Name Calling Callout February 16, 2002 12:22 AM   Subscribe

Here's a thought: name calling and the polarizing that follows as everyone is either in one group or the other leads to pointless shouting matches. Is this a debate tactic? Make a slice down the middle, split everyone in half and let them fight it out?
posted by mathowie to Etiquette/Policy at 12:22 AM (86 comments total)

"This thread was started in an intentionally baiting fashion by a liberal, and the only people who have bitten angrily are other liberals"

The world must be an easier place to take when you can simply label everyone, toss them into a pile and move on.

Stop with the labels, okay? Oversimplification of people's viewpoints down to a single loaded word doesn't make for good discussions here.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:28 AM on February 16, 2002


you know, i tried to read what you linked to, but clouded over when i started hearing words like 'left' and 'right'...

oh, that's your point.

and it's a very damned good one. maybe it should be on a pop-up that occurs when you first try to hit 'post' once a day?
posted by jcterminal at 12:34 AM on February 16, 2002


Same thing happens in religion posts as well.
posted by owillis at 1:09 AM on February 16, 2002


I want to be perfectly clear here, because it's not yet another left/right problem. It's this phrase in particular:

"the only people who have bitten angrily are other liberals"

A statement like that (you could substitute just about anything: conservatives, rednecks, blacks, asians, jews) paints everyone who responded in the thread with the same brush. Does one have to keep a scorecard handy to keep track of every poster's political leanings to make such a comment? What is the point of a statement like that?

I know I don't keep track of everyone's opinion here, people are people; individuals with big brains and opinions that shouldn't be simply tossed into a pile. Having a myopic view of the world also leads to things like this as well, presuming I was saying one thing when I wasn't.

Quit judging everyone and pre-judging people, don't put them in piles and call them names, it gets us nowhere when everyone is instantly polarized to the edges of a debate.

I'm posting this publicly because I've had this same discussion over email with a few others in the past couple months and I'm tired of doing it in private where no one learns from their mistakes: polarizing the audience doesn't help anyone, and adds nothing but noise to any signal that might have been there.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:12 AM on February 16, 2002


Metafilter, for a reason I cannot explain, has always been some kind of political proving ground. Yeah, it almost as bad as some religious thread and usually the problem can be traced to one or two overzealous posters. Then again when some people talk about the 'good old metafilter' they usually are quick to mention a couple vocal token liberals and conservatives that would just go at it.

Its like that poli-sci course never ended. I don't like the generalization about college students. Hell aaron, do you remember college? One day so-and-so might declare himself a middle-of-the road liberal democrat and a couple months later he's a semi-progressive neo-libertarian blah blah. The last time this came up there was a short but decent exchange between myself and a couple others on how the labeling here does in fact polarize things, just like on TV or in the papers. That doesn't mean its right, but this kind of behaviour is encouraged all the time. This is one of main reasons I don't participate in the pissing contest threads anymore, don't watch The O'Reilly Report, etc.

I like to think of myself as a bit thick-skinned, but I really can't handle the repititious rhetoric from certain people here. They're like a broken MP3 and just as predictable as the next Britney hit.

posted by skallas at 1:44 AM on February 16, 2002


I think the problem has more to do with the tone of those who can't seem to dial down the 'shrill' factor of their commentary. To put it another way: Dude it's just a website. Take a breath, pause, post if you've got something that will add to the discussion, not argue the same damn point in a different fashion you've been arguing.

If you can't find a link to go with your post, bring something that is equally as good as a link: a well reasoned argument that doesn't attack anyone personally and doesn't make you sound like you need to freebase valium just to get straight in the morning.

This is something that can be applied to anyone on the site, old, new, left, right, formerly-left-now-right, drunk Tandy users, whoever. It really does get tiring to read the same people make the same arguments over and over again, defending their position down to the smallest bit of minutae. To put it another way: Dude we know you're pissed about this/that. Enlighten us as to why we should care, not why you're right.
posted by chaz at 3:42 AM on February 16, 2002


The topic post was written stridently. Let’s just get that out of the way. I tend to tune out posts and comments that use all caps and bolding. (I don’t mind opinions in topic posts, but [more]s make me twitch.)

Anyway, you’re all angry at the use of the straw man, not labelling. I mean, the quote that pissed matt of is just a classic straw man. It lets the poster argue about “angry liberals” and attack that, rather than address the crux of the issue, advocation of teen condom use. If you’d posted any comment in agreement to that thread, you aren’t a horny 12th-grader or a dues paying Libertarian, you’re just an “angry liberal”. Had Colin Powell come to the thread and posted a defense of himself, he would’ve been another angry liberal.

Labels and names can be helpful. You couldn’t talk about interrelated groups without them. Take the straw man for what it is: a non-argument meant to deflect criticism. Since others addressed it, the fallacy worked.

We’ve all used them at some point. It's sort of hard to write much of anything without touching on one fallacy or another. The goal is to minimize or acknowledge their use – with humor, hopefully.

I mean, the only people that care about this topic are stupid farmers, and let me tell you why...
posted by raaka at 4:16 AM on February 16, 2002


Like the sod-buster bigot says, it's not the labelling, it's the preemptive branding. Rigging a FPP so that merely making a comment to it will draft you into the FPP author's prejudice is ever-so-slightly destructive to the MeFi meme.

Stop that, y'all.
posted by Opus Dark at 4:43 AM on February 16, 2002


Rigging a FPP so that merely making a comment to it will draft you into the FPP author's prejudice is ever-so-slightly destructive to the MeFi meme.

I don't see that the post was in any way "rigged". In any case, it wasn't the nature of the post that caused problems. The thread was going along swimmingly, and the comments were mainly enlightened and enlightening. Aaron just decided to throw in a snark bomb. I think that there certainly was a straw man problem, but I also think that the use of labeling was problematic, though largely because it just wasn't relevant to the discussion.

On the other hand, I disagree with Matt's characterization of what followed as a "pointless shouting match". There was some response to Aaron, but I think that the thread largely recovered and people got quickly back to relevance.
posted by anapestic at 4:59 AM on February 16, 2002


I don't see that the post was in any way "rigged".

That's because it wasn't. Wrong post. Can I squirm out of this by claiming that in my world, FPP means "Foul Pigeonholing Post"?
posted by Opus Dark at 5:15 AM on February 16, 2002


That's because it wasn't. Wrong post. Can I squirm out of this by claiming that in my world, FPP means "Foul Pigeonholing Post"?

No, though it might be amusing to watch you try.

Get with the proper terminology, dude. A "post" appears on the front page. Inside the "thread" are "comments". It's all so simple.
posted by anapestic at 6:16 AM on February 16, 2002


As I've argued elsewhere, this site should be about providing readers with something interesting to read (links, commentary). A political bitchfest's sole purpose is to defend your point of view and possibly convince others of that view. (Though how such behavior could encourage new recruits is beyond me.) It supports a narrow, self-serving agenda rather than the agenda of this site (interesting links and commentary). It makes MetaFilter a soapbox for your own agenda; it serves you, rather than you serving it and its readers.

I'm politically moderate and tired of the screaming matches that pass for political discourse nowadays. I'm Canadian so all the Rep/Dem pissing contests don't mean anything to me. I just tune them out. More of them means fewer interesting things to read on this site. Noise instead of signal.
posted by mcwetboy at 6:39 AM on February 16, 2002


how does this differ from real-time arguments. What can done? same as real life, very little. fer instance....anapestic here, he chides end dark (opus dark) about FFP? is ana P.O'ed? is opus dark being trollish....i think niether. most have gotten into nasty fights with members, i respect most ive tangled with. (never liked SDB) Part of the filter is well, the filter, when to filter out the crap(or when to add a little) also the human capacity for being wrong and correction. these 'filter' filters and vets jumpin on people is doing more to destroy MeFi then anything else. I see many ggod members leaving or not contributing...for whatever reason, change is on the horizon. I have always found confrontation in the face of logic (no cracks please) the best soution. Im for banning those repeat offenders who have been given several warnings.
posted by clavdivs at 6:41 AM on February 16, 2002


...a call for papers, like school, the best MeFi solution to these problem members. really, find some space, put up the info and panel (why, i just cant matt, to many....drugs) in the side bar...more then MeTa posts on half-measures to half fix a growing problem.
posted by clavdivs at 6:46 AM on February 16, 2002


Let's face it: politics and religion and a few other choice subjects will always bring out some unfavorable opinions and/or debate styles. One of my rules of thumb is to never talk about these things while drinking, since I get too inflamed over the issues and thus no solid arguments are developped. I've extended this rule to MeFi, since anonymity and the lack of face to face seems to have the same qualities as a few cocktails. I doubt that soapbox grandstanding can be eliminated, nor do I think that these types of discussions can be moderated. Toleration is the answer.

I will admit one guilty pleasure. I don't go looking for these hot button topics but when I come across them, I do enjoy reading the threads. There's nothing quite like political/religious entertainment!
posted by ashbury at 7:58 AM on February 16, 2002


People should do what I do.

They should fill the comment box with long, thought out messages, discussing the valid points, pro and con of a given arguement, and then say "Fuck it, no one gives a damn what you think." Then they should highlight all the text, and then press delete.


posted by crunchland at 8:31 AM on February 16, 2002


Preview it first so you have the satisfaction of reading your brilliance in white on blue... then close the window w/out posting. I do that ALL THE TIME. (Because I generally don't feel like I want to invest the energy in defending and defending and defending every opinion I have.)
posted by palegirl at 9:16 AM on February 16, 2002


Matt: why do you choose only aaron to make an example of, while you let posts like this merrily do the same thing later in the thread? Or in other threads? There's nothing wrong with demonstrating what you believe is a disruptive method of posting, but it seems a bit one-sided to cite only one example.

I personally believe that, in order to even have a discussion of issues, one needs to take sides, at least in the outset. It's the nature of argument, and it happens in the US Congress, the Houses of Parliament, in classrooms, in pubs, etc. In some sense, the human mind relies on labels to make sense of the world. You can fault aaron for his presentation (although he has never, in my time here, displayed the rudeness of the posts I linked above), but don't fault him for taking a strident stand. His posts weren't just empty, baiting rhetoric.

And the "only people who have bitten angrily are other liberals" statement, well, that is empty rhetoric, and I ignored it. I bite angrily often, and I'm no "other liberal". But I don't think it derailed that particular discussion at all.

Usually the discussions sort themselves out organically, and the wheat gets seperated from the chaff on its own.
posted by evanizer at 9:58 AM on February 16, 2002


Thank you, evanizer.
posted by aaron at 10:13 AM on February 16, 2002


evanizer, I have a problem with your linked comments as well, they seem to share problems with aaron's post.

I guess the problem isn't merely labels or the tone of someone's post, it's the strawman argument in this case.

Usually the discussions sort themselves out organically, and the wheat gets seperated from the chaff on its own.

If you could see my inbox filled with people telling me that they no longer participate here due to the low quality of debate that goes on here, you might see this as a bigger problem than merely something that can work itself out.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:19 AM on February 16, 2002


Quit judging everyone and pre-judging people, don't put them in piles and call them names, it gets us nowhere when everyone is instantly polarized to the edges of a debate.

How can this not happen? MetaFilter is a sufficiently established and stagnant community (especially when old standby topics like race or politics come up) that everyone knows what everyone else is going to say long before they say it.

No one really listens to what Aaron says, because they already know what he's going to say. Matt is God around here, so people automatically take what he says as the Gospel Truth, whether it has value or not. And anything I say is irrelevant because I am not a real person; I am The Kottke or some crap like that.

This is what happens with groups of people. They get to know each other so well and get so comfortable with each other, that the value of having the same conversations over and over again (you can probably fit 90% of the conversations here into 10-15 broad categories, maybe less) drops to nearly nothing. People are labelled and judged because it's then easier for people to know where they stand on things, giving them more ammunition in discussions. It's hard to circumvent that impulse because it's one of the things our brains are Really Good at: recognizing patterns, especially those dealing with human interaction.
posted by jkottke at 10:21 AM on February 16, 2002


If you could see my inbox filled with people telling me that they no longer participate here due to the low quality of debate that goes on here, you might see this as a bigger problem than merely something that can work itself out.

And if you could see my inbox filled with people telling me they no longer participate here to do the constant passive-aggressive hostility they inevitably end up facing in MetaTalk like this. And this is not a snarky response; I'm 100% deadly serious. (Obviously, my mailbox isn't filled to overloading, but since I started posting again I've had email contact with about ten ex-posters about it.)
posted by aaron at 10:33 AM on February 16, 2002


And if you could see my inbox filled with people telling me they no longer participate here to do the constant passive-aggressive hostility they inevitably end up facing in MetaTalk like this

Oh, I've got a truckload of that type of email too. Some people feel they can't say anything without being called on the mat in MetaTalk about it, yeah I get lots of email about that. Personally, over the past few months, I've rarely started a topic here specifically about someone's behavior. I'd agree that people have been posting about others' behavior before, and it wasn't always something worth posting about, or they went about it in a poor fashion. I thought in this case I had enough of a problem with it that it was worth mentioning.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:42 AM on February 16, 2002


I happen to listen to what aaron says and what mathowie says and what fold_and_mutilate says, etc. Knowing someone's personal stance on issues does not preclude the idea of listening to their arguments. I am often surprised or moved or upset by what people say on here, people from all sides of a debate, regardless of whether I think I have them pegged or not. There are only a very few posters who are completely predictable; otherwise there is actually much variance of opinions on the wide range of topics that come up here. I could say the same of you, jkottke, that all your recent posts are 'dump on MeFi/O what a dreadful place this has become' type posts, but that isn't the whole of your voice here; you make plenty of other comments on a wide range of subjects.

Don't assume that no one here listens to anyone.

Also, I don't really see a 'low quality of debate' here at all. The threads I read are, for the most part, great, thoughtful discussions. Even trolls seem to elicit very well reasoned arguments sometimes (like the hincandenza/MidasMulligan exchange I linked to earlier. I found Midas' responses full of interesting and intelligent retort).

I don't take Matt's comments as the word of God; I often disagree with him. But people tend to listen to him since he was nice enough to create this place and does the gargantuan task of maintaining it, which is why I was a little worried when he singled-out aaron while not mentioning other, similar infractions. But I understand what he said in principle, and I try desperately not to make the kind of 'straw-man' statements he refers to.

I like a nice, civilized rumble when it's about something I care about. I liken these kind of arguments to the parry and thrust of fencing; a stylized fight, with all the grace, timing, agility and verve of seasoned opponents. A well-reasoned fight where very real, visceral arguments are settled in a very logical and elegant manner. This is very different than a drunken bar brawl over a misplaced statement about someone's girlfriend that ends in blood, broken glass, sweat and misery. I prefer when MeFi sticks to the former and avoids the latter.

We're all gentle(wo)men here. Let's fight like it.

posted by evanizer at 11:13 AM on February 16, 2002


Nobody has to read MetaTalk to participate fully on MetaFilter. Nobody. At all. Ever.

Everyone who feels abused on MetaTalk is volunteering for that "abuse".
posted by NortonDC at 11:20 AM on February 16, 2002


aaron, now that you're here, you've obviously seen all this. I'd love to hear your responses to anything I've said here. Was there any wrongdoing on your part? Am I unfairly picking on you?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:44 AM on February 16, 2002


We need labels; labels are good. We don't really know each other so it's good when posters identify themselves. One of the best things of MetaFilter is that posters are upfront about their prejudices and leanings - nobody pretends to be just rational, commonsensical and entirely case-dependent.

Labels don't make posters predictable - apart from politically, which is a very good thing. It's coherence. Some people are predictably and oh so boringly unpredictable. Others stick by their guns and are always interesting, no matter how far their political opinions are from ours.

When people lump all us MetaFilter conservatives together not only is this not a problem - it's satisfying for me as a conservative. I also like the fact that people here are mostly liberal but illiberal(i.e. human!) in the way they mostly express themselves.

Politics is a very, very big thing. Harold Laski's old definition - it's about who gets or should get what, when, how and why - still makes sense, if you accept that there is some kind of sum-total of desirable things in any society(the so called cake)which makes it impossible for everyone to get anything remotely near what they want.

To do the nobility of politics justice you have to be forthright and antagonistic, you have to fight for what you think is right. If you're intelligent you'll learn from the fight - even if its only how to defend your viewpoint better.

But in political discussions you can't convince. That's it's frustration, but also its beauty. It's fundamentally about emotions, more than reason. What you can do is make others aware of their otherness. But you can't give up your otherness, any more than they can override theirs. That's why it's political. We're not politicians; we're not running for election; we don't have to lie or sweet-talk. Nobody but us is talking or listening here. That's what so great about MetaFilter. Leave it at that, I say.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:09 PM on February 16, 2002


Fair enough questions, Matt, but I'm not really here any more; I gotta run off and do stuff. A few hours to contemplate never hurts anyway. Back tonight sometime.
posted by aaron at 12:15 PM on February 16, 2002


Ah, Miguel....I bow my head in blushing shame....for you have indeed proven your command-indeed, your utter mastery of the Anglo tongue...even in a simple explanation of political discourse you have made the simple words sit up and beg.
I sit at your feet, o evil twin of mine-and yet......
posted by bunnyfire at 12:47 PM on February 16, 2002


How can this not happen? MetaFilter is a sufficiently established and stagnant community (especially when old standby topics like race or politics come up) that everyone knows what everyone else is going to say long before they say it.

I'm sorry, but I think this is crap. (I also think it's crap that people around here for some reason think it's OK to pile abuse on certain people they all know of and for some reason resent (but -- go figure -- don't actually know), but that doesn't excuse this.)

MetaFilter is only stagnant to the extent that some people let it be, and others see it for what it isn't instead of what it is. Not every thread needs to be a knock-out for MetaFilter to be good. This site continues to uncover worthwhile links (as mathowie observed yesterday), and, when people are thoughtful and have something to say, it's still worth reading and contributing to. And there are still people here that, on any given topic (e.g., olympic ice skating), can contribute something you're not likely to read anywhere else.

The fact is, some people do still give a shit about what other people here have to say.
posted by mattpfeff at 12:56 PM on February 16, 2002


I don't get to post as much as I would like, but I do try to find some time to read many of the threads here, and visit links. I like that opinions come in all shapes and varieties on metafilter. I enjoy seeing people who have disagreed in one thread finding common ground in another.

Argument and persuasion aren't the same things. The best threads aren't necessarily the ones where someone is keeping score. This isn't a debate society. The threads I like most are the ones that fill up with variations on a theme, with links to similar topics, and counter topics, with personal anecdotes, and local references. With people building something together, rather than tearing each other apart.

We all have different view points and opinions, and those come from a multitude of perspectives and a wealth of different experiences, cultural viewpoints, and educational backgrounds. Sometimes it is better to ask questions, and hold conversations with one another rather than to attack quickly with a label, or with a half-formed argument. I agree with Matt here - a quick label takes away from all of us the chance to have someone share what could be an interesting perspective. And it could be yours.
posted by bragadocchio at 1:55 PM on February 16, 2002


MetaFilter is a sufficiently established and stagnant community (especially when old standby topics like race or politics come up) that everyone knows what everyone else is going to say long before they say it.

I'd have to acknowledge that this is crap as well. Certainly there are voices where you can sort of predict what their viewpoints may be, but to have a broad brush where you say that everyone knows what everyone else is going to say. It shows someone that really hasn't been an active participant here. More than anywhere else I've seen, Mefi is able to have a level of conversation above the rest of the web (or most of it). I don't think because Mefi doesn't fit in with how it used to be means its any better or worse.

Labeling is bad, but divergent points of view aren't. Some of us are more dogmatic and argumenative than others (myself) but it doesn't mean you can't have a good conversation/argument. Hell, I've found myself on the same side as aaron twice this past week. Hell dropped about 50 degrees.
posted by owillis at 2:13 PM on February 16, 2002


Those here who have pointed out that they will often write out a comment without committing it to the thread, like crunchland and palegirl, and those who point out the mastabatory soapbox-like nature of a lot of comments, like mcwetboy ,have identified the mindset that all of this bickering stems from, which is people posting for it's own sake.

I have noticed recently that almost any thread I offer anything like a salient point in, I see it repeated, sometimes verbatim, sometimes more than once, with no acknowledgment that the thought has already been brought to the thread.
I know I'm not just being routinely ignored here or anything, simply by the amount of positive feedback that I get, but it seems pretty obvious that quite a few people are, at best, just scanning the threads and typing over each other. People are just typing to hear themselves type. It's not much of a conversation if nobody listens, and it's probably particularly disheartening for the newer members who haven't gotten their sea legs yet to feel so ignored.

I also don't think of Matt as God, by the way, but I am perfectly willing to burn something down, if that would please him at all.
posted by dong_resin at 3:35 PM on February 16, 2002


"Toadfire"?
posted by bunnyfire at 3:43 PM on February 16, 2002


I honestly do not understand people who go to all the trouble of writing out a response and then wimp out when it comes time to post it.....do you hold the opinion or don't you? If it is not worth expressing I question whether it is worth holding.

posted by bunnyfire at 3:49 PM on February 16, 2002


Discretion is the better part of valor, bunnyfire. Your opinion may be worth expressing, but you can look back on the manner in which you chose to express it and decide it was a bad idea.
posted by darukaru at 3:58 PM on February 16, 2002


And that would simply be a matter of opinion.
posted by bunnyfire at 4:02 PM on February 16, 2002


If it is not worth expressing I question whether it is worth holding.

bunnyfire, kindly and calmly read dong_resin's response of 3:35pm. If an opinion is not worth expression, it might have something to do with the audience, yes? Shouting away your thoughts to be judged by others in this forum doesn't help the problem mathowie brought up in this thread.
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:07 PM on February 16, 2002


Let me ask you something, wulfie....I was not shouting when I calmly expressed the opinion that someone typing an opinion and then erasing it simply seemed stupid to me, and that if they had an opinion they needed simply to come out and express it. If they felt their opinion did not merit expression, perhaps it was time to rethink having that opinion.
Maybe you are caught up in is the fact that that particular comment was signed by bunnyfire.
posted by bunnyfire at 4:23 PM on February 16, 2002


I honestly do not understand people who go to all the trouble of writing out a response and then wimp out when it comes time to post it

Here's a few reasons, after previewing you might decide:

1. Someone already made these points, and her post is better than mine.

2. This is unreadable, I don't feel like editing it.

3. I don't want to start another pro-life pro-choice derailing. Or any derailing.

4. This isn't worth me spending time defending all my points in an endless back and forth.

5. I wrote this out of anger and its very reactionary.

6. What if my boss/lover/dog/aunt/postman read this?!

posted by skallas at 4:38 PM on February 16, 2002


Maybe you are caught up in is the fact that that particular comment was signed by bunnyfire.

No, but I think you might be. However, the point still remains that adding to the noise is not always helpful. Saying your piece to be reiterated 50 times with no solution or aknowledgement of its validity is futile. I would venture to say that most of us DO question the opinions we hold or we wouldn't be here. This thread is about how and why we express those views, not about why we hold them.

I have friends that call me "wulfie". Are you among those, or were you expressing something else? I didn't mean to insult you, I just think your focus is rather narrowed.
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:40 PM on February 16, 2002


I have noticed recently that almost any thread I offer anything like a salient point in, I see it repeated, sometimes verbatim, sometimes more than once, with no acknowledgment that the thought has already been brought to the thread.
posted by willnot at 4:55 PM on February 16, 2002


The point isn't whether you hit Post, or just reread your comment and decide to leave it unsaid, it's that you think about it -- and what's in it -- before posting. Which is a thing some people here seem to do less often than others -- and which is too bad, because the people that think least, often say the things least worth saying.
posted by mattpfeff at 5:04 PM on February 16, 2002


bunnyfire - if they had an opinion they needed simply to come out and express it

bunnyfire, if the act of breathing leaves one with enough unoccupied neurological resources to form an opinion at some point in the course of a day, that does not mean it needs to shared with MetaFilter.
posted by NortonDC at 5:16 PM on February 16, 2002


*cries*

Damn you, willnot!
posted by dong_resin at 5:19 PM on February 16, 2002


bunnyfire, I've noticed that your posting frequency has gone up dramatically in the last coupla weeks, at least it seems to me, and encouraging others to be more open with random ill-thought thoughts is not a good idea in your tradition of ideas. I say this concernedly, as one who has friends keeping an eye on my own symptoms of franticness, but is your bunny perhaps on fire?
posted by dness2 at 5:30 PM on February 16, 2002


...I could say the same of you, jkottke, that all your recent posts are 'dump on MeFi/O what a dreadful place this has become' type posts...

And anything I say is irrelevant because I am not a real person; I am The Kottke or some crap like that.

Your level of participation in this community and the things you say here define the responses people make. A fair proportion of the people here, these days, I would imagine, neither know nor care that you are a net.celeb, Jason. Dropping in, deus ex kottke, every once in a while, to pronounce how Bad Things Have gotten once again, serves nothing but yourself.

Many of us do know you're buddies with Matt, and know that you've had long discussions with him about MeFi, but I reckon, like any other person who takes part here, you should put up or shut up, my friend.

That said, I agree that the level of discourse around here may have declined, to an extent, in the last 12 months at least, and that's due to many things : people typing to be heard, as bunnyfire is being taken to task for, people leaping to the smart-ass quip with mind-numbing regularity and consistency (something I've been guilty of, but now try to curtail), people hamstringing reasoned debate by throwing around simplistic epithets (something aaron did in the linked comment, I think), people doing all sorts of counterproductive shit.

And people showing up a couple of times a month to pontificate about the continued decline of the place, rather than actively taking part, and trying to make it better. (There are some old guard types who do this - take part, try to make things better - I know.) I for one am tired of the complaining, of the crypto-elitist posturing that it implies.

Dammit, mattpfeff said it : "MetaFilter is only stagnant to the extent that some people let it be, and others see it for what it isn't instead of what it is."
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:57 PM on February 16, 2002


takes deep breath....
point number one: if you are going to type it, post it. If you are going to think about it, think about it before you type it. Don't go thru endless exercises of writing yourself metaposts that no one else will ever see. I am not talking about the occasional deletion of an unwise posting. I actually delete more posts of my own than you would imagine.

Point two.
your bunny perhaps on fire?

only temporarily...:-)
posted by bunnyfire at 5:57 PM on February 16, 2002


if you are going to type it, post it.

Okay, now I'm inscensced. The answer is : NO. Don't tell me what the F*** to do. Matt brought this thread up to talk about the kind of polarization that infuses topics around here and we have bunnyfire telling all what and how to post, so as not to offend her. Give it a rest, girl. Until Aaron actually answers, (which I really am looking forward to hearing), this isn't about you, bunnyfire. So shut the hell up, and wait for something real to happen, 'kay?

I actually delete more posts of my own than you would imagine.

I don't believe that for a-half-a goddam second.


posted by Wulfgar! at 6:09 PM on February 16, 2002


Self censorship is a good thing. There are a couple people here who might consider trying it sometime.
posted by crunchland at 6:14 PM on February 16, 2002


Sorry to all.

Self censorship is a good thing. There are a couple people here who might consider trying it sometime.

I prolly shoulda just exercised that very thing.
posted by Wulfgar! at 6:17 PM on February 16, 2002


Looks like someone just broke Skallas's posting rule number five.


posted by skallas at 6:27 PM on February 16, 2002


excuse me. I watch you people pick on aaron like a bunch of vultures(and certain people who shall remain nameless and who are not on this thread do it to me too) and I am sick of it. One person in particular -all he has to do is see Aarons' name attached to a post and invective starts to fly for no reason.

AS for myself, I am as entitled to an opinion as anyone. You may not like it. You may think it is hogwash. You may think it is self aggrandizing, you may even think it is nonsequiturish....but i am entititled....just as entitiled as you, or skallas, or aaron, or anyone else on mefi.

I am sick of all of it.....you know what? I do enjoy the serious discussions-I read them and actually once in awhile participate. Yes I am a little more of a cut-up-but that is who i am and i mean no harm by it-and in the long run it does this place no harm to have a small bit of fun either!

Well, wulfgar, i am sorry if you are riled up, but i am not shutting up, and you can't make me. Only matt can do that.
I have emailed him in the past to ASK him if i was out of line, because i care about this place, and i do not want to drag it down.....so you take care of your responsibility here and i will take care of mine.
posted by bunnyfire at 6:28 PM on February 16, 2002


How did this thread become about bunnyfire?

Again?

Enough!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:30 PM on February 16, 2002


Perhaps we might all gain by getting back to Matt's original point about the dangers of labelling and, specially, polarization. As far as I can gather there is a worrying tendency lately to split everyone into two camps - liberal and conservative -which does make for lazy posting and lousy threads.

I'm all in favour of labelling - but, as I tried to explain, of individual labelling, nor gross group-characterizations which demean discussion and lump us all together by virtue of a meaningless dichotomy.

Make a slice down the middle, split everyone in half and let them fight it out

is an enormous danger and it does seem to happening more lately. Particularly worrying is the pre-judging of posts and threads also mentioned by Matt where users go "oh, it's posted by a liberal...so X". That surely is much too shorthand and limiting for comfort and deserves to be debated. Overclassification? Oversimplification? Cold War MetaFilter, anyone?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:31 PM on February 16, 2002


Wulfgar, I am not really mad at you, and i don't take what you said personally. I know it was just the heat of the moment-same as me-but my post has been building up for a long time......a very long time....you're the poor soul that got it , that's all.
posted by bunnyfire at 6:34 PM on February 16, 2002


Stavros? it can be about you...right now would be a really really good time, as a matter of fact....stand right here.....no, here....yes, right there!

You might want to duck right about now......
posted by bunnyfire at 6:37 PM on February 16, 2002


Take a break, Bunnyfire.
posted by crunchland at 6:48 PM on February 16, 2002


Matt - it does seem like you tend to pick aaron out for scorn more than others. I believe you when you say you have a problem on both sides, but it might help diffuse the you're just picking on me rhetoric if you chose targets from the other side of the debate.

That said, I think you'd have more luck asking that others not rise to the name calling than asking that people who are obviously spoiling for a fight not throw out flame bait.

Besides, contrary to my Gen X orientation, I LOVE labels. I can't get enough of those personality tests (like myers briggs INTJ not what kind of car are you). I think everybody should be forced to identify themselves as Hatfileds and McCoys. Then when one of the let's debate this into the ground again threads comes up, somebody can do a coin toss to determine which group will be for or agin.

These debates would be much more interesting if people were forced to argue from the other side instead of parroting their entrenched biases.
posted by willnot at 6:53 PM on February 16, 2002


Crunchland, you are starting to get on my nerves. I was indeed about to take a break but all the metafilter netnannying is getting to be a bit much
posted by bunnyfire at 6:53 PM on February 16, 2002


Metafilter (near) synchronicity...
posted by dash_slot- at 7:04 PM on February 16, 2002


As far as I can gather there is a worrying tendency lately to split everyone into two camps - liberal and conservative -which does make for lazy posting and lousy threads.

Some people self-identify as liberal or conservative when it suits them, and reject those labels when it doesn't. I thought this thread, which turned into, at times, a discussion, specifically, of the label "conservative" was great.
posted by Ty Webb at 7:06 PM on February 16, 2002


Metafilter (near) synchronicity...
posted by dash_slot- at 7:06 PM on February 16, 2002


"Here's a thought: name calling and the polarizing that follows as everyone is either in one group or the other leads to pointless shouting matches. Is this a debate tactic? Make a slice down the middle, split everyone in half and let them fight it out?"

Yes it is! Absolutely.

I hope Matt realizes that it's quite possible some people who come across MetaFilter may make intentional efforts to provoke him or shut down his site.

The methods for facilitating an open, consensus-based discussion in this new weblog genre aren't immediately obvious. (I personally would draw the line at any sort of threat, including a humorous offer to "burn stuff down," because I've lived places where threats weren't considered funny.) Attempting to create a platform for free speech in wartime is not an emotionally-neutural undertaking. An open forum will attract freshman-level debaters, chatty types, and possibly a few disruptive individuals with techniques more subtle than simply name-calling. The "Real-Time-On-Line-Heckling" experiment during the State of the Union was pretty interesting. I was disappointed not to get everybody's reactions to the speech, but the experience did teach me something new about how to use the Internet. For me there's something to be learned from almost all political discussions, even when tempers are short, but not everyone feels this way.
posted by sheauga at 9:20 PM on February 16, 2002


I hope Matt realizes that it's quite possible some people who come across MetaFilter may make intentional efforts to provoke him or shut down his site.

If he didn't realize it to begin with, which I'm sure he did, he certainly realized it the first time it actually happened.
posted by kindall at 9:56 PM on February 16, 2002


Here's an example of something I would classify as "hate speech" rather than a political discussion, topical material which carries an implicit racial threat.
posted by sheauga at 10:15 PM on February 16, 2002


Ty Webb, your example thread, which is evanizer’s second example, opens with a circumstantial ad hominem. That’s pointed out in the third post of the thread, and the line of reasoning is thankfully dropped. (The sixth and seventh posts of the thread call out a blatant straw man.) That, to me, is the best anyone could do in that instance. Point it out, redirect the argument and move on. What people are frustrated with, from mathowie to kottke to Opus to lil ol me, is the constant use of the exact same fallacies. Especially after they’ve been noted.

Short of a strict editorial hand, I simply don’t see this happening. People cling to prejudices to make sense of the world. Giving them up means living in constant chaos. That is true for everybody. This isn’t to say people have to be mean about it, which seems to be the biggest beef.

Right? It’s more the spite we're sick of, faulty and inflammatory arguments are a close second.
posted by raaka at 10:20 PM on February 16, 2002


Is this a debate tactic? Make a slice down the middle, split everyone in half and let them fight it out?

To answer this initial query, I think that it was a perfectly valid debate tactic, given the wording of the post. I could just picture the froth gathering on the mouths of conservatives in response to Powell's opinions, thanks to jellybuzz's phrasing. Yes, there was labelling on the parts of both jellybuzz and aaron, and perhaps the argument was a bit more strident than we would care for, but it was mainly well-reasoned and more than mere name-calling.

As far as labelling is concerned, we do it all the time. We take shortcuts when it comes to our understanding of others, group and categorize until things fit inside neat boxes, it's normal, though it can be taken to extremes, and I say this as a bleeding-heart liberal.

Matt, I hate to tell you this, but aaron doesn't deserve this; he ought not be singled out every time he says something that even approaches the pale. His arguments are more cogent and reasoned than 90% of the folks here, and are more valuable, since they express an opinion that is sorely lacking. I respect unpopular opinions (which are inherently inflammatory) and feel that we would be impoverished if we weren't challenged. If I were in his shoes, I'd be punching necks. Kudos to you, aaron.
posted by Avogadro at 10:32 PM on February 16, 2002


I also enjoy having aaron around, simply for the voice of the contrarian.
As for for how you find his posting etiquette, I guess that can only come down to the individual. I've had him disagree with me before, it wasn't particularly traumatic for me.

A humorous offer to "burn stuff down," ?
Oh, it wasn't a humorous offer, sheauga.
You don't carve the name "haughey" in mirror writing on your forehead and surround yourself with molotov cocktails just so you can go around making false offers of loyalty.

More importantly, taking every utterance entirely at face value and remaining utterly free of any sense of the absurd is absolutely nessecary, if you want avoid all that annoying whimsy that makes MetaFilter a generally lighthearted place. A fine lesson for us all.
posted by dong_resin at 11:01 PM on February 16, 2002


Matt - it does seem like you tend to pick aaron out for scorn more than others. I believe you when you say you have a problem on both sides, but it might help diffuse the you're just picking on me rhetoric if you chose targets from the other side of the debate.

I banned someone a couple weeks ago for being an insufferable communist, that painted everyone on the site as "wrong" because they were "capitalist" in nature and that everyone who is capitalist should die. Does that have to be noted?

Matt, I hate to tell you this, but aaron doesn't deserve this;

Sure, you'd say that, because you're from Ohio.

(do you see how pointless a broad brush is?).

I'll point this out as often as I see it, in this case I saw aaron doing it. I don't see people disregarding others' opinions on the site in a wholesale fashion for being "conservative" not because I don't share that viewpoint but that I don't see it. I saw aaron doing it, and I hope no one does it again.

I acknowledge that humans process millions of bits of information by grouping similar things, but I also see a problem when a user calls everyone on a thread by a name.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:47 AM on February 17, 2002


Matt, I hate to tell you this, but aaron doesn't deserve this; he ought not be singled out every time he says something that even approaches the pale.

It seems to me that you (and others) are the ones asking for favoritism and special dispensation for a particular poster because of his "label," or political slant. And you are dead wrong to ask that. I don't know anyone who objects to any poster here because of their "conservatism" (whatever that may signify to each of us). I do know some who object to certain people based upon their rudeness and lack of consideration for other members of this community, as well as the basic values and premise of the community itself.

If you would like to see the "conservative viewpoint" better represented here, encourage thoughtful, mature, civil conservative persons to read and post here. Don't ask us to forgive, excuse and pardon those who choose to make their points--whatever their bias--in ways we find offensive, just so that you can feel that we have somehow artificially created a greater balance. Because in doing so we don't make Metafilter more egalitarian; we merely make it more open to disruption, disregard and devolution.

It seems to me that Matt's standards for both the conceptualization and the policing of the site are remarkably consistent, whether we always agree with them or not, and trying to portray his efforts as a lefty harassing the right-wingers not only misses the point, it's a gross distortion of reality, IMO.
posted by rushmc at 1:22 AM on February 17, 2002


We need labels; labels are good.

Miguel, I've read your comments that follow this contention again and again, and I still can't figure out what you're getting at. I disagree pretty vehemently with the statement itself, so perhaps that is blinding me to your point. Please explain.
posted by rushmc at 1:24 AM on February 17, 2002


You know, willnot is right in what he posted above: Most of what I have to say in response to Matt's questions has already been said by others in this thread. But I said I'd respond, so here I am.

First, I call shenanigans on the general intensity of the charge in the first place. No matter what you think of what I said in that post, I did not derail the thread, or "polarize the audience and add nothing but noise to the signal of the debate." I may well have polarized you individually, Matt, but you are not "the audience," you're only one person in it. (Not to take away any credit from you for it being your site, but that's just a numerical fact.) The thread was not brought to a crashing halt; it continued for another 14 posts after mine. Five of those were in response to my post, the rest were in response to other statements made before mine, just like any other thread. One of those five responses was from jpoulos calling me on my alleged misstatement almost immediately (which is the way online discussions are supposed to work, and where this entire affair should have been left since it was thus taken care of); the others were responses to one or more of the many other things I had said in that post. Those four responses would never have been possible if I had merely tossed out some rude rejoinder intended to stop the thread dead in its tracks. But it wasn't that; it was merely one sentence out of a four-paragraph post that was arguing a number of different points on several different subjects. And it appears the participants in the thread treated it as such. If you wanted to say something about that line, Matt, that's fine in and of itself. But by making it a full MetaTalk front page post, and using the phrasing you used in that post, you raised an otherwise reasonable question to the level of a shrill "j'accuse!" allegation of almost criminal conduct (by MeFi standards, anyway). In doing so, and causing a 70-comment bitchfest in the process, you've made it exponentially harder for me or anyone else to examine the issue rationally. This thing has been commented on and analyzed by so many people in so many ways, who came to so many different conclusions, that I can barely even keep it all straight in my mind at this point.

As to the boiled-down question itself, was there wrongdoing on my part: Well, let's just say that I'm thinking of it in terms of two lawyers going at it in a courtroom. If I'd said a line like that, and you called "Objection!" to it, then yes, I'd withdraw it ... and that's pretty much an admission of a slight step out of bounds. So yes, in hindsight, that particular sentence could have at least been phrased better, and it might well have been better for the thread overall if I had left the line out entirely. However, this doesn't mean that I intentionally put the line in there just to piss some people off even though it bore no resemblance to my actual feelings. I absolutely believe jellybuzz's post was written in a shrill, baiting fashion; more that one person above has agreed with me, so it's at least a legitimately arguable question. I also believe the thread contained some rather kneejerk liberal canards about Colin Powell and certain segments of the conservative movement, made in a relatively pissy tone of voice; not all of them, some of them. (However, looking over my paragraph just now, I realize that I didn't phrase something too well: I didn't mean to say that the "angry liberals" were only in that MeFi thread, though it appears that's what I did. I had actually come across two other threads on the matter on other sites where I just occasionally lurk, both of which were total raving loonfests. I'll accept full blame for any misinterpretations made there.) And the thread here, and those other two threads I just mentioned, were indeed the only places I had seen anyone bring this condom thing up at all. (It should be noted that even most conservatives don't listen to a thing Gary Bauer has to say; he's too far out on the fringe.) So yes, to me, this was a mountain being made out of a molehill, and it bugged me, so I said so and said why. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong, but I didn't say any of it just to anger anybody or attempt to intentionally bring to a halt a thread I didn't like; I posted it as my legitimate feelings, in an attempt to move the thread forward just like any other post. I don't post shit just to raise hell here, period. Even if you think I'm a total asshole, you should at least realize that I, certainly as well as anyone on Metafilter, fully understand that those who post purely to cause trouble get a free 72-hour drag through the MeTa mud puddle, which is not a particularly pleasant experience. Why would I want that?

As to the second question, are you "unfairly picking on me": "Picking on" is such a ... third grade way of putting it, and too simplistic to explain what I'm thinking anyway. I believe you're sincere in your belief that "name calling and polarizing," as you put it, is not good for reasoned debate in general, and is occurring too much on MeFi specifically. But you seem to be passively admitting you singled me out in this case: You wrote, "I'm posting this publicly because I've had this same discussion over email with a few others in the past couple months and I'm tired of doing it in private where no one learns from their mistakes." I interpret this as: Matt's decided to make an example of someone. And since you also posted this: "...Having a myopic view of the world also leads to things like this as well, presuming I was saying one thing when I wasn't..." I thus interpret the whole scenario as follows: You were pissed off at me because of what I said to you in that thread the day before, on a vaguely similar subject, so when you saw my post the next day, you decided to make me that example. Which is annoying to me, and somewhat unfair IMHO, but not exactly in the league of Khan vs. Kirk. I also realize, though, that I tend to be rather paranoid on issues such as this, so I probably would have just left the question alone if several others above hadn't already said they thought you were blatantly singling me out. Personally, I think my interpretation is a little less ... something ... (sorry, it's almost 5 am here at this point, and I'm running on fumes) than their "yeah, you ARE picking on him" statements, so I decided to go ahead and post it. In the end, though, whatever, it's not the end of the world, though I certainly don't like it.

Anyway, now that I've said that, I'm going to say this. I was thinking about what NortonDC said way up near the top of the thread: "Nobody has to read MetaTalk to participate fully on MetaFilter. Nobody. At all. Ever." I think he's mostly right. And the problem with his being mostly right is this: It essentially proves that Metatalk is a failure. Why? Because nothing here matters. Nothing "meta" that is discussed here results in any changes on MeFi, except people getting annoyed, feelings getting hurt, and great posters sometimes giving up and leaving for good. Tomorrow, there will probably be at least three or four blatant examples of users posting just the sort of "name calling and polarizing" that we're ostensible discussing here ... perhaps because they never visit MeTa, or haven't visited lately, or simply read it for amusement and don't give a damn, because they know it doesn't really have anything to do with actual MeFi policy. The worst that could possibly happen to them is that they too, could get their very own MeTa thread by someone posting the same sort of complaint. Lather, rinse, repeat.

And this post, Matt, is a perfect example of why that's happening. Simply put, almost every MeTa post that could be a potentially worthwhile META discussion - say, for example, "Does the overuse of labels such as 'liberal' and 'conservative' stifle good discussions on Metafilter?" - becomes, either due to the specific link used, the naming of a specific person, or both, a MICROMANAGING flamefest - such as, "Was so-and-so being an asshole in this particular comment? Is he/she an asshole in general?" If you had simply not linked to anything at all, or at least linked to a number of different examples, we could probably have had truly fruitful discussion. Instead, it just because all about me - and then bunnyfire, somehow, but I don't know how that happened.

Thus, almost every supposedly "meta" discussion on MetaTalk becomes the precise opposite, with generally negative ramifications to those personally involved, and with generally NO ramifications to the supposed problem that caused the post to be made in the first place. MetaTalk seems to be great at the little things - reporting and fixing bugs, asking for new features - and absolutely horrid at the things it's named for, such as actually having policy discussions that produce any positive results. I really, really think you ought to consider changing that, somehow. I suggested last week turning MeTa off entirely for a week, just to see what would happen when people no longer had a place merely to bitch about something they don't like. If you don't like that, perhaps try not allowing links to specific posts in the etiquette/policy category so that threads can't become about people instead of issues. In any case, can't we consider trying something?
posted by aaron at 2:11 AM on February 17, 2002


aaron - if we didn't have MetaTalk then these types of bitch fests would probably happen more frequently in MetaFilter proper where they would tend increase the noise to signal ratio.

In that way, MetaTalk is a shining success. It allows everybody to do their navel gazing and moaning in a separate forum, which I think is one of the reasons the level of discourse on MetaFilter is as high as it is.

And, I think you may be wrong about the discussion never bringing change.

No doubt, there are some people who won't respect the voice of the community, the "well there's not a specific rule saying I can't do that, and even if there was it's a public message board and I won't change until you boot me because you people aren't the boss of me" type. Just like in the real world (and by that of course I mean MetaFilter), nothing anybody says is going to do one thing to change the opinion of somebody with a strongly held view.

But, I think that most people are less inflexible at least with respect to what is considered appropriate posting behavior on MetaFilter. I know I've changed my behavior on MetaFilter as a result of discussions in MetaTalk, and by the fallacy of assuming that others must certainly think as I do, I believe others probably have as well.

Matt – I don’t think anybody would suggest you aren’t perfectly fair in banning troublemakers on the site. I certainly wasn’t. It’s just there’ve been a couple of times now where it was aaron who seemed to be your example for what not to do on the site.

Something bugged you about what he said. That is your right as a member of the community, and it’s further your right as the creator of the community. It’s just I work in marketing, and whenever we’re selecting images we try to be inclusive of all skin tones. Is it stupid? Yes. Does it mean we are any more or less racist if we select one image over another? No. But, we do it because we don’t want anything that could detract from the message. So, the next time aaron exemplifies a trend that is bugging you, and you want to initiate a public discussion about it, maybe look around and find a different example of it. Just throwing it out there as a thought. Take it for what it’s worth.
posted by willnot at 7:55 AM on February 17, 2002


Make a slice down the middle, split everyone in half and let them fight it out?
lousy solomonites.

posted by quonsar at 7:57 AM on February 17, 2002


MetaTalk is ineffective for directly controlling behavior. The closest MetaTalk comes to having a concrete role in controlling boorish behavior is in influencing Matt's decisions on what earns someone a warning email and what gets someone banned. Some people are uncomfortable with that fact, but it is the truth: Matt is the only MeFi cop.

The good news is that this frees MetaFilter participants to ignore MetaTalk and, as pointed out above, it keeps the navel-gazing off of MetaFilter, which should not be undervalued.
posted by NortonDC at 9:56 AM on February 17, 2002


I may well have polarized you individually, Matt, but you are not "the audience," you're only one person in it. The thread was not brought to a crashing halt; it continued for another 14 posts after mine. Five of those were in response to my post,

At the time I made the post, the fifth response was still looking to be potentially one of many. I've watched almost every thread here for three years, and in the past few months, the one thing I've seen that sticks out and causes the most disruption is some sort of broad statement that pushes everyone to the edges and the thread degenerates. Perhaps this was a friday afternoon post people weren't too involved in. Maybe it was the over-the-top post that kept most people away, but I've seen similar comments made here that turned things into crap. But it seems to be happening more frequently and this time I felt it was worth noting.

If you wanted to say something about that line, Matt, that's fine in and of itself. But by making it a full MetaTalk front page post, and using the phrasing you used in that post, you raised an otherwise reasonable question to the level of a shrill "j'accuse!" allegation of almost criminal conduct

I could have simply emailed you a "objection" but I want people to know statements like that have repurcussions. When I noticed it happening before, people accused the person doing it of having bad politics or being a troll or something aside from the basic strawman argument.

I thus interpret the whole scenario as follows: You were pissed off at me because of what I said to you in that thread the day before, on a vaguely similar subject, so when you saw my post the next day, you decided to make me that example. Which is annoying to me, and somewhat unfair IMHO

Yes, to go from private email to a public forum, I suppose someone has to become an example, and in this case you were it. But let's get one thing straight. About the other thread, it was on the same day. You made what I thought was the offending comment that started this thread at 1:23PM yesterday, then three hours later you misinterpretted my post. When I saw an offending post, then a misrepresentation of my writing, I thought the thing connecting it was implied views. You stated pretty clearly that I was assuming something I actually wasn't, and when I wondered why you might say such a thing, I noted three hours earlier you were calling everyone an angry liberal, and maybe you assumed I thought one thing because I was one of those "angry liberals." I wasn't holding a day-long grudge, I was interpretting behavior I saw occur here within a three hour period.

In any case, can't we consider trying something?

I'd agree that de-personalizing this thread would have been much better at producing a worthwhile discussion on the issues involved instead of the people involved. In the past, I've made attempts to bring general discussions to this place, and post as many examples as I could find. I know people often call out specific comments here, and I posted something that I was pissed off about, in the heat of the moment a bit, and didn't set a good example of a helpful metatalk thread and I'm sorry about that.

I don't think these threads are completely useless and fruitless, as they at least get people thinking about things being posted here. I don't doubt for a second that I'll have an email sent to me in the next couple days pointing out someone else doing what I'm complaining about originally here. I think etiquette issues should be handled carefully and haven't been, in the past 6 months or so.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:56 AM on February 17, 2002


I retract my previous post in entirety because, as it has been pointed out, it was crap and self-serving (although, I really don't know what "put up or shut up" means in this context).

I was just trying to point out that the MeFi's "problems" may not be problems at all (at least to some extent) and are just a natural consequence of how people act in groups and how those groups react to their environment.

So, by "stagnant" I mean that MeFi has been effectively closed to new participants for several months. On the one hand, it keeps the number of members to a more manageable level, but it also makes the collective discussion a little stale.
posted by jkottke at 11:03 AM on February 17, 2002


I wonder what it says about me that lately I've been coming directly to MetaTalk instead of MetaFilter. I eschew the rubbish that is Jerry Springer, and yet I am gleefully drawn to the passion and drama of this gladiatorium. It hasn't been quite as good since the CamGirl episode, but it's still pretty darn entertaining.

I think anyone who uses the word canards while managing to sortof-apologize belongs here. I imagine Aaron giving that speech in a Mr. Chips accent. Beautiful. But I do think both sides have points, and both sides have said their piece and I vote it a draw.

I agree that the extreme cases ignore MetaTalk, but I think it is enormously important for moderating the behavior of the rest of us. Without MetaTalk, there would be more CamGirl-esque props going out to homies in threads and other kewl comments. No really. I think such nonsense exists in all of us, especially at 5 in the morning after drinking, and it is only the threat of public recrimination by our (beloved) community that keeps most of us behaving most of the time. Matt bans the worst, and peer pressure does the rest.
posted by dness2 at 11:18 AM on February 17, 2002


Matt and rushmc, I was not saying that aaron was being made an example of because he holds unpopular views, but it happens often enough that it has almost become a truism that minorities of any kind are inevitably held up to a higher standard than the majority. It holds true in real life, and it is apparent online. No matter how hard we try to act and think impartially, it is something that most folks do, including myself.
posted by Avogadro at 11:51 AM on February 17, 2002


Great, now I have to go rent a Mr. Chips movie to see what dness2 means by that. (Is there more than one? Mr. Chips movies I mean, not dnesses.)
posted by aaron at 12:51 PM on February 17, 2002


goodbye mr chips (1939)

goodbye mer chips (1969) (with petula clark!)




posted by rebeccablood at 1:16 PM on February 17, 2002


I remember the hats, but I thought it was in black and white. But then, maybe I read the book. I was too into the classics as a child. But Mr. Chips is a great character, maybe I should watch it again too. Seeing things when you're all grown up makes a difference sometimes.
posted by dness2 at 1:34 PM on February 17, 2002


...and peace once again returns to this grey valley.

MetaFilter: From Palestine to Goodbye Mr. Chips, all without leaving your chair.
posted by evanizer at 3:35 PM on February 17, 2002


jkottke : "...really don't know what "put up or shut up" means in this context"

It was a not-very veiled attempt to exhort you to participate more fully here, and thus hopefully become "part of the solution."

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:46 PM on February 17, 2002


So, by "stagnant" I mean that MeFi has been effectively closed to new participants for several months. On the one hand, it keeps the number of members to a more manageable level, but it also makes the collective discussion a little stale.

I agree with that, and I've said as much before. Alas, with current resources, there is apparently no good solution to the problem.
posted by rushmc at 9:40 PM on February 17, 2002


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