Huge threads - can we make them smaller? September 1, 2008 11:04 AM   Subscribe

Re: the Bristol Palin pregnancy thread being deleted - uh, the other post in which it is being "discussed" is sort of inaccessible.

So recently, the thread about Sarah Palin's daughter was deleted and posters/comments were directed to the previous thread in which the Sarah Palin announcement was discussed. But with over 1500 comments, the page loads very, very slowly. It's not really worth it.

Could there be some sort of system where every 500 comments or so are hidden - if you wanted to read the first 500 comments you could open them up, but if not, skip ahead to where the discussion is occurring? It just seems that at a certain point, a thread that big becomes non-functional.
posted by billysumday to MetaFilter-Related at 11:04 AM (103 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I know what you mean. Talk about a hornet's nest. And while I'd like to see this happen, I'm betting that it doesn't happen frequently enough to merit the effort.
posted by Dave Faris at 11:15 AM on September 1, 2008


I agree, and what's amazing about that thread is not that it has over 1550 comments and counting, but that it has over 1550 comments and is still mostly on-topic.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:23 AM on September 1, 2008


To be honest, >1500 comment threads are the way they are almost by design. We could add pagination and make it efficient so you can read a few hundred at a time, but that would just keep them going longer and almost anything after 1,000 comments kind of descends into near madness as it is. Having an easier way to load it would mean having 10,000 comment threads and everyone saying the same thing ten times because they didn't feel like reading comments 2250-7750 on their way to the comment form.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:24 AM on September 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Considering how ugly things have gotten in that thread, I think "page loads very, very slowly; it's not really worth it" is a feature, not a bug.

Maybe that thread should be non-functional. Is this really what we want Metafilter to become?
posted by Class Goat at 11:24 AM on September 1, 2008


Since I know you didn't read through the last thread, I'll say it again: Sarah Palin is the perfect VP choice for McCain if his specific goal is to DESTROY METAFILTER.

We will never, ever have a good discussion about Palin on this site, since the liberal male userbase gets all confused when it's confronted with conservative women and doesn't know whether the be sexist or political, and the strong tendency towards ad hominem argument gets crossed with the reasonable desire to callout misogyny.

Please, I'm begging you all: the only way Metafilter can survive this perfect storm is if we declare a moratorium on political-filter right now.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:28 AM on September 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


It's not really worth it.

Neither is discussing Bristol Palin.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:31 AM on September 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


a feature, not a bug

Exactly. As someone who has to read that thread a minimum of a few times every hour, I would not be terribly unhappy if it moved a bit more slowly. These threads happen rarely, the site is not optimized for them and I think that's an okayt thing. You could try going to politicalfilter.com and trying to start a thread there [oh look there's one just started with zero comments] and maybe find a situation a bit more easy to deal with.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:32 AM on September 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


I would have sworn this has been discussed recently, but all I can find is this MeTa from back when 4kers thought eclipses were caused by a displeased Mathowie: 'Oooo, 100+ comments! I'm all overwhelmed and flustered!'

Cavemen, I tell you.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:32 AM on September 1, 2008


I wholly agree that pagination would be detrimental to discussion, but for the sake of posterity, it might be worthwhile to do this to huge threads after they've been closed up. You know, to make them less browser-killy.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:34 AM on September 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


The pageload counter on my browser says 17.8 seconds to load the page, and this is with a four year old PC. Is this really such a hardship?
posted by Rhomboid at 11:49 AM on September 1, 2008


The original Palin post (at 1600+ comments) is now off the front page. In general, how old must a post be before it is acceptable to make a new post on a related topic (assuming that the new post sheds light on and creates discourse about an aspect of the topic not previously discussed)?
posted by Robin Kestrel at 12:15 PM on September 1, 2008


Bristol Palin is not Governor Palin, and talking about the new celebrity Bristol Palin ideally has no relation to Governor Palin's qualifications or duties. Even if Gov. Palin suggested that all pregnant teenagers should be forced to carry to term and marry the father, her own daughter deserves a separate thread to discuss this.
posted by Brian B. at 12:16 PM on September 1, 2008


If 1600+ comments are too many for your browser to handle you could read an RSS feed of the thread (although I wouldn't know exactly how to go about doing that, because I've never done it myself).

From the top of the thread:

Sarah Palin as McCain's running-mate
August 29, 2008 10:52 AM Subscribe

posted by jason's_planet at 12:18 PM on September 1, 2008


We need a thread to discuss the fact that some girl is pregnant?
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 12:21 PM on September 1, 2008


what's amazing about that thread is not that it has over 1550 comments and counting, but that it has over 1550 comments and is still mostly on-topic.

We can fix this. We have the technology.
posted by grouse at 12:22 PM on September 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


'Oooo, 100+ comments! I'm all overwhelmed and flustered!'

Well, in our defense, Alvy, in 2001, parts of the internet were still being transmitted by carrier pigeon.
posted by Dave Faris at 12:23 PM on September 1, 2008


Bristol Palin ideally has no relation to Governor Palin's qualifications or duties.

Most sensible folks would argue this is exactly why it doesn't deserve its own thread, much less our criticism or thoughts on the matter. To claim otherwise is downright disgusting.
posted by dhammond at 12:24 PM on September 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


[Cue flurry of blue-faced foot stamping]
"FAIR GAME! FAAAAIRRRR GAAAAAAMMMME!!!!"
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:26 PM on September 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I really don't see what MetaFilter has to gain by bringing discussions on this topic here:

This is being discussed all over the blogosphere and there are plenty of places to indulge in the wild, rampant speculation about what's being called "BabyGate". But, you might say, the discussion at MeFi is so much more intelligent, so it deserves to be debated in that atmosphere. Actually, though, the Palin thread proves that (in this particular case) MEFI IS NOT. We all know that comments on Digg are somewhere between YouTube and Fark in terms of quality, and that at times Digg discourse barely manages to rise above what could be accomplished by banging rocks on your keyboard, but in this case the only difference between the discussion on MeFi and the discussion on Digg is that MeFites use a different vocabulary set and a different style (more prone to lengthy discourses). The core of the discussion, the ideas being set forth, are no different, no better, and are in fact probably worse because we supposedly hold ourselves to the higher standards $5 buys you.

So perhaps you want to find out what your favorite MeFite thinks about the situation. Fine. M/e-mail them and ask them what they think. While the thread contains some valuable insights, they're undeniably drowned out by all the forehead-slapping chuckleheadery.

This topic may bear discussion in a few weeks when the speculation has died down and the investigation has borne fruit, but until then there's no point in giving this it's own thread, since it's going to turn into Palin Thread Part II and suddenly the mods have two shitstorm threads to monitor. If that's what you really want go ahead and opine here, but I completely agree with the removal of the post and future removals of posts on the same subject until there's some semblance of sanity in the discussion. Which may be never.
posted by baphomet at 12:30 PM on September 1, 2008


Sorry the lead sentence is unclear, I specifically refer to giving the discussion about the maternity of the child its own thread (not discussing this topic in MetaTalk).
posted by baphomet at 12:31 PM on September 1, 2008


We need a thread to discuss the fact that some girl is pregnant?

A thread to discuss Palin's hypocrisy is certainly not beyond Metafilter, if she is a VP candidate and would be in a position to help legislate hypocritical behavior. Her unwed daughter being coerced into motherhood is part and parcel of that discussion.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:39 PM on September 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


A thread to discuss Palin's hypocrisy is certainly not beyond Metafilter, if she is a VP candidate and would be in a position to help legislate hypocritical behavior.

Then discuss it in the Palin thread.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 12:40 PM on September 1, 2008


Most sensible folks would argue this is exactly why it doesn't deserve its own thread, much less our criticism or thoughts on the matter. To claim otherwise is downright disgusting.

That's two demands. It seems you are assuming all talk should be squelched, but it is being talked about regardless.
posted by Brian B. at 12:40 PM on September 1, 2008


"the only way Metafilter can survive this perfect storm is if we declare a moratorium on political-filter right now."

Wait, do you mean we on MetaFilter declare a moratorium on PoliticalFilter.com, or if we all go to PoFi and call a moratorium over there?
posted by Eideteker at 12:41 PM on September 1, 2008


A thread to discuss Palin's hypocrisy is certainly not beyond Metafilter

But it's beyond Metatalk. Please take your agenda where it belongs, on the blue.
posted by Dave Faris at 12:42 PM on September 1, 2008


But it's beyond Metatalk. Please take your agenda where it belongs, on the blue.

Just making metacommentary. No need to be a metajerk.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:46 PM on September 1, 2008


I'm glad that thread got killed. The people that really need to read/post about it can slog through that behemoth of an original thread and leave the rest of metafilter alone. Or go to politicalfilter! That's what it's for!
posted by schyler523 at 12:46 PM on September 1, 2008


It seems you are assuming all talk should be squelched

For those with reading comprehension problems: I am simply stating that Palin's 17-year-old daughter deciding to have a child should have absolutely no bearing on her mother's qualifications for the office. If you want to go ahead and talk about it to your heart's content, I certainly can't stop you. But it's really, really creepy and especially unbecoming if you happen to be someone claims to be pro-choice.
posted by dhammond at 12:46 PM on September 1, 2008


At what point does the Palin thread become the most commented? Aren't we getting close?
posted by kimdog at 12:48 PM on September 1, 2008


Even if Gov. Palin suggested that all pregnant teenagers should be forced to carry to term and marry the father, her own daughter deserves a separate thread to discuss this.

No. The "WAS SHE FAKING HER PREGNANCY" broadside that got us to this point was discussed in the Palin thread. The thread is about to be 77 hours old, awfully young.

This isn't PoliticalFilter, and this isn't RedState or dKos or LGF or whatever. Single big threads are how we discuss things here. And non-pagination, honestly, saves us from the 10,000 comment monsters where people come in on day 4 to stir up the same crap someone else stirred up on days 1, 2, and 3.

Admittedly, the strange route around the Mythbusters Mona Lisa-asavage at Last Hope-OMGWTF RFID CENSORSHIP threads could be a counter to the philosophy of breaking off issues like this, but I'd argue that the Palin stuff is a single issue that has built on itself since Friday, while the Mythbusters-RFID stuff is more a case of people stumbling on new things that took the discussion in radically different directions.
posted by dw at 12:51 PM on September 1, 2008


For those with reading comprehension problems: I am simply stating that Palin's 17-year-old daughter deciding to have a child should have absolutely no bearing on her mother's qualifications for the office.

The elder Palin's take on her daughter's choice to keep her baby places Governor Palin's pro-life stance front and center in the rhetorical shitstorm to come these next few months. Fair or otherwise. How she handles it will make it clear whether potential VP Palin is an asset or a liability to McCain. Should or shouldn't doesn't matter: that's how it is.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:53 PM on September 1, 2008


For those with reading comprehension problems: I am simply stating that Palin's 17-year-old daughter deciding to have a child should have absolutely no bearing on her mother's qualifications for the office.

I suggested the same thing about qualifications, arguing for a separate thread for that reason, and you replied:

Most sensible folks would argue this is exactly why it doesn't deserve its own thread, much less our criticism or thoughts on the matter. To claim otherwise is downright disgusting.
posted by Brian B. at 12:59 PM on September 1, 2008


I suggest this thread be closed. Matt said he doesn't want to paginate long threads. End of discussion.
posted by Dave Faris at 1:02 PM on September 1, 2008


That was a good thread closure. Bad post, plus the Palin thread is open.

You could try going to politicalfilter.com and trying to start a thread there [oh look there's one just started with zero comments] and maybe find a situation a bit more easy to deal with.

I've been a good mefi citizen and participated there, just as I participated in the erstwhile warfilter, which died of atrophy a number of years ago. I'm not really interested in narrow splinter sites and, all due respect to politicalfilter, apparently few others seem to be either. Mefi is my one-stop shop for what's hot on the web. When there are major news events, be they hurricanes, 9/11, space shuttles or historic turns in the election, I am interested in hearing the take of my fellow mefites - and greatly value the incredible fast-breaking links that get added to the discussion. Nobody does it better on the web, that I know of. That being said, Bristol's pregnancy is not one of those events. News posts need to be either really big news or held to a high standard of content, imo.

Part of the 1000+ thread phenomena is simply scale. As membership grows, threads on all popular topics are getting longer and longer in general.
posted by madamjujujive at 1:03 PM on September 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


Part of the 1000+ thread phenomena is simply scale. As membership grows, threads on all popular topics are getting longer and longer in general.

But we can choose to do two things about it: make it so that 1000+ threads are a-ok with pagination, more reading/filtering tools, etc.

Or we can leave things as-is, and have threads that go long die of apathy. This also has the side-benefit of keeping people from signing up to participate in more monster threads.

I don't want to run dailykos.com. If you want to talk endlessly about every splinter of an election year story, there are other places to go.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:20 PM on September 1, 2008 [7 favorites]


Obama asks press to back off.
posted by schyler523 at 1:31 PM on September 1, 2008


Obama asks press to back off.
posted by schyler523


This is MetaTalk, not MetaFilter2, dammit. Seconding Mr. Faris.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:36 PM on September 1, 2008


Having an easier way to load it would mean having 10,000 comment threads and everyone saying the same thing ten times because they didn't feel like reading comments 2250-7750 on their way to the comment form.

that's somewhat like saying having more traffic lights makes access to retirement homes more competitive. what's wrong with letting people talk it out? do 10,000 comments hurt anyone? okay, make it an exception only to be applied every now and then when a thread just doesn't want to die down. making a point out of not adding pagination is cheapening their desire to have their discussion. I don't think we should decide such things based on the perceived merit of any such topic.
posted by krautland at 1:37 PM on September 1, 2008


Exactly. As someone who has to read that thread a minimum of a few times every hour, I would not be terribly unhappy if it moved a bit more slowly.
jessamyn


Sadly, I thought that perhaps this was the confession of someone as obsessive as I until I read that it was jessamyn and she was bemoaning the fact that she really does have to read in a minimun of a few times every hour.
posted by leftcoastbob at 1:43 PM on September 1, 2008


But with over 1500 comments, the page loads very, very slowly. It's not really worth it.

Well, that about sums things up, right? If it's not worth it to you, then stop commenting or following the thread. Mind you, others are still commenting in the thread, obviously it's worth it to them, so the system seems fine.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:50 PM on September 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


We will never, ever have a good discussion about Palin on this site, since the liberal male userbase gets all confused when it's confronted with conservative women and doesn't know whether the be sexist or political, and the strong tendency towards ad hominem argument gets crossed with the reasonable desire to callout misogyny.

And I say we will never, ever have a good discussion about Palin on this site, since the liberal female userbase gets all confused when it's confronted with conservative women and doesn't know whether the be sexist or political, and the strong tendency toward ad hominem argument gets crossed with the unreasonable desire to callout misogyny.
posted by gjc at 1:55 PM on September 1, 2008


making a point out of not adding pagination is cheapening their desire to have their discussion.

No, it's sticking by a policy decision that's not universally popular but that we nonetheless believe in. The links-vs-discussion debate about mefi is an ancient and living thing for a reason: just as the site isn't some posts-only memepool link log, it's also not a general forum. Facilitating months-long 10,000 comment threads isn't what the site has ever been about, and those threads that are both long and on-topic tend to be among the most acrimonious threads the blue sees.

The current Palin thread isn't standing out as much of an exception to that. Neither was the great big goddamned Obama Speech thread; neither was that gigantic Ted Haggard thread a while back. Which, okay: that's part of what happens with lengthy conversations on mefi. What we don't need is to find ways to amplify that effect though—either through rapid-updatefilter concurrent threads or by re-engineering the system to support the rare and generally less-than-awesome exceptions to how the site optimally works.

It's not flipping the bird to anyone, it's just saying "no".

I don't think we should decide such things based on the perceived merit of any such topic.

All of the above is basically topic-independent. Election politics just happens to be the meta-topic under which most of the bigger, busier, uglier threads appear because it gets people going. We've confined plenty of non-political topics to single threads instead of daily updates, too.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:55 PM on September 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


The pageload counter on my browser says 17.8 seconds to load the page, and this is with a four year old PC.

Well good for you! Now, how much bandwidth you got? 'cause you know, that might be a factor.

Snarkiness aside, the flat design as it stands is fine and, as mathowie in his wisdom suggests, an effective mild counter to the Endless Thread Wankversation Syndrome.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:56 PM on September 1, 2008


I don't want to run dailykos.com. If you want to talk endlessly about every splinter of an election year story, there are other places to go.

That makes sense, but, you know - the sort of people who go to DailyKos are not the sort of people that I would ever want to discuss this with. They've swallowed the KoolAid so hard it hurts. Metafilter lacks (most of) the rampant intellectual dishonesty seen on the hardcore political sites, while maintaining a large cadre of intelligent, politically savvy posters.

For better or for worse, Metafilter has the sort of people I want to discuss this with, and I think a substantial portion of the userbase feels that way. Regardless of whether or not it should have an impact on the election, it is going to have one, and it's worth having a discussion separate from the selection of Palin as governor.

There's a non-zero chance that any such discussion could reflect poorly on Metafilter, but if that's our nature then we shouldn't be trying to cover it up by just burying it in 1000 comment threads. I sympathize with this being a colossal headache for the moderators, but we should be open and honest about who and what we are as a community, or else we'll never address the actual problems with discourse on this site.
posted by Ryvar at 1:58 PM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is MetaTalk, not MetaFilter2

That would explain the lack of threads on arena football and Jim Rome....
posted by dw at 2:03 PM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


For better or for worse, Metafilter has the sort of people I want to discuss this with

And yet you haven't commented in that thread at all.

I'm with cortex "It's not flipping the bird to anyone, it's just saying 'no'."

It's not that the thread itself is such a big deal particularly, it's that long contentious threads bring up all the same drama as the last one -- email from users asking us to ban other users, people acting out in particularly offensive ways, stunt posts, MetaTalk threads -- all for a type of thread that is really not in MetaFilter's "core mission." There are a few things people want that they are not going to get here at MetaFilter and this is one of them.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:14 PM on September 1, 2008


this is only going to get worse & worse in the leadup to your election, right?
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:22 PM on September 1, 2008


That makes sense, but, you know - the sort of people who go to DailyKos are not the sort of people that I would ever want to discuss this with.

Your mild distaste for the users of another website is not a compelling argument for changing the nature of this website.
posted by jason's_planet at 2:22 PM on September 1, 2008


Any parent knows that teen-agers are not the most docile of children. However, if a child (legally speaking) has become pregnant, why shouldn't she bear the child? Quick course in growing up!
If her parents never had "the talk", and the girl either did not know enough to abstain or use protection, well then maybe mom and dad are guilty of negligence.
In this case, super-mom can probably raise the grandchild with one hand while succeeding her elderly running partner when he steps aside after one term as he mentioned.
posted by Cranberry at 2:23 PM on September 1, 2008


this is only going to get worse & worse in the leadup to your election, right?

We have delete keys, and if today is any indication, we use them.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:23 PM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


And yet you haven't commented in that thread at all.

And that's precisely because I didn't know that the discussion was over there until I saw this thread. I was actually waiting for the Palin pregnancy thread to hit the front page so that I could talk about it. There was no reason to suspect the original Palin thread would be active.

To be honest this feels like an attempt to bury a systemic problem within the community because we don't have the moderator personpower to deal with it. Maybe pushing it off for later is the correct approach because it allows the community the time to come to terms with itself in the less contentious issues before tackling the nastier ones, but there's a distinct taste of administrative opaqueness here.
posted by Ryvar at 2:28 PM on September 1, 2008


If you want to talk endlessly about every splinter of an election year story, there are other places to go.


That seems a bit uncharitable. The story is/was kinda bigger than the run-of-the-mill stuff--front page of New York Times right now--and with some internet sleuthing behind it, too. I admit I came here straightaway to see if anybody had some scoop on it or could break it down a bit better than CNN on one hand or DailyKos on the other. Failing to see how that is detrimental to the Vision or whatever for a more pure and wondrous MetaFilter.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 2:28 PM on September 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Your mild distaste for the users of another website is not a compelling argument for changing the nature of this website.
posted by jason's_planet


The fact that there are people still posting to the original Palin thread, when it's off the FPP and over a thousand comments long, is strong evidence that there is a desire amongst the userbase for that discussion to occur here.
posted by Ryvar at 2:29 PM on September 1, 2008


We have delete keys, and if today is any indication, we use them.

Yeh, there's a graveyard of at almost a dozen PalinFilter threads already.

Personally, I think it's a great idea for the US to have a VP who was once in Monty Python, but I don't know why it has to be discussed to death.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:31 PM on September 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I fully support putting all of MeFi's most embarrassing brainfarts in one thread where the pain can be ignored by everyone who doesn't want to wallow in it.

Seriously, watching some people go off the fucking deep end because they think women are chained to the Democratic Party is just... urgh. In 2000 they assumed they had a divine right to America's tiny left-wing vote in spite of running a platform with Joe Lieberman, now they assume there's some sort of divine rule in place around women's votes. And the commentary served up from that assumption is routinely remarkably, offensively sexist. More posts? Thanks, but no.
posted by rodgerd at 2:36 PM on September 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


To be honest this feels like an attempt to bury a systemic problem within the community because we don't have the moderator personpower to deal with it

I see it more as we don't have the personpower to deal with it because we've decided that this is not something we want to dedicate resources to. We're not being opaque at all, we're being crystal clear: threads on ongoing contentious (usually political) topics will get long and messy. That's not great but it's acceptable. Having a way for them to get longer and/or messier more easily or giving people a way to skip big parts of the threads are counter to the general idea of how the site works, similar to "why don't we have threaded comments?"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:40 PM on September 1, 2008


To be honest this feels like an attempt to bury a systemic problem within the community because we don't have the moderator personpower to deal with it.

Don't forget that the older MeFi gets, the less American it gets. Election year fatigue/outrage gets old real fast and we heard complaints from users a year ago when the Clinton/Obama/GOP stuff started.

Election years generally suck for Sept-Nov on MeFi, and they're especially exhausting for non-US resident members here. I'd say we've been more proactive about deleting ElectionFilter in a hope that there isn't a daily post (or 2, or 3, or 5) about the election like there have been in years past. Would sticking to that piss some members off? Sure. Would ignoring it and letting the electionfilter tide take over piss others off? You bet.

Given there is a thread about the VP, and the speculation started in a particularly ugly way (staring at photos of "bumps" and creating a conspiracy about it), it's problematic to host a giant discussion about the newly confirmed news. In the end, it'll just be another 1000+ abortion pro/con thread. Stuffing into the old thread is definitely killing the desires of members following the news and wanting to talk about it, but it's also containing the ugly downsides to discussing abortion, teen pregnancy, and right and left wing politics on MeFi.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:41 PM on September 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


Now, how much bandwidth you got? 'cause you know, that might be a factor.

Not as much as you'd think. At 1672 comments, firebug says the HTML is 2.37 MB. Even if you had a meagre 512 kilobit downstream, that's still only about 38 seconds or so. And according to my bandwidth monitor the transfer from the metafilter server tops out at about two hundred kilobytes per second for serving the HTML, so it's not like having a fast downstream really adds a whole lot.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:53 PM on September 1, 2008


I see it more as we don't have the personpower to deal with it because we've decided that this is not something we want to dedicate resources to.

Okay, that makes sense.

We're not being opaque at all, we're being crystal clear: threads on ongoing contentious (usually political) topics will get long and messy. That's not great but it's acceptable. Having a way for them to get longer and/or messier more easily or giving people a way to skip big parts of the threads are counter to the general idea of how the site works, similar to "why don't we have threaded comments?"

Sorry, I wasn't terribly clear on what I meant by "opaque", but I felt like anything more explicit would have an even higher probability for being misinterpreted.

My greatest fear for Metafilter is and has always been that the moderators might form a culture of "you can't handle our reasons", because this is quite simply the best public discussion community on the Internet, period. This doesn't necessarily have to be an explicitly stated sentiment - having this be a simple implicit belief of the moderators would cause the same effective damage.

This is not an irrational fear on my part and I challenge anyone who disagrees to find a single example of a social entity with a pyramidal authority structure that has not had this as its logical endpoint. Online or off, you won't be able to find that example, because said outcome is endemic to that structure.

Any claims that this pregnancy topic belongs under the general Palin thread are disingenuous at best - these are clearly separate topics if only by the magnitude of their likely impact on the outcome of the November elections. I don't think anyone could honestly claim that there is no demand, or that keeping a lid on that demand is somehow good for the site - stymieing significant minorities of the community in this way only breeds resentment.

But saying that you've assessed the matrix of priorities vs. moderator manpower and come to a pragmatic conclusion is honest, even if it isn't ideal. The fact that it felt like this discussion has previously been lacking that honesty is what was really bothering me.

So, a sincere thank you.
posted by Ryvar at 3:07 PM on September 1, 2008


Election years generally suck for Sept-Nov on MeFi, and they're especially exhausting for non-US resident members here.

At least this fall, we Canucks will likely have our own election to occupy ourselves. We won't likely have a lot of crowing about the personal lives of the candidates to argue about* and we might even discuss actual policies from time-to-time.

* OMG, did you hear that Dion named his dog Kyoto? OMG, I think Layton trimmed his mustache!
posted by ssg at 3:48 PM on September 1, 2008


Has anyone tried reading the initial Palin thread on a mobile phone or iPhone or iTouch? I've tried it on a touch and it keeps conking out over Wifi, was wondering if different mobile browsers were handling it ok.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:37 PM on September 1, 2008


Apparently, your phone is more intelligent than you are. It knows when enough is too much.
posted by Dave Faris at 4:42 PM on September 1, 2008


people still posting to the original Palin thread [..] is strong evidence that there is a desire amongst the userbase for that discussion to occur here

But that's not what metafilter is for (despite what you may believe/wish).
posted by ryanrs at 4:51 PM on September 1, 2008


iPhone 3G, latest firmware, handled it over WiFi - wonky, but it worked.
posted by Ryvar at 4:51 PM on September 1, 2008


It knows when enough is too much.

Not really. It keeps trying to get on any Wifi network it can find, whether it knows it or not. It's going to get in trouble one day and I won't be around to protect it and then it'll finally appreciate me.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:58 PM on September 1, 2008


iPhone, 1st gen, Wifi. Worked slowly, but okay.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:07 PM on September 1, 2008


At least this fall, we Canucks will likely have our own election to occupy ourselves.

Harper's being more than a bit of a dick by dragging out the election call. For all his pre-weekend "Blah, blah, we will see if we can have a productive session in the HoC" talk, he was awfully quick to get his Vote Harper* ads on TV.

It seems like they've been running since before the weekend, actually. Which seems to me like dirty pool, if the other parties can't start their campaign until after the election's been called.

*Which also bugs me, because technically no one outside of Calgary-Southwest can vote for Harper. This is an election, not a leadership convention; you vote for your MP, not for who's going to be PM, people! /nitpick
posted by CKmtl at 5:45 PM on September 1, 2008


Harper's being more than a bit of a dick by dragging out the election call.

If he out and out calls it, the oppo can ding him for ignoring his own set date legislation. If he can blame Dion for forcing his hand, the Tories can paint the Liberals as a gang of hooligans who extorted an election by threatening to disrupt and deepen the dysfunction in the House of Commons.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:57 PM on September 1, 2008


And then the NDP can win it!

Right?

Guys?
posted by Sys Rq at 6:03 PM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's about the links, not the discussion, except in the case where the discussion would be bad, in which case the links are not what it's about.
posted by 0xFCAF at 6:09 PM on September 1, 2008


Unless abstinence-only education becomes anything more than a micro-issue in the election, this is a total non-story.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:10 PM on September 1, 2008


Metafilter: it is being "discussed"
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:25 PM on September 1, 2008


Unless abstinence-only education becomes anything more than a micro-issue in the election, this is a total non-story.

It's, um, the most-read article on the Washington Post's site and located just underneath the Gustav piece on the front page of the NYT.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:32 PM on September 1, 2008


Rhomboid writes "The pageload counter on my browser says 17.8 seconds to load the page, and this is with a four year old PC. Is this really such a hardship?"

Not that I'm advocating for pagenation but your probably network limited rather than cpu limited. It'd be a different story on a 56K dial-up link.

Robin Kestrel writes "In general, how old must a post be before it is acceptable to make a new post on a related topic (assuming that the new post sheds light on and creates discourse about an aspect of the topic not previously discussed)?"

At least a month 'cause that's when the first thread closes.
posted by Mitheral at 8:06 PM on September 1, 2008


Ryvar: "There was no reason to suspect the original Palin thread would be active."

Seriously? So you knew there was such a thread, but didn't suspect this news might make it in there?

Although it should have a Palin tag.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 8:53 PM on September 1, 2008


True. Done.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:07 PM on September 1, 2008


Bristol Palin is not Governor Palin, and talking about the new celebrity Bristol Palin ideally has no relation to Governor Palin's qualifications or duties. Even if Gov. Palin suggested that all pregnant teenagers should be forced to carry to term and marry the father, her own daughter deserves a separate thread to discuss this.

Your point disproves your own point. She is not Governor Palin, and therefore is nobody (heck, aside from being the governor, Sarah Palin herself is hardly a celebrity, and would probably remain an unknown in the lower 48 if she hadn't been tapped for VP). Britney Spears's nobody younger sister is pregnant OMG does not belong on MetaFilter, and so VP candidate's daughter is pregnant OMG also does not belong here.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:23 AM on September 2, 2008


Ok, I've stayed out of that Palin thread, curbing my enthusiasm... but let me speak candidly: Should the comment count on the Palin thread exceed the Boing Boing count, there will be.... drama.

2,786Kb and rising! Hope you've got yourself a 95% bandwidth deal here... !
posted by cavalier at 12:09 PM on September 2, 2008


Your point disproves your own point. She is not Governor Palin, and therefore is nobody (heck, aside from being the governor, Sarah Palin herself is hardly a celebrity, and would probably remain an unknown in the lower 48 if she hadn't been tapped for VP).

Hardly. She is not Gov. Palin, which is a fact. So far so good. So the fact that she is nobody special is because she is NOT Gov. Palin? That should be interesting to the other million famous people in the world. The fact that she is now known is because of Gov. Palin's views, but that doesn't mean we need to talk about her in Gov. Palin's thread, because the pregnant subject needs objective/safe distance from other controversy. Bristol, her boyfriend, vetting issues over her state of pregnancy, and criticism of the coverage of both, has less to do with Gov. Palin than it does John McCain. What is happening here is that people have a need to deny that she is now famous in order to argue for silence on the subject. No need for either. Neither does it make sense to believe that two threads equals more annoying posts.

Britney Spears's nobody younger sister is pregnant OMG does not belong on MetaFilter, and so VP candidate's daughter is pregnant OMG also does not belong here.

But pregnant Britney gets a post? Yeah, if there's no controversy, then leave it out. Claiming that Bristol's baby is NOT a controversy is a form of psychological denial.
posted by Brian B. at 4:21 PM on September 2, 2008


Anyone else think that maybe adding Palin to the ticket was McCain's way of diverting attention away from him and his problems, or from actual issues in general; to drown out actual criticism with gossip; to get Obama/Biden off the TV?
posted by Sys Rq at 4:31 PM on September 2, 2008


The fact that she is now known is because of Gov. Palin's views, but that doesn't mean we need to talk about her in Gov. Palin's thread

We don't need to talk about her. If she is relevant in the context of the potential vice-presidentialship of the United States, then we can talk about Bristol in the context of her mother. If she is not relevant in that context then she isn't relevant period. How exactly is a totally random 17 year old getting pregnant a news story in this or any country?

Claiming that Bristol's baby is NOT a controversy is a form of psychological denial.

Bristol's baby is only a controversy in the context of her mother. And it's only a controversy if you think that people are rarely hypocrites. News flash: most people, especially politicians, espouse beliefs that differ from how they, or their relatives, might behave.

Anyway, Palin is pro-life, and she is claiming the daddy is going to marry her daughter. To me, it just sounds like an unexpected pregnancy which is a bigger deal for Bristol, her boyfriend, and their life trajectory than it is for the election.

I don't want this election to be about character, even though I feel Obama easily beats McCain on character too. I want it to be about beliefs and positions. I'd much, much rather to see Americans voted for Obama because of his policies than to see them vote against McCain because his running mate's daughter can't keep her legs together until she's married. Hell, I'd rather a given voter voted for McCain because they agree with his foreign policy (as wrongheaded as it may be) than vote against him because of Bristol's actions [but I still want him to lose].

In other words: I don't think I can stress enough how little I want this to matter in the upcoming election.

MetaFilter is a great place for discussions but not everything has to be discussed here. I don't see people going apoplectic when ChatFilter is routinely tossed aside [even the most interesting hypothetical questions]; I don't see why every PoliticalFilter topic under the sun should be discussed, particularly now that there is a PoliticalFilter.

This is not an irrational fear on my part and I challenge anyone who disagrees to find a single example of a social entity with a pyramidal authority structure that has not had this as its logical endpoint. Online or off, you won't be able to find that example, because said outcome is endemic to that structure.

I'd hesitate to call this a place with a pyramidal authority structure. I mean, it's just Matt, Cortex and Jessamyn (plus that other guy in the Eastern hemisphere I guess). Small, really small. And all of them seem like really cool guys who don't want to see the site ruined. Every month or so, someone posts the "OMG this site is becoming an authoritarian dictatorship because this or that thread was deleted, or because we can't have the IMG tag." But I think this place is going to be fine, and if it isn't that'll be okay because someplace else will turn up. And if a new place doesn't pop up, that's okay too because at the end of the day this really is just the web and we can go out and be humans somewhere and the human race will survive. What makes this place especially safe is the gray, which pretty much is a free speech wall where people can air their grievances in a really public fashion (MetaFilter? More like MetaHitler!). So, worry when the gray goes down.
posted by Deathalicious at 5:53 PM on September 2, 2008


which pretty much is a free speech wall where people can air their grievances in a really public fashion

Only two pickles on a Chic-Fil-A sandwich?! Stingy fascists, next they'll be rationing mustard.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:57 PM on September 2, 2008


So the fact that she is nobody special is because she is NOT Gov. Palin? That should be interesting to the other million famous people in the world.

If the main thing that people said when you mentioned Brad Pitt was "Oh yeah, isn't he the guy whose cousin had sex with the poolman of the neighbor of the uncle of the guy who once filled gas for the English teacher who taught Romeo and Juliet to Governor Sarah Palin, Republican VP candidate" then, yeah, he would be nobody special because he was not Gov. Palin. However, he is, in fact, famous for being an award winning actor. If Sarah Palin had gotten meningitis her senior year of college, flunked out, and gone on to be a crack whore on the streets of Juneau, AK, Brad Pitt's notoriety would still be safe and secure.

Bristol Palin is currently famous for being:
  1. The daughter of Gov. Palin
  2. pregnant along with 6 million other women this year
So, again, I ask you: if Bristol Palin were a random nobody, would her pregnancy be relevant to the general public? And if she is not nobody, is she not nobody because she is the Governors daughter? And if so, will/should it affect Governor Sarah Palin's suitability as a candidate? And, if so, does it somehow nonetheless warrant its own thread, apart from the other existing thread that questions Palin's suitability as a candidate?

If you can answer no to any of the above questions, then Bristol Palin doesn't deserve her own thread.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:06 PM on September 2, 2008


OMG now I want a fried chicken sandwich.

That's a lie. I've been wanting one hard every since those propaganda-style ads on TV for the McDonalds Chicken sandwich, which also has pickles on it.

Pickles! My greatest weakness!
posted by Deathalicious at 6:07 PM on September 2, 2008


They're showing those goddam ("GLORIOUS!"; "REJOICE!") ads on Hulu and, you know what? They fucking pre-tore that sandwich. That is a perforated sandwich.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:11 PM on September 2, 2008


What is that sandvich? "Kill them all"? Good idea! Hahahaaa!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:32 PM on September 2, 2008


Obama, what's your stance on fried chicken sandwiches!?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:51 PM on September 2, 2008


The McDonald's sandwich is just a sad attempt to steal Chik-Fil-A's market share. It's a gross imitation. McD's should be ashamed of itself.

Chik-Fil-A is owned by some very religious people. I recently heard that In-n-Out is also owned by very religious people. Why do very religious people make awesome fast food?
posted by Bookhouse at 7:55 PM on September 2, 2008


The power of Crisco compels them.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:08 PM on September 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


chick filler? the old in-out, in-out?

man, those people must be repressed.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:18 PM on September 2, 2008


No, it's like "filet", except totally not. But phonetically yes.

But good on you for not taking that in the chicken-fucking direction.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:25 PM on September 2, 2008


In other words: I don't think I can stress enough how little I want this to matter in the upcoming election.

Yeah, but no offense, Deathalicious, but...so, who cares? It's been all over the news for days. It obviously does matter. I mean, I'd be thrilled if everything I didn't want to matter (because it was stupid, or inconvenient, or I just thought it sucked) suddenly didn't, but sadly, the world does not work that way.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:26 PM on September 2, 2008 [1 favorite]




It's been all over the news for days. It obviously does matter. I mean, I'd be thrilled if everything I didn't want to matter (because it was stupid, or inconvenient, or I just thought it sucked) suddenly didn't, but sadly, the world does not work that way.

Yeah, gee. If only there was some way that someone could control what was being discussed! To bad that's not possible.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:56 PM on September 2, 2008


But good on you for not taking that in the chicken-fucking direction.

Hey, that was remarkable restraint, passing over your mention of the fisters' lube of choice...
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:57 PM on September 2, 2008


Yeah, gee. If only there was some way that someone could control what was being discussed! To bad that's not possible.

Yeah, well, I think I'm not hearing the positive ring to "could control what was being discussed" that you seem to. That actually conjures all kinds of spectres of things that are, generally speaking, not super awesome and great. In any event, the story seems to resonate with a large number of people -- for whatever reason (and it may as simple as "OMG pregnant girl!!!" being more comprehensible to the average person than, say, matters of policy) -- unless you believe that the media can hypnotize people into being interested in a subject they wouldn't otherwise care about, which I personally do not. Put another way, the media may indeed be pandering to the lowest common denominator, but I think it's giving them an enormous amount of power (that they don't actually possess) to suggest that they in some way are responsible for the creation of the lowest common denominator.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:09 PM on September 2, 2008


the mcdonalds breakfast chicken thing spooks me the fuck out, because it tastes like pickles, but there's no pickles there.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 9:09 PM on September 2, 2008


It obviously does matter.

Well, a VP pick claims that her daughter chose to keep a baby, which happens to be a choice she wants to remove from the rest of America. If Bristol was threatened in any way against opting for an abortion, I think we deserve to know what the grand announcement meant by using the word "choice."
posted by Brian B. at 7:19 AM on September 3, 2008


I think we deserve to know what the grand announcement meant by using the word "choice."

"chose to keep a baby" can also mean "chose not give it up for adoption"
posted by Sys Rq at 7:50 AM on September 3, 2008


*chooses extra pickles*
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:53 AM on September 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


What makes this place especially safe is the gray, which pretty much is a free speech wall where people can air their grievances in a really public fashion (MetaFilter? More like MetaHitler!). So, worry when the gray goes down.

Actually, I just let the registration on Metahitler.com lapse. No joke.

Overall, I agree with you, but these sorts of social constructions seem to have an innate situational gravity - over time they just naturally drag down into an authoritarian swamp unless people are proactively working against that gravity. We have the best and most forthcoming moderation team I've seen on a community website, but I don't think self-oversight is ever a complete solution - I think the community needs to be actively involved and providing feedback to them.

So I try to do that without descending into hysterics, because as much as I hate to say it I really love this place and I want to see it 'win'. At the universe.

Bleh.
posted by Ryvar at 12:16 PM on September 3, 2008


Got your pony right here.
posted by cillit bang at 12:16 PM on September 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


*gives Ryvar a big non-authorito-insular hug*
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:24 PM on September 3, 2008


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