyhow. For a new user who upbraided an AnonyMe question asker and seriously derailed the thread with seemingly earnest intention, I'd likely drop a MeMail explaining who I am, why their comment was removed and encouraging them to comment but in a way that's a little more keeping in line with how the site runs. The number of "fuck off" messages I get is dwarfed by appreciative "oh thanks for explaning that, sorry about that" messages this sort of thing results in.

This is also true for threads too but we see it less often mostly because a lot fewer threads are removed. However since deleted threads show up in MeTa more often than deleted comments part of the calculation is figuring out whether the user is likely to be confused by the deletion which doesn't necessarily hinge on any of the above things. Self-linking banned spammers don't get email, no love. We sometimes get email from them anyhow and we explain what happened. Dealing with self-linking spammers takes more time than it's worth, but is just a weird part of being a very visible site.

For users who are more like the jokey user in the first example, if this sort of cut-up stuff seems to be piling up, there might be a general email "look I notice you seem to be a little outside the 'wisecracks don't help people find answers' window, maybe you can reign it in a little?" and if it's just not sinking in, some sort of quickie timeout next time it happens. This sort of stuff is rare and not something we like to do because people feel stung, rightly or wrongly, when you lock them out of the clubhouse and I don't really blame them for that.

So cortex and I were comparing MeMail inboxes last night (don't get me started on my fabulous life) and between us we've sent or received about 10% of all the MeMail on this site. Part of that is because we're such chatty socialites, but a lot is going back and forth with users in a sort of continual clarification and explanation of what's going on here. For sure there are users for whom a gentle email from a mod is actually a shitty affront -- we've been told as much and have certain users with "DO NOT EMAIL" in their profile -- but generally response to this sort of thing has been good, especially in cases where I've seen the same issue simultaneously be handled in-thread, in MeTa and over MeFiMail (the taser thing in MeFi).

It's also entirely possible we're overestimating the "king of the shitpile" response we think would result from any surfacing of flagging data, but I can name particular kings of shitpiles (in a manner of speaking) that surfaced as the result of tagging, favorites, and having visible member email addresses (as can all of you, I suspect) and so I think there's a good argument to be made for serious caution in that direction.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:42 AM on November 30, 2007


cortex said : "Like a public bullying, almost: look what they did! Look at the bad thing! "

But this happens publicly now, with pileons in threads, and metafilter callouts. It sucks in that situation as well. It sucks the most in a one person disagrees, 15 people argue against him situation, where the argument doesn't stay civil.
posted by garlic at 7:19 AM on November 30, 2007


cortex said "fairly prompt flag-and-delete handling of stuff that's inappropriate, we see fewer callouts than we would because the stuff doesn't live long enough to fester and derail, on average, as it would if things were highlighted (through visible flagging or demotion) rather than nixed."

I see a lot of derails that don't get treated promptly enough to prevent the derail. This is irritating if you want to discuss the post, but commenters are arguing about the derail instead. This seems to me like the sort of thing that doesn't scale well with more users, because more users means they can more quickly respond and derail then the admins can swoop in and remove a derail.
posted by garlic at 7:23 AM on November 30, 2007


But this happens publicly now, with pileons in threads, and metafilter callouts. It sucks in that situation as well. It sucks the most in a one person disagrees, 15 people argue against him situation, where the argument doesn't stay civil.

I agree, and I'd love to see, not less strong disagreement, but less lazy or nasty or stupid piling on. My point about the public bullying aspect of visible (or byline-visible) deletions is it seems like a mod-directed, officially-sanctioned beatdown. I like that there is some blowback when people do pile-on unnecessarily, and I think something official that just tacitly supports a Get The User mood is a bad idea.

I see a lot of derails that don't get treated promptly enough to prevent the derail.

True, but we're never going to be able to totally prevent derails; I don't believe we can even get their through social engineering, because what is and is not a derail and even what is and is not a derail-bait comment is pretty subjective.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:51 AM on November 30, 2007


So can someone catch me up on what we were talking about? I was in the can for a few minutes.
posted by shmegegge at 8:09 AM on November 30, 2007


We were discussing whether it should be spelled "chicken" or "schicken".
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:23 AM on November 30, 2007


If it shaves, it's a schicken.
posted by languagehat at 8:38 AM on November 30, 2007


We were discussing whether it should be spelled "chicken" or "schicken".

I prefer schinken.

mmmm....schinken.
posted by dersins at 9:30 AM on November 30, 2007


I miss my dog from 5th grade, a functioning liver and my dignity.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:36 AM on November 30, 2007


it's shicken.
posted by shmegegge at 10:47 AM on November 30, 2007


Because I actually have to work today, and can't natter at length about the fundamentals of MeFi political philosophy, something I'd point out is that this community is, at least to me, about the front page links primarily. The kvetching about a lack of PUBLIC RECRIMINATION both fails to justify itself as more effective (which is where that "specific examples" thing comes in) and distracts from the primary focus of Metafilter as "place where the links is."

Further, Stav, you gotta understand that you are talking about an explicitly political problem, and that there is a vocabulary and a series of arguments/experiments that can be constructed to either buttress or undermine your position. I don't have time right now to go into this, but fundamentally I disagree with the idea that the site has been getting demonstrably worse.
posted by klangklangston at 12:11 PM on November 30, 2007


I'm so glad this thread turned out to be as civil as it was.

stavros : It's t-minus 1 hour until beer o'clock now

Fantastic. Tip one back for me; I've got 10 hours before the weekend can really start in earnest.
posted by quin at 12:28 PM on November 30, 2007


fundamentally I disagree with the idea that the site has been getting demonstrably worse.

That's fine. But it's also not what I am saying, so I'm not sure who you'd be arguing with.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:15 PM on November 30, 2007


What sort of front page links float your boat, klang? What change to their quality have you been seeing?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:24 PM on November 30, 2007


It's also entirely possible we're overestimating the "king of the shitpile" response we think would result from any surfacing of flagging data,
No, I think this is a very real and genuine issue. I'm not so sure that it's enough on its own not to do this, though. It would just mean there is a different problem to deal with. At least it would be an honest problem though - at the moment there is a certain amount of "secret mod's business" going on that is almost but not quite completely invisible to users. I'm not fully convinced that this is a bad thing, but it's good to explore these things, I think.
posted by dg at 2:40 AM on December 1, 2007


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