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Sit, ubu, sit.
January 28, 2008 1:27 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to publicly apologise to occhiblu, thehmsbeagle, zebra3, klango & nickyskye (and anybody else) for being a massive, trollish douche recently. That's all.
posted by UbuRoivas to Etiquette/Policy at 1:27 AM (235 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

good dog.
posted by modernnomad at 1:47 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Woof!
posted by fandango_matt at 1:48 AM on January 28, 2008


What are you talking about exactly?
If you're referring to the metatalk thread hmsbeagle started, unless some things where deleted, imo you were just arguing in a reasonably civilised manner. No need to chastise yourself.

Maybe we can do a rerun of that thread here. See if we get to 500+ comments and much ruffled feathers again.
posted by jouke at 1:51 AM on January 28, 2008


unless some things where deleted, imo you were just arguing in a reasonably civilised manner

only at times, maybe; at others it was totally over the line.

apologies again. will try to lift my game in future.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:01 AM on January 28, 2008


Ok, you were very bad. Let's use this thread to find a suitable penance for you.
posted by jouke at 2:17 AM on January 28, 2008


Dude, I'm relegated to "anybody else"? That's just not right.
posted by liquorice at 2:19 AM on January 28, 2008


That was a big thread, so its possible I missed a lot of the stuff you said, Ubu. But I did read it reasonably thoroughly and I think that you did, for the most part, argue your POV as civilly as could be expected in a thread where a lot of people weren't exactly being civil. That said, if you feel an apology was necessary, then so be it, and good on you for offering a public one.
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:20 AM on January 28, 2008


Hey, you haven't been a massive, trollish douche to me lately.

I feel slighted.

You should start another MeTa thread to apologize for slighting me.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:23 AM on January 28, 2008


I wish you'd posted this earlier, Ubu. The contractors I dispatched have gone dark and I fear they're already paddling into Sydney Harbour undetected to take up firing positions. Try to stay away from any open windows until I can get an order to stand down in with the back-up crew.
On the plus side, I'm a cheap bastard, so the only previous action they've seen is pigeon control in Wakefield, so you should get through unscathed.
posted by Abiezer at 2:27 AM on January 28, 2008 [16 favorites]


Right on, brother. Shwusurtits
posted by Jimbob at 2:28 AM on January 28, 2008


Sit, ubu, sit.
Wow, memories! This is one of the useless bits that's keeping the useful things out of my head.
posted by whatzit at 2:45 AM on January 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


flapjax: sorry you feel slighted. why don't you come on over sometime & i'll make it up to you? don't worry about bringing any condoms, though. you're so ugly I probably wouldn't come anyway.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:50 AM on January 28, 2008


And we're off!
posted by maxwelton at 3:06 AM on January 28, 2008


The Web. Everything is there.
posted by fandango_matt at 3:08 AM on January 28, 2008


You know, I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a good person, and how I don't believe that I am one myself. One of the main reasons is that I never offer sincere, significant apologies.

I mean, sure I'll apologize for accidentally bumping into someone or forgetting someone's name. But huge blowout arguments with co-workers? Leaving friends out to dry? Neglecting family members? Shirking adult responsibilities in favor of juvenile hedonistic behaviour? Major infractions into someone else's life that were entirely improper and/or unnecessary and cause specific or general distress? Nah. I can't seem to own up to those sorts of thing.

I'm not afraid of facing my own mortality, I'm afraid of facing my own morality.

Not really making any judgments on anyone except myself, but hopefully one day I'll look through my history and see this and see how dumb I used to be. These days, I seem to just go around openly looking to make mistakes. Don't be like me.
posted by dogwalker at 3:14 AM on January 28, 2008 [5 favorites]


you're so ugly I probably wouldn't come anyway

Why, Ubu, I do believe that's one of the cleverest bon mots I've ever heard you deliver! Impeccably dry comedic wit!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:21 AM on January 28, 2008


The catfight in that thread between Ambrosia Voyeur and MaryDellamorte was smoking hot. And not a single boob did I stare at once!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:52 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


We really don't need a negative rehashing of all that or try to outsnark each other and try to slip the word boob in some seemingly clever way. Ubu felt had to do something, he did it, so be it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:59 AM on January 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


*hands Ubu a towel and favourites Alfred Jarry instead of Michael J. Fox*
posted by Wolof at 4:09 AM on January 28, 2008


and try to slip the word boob in some seemingly clever way

I see what you did there.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:50 AM on January 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


It's a nice gesture and one we could stand to see more of. Good on you, UbuRoivas.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:07 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


If it's any consolation, I don't think you even made the top 5 trollish douches for the past week. All the same, very nice of you to stand up publicly, gesture, more of, good on, etc.
posted by carsonb at 5:21 AM on January 28, 2008


sit.

I think you mean "sittr."
posted by oaf at 5:38 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sincere apologies should always be appreciated. Thanks, UbuRoivas. Maybe some of the folks who closed their accounts will consider returning to us. vronsky's back! Anything can happen now.
posted by cgc373 at 6:20 AM on January 28, 2008


Ubu, you're not a bad guy and you're a pretty damned good writer, so I'm glad you've abandoned assholedom for it's own sake. Also, occhiblu and hmsbeagle disabled their accounts and can't see this apology, so maybe you oughta send them one. I don't know the beagle that well, but I've locked horns with occhi plenty of times, but she's a fundamentally decent person (with a twisted sense of humor that I'd be glad to see more of on the blue should she return) who dosen't deserve the treatment she's gotten lately.
posted by jonmc at 6:26 AM on January 28, 2008


Referring to yourself in a pejorative manner as a feminine cleansing product is probably sort of sexist.

/stirring shit up
posted by amro at 6:27 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


amro, take his remarks with a dash of salt. or in this case, vinegar and water.
posted by jonmc at 6:32 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


A class act, Ubu. Very gracious of you.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:37 AM on January 28, 2008


amro, wouldn't worry -- women aren't too keen about douche, either. To quote The Vagina Monologues -- "I don't want my ***** to smell like a fresh meadow. It's like the restaurant washing the fish before they bring it to you."

I'm more disgruntled with the negative rehashings disguised as snark -- especially as they're not addressing Ubu as much as they're trying to get a rise from the women Ubu is apologizing to (with the exception of those who left).

I do understand as well that many other people were less than totally civil in that thread. It's hard in a thread like that -- it hit on some fundamental soft spots and fears in both genders. When we feel threatened, it's easy to lose our cool and strike back. We really may want to cool off and revisit that topic when we can own our collective and individual feelings on the complexities of gender and sexual politics.

Ubu, thanks. I have to admit that I WAS a bit irked with some of the ways you argued -- not with your points, mind you, but how they were made.
posted by lleachie at 6:40 AM on January 28, 2008


Also, occhiblu and hmsbeagle disabled their accounts and can't see this apology

I think they can still access the site? I thought anyone who disabled their account just couldn't log in to comment, post, or access MefiMail.
posted by iconomy at 6:42 AM on January 28, 2008


I don't want my ***** to smell like a fresh meadow.

Um, you can say 'pussy.' We've all had our dirty-words-will-curve-your-spine shots.
posted by jonmc at 6:44 AM on January 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


This callout is the most overrated pile of half-baked dog turd in history. Woefully, painfully sophomoric.
posted by prostyle at 6:47 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


vronsky's back!

vronsky left?

anybody notice burhanistan & thomcatspike around the traps, btw?
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:53 AM on January 28, 2008


This callout is the most overrated pile of half-baked dog turd in history. Woefully, painfully sophomoric.

Maybe, but if you think about it, between the like, subjective, and the like, objective, there's something else. It's like *has great big pull on bong* QUALITY, man! This is a quality callout, which goes beyond the objective & subjective. As do these Cheezels.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:57 AM on January 28, 2008


I think they can still access the site? I thought anyone who disabled their account just couldn't log in to comment, post, or access MefiMail.

You're correct, iconomy. I'm guessing jonmc meant they were...less likely to see it on account of maybe not watching the site when they can't comment? I dunno, jon, you want to clarify?

Ubu, thanks for apologizing. I agree that you weren't shriekingly awful in that thread, but I also agree with you that you have come off a little douchey and trollish at times in how you've chosen to respond to things or frame your arguments, and I appreciate you acknowledging that.

I think it's really too easy for people around here to get caught up in the game of rhetoric and argument and wander a bit from really just reacting simply and honestly to something that upsets them, and that manifests in a lot of different ways from different people. Story of the whole Internet, I know, but it bugs me to see it happen anyway.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:15 AM on January 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


This is a pretty great thing to see, and thanks for posting it.
posted by Miko at 7:15 AM on January 28, 2008


I'm guessing jonmc meant they were...less likely to see it on account of maybe not watching the site when they can't comment? I dunno, jon, you want to clarify?

Yeah. I realize that occhi et al can still see MeFi, but I don't see them still following a site they've abandonded so they're less likely to see this.
posted by jonmc at 7:17 AM on January 28, 2008


Yeah, the sexism threads pretty much suck. I was in one of them once, and never will be again. Don't get me wrong, people have raised valid points on both sides, but the amount of bad vibes that get stirred up just make the whole thing not-worthwhile.

And yes, I know, you can make the argument that having sexism threads on The Grey is absolutely necessary, and that if we don't have them, we're caving into the age-old rule of the patriarchy, and that before we know it we'll start marrying girls off at the age of 9 and denying them the right to vote.

And who knows, maybe you have a point. But I would suggest that perhaps there are good places for these discussions, but that The Grey just isn't one of them. On the whole, I'd say that they've done more harm than good.

I'm not suggesting that the admins delete these threads, because I don't think that would solve anything. I just know that I, personally, am done with them.

If nothing else, it's sad to see thehmsbeagle and occhiblu go. I mean, given, I never locked horns with either of them in heated debate, but I do remember seeing them around in random threads and appreciating their presence.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:00 AM on January 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


What Blazecock and cortex said. Well done, sir.
posted by languagehat at 8:07 AM on January 28, 2008


Fine, David. I'm sorry I caused all that throat cancer and all that bowel cancer. I was just on a roll . . .
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:08 AM on January 28, 2008


since the sexism thread is getting talked about here, I'll throw this in here rather than start a new one about it: did It's Raining Florence Henderson leave because of that last thread? He's gone, and his last activity was there as far as I can tell, but no one mentioned anything about him leaving before the thread got closed. Anyone know?
posted by Arturus at 8:11 AM on January 28, 2008


Same goes for Firas I think.

A black hole went through that thread and sucked them all away.
posted by jouke at 8:17 AM on January 28, 2008


Uh... who's klango?
posted by timeistight at 8:18 AM on January 28, 2008


Geez. Something crazy goes on on these back pages every week that I don't notice.
posted by koeselitz at 8:18 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I hadn't realised thehmsbeagle and occhiblu had left - that's really sad.
posted by paduasoy at 8:22 AM on January 28, 2008


The catfight in that thread between Ambrosia Voyeur and MaryDellamorte was smoking hot. And not a single boob did I stare at once!

For the love of God, Montressor, close the thread before it's too late!
posted by The Bellman at 8:22 AM on January 28, 2008


Same goes for Firas I think

I don't think that has to do with any thread- he banned himself from IRC, too. Trying to cut distractions out of his life.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:24 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


An excellent classy apology. And I think the decision to make this a MetaTalk thread instead of doing it through private messages is good for the site.
posted by LarryC at 8:29 AM on January 28, 2008


OMG
WTF
IRFH

I feel like I went out of town for a few days and returned to smoldering ruins and eerie silence. It's like "Night of the Comet" up in here.

Was the boobies MeTa the catalyst? Can someone who was around on Thursday explain briefly - where everyone went and what happened? I did read the thread, but a lot was deleted.
posted by pineapple at 8:29 AM on January 28, 2008


will try to lift my game in future.

Perhaps-- and this is just a thought-- perhaps if we all thought of this as a conversation we're having rather than as a "game" we're trying to win, perhaps then the situations that lead to this sort of apology would never occur in the first place.
posted by dersins at 8:30 AM on January 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


did It's Raining Florence Henderson leave because of that last thread?

No, no; he's going to be nutso busy in real life for the next year or so. Job stuff, just didn't want to be Mysteriously Absent, though it seems like account closure cleans out profile stuff (I didn't know/had forgotten about that, personally) so there's no note saying "I'm gonna be gone for a while" as he'd intended.

And yeah, Firas has gone on sabbatical from Mefi now and then over the years as well. No indication from him that it was related to recent events.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:32 AM on January 28, 2008


IRFH? Aw, crap!
posted by goo at 8:35 AM on January 28, 2008


Wow, Ubu. I've called you before for "dancing on the line" *looks back at snapshots of our trip to "ad feminaz" beach, laughs* and I know you're a smart and wry guy and don't believe you're a real chauvinist or anything like that. So, I don't think this was strictly necessary, but it was a good idea and proves me right about you. It feels really nice when people show they care. Thanks!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:39 AM on January 28, 2008


UbuRolvas--You, Sir, are a gentleman and a scholar. And I didn't even disagree with anything you said, certainly not to the point of even remotely whispering, under my breath, "What a douchebag." So, you know, thanks!
posted by misha at 8:43 AM on January 28, 2008


re: catfights. I'm the kind of girl who feels bad and tries to amend that shit, so for the love of *****, let it go. My hair. Let it go. You bitch, metafilter, let me go. Meet me in the mud ring, let's finish this.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:49 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


How about Paulsc? Haven't seen him around either. Last seen 12/31. New Year's Resolution to avoid MeFi?
posted by vito90 at 8:52 AM on January 28, 2008


Now that that's settled, wot is u lookin at??
posted by jonmc at 8:53 AM on January 28, 2008


Was the boobies MeTa the catalyst? Can someone who was around on Thursday explain briefly - where everyone went and what happened? I did read the thread, but a lot was deleted.

AskMe: Sweater puppies

HMS: SPPPPPPPPPPAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRTTTTTTTTAAAAAAAAAAAA

Random dudes: drunk, condescending (plus there are trolls)

AV & MDM: Hiss/spit/fat girl/bar whore/etc. (board peeks through fingers)

There is more trolling

People quit

Regret n' stuff

More drunk guys

Cortex: fuck this

-30-
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:01 AM on January 28, 2008 [8 favorites]


Come back, IRFH! You can get your daily dose of MeFi without overdoing it! Who am I trying to kid? But don't wait a whole year to return, dammit.
posted by languagehat at 9:04 AM on January 28, 2008


Random dudes: drunk, condescending

that would be me. sorry 'bout that. I'll continue to be drunk, but I'll lay off the condescension.
posted by jonmc at 9:04 AM on January 28, 2008


What a lot of people have already said... well done. I always think highly of those who apologize.
posted by Kattullus at 9:07 AM on January 28, 2008


I think it's really too easy for people around here to get caught up in the game of rhetoric and argument

Over the years I've come to the conclusion that arguing on the internet is one of the most pointless activities known to mankind. I don't argue on the internet for the same reason I don't talk about politics at family gatherings: nobody ever changes their mind, and everybody finds something to get upset about.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:13 AM on January 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


arguing on the internet is one of the most pointless activities known to mankind

no it's not
posted by probablysteve at 9:16 AM on January 28, 2008 [5 favorites]


Yes it is!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:17 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey! I'm an anybody else!
posted by blue_beetle at 9:20 AM on January 28, 2008


I'm gonna miss them big ole beagle eyes. Er, I mean...
posted by Horken Bazooka at 9:21 AM on January 28, 2008


Indeed, IRFH disappeared shortly after occhi, but he's already made at least one return under one of his many aliases in order to make an easy joke. So I wouldn't be too worried about him.
posted by Partial Law at 9:26 AM on January 28, 2008


To avoid train wreck threads in the future or at least minimize the damage from them it might be nice if people spent more time thinking about their comments before posting. Obviously if people are going to be outright assholes nothing can be done but in most cases that's not the problem. The problem is that borderline comments incite stronger and stronger ones culminating in bans, flame outs, and closed accounts. These are just some ideas to meditate on.


1. Be respectful of others, especially if you don't agree with them.
I found lots of people unwilling to even take seriously arguments from people they didn't agree with. There was not enough listening and too much yelling.
2. If there is a borderline comment or even a clearly offensive one, it's your choice to flip out on the commenter or point out they are full of shit as diplomatically as possible.
Or you could even just ignore it. You can escalate the fight or turn down the heat. In many cases the commenter just used a poor choice of words and may not have realized that he/she might spark strong reactions. A big step towards toning down the strong words is giving people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the guy was trying to be dick, maybe that's his/her way of expressing himself. Why asssume the worst of everyone? Intentions do matter.



3.
Don't take potshots at other mefites.
Sure it's fun and they practically set themselves up for it sometimes but what's the point? It's part of the whole don't be a dick thing. And if you just can't resist send it privately or wait a few hours and see if you still feel the urge.
posted by euphorb at 9:27 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks Ubu.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:28 AM on January 28, 2008


Thanks.
posted by klangklangston at 9:45 AM on January 28, 2008


That's pretty gutsy, Ubu. Thanks.
posted by maudlin at 9:49 AM on January 28, 2008


Dude's got ovaries of steel.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:51 AM on January 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


*stands up, begins slow clap for ubu*


"vronsky left?"

No, I never really deserted you my child, and the times when you felt most alone Ubu... that was when I was carrying you.
posted by vronsky at 9:53 AM on January 28, 2008 [9 favorites]


Please close this before it has 1000 posts.
posted by smackfu at 10:10 AM on January 28, 2008


Thanks, Ubu. I spent hours yesterday reading that massive boobies thread and was really feeling pretty disenchanted with this place - contemplating pushing The Button and everything. Your note and the comments in this thread are much appreciated.
posted by GrammarMoses at 10:10 AM on January 28, 2008


Thanks, Ubu. That was brave and much appreciated.

I've been thinking, lately, that I'm a bit too obsessed with politeness. One of the rudest things one can do, in my book, is to not accept an apology gracefully. Over the years, I've had several fights with people over this. They usually take this form:

Me: [accidently does something minor but rude, like stepping on someone's foot.]

Other Person: Ow! You stepped on my foot!

Me: Oh, I'm so sorry. Are you okay?

Other Person: Yes, I'm okay, but you should look where you're going.

Me: You're right. I'm very sorry. I'll try to be more careful in the future.

Other Person: That's right! I should be able to walk down the street without getting my foot stepped on.

Me: [getting a little bit angry] I said I was sorry.

Other Person: Don't be sorry. Just don't do it in the future. Have a little consideration.

Me: You know, I'm starting not to feel sorry, now. I was sorry that I hurt you, but I apologized, and apparently you don't have the grace to accept an apology. What's up with that?

Other Person: What's up with that is that you stepped on my foot. You weren't looking where you were going, and...

At this point, I usually lose it and start yelling. I'm trying hard to stop. Even reading over that dialog, I start to get angry and feel like I'm in the right. But I need to learn that even if people SHOULD accept apologies (when you haven't killed their mother, or something), it's pretty natural and human to not be able to let go of anger right away. So I think I'm expecting too much. And when I escalate things, but bringing up the fact that the other person was rude to not accept my apology, all I'm doing is plunging into a big argument -- which is never what I want.

I wish there were more people who had the guts to apologize.

I wish there were more people who had the grace to accept apologies.

I wish I didn't get so bent-out-of-shape when people fail to do either of the above.

I wish people would act more like people, and less like male gorillas, vying for dominance and refusing to ever lose face.
posted by grumblebee at 10:22 AM on January 28, 2008 [7 favorites]


Hey.... calling yourself out is my schtick. Hands off!

Seriously, the reason I posted the link is that some people gave me some good advice that I should follow more often than I do. You may be able to take something away from it, UbuRoivas.

But please, don't look to me as an example. Calling out Mathowie is *never* a good idea.
posted by Doohickie at 10:28 AM on January 28, 2008


Yeah, the sexism threads pretty much suck. I was in one of them once, and never will be again. Don't get me wrong, people have raised valid points on both sides, but the amount of bad vibes that get stirred up just make the whole thing not-worthwhile.

Your opinion, your choice. But, as a woman, this boyzone thread is one of the best conversations I've ever had on Metafilter. I think maybe folks went into the recent thread thinking/hoping it would be like that one, but it wasn't.

I wish occhiblu and and thehmsbeagle and zebra3 would return, because they so often expressed (very valuable, to me) points of view that many others here were feeling but could not or did not articulate. I think it is pretty awful that a few trolls with pointy sticks and (for occhiblu and hms) a lot less time and effort invested in the site ultimately drove them off by being boorish. And I feel complicit in driving them off by not being around to help them out and defend their point of view in my own small way in that thread. So many times I have let them speak for me, and the pool of people who have the intelligence, energy and time to make their points keep dwindling. I don't know. I had thought from that other thread that things would be getting better, but the loss of these voices makes that less possible.

Is it because Metatalk is historically almost by definition uncivil? The difference in the sexism thread I linked from other recent ones was I think the mostly polite level of discourse, largely created I think by LobsterMitten and to some degree occhiblu. I'm not willing to believe that we can't have these discussions anymore, but I agree that they don't go well when we don't listen and try to respect each other.

Ubu, fwiw, I certainly did not count you as a troll in the recent thread, though I think this thread was a nice gesture.
posted by onlyconnect at 10:32 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Even reading over that dialog, I start to get angry and feel like I'm in the right.

Whatever. You stepped on my foot.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:36 AM on January 28, 2008


What we need is a site-wide ban on the words "douche", "douchebag", and "douche nozzle" when used as pejoratives. Using those words as insults was more sexist that anything else in that thread.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:37 AM on January 28, 2008


a site-wide ban on the words "douche", "douchebag", and "douche nozzle"


Oooh..umm...yeah. I can't get behind this.
posted by vito90 at 10:42 AM on January 28, 2008


You are such a d0uch3.
posted by smackfu at 10:46 AM on January 28, 2008


Yay, UbuRoivas - your apology is a nice and much appreciated gesture. Good on you!
posted by madamjujujive at 10:49 AM on January 28, 2008


Good for you, Ubu; you make me realize how dissatisfied I am with my own performance around here.

Though I must say that if you've ever said anything clicheed, dull, or pedestrian on Metafilter, I missed it.
posted by jamjam at 10:59 AM on January 28, 2008


Thanks, Ubu, what a great gesture. I agree with Afroblanco, though, that these threads do more harm than good. Maybe it's better that I know exactly where I stand as a female with what seems like a whole lot of the people on this site, but it sure makes it an incredibly unattractive place to hang out. I've learned to deal with a subtle undercurrent of sexism pretty much everywhere without it getting to me often; the shit that's been going on in those threads is completely demoralizing. I don't have to go into a huge room with people screaming shit at me and demonstrating how far we haven't come, and I'm just going to stay the hell out of those threads from now on. They make me want to never come back here, despite all the great things I've gotten out of reading the site for so long.
posted by doubtful_guest at 10:59 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I second euphorb's comments above - it seems like some people get a lot of mileage out of being as snarky and snappy as possible, and while it might make them feel great, it tends to drag threads down as people try to out-insult, out-argue and out-snark each other. It's amazingly infantile for what seems like a pretty smart group of people.
posted by canine epigram at 11:06 AM on January 28, 2008


repeating myself from a thread long ago:

"Douche" is totally a great, non-misogynist epithet, because it's a yucky, scummy, embarrassing item NO WOMAN NEEDED IN THE FIRST PLACE.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:06 AM on January 28, 2008 [6 favorites]


Has anyone looked at how many people are actually actively participating in those megathreads? Under 50 total maybe. And how many men are being sexist? Single digits. And then their behaviour is used to paint all of Metafilter. With $5 signups, you can't keep all the jerks out. Is there any solution?
posted by smackfu at 11:09 AM on January 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


It just means shower en français.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:22 AM on January 28, 2008


Your opinion, your choice. But, as a woman, this boyzone thread is one of the best conversations I've ever had on Metafilter. I think maybe folks went into the recent thread thinking/hoping it would be like that one, but it wasn't.

And don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that gender/sexism issues aren't important or shouldn't be discussed. I just don't think that MeTa is the best place for these discussions.

I mean, we've all gotten used to MeTa being sort of a pressure-release valve for the MeFi sites. And this can be good, because we all need that from time to time. But I think we should look to what I see as being MeTa's raison d' tere - a self-policing mechanism for the site.

Now, I can't claim to have followed all of the boyzonefilter threads, but the four that immediately leap to mind represent some of the worst plate-of-beans-overthinking that this site has to offer. Case in point :

Do we need a racism/sexism/offensive flag?
What we're arguing about here is a single line of text in the "flags" listbox. This did not represent a major change to any part of the site.

Should we remove a single line from the [more inside] part of someone's FPP that mentions the OP having a "geek crush?"
Once again, people, we were arguing about a SINGLE LINE OF TEXT IN A SINGLE FPP.

Don't you think this AskMe about boobies was offensive?
See also : Do you think it's fair that my street harassment FPP was deleted?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this why we have admins? To settle questions like this? Don't they make judgement calls about this sort of thing all the time?

Any of these issues could have been settled by a brief discussion limited only to the matter at hand, followed by the three admins weighing in with their opinion, followed by a swift judgment call. And then THAT'S IT. Close the thread, return to your regularly scheduled program.

All of these threads had over 1000 comments, and contained a completely unnecessary amount of bitter argument.

Once again, I'm not saying that sexism isn't a problem, or that it shouldn't be discussed. I just don't think that MeTa is the place to do it. I don't think that anything is going to be settled, nor am I really sure what people are trying to settle in the first place. To all the stakeholders - what exactly are you trying to accomplish? Do you think that having an acrimonious discussion on MeTa is really an effective way of achieving your objective? Because, if you do, I wish you the best of luck, because I reckon that you'll need it.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:25 AM on January 28, 2008


and re your comment in the boobs thread -- "i wonder whether people who commit virtual suicide like that return to lurk on the thread, like ghosts at their own funerals?"

You bet your sweet ass I did!! And I took notes. I know who was naughty and who was nice.

(Me and Tom Sawyer, and Huck and Joe:)
posted by vronsky at 11:26 AM on January 28, 2008


these threads do more harm than good

I just want to speak up as one who does NOT think they do more harm than good. I'd rather see them go down and know what's what than never discuss anything related to sexism (or other sensitive topic). It's demoralizing that people have left the site over it, but it's not because of that thread, in and of itself, that they left. They were on the borderline already because of repeated experiences.

Do I think these discussions could be more productive, aboveboard, friendly? Could there be more assumption of goodwill and less polarizing rhetoric? Without a doubt. But these threads serve an important basic purpose of establishing community norms. It is a shame that some people left, or are taking a break. But I'm glad they spoke up. Some may leave visibly, as a few did in that thread; but I admire what they did more than I admire people who have left the site already (or only read occasionally) because they also object to giving sexist humor a pass, but do so silently and personally, without ever saying anything that could broaden the discussion and perhaps shift the needle a bit on the prevailing norms. There are a lot of people in that latter category. We lost them long before the thread began.

I think we can handle it. Every now and then it's good to take a break. Trolling in sensitive conversations is definitely to be discouraged (and Ubu, by being public with his regret over his stance in the thread, goes a long way toward establishing that as a standard). Commenting with the greatest possible calmness and fairness is definitely to be encouraged. In recent discussions, some of that didn't happen. But I would have to see something far more repulsive before I would say "We must never speak of these things again." We can handle hard discussions, especially if we do so with a little more grace.
posted by Miko at 11:27 AM on January 28, 2008 [10 favorites]


As I've said before, I've stopped using "douche" and "douchebag" as pejoratives because they seemed so popular as pejoratives in the douche and douchebag community. I've been using "schmucko" a lot.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:32 AM on January 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


C'mere, you big lug. I'm sorry, too, for wanting half the commenters in that thread run down in the streets. No hard feelings?
posted by octobersurprise at 11:33 AM on January 28, 2008


Now, I can't claim to have followed all of the boyzonefilter threads, but the four that immediately leap to mind represent some of the worst plate-of-beans-overthinking that this site has to offer.

It's clear you didn't follow them, because you misrepresented the subjects of all posts you mentioned. The posts you describe could have been easily decided by an admin, but there were no posts on those subjects.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:36 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


It just means shower en français.

Please leave my français out of this.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:37 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying that sexism isn't a problem, or that it shouldn't be discussed. I just don't think that MeTa is the place to do it.

But do you have an alternative in mind? I agree that the issues need to get discussed, but there's not really any other place to do so, inasmuch as overarchingpolicydiscussions.metafilter.com does not exist.
posted by whir at 11:42 AM on January 28, 2008


Trolling in sensitive conversations is definitely to be discouraged

It doesn't help that no one ever ignores the trolls in that type of thread. They respond and go back-and-forth and get so worked up that they quit the site.
posted by smackfu at 11:43 AM on January 28, 2008


That's because the trolling seems to be accepted with silence or even with egging-on by others. It seems to be an indication that the troll's point of view is well supported.
posted by Miko at 11:46 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think now would a good time for everyone to go outside.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:46 AM on January 28, 2008


There are a lot of other people who should be following Ubu's example here. Sexism threads really do bring out the jerks.
posted by mediareport at 11:48 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Has anyone looked at how many people are actually actively participating in those megathreads? Under 50 total maybe. And how many men are being sexist? Single digits. And then their behaviour is used to paint all of Metafilter.

1. There are a lot of people who mostly lurk on MeTa threads. Myself included.

2. Judging by the excessive amount of favoriting (upwards of 40 or 50 sometimes), it's obviously not just the people actively participating who are weighing in during these threads.

3. Yeah, some of the more offensive comments came from a small group of people. But also at hand here is the pattern. And that is something that effects the entrity of Metafilter. Just looking at the way people are treated when they try to bring up issues of sexism (not just comments like "you're crazy" but comments like "why must we talk about this?") is evidence enough that it's not just a few individuals who are making the space uncomfortable for some - it's a general unwillingness and friction, on the part of the community, with addressing these issues. Which aren't just isolated events, but rather a boy-zone.

Thanks for apologizing. It's nice to see such a sincere gesture, and such a sincere effort made to address the community fracturing that just went down.
posted by lunit at 11:57 AM on January 28, 2008


*opens a window to let the sweet scent of the Junction waft in*

That's the best I can do for now, Brandon -- I'm chained to this desk.
posted by maudlin at 11:58 AM on January 28, 2008


Political Art Music Drug Sexism threads really do bring out the jerks.

Indeed.
posted by prostyle at 12:00 PM on January 28, 2008


Any of these issues could have been settled by a brief discussion limited only to the matter at hand, followed by the three admins weighing in with their opinion, followed by a swift judgment call. And then THAT'S IT. Close the thread, return to your regularly scheduled program.

I think we would have had a major loss if that had been done in the thread I linked to, where the value for me was more about the journey than the destination.

some of the worst plate-of-beans-overthinking that this site has to offer

For me one of these threads was the best conversation I've ever had on the Internet. It really brings me down to hear hear it marginalized like that, but I get that everyone experiences things differently.

I understand that the recent trend in thread closing comes from a desire to protect members from each other's worse urges, and maybe it's the right thing to do in conversations that have really broken down. But like Miko I think it would be a much bigger loss if we decided these conversations were just too hard, because for me they are still worth it.
posted by onlyconnect at 12:00 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I really don't know how you bridge the gap between:

a) best thing ever discussed on Metafilter.
b) worst part of Metafilter, doesn't belong, pointless.
posted by smackfu at 12:08 PM on January 28, 2008


(I mean, that's a fundamental disconnect between people on this site.)
posted by smackfu at 12:09 PM on January 28, 2008


Just looking at the way people are treated when they try to bring up issues of sexism (not just comments like "you're crazy" but comments like "why must we talk about this?") is evidence enough that it's not just a few individuals who are making the space uncomfortable for some

All apologies if I've offended you.

This is where I'm coming from - I just don't think that discussing the battle of the sexes is the apotheosis of all human interaction. I think that 99% of the discussion on MeFi is more interesting, and less likely to cause people to leave.

When I see people leaving or becoming disgusted because of one type of MeTa discussion, I start to think that something is broken. Do we really think that these discussions are so worthwhile that it justifies all the infighting? Personally, I think not.

Now, we can wring our hands and ask, "why can't we all just get along?" but I don't think that's going to get us anywhere. Yes, it would be nice if people didn't feed the trolls. It would be nice if non-verbal communication carried over the internet. It would be nice if people didn't always demonize their opposition. But I'm not going to hold my breath. And the sad fact of the matter is that some subjects are worse for this sort of thing than others.

I think that sexism is real and that it needs to be dealt with. However, I think that it should be dealt with quietly, by the admins, on a case-by-case basis. Some text somewhere on the site (in the join form?) warning people about this may be nice, as well. But these arguments just aren't necessary.

If you want to argue about sexism or feminism or whatever, there are a million places on the web that are dedicated to this very subject.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:12 PM on January 28, 2008


Now, I can't claim to have followed all of the boyzonefilter threads, but the four that immediately leap to mind represent some of the worst plate-of-beans-overthinking that this site has to offer.

You are hereby excused from ever reading another one. I mentioned this in another thread where you were making a similar argument Afroblanco -- and I'm not trying to paint you as "part of the problem" here, I'm pretty sure I know your heart is true -- but the fact that people try to brush this under the rug as if it's no big deal sort of helps point out that it is a big deal, in a weird way. You don't think so and that's totally fine. However, do you just dismiss people who think it's a topic worth discussing and not just handled by admin fiat? If you think a wide swath of people, women and men, are overreacting to this, it sort of implies that you think you have the power or authority to set what is and isn't important. That's not really accurate or fair, to me.

While I thought the last thread was full of people who could have behaved better -- male and female, Ubu didn't even make my personal list -- there are clearly people who think there is still stuff to say about this topic. So, because bits and bytes are cheap, why not talk about it? I was in an airplane for a lot of the last thread and cortex and I may have missed some opportunities to maybe step in with some mod opinions or maybe to help keeps things from going so far afield, but in a community this big, it's sort of important to have a lot of points of view and so hashing this stuff out has much more value to the site than me just saying "that thread sucked, I deleted it and I'll close this MeTa thread as well"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:18 PM on January 28, 2008 [9 favorites]


MeTa is the place to discuss these kinds of things. The problem is some people's behavior here, but I'm not sure what if anything could improve that, since MeTa has other purposes that are also good and that would be compromised if things were more constrained here.

I found the boobs thread really aggravating and stopped reading early on. I recently went back to it and found that there are some good points mixed in with the asshattery. I'm disappointed that a few people upset by the issues raised there left, because they're the kind of people MeFi needs.

UbuRoivas-- some of your comments in that thread did stand out as needlessly antagonistic. You certainly weren't alone in that, and the thread definitely started off badly, but major props for apologizing for your contribution to it.
posted by Tehanu at 12:19 PM on January 28, 2008


Perhaps if the number of flags an offensive post got were displayed for the edification of the OP there would be less need for dissenting comments leading to possible snark fests. The number of favorites is displayed; would it not be fair to display the flags?
posted by Cranberry at 12:20 PM on January 28, 2008


I digg that.
posted by smackfu at 12:22 PM on January 28, 2008


Perhaps if the number of flags an offensive post got were displayed for the edification of the OP there would be less need for dissenting comments leading to possible snark fests. The number of favorites is displayed; would it not be fair to display the flags?

Yikes, no. The invisibility of flags has been a built-in assumption since day one; they're a very useful tool for guiding our admin eyes, but they were never intended as a direct feedback mechanism. As it is, bad flagging—whether it's griefing or just plain misapplication of the system—is something that has no visibility to or negative impact on any normal part of the site, and that's a good thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:27 PM on January 28, 2008


Afroblanco - You didn't offend me. I guess maybe that came across wrong.

The reason I say that it's a pattern, and not just a few isolated jerks, is that it comes up subtly all the time. When people try to draw attention to it, comments like "I don't think we should be discussing this" are not offensive, persay, but they do perpetuate the status quo - which, in my mind, is that of a boyzone.
posted by lunit at 12:28 PM on January 28, 2008


Commendable Ubu.

The mammorial thread was very different from the previous marathon sexism threads and shouldn't be associated with them in the larger ongoing general discussion.

These things are never linear in nature. Just because a discussion may start with a throaway sexist comment doesn't mean that in retrospect that the whole discussion ought to be viewed as having been redundant which a quick delete could have prevented.

People are so often quick to argue at the margins, question the % of users involved (implying unrepresentative results), dismiss as inconsequential claims of sexism because they personally don't agree with that label, throw their hands up in melodramatic exasperation because they think it's a topic that's not worthy of continuing or repeating or repeating, despair for the future of mefi now that the zealous feminists are exerting control, demonstrate categorically over and over that they are unable to view things from anybody else's point of view and we wonder how these things spiral out to >1000 comments. Ha!
posted by peacay at 12:28 PM on January 28, 2008


I really don't know how you bridge the gap between:

a) best thing ever discussed on Metafilter.**
b) worst part of Metafilter, doesn't belong, pointless.

(I mean, that's a fundamental disconnect between people on this site.)


Easy. Person A continues to participate in these threads, and Person B does not.

** Actually, I said best conversation I'd ever had on the Internet, but close enough.
posted by onlyconnect at 12:29 PM on January 28, 2008


Christ, people are dropping off like flies. I don't think the Kamikaze button was a good idea.
posted by Devils Slide at 12:31 PM on January 28, 2008


Perhaps if the number of flags an offensive post got were displayed for the edification of the OP there would be less need for dissenting comments leading to possible snark fests.

Dammit Cortex or Jessamyn, since that comment got so many flags why didn't you delete it?! Clearly you're on their side and I'm disappointed in you!!!

That's a mild example of what would happen.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:31 PM on January 28, 2008


However, do you just dismiss people who think it's a topic worth discussing and not just handled by admin fiat? If you think a wide swath of people, women and men, are overreacting to this, it sort of implies that you think you have the power or authority to set what is and isn't important. That's not really accurate or fair, to me.

I wasn't trying to brush anything under the rug.

It just bothers me to see people leave the community over stuff like this.

Case in point - maybe I (or others) wouldn't have agreed with thehmsbeagle about gender issues. But maybe she would have had something interesting to say in a MeFi thread about a badass photo gallery somebody posted. Or maybe she would have had some good advice in an AskMe thread about finding a good building contractor in Savhannah, Georgia. We'll never know because she's gone.

My point is that sometimes it may be good to avoid certain kinds of discussions for the good of the community.

And I guess what gets me the most about the sexism discussions is that there's really no end in sight. We'll probably have one of these discussions every few weeks, and people will continue to leave, get disgusted, etc. Why? Because this is a big issue with no clear resolution, and it's something that people like to get mad about.

Anyway, my main point is that I think these discussions lead to more harm then good. But maybe you think things will improve? I guess that's your call. It is, after all, more your site than it is mine.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:35 PM on January 28, 2008


I meant Hari-Kiri, since they're not taking anyone else with them.
posted by Devils Slide at 12:36 PM on January 28, 2008


I would argue that _not_ addressing it directly, when it's clearly something bothering so many people, would be causing more harm than good. Just because we're not talking about it, doesn't mean it's not there.

I mean - I'm new, so I could be wrong - but isn't that basically how MetaFilter was for so long? Before there were a sizable number of women? Just sayin'
posted by lunit at 12:41 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


The pall cast over the sexism discussion for me by the departures its incited is so, so sad. My notions of community are naive, and hardening.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:48 PM on January 28, 2008


It's late here. I'm gonna take a douche.
posted by jouke at 12:48 PM on January 28, 2008


It just bothers me to see people leave the community over stuff like this.

They don't leave because someone started a discussion. They leave because of what goes on during the discussion- the rudeness and the I-don't-see-what-the-problem-is, you-weak-fragile-flower dismissiveness can really be incredible. If you want to help prevent people from leaving, wade in and encourage people to play fair. You don't have to agree with everyone to make a positive contribution to a conversation. Several high-profile members have already done so (I'm thinking of languagehat specifically, but there are others). The cat is already out of the bag, so I don't think we can just avoid the subject at this point.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:49 PM on January 28, 2008 [7 favorites]


I use my extra thick Dutch brogue to say cringe worthy things like this. Partly to amuse people and partly to cover up my real mistakes in speaking English.

And yes; in Dutch, like in French, douche means shower.

posted by jouke at 12:51 PM on January 28, 2008


The cat is already out of the bag, so I don't think we can just avoid the subject at this point.

Aren't there other subjects that we avoid for this very reason?

And if you all think you can fix the situation by some means other than avoidance, I salute you.

However, I have my doubts.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:52 PM on January 28, 2008


Aren't there other subjects that we avoid for this very reason?

I don't know, you tell me?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:54 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I thought there was a whole list of subjects that just don't go over very well.

I haven't seen and MeTa threads about abortion, the Iraq war, or Israel/Palestine recently.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:56 PM on January 28, 2008


Or declawing fat people.
posted by smackfu at 1:00 PM on January 28, 2008


The problem isn't that people leave; the problem is that, over and over, the wrong people leave. Every time we do one of these threads, there's always someone who shows their ass and makes me think, "Wow, I wish that fucking dipshit would delete himself." But that's never the person who goes. I think this is an important subject for discussion, but the cost of it really is maybe a little too high.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:02 PM on January 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


They leave because of what goes on during the discussion

Cite, please.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:02 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Those issues can be discussed here, Afroblanco, but they aren't something that happens here.
posted by Tehanu at 1:05 PM on January 28, 2008


Yes it should absolutely be addressed, but the threads discussing it go even worse than some of the political threads, or lolxians, or any of the other topics that just really don't ever go well. I guess because it's metatalk it's a different beast, but I see it as a fundamental difference in beliefs that we aren't going to come to agreement on, just like liberals vs conservatives, atheists vs religious, etc. I don't want to sweep anything under the rug. Sexism should be handled like any other patently offensive comment: deletion by mods. If people want to keep discussing it, that's fine, I'll avoid those threads. I just doubt anyone's going to have an epiphany and go "sweaterpuppies isn't wordplay, it's blatant sexism!"
posted by doubtful_guest at 1:06 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Or declawing fat people.

*hisses*
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:07 PM on January 28, 2008


(apologies to cortex, who I think made that comment... I don't have a problem with you and I don't want to start a whole thing about what I thought was a really lame justification. That's when I left the thread and it was the thing that stuck in my head.)
posted by doubtful_guest at 1:11 PM on January 28, 2008


(No sweat. It was obviously a heck of a sticking point.)
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:21 PM on January 28, 2008


sometimes it may be good to avoid certain kinds of discussions for the good of the community

Well, I think the problem with that is that for the people who do see boyzone tendencies in metafilter, the perceived problems are there regardless of whether any discussions about them exist. A whole bunch of users delurked in the original sexism threads to make it known that they did feel this way, and most of the time they didn't say anything about it because they didn't want to deal with the flack. So if we take that at face value, and we don't want all of those members to either a) suck it up and deal with boyzone comments or b) give up on the site altogether, the problem needs to be addressed. And the only way to address it, really, is through discussion.

I completely see the point about the train-wreck nature of these threads being demonstrably bad for the community overall, but I think that's more of an argument for (somehow) making the threads better, not for not having them at all. (I wish I had a good idea about how to go about that.)
posted by whir at 1:22 PM on January 28, 2008 [6 favorites]


What whir said. I'm always grateful when someone else (like thehmsbeagle) brings up something that bothers me but I'm too lazy to complain about, because I know it'll turn into a shitstorm.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:26 PM on January 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Afroblanco, I can't help but feel that your opinion here in inextricably linked to your view that you don't really think sexism is a problem on Metafilter and that some of the recent threads have made mountains out of molehills. Occhiblu and thehmsbeagle did not feel that way. We may be sad that we will no longer benefit from their contributions in other types of threads, but the way to bring back their voices, or similar voices, is not to go back to a state of willful obtuseness about the boyzone issue, but to make the site a place where feminist (or, frankly, just female) concerns are more tolerated.
posted by onlyconnect at 1:30 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Those are great threads, but I'm still upset about the people we lost.

Sexism threads, the real cause of Colony Collapse Disorder.
posted by jamjam at 1:31 PM on January 28, 2008


Let me fix this:

There are a lot of other people who should be following Ubu's example here. Sexism threads really do bring out the jerks jerky sides of many of us.

I think what happens is this: Due to a lack of honest communication*, people ascribe the worst motives to those on the other side of the argument. Once the asshatting starts, it gets hard to just sit back and take the ad hominem abuse. We strike back in kind, and suddenly it's the Israelis and Palestinians all over again.

*Lack of honest communication = It isn't just that people are on opposite sides of the issue, it's that people choose to not even try to understand the other side's argument (even if it's to take it only as far as, she has different views of this because she's a girl and has had experiences from a perspective that I will never understand and that doesn't make her evil).

And when someone makes an ill-advised post and is challenged by the other side to defend it, it's almost an invitation to escalate. If a person chooses not to reply to such an invitation, they may be taunted by the hive mob. Sometimes I realize, after making a comment, that it really was a little over the line and I shouldn't have said it. I have three choices- to jump into the asshat pool and defend my honor, to ignore the taunts and be dishonored, or to apologize for making the remark, which is akin to losing. The most correct and polite course is the third. If you try that in the middle of a charged MeTa thread though, you can be eaten alive. Ubu tried it in this thread, a couple days later, and cooler heads have prevailed.
posted by Doohickie at 1:34 PM on January 28, 2008


They don't leave because someone started a discussion. They leave because of what goes on during the discussion

Cite please

No one who has left because of a sexism thread has left at the beginning of the thread.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:44 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


onlyconnect - I think its bad form for you to bring in another thread, but if you insist....

Afroblanco, I can't help but feel that your opinion here in inextricably linked to your view that you don't really think sexism is a problem on Metafilter and that some of the recent threads have made mountains out of molehills.


Bad and inaccurate paraphrase. Let's look at my actual comment :

And yes, I will say that making a big deal about trivial stuff like this really does detract from the overall struggle against sexism.

I stand by this. The thread that you linked to was a discussion of a single silly line in somebody's FPP. And I do think it was a trivial thing to base such a long and bitter discussion on. If the line from the FPP was that offensive, it could have easily been excised by an admin, as I stated earlier in this thread.

And to be honest, I really see very little honest-to-god sexism on MeFi. Most of the stuff that I've found offensive is stuff that would be offensive to any gender.

And I'll stand by this, as well. MeFi is far from a sexist community. And, in fact, I've seen plenty more offensive things on MeFi that had nothing at all to do with sexism. But, in most cases, it's something that can be "flagged and then moved on" without necessitating a 500+ comment thread.

And it's starting to feel like this is getting personal, onlyconnect. If you want to continue this, please send an email.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:45 PM on January 28, 2008


No one who has left because of a sexism thread has left at the beginning of the thread.

thehmsbeagle announced in the second sentence of the original post that she was leaving, and yet, everyone was shocked when she actually left.
posted by Dave Faris at 1:48 PM on January 28, 2008


Actually, I retract that. I interpreted "my bat signal is going off" as her saying she was checking out, and I realize it has other interpretations.
posted by Dave Faris at 1:51 PM on January 28, 2008


thehmsbeagle announced in the second sentence of the original post that she was leaving

Well, my Batsignal is going off.

OMG thehmsbeagle is Batman.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:51 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Occhiblu and thehmsbeagle did not feel that way.

also EB
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:53 PM on January 28, 2008


Oh come on, TPS, you didn't know? I mean think about it: Did you ever see thehmsbeagle and Batman in a room at the same time?
posted by Doohickie at 1:56 PM on January 28, 2008


Upon further reflection, we're obviously handling this all wrong. We don't need "close account" buttons on our own profiles. What we need is for everybody to get "close account" buttons for, say, a dozen other people's profiles, selected at random. No one can see what you're holding; you can't see what anybody else is holding. I'm willing to bet the assholery would end in a flash (one way or another).
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:57 PM on January 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


The Cold War approach to community standards.
posted by Dave Faris at 1:59 PM on January 28, 2008


What we need is for everybody to get "close account" buttons for, say, a dozen other people's profiles, selected at random. No one can see what you're holding; you can't see what anybody else is holding

Oo, oo! And we could play "Go, Fish"! "Do you have Cold Chef?" "No, go fish". "::pulls Cold Chef's button out of the pile::"
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:01 PM on January 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


But that means.... asshats will have The Bomb too!!!! :O
posted by Doohickie at 2:03 PM on January 28, 2008


posted by ThePinkSuperhero Oo, oo! And we could play "Go, Fish"! "Do you have Cold Chef?" "No, go fish". "::pulls Cold Chef's button out of the pile::"

"Do you have . . . quonsar?"
"No, go pantsfish!"
"Uh oh."
posted by fandango_matt at 2:06 PM on January 28, 2008


Ubu, this is lovely. I don't at all think you were among the worst in that thread, but it's so good to see good vibes in Meta rather than bad. I am sending you the imaginary beverage of your choice.

Afroblanco, you have been saying this since the middle of the first big sexism thread. Duly noted. I think you're right that it can be done badly, but you're wrong that it's inevitable that it will go badly.

I think we can do boyzone discussions well here (I'm setting aside the more general discussion about sexism in society at large, I think the more productive area is a specific look at the tone of this site) -- but it requires very active participation by people who are willing to set a tone of no-armpit-farting-in-this-thread-please, and maintain that tone. It's tiring to be that person in a super long thread. So it depends on the day whether the thread will go well. Are there more har-har types around, or are there more "let's discuss this with good will" types around? That's what determines whether it goes well. The boobs thread got out of hand relatively early because of a nasty vibe that was set early on, and then a few people came in later with their armpit farting and decided this was a place they'd like to set up shop. I think that couldn't have been predicted necessarily, although the framing of the callout may have set it up in an antagonistic way, but it's basically broken windows. People who want to armpit fart will come in and set up hobo camp in threads that are already broken, whatever the topic. I think the thread could have been closed earlier than it was, but of course mods aren't here 24-h and it's always a judgment call.

BUT: How about a week of good vibes around here? I'm tired of crabby angry you're-a-jerk, no YOU're-a-jerk threads. Let's have more lighthearted, more friendly, more fun.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:06 PM on January 28, 2008 [6 favorites]


But that means.... asshats will have The Bomb too!!!! :O

If it’s not love, then it’s the bomb, the bomb, the bomb, the bomb, the bomb, the bomb, the bomb that will bring us together.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:07 PM on January 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: A few people came in with their armpit farting and decided this was a place they'd like to set up shop.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:10 PM on January 28, 2008


I'd love to see us do a little more work on breaking down assumptions that reinforce gender binarism, btw. *tosses Lobster Mitten a frisbee*
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:10 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Good vibes? OK, no one can complain about the answers to this question. Imagine how that would have gone on Yahoo Answers.
posted by smackfu at 2:10 PM on January 28, 2008


Hey TPS, I was referring more to the rest of your comment, which I failed to cite, so I apologize for the lack of clarity. We could go back and forth over it, but I'm content to let sleeping dogs lie and agree to disagree and wish you a pleasant evening.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:11 PM on January 28, 2008


Also I have to say that thehmsbeagle was fucking smart, very very smart, an excellent seriously first-rate contributor to this site. Like really fucking smart. Very many times I found myself entering a thread to comment and finding that she had already said what I wanted to say, but in a clearer and more vivid way than I would have. It is a real loss to the site that she's gone.

Occhiblu too, and IRFH as well (and for being a cut-up, very reflective on his own tone and able to dial it down when needed, which I admire). I have the sense that they are a bit more of Meefi celebrities than the beagle (maybe not true) so I don't feel the need to elaborate on their fine qualities.

posted by LobsterMitten at 2:14 PM on January 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hey TPS, I was referring more to the rest of your comment, which I failed to cite

The irony!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:15 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


*catches frisbee, fakes right, then throws left*
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:16 PM on January 28, 2008


Yeah, HMS kinda framed her post pissily and then remained pissy throughout the thread. Not saying her complaint wasn't valid (I thought it was), just that things coulda been better handled.

It's a question of tactics, of means versus goals—and I have to say that since I have comparatively little at stake (the harm done to me by retarded sexism on Metafilter is considerably more abstract), I have less incentive to be conciliatory than I might.

Question of being right versus being effective, I suppose.
posted by klangklangston at 2:52 PM on January 28, 2008


Well I hope you've learned your lesson. C'mere...

*Gives UbuRoivas a noogie*
posted by Skygazer at 3:15 PM on January 28, 2008


The only thing funnier than watching this thread devolve into the same old debate is watching AV and LobsterMitten trying to throw the frisbee to each other. They throw like a bunch of girls! Here, let me show you how it is done.

*slides up behind AV*

"See, you hold it like this. And you want to extend your arm at the follow through... Nice! See how much better that was? Now you're getting it."



(I'M KIDDING!!)
posted by vronsky at 3:24 PM on January 28, 2008


*slides up behind AV*

Welcome back, vronsky. I see you're the same as you ever were. Ooch, did you bring me something? In your pocket?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:36 PM on January 28, 2008


That's just a little thimble I carry around... for sewing emergencies.
posted by vronsky at 3:39 PM on January 28, 2008


It's not a frisbee, it's a shuriken. You should duck.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:42 PM on January 28, 2008


I think there are a lot of people on Metafilter who are either mildly annoyed by or non-maliciously unaware of any sexism here, and these people can help each other row towards a common goal. However, there are people at either end--those who cannot admit there might be sexist attitudes here or those who see sexism everywhere, even where there probably is none--and these people aren't going to be happy with anything other than complete capitulation from either side. Get those two groups together and that's a recipe for a train wreck.

The original threads prompted me to think a bit more carefully about one-liners I drop, though sometimes my stalled-at-13 sense of humor cannot resist. But the thinking about it is a positive development from the original threads.

Some things I wish for:

1) Stop looking for personal insults in every comment from people on the other side of an issue from you. Sometimes they're there, a lot of the time they're not. Someone expressing a view that doesn't agree with yours isn't an insult in and of itself.

2) If all you're there for is to tell us how much you're drinking or repeatedly saying you couldn't care less, just put a cork in it already. Even if nothing is decided, the thread might be cathartic for other people, or give them a voice.

3) Unless you've read a thread through and understand some of the nuance, dropping in to say everyone participating should be shot or whatever isn't helping.
posted by maxwelton at 3:51 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


aw, thanks everybody!

*group hug*

(by which i mean one of those slightly awkward hugs you give girls you don't really know that well, doing all you can not to make any contact with their you-know-whats)
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:52 PM on January 28, 2008


note: Everyone needs a slightly awkward hug.
posted by Tehanu at 4:15 PM on January 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


Dude's got ovaries of steel

That's no way I'm not putting that on my profile!
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:15 PM on January 28, 2008


There's.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:20 PM on January 28, 2008


note: Everyone needs a slightly awkward hug.

Awkward because it must be approached sideways on, just in case anyone gets the impression we're trying to cop a feel.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:50 PM on January 28, 2008


I think this conversation is delicious. It’s like a big platter of food: you can pick what you like, taste it, and put it back or go onto the next tantalizing delicacy. Everyone is so diverse, and like different cuisines, there’s a gastric response for everyone. You can say “eww!” very loudly, or you can hide it in your napkin politely.

My eyeballs roll in delight at everyone’s comments, but I don’t know what to choose. Something raw, or something more delicate?

The most delicious thing is the choice, the mouthwatering anticipation, and in the end, I choose to starve. The display is simply overwhelming, and the original course presented is satisfying and hearty and fills my soul with delight
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:33 PM on January 28, 2008


note: Everyone needs a slightly awkward hug.

Damn. What platonic community this turned out to be. (I was hoping for make-up sex!)
posted by Doohickie at 7:37 PM on January 28, 2008


Make-up sex is the only valid reason for fighting, really.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:55 PM on January 28, 2008


and why do i feel hungry, all of a sudden?
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:56 PM on January 28, 2008


"Damn. What platonic community this turned out to be. (I was hoping for make-up sex!)"

I wanted to either go with a pun about regular solids or shapes on a wall, but I'm Aristotelian.
posted by klangklangston at 8:00 PM on January 28, 2008


Well, Metafilter's fratty days of LOLboobiez, pocket-rocket, and thinly-veiled-proposition jokes are certainly coming to a middle.
posted by ormondsacker at 8:19 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


And I am an Aristophanian, so I bow to your solids. At a distance.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:31 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


+1 to ormondsacker for the loose Whedonesque reference. Would favorite again.
posted by cgc373 at 10:53 PM on January 28, 2008


aww Ubu, what a delightful surprise that you posted this apology. I respect you for it and forgive you. I think your courage in doing so helped contribute to this thread being civil and warm.

If occhiblu, thehms and zebra3 are reading this I hope you reconsider. Please, do share here again. I will really miss you and was very saddened when you left.

Thank you Jessamyn for being an admin. I deeply appreciate your presence here. Your, cortex's and Matt's transparency has been excellent.

Thank you to the guys who have piped up against sexism here and in other threads. It's really appreciated. A special shout out to klangklangston and peacay.

Thank you Miko and LobsterMitten for your wonderful contributions in the sexism discussions.

MetaFilter was once for geeks by geeks. As the web population changed over the last 9 years to include people of all professions, ages, genders, social preferences, MetaFilter also adapted and I think a more balanced social tone reflects that. It's a lot less misogynistic here than it used to be and I think the threads in which sexism is discussed, the recent sexism flag option have directly contributed to that. It's also a more social place with profile photos, music, meetups, memail. It seems natural to be more mutually respectful.

Hard to keep an interesting, edgy gestalt on the blue without some feistiness, sometimes intensely feisty. But I think it's possible to keep that honesty, mischief, wit, fun and find a way not to be gender disrespectful. Not perfectionistic but workable.

A big hug for you Ubu.
posted by nickyskye at 1:28 AM on January 29, 2008 [6 favorites]


Ok, just read this Psychology Today article. What do you think?

Sexual harassment cases of the hostile-environment variety result from sex differences in what men and women perceive as "overly sexual" or "hostile" behavior. Many women legitimately complain that they have been subjected to abusive, intimidating, and degrading treatment by their male coworkers. Browne points out that long before women entered the labor force, men subjected each other to such abusive, intimidating, and degrading treatment.

Abuse, intimidation, and degradation are all part of men's repertoire of tactics employed in competitive situations. In other words, men are not treating women differently from men—the definition of discrimination, under which sexual harassment legally falls—but the opposite: Men harass women precisely because they are not discriminating between men and women.

posted by nickyskye at 1:35 AM on January 29, 2008


That's a very interesting quote nickyskye. That might very well be at the heart of the incessant misunderstanding in gender threads.
posted by jouke at 1:45 AM on January 29, 2008


Browne points out that long before women entered the labor force, men subjected each other to such abusive, intimidating, and degrading treatment.

That doesn't make it acceptable, though. Blue-collar jobs & the armed forces are apparently rife with hazing initiations, although this is changing. There was a big scandal a few years back in the Australian Navy with a hazing ritual called "sump up the rump", which involved new recruits being sodomised with grease guns.

The sociological angle is that these things are like initiations in tribal societies - submit to the cruel or degrading behaviour with good humour, and you'll become "one of the boys" and be left alone thereafter. Maybe. From memory, it was actually women in the navy complaining about these kinds of things that forced an inquiry into the matter, and it was clamped down upon - senior officers put the offenders into the stocks & subjected them to nipple-clamping, butt-paddling & homophobic insults.

not all of the above account is strictly true
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:32 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Strictly": Heh.
posted by cgc373 at 3:39 AM on January 29, 2008


heh. as an interesting counterpoint to the original askme, one of my colleagues at work - a Malay Muslim from Singapore - has returned from holidays, having decided to take on the Hejab.

for the time being, people are inquisitive: what prompted this decision? has she encountered any hostility in the community? etc, whereas i decided not to make any kind of fuss over it. she's still the same person, only wearing headscarves now. but it's that whole awkwardness thing again, whereby you're almost making more of a fuss by trying not to make a fuss.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:43 AM on January 29, 2008


Whoah, I don't peek into MeTa for a day or two, and everything goes awry. Ubu, owing someone an apology... what the fuck? I mean, seriously--of all the people I've known for this short span of time, he's been one of the least likely to offend anyone, at least in my opinion. He's always had something witty to say, or something that was well thought out, and he even helped me out with the book that I wanted to give John. In fact, the clincher for me was that Ubu himself was actually recommending it--so I had to get it.

Plus, the guy's like a doctor right. Those motherfuckers can do nothing wrong!
posted by hadjiboy at 4:07 AM on January 29, 2008


Ubu, love ya man... take it easy:)
posted by hadjiboy at 4:10 AM on January 29, 2008


I'm no bhenchod doctor! a non-practicing lawyer, perhaps. (this means i can do nothing wrong. well, not professionally, anyway)
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:20 AM on January 29, 2008


d'aw, thanks hadjiboy! :) <--note rare usage of taboo smiley!
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:21 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


(actually, know what? maybe if we used smileys & winkys here, there probably wouldn't be as many trainwrecks. just sayin', becoz i've never quite understood why they're just not part of how people communicate here, but their absence means that jokier comments are more likely to be misread)
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:23 AM on January 29, 2008


Smileys treat the symptom, not the cause; if being incautious in your choice of words can be deflated/excused by appending a bad drawing of a face, there is no social pressure to improve the words themselves. Folks could as soon drop a "j/k" after every barb or vicious joke.

Smileys as rarities have some modulating influence on comment tone. In force, they're just lazy punctuation, and excuse to not try harder to make ourselves understood with the words we type.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:03 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I disagree cortex--sometimes they're a very true expression of how the person is feeling, and wants to show it through something other than words.
I like Ubu, and when I was typing that line for him, I had a smile on my face, so I translated that onto the screen. Just like I would a winking smiley, if I were telling a joke--cos it would be something that I would be doing in real life as well.
I guess it just seems more human sometimes to use a face along with the words...
posted by hadjiboy at 7:41 AM on January 29, 2008


I mean - I'm new, so I could be wrong - but isn't that basically how MetaFilter was for so long? Before there were a sizable number of women?

Yes, it was, and despite the unpleasant aspects of the anguished and interminable discussions we've been having, it's been getting better. The very fact that we can have those discussions in a reasonably productive way now is a huge improvement, as are comments like maxwelton's:

The original threads prompted me to think a bit more carefully about one-liners I drop, though sometimes my stalled-at-13 sense of humor cannot resist. But the thinking about it is a positive development from the original threads.


But the people who have left are terrible losses. I don't have thehmsbeagle's e-mail, so I can't tell her directly, but if anyone is corresponding with her, please tell her LH misses her and wants her back!
posted by languagehat at 8:02 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I disagree cortex--sometimes they're a very true expression of how the person is feeling, and wants to show it through something other than words.

I don't think we even disagree. I'm not saying emoticons are useless; I think they can, as I said, have a useful (if kind of brute-force) effect on the tone of a tricky comment when used sparingly. I see one every once in a while around here and don't think too much about it, because it's every once in a while.

But when the smiley starts taking up the frequency of paragraph breaks or full-stops, it quits being that rare-and-meaningful token and starts just being line noise. That's what I don't like, and what I think a lot of people have gotten tired of after years of exposure to willy-nilly, escalating emoticon use on a lot of the net.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:42 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I disagree cortex--sometimes they're a very true expression of how the person is feeling, and wants to show it through something other than words.

Agreed, most of our daily communication is sub-verbal (body language, inflection, etc.) and all of that is unavailable in written communication, so sometimes the author's intent is unclear -- especially in conversational threads such as these. (as opposed to journalistic offerings, articles, novels, etc., where there's more time and opportunity to author a precise written message)

On topic: I read the "boob" thread after the fact and hate that I missed it. And while some folks were ill-behaved, I don't think ubu one of 'em. I really wish the folks who left would return, as I learned a lot from their input. I think the whole issue is a symptom of the whole "human nature / lizard brain / how things really are" vs. "how things ought to be" conflict, and I'd love to explore that area further with the help of the amazing variety of perpectives that mefi offers. Unfortunately, we just lost some of the more cogent perspectives, and this community is poorer for it. :(
posted by LordSludge at 8:59 AM on January 29, 2008


Maybe it's a good thing I only post once in a while, eh, cortex? ;-)
posted by Doohickie at 9:00 AM on January 29, 2008


fwiw, I don't think it would really help to see: I'd hit it. :P
posted by onlyconnect at 9:39 AM on January 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


How about we all just agree that the next time we're about to over-react about something; the next time we're about to take something the wrong way; the next time that we're about to rush off here to Metatalk and post a page-long, incensed scree about the terrible, terrible insult that we've been injured by, and that the terrible, terrible so-and-so wrote --- if we just pretend that there's a little hidden ":)" at the end. And then everything will be A.O.K. for everyone, everywhere.
posted by Dave Faris at 10:43 AM on January 29, 2008


PonyRequest: Append a little ":)" to the end of every comment.

I can see it now....:

Over 4,000 people killed by earthquake in Atlanta, GA.
posted by LordSludge (1 comment total) [add to favorites] [!] 2 users marked this as a favorite
My goodness, how awful! :)
posted by SuperFly at 1:48 PM on January 29 [+] [!]

My dog was killed. Also my cat. :)
posted by TacosAllTheWayDown at 1:48 PM on January 29 [+] [!]
posted by LordSludge at 11:06 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't have thehmsbeagle's e-mail, so I can't tell her directly, but if anyone is corresponding with her, please tell her LH misses her and wants her back!

Sign me on the bottom of that letter too. She is a great role model for thoughtful, considerate posting, and while I don't mean to lionize her, I think this site was better for her presence.
posted by pineapple at 11:50 AM on January 29, 2008


Heath Ledger found dead in Manhattan apartment.
posted by waraw at 7:57 AM - 472 comments

. :)

posted by LordSludge at 5:06 AM on January 30

posted by UbuRoivas at 12:13 PM on January 29, 2008


If she were to come back, I'd prefer that it was without inflammatory callouts.
posted by NortonDC at 12:18 PM on January 29, 2008


Well, as long as we're making wishes, I'd prefer we never had callouts of the "I'm not mad that my particular post/comment got deleted; I just want to address the overall pattern of abusive moderating from which we all need to be saved" variety.

But I guess since we don't get to decide who stays or goes based on their quality of callout, I think I'll manage to get over thehmsbeagle's one MeTa callout (of two total) that could be conceivably described as "inflammatory."
posted by pineapple at 12:44 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


If she were to come back, I'd prefer that it was without inflammatory callouts.

Hi, honey. You know, I'd prefer to wade around the pond of Metafilter without the puerile boob jokes and references to the size of women's asses or the unique doability of a certain teenaged pole vaulter. Metafilter isn't perfect for either of us, but I will still work with you to make this a better place for everyone but the trolls. We may each have to suck it up a little.

FWIW, imagine that as a result of your above request someone called you an oversensitive fragile flower who ought to stop making a fuss about trivial things, and then rinse and repeat a dozen times. This is sometimes what it's like to talk about boyzones on Metafilter, and I suspect it's why some people have left.
posted by onlyconnect at 12:54 PM on January 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


:)
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:05 PM on January 29, 2008


:) That's an ironic smile. And I'll add an aww, Ubu's d'aw was cool too.
posted by nickyskye at 1:28 PM on January 29, 2008


Hi, honey.

SNAP!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:35 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


:(
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:38 PM on January 29, 2008


I agree with you, sweetie, except that sucking it up is pretty much the opposite of what precipitated this. MetaFilter has evolved many ways to deal with troubling comments or posts:

1) Treat it like it's just a web site. (which is pretty much sucking it up)

2) Learn to avoid threads that will trouble you.

3) Flag it.

4) MeMail the originator.

5) Email the originator.

6) Refute it, possibly in MetaTalk (especially if it's about AskMe).

7) Make inflammatory posts in MetaTalk about why other people's posts are wrong and shouldn't be tolerated.

Thehmsbeagle fanned a fire with option 7, didn't like the fire, and left.

Leaving is perfectly valid and maybe even the best thing for her, but I don't think that mooning over a departure that leaves flames in its wake is beneficial.


It really is unfortunate that the best options in that list aren't always the most attractive ones when we're feeling wronged.
posted by NortonDC at 3:04 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


7) Make inflammatory posts in MetaTalk about why other people's posts are wrong and shouldn't be tolerated.

Thehmsbeagle fanned a fire with option 7, didn't like the fire, and left.

Leaving is perfectly valid and maybe even the best thing for her, but I don't think that mooning over a departure that leaves flames in its wake is beneficial.


I'm frankly indifferent to this particular MeTa and what happened in the other (though as long as I'm posting: Bruce, you are disgusting.). I'm just observing that we could use a lot more thoughtful, considerate posters a la thehmsbeagle. I don't see how this one "inflammatory" call-out negates an entire posting history.
posted by pineapple at 3:16 PM on January 29, 2008


Well, I don't think we should suck up the big things. I advocate more of a Roomba approach over total black hole suckitude when it comes to sucking things up. Thehmsbeagle actually noted in her original post that she considered flagging and memail, but rejected them because the problem had not become just a few individual comments (although she listed a few egregious examples) but it was rather that the pervasive and accepted response that seemed to be given over and over in the thread was that ogling was fine. (Whereas to some women this would seem like harassment.) Given this is the way she read the post, I think it's a reasonable thing to start a Metatalk thread about.

And having looked at her actual post again, I think HMS actually did a fair amount of bending-over-backwards to be clear that she didn't have a problem with the original post itself seeking advice, or the well-intentioned advice of many people in the thread, but rather with the way the thread seemed to have broken down. Again, I think it's pretty normal to see MetaTalk posts about those types of threads where communication has broken down.

Was HMS's post an inflammatory big thing? I can see that it ended up being inflammatory, but I don't think HMS meant it that way, and given all the "give them the benefit of the doubt" rhetoric that usually comes into any boyzone thread, I think it could have worked out differently if folks had done the same for HMS. I actually think she was trying to be a little funny, to ward off some of the "humorless feminist" charges that I'm sure she was bracing herself for (and despite all that, it only took 7 comments in for someone to label her humorless, anyway). And when you look at the quote that she was highlighting,** was it really too much to ask that others get behind her in saying that that trespassed a social norm here instead of label that stuff hilarious and seem to get behind it? I guess it was.

Leaving is perfectly valid and maybe even the best thing for her, but I don't think that mooning over a departure that leaves flames in its wake is beneficial.

I agree with pineapple here about one post (which to me was not even egregious) weighed against a whole posting history. And on a personal note I will miss her voice here very much, because she said things that needed to be said that nobody else would say.


In other news, anyone wanna come over and have dinner with NortonDC and me? We don't have one of those super-TVs, but you'll still get quite a show!

**"Anyways, you cannot look into a woman's eyes as if she were a man. That is just preposterous. Looking at a co-worker's dairy pillows is perfectly fine as long as you're not staring like a crazed pervert. Don't make it obvious, either. And it might be a good idea to not moan or touch yourself at the same time. Also, keep from talking about the juggs." Not to start this whole debate again, but c'mon that's pretty bad.
posted by onlyconnect at 5:26 PM on January 29, 2008


beagle's post was a pretty good example of making a completely justified complaint that most people could agree with, but in the wrong way. Remember in appeared in Metatalk like this:

"
Hey, you know how I'm apparently your friendly neighborhood irrational/uptight/bitchy feminist? Well, my Batsignal is going off. 'Cause I'm bitchy/uptight/irrational/out to ruin your fun. And I don't like conversations that are all about the hilarious inevitability of adults ogling some lady's rack.
"

That set the tone right there and not in a good way. If a Meta thread starts off with a bomb, it can't be too surprising when there's an explosion.

I think it would have been better to email the admins, using the contact link at the bottom of every page. I'd done that before, with stuff that really pissed me off and they either fixed the problem or said "na, that's not a big deal". Either way I felt as if I had said my piece and moved on.

It might have been better to write the post like so:

"Over in this thread, the comments seem to be getting a bit rowdy, bordering on sexual harassment. Could we have the admins take a look at the thread and prune it, if need be? Thank you!"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:02 PM on January 29, 2008


In other news, anyone wanna come over and have dinner with NortonDC and me? We don't have one of those super-TVs, but you'll still get quite a show!

Oh man, to be a fly on that wall....
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:38 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's fair to place the blame of that trainwreck thread at thehmsbeagle's feet. It's obvious that she was offended, upset, and ired by the comments that were in the AskMe thread, and while that's never a good time to bring a complaint here, it's usually what happens. Even if the opening thread had been as neutral and even-handed as your example, Brandon, and we'll never know, I think it's probably a safe bet it would have gone off the rails all the same.
posted by Dave Faris at 7:53 PM on January 29, 2008


That's right, I forgot about the option sending an email to the admins.
posted by NortonDC at 8:26 PM on January 29, 2008


Meta can be a dirty old town, that's for sure.
posted by vronsky at 8:36 PM on January 29, 2008


Although it also can be like Prospero's island... full of noises, sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not. Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments...
posted by vronsky at 9:59 PM on January 29, 2008



I don't think it's fair to place the blame of that trainwreck thread at thehmsbeagle's feet.


Think of it less as blame and more as "this would have had a better shot at getting your objections met without making you as angry."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:48 AM on January 30, 2008


I think that blaming other people's bad behavior on the person who started the thread is dishonest, and serves mostly as an implicit justification of the sexism, trolling, and other nastiness evidenced within.

Even if her thread was as inflammatory as you suggest (which it wasn't), the people posting within it are (mostly) adults and had a choice as to whether to act like reasonable, kind, and thoughtful people, or like the opposite. So don't go blaming the nastiness on HMS, any more than it was the fault of the asker in the sweater-puppies AskMe that the question attraction so many juvenile responses.

Which brings me to the reason for this thread -- I think it was really brave and wonderful for Ubu to say sorry. Most of us don't do so nearly as often as we should. Yes, these are all just electrons on a screen and aren't "real," but we all know that what is said matters and feelings are certainly real.
posted by Forktine at 6:34 AM on January 30, 2008


I think that blaming other people's bad behavior on the person who started the thread is dishonest,

Think of it less as blame and more as "this would have had a better shot at getting your objections met without making you as angry."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:44 AM on January 30, 2008


Think of it less as blame and more as "this would have had a better shot at getting your objections met without making you as angry."

This is true.

If a Meta thread starts off with a bomb, it can't be too surprising when there's an explosion.

For those people who feel that the real bomb happened within the AskMe thread, it's easier to understand any fission that carried over to the MeTa.
posted by onlyconnect at 9:43 AM on January 30, 2008


"this would have had a better shot at getting your objections met without making you as angry."

You keep saying that, but I think it would have gone awry regardless. (And "objectives.")
posted by Dave Faris at 9:57 AM on January 30, 2008



For those people who feel that the real bomb happened within the AskMe thread, it's easier to understand any fission


Good point.

but I think it would have gone awry regardless.

Your objective is so noted.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:45 AM on January 30, 2008


Everyone keeps citing "fragile flower" as an example of comments that provoked some members to leave, as if they were being called "fragile flowers" for complaining about inappropriate comments. Just to get the history straight, the expression "fragile flower" was not used until after those members closed their accounts, and was an expression of feeling about their chosing to leave the site, which is a completely different and not a (specifically) gender related issue. I don't know how I feel about the comment, but I think it's important that the incident not be miswritten or misused in further discussions.

The only reason I was sad about the closing of the thread is that just about the best comment in the whole thread got made just before the end. Basically, I agree with mischa that the reason sexism threads go badly on metafilter is that they are often not about just the site, but about the wider world and people's experiences colouring their reactions, and the misunderstandings that can follow.

I don't think that Ubu should feel guilty because some other members made the choice to leave. If he feels badly about how he expressed himself, that's his choice. But (as has been said above), all I remember about his comments was that he argued as passionately about his opinion as did many people did on both sides of the issue, including some of those who chose to leave. It was their choice to leave, and it's sad, but not anyone else's fault.
posted by jb at 11:10 AM on February 2, 2008


jb: upon reflection, i think the thing for me is like this:

ok, i like to argue sometimes. it's like a game of chess or something, just flexing the rhetorical muscles against somebody. coulda been why i chose law to study, rather than medicine or engineering or everything else that was on offer.

however, even if i like arguing, i hate conflict. one is abstract, the other visceral.

i think part of the problem in the sexism threads, and others, is that part of the participants are approaching the thing from an abstract, theoretical angle, and others are talking about their lived experience. there was a heartfelt comment late in the boobies thread about having to walk home every night passed drunken rednecks yelling "show us your tits!" etc. i was like "yeh, whatever, but that has nothing to do with the theoretical angle here" when in fact that disjoint between the real experience of many, most, or all women as opposed to "hey, this is what it's all like in my head, if i reduce it to some quasi-mathematical formula" is precisely the same as the disjoint between "take this seriously, please!" and "stop overreacting to trifles!".

for me, the moral of all this is along the lines of not weighing in with intellectual arguments - in which you don't have all that much true investment - in issues which have real, ongoing, emotional impacts on people. the only possible result is that you will end up coming across as an insensitive dick, whilst offending people who never deserved to be put down, and nobody wins.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:02 AM on February 3, 2008 [7 favorites]


I'm not on board with that. That's indistinguishable from pandering and defining right and wrong by the feelings of the offended. MetaFilter is rarely at its best when it's pandering.

If you want to make inoffensiveness the final arbiter for your comments, no one's going to try to stop you, but many people will strongly disagree with the suggestion that inoffensiveness should be their primary goal.

***

In our discussions, onlyconnect helped me better express what in particular about thmsb's MeTa post was "inflammatory" or poorly handled, given the passion behind it. The biggest problem was that the "front page" part of it, her first shot at framing the discussion, was all about her. Look at it:
Hey, you know how I'm apparently your friendly neighborhood irrational/uptight/bitchy feminist? Well, my Batsignal is going off. 'Cause I'm bitchy/uptight/irrational/out to ruin your fun. And I don't like conversations that are all about the hilarious inevitability of adults ogling some lady's rack.
When a discussion is framed like that, then any dissent or disagreement is set up to look like an attack on the post's author. Fostering a discussion dynamic that can be characterized as "Agree with me or you're victimizing me" is likely to end poorly, even if you later try to soften your initial framing.
posted by NortonDC at 10:51 AM on February 3, 2008


I think what happens is that people take their experiences with those rude men on the street, and project it onto comments by other people who are not those rude men, and who (for the most part) did not say things which were as hurtful. For example, commenting that someone is pretty is a far cry from saying "Show me your breasts". It's hurtful in itself to accuse of having thoughts or intentions they do not have, to take their comments in the worst possible way, even if this is coloured by your personal experiences elsewhere. That's not to justify any equivalent metafilter comment of the "Show me your breasts" catcall - I've seen them, and made my own silent frown of disgust/rapidly losing respect for the commentator face. But I've also seen people react to much more ambiguous (or very occasionally completely innocent) comments as if someone had said "Show me your/her breasts".

And I wouldn't say that anyone has only an intellectual engagement with gender issues: all of us, whether male, female or something else, have gender to one extent or another, and these things matter to all of our lives. Your perspectives, though perhaps not as passionately engaged, are valuable, too.

I've spent a lot of time debating gender issues with my husband, and it has really opened up my eyes to be forced (by virtue of his personal experiences) to put myself into the position of a man in today's society, with all of the pressures of masculinity and expectations placed on men, which are just as restrictive and difficult sometimes as those faced by women.

Actually, I just noticed the article linked over on the main page about how men who like to play X-Box are childish, but women shopping with their friends are expressing their "emergent adulthood". Now, I might much prefer the Wii to the X-box (not a console gamer by nature) and board games to them both - but, whoa! Double standard much? (Yes, I realize it's getting called out in comments on just the same point. I love the analysis of Maxim - the magazine sounds just about as airheaded as all of the women's magazines I've seen. Great way to judge the gender.)
posted by jb at 11:02 AM on February 3, 2008


I'm not on board with that. That's indistinguishable from pandering and defining right and wrong by the feelings of the offended. MetaFilter is rarely at its best when it's pandering.

More a note of caution about wading into a debate from an ivory tower* when others are talking about something more immediate & direct to their lives.

Of course, you can't control for peoples' overreactions if they're carrying some sort of baggage that you're not aware of - eg if I asked a flippant question about fighting bears & it turned out that languagehat's mother had been killed by a grizzly - but in threads about things like sexism, rape, child abuse & so on, you'd be pretty naive to think there wouldn't be people with a lot of emotional investment in the issue.

* important safety advice: descend the tower by the staircase before commencing wading
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:42 PM on February 3, 2008


Ubu, fwiw, I think you've really nailed a main dynamic that's going on in those threads.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:56 PM on February 3, 2008


Thanks, but I'll hand that credit to misha's response to SassHat's comment.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:54 PM on February 3, 2008


misha's response that you linked, while a good one (there are lots of good points to be made about how these threads can go bad), isn't really the point you just made. The point you just made is about people who are interested in talking about abstract principles vs. people who are haevily emotionally invested and for whom the abstract-principle discussion feels dismissive.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:12 PM on February 3, 2008


"Haevily". A new made-up Irish name for American yuppies to name their kids.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:13 PM on February 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


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