Loophole is to strong a word December 17, 2009 9:38 PM   Subscribe

Let's say I've got a picture that's in the public domain, and is in no way related myself, my family, or anyone I know (or anyone still alive, for that matter), and would be very relevant to an FPP i'm crafting. Problem is, I can't find it anywhere else on the internet. So, if I put the image up on a website that has no other content and was created for the purpose of showing people on metafilter this thing that is not mine, does it still count as a self-link?
posted by Jon_Evil to Etiquette/Policy at 9:38 PM (25 comments total)

It's still not okay, yeah. Sorry.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:39 PM on December 17, 2009


Would it be OK for Jon_Evil to craft the FPP without it, and after posting it comment in the thread with a link to the picture? And perhaps this explanation?
posted by prefpara at 9:45 PM on December 17, 2009


Basically if the post can stand on its own without the picture, then yeah that's okay. Posting it in the first or second comment like "oh and you need to see this" less great.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:53 PM on December 17, 2009


Thanks for the quick feedback, guys. I guess a website created to show one thing to readers of a specific blog couldn't really ever be considered "best of the web" anyways, so linking to it violates the spirit of the community in that way, also.

The FPP could stand alone without it, so we'll have to go without. Or I'll have to search harder.
posted by Jon_Evil at 10:41 PM on December 17, 2009


What if it's a full moon on a leap year when he does it?
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:48 PM on December 17, 2009


Previously. Previously-er.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:49 PM on December 17, 2009


what if it's about twitter being hacked? That's super-duper important!
posted by empath at 11:03 PM on December 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Jon_Evil: Let's say I've got a picture that's in the public domain, and is in no way related myself, my family, or anyone I know (or anyone still alive, for that matter), and would be very relevant to an FPP i'm crafting. Problem is, I can't find it anywhere else on the internet.

Imageshack.us doesn't even require any sign-up; you can toss it on there and, unless there is exif data, or imageshack tracks your IP and supplies it to MetaFilter, there is no real way anyone here would know you were the person who uploaded the picture. Even better, wait a few days, in case imageshack displays when the image was updated, somewhere.

Yeah, it isn't strictly within the rules, but I can't see what it would hurt, or how anyone would really know.

Course, now that you asked, if you were to post a FPP with an imageshack link to a single image, then everyone would know…
posted by paisley henosis at 11:10 PM on December 17, 2009


This very situation occurred just now and what happened was that the self-linked image was deleted from the post and the post was let stand (the image was then linked in-thread by the original poster). Most of the various comments which had to do with the self-linking have been trimmed out of the thread. So yeah, things got resolved fairly and cleanly.

Anyway, it was amusing that this hypothetical got a real-world example right away.
posted by Kattullus at 11:56 PM on December 17, 2009


does it still count as a self-link?

It does now!
posted by five fresh fish at 12:12 AM on December 18, 2009


This very situation occurred just now...

Yeah sorry about that. Glad I could help demonstate the theory :)

In my case there wasn't much else to link to so that seemed reasonable, but equally - it wasn't... I'll be sure to register a sock puppet for my future self links! :)
posted by sycophant at 12:35 AM on December 18, 2009


I asked the mods about something similar for my timezone post; I despaired of finding any online copies of the files, until it occurred to me to search for some of the contents. So I'd suggest searching for the image elsewhere online at Tineye.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:47 AM on December 18, 2009


If it were posted by another member, could Jon_Evil link to that member's site? Sort of how a projects post gets FPP'd?

Not offering, I don't have any hosting atm.
posted by desjardins at 5:25 AM on December 18, 2009


Sometimes this site reminds me of when a kid brings a butter knife to school to cut the brownies his mom made for the class and he gets expelled for a zero tolerance weapons policy.

It's something that would supplement a post and (in theory) make it better - but no, no, the post shall have to endure without because it violates the letter of the law! Bleh.
posted by kbanas at 5:43 AM on December 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


reminds me of when a kid brings a butter knife to school?

Did you just bring a knife into this thread? Ban him! Ban the witch!
posted by allen.spaulding at 6:12 AM on December 18, 2009


This is a rule that I'm glad has a bright line. While it might be sad sometimes to not be able to post something because some crucial bit of the post doesn't exist on the internet unless the poster puts it there, I think it's better to be sad about that than have to wade through tons of fpps (and the resultant meTas) that have self-links, a few of which might be "good" (in the sense that they're not spammy), but the majority of which will be spammy. I'm pretty sure that drive-traffic-to-this-page links make baby jessamyn cry.
posted by rtha at 6:35 AM on December 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think the imageshack (I prefer tinypic) solution is a good one. There's no account, nothing linking it to you and so no way to try to game the system and have the self-link work to your obvious benefit.

This, of course, sidesteps the larger "If you can't find it on the internet already is it really something that belongs on the Meef?" debate without addressing it at all.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:49 AM on December 18, 2009


reminds me of when a kid brings a butter knife to school?

Just like a kid, bringing a butter knife to a spoon fight.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:57 AM on December 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


no, no, the post shall have to endure without because it violates the letter of the law!

I think you may have no idea just what a relentless scourge SEO spammers and douchebags are on this site and how much time we spent percentage-wise trying to figure out if sketchy looking posts are tricksy spammers or clueless users.

We have maybe three actual "don't break this or there are always consequences" rules on the entire website.

- no self-links
- no spamming
- no posting personal information and/or stalking/harassing other users

Everything else is just guidelines. I feel that there is enough interesting stuff on the web that these rules are not something that affects the site detrimentally. This is not someone getting expelled from school.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:06 AM on December 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you'd chosen the username Jon_VeryNiceFellowNoHonestIAmSoToo you might have gotten away with it.
posted by Abiezer at 8:10 AM on December 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


but no, no, the post shall have to endure without because it violates the letter of the law!

You know, this phrase is not some catch-all argument against over moderation. There's a very specific contrast inherent to the phrase, between the precise wording of a law and its spirit. And the spirit of this particular "law" is pretty clearly meant to prevent the posting of stuff that is either created by you or for which you are clearly the custodian of its presence on the web. We are here to share things other people put on the web, because it's hard to find it all on your own. There's a whole subsite for posting stuff of your own specifically so that people don't have to feel like they can never share their own cool stuff. How much more flexible do they really have to be?
posted by shmegegge at 8:32 AM on December 18, 2009


also, Jon_Evil, if you still don't know whether to put the pic in as a comment, try making a projects post for it, though that won't necessarily link it back to your post. I don't know how ideal that solution is, though, not knowing what the subject and material is.
posted by shmegegge at 8:33 AM on December 18, 2009


Yeah, it isn't strictly within the rules, but I can't see what it would hurt, or how anyone would really know.

Whether or not we'd know is a question of circumstance; we'd give it a hard look and probably write an email, and generally feel pretty uncomfortable with the unknowableness in any case.

There is a gigantic world of stuff out there legitimately on the web and untainted by any shred of "is this okay" doubt, to the point where we'll never see more than a tiny tiny fraction of it posted to metafilter. The bright-line rule about not doing loophole self-links, regardless of intent, is not getting in the way of people being able to make interesting and substantial posts in any significant way, bummer though it may be for a given user with a given post idea who is running up against it.

Sometimes this site reminds me of when a kid brings a butter knife to school to cut the brownies his mom made for the class and he gets expelled for a zero tolerance weapons policy.

We can see that in the average grade school, that policy is silly. If you had a grade school where adults were dressing up as preteens and sneaking butter knives into fifth-grade classrooms and trying to stab people with them on a weekly basis, that policy would suddenly make more sense.

It's a ridiculous analogy, but there it is. Practical, day-in day-out familiarity with the shit that spammers and self-linkers have pulled around here, for years and without any apparent tendency to cease, drives these policies.

And so we, the mods and the people making good-faith posts and the userbase in general as a community, have better things to spend our time and psychic energy on than try to suss out the weird details of these inherently borderline cases. A clean rule doesn't do significant harm to folks' ability to make good posts and it saves us from having to muck around in edge cases and incur potential bad feelings all around regardless of the outcome as a result of the suspicion and prodding that necessarily comes with folks doing something that's not necessarily kosher.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:45 AM on December 18, 2009


Why not just tack on a parenthetical desription of your picture at the end of the post proper? Something along the lines of:
(There exists a certain photograph which quite clearly depicts this phenomenon in action. In the picture, there's this great big... thing... in the foreground. And it's standing on top of this... well it looks kind of... mushy? [I guess you need to see it with your own eyes.] And in the background, you can see a whole swarm of these huge-ass dragonflies! Only they're, like, mechanical, or something. And they're kind of swooping down from the sky and shooting this... it's not really fire, but it's kind of like a giant plasma wave, or whatever. And you can just make out this big building blowing up in the background and, like, the entire cityscape is on fire! It's just... [Gawd, I really wish you could see this for yourselves!])
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:53 AM on December 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would make a YouTube video of scenes from movies in which people magically enhance photos, and when they cut away to the enhanced photo, it would be the photo I want people to see. And that would be a photo of Rick Astley, and OH MY GOD WOULD PEOPLE LAUGH BECAUSE HOW DID I DO THAT?
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:01 AM on December 18, 2009


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