I'm puzzled by an AskMe that I think is chatfilter. September 10, 2009 5:38 PM   Subscribe

I tag chatty questions and they almost always get deleted. Sometimes, though, I think a question is chatty but it doesn't. That's fine of course - I might just be wrong.

But on this one I go read the guidelines again and aside from minor wording differences, it's exactly the first "thing to avoid".

Now that's not what is puzzling. What puzzles me is that this is a wildly popular thread. The participation is huge, and of good quality (even though nobody mentioned "Thunder Road"). Other chatty questions get silly responses because everyone knows they will be deleted.

Did the mods somehow know that it's an interesting question and lots of people would love to read it and opine? Is there something about the question I don't see? Is my reading of the guidelines wrong, or are they not as clear as I think?

I hope it doesn't look like I'm demanding an explanation from anyone (this is my first MeTa and I have not read it as long as Ask) but I wonder if I am missing something. If I just deserve a "tag it and move on" that's fine - give it to me.
posted by fritley to Etiquette/Policy at 5:38 PM (81 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

This Meta is chatty
posted by KokuRyu at 5:40 PM on September 10, 2009


This MeTa is chatty, but I think you'll find there's a long history of "tell me of your favourite song (about x)", and they tend to stay up.
posted by pompomtom at 5:42 PM on September 10, 2009


I don't think it strictly violates the first thing to avoid -- the end result is answers that are useful to the poster. A question like "what's your favorite color" would be utterly useless, whereas "what's your favorite color of tablecloth to match a light wood table" would provide the poster with suggestions. In this case, the poster can check out the songs that may match his/her style.
posted by spiderskull at 5:43 PM on September 10, 2009


Also, tags are those words on the top right that describe the post. I believe you're referring to flags. Personally, I think we should use the nomenclature "signal the semaphore and move on," but apparently it lacks pizazz.
posted by spiderskull at 5:45 PM on September 10, 2009


Your authority figure lacks pizazz.

I suppose because it deals in something that is so huge the poster cannot possibly survey the whole area on their own - colour is basically a closed class. There are a range of hues. Whereas songs, movies etc., without the input of the answers, are pretty much too large a group to be surveyed by one person in order to not need the help of the hive mind.

In other words, reinterpret as: what are some good songs in any genre?
posted by djgh at 5:49 PM on September 10, 2009


Generally speaking, I'd agree with you. The chatfilter guidelines are pretty much there to avoid the sort of survey questions like "hey guys what is your favorite color?" where you have no idea what the person is going to do with the information and it just seems like an excuse to have a discussion and/or survey the audience. Now, I may be reading into this a little bit because

1. I know jjg personally, and I know he does not screw around
2. his user number is **16**

but I think mixtape and sort of music questions seem to be the exception to this sort of thing.

That is, when people are assembling a collection of songs, asking people for their favorites has historically been an okay way to do this. It may be because I know jjg that I assume he is doing something like this and thus extending to him the courtest that other people aren't getting. It may also be that there's just a weird music exception where people basically know why you're asking for music suggestions and so it's a more loosely moderated sort of chatty question than the others.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:52 PM on September 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's been my observation that the chatty threads are always wildly popular.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:52 PM on September 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


A lot of our oldest and most famous questions have been slightly chatty. Stuff like "Have you ever found porn in the woods?" seems like polling the audience. One hundred yeses or nos don't seem like they solve any problem. Another was something along the lines of "I'm a new dad and I don't want to screw up. Can you point to a moment in your childhood that you still remember learning a lesson from?" Both were argued that they were chatty, but we could tell they had something special worth keeping around and they both became some of our cherished favorites on Ask MeFi.

"What's the deal with U2?! Why do people like them?!" is chatty but delete worthy, as I don't think any good will come from it. There are thousands of other chatty philosophical and what if scenario questions we generally dub "idle curiosities" and we tend to delete those because everyone has a dozen they can think of at any moment and we wanted to try and make Ask MeFi useful from day one.

This particular question reminds me of another borderline chatty question last night about "when did you know you met 'the one'?" They are both skirting the line towards chatty/deletion but there's something useful and problem solving-esque that would make me hesitate to pull the delete trigger.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:57 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


2. his user number is **16**

Next you'll be telling us that the guy with **1** has some kind of weight to his actions, too. Geez!
posted by Atreides at 5:58 PM on September 10, 2009


This must be the place (Naive Melody)
posted by iamkimiam at 6:00 PM on September 10, 2009


Ah, low user number swag
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:07 PM on September 10, 2009


I assume you get the benefit of the doubt if you are under number *37485*
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:13 PM on September 10, 2009


It may be because I know jjg that I assume he is doing something like this and thus extending to him the courtest that other people aren't getting. It may also be that there's just a weird music exception where people basically know why you're asking for music suggestions and so it's a more loosely moderated sort of chatty question than the others.
...
They are both skirting the line towards chatty/deletion but there's something useful and problem solving-esque that would make me hesitate to pull the delete trigger.

What specifically? jjg hasn't even posted a comment in that thread to post so much as a hint that there's "a weird music exception" or "problem solving-esque" thing going on here. Unless one of you emailed him or this user has a past history of asking for song suggestions, this looks like straight-up favoritism.
posted by DU at 6:18 PM on September 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


It seems like the standard and totally okay "I am making a mixtape can you tell me...." prefix. Basically unless questions about music are like "what's your favorite band?" we usually leave them in because there's an auto-assumption of mixtape making. Maybe that's a problem but it's been sort of an unstated working premise for me all this time.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:20 PM on September 10, 2009


Unless one of you emailed him or this user has a past history of asking for song suggestions, this looks like straight-up favoritism.

Or just an appreciation of past character on the site? Put it in the negative - if you've got someone who consistently breaks the guidelines, flames out, trolls, etc., you'd agree that that should be taken into account? So vice versa, I guess - importing good faith (i.e. "the missing mixtape clause") into the question.
posted by djgh at 6:24 PM on September 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


if you've got someone who consistently breaks the guidelines, flames out, trolls, etc., you'd agree that that should be taken into account?

No? If this hypothetical person does something bad and they have a history of doing something bad, then I agree than an Nth strike can put them out. But if the latest thing is borderline but not by itself bad, then no, I don't agree that past behavior tips it over.

we usually leave them in because there's an auto-assumption of mixtape making

Lawn Maintenance Disclaimer, but I would never in a million years have even thought of this assumption. There are hundreds of "best N Xs" on the internet for every X and all values of N. Why does "what's your favorite song" get a pass when "what's your favorite scientist" (for instance) not? People compile all these things.
posted by DU at 6:32 PM on September 10, 2009


Wow, I did type 'tag' twice when I meant flag.

Thanks for the historical perspective and for taking my question seriously.

When I see "What is the best ... song" I think "that's ridiculous - there can't be a best song - only favorite songs" and a favorite song is just a matter of opinion, exactly like a favorite color is. "What is the best car" is likewise opinion (and to me, is a ridiculous chatty question), but "what is the best car for me considering these requirements and preferences:" is certainly not; we see that question regularly.

Even in person-to-person contact I have trouble looking past an explicit question to find the implicit one that others seem to easily see and answer. I can see how this question can be recast as "what are some good songs" or "what should I put on my mix tape" as others said above, but those seem to me to be not much less chatty. "What should I put on my mix tape to give to my ___ that would express ___" would be more like the useful car question.

I guess I see more of the grey area now, but I wish the "missing mixtape clause" and the others like it were somewhere so I could read them.
posted by fritley at 6:42 PM on September 10, 2009


No? If this hypothetical person does something bad and they have a history of doing something bad, then I agree than an Nth strike can put them out. But if the latest thing is borderline but not by itself bad, then no, I don't agree that past behavior tips it over.

In hindsight, my analogy was a poor one.

But I guess one could still say that you import good faith if there's a history of good behaviour. The use of the user number struck me both ways (the mixtape clause was pretty much good enough for me) - it could sound like favouritism, and if someone's been around long enough they should know the rules yadda yadda; against the whole good faith thing. I suppose I'm just taking a fairly easy-going interpretation of the original question and the explanations offered.
posted by djgh at 6:49 PM on September 10, 2009


Next you'll be telling us that the guy with **1** has some kind of weight to his actions, too. Geez!

Number 44769: Who are you?
Number 2: The new Number 2.
Number 44769: Who is Number 1?
Number 2: You are Number 44769.
posted by ignignokt at 6:52 PM on September 10, 2009 [9 favorites]


Why does "what's your favorite song" get a pass when "what's your favorite scientist" (for instance) not? People compile all these things.

Honestly? Because we really can't do much to stop it and people ask these questions All The Time. If I ran this place like a dictator, I'd say "no more mixtape questions!" I'd also say "no more 'what should I name my _______ ?" questions. But, we established the boundaries for chatfilter questions and those are the two categories that consistently make it through no matter what else we do, so we're sort of stuck with them.

We're not trying to be hippie-dippie about this, but we really do need to have, as near as we can, semi-clear guidelines that can be fairly and openly executed and explicated without having to talk for 30 minutes about each one. This is one of the (very few) grey areas that happen in a pretty elaborate set of guidelines as far as AskMe works.

People make mixtapes far more than they make favorite scientist lists, apparently.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:54 PM on September 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


previously
posted by nadawi at 6:58 PM on September 10, 2009


I don't have a problem with mixtape questions. I'd be pretty excited to contribute to a list of great scientists and wouldn't find it at all out of place on AskMe.

My question is why you think it is a mixtape question when it isn't introduced that way, there's no follow-up comments and zero history of similar questions from this user. It just asks for faves. But maybe this is An Understood Thing by AskMe regulars that isn't apparent to a relative outsider.
posted by DU at 6:59 PM on September 10, 2009


as for those asking how the mods know these are mixtape questions - it seems like an occam's razor sort of thing - ask yourself, why would someone want the best songs of X topic - the answer that makes the most sense is, they're compiling them for something. what do people normally compile a bunch of songs on one topic for? the answer - mixtapes.
posted by nadawi at 7:02 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


The participation is huge, and of good quality (even though nobody mentioned "Thunder Road")

"Thunder Road" is my favorite song of all time, and I thought about suggesting it, but in my mind it's not strictly a love song per se. It's so much more.
posted by amyms at 7:02 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


So there is a list! I did not notice the other category but it sure is analogous. But at least those questions come with cute pictures. Actually, along with the pictures, "name my pet" questions usually have descriptions of traits and behaviors that might make one name the perfectly-fitting one. (Is it crazy that I think that?)
posted by fritley at 7:02 PM on September 10, 2009


jessamyn forgot to mention that jjg helped with the development of Ask MeFi (and a few other parts of the site). He established our category system entirely on his own after reviewing the first 1,000 posts made to the site over the first few months.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:07 PM on September 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Brace for stunty "favorite scientist" askmes.
posted by boo_radley at 7:10 PM on September 10, 2009


Music chatfilter and cooking chatfilter questions are wildly popular with both the moderators and the hoi polloi around here, so they stay. That seems to be the rule as far as I can see.
posted by nowonmai at 7:21 PM on September 10, 2009


Just saying this because I thought of the difference this way when I saw it this morning (though since mods and other wise folks have weighed in and not offered this answer, I guess I don't know how accurate it it):

For me, there's a huge difference between "favorite" and "most romantic"; I know that "most romantic" is subjective and basically you could say "favorite romantic song" and basically be asking the same question, but still, phrasing it that way seemed different to me. Probably because I can think of answers to most romantic song that I would never classify as a favorite.

Also, one would annoy me and the other would not.

But I'm glad this was asked because I was wondering the same thing, even if I didn't feel like it should be zapped
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:24 PM on September 10, 2009


every time someone uses hoi polloi in a sentence i get all excited that they're beanworld fans, then i realize probably not, and then i get sad.
posted by nadawi at 7:25 PM on September 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Do you like to place bets on whether they're Beanworld fans before you find out?
posted by nowonmai at 7:43 PM on September 10, 2009


"Honestly? Because we really can't do much to stop it and people ask these questions All The Time. If I ran this place like a dictator, I'd say "no more mixtape questions!" I'd also say "no more 'what should I name my _______ ?" questions. But, we established the boundaries for chatfilter questions and those are the two categories that consistently make it through no matter what else we do, so we're sort of stuck with them."

From what I can tell, AskMe is run pretty tight - and the dictatorial approach to moderation there is one of it's greatest strengths - are mixtape posts really just slipping through? Or do they just fill up with content faster than flags - resulting in a critical mass of posts that make deletion too painful? Really just curious.

"People make mixtapes far more than they make favorite scientist lists, apparently."

That would seem to make the latter a better AskMe post.

I'm not particularly bothered by chatfilter or these posts - and that's cool to know about jjgs contributions to the site - just not seeing the process here very clearly.
posted by sloe at 7:44 PM on September 10, 2009


How many AskMefis are, "What car should I buy?" questions that wind up being chatfilter about how much everyone loves their Honda?
How many AskMefis are, "I'm in my mid twenties and completely directionless. What should I do?" that wind up being chatty group therapy sessions?
I'm not sure that questions like this are a big deal, out of line, or chat for the sake of chat. Nor do they really congest or detract from the overall usefulness of AskMefi. The poster's getting some use out of it, right? Even if it isn't as specific and non-chat as, "Does anybody know why the only make Angle Polish Connectors for singlemode fiber optic cable and not multimode?"
posted by Jon-o at 7:48 PM on September 10, 2009


"jjg helped with the development of Ask MeFi (and a few other parts of the site). He established our category system entirely on his own after reviewing the first 1,000 posts made to the site over the first few months."

Then you'd think he would know better than to post a chatfilter question. Should've been deleted as such.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 7:52 PM on September 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Then you'd think he would know better than to post a chatfilter question.

This jjg?
posted by bwanabetty at 8:04 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


jessamyn forgot to mention that jjg helped with the development of Ask MeFi (and a few other parts of the site). He established our category system entirely on his own after reviewing the first 1,000 posts made to the site over the first few months.

Good for him, but I can't see how that matters. If jessamyn posted some lousy AskMe and someone dragged it into MetaTalk, an adequate defense of keeping her question would not include "jessamyn has an exemplary record of meritorious service to Metafilter." Everyone makes mistakes; jjg's record and jessamyn's record ought to count for what we think of jjg and jessamyn as people and community members after mistakes happen. Their records should not serve as a cure-all for the mistakes themselves.

(For the record, I think jjg's post was fine)
posted by Kwine at 8:12 PM on September 10, 2009


or what crash said, on non-preview
posted by Kwine at 8:13 PM on September 10, 2009


Yeah I don't see jjg's contributions as totally germane, but I guess it speaks the the reason we have the guidelines in the first place. Back in the hippie days when mathowie knew everyone (before my time really) people just did whatever and if something wasn't cool or seemed to be screwing around matt could talk to them because hey, it was Matt's site. Over time the site expended to include friends of friends, other web dork people, random people who heard about it from those people and so on. Not all of these people had the same understanding of the site as everyone else so a bunch of loose rules were put in place over time.

Apologies for my sort of didactic tone here, since I do assume most people know this. AskMe is sort of unusual in that it was started at about the same time its guidelines were created. So for the most part, we got to say that a few things we or weren't okay as sort of founding vision ideas. Most of these seem fairly non-controversial [no "how do I promote my website" questions as veiled self-links] but some are more complicated [chatfilter, mixtape questions, hypothetical answerable vs hypothetical unanswerable, sexist/racist stuff] where there's been some give an take over the years. The big deal, for us, is the more give and take there is, the more we get people years later in MeTa saying "but you okayed the how to dispose of a body question!!" so we try to be clear about stuff.

So, since we know jjg, we know he knows the rules, we know he helped make the categories in AskMe so we know he understands them, the more we were likely to presume he's making a mixtape more than if he were user 94000. And, as I said, mixtape questions are a big shruggo thing for me but the community likes them, asks them a lot and there's no good bright line for us for when a music question is or is not okay so we tend to be looser on them and the community/flagging seems to go along with that for the most part.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:29 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Then you'd think he would know better than to post a chatfilter question.

This jjg?"


Aha. The smoking gun, as it were. Voltage applied lingually causes chatfilter.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 8:40 PM on September 10, 2009


Hunh. I tend to think these sorts of "What [media type] matching [these conditions] would you recommend?" are generally OK because they are full of targeted answers that are of use to many people other than the asker. Instances like this one (songs, greatest+love) do border up on chatfilter when they are really broad and without (a non-assumed) context, but they rarely devolve into derails (Why do you want the greatest love songs? Love songs are for chumps!), do answer a question that many people have considered (or would), and are like a light sorbet after a heavy relationship question.
posted by julen at 8:57 PM on September 10, 2009


As others have suggested, I think that MixTapeFilter makes the cut because there is at least the suggestion of a goal ('I'm interested in songs of a certain genre/theme/style.'-->'I'm interested in listening to some new music'.')

I think a more accurate analogy wouldn't be 'What's your favorite scientist?' but rather, 'Which scientific figures have had interesting lives/Which scientist biographies would you recommend?'.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:13 PM on September 10, 2009


What should I name my mixtape?
posted by sanko at 9:25 PM on September 10, 2009


"Hi, I'm writing a book about love songs and how they are identified across varied cultures and idioms. What examples would you suggest I examine?"

There.
posted by yhbc at 9:26 PM on September 10, 2009


Metafilter does not have strict guidelines. That's not a bug. It's not the same thing as the moderators being arbitrary or unfair. It just means they have broad leeway in taking context and other outside information into account when making decisions, as jessamyn did in taking her prior knowledge of the poster in deciding to leave an AskMe question up. Is that really "unfair?" In an ideal world, the moderators would have personal knowledge of every poster's history and know the context of every question.
Just because jessamyn happened to have it in this case doesn't make her decision arbitrary, just better informed. Saying that she should have ignored information in making her decision is silly.
It's not just about asking, "Does this break the rules?" It's also about asking, "Does this make the community better or worse off?"
posted by anifinder at 9:38 PM on September 10, 2009


Is it ok to declaw my mixtape?
posted by loquacious at 10:01 PM on September 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I tag chatty questions and they almost always get deleted.

Wow. You are, like, the enemy.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:13 PM on September 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Then again, I'm on record as being a shameless fan of chatfilter.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:19 PM on September 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


My question is why you think it is a mixtape question when it isn't introduced that way, there's no follow-up comments and zero history of similar questions from this user. It just asks for faves.

1. What do you think he's planning on doing with a list of love songs?
2. Don't just say "I don't know, and have no way of knowing." Stop and think about it. Realistically, what do you think he's going to do with those songs?
3. If you can come up with anything other than "make a mix" that isn't a complete whackadoo stretch of the imagination, I will mail you a cookie.
4. No, I am not going to mail you a cookie.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:22 PM on September 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


It just asks for faves.

At the risk of sounding impolitic, that probably says more about your attitude towards favorites than jjg's. It's not like the things can be redeemed for a sharp one size fits all ballcap or sensible beach towel.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:29 PM on September 10, 2009


It's not like the things can be redeemed for a sharp one size fits all ballcap or sensible beach towel.

Wait, what? They CAN'T? But I was, like, totally saving up for the MetaFilter clock radio & tote bag combo!

*flushes favorites down toilet*
posted by DiscourseMarker at 11:02 PM on September 10, 2009


It's not like the things can be redeemed for a sharp one size fits all ballcap or sensible beach towel.

I'm saving mine for the mini teddy bear. Then, next season, I can trade up for the giant panda on the top row.
posted by amyms at 11:07 PM on September 10, 2009


Don't forget, $5 membership fee back when metafilter started (which I presume was when manticores roamed the land) was worth the equivalent of $625.76 USD today. So it makes sense that people who joined earlier get some privileges.
posted by Admira at 11:26 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have to admit, I do feel a bit disenchanted to learn that my questions and posts will be treated differently to those by others simply due to the time in which we joined and whether I'm part of the Super Best Friends Admins Club. But hey, its an awesome site, the admins do awesome work keeping it up and moderating and I think the post in question was fine.
posted by Admira at 11:34 PM on September 10, 2009


"Thunder Road" is my favorite song of all time, and I thought about suggesting it, but in my mind it's not strictly a love song per se. It's so much more.

The best songs, I've found, are about EVERYTHING. They may start somewhere narrow and specific (Hey Jude just starts with Jude, a sad kid) ... but if they're worth talking about, their duty is to evolve to.

What should I name my mixtape?

William.

It just asks for faves.

Faves are easy. Just call Michael Moore fat.
posted by philip-random at 11:41 PM on September 10, 2009


I have to admit, I do feel a bit disenchanted to learn that my questions and posts will be treated differently to those by others simply due to the time in which we joined and whether I'm part of the Super Best Friends Admins Club.

gotta pay your dues before you pay the rent
posted by philip-random at 11:42 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


This made me realize how much flagging a post is like sending a prayer to the Metafilter gods. It reminds me of this SNL skit. RIP Phil Hartman.
posted by quadog at 11:58 PM on September 10, 2009


I have to admit, I do feel a bit disenchanted to learn that my questions and posts will be treated differently to those by others simply due to the time in which we joined and whether I'm part of the Super Best Friends Admins Club.

It's kind of like when the coach says he treats all his players the same, bench warmers and stars alike.

He's lying.
posted by justgary at 12:10 AM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure why the OP is so diligent about flagging chatfilter, like Afroblanco I don't really see the harm in chatty questions that can be positively, if not definitively answered.
I also don't see the harm in mods considering a poster's history to gain context when deciding on edge cases.
I am a bit reluctant to see mods giving more leeway to bff users, but I don't really think that happened here. I think it was more "hmm, this is a bit grey, but the user has a positive history, and the type of question has stood before, let this one stand" and I could also understand "hmm, this is a bit grey and the user has a history of trying to skirt the guidelines and can be a pain, let's nuke it."
posted by bystander at 3:28 AM on September 11, 2009


I do feel a bit disenchanted to learn that my questions and posts will be treated differently to those by others simply due to the time in which we joined and whether I'm part of the Super Best Friends Admins Club.

1. This is no different than regular life. The more people know you and your history, the more they'll let some of your harmless, but questionable actions slide.

2. The SBFAC is probably easy to join just by contributing a few good posts or comments and not being a dick around the site.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:51 AM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Don't forget, $5 membership fee back when metafilter started (which I presume was when manticores roamed the land) was worth the equivalent of $625.76 USD today. So it makes sense that people who joined earlier get some privileges.
There was no fee when MetFilter started and for a number of years after that. It was only when the riff-raff started to overwhelm the cool kids (and the server) that the $5 fee was added.
posted by dg at 4:10 AM on September 11, 2009


I very much like the fact that MeFi has very smart, thinking, feeling, experienced human moderators rather than a 10-pound rule book that represents some theology of perfection regarding post tolerances.

[This is good]

and anyone who's read the Engineer Trilogy will possibly appreciate my borrowing/homage.
posted by taz at 5:48 AM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Jessamyn: So, since we know jjg, we know he knows the rules, we know he helped make the categories in AskMe so we know he understands them, the more we were likely to presume he's making a mixtape more than if he were user 94000.

Oh ouch, that hits pretty close to home.

And we're still calling them mixtapes? I thought they were playlists now?

Also, really? Why is it a big deal that knowing somebody gives them a bit of leeway? You've never assumed the best of one of your friends when you hear something weird about them?
posted by This Guy at 6:01 AM on September 11, 2009


I'm saving up my favories for the day-glow fanny-pack.
posted by Jon-o at 7:05 AM on September 11, 2009


Music is a big part of Mefi, and when a question is sorta chatfiltery but deals with music, it generally gets a pass.

Here's one that might make it, too:

I'm making a mixtape for my fiancee. She likes (fully clawed) cats, scientists and zombies. Can you help me find songs and give the mixtape a name?
posted by misha at 7:20 AM on September 11, 2009


and anyone who's read the Engineer Trilogy will possibly appreciate my borrowing/homage.

Hooray Engineer Trilogy reference.

Actually, I don't think I ever finished the whole trilogy. I was really most impressed by just the first book.
posted by kingbenny at 7:27 AM on September 11, 2009


I keep reading Thunder Road as "Thunder Rolls," which is... less than romantic.
posted by Eumachia L F at 8:02 AM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have to admit, I do feel a bit disenchanted to learn that my questions and posts will be treated differently to those by others simply due to the time in which we joined and whether I'm part of the Super Best Friends Admins Club.

Honestly, it's really not like that. If the question had been unambiguously bad, no BFF status in the world could save it from deletion; in a hazy borderline situation, having some sense of the poster may help us figure out how to approach resolving the situation but at the end of the day we're not going to feel comfortable making a call that falls outside of our normal approach to the guidelines no matter who it is.

It's easy for a kind of casual explanation of something to carry an overt and unintended subtext to it, especially I think in our positions where often what we say in a Metatalk "what's the deal with x" context is taken more as Declaring How It Is than merely Thinking Out Loud. Which, okay, it's our job and that's kind of understandable, but it can be kind of a tightrope to walk and I think that's biting us on the ass a bit in this case as Jessamyn's sort of familial musing on why she wasn't bothered unto deletion by jjg's question is getting read as law or evidence of e.g. Super Best Friends Admins Club.

We're human, we'll never be completely free of bits of personal bias and individual perspective on the site and the userbase and so on, but there's no Club, and we don't want there to be one. Our jobs would honestly be manifestly easier if we were comfortable reducing our decision making to "do I know/like/dislike this person", but I don't think Metafilter would be as good of a place.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:17 AM on September 11, 2009


"What should I name my mixtape?"

I was working on one called Great Songs of Dissolution and Decay when my tape deck decided to get all warbley and slow, so I'd like to see that title live somewhere… I was trying to do a bunch of cross-fades to bring music up out of a bed of Nurse With Wound, with songs about failure, drunkenness and lots of electronic music that either has a notably fast decay or a notably long decay on treated pianos and keyboards, mostly working from the weird old noise tapes that I'd inherited from a former coworker. Unfortunately, I doubt it will ever be realized.
posted by klangklangston at 8:42 AM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


The chatfilter designation is necessarily ambiguous and will always create disagreement about where lines should be drawn. But we can be thankful to the Internet for providing us with a horrifying living example of what life in Ask would be like without it.
posted by nanojath at 8:57 AM on September 11, 2009


@fritley: why do you care that much?

@jessamyn: very interesting that you tossed a post of mine that violated the rules b/c I knew the person I was posting about (even though it had nothing to do with the point of the post) but if ppl you know violate policies, its cool?

If you're going to wield that moderator jedi lightsaber, maybe a little equity is in order, no?
posted by Spaizy at 9:50 AM on September 11, 2009


You don't have to do the @ thing. And the 'ppl' thing is knobbish.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:59 AM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


very interesting that you tossed a post of mine that violated the rules b/c I knew the person I was posting about (even though it had nothing to do with the point of the post) but if ppl you know violate policies, its cool?

Spaizy, I'm trying to be civil here but you're brand new and you're confusing a bunch of site policies.

- Your MeFi post was removed because you were linking to a web project by someone you knew. This is a bannable offense and we only didn't ban you because you asked nicely and claimed that you'd only known the person a long time ago.
- This thread is referring to an AskMe question by someone who I know personally and the question is in a much larger grey area than the subject of your post. The mods have tried to explain why we think this question was okay.

Self-linking and friends-linking are much less of a grey area. The basic deal with the guidelines is that they help us explain to people why stuff may get deleted. Except in a few cases [SEO douchebaggery, using AskMe for blatant self-promotion] we use community indicators like flags and MeTa threads to help us gauge what to do. Your post was not in a grey area, jjg's was.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:06 AM on September 11, 2009


@ ALVY: Sorry, didn't mean to be uncool

Jessamyn, not trying to be disrespectful, just trying to understand. I guess I didn't understand the "gravity" of the difference in the offenses... As you pointed out, I'm new and still feeling around.
posted by Spaizy at 10:24 AM on September 11, 2009


Spaizy, I care "that much" because the modern web is tending toward "everything is a chatboard" and so much of it is just crap. This site isn't that way because of the work the moderators do [and the entry fee]. It's one of the few places I bother to post. Chatty sites where people add their useless two cents to everything they see are just noise to me. Ask is not full of that crap. To be honest I think talking about mixtapes/playlists is that kind of noise, and I also think it's chatfilter and against the guidelines as written.

Without trying to put words in anyone's mouth, I think from reading this thread (and to my shame, the "previously" one) that both jessamyn and cortex agree with me that these threads are chatfilter and against the guidelines as written; they also agree with each other that these threads are allowed.

I had no idea there was an understood "except mixtapes and naming your pets and babies" exclusion to the first guideline. That's fine, not my decision. I can skip the threads. I have a better understanding of the situation now, which is what I wanted when I asked this question.
posted by fritley at 11:14 AM on September 11, 2009


Yeah, the cats-and-mixtapes thing is kind of a good example of how the will of the crowd can have a potent affect on what might otherwise seem in theory to be very evenly-enforceable guidelines. I think mixtape questions are indeed on the chatty side in general and believe that in general asking the internet to name your cat is one of the least interesting things you could possibly ask the internet to do, but it turns out that even on a site where people are generally very good about collectively respecting the community guidelines, those two things still come up a lot.

In the face of which, we're left with a dilemma: do we tell people they can't do that thing that they really, really want to do and about which they collectively feel okay, in order to more flatly enforce the letter of the law? Or do we willingly refrain from hardline enforcement to allow that particular cowpath to continue to exist, even though it's likely to cause some friction from folks who don't agree that that flexibility should exist?

And I think that we've basically never as a mod team found ourselves in a position where the gain to be had from stamping out mixtape and cat-naming questions by fiat seemed to significantly outweigh the negative impact that'd have on folks' perceptions of (a) how the askme they're familiar with works and (b) how moderation here works. Certainly it'd be possible for us to take a hardline stance on those two fronts, but whether it's a good idea is a much, much more complicated question.

I will always remember the Digg decss revolt as a tremendous object lesson in the need to recognize the will of the userbase as something that can and will take precedence over the letter of the law when the conditions are just so. I don't think that situation maps in any direct sense to what we're talking about here, but as a sort of bright shining monument to some of the topography of this sort of thing it's worth looking at.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:57 PM on September 11, 2009


Eumachia L F - i've been reading it as thunder rolls this WHOLE THREAD and i couldn't for the life of me figure out how that song was romantic (except to maybe the hussy that bedded a married garth brooks)
posted by nadawi at 1:18 PM on September 11, 2009


Wow, some people are really invested in finding excuses to say or imply that the mods are evil overlords. I have no idea why those people stick around.
posted by languagehat at 2:24 PM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, you can't just leave North Korea.
posted by Dumsnill at 2:28 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


You've got two sets of rules going on here.

1. The guidelines as written (no asking what your favorites are, no hypothetical questions). I think this is a fine set of guidelines.
2. The guidelines as enforced (you can ask about favorite songs if you're assumed to be making mixtapes, you can ask hypothetical questions if you're writing a book, etc.). I think this is also a fine set of guidelines.

Understandably, people are going to be confused when they don't know which hoops they need to jump through. Since we rehash them all the time anyway, why not just update the guidelines to indicate when chatty / hypothetical questions are [likely to be] acceptable?
posted by 0xFCAF at 3:04 PM on September 11, 2009


Squishy rules are a feature, not a bug. Why would zero tolerance policies work any better on Metafilter than they do in schools? Hard-and-fast rules (not laws, since laws need to be clear cut) are for the benefit of those who enforce the rules not the benefit of those who live by them. If you can just point to a rule and say "my hands are tied" you don't have to deal with a lot of crap.

It's almost certainly a lot more work for the mods to have all these judgment calls but it sure makes for a better community. Even if it makes the D&D or Wikipedia rules lawyers bite their nails and cry.
posted by Justinian at 3:55 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, some people are really invested in finding excuses to say or imply that the mods are evil overlords. I have no idea why those people stick around.
Whew, I thought it was just me being old and crotchety. Unlike North Korea, you can just leave MetaFilter (I assume, never having tried). I guess things aren't all that bad then, are they? Absolute rules suck for everyone and one of the best things about this place is that there are almost none of those. Unfortunately, lots of people want to be told exactly how they have to behave because it's easier than thinking for five minutes about what acceptable behaviour is in this community before jumping in and being a dick*.

*This is not intended to be sexist - I know that females also act in this way, but it just seems wrong to talk about someone "being a vag" in that context.
posted by dg at 10:03 PM on September 11, 2009


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