If you don't have anything nice to say....
June 7, 2009 12:52 PM   Subscribe

Is it inappropriate to comment that you're unimpressed with a post?

In the comments to this post -- a single link to a Bobby McFerrin performance that's been there on YouTube for 3 years, with no context -- Benzo8 said:

MeFi has become too big, I fear, such that every thread will find people coming into it to loudly and ironically complain just how little they care about the subject matter. This was OK when were a few thousand, or even a few tens of thousands - it was mild background noise that others could steer to better the discussion of the link. Now it's a groundswell - the naysayers begin to overwhelm any semblance of conversation those who might be interested in the link care about...

It's time people realised that MeFi is too big to behave that way - it's changed and you have to change or it will die. If you don't care, show us how much you don't care by ignoring it. The strength of MetaFilter is that it offers a place for discussion of a wide range of subjects - with 50-60k users, there's always going to be thousands who don't care for one particular subject or another. Be restrained, move on, don't kill the 'Fi...


Discuss.
posted by msalt to Etiquette/Policy at 12:52 PM (145 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

My response was:
On the contrary. Precisely because Metafilter is so much bigger, it is MORE important to maintain high standards for posts. If everyone of 10,000 people adds half-assed posts of some youTube clip they like or their favorite band, Metafilter will become ... well, youtube without any original material. Basically one big forwarded email.

There is apparently not a single comprehensive Bobby McFerrin post in all of Metafilter. If you want to make one, great. But attacking anyone who's unimpressed with a lame post is not going "save" Metafilter, and it's pretty self-important of you to say so.

posted by msalt at 12:53 PM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you don't care, show us how much you don't care by ignoring it.

Exactly. No need to "shit" in a thread you don't like.
posted by ericb at 1:00 PM on June 7, 2009 [15 favorites]


It depends on how well you can say it. Equally, the shrill reactions to negative comments are equally useless.

On balance, don't worry about this shit and go play with your kids/clean your toilet/learn a deadly martial art/have sex/etc.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:02 PM on June 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


This suffices.
posted by JimmyJames at 1:02 PM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: Ignoring threads you don't like since 1999.
posted by netbros at 1:03 PM on June 7, 2009


don't worry about this shit

Don't Worry. Be Happy.
posted by ericb at 1:09 PM on June 7, 2009


Is it ok if I make a snarky one-liner criticizing this post?
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:09 PM on June 7, 2009


I think a lot of the need to object to posts would be relieved if there were a "flag" choice to the effect of "This is a lousy post and ought to be deleted by the mods". But for the moment, the only way to say that is to choose "other", or to say it in the thread.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:10 PM on June 7, 2009


Seems pretty clear to me. Don't shit in threads you do not enjoy. If you think it deserves a flag, flag it. If you think it's representative of a larger issue that the community seems to want to discuss, especially if it is an issue that is de-railing the thread, post it to MeTa.


For the record, my comments in the thread:

Post was a little thin. Then the comments sold me.


I love this man. So, so much.

Thank you.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:18 AM on June 7 [+] [!]

What I think msalt might be saying is: If you are going to do a Bobby McFerrin post, this ain't the way.

But you know, he's like Mr. Rogers or President Obama to me. I don't care, I just want to spend more time looking at and listening to him.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:29 AM on June 7 [+] [!]


posted by lazaruslong at 1:12 PM on June 7, 2009


9 out of 10 posts don't interest me. You don't want me saying that in them... and I don't want you saying that in the one other post that does interest me.
posted by smackfu at 1:15 PM on June 7, 2009 [29 favorites]


Don't Worry. Be Happy.

Heh. I had AdBlocker turned off and caught this very unfortunate ad pairing. That wasn't his message was it?

Also, dude knows how to throat sing.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:18 PM on June 7, 2009


There is apparently not a single comprehensive Bobby McFerrin post in all of Metafilter.

However, it appears that many who are commenting it that thread are fleshing out more about McFerrin, including his talented Dad and son.

It appears you had nothing substantive to contribute other than to complain about how the thread did not meet your standards.

Tell me -- are we next to hear that "you don't own a TV?"
posted by ericb at 1:20 PM on June 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


On the contrary. Precisely because Metafilter is so much bigger, it is MORE important to maintain high standards for posts.... But attacking anyone who's unimpressed with a lame post is not going "save" Metafilter, and it's pretty self-important of you to say so.

seems a bit self-important to appoint oneself the gatekeeper of high standards, no?

also, what JimmyJames and smackfu said...
posted by jammy at 1:20 PM on June 7, 2009


Is it inappropriate to comment that you're unimpressed with a post?

A nice first attempt, but it would've been even trickier to decode if you'd gone with "Is it not inappropriate to comment that you're unimpressed with a post?"

Anyway, my answer to that question is no. I mean, yes. Yes.

Q) Which is a worse: a shitty post, or a shitty comment calling out a shitty post?
A) A shitty comment calling out a shitty post. It is possible, even likely, that someone will like a thin post that you don't but it is quite literally impossible for a shitty call-out to be anything but a shitty call-out. That this shittiness is prosecuted in the name of "keeping MetaFilter good" makes it even more loathsome. FIAMO.

posted by dirtdirt at 1:21 PM on June 7, 2009 [9 favorites]


Take note: msalt is "The Arbiter of Taste!"
posted by ericb at 1:22 PM on June 7, 2009


But for the moment, the only way to say that is to choose "other", or to say it in the thread.

We've gone over this many times. If it's a crappy post for MeFi it's fine to flag it as "breaks the guidelines" or "noise" or whatever you want. Saying "well there isn't a flag to say how bad this is so I'm going to shit in the thread" is pretty much not okay.

That said, there's a difference between commenting in a thread to say that you think something isn't that great of a post as part of having a conversation and early thread-shitting "sucks" or whatever which we'll often remove. If you think it's a crap post but there is a small subset of users who DO like it and it's not breaking some general guidelines, flagging it is a lot more kind to the people who might want to discuss whatever it is than just being all "meh." in threads.

Generally speaking I see a lot of early commenting in threads as really setting the tone for how a thread will go overall. Early comments that are just saying that you don't like something sort of poisons the well. Use the flagging feature, feel free to email/im us but don't fill the place up with your negative comments just because a post isn't relevant to you personally.

There's also a small subset of people who seem to do this a lot. We'd like them to maybe consider doing that less.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:22 PM on June 7, 2009 [32 favorites]


We'd like them to maybe consider doing that less.

Yes. Yes. This!!!
posted by netbros at 1:26 PM on June 7, 2009


Hey, I missed it the first time around: Can we have a flag option for posts ending with the word "Discuss"?
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:30 PM on June 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


Why is this hard? You don't like a post, skip it. If you really think it shouldn't be on Metafilter, flag it. If you think the post is bad enough to make an issue of, start a Meta thread. But whining in the thread, especially multiple times, when everyone else appears pleased with the link, makes you sound like a tool.
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:30 PM on June 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Good luck with this msalt. While I can see some value in "this is weaksauce" comments I wish the "meh" brigade would at least give it a couple hours and maybe a few dozen comments before exposing their oh so high level wit in threads. Give a chance for people who like it to establish a base of discussion before derailing. Posting meh 30 seconds after the post goes live (unless it's a 3 second SLYT thing) makes it obvious they aren't actually making an informed comment instead engaging in /. style First Postery in an attempt to lead the bandwagon.
posted by Mitheral at 1:32 PM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's a distinct difference between "this topic is uninteresting to me" and "this post is crap and fails to meet the guidelines", and there's room in MetaFilter for expressing this, and flagging isn't always the best solution.

But speaking from experience it's a lot more productive and effective to offered reasoned, objective criticism than it is to just drop a turd and run away. If you have issues with the substance or style of a post then say so - but be prepared to take the time to offer a reasonable, useful critique - not a sophomoric "this sucks".

Yeah, I'm arguing against MetaFilter being too soft or fluffy. This community harshness is a strength, not a weakness. A MetaFilter lacking in taste, standards or critical thinking will quickly allow it to become just another digg, reddit or other lifeless aggregated bookmark feed. These community standards keep the front page from being flooded with things like pictures of kittens or links to lame email-forward materials or lists like "The top ten ways people like to eat peanut butter and bread!"

People all too easily confuse honest criticism with insult. People all too easily take the subject matters of their posts personally, and emotionally invest in them too much - and then get all butt hurt when you try to point out that the post is either badly sourced or linking to some lame content-thieving blogspam site.

To try and eliminate this criticism from MetaFilter entirely should be considered harmful to the well developed community standards that make this place so awesome to begin with.
posted by loquacious at 1:48 PM on June 7, 2009 [16 favorites]


attacking anyone who's unimpressed with a lame post is not going "save" Metafilter, and it's pretty self-important of you to say so.

Just as a data point - in some cases, seeing more-jaded-than-thou comments from you and your ilk dismissing Metafilter porsts makes me like the original post much more, in a weird kind of involuntary reaction against your annoying jadedness. So venting your unimpressedness, in my case at least, is actually a poor mechanism for maintaining quality on Metafilter.

The correct mechanism, surely, is:

1. Member makes lame post, but not lame enough to be deleted by the moderators.
2. Post gets no more than four or five comments because it was lame and nobody's interested.
3. Member thinks, "Hmm, maybe I need to think more carefully before I make my next post."
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 1:49 PM on June 7, 2009 [8 favorites]


No one in-thread cares what you think about a post any more than party-goers care about your opinion of the host's taste in music or appetizers.
posted by dirigibleman at 1:56 PM on June 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


History has proven time and again, that the best way to deal with things you don't like is to ignore them. This worked will with the Nazi's, the communists, slavery, women's suffrage, and hundreds of other examples.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:00 PM on June 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Did you just compare a weak post on an internet website to Nazis? Really? That's awesome.
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:03 PM on June 7, 2009 [32 favorites]


attacking anyone who's unimpressed with a lame post is not going "save" Metafilter

This is quite true, Metafilter needs to go to Temple/Church/Mosque/Paganthing more often if it really wants to be saved. And call it's mother more often, she worries, would it kill ya, jeez....

For crappy posts, it would be awesome if people commented that the post isn't that strong and then added links or information to continue or restart the conversation. Saying "this sucks" really isn't helpful to the community.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:04 PM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


posted by blue_beetle at 2:00 PM on June 7: History has proven time and again, that the best way to deal with things you don't like is to ignore them. This worked will with the Nazi's, the communists, slavery, women's suffrage, and hundreds of other examples.

I'm glad that we're keeping perspective on this.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:04 PM on June 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


This MeTa thread sucks.
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:11 PM on June 7, 2009


See this thing? Right beside the date? [!]


USE IT AND MOVE ON

posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:21 PM on June 7, 2009


Well, let's take this SLYT as an example.

I was among the first to chime in with an admittedly annoying yes...and? sort of comment. But you know what? The post was awfully thin and not particularly original, and I pointed out why I believed that was the case. And, annoying though my original comments were, the thread shifted into a neat little discussion re: that summer camp rain clap thing.

If I hadn't made those annoying comments, it'd be a thread of "wow!" and "neat!" and "how interesting and original!" which would just be fucking lame and stupid.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:26 PM on June 7, 2009


I'm glad that we're keeping perspective on this.

When I go to the thread to say that the post sucks, I am like Jesus chasing the money lenders from the temple.
posted by Free word order! at 2:27 PM on June 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


I didn't think it was necessary for posts to be "impressive." I didn't see anyting in the FAQ saying they need to be "impressive."
posted by jayder at 2:32 PM on June 7, 2009


"...the settlement of the SLYT problem, which has now been achieved is, in my view, only the prelude to a larger settlement in which all Metafilter may find peace. This morning I had another talk with the MetaTalk hordes, and here is the thread which bears their name upon it as well as mine (waves paper to the crowd - receiving loud cheers and "Hear Hears"). Some of you, perhaps, have already heard what it contains but I would just like to read it to you (proceeds to read the agreement). [...] We regard the agreement posted last night and the MetaTalk negative-comment Agreement, as symbolic of the desire of our many peoples never to go to war with one another again...

My good friends, this is the second time in our history that there has come back from MetaTalk to Metafilter peace with honour. I believe it is a plate of beans for our time [emphasis added]. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. And now I recommend you to go home and sleep quietly in your beds.
" (source)
posted by blue_beetle at 2:35 PM on June 7, 2009


Well, as this is pretty much close to my first call-out in eight years, I feel I should say something:

benzo8 has a lower case "b". Thanks...
posted by benzo8 at 2:40 PM on June 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah lest anyone think we're being all "smiles everyone!" about this, constructive "I don't like this particularly for these reasons" sorts of things are totally fine, I'm more thinking of early comments that just say "sucks" or "meh" or whatever that can sometimes make threads turn into hatefests which is usually not super great irrespective of whatever the original link was.

Put another way, so-so posts can sometimes be redeemed by early constructive comments but can also be sunk by a lot of early "bleh" comments.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:41 PM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


it's a lot more productive and effective to offered reasoned, objective criticism than it is to just drop a turd and run away. If you have issues with the substance or style of a post then say so - but be prepared to take the time to offer a reasonable, useful critique - not a sophomoric "this sucks".

MeFi needs more idealists.
posted by carsonb at 2:45 PM on June 7, 2009


Sys rq, The denouement of the Toto post was Lipsick Thespian's Secret-Summer-Camp hypothetical script, so once in a while, it does lead us to hilarious places, yes. That's precisely because you gave a reason for your annoyance at the rain thing beyond "this sucks," which as you said, seems to have sparked a fun conversation on the subject.

I didn't see your comment as "You're hurting Metafilter," but rather "I don't like the content of the link because of X," which is the difference here, and I think that's the best way to handle it if you're going to comment instead of flag. I somehow doubt that the summer-campiness of the rain thing would have gone unmentioned though, if you hadn't brought it up. Seems like there's quite a few folks with your experience there in the thread, so it might have gone there, anyway, or maybe it would have veered into "Bad Post!" and "NO YUO!" I'm glad it didn't, though. This is why guidelines are better than rules.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:48 PM on June 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


I definitely much appreciate hearing why you don't think a particular post is good for Metafilter and what, if anything, would make it better. Just dropping some dismissive one-liner that pretty much boils down to "I found this boring" doesn't improve the quality of material at all - all we know is, OK, User X doesn't like vids of girls playing ukuleles. So? What does this accomplish other than make you feel better for not having let that post slide, being enjoyed by others even, without you smearing a booger on the window? Definitely, criticize. Thread shitting isn't criticism.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:17 PM on June 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


If I hadn't made those annoying comments, it'd be a thread of "wow!" and "neat!" and "how interesting and original!" which would just be fucking lame and stupid.

Sys Rq brought up a point that I've been meaning to post to MetaTalk. What about the opposite of "meh" threads? What about the threads that are mostly "wow" and "neat"? Is that noise too? Seriously. I've only made 12 comments to the blue and most of them were of the "wow!" variety. And each time, as soon as I hit "post" I felt awkward and lame, like I should have added to the discussion instead of just "me too! I liked it too!".

So, do positive comments that don't in any way add to the discussion, belong in threads?

Or have I finally become a true MeFite and this is my plate of beans?
posted by dogmom at 3:23 PM on June 7, 2009


dogmom, you are more than welcome to come into any FPP I've posted and drop as many "Wow!"s and "Fascinating post!"s and "I bet you're as charming and good-looking in real life as this FPP!"s as you please.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:32 PM on June 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


Well, I think posts that elicit a lot of yay!-saying usually make for lousy threads, but they're still good posts; the fact that they're enjoyable and interesting enough without a discussion shouldn't detract from that.

It's cheering the mediocre that I simply do not have a tolerance for. (I'll try...)
posted by Sys Rq at 3:32 PM on June 7, 2009


> These community standards keep the front page from being flooded with things like pictures of kittens or links to lame email-forward materials or lists like "The top ten ways people like to eat peanut butter and bread!"

I figure the moderators are responsible for it not sucking more than negative comments. I see a whole lot of deleted threads in my RSS feed. I don't know to what degree user reactions inform their judgment, but I'm guessing they can spot a shit post without it.
posted by cj_ at 3:37 PM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


"lest anyone think we're being all "smiles everyone!" about this, constructive "I don't like this particularly for these reasons" sorts of things are totally fine, I'm more thinking of early comments that just say "sucks" or "meh" or whatever"

Well, my original comment in the thread was:
"I don't know about genius. It's kind of cool in a very mild, been-on-Youtube-since-2006 kind of way."

How does that stack up?
posted by msalt at 3:45 PM on June 7, 2009


Take note: msalt is "The Arbiter of Taste!"

No, the community is the arbiter of taste, that's why it's a community weblog (not, say, a moderator weblog).

But this isn't about taste -- no one has yet made a comment against McFerrin, except as a grain of salt offered for their own opinion that the thread is thin. I encouraged a solid Bobby McFerrin post and pointed out that Metafilter doesn't have one.

The post is slowly moving toward becoming that as people add links, perhaps in part because of comments (not only by me) that it's kind of thin. A flag-and-deletion would not have achieved that.

The OP actually justified the post because it's thinness encouraged people to add links, which I don't really think is a good approach as a rule. He said he removed material and links!
posted by msalt at 3:58 PM on June 7, 2009


The site will always be better from the point when one joins and earlier. It is always the people who come after one that ruin it for the early adopters. Someone should write a Greasemonkey script to filter all posts and comments by anyone with a user number higher than themselves. Threads like this would be pleasantly short for some. Hi jessamyn, smackfu and netbros. Anyone else around?
posted by terrapin at 4:14 PM on June 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Someone should write a Greasemonkey script to filter all posts and comments by anyone with a user number higher than themselves. Threads like this would be pleasantly short for some. Hi jessamyn, smackfu and netbros. Anyone else around?

If this script existed you wouldn't be able to read me pointing out that none of them would be able to read you.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:24 PM on June 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Nazi's

Love the ironic greengrocers' apostrophe!
posted by zinfandel at 4:26 PM on June 7, 2009


Whenever I see a post I hate, I try not to snark in the thread. Instead I memail my criticisms directly to the poster. I figure that way they're more likely to take it personally.
posted by ryanrs at 4:44 PM on June 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


See what I don't understand anymore is why posters even bother to try to share interesting things around here – I mean, wouldn't you want to share your find with people who might like it? The dynamic boggles me. Mostly, I like to think everybody who posts on the front page does it out of spite.
posted by furiousthought at 4:54 PM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Precisely because Metafilter is so much bigger, it is MORE important to maintain high standards for posts. If everyone of 10,000 people adds half-assed posts of some youTube clip they like or their favorite band, Metafilter will become ... well, youtube without any original material

I guess this is as good a place as any to say this - dude, we know where Pitchfork TV is.

It's cheering the mediocre that I simply do not have a tolerance for.

FPPs where four of the six links are Previously, On MetaFilter... and another's a wikipedia entry aren't mediocre?

I'm probably coming across as harsher and jerkier than I mean to, since I don't have any particular issues with any of the above FPPs or personal quarrel with their respective posters, but if your criticism doesn't go any deeper than 'This is old', 'A link to foo.com? Who doesn't know foo.com?', or 'Is there a point to this?' it's probably more constructive to keep it to yourself.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:07 PM on June 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


9 out of 10 posts don't interest me.

There is a world of difference between "does this thread interest me?" and "is this out and out shit as an FPP on Mefi?" I also suspect things that I post don't appeal to 99 out of a hundred MeFites. But I do think they're appropriate for the blue.

90 percent of the content on Mefi doesn't interest me in the slightest--that doesn't mean I don't think it's suitable for Metafilter. (Okay, I've made at least one FPP on the blue I'm embarrassed about and would love removed.)

I've nothing against SLYT posts--I've even made them myself. But I think that treating the blue the way my mother treats her inbox ("Look--this is only slightly mildly interesting! Watch it!") should be stomped on hard and fast. "I love this snippet from a video of a poor transfer of a legally available dvd that can be had for $8 and was posted to youtube 3 years ago..." qualifies for stomping. It's out and out shit as a Metafilter post. Would I make a MeTa post about it? No, because that would end up making the grey as useless as the blue is becoming.

One of the problems I think people have with flags--and it is more than likely completely their own misinterpretation of how they work--is that they think that # of flags as X is viewed differently from the same number of flags as X, Y, Z, and W. They think, "How should I flag this--how did others? How can I let the mods know that I think this is shitass when there's no shitass flag?" And they instead either don't flag or make MeTa FPPs like this one.

I assume flags work as: Mod sees flags. Mod looks at post. Mod determines if it's shitass or has some other problem. It doesn't really matter that half the people chose X and the other half Y and the final half Z. But maybe I'm just fantasizing.

So... enough about flags. What I'm curious about is with stuff like the McFerrin post, do the mods really think it's worthy of staying on the front page? (I assume so as it's still there.) Really? If not, did it stay because it's more trouble to delete than keep (meaning it woulda just spawned its own MeTa FPP)? 'Cause arrogant prick that I am I can't believe some of the dreck that stands is really what the mods imagine MeFi is for.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 5:18 PM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Foo.com isn't as exciting as it sounds.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:19 PM on June 7, 2009


MeFi needs more idealists.

GIVEN ENOUGH BOOZE I'M IDEALIST ENOUGH FOR EVERYONE.

PLEASE SEND MORE BOOZE.
posted by loquacious at 5:33 PM on June 7, 2009


I'm not really following the logic that "If we don't complain about posts in-thread, Metafilter will turn into Digg!" Complaining in the comments about everything you don't like on the front page is a prime Diggism. I've always thought of Digg as someplace where, if you make something that a lot of people like, it'll get so popular that dozens will line up to tell you what a piece of shit it is.

It's ugly and annoying on Digg, and it's ugly and annoying here. If you're scanning the front page looking for excuses to threadcrap, you're making MeFi more like Digg, not less.
posted by lore at 5:34 PM on June 7, 2009 [10 favorites]


do the mods really think it's worthy of staying on the front page?

I personally didn't care for it. It seemed like uws actually had more to say about the link than he even put in the post which was a little odd. That said, it didn't hit a critical mass of flags [or cortex is in the underbrush deleting flags as soon as he sees them because he has some ulterior motive which also involves pretending to not be around today] and so the fact that it wasn't my cup of tea and also wasn't a hatey hate fest in the comments meant that it stayed around. Generally unless there's a reason to delete [where "totally lame" can be a reason but rarely applies] we try to leave things in.

What we don't have really, and I think this is worth mentioning but not in a "here's something we should have" way, is a way to say "the mods have looked at this thread and your flags and decided it's okay" So, people sometimes crap in a thread assuming its going to be deleted (which is a little weird) or they'll comment stuff like "is this crap still here?" and it seems weird to show up and say "yes, this crap is still here" but sometimes we'll show up and make a little comment just to show that yes we've seen it. This happened with the "quirky black names" thread which could have gone either way but we decided to try to see if it could be salvaged instead of deleting it on the basis of "this is one of those things that doesn't go well here" and I think it mostly turned out okay.

So, I don't know where I'm going with any of this except that I seem to be the only mod around so this is me and my opinions again.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:52 PM on June 7, 2009


*turns on donut signal*
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:38 PM on June 7, 2009


What she said, pretty much. I didn't even see the McFerrin post before now, and looking at it's kind of a personal meh redeemed somewhat by folks digging in in thread. It's not the sort of "...Really?" thing that I think of as a true shit post, but then we generally delete the truly shit posts pretty quickly and so the mediocre stuff becomes the visible baseline.

In general it's less likely that a mild and mediocre post will get nixed than a contentious and mediocre one will, in no small part because, vocal in-thread dissenters notwithstanding, a mild, mediocre post often doesn't really get any notable flagging action going on or lead to fights or other shitty behavior.

We try to delete outright crap when we see it, and people generally do a pretty good job of flagging outright crap if it stays on the page. But there's always going to be a thick, fuzzy line between Outright Crap (read: delete on sight) and just Not Particularly Great (read: probably fine, if nothing I'd mention at a party), and everybody draws their personal version of that line a bit differently.

And everybody reacts differently to a discrepancy between their personal line drawing and what ends up happening, as well, though as far as that goes most people react reasonably if they visibly react at all, which is nice.

As far as the original topic here, I'm basically nthing the "[meh/sux]" = bad, don't do it, "[substantive critical commentary on the post/subject/etc]" = generally fine notion. Like Jess said, we aren't trying to advocated enforced hugginess or whatever; as far as we have a policy position on this, it's that we don't want stupid, kneejerk SUX commentary and all that comes with it decreasing the signal-to-noise ratio around here and nudging mefi toward the more frattish/lol-im-bored feel of Some Other Websites.

I feel like sometimes what happens is someone with some time to kill hits the front page looking for something entertaining (been there), ends up finding nothing that catches their fancy (done that), but instead of going somewhere else decides to pop into a thread or two to vent their spleen indirectly (whoa, nelly, you just moved into That Sucks, Don't Be That Guy territory). It would be nice to see less of that, and specifically nice to see a lot less of it from those folks who tend to do it kind of regularly.

[or cortex is in the underbrush deleting flags as soon as he sees them because he has some ulterior motive which also involves pretending to not be around today]

I'M TRYING TO PAINT MY HOUSE AND IT IS REALLY TIME CONSUMING AS IT TURNS OUT

posted by cortex (staff) at 6:40 PM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


OK - we have verification that the donut signal works.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:40 PM on June 7, 2009 [12 favorites]


Metafilter: the mediocre stuff becomes the visible baseline.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:45 PM on June 7, 2009


msalt: "my original comment in the thread was: "I don't know about genius. It's kind of cool in a very mild, been-on-Youtube-since-2006 kind of way." How does that stack up?"

Could you explain, on behalf of the many people who get pissy about that sort of thing, what difference it makes if it's been on the Web since 2006?

Either it's new to the blue or it isn't. And either it's a substantial link or it isn't.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:53 PM on June 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


If you're scanning the front page looking for excuses to threadcrap, you're making MeFi more like Digg, not less.

This I agree with.

I think that by and large people are generally so terrified of the snark-patrol that they often think twice about posting, and I think this is good. People should think twice about posting. I've posted some stinkers, but I've moved far, far away from the "I have to find something, anything to post" mindset and wait for really good shit to pass through my browser before deciding "OK, this? This. This I can post. They'll love this."

But on the other hand I know that this barrier is indeed a barrier, and there's probably all kinds of great posts we're missing out on because of that barrier and that there are people who should be posting that aren't because they don't have a thick enough of a hide for it. This isn't ok and isn't good.


But again there's a huge difference between "This post sucks - here's a detailed, reasoned and reasonable explanation why I feel this way" and "GYOBFW". The former is communication, the latter is pure, useless snark. It's in the communication that we're able to express, describe and discuss what we feel are community standards - just like here how we're discussing what we feel are acceptable community standards for snark as opposed to criticism.

Without that communication there is no other feedback loop to discern and critically think about what this site means to everyone involved. Without that communication there's no record. Flags go into a black hole, deletion reasons are often glib or uninformative and even more often unread by the community at large. Without that communication everything is swept away into some kind of black box that's all input and no output.


Anyway, this and all of the above in this thread is one reason why I've toned down my snarkiness on the site, and I know others have as well. It's unbalanced and ineffective, really. The flagging system seems to mostly work as intended, long live MetaFilter, etc.
posted by loquacious at 6:56 PM on June 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


*flashes the donut signal again*

HEY GUYS LETS DRIVE CORTEX CRAZY WITH DONUTS AND SEE IF HE STARTS PAINTING DONUTS ON HIS HOUSE. MORE SPRINKLES IN THAT NICE GLOSSY GLAZE, CORTEX.
posted by loquacious at 7:00 PM on June 7, 2009


Do not abuse the donut signal and do not abuse a person trying to paint their house. You could get hurt.

Could you explain, on behalf of the many people who get pissy about that sort of thing, what difference it makes if it's been on the Web since 2006?

Having recently posted a link from 2005 and seen people get a little bent out of shape about that, I've decided you can't get too worked up people's reaction to this. They'll live.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:09 PM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hi jessamyn, smackfu and netbros. Anyone else around?

"We've never needed a crew before."
posted by not that girl at 7:38 PM on June 7, 2009


Could you explain, on behalf of the many people who get pissy about that sort of thing, what difference it makes if it's been on the Web since 2006?

If you unearth something amazing from years ago that no one else has spied, great job. It's almost cooler that you found it. In this case though it's the combination of the date and being only very mildly cool -- which is what I said in the original comment. Generally, people warn about SLYT posts because there's sort of a burden proof for it to be incredible, or else the poster should add more links or information.

The discussion continued in thread -- the OP and a couple of others thought the audience participation was astonishing, particularly the part where McFerrin used signals he developed with the audience to "play" them like a musical instrument. My response was that seemed like pretty common performance schtick, going back decades probably to vaudeville. I've seen lots of musicians, jugglers and comedians do similar things.

AA: dude, we know where Pitchfork TV is.

That's a fair point, and believe me I've hesitated on each of those after the first. But guess what? I read the comments on my posts to see if I'm still adding value, and no one has complained, and many seem to like those posts. Because that's how a web community works, with comments. Otherwise we could just flag and favorite and avoid comments altogether.

The main reason I post those -- besides being a great video each time -- is the one week only time limit. I know I've missed cool ones myself, or barely caught them, just because I didn't check on Friday. And a lot of people don't seem to check it at all.
posted by msalt at 7:44 PM on June 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


The problem isn't criticism, it's lazy, thoughtless criticism.
posted by empath at 8:27 PM on June 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


The discussion continued in thread -- the OP and a couple of others thought the audience participation was astonishing, particularly the part where McFerrin used signals he developed with the audience to "play" them like a musical instrument. My response was that seemed like pretty common performance schtick, going back decades probably to vaudeville. I've seen lots of musicians, jugglers and comedians do similar things.

OK. Who? When? Where? This MeTa wouldn't exist if people would explain their disapproval in the first place instead of plopping down a vague "meh" or "sucks" comment.

There are many Mefites of wide and diverse experience. There are always going to be items that are very familiar to some and novel to others. I remember someone posting the National Academy of Sciences Press where you can read thousands of science reports and books online. That was a site I'd taken for granted for a very, very long time, just as I do many other scientific resources and tidbits of cool sciencey stuff. Should I have joined that conversation by making people feel very small for being fascinated by something so common in my view?
posted by zennie at 9:04 PM on June 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Thanks for the answers Jessamyn and Cortex.

The problem isn't criticism, it's lazy, thoughtless criticism.

You know what, this is like the 3rd time this week I've seen this chestnut trotted out (though not by you empath). I don't understand it, really. The last time was about... shit I don't even remember. Some shitass band or filmmaker or some such thing and someone went off in the thread about how the poster (ahem, me) was a lazy ass for not writing 500 words on why they thought such and such shitass filmmaker/musician sucked ass. All I could think is, "Did you watch it?" The friggin video spoke for itself. The McFerrin vid speaks for itself (re: it being an FPP).

Do you really expect people to write you a book report on why a link to a substandard quality video of Bobby McFerrin jumping around on stage is lame? Really? I mean, read the description. (Not to mention: this is a poorly transferred clip from an inprint dvd that's readily available. This is the equivalent of linking to an unaltered video of the tipping scene from Reservoir Dogs. "Check out these pop culture references. Tee hee!")

"Thoughtless criticism"? Where was the thought in drafting the post?
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:08 PM on June 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Do you really expect people to write you a book report on why a link to a substandard quality video of Bobby McFerrin jumping around on stage is lame? Really?

Personally, I would prefer that people who disapprove so strongly either flag or explain-- yes, in detail-- their criticism. If an FPP is a claim that the content is MeFi-worthy, posting an opposing claim carries the same obligation of being MeFi-worthy. (Whatever you deem MeFi-worthy to be.) Otherwise it's just sneering, and sneering is ugly no matter which side one takes.
posted by zennie at 9:42 PM on June 7, 2009 [9 favorites]


"Thoughtless criticism"? Where was the thought in drafting the post?

Nthed.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:46 PM on June 7, 2009


When I go to the thread to say that the post sucks, I am like Jesus chasing the money lenders from the temple.

Having been going through the Monkey Island games as a result of a recent post, I totally misread this...
posted by Sparx at 9:55 PM on June 7, 2009


... and someone went off in the thread about how the poster (ahem, me) was a lazy ass for not writing 500 words on why they thought such and such shitass filmmaker/musician sucked ass. ... Do you really expect people to write you a book report on why a link to a substandard quality video of Bobby McFerrin jumping around on stage is lame? Really?

I do think there's a wide range of happy medium between "meh" and book reports. Unless people are actually demanding a minimum word count, I don't think it's too much to ask to say what sucks about the post and, if you're so inclined, what would improve it, if anything. That contributes, and might shape better future posts. A drive-by "meh" does absolutely nothing but tells the poster "User X didn't like Y".
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:22 PM on June 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Either it's new to the blue or it isn't. And either it's a substantial link or it isn't.

I wish I could favorite this a thousand times.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:23 PM on June 7, 2009


I feel I should ammend my previous comment to add that yes, occasionally, something will appear on the blue that is so shockingly bad that it's poorness is pretty much obvious to everyone. Pointing out its poorness requires no extrapolation. But even then, for posts that bad, there's always flagging.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:25 PM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


A quick, withering dismissal can definitely be a powerful thing. Case in point, the third comment in this thread concerning a certain story about a certain cab ride.

The comment was one word: "treacle".

Offense was taken. Argument ensued. It eventually spilled over into this MetaTalk thread.

I loved it.
posted by philip-random at 10:28 PM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


the
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:56 PM on June 7, 2009


zennie: I would prefer that people who disapprove so strongly either flag or explain-- yes, in detail-- their criticism. ... This MeTa wouldn't exist if people would explain their disapproval in the first place instead of plopping down a vague "meh" or "sucks" comment.

Uh, no. I explained my disapproval in detail here, here, here, here, and here.

I started this Metatalk thread myself because benzo8 announced that since Metafilter has grown so much, these kinds of disapprovals are a luxury we can no longer afford, which I thought was worth discussing.

I don't think benzo8 is right. Like loquacious said: This community harshness is a strength, not a weakness. We shouldn't just sit around, flagging and favoriting and waiting for the mods to clean everything up for us based on the numbers. We work out what this group thinks, as a community, through comments and discussion.
posted by msalt at 11:57 PM on June 7, 2009


Well, at least you got the "b" right this time.

I've been keeping out of this, despite you obviously trying to call me out personally on a number of occasions, because I thought that a discussion of what I'd said was more important than a discussion about me, but you seem pretty desperate to make it so.

So, about me - I've been a member of MeFi for eight years. These days, I read very irregularly and contribute very infrequently, precisely because of the issue I raised - through every thread I read that interests me I have to side-step more and more "Meh" and "Boring" and "I could have done that if I'd only thought to" and "Saw someone doing this back in the fifteen century before you were born, which incidentally, I was there for, and I fucked your mom" and it's just depressing.

I don't know if I'm alone in this - and I guess churn is inevitable - but I don't think I'm particularly sensitive or non-standard when it comes to such norms. I would guess that MeFi has lost a good number of contributors because of this already.

Yes, MeFi has long prided itself on self policing, on the community setting the standards that it expects members to adhere to, but to ignore my prime thesis - which is that MeFi is now too big for that to work without all the thread crapping getting in the way of the actual reason most of us visit - is to be more guilty of looking through rose-tinted spectacles than I suspect many feel that am I.

The problem with community policing on this scale is that, with so many policemen, it's pretty much guaranteed that one of them will dislike something and feel it's "weak" or "lame" or "not worthy" and crap in the thread. With more members, the chances of an audible minority feeling that a particular post is "not MeFi-worthy" grows.

To claim that what worked for a few thousand will automatically work when the scale is increased tenfold is to thoughtlessly cling onto "that's how we've always done it" while stepping over the growing piles of shit in every thread.

From my point of view, the flagging system is there to let alert the mods to threads that you may deem "not MeFi-worthy". Some a pretty obvious - they break the rules, they're doubles, whatever - they go fast. Others are less so, they could work, they might not, but it depends on the development of the thread, the direction the comments take, whether someone with some extra knowledge of the subject turns up and contributes some further information.

Trying to derail these threads early because they don't appeal to you does not help the community you seem so proud of. Flag the thread, to let the mods know "Hey, I think this thread could go either way" and let them decide if it stays or if it goes. Don't set an early poor tone which guarantees its failure - they may still be hundreds of people who would otherwise have enjoyed it.
posted by benzo8 at 12:33 AM on June 8, 2009 [16 favorites]


> used signals he developed with the audience to "play" them like a musical instrument [...] I've seen lots of musicians, jugglers and comedians do similar things.

> OK. Who? When? Where?

In the late nineties, I got played by Eddie Izzard and Bill Bailey. Last week I got played by a Japanese musician whose name escapes me. I don't think I've ever been played by a juggler, but there's always a first time, I guess.

I dread to think what that last sentence is going to do to my Markovfilter.
posted by the latin mouse at 1:09 AM on June 8, 2009


benzo I agree with you utterly, though the snark doesn't really distract me since i am used to sites where bad links garnish personal attacks against the poster's family and sexuality. As far as i know metafilter is the only site where negative comments get deleted early in threads, and this is precisely why it actually has discussion in threads rather than a bunch of noise and nerdy puns. I wish there was 10x more deletion of one/two line snark, or even longer snark if it's by posters who seem to do nothing but bitch. To accomplish this, maybe recruit another mod, an unpaid volunteer who has the time to read the slew of links thoroughly and decide if a post is worth saving, and if so, trimming the hate? i nominate koeselitz.

finally this might be the most ignorant and arrogant statement about personal taste i've ever seen. you should see the other guy, i'm glad that your magical brain-lens has become aligned with the kantian metaphysical ideal of quality, but maybe you might want to consider that you at least have to ATTEMPT to explain to us poor non-transcended rubes down here in the cave why something is a bad post rather than just pointing and sputtering *ahem* and expecting us all to applaud. At any rate, you clearly have no idea what a good post consists of, but I don't feel I should have to back that up, so, l8r!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:11 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


the OP and a couple of others thought the audience participation was astonishing...My response was that seemed like pretty common performance schtick..."

See, this is where you lose me. What possible purpose could it serve to (repeatedly) declare a post old hat when other posters are clearly impressed and enjoying it?
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:23 AM on June 8, 2009


I want to highlight an attitude in the quote below. Please do not take my comment as a criticism of urbanwhaleshark, who made a post that many people enjoyed.

From the original thread:....I had actually created a more verbose version containing many of the videos that have been posted in the comments, but thought that this video, despite its short length, stood on its own merits. And, in retrospect, it gave those who were genuinely as wowed by his performance to go and dig some material out for themselves and share it.

A post fails in some sense if you intend for it to inspire people to seek more links after viewing a SLYT hand-selected by you. Don't assume the reader will be moved by a few obtuse words to pursue more on subject X. It's a didactic and presumptuous and lazy posting strategy. And as a style of writing, it's one pounded out of aspiring academics, and I suspect other professional writers, very early on. Of course posting on metafilter isn't a profession, but the sentiment holds true here too.

My point is simply that posters should throw in all the interesting bits they find in order to make posts, well, interesting. "High concept" posting style is not a good thing. In this case, at least, it caused a grump derail.
posted by vincele at 4:43 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Potomac Avenue, both mods who've commented on the FPP addressed in this MeTa have said they were unimpressed with it so I'm hardly alone. I didn't bother posting in the McFerrin post as I didn't even think it was worthy of a meh (actually, I don't think I ever do the meh thing, though I guess I do just have my own wording for it).

I was merely seeking clarification on whether mods often leave crappy posts on the Blue because deleting them is not worth the trouble or because, as I feared, my version of not really MeFi-worthy is different from theirs.

and expecting us all to applaud.

Yeah, I have no idea where this is coming from.

As for good post / bad post... I think that there's multiple ways of looking at it. I've nothing against Bobby McFerrin (I own two of his records) or the Montreux Jazz Fest (I own multiple of their dvds). However, for MeFi, I think that post is terrible. I think its lack of fantastic as a post is obvious to pretty much anyone who's spent any time here and that that doesn't need extrapolating.

I think that its continued life on the blue, along with other posts of its ilk, lowers the bar. I think
that it's the kind of link that members without blogs of their own (nothing against them--I'm one of them) post to the blue regularly and it is, to me, the kind of thing that most people with their own blogs see a dozen times a day and don't bother to blog about. It's decidedly less than average is what I'm trying to say, and it isn't Metafilter-worthy. Note that this is completely different from "I don't like it" or "it's not interesting to me". I gladly scroll by posts that fit both those categories every day. But those kinds of posts don't lower the bar. Those kinds of posts simply don't interest me and there are more members here than just myself--they deserve their dose of quality goods just as much as I do.

But Metafilter as a whole doesn't deserve to keep having every substandard youtube video (or whatever) posted. You probably disagree but I think that it just leads to more of the same and eventually you're skipping so much that you're going double dutch on the blue's ass.

It goes without saying that the more members the site gets the more FPPs it gets and therefore more things I like and more things I don't like. It also follows that by definition there be more posts that are just plain crap. I was curious if it's the mods' jobs to be those arbiters of taste that everyone knocks all the time or if they simply delete things that get flagged up the wazoo. Personally, I wish they deleted more based simply on whether they collectively liked something. And if any of those were my own FPPs, I'd not have a problem with it.

On preview:

My point is simply that posters should throw in all the interesting bits they find in order to make posts, well, interesting.

I completely disagree. I think that if your FPP needs more than a link or two, it probably, though not always, blows. To me the metric should be, Is this interesting on its own? If it's not, well, as Lou Rawls would say, "All the clothes in the world can't help you."
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 4:46 AM on June 8, 2009


Totally, I agree, You Should See the Other Guy. I take issue with the idea that "the reader should be intrigued by my mysterious/exceedingly brief presentation to go out and learn more."
posted by vincele at 5:07 AM on June 8, 2009


I think its lack of fantastic as a post is obvious to pretty much anyone who's spent any time here

Not to me. If you've never seen a performer "play" an audience before, that video was freaking amazing.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:10 AM on June 8, 2009


msalt: I explained my disapproval in detail here, here, here, here, and here.

*ahem*

This MeTa wouldn't exist if people would explain their disapproval in the first place instead of plopping down a vague "meh" or "sucks" comment.

Yes, I entirely agree harshness is a strength. It makes people think twice, and that's never a bad thing on the Internet. Yet provocative barbs aren't the source of that strength alone. This is a community. If your wisecrack leads to an altercation instead of a chat, please consider the possibility that you're doing it wrong.
posted by zennie at 5:28 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


You Should See the Other Guy: that was a very good book report, thank you. No comments like that one should ever be deleted. What i was singularly disturbed by was your insistence that you didn't have to explain yourself about the HOW and WHY of post suckage and that everyone agrees with you when something is crap. Since you seem to be quite able at expressing yourself, i'd encourage you to do so in threads if you hate something, rather than hit-and-run with a dismissive sentence or two. If you can't be bothered to explain at length, it probably isn't that bad of a post and you should just walk away. PS i'm telling you what to do because i am your boss, pps please have the peterson account report prepared by 1400 and get me a cruller all this bossing around is making me hungry.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:44 AM on June 8, 2009


I once had coffee with Bobby McFerrin in the mid 90s. And by "had coffee with" I mean he was at the table next to me and we exchanged a couple of sentences. He used to come into the bookstore where I worked quite often. Anyway, while we were sitting there, some guy driving by in a car yelled out, "Hey Bobby, don't worry, be happy!"

This was shortly after the resurgence of this song due to "Pop Up Videos" on some music TV program (MTV or VH1).

I asked, "You ever get tired of that?"

He said the royalties from that song put his kids through college, so no, he never got tired of hearing it.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:18 AM on June 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


You Should See the Other Guy writes "It goes without saying that the more members the site gets the more FPPs it gets and therefore more things I like and more things I don't like."

I don't think this is true. I think it was cortex who plotted out a chart showing the frequency of posts has been pretty well steady over the last couple of years despite the ever growing usernumbers.
posted by Mitheral at 7:19 AM on June 8, 2009


Unless a "bad" post inspires you to either: 1) thoughtfully detail how it could have been good if done differently, or 2) call them out [which should be done in the grey], you really should just FIAMO. Any negative commentary falling between those two poles will neither improve the thread nor be effective policing.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:31 AM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


What possible purpose could it serve to (repeatedly) declare a post old hat when other posters are clearly impressed and enjoying it?

Good question. I think it's a judgement call. With membership iover 10,000, there are probably a dozen readers who would love any post (LOLCATS, bacon, what have you) enough to praise it in comments.

This case wasn't nearly so extreme, and there is a clear need for a solid general FPP on Bobby McFerrin , unless my search skills are failing me. (I'd make one myself if I knew more about him.) I just don't think this post was up to snuff, nor does it make much of a case for him.
posted by msalt at 8:03 AM on June 8, 2009


Also, "(repeatedly) declare a post old hat" isn't quite fair. My comments were part of a long conversation, not drive by sniping. I listed them out of context like that only because several people assumed it was a drive by "meh" and that I hadn't explained my concerns in detail.
posted by msalt at 8:06 AM on June 8, 2009


Oh, I don't think there's really a need for a general FPP on McFerrin. I like his stuff, but it's kind of a freakshow also. Be your own happiness, or something.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:08 AM on June 8, 2009


Burhanistan: "Oh, I don't think there's really a need for a general FPP on McFerrin."

Neither do I. But the poster did. And it only took 11 minutes for another MeFite to come along and agree with them. AFAIC, that's all the justification the post needed.

And that would be true if even if dead cousin ted had beaten them to the Post Comment button.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:18 AM on June 8, 2009


I agree with benzo8: there's too much reflex "meh" and other thread-crapping, and no, your personal instinctive dislike does not equate to "bad post" and should not immediately lead to "OMG this sux and I have to let everyone know just how much so I can purify MetaFilter." As Cromwell once said, "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken." Wait long enough to let the thread go somewhere interesting. It is not your personal responsibility to Do Something Right Now.

> So, do positive comments that don't in any way add to the discussion, belong in threads?

Yes, of course they do. Anyone who has ever posted will appreciate the virtues of a "Wow!" or "Thanks for the post!" I try to leave as many of those as I can. They encourage good posting, which makes MetaFilter better.
posted by languagehat at 8:19 AM on June 8, 2009 [8 favorites]


There's a fine but critical line between "this post is bad" and "the item which this post links to is bad." At the same time, given that the discussion is supposed to be about the links, the latter comment is a valid one.

It's not too difficult to make the distinction when you have a dense multi-link post. "The author of the fourth linked item has no clue what he is talking about" is generally not regarded as a criticism of the post itself. For SLYT, it's much harder to make a distinction between "the video is bad" (a valid in-thread comment) in and of itself, and "your post is bad and you should feel bad" (leave it out of the thread--MeMail or start a MeTa thread if you must, please). But that's a very fine line to draw. One thing I've noticed that seems to help is if you talk more about why you thought the video was bad without expressly criticizing the post, it seems that it's less likely to be taken as a criticism of the post.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:40 AM on June 8, 2009


It goes without saying that the more members the site gets the more FPPs it gets and therefore more things I like and more things I don't like. It also follows that by definition there be more posts that are just plain crap.

You may be surprised (on preview, hat tip to Mitheral) at how steady a lot of these things are over time, actually. Posting volume is flat or nearly so over the last few years; for whatever reasons (for lack of a rigorous model I'll just vaguely finger the cyclical nature of individual user's curves of engagement with the site as viewed in aggregate against equally steady-on-average signups over time), the overall raw growth in the userbase hasn't lit off any grand accelerando in the size of the front page on any given day.

And (I feel like this is almost a tired refrain at this point) a lot of posts four and six and eight years ago were mediocre, too.

One general thing that has significantly changed since 2000 is the length of comment threads, though if I'm remembering right the main period of growth there took place in the first few years of the site, transforming the ghosttown threads of 1999/2000 into the more familiar dozens-and-sometimes-hundreds of modern mefi, and that was pretty much in place by 2002 or 2003.

None of this is to say there's not stuff posted today that you dislike or think is crap, or that you don't have every right to view the front page through "mediocre is unpostworthy" lenses or whatever. But this isn't new phenomena.

I was curious if it's the mods' jobs to be those arbiters of taste that everyone knocks all the time or if they simply delete things that get flagged up the wazoo. Personally, I wish they deleted more based simply on whether they collectively liked something.

I have days where I wonder what that would be like. If we decided to arbitrarily raise the bar a whole bunch, I could easily hack the hell out of the front page to enforce my personal editorial vision.

But we're not an editorial board, and the front page of mefi is not a winnowed-down anthology of The Best Of Day X, and I don't see that changing considering how endemic to the site's character the we-trust-the-community-to-make-the-content mechanic of mefi is. The site was around long before there were plural mods, and it has run with only light deletions and some community discussion/policing doing a lot of legwork for a long time now.

As tempting as editorial-voice-by-fiat may be as a What If scenario, it's not Metafilter.

And if any of those were my own FPPs, I'd not have a problem with it.

Which, and I say this with all seriousness, I appreciate, but that someone may have a problem with a deletion of their post that we're considering is not something that factors significantly into the decision regardless. I've had people be nasty about totally clearcut deletions and had people be really congenial and understanding about complicated, borderline stuff, and as far as any of that is even predictable it has more to do with whether or not I'm putting on some kevlar when I hit the button than whether or not the deletion itself is gonna happen.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:44 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I introduce people to MetaFilter, I say, "About 90% of the stuff on there wont be interesting to you: skip it. But the 10% that IS interesting to you will change your life."

And that seems sufficient. If I see something that really makes me go "WTF M8?" I send the person an email to just mention what my thoughts on the subject are. I don't bother flagging, since that seems impersonal and it doesn't provide the poster with too much constructive feedback.
posted by greekphilosophy at 9:25 AM on June 8, 2009


As Cromwell once said, "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken."

Cromwell was just about the biggest asshole who ever lived. What's next, an inspirational soundbite from Robert Mugabe?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:56 AM on June 8, 2009


99 comments over here and no one had added a link to this in the original post? While we're saying nice things, let's remember our manners!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:17 AM on June 8, 2009


Reread the post itself, yo.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:19 AM on June 8, 2009


There are a lot of good points here about "meh" posts, my only beef that hasn't been mentioned are users who come in to say "I only read the first paragraph/watched the first thirty seconds and it SUCKED!" or some such comment where it's clear that the commenter didn't even bother to view the entirety of the post before deciding it's crap.

I try to do the poster the courtesy of reading the entirety of the links before popping in to open my fool mouth. If I can't be arsed to do so, I don't really need to go into the comments section just to show off that I don't care enough to read the post, but I'm self-important enough to comment anyway.

There's a lot of validity to saying "I didn't like this post for this reason." Just popping in to say "This sux!" really doesn't help anybody and makes it look like you're commenting just to further your own agenda or whatever.

My agenda: Drink more tea. Take more naps.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:32 AM on June 8, 2009


Um, maybe it's just me, but if you don't get at least SOME negative feedback in the comments thread of a bad post, how will you learn?
posted by davejay at 10:43 AM on June 8, 2009


What's next, an inspirational soundbite from Robert Mugabe?

“We have not stopped singing to the theme of unity and the theme of love.” - Robert Mugabe

"Ideas are more powerful than guns." - Joseph Stalin

“Words build bridges into unexplored regions.” - Adolf Hitler

"Dance like no one is watching." - Mao Zedong
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:48 AM on June 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


davejay: By the deletion reason. And if there's no deletion reason, what is there to learn?
posted by mendel at 11:12 AM on June 8, 2009


"Laugh and the world laughs with you; never forget to buy your inner child an ice cream cone." - Pol Pot
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:21 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Dance like no one is watching." - Mao Zedong

Come on. That was Donna Summer, not the Chairman.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:22 AM on June 8, 2009


> Cromwell was just about the biggest asshole who ever lived. What's next, an inspirational soundbite from Robert Mugabe?

Ah, another innocent who thinks bad people can't say good (or interesting or useful) things.
posted by languagehat at 11:54 AM on June 8, 2009


Ah, another innocent who thinks bad people can't say good (or interesting or useful) things.

Read that quote again, imagining that it is being said to you by Cromwell himself while an axe is hoisted over your neck. Good things, indeed.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:59 AM on June 8, 2009


FIAMO, i miei amici.
posted by deborah at 12:00 PM on June 8, 2009


The next comment down is shitty and should be deleted.
posted by Mister_A at 12:04 PM on June 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


(Slightly chastened) OP here.

I would like to try and clarify a few points that have been raised here today.

First, the issue of it being a thin post. I knew before I submitted it that there wasn't a Mcferrin post anywhere on Mefi. So why just the single link to a YT video when I could have included so much more, given that I'd already said in the thread that I'd done some research into his history? Well, as I explained I thought the video stood on it's own merit. To add context to the video I thought would undermine the enjoyment of it. To quote empath: "i didn't understand what he was doing at first, but that is pretty genius." I wanted to the performance to unfold without any cues from me. That said, perhaps it wouldn't have hurt to add in some additional content to flesh out the post. But then, bearing in mind that the majority of the content found on Mcferrin was YT-based would I then have been castigated for including too many video links? Maybe, so I decided to drop some additional material into the thread after the first comment or so.

Second, I was very disappointed by msalt's yeah-yeah-see-it-all-before-but-better comment. It was a shame that when he mentioned that Bob Marley's "Babylon by Bus" was far superior in terms of audience response he didn't post a video showing that, but then I guess he would be hard-pressed to find any YT video of that pre-2007. I didn't point that out at the time for fear of raising his ire further.

Third, msalt and vincele both misrepresent me. I never justified the post to encourage people to add links or intended it to "inspire people to seek more links after viewing a SLYT hand-selected by you". I merely meant that (despite the thin post) it was fun to see people getting a kick out of the Mcferrin's performance and track down some more amazing videos. Particularly were the ones featuring his father and son, videos that I'd never seen.

I apologise to Jessamyn for behaving oddly.

Right, 4) Where was the thought in drafting the post?. I think this is a very valid point and one I've been thinking about today. Do we 1) link to something that is the best of the web, or do we 2) construct something ourselves that takes those things that are best of the web and package them into something more manageable for everyone. In posting a SLYT to, what I thought was, a magical performance by Mcferrin, I decided on 1). I could have gone the other way. I didn't. I thought that link showed some best of the web. Many people agreed with me.

Oh, You Should See The Other Guy, regarding my post: "I think that its continued life on the blue, along with other posts of its ilk, lowers the bar", I'd recommend looking at your own history of single link posts before you start getting on your high horse. Personally, I hated "Pick One" (seriously, that was it?), but you didn't see me making a stink out of it. Until now. Par for the course, I'm afraid.

I'm sorry the post ruffled so many feathers, but I'm also pleased that it brought happiness to a few.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 12:05 PM on June 8, 2009


urbanwhaleshark: Sorry to misrepresent you, I really thought that's what you were saying.

One good way to finesse the "let it stand on its own" vs. context issue is to have a post like yours on the front page, with the background in More Inside. A lot of people will just click the link on the front page so it still kind of stands on its own.

BTW, I did look for "Babylon by Bus" video but couldn't find anything worth posting. Or of other cool audience interaction bits I've seen, like bass player comic Will Walls teaching a big, 95% white crowd at the San Francisco Punchline to sing a Funkadelic song and playing off their rhythm. One reason might be because -- and this was part of my point in the original thread -- audience participation bits are by definition kind of "you had to be there."
posted by msalt at 12:33 PM on June 8, 2009


The problem isn't criticism, it's lazy, thoughtless criticism.

Worse yet, lazy thoughtless criticism--called out as such--defended with great thought and effort by the critic. I guess, looked at a certain way, tha tis actually the definition of trolling.
posted by Chuckles at 12:39 PM on June 8, 2009


Whiners
Whiners who hate whiners
Are the whiniest people in the world
posted by Sys Rq at 12:45 PM on June 8, 2009


"She works hard for the money. So hard for it, honey. She works hard for the money so you better treat her right." -Kim Jong-Il
posted by SpiffyRob at 12:46 PM on June 8, 2009


"I am Iron Man!"

-Benito Mussolini
posted by Mister_A at 12:49 PM on June 8, 2009


"Madness? THIS. IS. SPARTAAA!" -Napoleon Bonaparte

amidoingitrite?
posted by Night_owl at 1:13 PM on June 8, 2009


"We have cameras." — NortonDC
posted by netbros at 1:36 PM on June 8, 2009


I think I'm against threadcrapping, but none of that matters right now, because this thread has made me hum "Don't Worry, Be Happy" in my office all day, and my coworkers are not yet sufficiently annoyed, to my tastes, at least.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:29 PM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


"If you're ever feeling sad or blue, just thinking of a rainbow, and you'll get a case of the smilies." - Albert Fish
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:47 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


because this thread has made me hum "Don't Worry, Be Happy" in my office all day, and my coworkers are not yet sufficiently annoyed, to my tastes, at least.

Clearly, you need to be using your chest for percussion and whistling much louder.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:52 PM on June 8, 2009


Still working on harmonizing everything. I'm getting there!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:02 PM on June 8, 2009


Have you tried singing it at people? Point at them, too. Interject with the occasional "You're prettier when you smile!" or "C'mon, don't be stuck up!"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:51 PM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'd rather hear why people like something rather than why they don't. It's pretty easy to hate on things and a much more revealing exercise to try and explain why you like things.
posted by tkchrist at 5:36 PM on June 8, 2009


I'd rather hear why people like something rather than why they don't. It's pretty easy to hate on things and a much more revealing exercise to try and explain why you like things.

I'm going to save "I like this because I'm an ignoramus!" to a .txt file in order to save myself some typing, I think.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:55 PM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life." - Jesus Christ
posted by Ritchie at 8:48 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd recommend looking at your own history of single link posts before you start getting on your high horse. Personally, I hated "Pick One" (seriously, that was it?), but you didn't see me making a stink out of it. Until now. Par for the course, I'm afraid.

I have no problem with single link posts. In fact, I wish MeFi was nothing but single link posts. What I have a problem with is links to lazy content. I'm sorry you didn't like Pick One, but I think that it clearly is exactly what MeFi was built for in the first place. And I think that people that "don't like" it would find that hard to disagree with. The content of the link:

- only exists on the web
- is original content
- wasn't linked on MeFi before
- was listed on numerous blogs after being linked on the blue (ie, got "picked up"), which I think is testament to it being an interesting link
- was thought-provoking and original, as is evidenced by the comments it generated

I don't think that it's lazy content. Time and effort went into creating that content specifically for the web.

Your McFerrin link, imo, is lazy content. By that I mean

- it exists (and was meant to exist) off the web and is only on the web because someone who had nothing to do with it (not McFerrin, not the Montreaux Jazz Fest, not the filmmakers) decided to throw it online
- is not original content (in fact it's copyrighted content that's not meant to be shared in the manner it is) that is readily available at your local video or music store.

This isn't to say I think everyone should like or love it--I don't think like or love should be the question. As I said, I don't dislike Bobby McFerrin; that's not the issue.

As I mentioned above, I really don't see the difference between what you linked to and a link, to, say, the Tipping Scene from Reservoir Dogs. Can you possibly explain the difference as it relates to an FPP? The only thing your link seems to have going for it is that some people hadn't seen it before. Of course that's nice, but if that's the only hurdle to clear in order to qualify for a link on MeFi then practically everything is fair game and a discussion of what is and is not good for MetaFilter is moot.

I'm sorry your post got singled out for this discussion. I would never have made a MeTa out of it. It's simply not worth it. But I do think that your FPP is a perfectly good example of what Metafilter isn't for. This is only my opinion, and I offered it asking what the mods thought of the link as I was curious whether I was alone. If you think that's getting up on my high horse (even after I, at least twice, suggested my own posting history has its weaknesses), then so be it.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 12:53 AM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Missed this discussion, but I'm a bit surprised as the conclusion.

I guess I fail to grasp by what standard one can allow the comment "[this is good]" without allowing "[this is bad]".

They are both comments on the relative worth of the post. I get that tone and other factors can be problematic. But on their face, they seem to be identical comments that are commentary on the propriety of the post.

I'm not advocating thread-shitting. I'm just curious from a standards point of view how one can distinguish between two comments of equal tone and substance that amount to [this is good] and [this is bad].
posted by dios at 10:06 AM on June 9, 2009


(And I phrased that improperly. I should not have suggested there was a conclusion; I meant to suggest that some people were advocating something akin to the viewpoint that if you have nothing good to say, don't say anything at all. I agree that "meh" is noise, but the equivalent praise would be noise, too, correct? I'm just interested in the standard here).
posted by dios at 10:11 AM on June 9, 2009


The thing is, "What criteria should a good FPP meet?" is a completely separate question from, "What kinds of critiques promote good FPPs?"

A person's dim view of an FPP is not license to derail related commentary toward FPP construction. Critiquing the actual content of the FPP, on the other hand, is not derailment, so long as you're not focusing on the question, "is this MeFi-worthy?" If that's what you want to talk about, take it to MeTa.
posted by zennie at 10:17 AM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


dios writes "I guess I fail to grasp by what standard one can allow the comment '[this is good]' without allowing '[this is bad]'."

The "don't be a wet blanket" standard and the fact that [this is bad] tends to derail the post where [this is good] doesn't. A decent post can turn into a crappy post thanks to the "meh" brigade.
posted by Mitheral at 10:47 AM on June 9, 2009


If you think that's getting up on my high horse (even after I, at least twice, suggested my own posting history has its weaknesses), then so be it.

Sorry, I shouldn't have accused you getting on your high-horse by getting on mine :)
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 11:21 AM on June 9, 2009


The "don't be a wet blanket" standard

Could you elaborate on what that standard entails? Because if it is related to the "if you don't have anything nice to say..." then I would submit that the standard is completely foreign to Metafilter. This place has always been full of bitterly sarcastic, hostile and offensive people. One does not have to look hard to see plenty of examples of it.

and the fact that [this is bad] tends to derail the post where [this is good] doesn't.


That's interesting. So are we evaluating the comment based on the reaction it causes as opposed to its own propriety? I've seen this argument before, and it is a difficult one to swallow. Hypothetical: Post = "Look at this cool new apple product" Comment 1: "This is great. I love Apple updates." Comment 2: "This bad. Apple updates do not make a good post." Comment 3: "STFU, you're just a M$ fanboy, go suckle on the evil corporate teet." I don't see the functional difference between Comment 1 and 2. I see a problem here, and its comment 3--not comment 2.

I guess what I see is that commentary on the quality of post is either noise or not, and whether it is positive or negative does not change that analysis. Negative commentary tends to lead to disruption, but that is likely caused by the people who react to the disapproval. I don't know a good solution to the issue, I'm just curious at what the issue is and how a standard is applied. I suppose that's because I'm always inclined to wonder what the rules are and what standards are applied.
posted by dios at 11:46 AM on June 9, 2009


My thinking goes something like this:

1. I'd rather see a substantial comment than an insubstantial one, regardless of the critical bent of said comment. I like meaty comments. So [this is good] and [this is bad] are both less interesting to me than [this is x, and let me explain why I feel that way].

2. I'd rather see a comment that doesn't start shit or nudge the thread in a crappy or fighty direction than one that does, regardless of it's depth or breadth. I like it when comments don't piss a bunch of people off and make a thread into a messy or tired argument needlessly.

As far as I'm concerned, (2) carries a lot more weight than (1) does in practice. While I can understand the argument that there's some sort of equivalency between [this is good] and [this is bad], I think that arguing so requires either not accounting for or accounting for but not valuing the idea that threads are better when they don't reduce to hollering or mudslinging.

And the "needlessly" in my (2) is a big part of this. A [this is good] pretty much never, ever starts shit, whereas a [this is bad] might. If you're going to say something that might start shit, please be damned sure that it is worth it, because if you go around needlessly stirring crap up, that sucks. It sucks considerably more than dropping mild, less-than-substantial praise into a thread. The two situations are not identical but for some superficial toggle.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:01 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


cortex, I get what you are coming from in practice and agree with your thought process. I'm not arguing against that position or advocating the contrary one. I'm just idly thinking this through and trying to drill down to the real problem. And I wonder if the real problem perhaps has something more to do with upsetting others than contributing content-less noise. Because noise strikes me as a minor annoyance, but violent derails are a major one.
posted by dios at 12:27 PM on June 9, 2009


I'm just idly thinking this through and trying to drill down to the real problem.

The real problem is that there are about 10-20 users, maximum who have a tendency to show up early in threads and say stuff which can tank a thread that would otherwise do okay. These threads then get ruined for everyone else who might want to take a look at them. These comments are usually some variant of "this sucks" or "not the best of the web" [people don't say this as much lately] or "you thought this was good for MeFi why?" or some sort of seemingly-witty snark that just sounds like sour grapes and a general "meh" outlook on everything.

These comments are usually conversational dead ends. They sometimes make the OP or other people in the thread feel bad and they add nothing to the conversation. Subtle changes in how these comments are phrased can make a huge difference in how they are perceived and responded to on the site, something we'd like people to take a little bit of time to think about.

I'm not thrilled with "Yay" types of comments either but saying something bland and positive rarely has the effect of killing a thread. What's one person's noise can quickly escalate into a violent derail and we'd like it if people would take some time to think "Am I adding anything to the conversation here, or just having a bad/lackluster day/life and trying to get that point across?"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:42 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I guess I fail to grasp by what standard one can allow the comment "[this is good]" without allowing "[this is bad]".

The same standard by which we have "favorites" but not "unfavorites." [Insert standard disclaimer about "favorites" sometimes being bookmarks or serving other purposes and not indicating favorites at all.] The same standard by which you can "like" something on Facebook but not "dislike" it. The same standard by which some Wikipedians like to award each other "barnstars" for service to the community, but have no negative equivalent ("outhousemoons?") for negative actions. I believe the general principle is "praise in public, criticize in private," but if you must criticize in public at least have the decency to give a legitimate explanation for your criticism.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:20 PM on June 9, 2009


I get the sense that I'm possibly being irritating, and that is not my intent. So I'll just stop discussing it. Not that important anyhow.
posted by dios at 1:32 PM on June 9, 2009


Awesome.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:47 PM on June 9, 2009


> I'm not thrilled with "Yay" types of comments either

Seriously? You think this would be a better place if nobody ever said "Great!" or "Thanks for the post," if good posts just sat there vacant unless somebody had something substantive (whatever that means) to say? Seriously?
posted by languagehat at 9:00 AM on June 10, 2009


I think there's a difference between "I'm not thrilled with x" and "I think x is a blight and wish to see it eradicated". I'm not thrilled with brief "Yay" comments either; they aren't thrilling, they aren't what makes this place interesting to me.

But I don't mind that they're around as part of the mix, and they don't cause problems per se, and I make them myself sometimes when I don't have a substantive contribution but I want to support something I think is neat or give someone some positive feedback on a job well done.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:09 AM on June 10, 2009


Seriously? You think this would be a better place if nobody ever said "Great!" or "Thanks for the post," if good posts just sat there vacant unless somebody had something substantive (whatever that means) to say? Seriously?

The question I was replying to was basically "aren't tossaway "yay" comments as bad as "boo" comments?" and, to flesh out my opinion more, I don't think they add a ton of value but they make people feel good, generally raise the feelgood temperature of the place by a fraction of a degree and, most importantly don't cause harm. If it were a whole site full of "yay" I'd be bored and would go elsewhere but I don't see them as problematic the way I see "sucks" comments as being.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:24 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


> But I don't mind that they're around as part of the mix

> I don't think they add a ton of value but... I don't see them as problematic the way I see "sucks" comments as being.

Well, I guess you guys are so lukewarm about them because you're mods and not people who make posts and cross their fingers. I'm pretty sure the rest of us don't just tolerate "Yay" comments but see them as a positive good. But to each their own.
posted by languagehat at 9:36 AM on June 10, 2009


Note that I am in theory lukewarm on Yay! comments, but if it's on my post (or a post about something I made) I eat that shit up. The personal experience of being bouyed by positive feedback (even the insubstantial kind) is very much part of why I think there's a qualitative asymmetry between the two, so, yeah, the point is not lost on me.

But as far as that goes, nothing but "yay" would indeed get really boring. Gimme meat, gimme substance. Let the ephemeral notes of praise be the colored sprinkles atop the rich discursive chocolate frosting on my post donuts, if you will.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:08 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


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