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January 23, 2008 7:23 AM   Subscribe

Maybe this has already been mentioned on the grey, but the Heath Ledger thread is marred by some particularly predictable & troll-esque "why give a shit/we need to cut celebrities down to size!" comments.

Is there any way to informally discourage the exact same comments from being posted every time a celebrity's death is memorialized in post form? I think it's fine if someone wants to bury Caesar instead of praise him in one of those threads, but snark about the validity of even caring is just intensely grating.
posted by 235w103 to Etiquette/Policy at 7:23 AM (213 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I concur. I think negative information is perfectly fair game. I didn't shy away from expressing my feelings about Nixon and Reagan when they died and I recall plenty of frank observations from the Gerald Ford thread, for the most port presented courteously even if heated.

I also think "why should you care? s/he is just some [actor|musician|comedian|politician] who you didn't even know?" is just pointless.
posted by phearlez at 7:32 AM on January 23, 2008


They are just trolls, and they show up in every contentious post. Nothing to be done about it but keep steely composure and look past them, lest they drag you down to their level.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:35 AM on January 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


Agreed. MeMailed a mod in hopes of a cleanup that would prevent the need for a Metatalk thread, but here we are anyway. At least threads like that are an effective asshole shibboleth.
posted by jtron at 7:36 AM on January 23, 2008


What really gives me the shits is being told that if I write about being sad about a particular famous person's death it therefore follows that I don't give a shit about all the non-famous people who may have died at the same time. Presumptuous fuckers!
posted by h00py at 7:36 AM on January 23, 2008


Dear Mods,

How can I stop people from being assholes?

love,
35,000 assholes
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:36 AM on January 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


Umm, let me explain to you how this Internet thingy works.
posted by chillmost at 7:44 AM on January 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


I think ObitFilter generally makes for a lousy post, so before looking at the Ledger thread, my initial reaction was that it got what it deserved. Then I actually browsed the thread, and yikes, it really has taken some unusually nasty turns.
posted by brain_drain at 7:46 AM on January 23, 2008


it's very simple: posts about celebrity deaths, as of now, are not in the mods blacklist that includes LOLcircumcision, LOLevangelicals, any topic vaguely mentioning of a possible link between eating habits and obesity.

my guess is, another couple shitty threads like the Heath Ledger one, and LOLdeadcelebrity obit threads could possibly join the blacklist. the easy way out, is skip everything that gets 200 comments in the first hour.
posted by matteo at 7:46 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Like it or not, Metafilter has become known as The Place To Snark, period. Personally, I think it's gone way overboard & needs to be dialed back altogether. But yeah, this is not surprising whatsoever with that in mind.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:47 AM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Please don't feed the trolls. Starve the fuckers until they lack the strength to type. Simple, really.
posted by waraw at 7:51 AM on January 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


Why does it happen? Because people on this site take special pride in showing off about all the things they don't know or don't care about.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:53 AM on January 23, 2008 [7 favorites]


One reason that I think that Obitfilter turns bad is that there is generally nothing to discuss in the links, because someone sees that a famous person died and posts a single link to the story announcing their death. What do you say about that? A period, praise, derision, or something about how non-famous people die all the time so why do you care. There just isn't much to say about a msnbc story saying that some random famous person died. I think that the answer is to hold Obitfilter to the same standard that we hold all other posts. If you are going to make a post about a person's death, you better make it interesting. Interviews, biographical information (besides Wikipedia or IMDB), something. If "OMG Larry Hagman died at 2:13 today!" is posted with a link to a one line news story, delete it. When someone can come up with a collection of links on the topic of the person and their death and why it matters, then let the post stand. Then hopefully people in the thread will have something to say other than the same old shit that comes up in every single Obitfilter post.
posted by ND¢ at 7:55 AM on January 23, 2008 [33 favorites]


Then hopefully people in the thread will have something to say other than the same old shit that comes up in every single Obitfilter post.

This was substantively different from normal Obitfilter, though, in that it was a rapidly developing story that genuinely floored people. I dug Suzanne Pleshette, too, but it's not like her death at seventy was altogether that stunning or (frankly) momentous. Most obitfilter posts of that stripe I can happily live without.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:00 AM on January 23, 2008


I dislike the snark as well (this kind in particular to me really betrays a lack of maturity - you REALLY need to tell people about how much you DON'T care?), but I also dislike the name-calling back. I flagged every name-calling post as well as "breaking the guidelines." For as much as the mods claim that name-calling is not allowed (am I crazy, or is this discouraged at the very least?) I see it every. single. day. on metafilter.
posted by agregoli at 8:02 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I agree with ND. It is a better post and a much better tribute to the deceased. Unfortunately, there are a few we can probably start working on today.
posted by pearlybob at 8:03 AM on January 23, 2008


This was a weird one. I think the rapid discovery-announcement-post is part of it, as well as the fact that it was an out-of-the-blue thing (young, apparently healthy, apparently stable guy).

jtron did indeed mail me; I looked at the thread at the time and thought, "Jeez, people are being spiky today", but nothing was really beyond the pale and people seemed to be doing an okay job at the time of not just buying into the deraily back-and-forth too much, so there wasn't a lot specifically to do about it.

And then I went to bed and the thread didn't. Part of the problem is that there've been several different people being kind of antagonistic at different points in the thread; it's not as clearcut as one person going on a massive jerk streak, it's more individual tagging in (so to speak) for their own brief bouts of antagonism. The sum is shittier than the parts, essentially, and gman seems to be pushing it harder than anyone previously in the thread and needs to cut it out.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:03 AM on January 23, 2008


This was substantively different from normal Obitfilter,

No, it wasn't. It was a shitty post, that gave people an excuse to talk about shit and surprise, it got a lot (though not all) of shitty results. The bar should be raised for obitfilter, as ND¢ said, otherwise it's just a fire waiting to happen.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:04 AM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm not in favor of officially trying to impose etiquette on celebrity obit threads.

Personally, I feel more than usually gutted about Heath Ledger's death - it's caught me on a raw spot. Even so I don't expect a fragile flavor to obit comments.

The morons - or those aiming for awkward humor - have been howled down pretty smartly. And I think the threads benefit much more from unguardedly honest positive reactions than they're damaged by the inevitable eruptions of unguarded stupidity.

Also, it's a bit a bit stuffy - my next thought.

But there are a couple of actors I really dislike - (okay one, Sean Penn) - I'd be tempted to be odious about even in a fresh obit thread.

But some of the dickhead comments for Heath Ledger are a powerful reminder that mordantly sneering observations come off horribly, in the main.

So there's always a lesson to be learned from the obit poopers (Maybe...)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:08 AM on January 23, 2008


I'm sorry I contributed to that trainwreck.

I wouldn't want to ban obitfilter, because I really love obituaries. And I'm not talking about obituaries of people whose deaths make the news. We probably didn't need a Heath Ledger discussion, but I'm really glad that someone posted about the death of Chief Marie Smith Jones, whom I would never have heard of otherwise.

I read the obituaries in my local paper all the time. They're one of the only places where ordinary people's ordinary lives intrude on the news. There aren't too many places where the American media pays attention to the life stories of everyday people, and those life stories are often surprisingly rich and interesting. So I hope people continue to post notable obituaries here. I think the problem with the Heath Ledger story is more newsfilter and celebritygossipfilter than obituaryfilter.

Finally, I'm a little baffled by all of the "why are you so sad?" comments. I think maybe these people need to re-read their John Donne. It's about Heath Ledger, certainly, but it's also about the reminder of all of our mortality.
posted by craichead at 8:10 AM on January 23, 2008 [8 favorites]


It seems to me then that if you go by the rules then those (uninteresting one-link obit) FPP's should not exist, because they are sub-par newsfilter. And the ruling before has been that the FPP content is more important than the comments.

But the purpose they actually seem to serve is to allow people to share their memories and sadness, regardless of FPP content. The statement that there is 'nothing to discuss' is only as true as it would be at a funeral.

I think the reason it turns bad is that there are a lot of skeptics here, compared to other parts of the internet. That's not all bad, but in a situation like this, or perhaps more clearly, this, surrounding and discussable interesting issues are then overshadowed by people who find the mourning disingenuous. Then there's a fight between people who really feel sad and people who think they're full of crap.
posted by zebra3 at 8:12 AM on January 23, 2008


If you are going to make a post about a person's death, you better make it interesting. Interviews, biographical information (besides Wikipedia or IMDB), something. If "OMG Larry Hagman died at 2:13 today!" is posted with a link to a one line news story, delete it. When someone can come up with a collection of links on the topic of the person and their death and why it matters, then let the post stand.

Very strongly agreed - whenever remotely possible.

Very well put indeed ND¢
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:13 AM on January 23, 2008


I apologize for calling the commenter in question a "jerk" in MeFi.
That's what the grey is for (not just that, but at least it is the more appropriate venue for the chastising). agregoli, you are right, and oftentimes I throw out a one- or two-liner that doesn't really add much to the convo (though I rarely namecall). I'm going to try to be a little more verbose and contribute to MeFi in a more meaningful way.
posted by exlotuseater at 8:15 AM on January 23, 2008


It isn't a problem with the posts; Meffy has always been used for certain kinds of news. It's a problem with self-control, and a weird dissonance between "be yourself" and "you should/shouldn't care about _____."

When folks exercise their right to say what they please by telling other folks how to think and talk, they make asses of themselves. It's right there in the thread; anyone can come along and see what kind of a thinker they're dealing with. Sometimes the commenter is an idiot, sometimes a troll, sometimes a loudmouth, sometimes a drunk, sometimes just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It really has nothing to do with the kind of post and everything to do with the kind of poster. Trying to fuck up a thread isn't cool, and belittling others for being upset about death, any death, is trying to fuck up a thread.

You show your own worth.
posted by breezeway at 8:16 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


The bar should be raised for obitfilter, as ND¢ said, otherwise it's just a fire waiting to happen.

I don't know whether you really think that a better-written post would have kept that thread from becoming a trainwreck; but if you do, I don't think you understand why that post became a trainwreck at all.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:18 AM on January 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


I apologize for calling the commenter in question a "jerk" in MeFi.

I wouldn't have. That wasn't so much an insult as it was a very appropriate descriptor of his behavior.
posted by psmealey at 8:19 AM on January 23, 2008


I also agree with ND¢, particularly this part:

There just isn't much to say about a msnbc story saying that some random famous person died. I think that the answer is to hold Obitfilter to the same standard that we hold all other posts.
posted by googly at 8:20 AM on January 23, 2008


psmealey
Well, I'm not saying that he isn't a jerk, only that I'm aware of my lack of decorum.
posted by exlotuseater at 8:22 AM on January 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


This is the fundamental problem with allowing these kinds of threads: they are too personalized. Relativism controls. While we may not like people crapping on Heath Ledger, we may be perfectly willing to crap on Ronald Reagan or Tom Cruise or Jerry Falwell or Sean Penn.

I guess there are 4 types here:
1. Those that think it is not appropriate to say nasty things about the dead and don't want anything nasty said in obit-threads.
2. Those that are not okay with saying nasty things about this person, but are okay with saying nasty things about certain other people.
3. Those that are okay with saying nasty things about this person, but are not okay with saying nasty things about certain other people.
4. Those who don't care at all about nasty things being said about any dead person.

From a policy perspective, we could implement policies consistent with 1 and 4. But we cannot do so with regards to 2 and 3. There is no rational way to formulate such a policy because it relies on personalized and relativistic judgments. If we are going to allow obit threads (and I'd be fine with just 86-ing all of them) and we are not going to implement a policy consistent with #1 (Don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all), then we are left with just accepting all of them. There is no prinicipled way to have a policy that allows negative comments about person X but not person Y.
posted by dios at 8:29 AM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Calling someone's behavior jerky is one thing, calling someone a "jerk" is another. I'm not even upset at that one as much as some of the more violent name-calling. It's just a general attitude on the site that it's ok to do this.
posted by agregoli at 8:29 AM on January 23, 2008


(There's yet another one in the thread at this moment).
posted by agregoli at 8:31 AM on January 23, 2008


It served to provide a most excellent insight into the motivations behind some of the more awkward and frequently castigated posters, not that they weren't dubiously transparent to begin with. It was hilarious to hear one admit he believed it to be "our" "duty" to "cut" "them" "down to size". Not that any more validation was needed, it's just always refreshing to see how proud some people are of their petulance.

It serves to recall that:

Great minds discuss ideas;
Average minds discuss events;
Small minds discuss people


It can be presumed that the smallest of minds would be concerned with discussing the discussion of people, as it were, I find this to be patently clear.
posted by prostyle at 8:31 AM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


I apologize for calling the commenter in question a "jerk" in MeFi.
That's what the grey is for (not just that, but at least it is the more appropriate venue for the chastising).


Just in case anyone was wondering, here is a complete list of what the grey is for:
- Calling people who post in the blue jerks.
- Calling people who post in the green jerks.
- Calling people who post pointless callout threads in the grey jerks.
- Asking dumb questions that have been asked a billion times already.
- Requesting ponies.
- Meeting other MeFi nerds in real life.
- Complaining about minor MeFi bugs that nobody cares about.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:34 AM on January 23, 2008


I don't know whether you really think that a better-written post would have kept that thread from becoming a trainwreck;

Of course a better-written post could have kept it from becoming a trainwreck. Having a decent focus, such as his life as opposed to just rubbernecking his sudden death would have directed the thread is a different way.

I don't think you understand why that post became a trainwreck at all.

Curious, why do you think it became a trainwreck?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:35 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


DON'T PAY ATTENTION TO HEATH LEDGER, PAY ATTENTION TO ME!
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:36 AM on January 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


This comment is a nice general rebuttal to the stone-stupid "but you don't care about X too" argument that always pops up on death threads.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:37 AM on January 23, 2008


Maybe it would be an idea to have a rule that obit posts have to wait until at least a week after the death. There would be a much better chance of having a decent discussion about that person's life and career, and the inevitable but probably lesser amount of snark would be a lot easier to take.
posted by teleskiving at 8:40 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't know whether you really think that a better-written post would have kept that thread from becoming a trainwreck; but if you do, I don't think you understand why that post became a trainwreck at all.

Maybe I am being overly optimistic, but I don't think that people want to have the same old tired discussions over and over again. I think that if given something interesting to talk about, that people will talk about that. I had an English professor once that told me that the number one rule of writing that should be obeyed above all others is that with every sentence you write you should ask yourself "Why should I care?". If the answer isn't apparent from what you are writing, then you have failed. A single link to a news story saying nothing more than a person died leaves the question of why I should care totally up to the reader. So people who know about Heath Ledger and admire him have something to say, and those who do not are left with nothing of substance to talk about, and an idle mind is the devil's plaything. I think that given a choice, if a person can say "Meh. People die everyday who aren't celebrities" or actually discuss an interesting aspect of a person's life, that they will choose the latter. Now some people won't read the links, and some are just trolling, but I prefer to think that most people here, when given something interesting to talk about, will do so in an intelligent and respectful way.
posted by ND¢ at 8:41 AM on January 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


Best resolution to obit posts.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:43 AM on January 23, 2008


Of course a better-written post could have kept it from becoming a trainwreck. Having a decent focus, such as his life as opposed to just rubbernecking his sudden death would have directed the thread is a different way.

There was plenty of discussion of his life in the current thread.

Curious, why do you think it became a trainwreck?

Because there will always be at least one perso who wants attention, it too cool for school or feels the need to be contrarian for its own sake. This time we got lucky and had one of each.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 8:44 AM on January 23, 2008


I'm also a little baffled my the claims of people who apparently speak English, can access the Internet and yet have never heard of Brokeback Mountain. Did they spend 2005 among the Maori?
posted by Bookhouse at 8:45 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


It doesn't help that Zachsmind jumped in, which always goes so well.
posted by smackfu at 8:45 AM on January 23, 2008


My spelling rulz!
posted by Reggie Knoble at 8:46 AM on January 23, 2008


it's very simple: posts about celebrity deaths, as of now, are not in the mods blacklist that includes LOLcircumcision [...]
posted by matteo at 10:46 AM on January 23


What's a LOL circumcision? LOl ?
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 8:47 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is there any way to informally discourage every goddamn celebrity's death from being memorialized in post form?
posted by signal at 8:50 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I suggest the implementation of ROBOT9000.
posted by that girl at 8:51 AM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Curious, why do you think it became a trainwreck?

Divine Wino nails it in the post underneath yours.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:52 AM on January 23, 2008


breezeway wrote: Trying to fuck up a thread isn't cool, and belittling others for being upset about death, any death, is trying to fuck up a thread.

That's the crux of it, right there (for me, anyway). I don't particularly care if you have something negative to say about the deceased in the thread -- that's fair game. When you start judging others for expressing their feelings of sadness, however, especially in the boorish, show-offy fashion so perfectly parodied by Divine Wino up there, then you've crossed the line into full-on assholedom, and deserve a good (verbal) ass whuppin'.
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:55 AM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


I prefer to think that most people here, when given something interesting to talk about, will do so in an intelligent and respectful way.

Depending on who you are, Ledger's death is a heartbreaking tragedy, titillating gossip, or an over-reported irrelevance. I don't think any amount of good linkage could have saved the thread from ugly clashes between these viewpoints, which all seem to be quite strongly held. As above though, I think a bit of time passing might make things a bit less emotional.
posted by teleskiving at 8:55 AM on January 23, 2008


Is there any way to informally discourage the exact same comments from being posted every time a celebrity's death is memorialized in post form?

Yes. We could not feed the trolls.

It's amazing how many people post things like 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35. How long have we had the internet now? And how long has MeFi been around? And we still haven't learned to simply ignore trolls?

Look, responses like these are EXACTLY what ZachsMind and gman crave. I am utterly astonished that there are people who still think posting these could discourage the trolls from posting more, when pretty much every discussion board that's ever existed on the internet provides evidence that any response at all, even (especially!) "what an asshole," will encourage them to post more of the same. But if you still had any doubt about that, see this comment by gman.

To be honest, I suspect that some of the troll-feeding comments I've linked come from sockpuppets of ZachsMind and gman. Too many of them, however, come from long-time, established MeFites who really ought to know better.

And just to address a few of the troll-feeding comments:
- Posting to say that you're ignoring the trolls (#21) is not actually ignoring them.
- "To the foot-stompers in this thread wondering what makes him so special and why we aren't paying more attention to you..." (#28) Not paying more attention to them! Ha! Yeah, they've only generated 35 comments directed at them! At least twice as many responses as there are original trollish comments! My, we're hardly paying any attention to them at all.

Please don't feed the trolls.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:55 AM on January 23, 2008 [12 favorites]


DevilsAdvocate,
You are right (and a hard worker). I always forget to ignore it, it's so difficult. Suppose it's character forming though, thanks for the reminder.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:59 AM on January 23, 2008


I agree with ND¢, but I personally feel we should hold obit threads to an even higher standard than a regular FPP. It should take time to craft a fitting tribute to somebody that has died. An obit post should draw people in who didn't know the deceased and what they were all about. It should give people some tools to mourn, by allowing them to discuss facets of the person's life, review what made them stand out, and allow others to see why they will be missed. Otherwise, I could post about the death of my grandpa and expect you all to care. Or at the very best, expect those of you MeFites who know him to spontaneously engage in thoughtful reminiscing of him (I'm guessing this wouldn't be the epic thread I'd hope for him).

Obit FPPs shouldn't be a race against time. They should take time, because it requires care and effort to gather and craft something meaningful that honors the person who died.

I think of FPPs like opening little restaurants. Sometimes an opportunity for starting a great one comes up, but that window is short, and there can only be one in each neighborhood. The food HAS TO BE GOOD for the restaurant to thrive. And it should be competitive, because providing people with a basic necessity (links to stuff) can be done easily by anybody! I could hang a "Just Opened" sign over my door and say "Chocolate cake. You know it? Discuss". It's silly for me to expect huge, earth shattering dialogue based on the fact that we all know chocolate cake and many of us have particular attachments to it. I find that type of marketing to be lazy, and it doesn't do much for the cake, or my desire to have some. But choose quality ingredients, with great presentation, in a timely fashion, and now you've got something to talk about! Especially important when the themes of these particular types of establishments have the power to change people and connect or distance them emotionally (not yo average slice 'o cake).

Why am I thinking about cake at 9am?
posted by iamkimiam at 9:00 AM on January 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


When you respond to trolls in the Heath Ledger thread, it just proves that you don't care enough about trolls who post in other threads at the same day, but unfairly escaped you attention because they're weren't trolling in the thread of someone famous. There are trolls making fun of people in Africa! There are trolls making fun of people who died in car crashes! But, in our celebrity obsessed culture, they just don't warrant mention, do they?
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:01 AM on January 23, 2008 [14 favorites]


A single link to a news story saying nothing more than a person died leaves the question of why I should care totally up to the reader.

Things are posted to this site every day that I don't care about. Not only do I not bother with those threads, their subject headers barely even register for me as words in English; I see just enough to get bored, and then the text becomes a bunch of meaningless squiggles. This is an adaptive behavior I think must be common to almost everyone who has used the internet longer than six months.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:02 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't think people with a legit criticism of the deceased - or, as in the case of Reagan, a valid commendation - should be silenced for being contrary to the mood in the thread, as long as those comments are made in good faith. And yeah, ObitFilter can often be improved upon, no doubt. Sometimes if I'm knowledgeable about the subject I'll add some supplemental links.

That said, kittens for breakfast is right - no amount of background info will satisfy the jerks who don't give a hoot about the subject, and whose main point is that you shouldn't either.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:03 AM on January 23, 2008


One reason that I think that Obitfilter turns bad is that there is generally nothing to discuss in the links, because someone sees that a famous person died and posts a single link to the story announcing their death. What do you say about that?

I think chudmonkey demonstrated pretty well that with a random assortment of folks like we have there's the possibility of something interesting coming up. Maybe they don't always yield something interesting, though I seem to recall the Nixon, Reagan, and Ford threads all having some interesting content.

But so what? There's stuff that shows up on a regular basis that I don't give a shit about. Claiming that it's inevitable that a thread become shitty and be filled with rudeness - at others here by deriding their reaction, not at the dead by bringing up a real or perceived failing - just because it is a little light in content... I think that's just inaccurate and lets the creeps off light.
posted by phearlez at 9:03 AM on January 23, 2008


Is there any way to informally discourage the exact same comments from being posted every time a celebrity's death is memorialized in post form?

Look, this is everyone's playground, not just your playground. While it might be nice, and sweet and starry-eyed wonderful to have everything go the way you want it to go, you have come to grips with the fact that you have no control over what other people write when they press the post button. Just as they have no control over whether someone posts a celebrity death thread, you have no control over how they react to it.

So, no. There's no systematic way, short of dictatorial totalitarianism on the part of the moderators, and no one, not even they, want that.

Always remember, into each life some rain must fall. Get used to it.

This was substantively different from normal Obitfilter, though, in that it was a rapidly developing story that genuinely floored people.


The only thing different between Ledger's death and Pleschette's death is that Ledger was young, like most of us. (Ok. Most of you.)
posted by Dave Faris at 9:03 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


What ND(lolcentsymbol) said, and I think someone said something similar in the Heath post that involved the word "blacklist" but I'm too lazy to search for and link to it.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 9:03 AM on January 23, 2008


This was substantively different from normal Obitfilter, though, in that it was a rapidly developing story that genuinely floored people.

To be honest, nothing is really developing here. A hostage crisis that is in progress is "developing". He's still dead. May God have mercy on his soul. But it seems people have been conditioned by the spastic cable TV newsmedia to be some sort of necrophilia-tinged obsessives over the details. Best to let things wait a few days for facts to be elaborated and corroborated instead of jumping on any little speck of rumor that surfaces, no?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:10 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I regret that I can only favorite ND¢'s comment once.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:10 AM on January 23, 2008


More timeouts for trolls please.
posted by mattbucher at 9:13 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


While it might be nice, and sweet and starry-eyed wonderful to have everything go the way you want it to go, you have come to grips with the fact that you have no control over what other people write when they press the post button.

Then surely you'll understand when I say that I think you're wrong and your attitude stinks. And this isn't a playground at all, and if people don't like that, I don't care. There are plenty of other places on the internet where people can post any shit they like and I would prefer that this not become one of them.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:13 AM on January 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


Way too late.
posted by Dave Faris at 9:14 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you don't want complaints, don't post obits and don't rise to bait. Free speech also includes the ability to remain silent.

I'm of the opinion that grief should be private, and reserved for people you actually knew, but who knows? When I'm famous and dead, I may have an opinion. Rest assured, I will make it known in a MetaFilter comment ASAP.
posted by Eideteker at 9:15 AM on January 23, 2008


Man, gman is being an incredible dick in that thread. I'm an asshole myself and I feel unworthy in his presence.
posted by dersins at 9:15 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Burhanistan, the handwringing over the bad evil media and their terrible ubiquity is kind of tired at this point; I'm not saying it's something you're guilty of, I'm just saying it tends to come up a lot when stuff like this happens, and...well...that's the society we live in, and nothing short of a nationwide EMP is likely to change it, and if that happens none of us will be talking about it on the internet anyway, so who cares? Yes, it was all different fifty years ago, when we got all our information from Life Magazine and newsreels. It's very, very sad that those days are never coming back. But, you know.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:16 AM on January 23, 2008


Maybe it would be an idea to have a rule that obit posts have to wait until at least a week after the death. There would be a much better chance of having a decent discussion about that person's life and career, and the inevitable but probably lesser amount of snark would be a lot easier to take.

The thing is, I like this as an idea, but I don't think the implementation would be nearly as simple as the rule itself. We routinely moderate too-soon followup posts on a given subject, and people seem fairly comfortable with that (though we still get mail about it sometimes), but in general there's not really any firm precedent for saying "not yet" to a post. The closest thing I can think of to that is rumorfilter stuff, when the problem is that it's a post about something that hasn't actually happened yet. But with a death, the thing has absolutely happened, even if the post about it is sometimes rushed.

We do delete (matteo's grousing aside) a fair number of particularly bad obit posts; the recent Brad Renfro post was exceptionally lazy, for example. I don't think speed-obits are great, and this Ledger post certainly wasn't great, but there's also a qualitative question that goes with some of these, of scope and demand: people were really shocked by Ledger's death yesterday, and wanted to talk about it, and trying to put that off for a week would likely have been a bit of a nightmare.

I'm not saying it can't be done, but it's not realistically speaking something that can be just done like that without some serious disruption of moderation and posting norms.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:18 AM on January 23, 2008


"If 'OMG Larry Hagman died at 2:13 today!' is posted with a link to a one line news story, delete it. When someone can come up with a collection of links on the topic of the person and their death and why it matters, then let the post stand. Then hopefully people in the thread will have something to say other than the same old shit that comes up in every single Obitfilter post."

From the MetaFilter FAQ:
What does a single period in a comment by itself mean?
It's MeFi shorthand for "I am not creative enough to come up with something relevant and observant or do not actually care about this but want to seem sensitive" and is usually used in obituary threads as a way to say "I was here."
If you have nothing to say, say nothing. I don't care how quiet your keyboard is; hitting "." makes noise. You fail at the spirit of silent contemplation.

Yes, I feel strongly about this. If you are sincere in your grief, you don't need to make it publically known on a website with 10,000+ active users. There are better ways to share your grief. I actually don't think I'd mind the obitfilter threads if any comment devoid of substance was deleted.
posted by Eideteker at 9:23 AM on January 23, 2008


I'm amazed at how blatantly people attempt to appropriate the word troll and misapply it to people who said things that person did not like or agree with. "Ignore the person with the differing viewpoint; he must be intentionally trying to cause problems because no one could rationally think anyway differently than I!" What solipsism.
posted by dios at 9:24 AM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


i propose pre-loaded obits (while the subject is still alive). these can be stored on the metafilter server and activated at news of death. in the event of more than one pre-loaded obit for the same person, the mods can rule on which obit is better.
posted by bruce at 9:27 AM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't understand why anybody posts anything at all in obit threads. I suppose the dots make sense, but honestly they largely just seem like another way for people to go "oh hey, check it. I was here and I've heard of this dude." Short of someone who met the guy chiming in with a fascinating anecdote, there's almost nothing decent ever posted in an obit thread, ever. It's a news item. You read the headline, go "huh. no shit." and move on to talk about it at dinner when everyone's run out of things to say about how their day went.

In short, I would imagine that most people, when they see a post like this one, think "shit. I don't know what to say about that." Instead of simply not saying anything, we mostly go and put a dot in or something like "gee willickers. I always thought he was so talented! I loved Brokeback Mountain!" Some people, for their own reasons, decide that if they don't have anything interesting to say about it that means that it's simply not an interesting event/topic/whatever and then they go shit in the thread.

For what it's worth, I think we should discourage saying anything at all. Maybe we can immediately close the thread to comments but leave it on the front page. It's called a moment of silence because you shut your stupid mouth.
posted by shmegegge at 9:30 AM on January 23, 2008


george w bush, famous trained monkey and former president of the united states, died today by inhaling a pretzel through his nose ...

britney spears was pronounced dead after her head exploded during helium enhanced vocal sessions for her new album ...

yeah, this pre-loaded obit thing could be wonderful
posted by pyramid termite at 9:34 AM on January 23, 2008


Coming into a thread several hundred comments in and demanding that people who care are obvious misguided or whacky or have stupid priorities is not a differing viewpoint. It's an act of aggressive rudeness, akin to eavesdropping on people in a restaurant and then butting in to lecture them on how wrong they are.

Anyone who thought the Ledger discussion was pointless or trite was free to walk on by and find something more worthy of their attention, or constructively contribute an alternate view, but they chose not to. Calling them trolls in that light is 100% accurate.
posted by phearlez at 9:35 AM on January 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


Maybe we can immediately close the thread to comments but leave it on the front page. It's called a moment of silence because you shut your stupid mouth.

that would have never worked for some people's sudden deaths - i'm thinking about john lennon's in particular

sometimes people need to talk about it
posted by pyramid termite at 9:36 AM on January 23, 2008


Look, this is everyone's playground, not just your playground. While it might be nice, and sweet and starry-eyed wonderful to have everything go the way you want it to go, you have come to grips with the fact that you have no control over what other people write when they press the post button. Just as they have no control over whether someone posts a celebrity death thread, you have no control over how they react to it.

Wow, I tried to be as non-dicky in starting this thread, I didn't know that I was actually Metafilter's own dictator. I'm not suggesting roving corps of steely-eyed mercenaries, I was just wondering if we could maybe have an admin just say, at some point, that that sort of comment is just repetition and doesn't add much. And, as ThePinkSuperhero says, this isn't a playground. These aren't youtube comments, we generally try to keep a sense of decorum. This is bowling, there are rules.

I'm amazed at how blatantly people attempt to appropriate the word troll and misapply it to people who said things that person did not like or agree with.

Well, that's why I used troll-esque, and why I tried to make it clear that the problem I had wasn't that people were saying something I didn't believe in- hell, in the thread itself I suggested that they band together and write just one comment, perhaps a form comment, that expresses their views. I just hate seeing threads where the same objections come up twelve times, and each one denigrates into kibble.
posted by 235w103 at 9:37 AM on January 23, 2008


It seems there's an obvious difference between honest disagreement and some loser troll going out of his way to shit in the thread by shitting on everyone else at Metafilter who doesn't agree with him, and it is obvious this line was crossed by a few users in the obit thread.

On preview, phearlez has it entirely correct.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:38 AM on January 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


Hi Burhanistan!
posted by Abiezer at 9:44 AM on January 23, 2008


Heath Ledger brought a whole new meaning to the term "cowpoke".
posted by Horken Bazooka at 9:45 AM on January 23, 2008


Salaams, Abiezer!
posted by Burhanistan at 9:47 AM on January 23, 2008


I'm amazed at how blatantly people attempt to appropriate the word troll and misapply it to people who said things that person did not like or agree with. "Ignore the person with the differing viewpoint; he must be intentionally trying to cause problems because no one could rationally think anyway differently than I!"

Are you trying to imply that there are such people in this thread? If so, don't be coy, let's hear the specifics. I don't believe I've misused "troll" in the way you describe; if you disagree, let's hear why.

OTOH, perhaps you're just making a general, semi-tangential statement along the lines of, "There exist people on the internet who misuse 'troll' in this way. Not necessarily in this thread." In which case I won't argue with you.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:49 AM on January 23, 2008


DevilsAdvocate, I went and looked at some of those comments you refer to as troll, and troll-feeding. I'm not so sure ZachsMind's comment about the death of a drug-user is not a reasonable reaction to someone who ODs. So the people responding to his comments are not feeding a troll, they are disagreeing with something that appears callous, but rational. I haven't read the whole thread, but I looked at the comments you linked. And I don't think it is trolling to say something akin to that it is not a tragedy if the guy apparently loved drugs more than life. It's a reasonable response to the news if it was an accidental OD (which we again do not know because it is too fresh).

But you are right about gman. That guy is a blantantly trolling douche. He has been begging to be called out in his comments and his posts (which have frequently been extreme trolling for a callout).
posted by dios at 9:51 AM on January 23, 2008


okay, pyramid termite has dibs on george w. bush and britney spears.

pre-loaded obits would allow for it to be done right, with links to the deceased's notable career moments, instead of what we have now, a race to post a single-link deathfilter. i've never been inclined to compete in this race, but there is (only one) living subject out there that i would memorialize on the blue. he's 97 years old and the greatest person in history in his particular field.

now, in light of termite's post, can we get some wagering action on whether george w. bush or britney spears goes first? britney's much younger, of course, but her lifestyle...looks like a (forgive me) dead heat.
posted by bruce at 9:52 AM on January 23, 2008


DevilsAdvocate, follow your own advice.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:52 AM on January 23, 2008


There you go DevilsAdvocate: a perfect example of misusing the label troll was provided by MrMoonPie.
posted by dios at 9:55 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying it can't be done, but it's not realistically speaking something that can be just done like that without some serious disruption of moderation and posting norms.

I can appreciate that it's a big change. Technically I think some kind of message along the lines of "n posts containing at least one of your tags were deleted in the last week for the reasons given below. Please check that none of these apply before you click submit" could possibly save the mods from having to delete a million posts about the same thing. It would be a pretty good way of avoiding other dupes as well.
posted by teleskiving at 9:57 AM on January 23, 2008


I haven't read the whole thread

Then you didn't see where I defended Jairus against charges of trolling, and many people defended ColdChef.

DevilsAdvocate, I went and looked at some of those comments you refer to as troll, and troll-feeding. I'm not so sure ZachsMind's comment about the death of a drug-user is not a reasonable reaction to someone who ODs.

We may disagree about precisely which comments are trolls or not, but just because I believe some comments to be trollish which you do not does not support a general claim that I (or other users) are labelling everything we disagree with as trollish.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:58 AM on January 23, 2008


I always welcome good, healthy debate, and I try to learn something from opposing viewpoints. But the increasing unnecessary snark in obit threads, along with the "lol you are a retard if you believe in (whatever)" comments can make that "close account" link very tempting.
posted by The Deej at 9:58 AM on January 23, 2008


I just don't know.
posted by jtron at 9:59 AM on January 23, 2008


can make that "close account" link very tempting

lol you are a retard if you believe in the close account link
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:01 AM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


a general claim that I (or other users) are labelling everything we disagree with as trollish.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:58 AM on January 23


I don't think I made that claim. I was making more of a generalized claim about behavior in these kind of threads. People feel that emotional responses different than there own are, ipse dixit, trolls. It wasn't directed specifically at you. I anticipated your response in which you asked for clarification, to which I responded about ZachsMind and gman.

I was not attacking you. Don't take it as a critique of you. I was speaking generally on a topic you were also addressing. It was a dovetail from my initial comment in this thread that such topics as these are too relativistic to apply general rules about which comments are acceptable and which are not. I don't think one can tell easily.
posted by dios at 10:02 AM on January 23, 2008


I'm shocked that no one has pointed out that gman is being a dick about Heath Ledger but he has no problems posting about Tila Tequila. Tila. Tequila. At least I'm smart enough to shit in the hand that feeds my posts.
posted by Stynxno at 10:04 AM on January 23, 2008


Then surely you'll understand when I say that I think you're wrong and your attitude stinks. And this isn't a playground at all, and if people don't like that, I don't care. There are plenty of other places on the internet where people can post any shit they like and I would prefer that this not become one of them.

So what you're saying is that it would be best to maybe have a team of people decide what is and what isn't the correct way to think, the correct way to respond, the correct way to behave, and everything else should get the axe? And who is going to decide what that correct way is?

You are free to disagree with what I say, but at least my approach is more practical than trying to herd 65,074 cats. And I believe in a bit more liberty and freedom to allow people to disagree with me, even if they might not do it in a tender, polite manner. But maybe you're right. Cortex and Jess sleep too much as it is, anyway.
posted by Dave Faris at 10:04 AM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't think I made that claim. I was making more of a generalized claim about behavior in these kind of threads.

Fair enough, and I apologize if I was too quick to take offense.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:05 AM on January 23, 2008


Keep in mind that it looks like most of gman's "contribution" to the thread was nuked, so judging troll or not can be tough now.
posted by smackfu at 10:07 AM on January 23, 2008


I can appreciate that it's a big change. Technically I think some kind of message along the lines of "n posts containing at least one of your tags were deleted in the last week for the reasons given below. Please check that none of these apply before you click submit" could possibly save the mods from having to delete a million posts about the same thing. It would be a pretty good way of avoiding other dupes as well.

Aye; I've thought for a while that that was an interesting idea, and it's possible (don't quote me) that we'll expand some of the post-time logic to incorporate some of that in the future.

But that doesn't address the shocker-obit situation unless we also get really aggressively mercenary about deleting anything other than a stellar obit, and do some post-op work to tag up that now-deleted post with sufficient information to make the autocheck work, and weather a storm of outrage and confusion over a sudden and uncharacteristic shift in moderation policy.

And for every hardened, long-time attentive Metatalk wonk (hugs!) who is willing to say "yeah, fine, so do it!", there might be a dozen or a hundred more casual folks over on the blue who would be wondering what the hell, exactly, is going on.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:08 AM on January 23, 2008


not shit. not shit. argh.
posted by Stynxno at 10:09 AM on January 23, 2008


I just found it surprising that someone who has posted ponderously and voluminously on so many comic book and screenwriting threads could be ignorant of who Heath Ledger is.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 10:10 AM on January 23, 2008


I'm shocked that no one has pointed out that gman is being a dick about Heath Ledger but he has no problems posting about Tila Tequila. Tila. Tequila. At least I'm smart enough to shit in the hand that feeds my posts.

http://www.metafilter.com/68086/I-Want-To-Blow-YOU-Up#1972579

posted by gman at 10:10 AM on January 23, 2008


And who is going to decide what that correct way is?

The site has already decided- we have guidelines for behavior, and here they are. Posts like this happen when someone thinks, hey, I think so-and-so isn't really living up to the guidelines of this site. Then we all review and talk about it. This has worked, for the most part, for years. You seem to think that because sometimes people still act like dicks, we should just throw up our hands and give up on the self-policing aspect of the site. I disagree.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:12 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


So what you're saying is that it would be best to maybe have a team of people decide what is and what isn't the correct way to think, the correct way to respond, the correct way to behave, and everything else should get the axe? And who is going to decide what that correct way is?

You're not addressing me, but if I might butt in- we've already decided on certain standards of behavior here. Sometimes they're violated, sometimes they're pushed, and it's up for the mods to decide what to do in those situations. It's not like Metafilter is some wild and free Old West haven where people are doing posts that consist entirely of the word "shitcock". All I'm hoping for is a general understanding that comments of that sort don't really help the discussion at all, something I think that even the people who are writing those self-same comments have to admit- nobody who cared that Heath Ledger died read a comment and suddenly cared less.

ON PREVIEW, what ThePinkSuperhero said, but not as good.
posted by 235w103 at 10:14 AM on January 23, 2008


I'm hoping for is a general understanding that comments of that sort don't really help the discussion at all, something I think that even the people who are writing those self-same comments have to admit- nobody who cared that Heath Ledger died read a comment and suddenly cared less.
posted by 235w103 at 12:14 PM on January 23


So would you propose a policy consistent with the first category I listed above? Sort of a "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" policy? Or are you in camp #2? Because when Tom Cruise or Polarizing Figure X dies, I don't think there is any principled way to allow such comments merely because some do not like them as much as Heath Ledger.
posted by dios at 10:19 AM on January 23, 2008


People feel that emotional responses different than there own are, ipse dixit, trolls.

I don't think it's quite that simple, dios.

1. People react to expressions of emotional response different from their own.
2. People in general, regardless of their particular emotional response to any given situation, certainly know this happens.

So when there's a general shared expectation that folks in a given thread will be having a particular set of emotional responses (say, in an obit thread for someone who isn't widely regarded a bastard), and someone wanders in and expresses a strongly negative or dismissive contrasting opinion about the deceased or the commenters' feelings about the deceased, there's an obvious question:

Does this person really not realize how badly they're stomping on people's feet by choosing this specific time and place to voice their contrary/dismissive opinion?

And if they do realize it, why then do they choose to go ahead with it anyway?

And that's where the troll label comes in, and why dismissing accusations of trollery as mere knee-jerks to any contradictory opinion is off-base. Not because the troll label is necessarily correct: I agree that it's a nuanced situation, generally, and one person's troll is another persons vocal individualist, and as far as that goes some folks are too willing to be uncharitable or counter-dismissive. There's a big matter of degree and interpretation.

But because folks are reacting not just to the contrasting or dismissive opinion but to the presumed thought process that justified to the alleged troll their choice of timing and venue and tone in presenting their opinion. Why here, why now, why like that, is I think the set of internal questions that generates the troll label, and whether "troll" is the correct apellation or not in every case there's certainly a really valid question of motivation and thoughtfulness in how people choose to act in emotionally contentious threads.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:20 AM on January 23, 2008


At least I'm smart enough to shit in the hand that feeds my posts.

Stinky.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:25 AM on January 23, 2008


I don't think speed-obits are great, and this Ledger post certainly wasn't great, but there's also a qualitative question that goes with some of these, of scope and demand: people were really shocked by Ledger's death yesterday, and wanted to talk about it, and trying to put that off for a week would likely have been a bit of a nightmare

that's understandable; the downside, obviously, is that the (as of now) 441 comments long Ledger thread on the site you run is, frankly, no better than the perezhilton.com unmoderated thread on the same topic, despite the several comments you guys had to delete.

for all the grousing about allegedly offtopic comments being deleted in AskMefi because they allegedly ruin the site's usability, a 441+ comments piece of shit of a thread in the middle of the blue's front page does not go down particularly well either, esp. in a site whose (unironical) motto should be "best of the web". personally I don't care about the mean comments, Ledger obviously can't read them and his family and loved ones should have other things to do a few hours after his death than reading MetaFilter, but it's the stupid/PC-police/pointless comments that make that thread the horror it is.

I understand you deleted the Renfro thread (a bit of a slam dunk, no?) but this Ledger thing may very well be the tipping point where you guys might think about nuking all Hollywood deaths fpps, period. you know, straw, camel backs, etc.
posted by matteo at 10:26 AM on January 23, 2008


Oh look! There's an obit thread! Oh look! There's a MetaTalk thread about the obit thread!

Why did mathowie bother to set up the flag system if y'all aren't going to use it? Please, just flag the stuff you don't like and move on.
posted by deborah at 10:27 AM on January 23, 2008


Why did mathowie bother to set up the flag system if y'all aren't going to use it? Please, just flag the stuff you don't like and move on.

So you read MetaTalk for the bug reports?
posted by Bookhouse at 10:31 AM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Here's an idea which just came to me, which I'll throw out for discussion - I'm not sure yet whether or not I like it myself.

Over at the TWoP message boards, they have a policy of "snark on the television shows, and the people therein, all you want. Don't snark on the other posters." This tends to be enforced pretty strictly: a post that is 95% attacking a show, and 5% attacking another poster (or group of posters) gets axed pretty consistently. Even disagreeing with someone else's point beginning with "Um," or "Er," is disallowed, as it's considered condescending to the poster one is replying to.

We could take a page from that by making the following distinction:
- Attacking the subject of the obit thread is OK
- Attacking the feelings of other posters about the subject of the obit thread is not OK.

Thus, "Bobby Fischer was a racist and I'm glad he's dead," would be permitted, while, "You people shouldn't be lamenting the death of Bobby Fischer, a terrible racist," would not. This seems, at least at first glance, to make a passable first cut at distinguishing the legitimate dissenting viewpoints from the trolls. OTOH, it calls for far more heavy-handed moderation than what is typical of MeFi.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:34 AM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


So when there's a general shared expectation that folks in a given thread will be having a particular set of emotional responses (say, in an obit thread for someone who isn't widely regarded a bastard), and someone wanders in and expresses a strongly negative or dismissive contrasting opinion about the deceased or the commenters' feelings about the deceased, there's an obvious question:
Does this person really not realize how badly they're stomping on people's feet by choosing this specific time and place to voice their contrary/dismissive opinion?


There's a lot of loaded language in there that needs to be unpacked. Certainly, what you say is true in a reading most generous to your point. But here are where the problems come in: why is a there a "general shared expectation" that a "particular set of emotional response" will occur in an obit thread of Heath Ledger if you have only the slightest understanding of who he was ("some actor that just OD'd"). And why is there an assumption that the time and place is inappropriate--this isn't at his funeral during a eulogy.

Let's take that statement you made and apply it to Mother Theresa. Is there a "general shared expectation that folks in a [MT obit] thread will be having a particular set of emotional responses?" I'm not so sure. Is Mother Theresa "widely regarded as a bastard"? I suppose polling would say no, but I am aware of a good number of people who have very negative opinions of here (largely the result of Hitchens' crusade against her). If you are one of those who think she was a bad person, would pointing that out be "stomping on people's feet at the specific time and place"? I don't think so. At this point we are left asking if there is an Appropriate Response and a Contrary Response which are labels I'm not sure how one assigns.

The same can be said for say Jerry Falwell. Like Mother Theresa, to many he is a religious person who tried to spread the gospel; to many, he is a bastard. How do we define the "shared response" and the "contrary response"? It requires an assumption of shared values.

As I noted, its starts becoming unprincipled and relativistic. As I noted above, it seems all or nothing. Either 1 or 4 (from above). I fail to see how saying "He got what he had coming" to Heath Ledger is in principled way distinguishable from saying "Good Riddance" to Mother Theresa or Jerry Falwell or whomever.

I'd be fine with saying "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." That seems like a perfectly sound policy, capable of principled enforcement. But it has to be across the board and not just in the Heath Ledger thread because most people liked him.
posted by dios at 10:36 AM on January 23, 2008


We could take a page from that by making the following distinction:
- Attacking the subject of the obit thread is OK
- Attacking the feelings of other posters about the subject of the obit thread is not OK.


I like this. Almost. How about this minor alteration?

-Attacking the subject of the obit thread is not OK
-Attacking the feelings of other posters about the subject of the obit thread is also not OK.
posted by shmegegge at 10:38 AM on January 23, 2008


DevilsAdvocate, there's already a message below the comment form on MeFi asking people to discuss the thread at hand, not each other.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:40 AM on January 23, 2008


**disliked and is prepared to slag both mother theresa and jerry falwell**
posted by bruce at 10:41 AM on January 23, 2008


Why did mathowie bother to set up the flag system if y'all aren't going to use it? Please, just flag the stuff you don't like and move on.

Because there's no feedback in the flag system. The admins respond to MetaTalk threads.
posted by smackfu at 10:41 AM on January 23, 2008


So you read MetaTalk for the bug reports?

Oh hell no, although they can be interesting, I like drama as much as the next Mefite. What I don't get is that people think that doing the same thing over and over again (making MetaTalk posts about obit threads) is going to yield different results. That's why the flagging system was put in place.
posted by deborah at 10:42 AM on January 23, 2008


-Attacking the subject of the obit thread is not OK
-Attacking the feelings of other posters about the subject of the obit thread is also not OK.


That's just dios's option #1, with all the attendant problems he's pointing out. Are you willing to apply that standard to a George W. Bush, Ron Paul, or Hilary Clinton obituary thread just the same as to a Heath Ledger obituary thread? Is MeFi as a community willing to do that?

----

DevilsAdvocate, there's already a message below the comment form on MeFi asking people to discuss the thread at hand, not each other.

It seems to this point that's been just a general request, but not one which results in comments being deleted when it's violated. (Granted, since I don't see most deleted comments, I can't be sure how accurate that perception is.) I'm proposing (and again, I'm not sure I'd support this proposal myself) that such comments be more rigorously deleted in obit threads.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:46 AM on January 23, 2008


Because there's no feedback in the flag system. The admins respond to MetaTalk threads.

Of course there's feedback, although it is subtle. The post or comment either gets closed or removed or it doesn't.
posted by deborah at 10:46 AM on January 23, 2008


What I don't get is that people think that doing the same thing over and over again (making MetaTalk posts about obit threads) is going to yield different results. That's why the flagging system was put in place.
posted by deborah at 12:42 PM on January 23


Should the frequent gripes about boyzone-ness since the beginning have died out on the theory that no different result would emerge? We had plenty until the December stuff which resulted in real change. Flagging would not have accomplished that. Should people with the boyzone complaint just "skipped" certain threads or just "use their wheel mouse" etc.?
posted by dios at 10:48 AM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


(Granted, since I don't see most deleted comments, I can't be sure how accurate that perception is.)

not very.
posted by gman at 10:48 AM on January 23, 2008


I'm always amazed at the animosity and general ill will that an obit thread can generate. I make a point of reading obit threads for the opportunity to see how this person, who has passed away, has affected contributers in my community.

Sometimes these effects are positive, where a Mefite will comment on how they met this person, or heard one of their songs at an important moment in their life, or whatever. And that is good and interesting.

And other times someone will come in and comment that they resented the deceased, usually they are called out for this, but on occasion curious and relevant facts are disclosed and I, myself may change my opinion of the person being discussed.

But too often it's just people coming in and saying stuff like: I don't know why anyone cares, or I never heard of this person, or so what? or even worse, personally attacking others in the thread for having the audacity to reveal that the passing of a "stranger" might have caused some sorrow.

We could do less with the latter. I like discussion; and if you have facts about how the deceased was a complete asshole, by all means share them. But if you just want to demonstrate how cool you are by not being touched by the passing of someone, please just move on.
posted by quin at 10:49 AM on January 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


But here are where the problems come in: why is a there a "general shared expectation" that a "particular set of emotional response" will occur in an obit thread of Heath Ledger if you have only the slightest understanding of who he was ("some actor that just OD'd").

But turn that on it's head: if you're aware that you don't know much of anything about a person whose obit/death you've just seen posted to Metafilter, why would "go into thread and slag/dismiss dead person, those who are upset by person's death" be the play to make?

That's where a lot of the friction comes from. The idea that someone is being either so unthinking or so malicious that this seems like a good idea, that gets people hotter under the collar than a legitimate criticism.

Mother Teresa died unsurprisingly, an old woman with a long life and a tremendous amount of visibility; there was a lot of love for and criticism of her on the table for years, decades, before her death. She's closer to Ronald Reagan than she is to Heath Ledger as far as the cultural context that surrounded her at the time of her death and the weight and nuance of arguments about how she lived her life; I'd expect an obit thread about her, had she died today instead before mefi was around, to include some perfectly legitimate substantive criticism and negative commentary about her along with a lot of grief and love.

I wouldn't expect Ledger's obit thread to contain that stuff so much, not because he's better or because he's likeable or anything like that but because it's apples and oranges as far as the depth and contentiousness of the social context of his life and work. He was a young actor who died unexpectedly. And I don't think folks in general were expecting it either, though if there were some strongly substantive criticism that showed up in the thread, I wouldn't see a problem with that.

What there was, as far as I saw, was several spates of more or less random dismissiveness and contrariness that had little to do with Ledger and mostly to do with generic rebukes of celebrity and of how mefites chose to react to his death. That's not an "if you can't say anything nice" situation, in my opinion; it's an "if you can't contribute meaningfully to the conversation" situation.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:49 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty adverse to making absolute judgments like "no celebrity obit threads" or "no obit threads, ever". I agree the post was certainly weak, bordering on a single-link to a rumor, but within a few minutes it was confirmed as true and it was under somewhat mysterious and extraordinary (young) circumstances, so we didn't just delete it and ask for a better post.

Personally, I don't think a well-written post like the one on Gothamist, compiling all known details and frequently updated, would have curbed the dissenting, snarky voices.

Part of the problem is audience size here -- though 99.99% of everyone showed some restraint if they didn't care or know who he was, a couple people took it upon themselves to do the intellectually lazy task of either "taking Heath down a peg" or even worse doing the thing where they mock the audience for caring and compare the subject of the post with everyone else that died. Frankly, if memory serves, we've always had one asshole doing that sort of thing, even when it wasn't as big of an audience. We're a cynical bunch and the chances that one member is going to go off in some thread where people are mourning and remembering stuff is pretty high, and it unfortunately only takes one ass to ruin the punchbowl and derail whatever good was there.

In this specific case, I think the biggest problem is the trolling, assholish comments were made in the middle of the night, and on top of that, jessamyn is gone for a couple days. When stuff happens during the dead times of night and there's no one to clean up the flagging pile messes in the early morning, things can spiral out of control like they did here. If it happened 8 hours earlier, it would have been contained.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:51 AM on January 23, 2008


but not one which results in comments being deleted when it's violated.

Nope, we delete pretty much every "well, fuck YOU then username!!!1!!" comment we see.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:52 AM on January 23, 2008


Even disagreeing with someone else's point beginning with "Um," or "Er," is disallowed, as it's considered condescending to the poster one is replying to.

that's ridiculous in its oversensitivity
posted by pyramid termite at 10:52 AM on January 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


Are you willing to apply that standard to a George W. Bush, Ron Paul, or Hilary Clinton obituary thread just the same as to a Heath Ledger obituary thread?

Yes, of course. That's why I take the particular stance I take on the issue in the first place.

Is MeFi as a community willing to do that?

I don't know. Who cares? The real question is whether or not the mods would want to. If mathowie made it a rule and the three of them enforced it we'd have largely almost completely empty obit threads for total shitbags. I would love that. I can't imagine anything speaking more than a GWB thread with 0 comments. No, I don't think it'll ever happen, but I'm certainly against sanctioning attacks on the subject of an obit.
posted by shmegegge at 10:53 AM on January 23, 2008


I don't think the system is broken. People got to go to the obit thread and share their feelings. Some people were contrarian, and there was definitely at least one troll. The contrarians were, for the most part, shouted down. Most of the troll's comments were deleted. The post rolled on, and people are still sharing their feelings.

It was a lot like a large family gathering. A wedding. Or a wake. You know that the same asshats are going to get drunk and make fools of themselves every damn time, but you don't stop throwing weddings or wakes, or stop serving alcohol, or make weird, arbitrary rules to protect everyone, and you don't even stop inviting the asshats. Because, hey - that's family.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:55 AM on January 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


I fail to see how saying "He got what he had coming" to Heath Ledger is in principled way distinguishable from saying "Good Riddance" to Mother Theresa or Jerry Falwell or whomever.

Well, in Ledger's case the specific cause of death and circumstances still haven't been established - Intentional/accidental? Recreational/medicinal drugs use? - so to say what he got what he had coming is, at this point, talking out of one's ass. And it does turn out that addiction was the sole responsible cause of his death, saying he had it coming is a truly horrible thing to say. Meanwhile, Mother Theresa and Falwell both did things in their lives for which they could be legitimately criticized.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:56 AM on January 23, 2008


that's ridiculous in its oversensitivity

Um, no it's not. At least not for a community many times larger than MeFi.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:57 AM on January 23, 2008


Nope, we delete pretty much every "well, fuck YOU then username!!!1!!" comment we see.
posted by mathowieAdmin at 1:52 PM on January 23


really? there are people being called names in this very thread, and the comments stand.

or are you saying that you basically just delete the comments where someone gets angry enough to drop the f bomb and more than one exclamation point?
posted by shmegegge at 11:01 AM on January 23, 2008


You seem to think that because sometimes people still act like dicks, we should just throw up our hands and give up on the self-policing aspect of the site.

I submit that we lost the "self policing" aspect when the mods started getting more involved with deleting threads and comments. Self policing was meant that people were treated like adults, and that they moderated themselves. When it was clear that we couldn't be trusted, the self policing part went out the door.
posted by Dave Faris at 11:04 AM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


-Attacking the subject of the obit thread is not OK
-Attacking the feelings of other posters about the subject of the obit thread is also not OK.

That's just dios's option #1, with all the attendant problems he's pointing out. Are you willing to apply that standard to a George W. Bush, Ron Paul, or Hilary Clinton obituary thread just the same as to a Heath Ledger obituary thread? Is MeFi as a community willing to do that?


I simply have too much respect for most of you to believe that people cannot tell the difference between

"So what, she's just some actor. A hundred other people died today too."
and
"Let's not go on about how big a tragedy this is; she actually liked to kick puppies as was discussed in PEOPLE magazine and referenced in her wikipedia entry."

To have a legitimate discussion about someone, with positive and negative perceptions, is not at all the same thing as simply attacking the positions and contributions of other mefites. And I think almost everyone here knows that.
posted by phearlez at 11:04 AM on January 23, 2008


I don't know. Who cares?

Well, the mods, for three. They repeatedly show willingness to take community desires into account. They could make their policies from on high, ignoring the wishes of us peons, but they don't.

The real question is whether or not the mods would want to.

Whether the mods would want to is not entirely independent of whether MeFi as a community wants to.

----

I simply have too much respect for most of you to believe that people cannot tell the difference between

"So what, she's just some actor. A hundred other people died today too."
and
"Let's not go on about how big a tragedy this is; she actually liked to kick puppies as was discussed in PEOPLE magazine and referenced in her wikipedia entry."


I simply have too much respect for you to believe that you cannot tell the difference between "Let's not go on about how big a tragedy this is" and "she actually liked to kick puppies as was discussed in PEOPLE magazine and referenced in her wikipedia entry."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:09 AM on January 23, 2008


Don't forget,

"Duty compels us to cut celebrities down to size and expose their flaws to a cold and skeptical world."
posted by fandango_matt at 11:12 AM on January 23, 2008


Um, no it's not. At least not for a community many times larger than MeFi.

in other words, this community is willing to follow the least common denominator when it comes to thin-skinnedness

that's nothing but a formula for mediocrity - as if the subject matter wasn't a guarantee of that, already
posted by pyramid termite at 11:12 AM on January 23, 2008


Whether the mods would want to is not entirely independent of whether MeFi as a community wants to.

Sometimes it is. Frankly, there are times (few though they are) where we've convinced them of something we seemed to be a majority in believing, but I can't personally remember a time where they've ever said "okay, well I don't think [behavior x] should be prohibited, but if you guys say so..."
posted by shmegegge at 11:17 AM on January 23, 2008


What there was, as far as I saw, was several spates of more or less random dismissiveness and contrariness that had little to do with Ledger and mostly to do with generic rebukes of celebrity and of how mefites chose to react to his death. That's not an "if you can't say anything nice" situation, in my opinion; it's an "if you can't contribute meaningfully to the conversation" situation.
posted by cortex at 12:49 PM on January 23


First, "if you can't contribute meaningfully to the conversation" seems to eliminate all of the "." comments as well. But that's not really what we are talking about.

I understand and agree with your position that if there is nothing meaningful to be added then it is just noise and should be deleted. I'm certainly not stating that comments like "is this someone who you would have to watch movies to know about" are appropriate. I don't think they are anything but noise. "You don't know this guy, why are you sad" isn't better. So if that is the kind of comments you were talking about, then we aren't disagreeing. What I am addressing are comments critical of the person or dismissing the tragic-ness of their loss.

A comment that "ooh, another actor OD'd, that's no tragedy, when will they learn?" seems fair game. Being critical of someone killing oneself seems fair game. Making a comment about drug-use leading to death seems fair game. "It's sad" and "No it's not" are qualitatively identical on their face. All of that being true IF you allow negative comments.

I'm a bit unsure how the "expectedness" factor is relevant. The unexpected nature of his death is probably a cause of some of the criticism: he may have contributed to his own demise. If he unexpectedly got hit by a car, I suspect some of the comments would not be there. But maybe I am missing your point about expectations being relevant. Please elaborate if I am missing it.
posted by dios at 11:18 AM on January 23, 2008


in other words, this community [TWoP] is willing to follow the least common denominator when it comes to thin-skinnedness

When it comes to personal attacks, yes. That includes not just the blatant ones like "well, fuck YOU then username!!!1!!" but also the veiled passive-agressive ones like "Let's not go on about how big a tragedy this is" or "I simply have too much respect for you to believe that..." or even "Um, that's not right." As for attacks on one's favorite show, they're remarkably thick-skinned over there.

But yes, that's part of my reservation about implementing such a policy here. And even if it were, I'd limit it strictly to the obit threads rather than applying it throughout the site.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:19 AM on January 23, 2008


I really honestly didn't mean my comment to be a troll, and I hope it wasn't taken that way. I read it again later and I realized that I probably came off sounding flippant or sarcastic when I should have been more respectful. I was just responding to what I thought was someone saying that the drug problem only actually becomes a problem when it affects the "young and talented artistic class". I didn't ever mean to criticize Heath Ledger. I can see that his obit thread is the wrong place to discuss other problems that probably don't even relate to his life or legacy.

Regardless of who drugs affect, we should be talking about how to fix it. I didn't mean it to imply that young artists don't deserve respect, or that it's somehow wrong to discuss their problems because other people than them are suffering too. Some people came after me and took on that as a theme, and I don't agree with it.

So I'm sorry. I hope I didn't add too much to the train wreck. I'll be better at this whole thing tomorrow.

Just an idea: I know I wouldn't have thrown in a comment if I had known how sacred these obit threads were meant to be taken. I just learned that by reading this thread. Maybe a reminder at the top of how these things are supposed to work would clean things up a bit?
posted by dosterm at 11:27 AM on January 23, 2008


Well, in Ledger's case the specific cause of death and circumstances still haven't been established - Intentional/accidental? Recreational/medicinal drugs use? - so to say what he got what he had coming is, at this point, talking out of one's ass. And it does turn out that addiction was the sole responsible cause of his death, saying he had it coming is a truly horrible thing to say. Meanwhile, Mother Theresa and Falwell both did things in their lives for which they could be legitimately criticized.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:56 PM on January 23


Well, the uncertainty of it all the more reason why the rush to post Newfilter aspect of obit threads are problematic. But that is common to all Breaking News posts. Often the news changes or more information is necessary before a rational response can be formulated.

As far as it is "horrible" to blame addicts and that MT and Falwell "did things in their for which they cold be legitimately criticized", well that is purely a value judgment on your part and goes back to what I said about this being relativistic. There can be legitimately disagreement on both those points.
posted by dios at 11:27 AM on January 23, 2008


"if you can't contribute meaningfully to the conversation" seems to eliminate all of the "." comments as well

Unless the commonly understood point of an obituary thread is to pay respects.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:29 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


We need official Obit threads that have different rules than the other threads on the blue. In an obit thread, one would only be allowed to say their piece about the deceased, not respond to any other comments. It would essentially be a page of testimonials, with the option to debate and discuss suspended. And there would be an appointed Obit Marshall, someone sensitive, austere and good-humored, who is alerted when an obit thread gets posted. They would have the full power to delete ANY comment for any reason they see fit. It would be a position of trust to be bestowed on someone of good character. Thus would Obit threads become like topiary sculptures on MetaFilter Proper, dotting the grounds with curious, carefully manicured shapes.

And whoever holds that post, he or she must promise to never die.
posted by hermitosis at 11:32 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Because pressing the . key and then the post button is a deeply meaningful act.
posted by Dave Faris at 11:33 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Frankly, there are times (few though they are) where we've convinced them of something we seemed to be a majority in believing, but I can't personally remember a time where they've ever said "okay, well I don't think [behavior x] should be prohibited, but if you guys say so..."

If they're willing to do the former, they don't need to do the latter. My point stands.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:33 AM on January 23, 2008


And there would be an appointed Obit Marshall, someone sensitive, austere and good-humored, who is alerted when an obit thread gets posted.

Like a...funeral director?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:35 AM on January 23, 2008


I think the baby might be in danger of going out with the bathwater here. A person's death should contain all the aspects of what that person's life entailed. Whether that be respect and admiration or repulsion and hate. Their lives should not be sugar coated by death. You can, in fact, acknowledge a person's passing away by indifference or hating their guts and expressing it in a respectful way. Unpopular opinions are NOT "trollish behavior". Harrassment or abuse of other is "trollish behavior".

1.) Obitfilter comments should bubble up in placement according to number of favorites. Maybe the top five or ten mostly highly favorited . These should theoretically build on enriching the FPP, with links resources, personal stories, observations and thoughts. It might help people feel like they can put more work into their FPP's, and even if they're not first to get one up, at least it will be seen. (This feature should be specific to an Obitfilter post/thread)

2.) A respectful and dignified "." speaks volumes and should not be denigrated. It's one of the best traditions on Metafilter.
posted by Skygazer at 11:39 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


A comment that "ooh, another actor OD'd, that's no tragedy, when will they learn?" seems fair game. Being critical of someone killing oneself seems fair game. Making a comment about drug-use leading to death seems fair game. "It's sad" and "No it's not" are qualitatively identical on their face. All of that being true IF you allow negative comments.

Are you talking about comments that should be allowed, or comments that are a good idea? I think being critical in the general sense is "fair game" in that we're not about to make a rule that folks aren't allowed to make such comments.

Does that make them not tone-deaf, not fight-starting, not just kind of blindly self-absorbed in some cases to the point that it's likely to act to the detriment rather than the improvement of the thread? There's a country mile between not-great and deletable/timeoutable comments, and people can choose to occupy any number of positions along that continuum, for any number of reasons. That doesn't mean they should, and it certainly doesn't mean that every one of those positions is equivilant.

Showing the basic restraint to not start a fight needlessly in a thread you ostensibly do not care about is unquestionably a good thing, and arguments about what is allowed, what is strictly administratively persmissible (rather than thoughtful, socially aware, good faith contributing) are close to orthogonal to that.

Why the dots? It's weird tradition. I don't get much out of 'em either, but they're harmless and self-contained in a way that makes them pretty much incomparable to criticism, dismissiveness, or attacks aimed at other users.

I'm a bit unsure how the "expectedness" factor is relevant. The unexpected nature of his death is probably a cause of some of the criticism: he may have contributed to his own demise. If he unexpectedly got hit by a car, I suspect some of the comments would not be there. But maybe I am missing your point about expectations being relevant. Please elaborate if I am missing it.

My point is mostly that this was the unexpected death of young, largely uncontroversial person. That there is not a body of well-matched, well-argued standing praise and criticism for him that would make it likely for folks in a conversation about his death to be expecting and prepared for slagging. It's a direct comparison to converstations about public figures who have, in a sense, had their lives. For those folks, there was already a long public conversation while they were alived; while their death is notable as a marker of passing, it is not the stunning keystone of the conversation.

With someone like Ledger, the suddenness, the unexpectedness, is the shocking thing. To not expect a general, mutual atmosphere of shock in that thread is a bit nuts, and there is where I'd say what I said early about shared expectations comes into play. And the idea that folks should take some personal responsibility for what they decided to step into and why, and consider just what makes it worth it for them to stir things up in a thread about someone they claim not to care about. Not caring, and caring critically, are two very different things.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:42 AM on January 23, 2008


If they're willing to do the former, they don't need to do the latter. My point stands.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:33 PM on January 23


I don't see how. My original point was that (until mathowie and cortex chimed in) we didn't know the mods' position on the matter, and that their opinion on the issue was what mattered because although they'll listen to us it's ultimately up to them to decide policy, and those decisions are not always based on our opinions. Your point was that they will sometimes base those decisions on our opinions. This was something I never contested, but rather I disagree with whether they will make a decision based on our opinions even if they disagree with us. You haven't given me any reason to think that they will.

Don't get me wrong, there's no reason why you should be trying to convince me of anything, but it seems to me that your statement of "if they're willing to do the former, they don't need to do the latter" actually agrees with my point, not yours.
posted by shmegegge at 11:46 AM on January 23, 2008


okay, thank goodness ND¢ made those points, because I don't have internet at the house and MeFi is blocked at work, so this leaves oh, about an hour a day when I can read the site.

I thought about bringing up exactly this same thing last night but didn't have time to read the whole damned thread plus THIS entire damned thread.

Here's my thing. I really, really LIKED Heath L. I thought he was a great talent and was looking forward to his career with great anticipation. Now I am robbed of that.

And when I came to MeFi, silly me, I'd hoped that I'd find a substantial requiem post, where I could read through and remember his life. I mean, seriously, most of the reason I read MeFi is because it is NOT the other 99.9999% of the sucktasticness that comprises the rest of the internet. Most of the time I can come in here and expect to find intelligent discourse.

But rather than MeFi's intellectual braintrust waxing nostalgic on Heath Ledger in an intelligent, substantive, informative post -- oh, no -- I come in here to find OMG Yahoo!

About ten or fifteen comments in, I closed the thread in disgust. I mean for fuck's SAKE people, you can do that nonsense in about, oh, a million other shitty celebrity blogs out there.

this *really* pisses me off. Oh, well, sucks to be me, I guess.

So thank you to 235w103 for the callout, and indeed, thanks to ND¢ for saying what I felt, and so very much better than I'd have said it.
posted by lonefrontranger at 11:47 AM on January 23, 2008


cortex, I'm wondering if we are talking past each other. When you mention "good ideas," I get the impression that you are looking at this from an ought/ought not perspective or talking about best practices. If you are, then I have not an ounce of disagreement on anything about what you are saying. I am looking at this from a rule-formation perspective. As you know me, you know that I tend be painstakingly legalistic and that's where I am coming from here. I, by training and nature, look at this from a legal formalism perspective: what policy for the admins would be best neutrally derived and defined and can best be neutrally applied. And I have been focusing on the limited issue of substantively negative comments in an obituary thread and what rule can be used with respect to them.

I certainly have not been advocating that it is a best practice to go into the Obit thread of Heath Ledger and say he deserved it. I don't think it is. But when you start talking about subjective elements like "deserved," "liked," "expected, "perceptions" and "tin ear" I think those value judgments cannot be workable from a rule-based perspective which is what I took this thread to be about. Obviously we have other rules in place about noise, insults, etc that address various behaviors which may have occurred in that thread. But the question of whether it is topical to say something substantively negative towards the dead person is a different question that I was addressing herein.

So we may be talking about two different things.
posted by dios at 11:57 AM on January 23, 2008


Because pressing the . key and then the post button is a deeply meaningful act.

The "." is not intended to be deeply meaningful to you. The comments are not about you, or for you. Comments in threads are the only way we can participate in a shared experience here. Given that the "." is a well-established tradition for showing respect to the dead, there are members of our community who wish to share their feelings, but may not feel like manufacturing conversation just to fill an arbitrary word quota to prove to you that they cared enough to be allowed to participate. The "." is meant to be meaningful for those who choose to use it, and I don't think it is up to you, or me, or anyone else to say how deep their feelings are. That is my opinion. If I could have expressed it with a single character, I would have done so.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:58 AM on January 23, 2008 [15 favorites]


And when I came to MeFi, silly me, I'd hoped that I'd find a substantial requiem post, where I could read through and remember his life. I mean, seriously, most of the reason I read MeFi is because it is NOT the other 99.9999% of the sucktasticness that comprises the rest of the internet. Most of the time I can come in here and expect to find intelligent discourse.

No offense, because I really do share your feelings, but that IS actually pretty silly of you, considering our track record with obits. There are some things MetaFilter just doesn't do well.

Kittens, are you nominating ColdChef for Obit Marshall? Because I'll second it!!
posted by hermitosis at 11:59 AM on January 23, 2008


Shit post, shit conversation, MeFi got the comments it deserved.

That someone died is not, in itself, noteworthy. That Heath Ledger died is not, in itself, noteworthy. And developing stories are not, generally, good for Metafilter.
posted by klangklangston at 12:02 PM on January 23, 2008


That Heath Ledger died is not, in itself, noteworthy.

All evidence to the contrary.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:06 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


I thought he was a great talent and was looking forward to his career with great anticipation. Now I am robbed of that.


Imagine how he feels.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:07 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


My original point was that (until mathowie and cortex chimed in) we didn't know the mods' position on the matter, and that their opinion on the issue was what mattered because although they'll listen to us it's ultimately up to them to decide policy, and those decisions are not always based on our opinions. Your point was that they will sometimes base those decisions on our opinions. This was something I never contested, but rather I disagree with whether they will make a decision based on our opinions even if they disagree with us. You haven't given me any reason to think that they will.

I'm not arguing that they'll make a decision based on our opinions even if they disagree with us; I'm arguing that by listening to us, they sometimes come to agree with us when they initially did not. And yes, sometimes they won't. I just think it's futile for you to attempt to convince the mods that any criticism of the deceased should be deleted from obit threads, given that a) a significant portion of MeFites seem to believe that legitimate criticism of the person is permissible, b) the mods' opinions tend to be correlated--not always in perfect agreement, but correlated--with that of the community as a whole, and c) this is, after all a change in policy you're arguing for, not continuation of existing policy, since criticism has been permitted in obit threads up to this point. But if you want to try anyway, knock yourself out. You're right in that if you can convince the mods to implement your policy, it matters not one whit what the other 64,999 of us think.

it seems to me that your statement of "if they're willing to do the former, they don't need to do the latter" actually agrees with my point, not yours.

I suppose it cuts both ways. My point was that insofar as a particular policy is concerned, if the mods implement a policy opposed to their initial thinking, but in line with community desires, it doesn't make a difference, as a practical matter, whether it's "you've convinced us that you're right, so we're implementing this policy" or "in spite of the fact that we still don't believe you're right, we're implementing this policy since so many of you want it." The policy is still in place. Since that applies equally regardless of whether the policy is "all criticism will be deleted from obit threads," or "legitimate criticism is permitted in obit threads," I guess that's a wash.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:13 PM on January 23, 2008


So we may be talking about two different things.

Maybe so, dios. I got off on this tangent in the first place trying to address the "troll" question, and my disagreement with your assertion about what qualifies someone as a troll in another person's mind; I've been focusing in part on how the space between what's permissable and what's likely to be welcomed or read charitably because (a) I think that the muddy waters of what a troll is or is not occupy that gap, and (b) many folks read apparent trolling (i.e. apparent willful treading on the line of permissability that borders on the far extreme of that gap) as the effective border of permissability.

So when different people disagree on what is trolling, and hence what should be administratively actionable, I'm interested in helping as best as I can to make it clear why that disagreement about trolling-or-not might occur, and to frame my general dislike for the choice to engage in that kind of line-treading behavior in terms of why it's problematic and maybe not a great idea regardless of whether it's "trolling" or actionable.

That said, I think I'm pretty much in agreement with you on most of the positions here, so agreed; I think we're more talking past each other than really disagreeing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:13 PM on January 23, 2008


"as effectively violating the border of permissability" is more what I meant there, end of first paragraph.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:16 PM on January 23, 2008


i think it would be helpful to give SPECIFIC examples, ABOVE and BELOW the comment box, of things that are/n't allowed.

because when i read "the mods pretty much delete a comment if it says 'well fuck you username!!!!!' all i can say is 'bullshit.' bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.

i've not been a member very long. less than a year. but even in that short period of time, i've seen a dramatic decline of common decency on mefi.

after my first FPP, which was flamed pretty horribly, i didn't come back for 3 weeks. when i did, the first thread i clicked was full of insults and just plain mean-ness. i know, many will say "if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen." which i guess is the only response, in the end. it just makes me really sad that i (and many others) have to limit *our* enjoyment of mefi and the web at large in order to accomodate some regular assholes' right to free speech.

in my opinion, the mods do not do ENOUGH to enforce the rule(s) that are already here. why make more?
posted by CitizenD at 12:16 PM on January 23, 2008


Imagine how he feels.

"You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were not bothered by things like that. Oil and water were the same as wind and air to you. You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell. Me, I was part of the nastiness now."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:19 PM on January 23, 2008


As far as it is "horrible" to blame addicts and that MT and Falwell "did things in their for which they cold be legitimately criticized", well that is purely a value judgment on your part and goes back to what I said about this being relativistic. There can be legitimately disagreement on both those points.

You're right, it is a value judgment to say whether or not an addict deserves what they get, and my negative reaction to the former is also relativistic. But unless fundamental medical procedures are also considered relativist, the lack of sanitary practices in Mother Theresa's organization don't fall under that umbrella, nor do the financial improprieties of Falwell's corporations.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:19 PM on January 23, 2008


"All evidence to the contrary."

Fair enough. I do not believe that it rises to the standard of notability that would justify anything past a three para AP wire story, and I do not believe it rises to the standard of notability that justifies an FPP. That other people disagree with me isn't surprising, but they're wrong, demonstrated by the shit post and the shit conversation, no matter how many dots were dropped.
posted by klangklangston at 12:20 PM on January 23, 2008


Whoops, missed this part: And no, the goofiness of two guys subjectively discussing the line between value judgment and valid criticism isn't lost on me.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:21 PM on January 23, 2008


I just think it's futile for you to attempt to convince the mods that any criticism of the deceased should be deleted from obit threads, given that a) a significant portion of MeFites seem to believe that legitimate criticism of the person is permissible, b) the mods' opinions tend to be correlated--not always in perfect agreement, but correlated--with that of the community as a whole, and c) this is, after all a change in policy you're arguing for, not continuation of existing policy, since criticism has been permitted in obit threads up to this point.

1. I wasn't trying to convince anyone of anything. I said what I thought would be best. I don't expect the mods to agree with me. My ideas for how the site to be run are just about always ignored and mefi has somehow soldiered on, regardless. As brilliant as I know I am, I am regretfully in the position of having to accept that perhaps mathowie and the fabulous thunderbirds know what they're doing.

2. I wasn't saying that all criticism should be deleted. I was saying that all attacks should be. If someone said "You know, I wasn't that big a fan of Ledger in any of the movies I saw him in," that'd be different than "Ledger is a shitbag and should rot in hell because he was a dirty dirty drug user."

3. where your point b) is concerned, I happen to disagree. I think their decisions are based largely on managing an already difficult workload and trying to cut back on that workload without disrupting the site overly much. I think this because of how many times we've heard them say things like "it was easier to close the thread than trim 50 comments out of only 60." and things like that as opposed to "we did it because you guys wanted us to." the fact is, nobody knows what their decision process is like except for them. they've given us moments of insight into the process, for which I'm personally thankful, but that's my take on what I've read. I can't really say it's the definite truth, obviously. I could easily be wrong.

4. My point was that insofar as a particular policy is concerned, if the mods implement a policy opposed to their initial thinking, but in line with community desires, it doesn't make a difference, as a practical matter, whether it's "you've convinced us that you're right, so we're implementing this policy" or "in spite of the fact that we still don't believe you're right, we're implementing this policy since so many of you want it." The policy is still in place.

Honestly, I just don't think the latter ever happens. Ever. I think that if they change policy, it's because they want to for their own administrative reasons because they know what they're doing, and that if it happens to be something we agree with that's entirely coincidental. I happen to believe that the most our beliefs will temper their judgement is when they have to say "are we going to have an unending string of obnoxious metatalk threads because of this?" which I see as, again, more a matter of workload for them than concern for our sensitive dispositions.

so yeah, probably a wash.
posted by shmegegge at 12:29 PM on January 23, 2008


That other people disagree with me isn't surprising, but they're wrong, demonstrated by the shit post and the shit conversation, no matter how many dots were dropped.
posted by klangklangston at 3:20 PM on January 23


oh man, I used to have a serious problem with klang, but he's rapidly turning into one of my favorite people because of lines like this. I say in all seriousness that that's a funny fucking line.
posted by shmegegge at 12:35 PM on January 23, 2008


If someone said "You know, I wasn't that big a fan of Ledger in any of the movies I saw him in," that'd be different than "Ledger is a shitbag and should rot in hell because he was a dirty dirty drug user."

And why is one opinion any more valid and worth keeping than the other? Is it because the other isn't nice? Because the other uses naughty words? Because one is blunt, and maybe a little less nuanced than what might have been articulated? I pretty much think both opinions are completely valid, even if one might be a lot more insensitive.
posted by Dave Faris at 12:38 PM on January 23, 2008


I'd submit it's because the former is a fact and the latter is an opinion.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:46 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


If someone said "You know, I wasn't that big a fan of Ledger in any of the movies I saw him in," that'd be different than "Ledger is a shitbag and should rot in hell because he was a dirty dirty drug user."

And why is one opinion any more valid and worth keeping than the other?

Because nobody who says the latter ever leaves it at that- it keeps going into some version of, you all shouldn't care about this guy, you're all so selfish, what about the little guy, and to me it all sounds like an old refrain of PAY ATTENTION TO ME, PLEEEEEEEEASE PLEASE PLEASE I'M VERY INSECURE AND I WILL MAKE THAT YOUR PROBLEM. I've never been one to support the idea that obit threads have to be all sunshine and flowers about the deceased, as though a Metafilter thread is the same as a funeral (it's not, and if the death of the person being discussed truly upsets you, you should leave the thread). It's the attention whore-y derails that get me. An obit thread is not about you, unless you're the one whose dead, in which case, I hope you have better things to do then post on Metafilter.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:53 PM on January 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


I'd like to apologise for calling out ColdChef. I took his post seven gin and tonics the wrong way.
posted by Frasermoo at 12:54 PM on January 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


it just makes me really sad that i (and many others) have to limit *our* enjoyment of mefi and the web at large in order to accomodate some regular assholes' right to free speech.

No one in this thread has made any claim about a "right to free speech" here, until you brought it up. In fact, one of the things I admire about MeFi is that we don't keep re-hashing the same spurious "OMG censorship!" claims any time a comment is deleted from this private website, as so many other boards have to deal with. (OK, we still have to deal with those once in a while, but a lot less than on other boards, it seems. For the most part the general principle of moderator deletion is not in dispute here, just the particulars of what is or is not deleted.) We may disagree about what ought to be deleted, but no one here is claiming the mods can't delete comments because it would infringe on a user's "right to free speech."

----

My ideas for how the site to be run are just about always ignored and mefi has somehow soldiered on, regardless.

You and me both.

I wasn't saying that all criticism should be deleted. I was saying that all attacks should be. If someone said "You know, I wasn't that big a fan of Ledger in any of the movies I saw him in," that'd be different than "Ledger is a shitbag and should rot in hell because he was a dirty dirty drug user."

Fair enough--I was inappropriately conflating the two, perhaps because if I were in charge, I'd allow both criticism and attacks.

where your point b) is concerned, I happen to disagree. I think their decisions are based largely on managing an already difficult workload and trying to cut back on that workload without disrupting the site overly much.

I'll grant that workload is a factor--we've certainly seen instances where limiting workload has been cited as a reason--but I don't agree that it's the major factor, as you seem to think it is. But as you point out, with our limited view into their decision-making process, either view is probably little more than speculation on our part.

Honestly, I just don't think the latter ever happens.

Neither do I. Which would be a problem if they also weren't able to be convinced by the community, but since they can be, it's not an issue.

I think that if they change policy, it's because they want to for their own administrative reasons because they know what they're doing, and that if it happens to be something we agree with that's entirely coincidental.

Entirely coincidental? Really? That's a pretty strong claim. You really believe that if the mods never read MeTa, the policies here would still be exactly the same?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:56 PM on January 23, 2008


An obit thread is not about you, unless you're the one whose dead, in which case, I hope you have better things to do then post on Metafilter.

I'm totally posting to MetaFilter when I'm dead. Then- seven days after you read my comment...


...the yogurt in the back of your fridge will go bad.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:00 PM on January 23, 2008


I think the obvious point with obit threads is that - basically - none of you witless jackanapes are actually qualified to comment in them at all. I mean, how many of YOU know what it feels like to be dead?

Luckily I have a way around this barrier of ignorance: whenever someone dies, I hook up the ol' ouija board and contact my spirit guide, Raoul, for his netherworldy input.

"Woo-aah! Woe, from beyond the grave!" (he typically begins). "A new shade has joined our legion of damned souls, here in Hades' shadowy pit!"

Who is it, decomposing Raoul? (I ask). Is it someone that all of metafilter's ranks should tribute with the commemorative dot?

"Naaaaay, brother quidnunc!" (he might reply). "Dots are wasted on the denizens of this hopeless realm! Satan will not choke back a single torturing demon for this sinner! Ah! - how we all burn in endless flames for our evil deeds!"

Ok Raoul - just had to check. Peace out, spirit dawg.

"Fo shizzle, my still-living homeslice."

... And that's how I comment in those threads. Hope that helps y'all.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 1:02 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Tangentially, I know this:

I'm also a little baffled my the claims of people who apparently speak English, can access the Internet and yet have never heard of Brokeback Mountain. Did they spend 2005 among the Maori?
posted by Bookhouse at 3:45 AM on January 24 [+] [!]


was meant as a throwaway comment, but it really is quite offensive to correlate living among the Maori with being ignorant of the world around you. Aotearoa and its people are on an island in the Pacific, not on the fucking moon.
posted by supercrayon at 1:03 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


I won't post to MetaFilter when I'm dead, but I will still mark best answers to my questions in AskMe.

Answers such as "Are you crazy? You could get food poisoning and die if you ate that yogurt in the back of the fridge."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:05 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Whether or not comment on MetaFilter post-mortem largely depends on wireless reception in Bardo. Since it's an intermediate state, you can sometimes find yourself in a dead spot between two transmitters.
posted by Abiezer at 1:21 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


its people are on an island in the Pacific, not on the fucking moon

More's the pity for them then, I think. Small metal boxes drifting across the eons to other stars have their advantages.
posted by aramaic at 1:22 PM on January 23, 2008


And why is one opinion any more valid and worth keeping than the other?

Neither opinion is worth anything. No opinion expressed by any mefite on anything is worth anything. One is simply more annoying to the overwhelming majority of us.

Entirely coincidental? Really? That's a pretty strong claim. You really believe that if the mods never read MeTa, the policies here would still be exactly the same?

yeah, it's a pretty strong claim. I may be overstating it. But on the whole, I think that the effect of metatalk is mostly that it lets them know what's going to earn them more grief than it's worth. I could easily be wrong.
posted by shmegegge at 1:24 PM on January 23, 2008


[something I said]
was meant as a throwaway comment, but it really is quite offensive to correlate living among the Maori with being ignorant of the world around you. Aotearoa and its people are on an island in the Pacific, not on the fucking moon.


Point taken. I apologize for the offense.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:30 PM on January 23, 2008


I am, by the way, an incredibly cynical human being. I make up for it by being both charming and handsome, however.
posted by shmegegge at 1:30 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Whether or not comment on MetaFilter post-mortem largely depends on wireless reception in Bardo. Whether or not comment on MetaFilter post-mortem largely depends on wireless reception in Bardo.

I've heard the Wifi is actually pretty good, it's just a bitch getting that WEP key from the help desk Buddha .
posted by Skygazer at 1:35 PM on January 23, 2008


I thought it was just because the Maori hate Westerns.
posted by jtron at 1:40 PM on January 23, 2008


“I think that the answer is to hold Obitfilter to the same standard that we hold all other posts. If you are going to make a post about a person's death, you better make it interesting. Interviews, biographical information (besides Wikipedia or IMDB), something. If "OMG Larry Hagman died at 2:13 today!" is posted with a link to a one line news story, delete it. When someone can come up with a collection of links on the topic of the person and their death and why it matters, then let the post stand.”

I agree. And worth repeating.
And it would give rise to more worthwhile comments - positive or negative with noise being all the more evident as noise (again - positive or negative).
posted by Smedleyman at 1:45 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd like to apologise for calling out ColdChef. I took his post seven gin and tonics the wrong way.

Apology accepted. Give us a hug.
posted by ColdChef at 1:47 PM on January 23, 2008


I want to make some sort of "Super Maori Brothers" joke here but I can't think of anything.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:47 PM on January 23, 2008


Point taken. I apologize for the offense.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:30 AM on January 24 [+] [!]


No worries, thanks for the apology. :)
posted by supercrayon at 1:49 PM on January 23, 2008


Interestingly shmegegge, I am both incredibly handsome and charming, and yet I make up for it by being cynically human.
posted by quin at 1:52 PM on January 23, 2008


I want to make some sort of "Super Maori Brothers" joke here but I can't think of anything.
posted by cortex at 8:47 AM on January 24 [+] [!]


FAIL.
posted by supercrayon at 1:53 PM on January 23, 2008


Answers such as "Are you crazy? You could get food poisoning and die if you ate that yogurt in the back of the fridge."

Untrue. Every AskMe thread like that always ends with an exhortation to eat the questionable item. Whaddya, some kinda pussy or somethin'? EAT IT!

I'm amazed we haven't killed anyone yet.

*eats yesterday's meatloaf straight out of the pan, dies*
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:20 PM on January 23, 2008


I'm amazed we haven't killed anyone yet.

Sadly, or thankfully, we'll never know if we have.
posted by psmealey at 2:26 PM on January 23, 2008


Btw, here are the real Super Maori Bros
posted by psmealey at 2:29 PM on January 23, 2008


I want to make some sort of "Super Maori Brothers" joke here but I can't think of anything.

I think you just did.
posted by kosem at 2:48 PM on January 23, 2008


That haka done by the new zealand team was amazing. I would have run screaming from the field if an entire team of guys that size did that shit to me just before a ruby match.
posted by shmegegge at 2:52 PM on January 23, 2008


Would you feel the same if it had been Perl instead?
posted by ooga_booga at 2:53 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think you just did.

Dammit, stop revealing my trade secrets.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:55 PM on January 23, 2008


shmegegge writes "No opinion expressed by any mefite on anything is worth anything. One is simply more annoying to the overwhelming majority of us. "

Thanks. That actually framed the way I think about moderation here really well. The issue isn't about free speech or trolling or quashing dissent or allowing asshattery or anything like that. It's that we read this site for enjoyment (whether that come from joking or debate or discussion or whathaveyou), so there are no "important" and "unimportant" comments. As such, the standard for purging/forbidding of comments should just be "things which are annoying to the overwhelming majority of us".
posted by Bugbread at 3:16 PM on January 23, 2008


************TEST*************

well, fuck YOU then username!!!1!!

**********END TEST ***********
posted by exlotuseater at 3:17 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dammit, exlotuseater, dude isn't even part of this thread.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:21 PM on January 23, 2008


yeah, but looking at his posting history I'd say he was kind of a dick.
posted by shmegegge at 3:29 PM on January 23, 2008


Before yesterday, no-one found it necessary to bring Heath Ledger to the attention of Metafilter (well, not much). Is his death such a compelling reason to change that?

(Now, if someone had marked the day Heath Ledger was born by posting "Heath Ledger born", maybe we could drop by and comment with a smiley emoticon or whatever is the cheery inverse of a single full-stop/period/dot. For -yay!- he is born and will be famous, but alas must die.)
posted by 4eyes at 3:52 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


that's ridiculous in its oversensitivity

Um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um,
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:03 PM on January 23, 2008


I wonder if the people who felt compelled to act like jackasses in the Heath Ledger thread could explain why they didn't act the same way in the Sir Edmund Hillary thread.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:11 PM on January 23, 2008


"I wonder if the people who felt compelled to act like jackasses in the Heath Ledger thread could explain why they didn't act the same way in the Sir Edmund Hillary thread."

Because it was there?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:34 PM on January 23, 2008 [7 favorites]


hey crash, you're missing it: they are talking about boobies a couple threads up.
posted by dios at 4:53 PM on January 23, 2008


The big problem with the Ledger thread wasn't that the trolls were attacking Ledger (because, frankly, there's nothing to really attack him over) but the fact they were questioning A) the existence of the thread, B) why anyone would mourn a celebrity and C) who Ledger even was?

Zachsmind then lists a whole lot of people who he did care about when they died. How is that even relevant? This in a thread about an actor he claimed he'd never heard of.
posted by crossoverman at 6:31 PM on January 23, 2008


In a perfect world, Obitthreads would be like a community-rallied Speaker for the Dead.
posted by Phire at 7:24 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


whenever someone dies, I hook up the ol' ouija board and contact my spirit guide, Raoul, for his netherworldy input.

raoul crossposted from alt.fan.karl-malden.nose to your ouija board - you were trolled

meow
posted by pyramid termite at 8:36 PM on January 23, 2008


and with that, I'm going to bed. If anybody pisses on naything tommorow, I'll let you know.
posted by jonmc at 10:07 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think it's fine if someone wants to bury Caesar instead of praise him in one of those threads, but snark about the validity of even caring is just intensely grating.

But there's been progress. languagehat has seen the light.
posted by Neiltupper at 3:19 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Metafiler: The Place To Snark
posted by humannaire at 6:19 AM on January 24, 2008


What Smedleyman said... well and whomever-it-was he was quoting as well. It bears re-repeating. It's too bad that the mods don't appear to be in agreement.

It's just disappointing and mildly confusing to me to (re)discover that ObitFilters are apparently not held to the same tight standards as the rest of MeFi's FPP policy. Most of the time I don't much bother, as I'm not much of a celebrity gawker. In this case, it made me sad and somewhat pissed-off. Especially since I respected HL's work, regardless of the circumstances of his death, and had hoped to see something a little, oh, I dunno, worthier of his life and sadly-truncated career, perhaps.

on review, yea, hermitosis, you're right, how silly of me. I knew this would not End Well™, but hope springs eternal.
posted by lonefrontranger at 5:26 PM on January 24, 2008


Actually, what we need is to ignore celebrities, they are no more valuable than you.
There are lots of real people.
Look around.
posted by vapidave at 5:33 AM on January 26, 2008


...what we need is to ignore celebrities...

"Celebrities" is a stupidly belittling term, and that's what we need to ignore. The man in question was an actor. A good actor. And he's being noticed because he deserved it. He deserved being noticed. And sure, there are people around you, in your daily life, that deserve notice. That doesn't mean that this person, who contributed his hard-earned skills and talent and performances to the stream of noteworthy human activity, should not be noticed. And mourned.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:25 AM on January 26, 2008


vapidave writes "Actually, what we need is to ignore celebrities, they are no more valuable than you.
"There are lots of real people.
"Look around."


flapjax at midnite writes "'Celebrities' is a stupidly belittling term, and that's what we need to ignore. The man in question was an actor. A good actor."

I'll take it one step further and point out the obvious: celebrities are real people.

It just smacks of "hate any band once it becomes popular"-ism, which is supposed to wear off during middle-school. So we're supposed to "ignore celebrities", vapidave? So I can appreciate the little unknown bit part actor in that indie film (far from a celebrity), and be sad if he dies. But if he starts getting bigger roles, and other people also start to notice him (that is, he becomes a "celebrity"), I have to start ignoring him, because he is no longer "real"?
posted by Bugbread at 12:17 PM on January 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Celebrities — Are They Real People?

I say, depends.
posted by humannaire at 6:02 PM on January 26, 2008


humannaire writes "Celebrities — Are They Real People?

"I say, depends."


Problem is, by that logic, train conductors, convenience store clerks, city hall employees, garbagemen, and the like are also probably not real people.
posted by Bugbread at 12:27 PM on January 27, 2008


Actually, bugbread, if you read the article, it suggests they indeed are.

What I was saying is like everyone, if we are real people, it depends.

Most of us are most of the time. Some of us are some of the time. And the rest are not.

Those ones, they're just famous.
posted by humannaire at 5:28 PM on January 29, 2008


There was an interview with the celebrity editor from the AP on NPR this weekend that made me think of this conversation here. This is the guy who decides whose obituaries they write "just in case."
posted by Tehanu at 8:51 PM on January 29, 2008


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