Full disclosure June 10, 2008 12:47 PM   Subscribe

A few weeks ago, there was a post about two Muslims about to be deported from Britain. Today in AskMe, the poster reveals that one of the potential deportees is a friend of his. Shouldn't this have been disclosed at the time? Is it okay to make posts about your friends?
posted by grouse to Etiquette/Policy at 12:47 PM (40 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Oh, my own personal answer to the first question is "Yes, definitely." I don't know as much about the second. Although if it had been disclosed at the time, the post might have been deleted, which may explain why it was not.
posted by grouse at 12:50 PM on June 10, 2008


Yes. Not usually.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 12:52 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was thinking the same thing, but since Leibniz so freely admits to the relationship in the Ask.Me, it seems like he either didn't read or doesn't quite grasp the spirit of the guidelines. Not that that makes it OK, but it doesn't seem like he was maliciously trying to get around the rules by not disclosing the conflict of interest.
posted by Airhen at 12:53 PM on June 10, 2008


grouse -- I had the same reaction.
posted by ericb at 12:53 PM on June 10, 2008


I think this may be an exception - this is like being a friend of Maher Arar and writing about him. It's a very important case with devastating effects for academic freedom and the future of intelligent security studies, not promoting your friend's band.
posted by jb at 12:57 PM on June 10, 2008 [5 favorites]


Eponysterical. Also, I don't think there's any rule here against making posts about your friends, or disclosing that you are friends with someone about whom you posted. It's not the same thing as a self-link. It's more like posting someone else's site from Projects, which is permitted. For the record, I have made posts on Mefi about at least two people I know, and in at least one I mentioned that the subject of the post is a friend of mine. No one objected to the post.
posted by amro at 12:59 PM on June 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


What amro said.
posted by y2karl at 1:02 PM on June 10, 2008


No, you should not make posts about your friends, period. We don't want to have to figure out what your angle might or might not be, so generally speaking this is a no-no and of course I'm sure there have been exceptions in the past I'm sure, and we're not going to delete that post after the fact but we'll drop the guy a note.

I thought that post was a little iffy at the time but there was no obvious hanky-panky so we left it up. If it was clear at the time that the subject of the post was a friend of his, we would have deleted it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:03 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is kind of a gray area then, no? I mean, who defines "friend," and how?
posted by amro at 1:05 PM on June 10, 2008


I had the same reaction as grouse, too.
Yes, it's a good cause.
Yes, it's really really really important.
And yes, it undermines the trust we have in the community. It would be better to disclose the relationship in the post and risk deletion in the hopes that someone else would pick up the issue and post it.
posted by Floydd at 1:05 PM on June 10, 2008


Yes, and depends. Since it wasn't shilling for a friend's website, it seems like it should be okay.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:06 PM on June 10, 2008


Huh, shoulda hit preview.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:06 PM on June 10, 2008


Also, I don't think there's any rule here against making posts about your friends, or disclosing that you are friends with someone about whom you posted. It's not the same thing as a self-link.

According to the FAQ, it is the same thing: It's against the rules to link to your own site, a site that you host or contribute to substantially or a site of someone who is a close friend or relative of yours.
It has something to do with one's ability to objectively judge the quality of a friend's story/project/link/etc.

As for this particular case, I would have first run the post and disclosure by the admins. If they'd had any issue with it, I would have shopped the link around to some other members who I could trust to make a quality post. As it stands, not really cool but not too offensive either.
posted by carsonb at 1:10 PM on June 10, 2008


The general principle I tend to roll out for this stuff is "when in doubt, don't". There will always be kind of grey area stuff (given sufficient distance, sufficient time, sufficient magnitude, etc), especially if it only comes up after the fact, but all of that is secondary to the general notion that it's not a good idea to make posts about things you have a close personal connection to.

If you're not sure, drop us a line to get our take on it. Folks do this now and then; sometimes it's actually okay after all and we tell them to go ahead and post, and sometimes it's not so okay and we ask them not to.

Likewise: when in doubt, disclose. If you think that disclosing your connection to the thing you're posting about would lead to badness, that's probably a sign that you should not be posting it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:10 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


The relevant FAQ point is here. We say "close friend" so that if it's someone you sort of know who also works at XYZ MegaCorp thats no big deal but if it's someone you do projects with, work in a small company with or are fairly friendly with, we'd really prefer you not link to their site in a post. Links like this in comments are fine, by the way.

The reasoning behind this is we don't want to have to second guess why people are making posts or ferret out if they stand to benefit in some way from a MeFi post. I don't mean to sound paranoid, but we delete an awful lot of spam from people who just want to get more Googlejuice or a few more page hits for their ads. We want you to post stuff that you think is great, not because you really like your friend which may or may not color your impressions and opinions of their content. Past experience has shown us that people who are friendly with a post's subject are not always the best evaluators of a post's quality.

As a result, our general rule of thumb is that we want the posts to pass the smell test. If someone knew you were friends with the person who made the site/content, would they say "Oh, well that makes sense why you posted such a weird/crappy/spammy/ad farm link to MeFi..."? We'd like to avoid that. This instance, to me, is sort of an example of that. "sign my petition" types of posts are rarely great posts for MeFi. This one was "eh" and stayed (though a newsworthy topic, to be sure)

When in doubt, feel free to ask any of us and we can give a quickie determination if the relationship is too close. Yes, it's a grey area.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:12 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


MetaTalk: This is kind of a gray area
posted by Sys Rq at 1:18 PM on June 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


MetaTalk: This is kind of a grey area
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:20 PM on June 10, 2008 [6 favorites]


Jess, does the exception come when the poster informs you of the intent beforehand? Both you and Matt agreed I could post about a development my friend was working on. I never had to disclaim the fact either.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 1:25 PM on June 10, 2008


Ah. On preview my question is resolved.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 1:26 PM on June 10, 2008


Ah. On preview my question is resolved. (Mefi is running very slowly here...)
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 1:30 PM on June 10, 2008


*looks around*

Hey, guys? Did you ever notice that this area... it's kinda grey.
posted by quin at 1:36 PM on June 10, 2008


Really? It's got a professional white background for me.
posted by desjardins at 1:44 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Funny. From this angle it looks gray.
posted by Floydd at 1:51 PM on June 10, 2008


I once linked to my brother's blog. (The link is dead, though.)
posted by loquacious at 1:54 PM on June 10, 2008


What the hell is a "heat" particle? The sorting demon is confused...
posted by Burhanistan at 2:01 PM on June 10, 2008


that was pre-faq too I believe.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:03 PM on June 10, 2008


Here's the original blog entry, Burhanistan. The photos seem to be missing, though.
posted by loquacious at 2:06 PM on June 10, 2008


Well, at least he's familiar with the subject.
posted by electroboy at 2:09 PM on June 10, 2008


Heh, loq, sometimes I suffer from trackinosis as well.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:14 PM on June 10, 2008


I remember a friend of one of the cretinous frat boys in Borat asked for help.
posted by brujita at 2:27 PM on June 10, 2008


Remember that a friend ...
posted by brujita at 2:41 PM on June 10, 2008


I only make posts about my ennemies.
posted by ddaavviidd at 4:34 PM on June 10, 2008


Yea, but that was in AskMe.
posted by jacalata at 4:50 PM on June 10, 2008


See friend returned to tyrannical regime or contravene the sacred principles of Metafilter ?

Those moral dilemmas just - keep - a - comin.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:53 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


If the only thing that can possibly save your friend from an otherwise certain ill outcome is post about them on Metafilter, that's probably the sort of extra-special situation that would make an explanatory email to the mods a really good idea.

In the weird alternate universe where it's not basically an impossibly goofy idea in the first place.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:58 PM on June 10, 2008


Sometimes when I post covers of semi-obscure European indie artists to Music part of me thinks maybe the mods will suspect I actually know these people and am thus part of some sinister plot to further their modest careers through the mighty channels of Metafilter Music.

At one time, I apparently mustered the guts to email Loney, Dear's Emil about this one and he said it was the first time someone's covered him ever. So that was kind of neat.

Although, it would be a very clever form of Pepsi Blue, just singing your mates' songs on Music, wouldn't it?

I did surprise a friend once though by performing one of his songs on open mic night. He seemed kind of freaked out and, regaining his composure, complained about my ad-libbing one or two words and thus changing the lyrics.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:41 PM on June 10, 2008


...since Leibniz so freely admits to the relationship in the Ask.Me, it seems like he either didn't read or doesn't quite grasp the spirit of the guidelines.

His problem is actually that his grasp of symbolic logic is lacking. You see, Leibniz insists that all propositions have a subject-predicate form, and hence his symbolism cannot account for relations. Technically speaking, his symbolism is a subset of the monadic fragment of first-order logic. So though he admits to this "relationship" in nebulous ordinary-language terms, the relation itself holds no real metaphysical significance for him. As Russell has pointed out, Leibniz's logic is incapable for formulating the sentence, "There are three men."

In short, Leibniz made an honest logico-metaphysical mistake, just give the man a copy of the Principia Mathematica to work through and this won't happen again.
posted by voltairemodern at 7:54 PM on June 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


All I can say is, be glad Newton isn't on the mod staff. That'd be a dire Puritanical administrative calculus right there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:33 PM on June 10, 2008


amro: "This is kind of a gray area then, no? I mean, who defines "friend," and how?"

leibniz did, when he said "Channel 4 news in the UK recently used a photograph I had taken of a friend of mine in one of its items". If he had used the word "acquaintance" or "co-worker" or "roommate" you could argue how much that and "friend"-ness overlap, but since he used the same word that the new post page used, it doesn't seem fuzzy to me at all.
posted by Plutor at 7:18 AM on June 11, 2008


Ok, finally able to logon here and give some answers:

I know one of the subjects of the post because he attended a discussion group I ran a couple of years ago (where I took the photo). But I have since moved to another country and haven't seen him or talked to him in at about 2 years. So definitely a friend. But not a close friend.

Then I had been reading about the case for a few days on a philosophy discussion group prior to knowing that my friend was the man involved. Having then discovered his identity, I was then immediately motivated to raise awareness of the issue on metafilter. So I can definitely say it was FPP worthy prior to knowing my connection to the case, but also I would probably not be so motivated to post had I not known him.

Finally I can hardly discuss the finer points of symbolic logic if you do not adopt my universal language. My views have developed a bit in the last 300 years you know. Note my willingness to update my ideas on space here for isntance.
posted by leibniz at 8:18 AM on June 11, 2008


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