Is this style of post appropriate for MetaFiilter?
December 28, 2009 11:14 AM   Subscribe

Is this style of post really worthy of the site?

I know we've had single link posts to the NYTimes; I've posted a couple myself. And usually, they're fine. My concern is the second link - the comments section of the Times, which I don't think is appropriate for the front page. There are a few reasons I think this is wrong:

1) Many of the comments in our thread are using the comments in the Times as a means of attacking others, without giving those people (in the Times) an opportunity to respond. Not only do the Times commentators not know they're being discussed, and often times openly mocked, but even if they were to discover this site, they'd have to pony up $5 to defend themselves.

2) We have an unwritten rule (or maybe it's written and I didn't see it) that we don't attack other communities. It's unhealthy for open conversation, and frankly makes us look like a bunch of asshats.

3) MetaFilter posts are about the links, and not about chatrooms. There are literally millions of sites with room for open comment, and it's a real policy shift when we're simply allowed to link to those forums as fodder for discussion. I understand that there's room for interpretation here, but it's a slippery slope when a front page post link simply links to conversation, and not real content.

4) It's a touchy subject, political in nature, and one where I believe there should be stronger enforcement of real content to be allowed to stay on the front page.

IMHO, it was an sub-par post, but really led to a thread full of the worst of what MetaFilter has to offer, and I really think we can do better.
posted by SeizeTheDay to Etiquette/Policy at 11:14 AM (54 comments total)

we don't attack other communities

excepting fark and bb, of course
posted by found missing at 11:20 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


and redstae, and LGF and stormfront and ... not that they shouldn't be attacked mind you, although LGF has had some actual reasonable stuff on it over the last few months, Ritalin must have finally kicked in.
posted by edgeways at 11:24 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Linking to the comments section of an article might be okay if the comments were significant in any way other than what is deemed important by the poster alone. If the comments sections was causing some sort of uproar in other places, that would be fine. But the, "OMG the comments section makes me ill" stuff usually happens in the discussion that follows as it tangential to the actual article. In a way it is a form of editorializing by the poster, pushing the Metafilter Rage Button for maximum spleen viscosity.
posted by cimbrog at 11:25 AM on December 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


While I agree with your points, other sites are going to have comments and even if they aren't specifically linked or mentioned in the post they will get quoted here or commented on if someone reads them and finds something noteworthy in them.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:25 AM on December 28, 2009


FIAMO
posted by nadawi at 11:27 AM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


3) MetaFilter posts are about the links, and not about chatrooms.

Metafilter posts are about whatever the poster makes them to be. In this case, the post was about what we being said in the comments as being representative of a much wider-held belief. To wit, comment 46. In other words, when people posting in comments self-identify as the members of the group that is the subject of the article, and then inadvertently reveal themselves to exhibit precisely the controversial behavior described in the article, then comments are relevant.

Also, since when is "content" something other than conversation? So a NYT article about an aspect of life in the military is a valid post, but a conversation among people in the military discussing their experiences with this particular aspect of military life is not? Why do you presume the NYT is more acurate or "balanced" than the people in the comments?

1) Many of the comments in our thread are using the comments in the Times as a means of attacking others, without giving those people (in the Times) an opportunity to respond. Not only do the Times commentators not know they're being discussed, and often times openly mocked, but even if they were to discover this site, they'd have to pony up $5 to defend themselves.

Sucks to be them. They posted public comments on a public website, so public comment of what they write is not only expected, but invited. More interestingly, though, "they" aren't being discussed. Some statement they wrote is. They are not their comments. If you call a commenter a jerk, it doesn't mean anything. You can't possibly know them, so why would the target of your insult ever take it seriously?
posted by Pastabagel at 11:30 AM on December 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


While I agree with your points, other sites are going to have comments and even if they aren't specifically linked or mentioned in the post they will get quoted here or commented on if someone reads them and finds something noteworthy in them.

Is this an argument for or against including them in the FPP? Seems like an argument against.
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:30 AM on December 28, 2009


I probably could have framed it better.

I definitely didn't mean for the post to be a "Ha ha, NYTimes commenters are dumb" sort of thing. The comments are (to me) at least as interesting as the article itself, mostly because of how many were written by people who are (or at least claim to be) military or ex-military. The treatment of women in the military (particularly with regards to rape prosecution or lack thereof) is something I've followed for a while, and this is the first time I can remember seeing actual servicemen/ex-servicemen/civilians speaking up in favor of the current sweep-it-under-the-rug policy, and that's why I included them.

The Women in Arms series is really interesting, though, so even if you hate my post you should go read it.
posted by oinopaponton at 11:32 AM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


we don't attack other communities

To be clear, the unwritten rule is more along the lines of "we don't engage in cross-site flamewars". There's a distinction between commentary and confrontation.

I don't think it's particularly awesome when mefites sit around just slagging on other places for the sake of slagging, but there's a difference between sitting around talking some shit on mefi and actively going head-to-head with folks on other sites to make it into a personal turfwar sort of thing. That latter case is more of a SA/4chan flavor of behavior that I really, really hate seeing even a hint of on those rare occasions where we end up sort of actively in conflict with another community.

Commenting on the commentary/content of another site is okay, in principle. It can certainly be done badly, too, but that's a more specific and context-sensitive question.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:33 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Actually, I disagree with point (1) and agree with Pastabagel. Presumably, the NYT are capable adults who are happily, voluntarily publishing their statements for the entire world to see. It's a basic matter of free speech that we're allowed to criticize those statements. I don't see the relevance of the fact that they might not know about Metafilter in particular, as long as they know that there's a huge internet full of people who might criticize statements that appear on the NYT website.
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:38 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


*Presumably, the NYT commenters are capable adults...
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:38 AM on December 28, 2009


As for the post itself, I don't think there's much wrong with it. It's not what every post should look like, but it's not to my mind clearly overstepping any guidelines; including a comment or comments as the linked content of a post is, like anything in posting, a question of context and selectiveness and this seems like a fairly restrained and carefully considered case (vs. "hey check out this idiotic forum amirite"); and I'm surprised and a little dismayed at some of the content of the thread that's resulted, but not that surprised, unfortunately.

Rape/assault threads tend to be bumpy here and so do police/military threads. Jam the two together and you get a bit of a mess. Not to the point where I'd say "don't make these posts", but it's always kind of a crapshoot even under the best conditions.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:39 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Not only do the Times commentators not know they're being discussed, and often times openly mocked, but even if they were to discover this site, they'd have to pony up $5 to defend themselves.

Isn't this the case with anyone whose opinion we discuss in a MeFi thread?
posted by creeky at 11:39 AM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's a touchy subject

WORD_CHOICE_FAIL
posted by Afroblanco at 11:48 AM on December 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


> I don't think it's particularly awesome when mefites sit around just slagging on other places for the sake of slagging

It's better than sitting around just slagging on FPPs for the sake of slagging.
posted by foggy out there now at 11:54 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


and redstae, and LGF and stormfront and ...

GiftHub
posted by jayder at 11:55 AM on December 28, 2009


We should get up a softball team to "battle" other communities. I'll be head cheerleader!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:55 AM on December 28, 2009


I don't see this post or the comments within as engaging in any kind of "slagging on other places" whatsoever. It's not like the poster or anybody within the thread started going off on the New York Times or anything. The content of individual comments was addressed, which to my mind is fine and dandy. If the FPP had said, "oh man, check out how stupid people are at NYtimes.com," that would be one thing. If the idea had been that these people are representative of nytimes commenters, that too might have been over the line. but I don't see addressing specific comments that are indicative of a mindset as a problem. I don't think anyone is saying "see, nytimes.com commenters are rapists and idiots, etc..." I think they're addressing the comments as representative of certain prejudices and societal behaviors outside of their location at nytimes.com.
posted by shmegegge at 12:01 PM on December 28, 2009


Do we have to do a meta EVERY time gender is discussed in the blue?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:20 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


furiousxgeorge: yes
posted by beefetish at 12:24 PM on December 28, 2009


We should get up a softball team to "battle" other communities. I'll be head cheerleader!

Dodgeball would be better.

Mostly because I suck at softball.
posted by Caduceus at 12:25 PM on December 28, 2009


Commenting on the commentary/content of another site is okay, in principle.

In our own comments section, I agree with you. We've seen that before, and it occasionally adds a dimension to the thread that wouldn't be there otherwise. But to include it in the front page post itself, IMHO, is out of bounds. Comments on other sites are inherently NOT the best of the web, anymore than our comments or discussions are inherently the best. There are exceptions to this, of course, but to lead with the idea that, in principle, this is an okay thing to do is wrong.

Linking to other comments in the post itself (and mods tacitly approving this) does several things: it creates a loophole to discuss things without actually adding any content to MetaFilter: somebody's random opinion linked on a comments section is not filtering the web - it's deliberately seeking controversy. It also suggests that any opinion on the web is worthy of posting, so long as you can string together some other tangential content. (This is my slippery slope argument - I don't think that happened here today.) Finally, it adds nothing to THIS community. Random people's opinions are a dime a dozen and can be found anywhere. This site is still about finding quality on the web, and not about trying to create conversation for the sake of conversation (which is what linking to other comments on the front page does).

It's a basic matter of free speech that we're allowed to criticize those statements. I don't see the relevance of the fact that they might not know about Metafilter in particular

I hope I addressed this above.

Isn't this the case with anyone whose opinion we discuss in a MeFi thread?

It's one thing, in my mind, to discuss specific sites and their contributors. It's another altogether to simply discuss random internet comments. Presumably, creating a website with content is far more arduous, and worthy of discussion, than someone's random thought stream on a NYTimes blog. At least with a real, specific site, we can question motives, uncover if the site is real, and potentially challenge/thank/appreciate real people. When we devolve into conversations about random comments on the web, we have no idea if the comment we're discussing was made in good faith, which in my mind devolves into tilting at windmills.

Do we have to do a meta EVERY time gender is discussed in the blue?

Please note that my post has NOTHING to do with the subject matter. I didn't comment in the original thread, and have no plans to do so in the future. This MeTa post is ONLY about linking to comments in a front page post.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 12:25 PM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Are we required to read every meta that is posted?
posted by found missing at 12:26 PM on December 28, 2009


Since I wasn't clear before, I think this particular post is fine. The comments there make for a good, "and here are some of the underlying problems" link and is supportive of the article. I think the reason this might catch some people off guard is because oinopaponton had to make this connection himself and isn't relying on some other authority to point from one to the other.
posted by cimbrog at 12:31 PM on December 28, 2009


And yes, I know I just went back on part of what I said. What did the brain transplant patient say after the operation?
Man, I am wishy washy and uneloquent. Don't know why I open my mouth sometimes.
posted by cimbrog at 12:33 PM on December 28, 2009


Do we have to do a meta EVERY time gender is discussed in the blue?

No, and we don't. I made a few comments in the thread itself.

I really feel that taking out of context comments from another site and using it as the basis for discussion here isn't really a great way to frame a discussion, especially one about rape. I think we're all aware that some people have repellent opinions about the subject, both servicemen and non-servicemen. I didn't like the post much and found that two additional follow-up comments from the OP including even more pull-quoted nastiness from the other comments section didn't help.

Yes, it's awful. Yes, people are awful. I don't feel that quoting horrible people to less-horrible people actually helps people work towards constructive solutions and instead makes people angry and upset and often causes weird feelings and acting out on this site. I find that problematic.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:35 PM on December 28, 2009 [13 favorites]


It's a basic matter of free speech that we're allowed to criticize those statements. I don't see the relevance of the fact that they might not know about Metafilter in particular

I hope I addressed this above.


Actually, not so much. I do agree with your above points. That is, I agree that a link to a NYT comments section probably isn't the best of the web, etc. All I was saying is that we have a right to talk about those comments. It happens to be a right we probably shouldn't exercise, but that's because of our own quality standards, not out of deference to the NYT commenters who have opened the door for their comments to be criticized.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:37 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jessamyn, I wasn't going to bring it up in the FPP because it really doesn't matter so much, but what's the problem with this comment? I thought it was a well-written illustration of how morally wrong a lot of the "women shouldn't serve" comments are, and thought it explained things more eloquently than I could. I don't really get why you're so upset by it.

My previous followup was in response to Pope Guilty's first comment (that is, a handy, non-time-consuming way to get to some of the worst offenders that I should have included in the post below the fold) None of the comments have any context beyond the article (which I hope people read), anyway.
posted by oinopaponton at 12:42 PM on December 28, 2009


(and of course you can just delete it if it really is that bad)
posted by oinopaponton at 12:43 PM on December 28, 2009


In our own comments section, I agree with you. We've seen that before, and it occasionally adds a dimension to the thread that wouldn't be there otherwise. But to include it in the front page post itself, IMHO, is out of bounds.

I disagree. Again, I don't think it's something that should be done willy-nilly; a poster hopefully puts some thought into whether to include that in a post and then takes some care about how they do so. But it's certainly not out of bounds, in some fundamental sense, to ever link to commentary on another site.

There have been a few posts in the past that seemed designed solely and cruelly to encourage point-and-laugh reactions to individual comments or whole forums. That, I think, is pretty much not okay; it'd be hard to find something redeemable in so purely mean-spirited a venture. I do not think that the post in question here is a very good example of that, however.

Comments on other sites are inherently NOT the best of the web, anymore than our comments or discussions are inherently the best. There are exceptions to this, of course, but to lead with the idea that, in principle, this is an okay thing to do is wrong.

There is no kind of thing out there on the web that is inherently the best of the web. Exceptions are in theory the whole point, and the job of a metafilter poster is to try and identify those exceptions and share them in a well-constructed post. How successful any given post is is another matter. I don't see this one as any sort of unusual failure, much as I may not have anything awesome to say about the post either.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:54 PM on December 28, 2009


No.
posted by Carol Anne at 1:34 PM on December 28, 2009


The comments for that NYT story are pretty interesting. Most non-military people have no idea what the military is like, and the comments tell a story of their own. Usually, this would not be a great post, but rigid rules probably don't work well on Metafilter.
posted by theora55 at 2:31 PM on December 28, 2009



Please note that my post has NOTHING to do with the subject matter. I didn't comment in the original thread, and have no plans to do so in the future. This MeTa post is ONLY about linking to comments in a front page post.



people might be confused since your post included:

4) It's a touchy subject, political in nature, and one where I believe there should be stronger enforcement of real content to be allowed to stay on the front page.
posted by nadawi at 2:32 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


On the one hand, I can see why we wouldn't want our discussions to seem to be specifically attacking another forum for their comments, but on the other and more significantly, I think it's important to provide context above and beyond "hey this is what people think" by showing "see... people really do think like this." when the situation warrants it.

I guess I mostly agree with those above who said that if people didn't want their thoughts to be reviewed and judged, they shouldn't have put them on public display.
posted by quin at 2:45 PM on December 28, 2009


SeizeTheDay: Comments on other sites are inherently NOT the best of the web, anymore than our comments or discussions are inherently the best.

Linking to comments isn't a problem per se (though god knows newspaper comments are usually worst of humanity, let alone not best of the web, though NYT is on an upwards trajectory). Sometimes comments are the best of the web. I made a post a while ago about race in Dungeons & Dragons and linked to a discussion of it on Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog about it. Those comments were stellar. In fact, given how the discussion started I wish people had paid more attention to them. Eh, maybe my pull quote was too provocative and I torpedoed my own thread before I left the harbor...

But anyway... Comments: Sometimes best of the web.

My main problem with the post is that the best link is buried in the [more inside], the Women at Arms series.
posted by Kattullus at 2:56 PM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


On one hand, if someone posts something like "Nobody believes that Boy Scout camps are being repurposed as detention centers by the alien Grays," I might be tempted to link to a discussion on Alex Jones's site where six or seven people argue about whether it's only Boy Scout camps or church camps as well, just to alert the poster to the fact that, yes, some people really do believe that.

On the other hand, "hey look at what this idiot on another site thinks aren't they stupid" rarely makes for a high quality of discourse.

The third hand is glad that it's the mods' call, not mine, to sort through that spectrum of possibilities.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:08 PM on December 28, 2009


what's the problem with this comment?

It was the "noted without comment" aspect of it that I find annoying. Have something to say about shitheads elsewhere? Use some of your own words and explain what you have to say, and feel free to link to something that already exists elsewhere on the web if you want to refer to it.

In my personal dream-MeFi, I don't really enjoy reading shit like that, where something starts out basically credible and then by the reveal at the end I'm already super pissed off. So, when people decide to fully pullquote it just so we can all say "ZOMG" together about it, I find that sort of a weak way to make a case for your side of the argument. I get it, it's Swiftian. However, you said more about your opinion about why it's important in this MeTa thread than you did in the main thread. And what I really care about is your opinion, and the opinions of other people in my own community.

And at some level, this is just me being cranky. I didn't delete it because there's nothing deleteworthy about it, I just personally find the bll-annoying-pullquote-in-lieu-of-discussion to be not my cup of tea, Sorry if I'm a little GRAR about it, I've been with family.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:00 PM on December 28, 2009


The third hand is glad that it's the mods' call, not mine, to sort through that spectrum of possibilities.

I've been trying to look at this a little differently. I think it is our call, as users of this site, to sort through the spectrum of possibilities and only post the things that are good for this site.

The mods do sometimes have to overrule our decisions when we screw up, but that's different than offloading the post/don't post decision onto the mods. They are sort of like the MeFi seatbelts, and we're all the drivers with our feet on the brake pedal, so to speak.
posted by FishBike at 4:18 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks for explaining, jessamyn.
posted by oinopaponton at 4:24 PM on December 28, 2009


I'm so glad I missed that discussion!

Whenever we start comparing miseries we can never get it right. The answer is all miseries are to be avoided as assiduously as possible.

The wrong answer is that one misery can take precedence over others.
posted by kalessin at 4:25 PM on December 28, 2009


This Metatalk call-out is wrong in so many ways, I'm too furious to mention.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:32 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Metafilter Life: Sorry if I'm a little GRAR about it, I've been with family.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:37 PM on December 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


I've been trying to look at this a little differently. I think it is our call, as users of this site, to sort through the spectrum of possibilities and only post the things that are good for this site.

I agree as regards my own posts. I also acknowledge that I might be wrong about my own posts, and about others', which is where my "glad there are mods" comes in.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:41 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


...
posted by limeonaire at 5:43 PM on December 28, 2009


There's a lot of ignorant crap in that thread. I'm not going to say that a person needs to have done time in the military to have a valid opinion, but it is really apparent many haven't.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:38 PM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


We should get up a softball team to "battle" other communities.

The SomethingAwful Goon Squad would find an exploit in the rules of softball and win every game by using 9999999 teeny, tiny players in the field instead of nine normal-sized players.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:42 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I say we should play kickball, it's a forgiving game to play drunk.
posted by Kattullus at 10:13 PM on December 28, 2009


... it's a forgiving game to play drunk.

You had me at "play drunk," K-dawg. No dodgeball, though.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:20 PM on December 28, 2009


I say we should play kickball, it's a forgiving game to play drunk.

If it involves some of the themed costumes you were telling me about, count me way the hell in.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:00 AM on December 29, 2009


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: If it involves some of the themed costumes you were telling me about, count me way the hell in.

Obviously. In Providence Rules Kickball, clearly the supreme way for adults to play kickball, themed costumes and behavior are de rigueur.
posted by Kattullus at 9:36 AM on December 29, 2009


I have a Mister Peanut costume waiting for an excuse to wear it. Count me in.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:42 AM on December 29, 2009


The SomethingAwful Goon Squad would find an exploit in the rules of softball and win every game by using 9999999 teeny, tiny players in the field instead of nine normal-sized players.

Given their history I think it's more likely they'd wait until 23:59:59 just before the sign in deadline, then have a well-placed turncoat (lured by promises of a shiny new mandolin and training for a fight vs. Uwe Boll) change all the Mefi WHOIS info to redirect to SA. Why alter a winning strategy now?
posted by waraw at 10:07 AM on December 29, 2009


In my personal dream-MeFi,

You don't go to war with the MeFi you want...

No disrespect intended - but it can sometimes be hard to tell what's Jessamyn as MeFiMod and Jessamyn as Jessamyn. Please don't hurt me
posted by Sparx at 11:25 AM on December 29, 2009


In Providence Rules Kickball, clearly the supreme way for adults to play kickball, themed costumes and behavior are de rigueur.

The logo featuring the silohuette of an individual, bottle in hand, drunkenly kicking a ball intrigued me. What sold me were the rules. A few samples that persuaded me further:
4. No “real” pitching. The pitcher’s job is to roll the ball over the plate.
8. Bribery is encouraged. Open corruption is the only fairness Providence has ever known.
And we are adults playing the game... a game devised to kill time in elementary school gym class. A game so simple that you don’t need enough coordination to hit a ball with a bat, just enough to be able to kick an 8.5 inch red target.
Any sport you can play drunk is a real sport. No, scratch that - only sports that can be played drunk can be considered real sports. Kickball seems to fit the bill nicely.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:45 PM on December 29, 2009


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