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December 5, 2008 12:54 PM   Subscribe

*clears throat* What is the exact reason why self-linking is metafilter's #1 sin? Help out this sorta-newbie.

I see complaints about self-linking over and over, day in and day out.

I click on many links to websites here on MeFi. Some of the websites are great, some meh, and some are absolutely shitty. What's the difference between a shitty (or a good) website that belongs to someoen else and one that belongs to yourself?

I know this probably has been discussed deeeeeep in the gray, but I haven't had any luck finding anything.
posted by sixcolors to MetaFilter-Related at 12:54 PM (73 comments total)

You aren't an objective evaluator of your own work's merit.

Also, there's a clear benefit to posting your own website over any other, especially if it's funded by ad revenue or sales.
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 12:57 PM on December 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


Perhaps: "You are not the best judge of the value of your own work."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:58 PM on December 5, 2008


Do you like your spam inbox?
posted by buzzman at 12:58 PM on December 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


Because it's about pimping your own thing instead of sharing something that is, objectively, "best of the web." If your thing is so great, someone will link to it eventually, or so they say.
posted by chococat at 12:59 PM on December 5, 2008


I think the basic idea is that being allowed to submit your own websites/webpresence, you will be less likely to take a look at the content in an impartial fashion, and are more likely to just shit on the main page to get your content seen. Only being allowed to submit links that you are in no way attached to(outside of having discovered and wanting to share with MeFi) encourages a more objective look at the quality.

I touched on this in my first sentence, but to state it explicitly: allowing self-linking has the potential to turn MeFi into a bunch of advertising. It would probably be more effort than it is worth to allow self-linking and try to clean up the slimier occurrences.

On preview: others are more concise than am I.
posted by owtytrof at 1:01 PM on December 5, 2008


Self-linking would eat MetaFilter whole. We'd be completely swamped by spammers and search-engine-optimizers.

Even as it is, my sense is that the mods spend a significant part of their time seeking out and destroying SEO-motivated posts and comments.
posted by timeistight at 1:03 PM on December 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


You might want to refer to the FAQ.
Are self-links ever okay on any part of the site?

Sometimes, but rarely. 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. People who self-link in front page posts on MetaFilter will have their posts removed and their account banned. Transparency and honesty are important to the community and we rely on users to abide by the guidelines and participate honestly.

Including a link to your own site in a comment is okay provided that it has some relevance to the topic being discussed and is not your only form of site particpation. Random off-topic insertions of self-links into other posts are discouraged and such links may be removed.

Linking to your own site in an Ask MetaFilter question is only okay if it has something specific to do with the question being asked, for example "Can you look at my logo and tell me why everyone thinks it looks like a devil?" or "What else do I need to do to this website to make it ADA compliant?" Other self-links will be removed.

Ask MetaFilter questions that seem to be thinly veiled self-promotion will be removed. Do not use Ask MetaFilter to drive traffic to your site or your friend's site or sell a product or service. Questions that seem to be being asked with the intent to promote a poster's product or service or friend's product or service will be removed and the participating accounts banned. Feel free to include a link to your work in your profile and people can click through to it. If you are unsure about a specific example, please contact us.

Please use MetaFilter Projects for self-promotion and tooting your own horn.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:03 PM on December 5, 2008


I wrote a really good, detailed explanation elsewhere which should make this completely clear to you and possible make you feel like you've become just a little bit more of a better person. Just click this link for more!
posted by ardgedee at 1:03 PM on December 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


There's a bunch of reasons, but the key one is this: the front page is intended as a filter. Folks are expected to post stuff because they personally think, apropos of nothing else, that what they're posting is worth the time and attention of other folks on the site or the giant pile of non-member readers who come here every day.

Links motivated by self-interest break that filter. The incentive for a self-link is materially different from the incentive for a link that does not net the poster (or his employer, or his friend, or his client, etc) attention, monetizable or not as the case may be.

Folks have occasionally protested (usually in the face of a deletion) that someone could have some self-interest in something that is nonetheless a great link, but that's a non-starter: if it's a great link, the number of mefites who could potentially post it and who wouldn't be self-linking in the process is huge. Good content tends to find its way here and to other aggregation sites.

Secondary but significant to that is a general powerful dislike folks here have for the wide-open cesspool of spam and self-promotion that much of the web encourages or at least doesn't make an effort to contain or curtail. There may be (there, in fact, definitely are) a thousand places where you can go shill and get away with it, but Metafilter isn't going to be one of them.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:04 PM on December 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


Also, I was under the impression that Projects was there for this reason, among others.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:04 PM on December 5, 2008


Yup. If it's yours and it's a web project and it's something you want to share, Projects is the place to do it. Before that existed, kindall managed a mailing list to do sort of the same thing on a monthly-announcement basis.

As it is, we get folks who sign up just to throw some spamtastic thing into Projects—the queue for that part of the site makes it easy to separate out the bullshit and let the actual interesting projects through, though we're still constantly peering at edge cases as far as just how mercenary a Projects post can be. Same thing every once in a while with a brand new Music-posting user who has mistaken this for Myspace.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:12 PM on December 5, 2008


I was banned from MySpace for self-linking. I am the only person in history who has ever had that happen.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:17 PM on December 5, 2008


I had no idea you guys deleted Projects posts. I mistakenly though it was just a spam catch-all. Kind of like the "catch-all" drawer in my grandmother's kitchen. Nothing doesn't go in the catch-all drawer.
posted by sdodd at 1:19 PM on December 5, 2008


We ban a spammer every few days for linking to their own stuff. It's important in a community of this size that the rules that are actual rules be crystal clear -- whereas with more lose guidelines we're okay with doing some on-the-fly interpretations -- and this was the bext way to make sure spammers were put on notice. No Self Links For Real And True Or You Get Banned No Question. There may be the rare thing-your-pal-did that would make a good FPP but realistically speaking the site is much better for keeping spammers pretty well out than it might be for letting your friend's link in.

We have back-up options of Projects and MeMail and the spin-off sites if you think something may need a little more attention, but I think it may be tough to see from the outside just what a terrible terrible scourge SEO types and spammers are to ites with good Google page rank like MeFi.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:21 PM on December 5, 2008


We don't really delete projects posts (except once in a really blue mon) but there's an approval queue for things that go up there, just to be on the safe side.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:23 PM on December 5, 2008


except once in a really blue mon

The Blue Mon? Isn't that just a trio of mute Jamaican performers who present themselves in blue grease paint over latex bald caps and black clothing while playing a mixture of idiosyncratic instruments?

They're not just spammers, they totally stole the idea from Obie-winning American performance group.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:28 PM on December 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


Same thing every once in a while with a brand new Music-posting user who has mistaken this for Myspace.

Wait - what? How the hell do people manage to abuse Music? I can't even imagine what the offense could be.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:29 PM on December 5, 2008


It's actually just a mefi in-joke.
posted by mullacc at 1:30 PM on December 5, 2008


How the hell do people manage to abuse Music? I can't even imagine what the offense could be.

Imagine a song that, above the fold, has not a cheerful summary of the song but rather a cut-and-paste of said poster's band email's sig file. That sort of thing. Just really, really not getting that Music isn't a one-stop promotional platform. Usually it's more of a matter of me deleting and writing 'em an email to help acclimate them to the site than a Crazy Spammer type issue.

Though once in a blue moon someone signs up and posts like some random recording by a band they have nothing to do with. I think that has happened maybe twice ever.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:33 PM on December 5, 2008


That was for YOU because I KNEW YOU LIKED QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:38 PM on December 5, 2008 [8 favorites]


Gotcha, thanks.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:39 PM on December 5, 2008


How the hell do people manage to abuse Music?

Sometimes, MeFites can't refrain from beating Music flat with a major chord until it breaks unless cortex steps in and modulates.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:45 PM on December 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


I have nothing to do with any of the songs I've posted. I blame the booze. It wrote those songs. Not me!
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 1:51 PM on December 5, 2008


What is the exact reason why self-linking is metafilter's #1 sin?

It's the same reason that Hallmark doesn't sell any "look how ugly our baby is!" cards for new parents.

What's the difference between a shitty (or a good) website that belongs to someoen else and one that belongs to yourself?

There's some kind of logical fallacy here, because your argument seems to boil down to:

- The rule against self linking is to avoid shitty posts.
- We still have shitty posts.
- Therefore, the rule must not be working.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:15 PM on December 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


The answer should be obvious.

You must return to the 11th chamber and study more.
posted by fleacircus at 2:23 PM on December 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


Aside from the intended reasons that mods have already gone into, I've observed an invaluable, perhaps unintended consequence of the no-self-linking rule. Having that one, single instant perma-ban rule-that-cannot-be-broken around here, and making that very clear to even the n00bs, means that anyone who breaks it was not respectful towards the site or the community, and didn't deserve to be here. It also means that those who obey the rule are here for the community itself. It's kind of like Van Halen's M&M clause - it's not because they like being pains in the ass, or just because they can, but because it's a clause buried deep in a long contract full of safety specifications, and if there aren't M&M's with the brown ones removed in their dressing room, they know that the venue didn't pay enough attention to the contract, and that the show might be dangerous. With no self-linking, it's not that there's an assumption that your personal project won't be of quality, but preventing self-links means that there's a community being fostered full of people who are cool with that rule, which rises the tone here above 99.9% of all other fora out there.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:29 PM on December 5, 2008 [20 favorites]


It's all about the number of eyes saved. Your crappy blog post will get maybe nine unique views (if you mom's email blast reaches all of your cousins who still have AOL accounts), whereas your crappy blog posted on MetaFilter will get over nine thousand unique views.

So, every time you don't self-link your crappy blog, 8,991 sets of eyes are spared the horror of reading about that one time your bus driver dropped his wallet and had to lean over to get it and when he did he drifted off the road and drove through a puddle and splashed that old lady walking down the sidewalk causing her to drop her handbag into the sewer grate.
posted by An Infinity Of Monkeys at 2:43 PM on December 5, 2008


I'm self-linking right this moment.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:45 PM on December 5, 2008


Existentially, that is. How could I not link everything back to myself? My CNS is my best friend and yet a veil.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:46 PM on December 5, 2008


Rules is rules.
posted by Divine_Wino at 2:47 PM on December 5, 2008


We don't really delete projects posts (except once in a really blue mon)

And when that happens, its a blue mon day. Which leads me to ask two questions:

How does it feel
To delete posts like you do
When you've laid your eyes upon them
And told us they are wrong?

I thought I was mistaken
I thought I read the FAQ
Tell me how do I post
Tell me now how do I post?
posted by googly at 2:52 PM on December 5, 2008 [6 favorites]


Having that one, single instant perma-ban rule-that-cannot-be-broken around here, and making that very clear to even the n00bs, means that anyone who breaks it was not respectful towards the site or the community, and didn't deserve to be here.

Beautifully put.

For an example of former users who were not respectful to the site and community, have a look at the history of MetaFilter's Givewell affair. Pay close attention to the tone of HK's response when confronted; that'll go a long way towards helping you understand why we don't like self-linkers here.
posted by jason's_planet at 2:54 PM on December 5, 2008


What's all this Blue Moon business?
posted by netbros at 3:00 PM on December 5, 2008


Having that one, single instant perma-ban rule-that-cannot-be-broken around here, and making that very clear to even the n00bs, means that anyone who breaks it was not respectful towards the site or the community, and didn't deserve to be here.

That's a good way to put it. It's sort of pesty generally playing cat and mouse with self-linkers. Now we have a checkbox that everyone has to click when they make their first post that says "I understand the rules and am not a spammer and am not linking to my own stuff" and when people complain to use that their post was deleted and they have been banned we'll often have to get to the "you clicked the fucking box, really how much more obvious does it have to be?" point with them. Wastes everyone's time. So if I had to sum it up in a nutshell

- we're happier with a crystal clear rule instead of a mushier one or one that requires judgment calls
- you are often not the best judge of your own stuff or your friends' stuff and we're okay occasionally missing out on your friend's awesome project in order to keep the site mostly spammer free
- self-linkers and SEO spammer are killing the web and we don't want them to play that shit here
- I know this seems a little odd.... but the site would be much much worse if this rule were not part of how we do business

And really even though this is a hard and fast rule we've seen the odd once-a-year exception where someone's co-worker's thing was so totally incredible that even though it doesnt pass the smell test, we'll leave it. Or I've seen us delete a post by someone truly clueless to the rule and we won't ban them we'll just keep an eye on them. I hate to even bring that up here but it's the reality of the system we've built.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:03 PM on December 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


What's all this Blue Moon business?

I had a chemistry teacher my freshman year of college who collected covers of Blue Moon. He had something like sixty different versions, and he played them during labs. Extra jazzy Blue Moon, reggae Blue Moon, punk-pop Blue Moon, techno Blue Moon, ska Blue Moon...

It's a good thing I test well, because I did not get good scores on my lab reports that semester.
posted by Caduceus at 3:14 PM on December 5, 2008


Because it makes your mouse grow hair and your webcam go blind?
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:28 PM on December 5, 2008


makes your mouse grow hair

Some Hungarians from 2005 called, and they want their idea back.
posted by CKmtl at 3:36 PM on December 5, 2008


Caduceus, that reminds me to link to my blog post about my friend who always sings blue moon except he fills in "who put the hurf in the hurf-de-durf-de-durf" into the lyrics and it's so funny and we all die laughing and roll around until our arms fall off until one day it just wasn't funny and now we use hurf de durf as a synonymn for a joke that has run its course yet we use anyway in an ironic sense because we're all post-post-post-ironic antihipsters who totally don't wear tight jeans and anyway only one of us has an iphone and he totally only got it so he could have the Metal Gear sound effects every time he turns the damn thing on which is all the fucking time because he's always showing off how awesome his fucking iphone is and we all just think he's a tool because he used to have the Transformers sound effect as the unlock sound but then he changed it and the new one isn't nearly as cool plus it leads to the inevitable train of that first friend saying "Snake!" whenever he unlocks it and then it degenerates into six hours of jokes about hiding in boxes and humping unconscious guards and that reminds me of when one of the Metal Gears came out yet another friend had some weird ass graphics card that came with 3D goggles and so we tried to play Metal Gear in 3D with the weird ass goggles but it didn't really work because DirectX or OpenGL or something got all confused between the intro and the game so you really only saw half of what was happening and it didn't improve the gamplay at all.
posted by Skorgu at 3:46 PM on December 5, 2008 [6 favorites]


It's because all our websites suck.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:47 PM on December 5, 2008


^-- And that, children, is why we don't allow self links.
posted by Skorgu at 3:47 PM on December 5, 2008


DAMMIT!!!!

I have spent years here trying to build up some cred so I could eventually self-link to my sooper kool blog all about the musical score to Birds.

F'gettit.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 4:37 PM on December 5, 2008


I posted a self link as a FPP once and got away with it!
posted by Mick at 4:47 PM on December 5, 2008


That was like eight and a half years ago. We can ban you now if it would make you feel better.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:55 PM on December 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


Blue Moon
posted by milkrate at 5:02 PM on December 5, 2008


Navelgazer writes "Wait - what? How the hell do people manage to abuse Music? I can't even imagine what the offense could be."

There are large classes of recordings that aren't acceptable. For example ambient recordings.
posted by Mitheral at 5:35 PM on December 5, 2008


  • Spoken Word in MeMu
  • The Image Tag
  • Poems about Hitler
  • Self Links

    These are a few of the things not welcome on Metafilter.

  • posted by blue_beetle at 6:02 PM on December 5, 2008


    Thank god the rule isn't against self-abuse.
    posted by maxwelton at 6:33 PM on December 5, 2008


    Wait - what? How the hell do people manage to abuse Music?

    By posting songs recorded in F minus.
    posted by Devils Rancher at 6:43 PM on December 5, 2008


    Hang on - ambient music or ambient sound is not allowed? I loved the thunderstorm recording I got here!

    AND no Hitler poems?!
    posted by Pronoiac at 7:03 PM on December 5, 2008


    Hitler had one ball
    Hitle took a big fall...
    posted by fixedgear at 7:12 PM on December 5, 2008


    You know what?

    *clears throat*

    That rhetorical
    Question - who did some bad thing?
    The answer: Hitler.

    Yes, predictable.
    It's kind of an in-joke here.
    Also, tiresome.

    "Run into the ground"
    is five syllables, if that
    helps anyone write one.

    "Beating a dead horse"
    Is also five. OMG
    This is really dumb.
    posted by Pronoiac at 7:18 PM on December 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


    This is just to say
    You know who else ate some plums?
    Some fucking poet
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:46 PM on December 5, 2008 [15 favorites]


    helps anyone write one.

    Syllable count: wrong.
    It offends the ear by one.
    Christ, what an asshole.
    posted by CKmtl at 7:49 PM on December 5, 2008


    Listened to Wagner:
    Weltschmerz lebensraum schnell schnell.
    Invade Poland.
    posted by chinston at 9:38 PM on December 5, 2008


    My bad. Read "someone"
    In place of "anyone," and
    Then, invade Poland.
    posted by Pronoiac at 11:25 PM on December 5, 2008


    Hitler ate my plums,
    Appreciate them? Hell no.
    Worst. Roommate. Ever.
    posted by Pronoiac at 11:32 PM on December 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


    Haiku Haiku Hai
    Ku Haiku Haiku Haiku
    Haiku Haiku ku
    posted by Astro Zombie at 11:50 PM on December 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


    The organization from which Jessamyn purchases her vowels, on an apparently fraudulent account, has finally caught up to her. They have intermittently suspended the letter "o" from her account.
    Jessamyn, if I may address you personally, you are well-liked here in this online community. I know you are a proud person but everyone needs help sometimes even though it's difficult to ask.
    As a bridge solution until Jessamyn gets much needed help I would like to ask whoever has her in the Secret Quonsar please buy her $10 worth of "o's".
    posted by vapidave at 12:13 AM on December 6, 2008


    I quite like haikus
    Do you know who else likes them?
    People who can count.

    There once was a studious fellow
    Who'd scream and then shout and then bellow
    But only on-line
    Because most of the time
    He was timid and really quite yellow. (NOT-YELLOWIST!)

    Metafilter: Hitler ate my plums!

    (I don't need a gun because the extra teeth in my profile picture are actually cunningly disguised cyanide capsules).

    Oh shit, wrong thread. um.. lolol kthxerggggg
    posted by h00py at 12:23 AM on December 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


    Are the haiku played
    Out yet? I'd hate to get in
    On this thing too late.
    posted by Caduceus at 1:12 AM on December 6, 2008


    The Blue Mon? Isn't that just a trio of mute Jamaican performers who present themselves in blue grease paint over latex bald caps and black clothing while playing a mixture of idiosyncratic instruments?

    Surely they're a blue-painted female equivalent to Puppetry of the Penis.
    posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:00 AM on December 6, 2008


    Bom ba ba bom ba bom ba bom bom ba ba bom ba ba bom ba ba dang a dang dang,
    Ba ba ding a dong ding,
    Blue mon
    posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:05 AM on December 6, 2008


    There once was a man
    From eastern Massachusetts
    Who did some rude things
    posted by Sys Rq at 8:17 AM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


    You saw me standing
    Alone. Without. You know who
    else hit it? Hitler.
    posted by box at 8:23 AM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Good thing the Cooter Clock is dead.
    posted by cjorgensen at 10:26 AM on December 6, 2008


    We hit it too hard.
    posted by The Whelk at 10:31 AM on December 6, 2008


    Hey, ring de alarm!
    Hey, whoah! ring de alarm!
    another post is dying. Whoah!
    Hey, ring de alarm!
    a self-link is dying. Whoah!
    Hey, ring de alarm!

    Tee tar toe, delete'em all in a row.
    Donkey waan water but dem hol' im trough
    tee tar toe, delete'em all in a row.
    Dark haas waan water but, hol' im trough.
    posted by UbuRoivas at 12:02 PM on December 6, 2008


    *clears throat* What is the exact reason why self-linking is metafilter's #1 sin?

    Three words: overrun with spam.
    posted by Ironmouth at 4:24 PM on December 6, 2008


    how many youtube videos have you seen that clearly only the author thought were cool?
    posted by krautland at 6:47 AM on December 7, 2008


    Very few 'cause they are almost always mystery meat too.
    posted by Mitheral at 10:16 AM on December 7, 2008


    Now, really, who thinks mystery-meatlinks sound appetizing?

    Pretty much sums it up.
    posted by defenestration at 8:39 PM on December 7, 2008


    That made no sense, but self-linking still is not cool.
    posted by defenestration at 8:41 PM on December 7, 2008


    O weep ye soft for the puir wee self-link,
    An' rattle ye drums for its bann'd posting kin
    Struck doon by sich names what has fill'd us with terror:
    Mathowie, cortex and me bonie Jessamyn.
    posted by Spatch at 7:42 AM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


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