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Can I do a lateral pass?
January 6, 2010 9:43 AM   Subscribe

What do you think about people making suggestions for posts here in MetaTalk?

Due to sleep issues I'm sometimes unable to follow through on things that seem post-worthy. I'm sometimes just too foggy or having a bad day after a bad night. On days like this I can find links and drill down a little bit, but am unable to do the cognitive legwork about framing it intelligently, giving it context, being sensitive to the nature of the topic (and the site), and other things that go to make a good post on an important subject. It's sort of like being woken up 3 hours early; during the first part of the morning you can get dressed and make yourself breakfast but god help you if you need to plan or reason anything out.

This NYT sidebar article on the abandoning of the traditional model for capital punishment in the US by the American Law Institute (ALI) seemed worthy of discussion. For those unwilling to go through the NYT's subscription business, here are a few highlights:
The institute’s recent decision to abandon the field was a compromise. Some members had asked the institute to take a stand against the death penalty as such. That effort failed.

Instead, the institute voted in October to disavow the structure it had created “in light of the current intractable institutional and structural obstacles to ensuring a minimally adequate system for administering capital punishment.”

That last sentence contains some pretty dense lawyer talk, but it can be untangled. What the institute was saying is that the capital justice system in the United States is irretrievably broken.
I was surprised to find very little previous postings on the AFI here, esp. given its strong assocation with capital punishment. Again from the NYT:
“The A.L.I. is important on a lot of topics,” said Franklin E. Zimring, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “They were absolutely singular on this topic” — capital punishment — “because they were the only intellectually respectable support for the death penalty system in the United States.”
So what does the playbook say about this kind of handoff? Or would the fans object?
posted by Hardcore Poser to Etiquette/Policy at 9:43 AM (30 comments total)

Ah'm agin it.

Ok, but seriously, we saw something like this with the "why no terrorist plot fpp?" MeTa thread, which quickly turned into the discussion that would have happened in that thread anyway, and thus it was in the wrong place.

Then we did get the terrorist plot fpp and there was another parallel discussion happening there. And then didn't we even get a third discussion going (back in MeTa again?) about the same subject?

Anyway, it seemed like it made a big mess and thus should not be encouraged. It's not exactly the same as what you're proposing, but close enough I think.
posted by FishBike at 9:47 AM on January 6, 2010


In many casese, Projects will be appropriate.

In other cases, you can just relax and take care of it when you're better-rested; if it's hyper-timesensitive, there are two possibilities: It's so huge/cool someone else will probably jump on it, or it's so newsfiltery you may not want to post it anyway. But very rarely is there anything that needs to be posted RIGHT NOW and can't wait till you're in a better mindset.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:48 AM on January 6, 2010


There's really no facility for or accepted practice of formally handing off "this could be a post" links on the site itself, and I don't really think there should be or needs to be one.

Informally it happens and I think that's fine when it does. Say, someone in a thread mentions something interesting but tangential to an existing thread and someone else runs with it or suggests that someone run with it, and a post is born. Or someone who has something they think might be postworthy but they aren't up to making a post out of mentions it in some para-community space (IRC, twitter, metachat, etc) and folks there can run with it if they want.

Doing something in the model of what this metatalk post does is not, I think, a good idea for a general practice of prompting posts.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:49 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is rarely a topic so obscure and yet time-sensitive that waiting until you have the time to make a decent post about it isn't sufficient. Using MeTa as a way to make not-quite-ready MeFi posts for whatever reason isn't a really great use of MetaTalk. Give your topic time, or be okay with your topic not being on MeFi.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:51 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Then we did get the terrorist plot fpp and there was another parallel discussion happening there. And then didn't we even get a third discussion going (back in MeTa again?) about the same subject?

I think it ended up picking back up in the same pre-emptive metatalk thread, but I could be misremembering.

But, yeah, that's part of the problem with the idea of "vetting" posts in Metatalk: it ends up undercutting the natural development of the actual post to the blue if it happens; it generates friction in the grey in the first place from folks who are uncomfortable with what they see as an end-run around the normal posting process; and it generates noise and friction in the new post from folks who feel like the discussion in the grey moots the need for a post in the blue.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:51 AM on January 6, 2010


In many casese, Projects will be appropriate.

To be clear, Projects would only be appropriate if it was something that the poster had made themselves, which I do not think is the general case Hardcore Poser is asking about. Things appropriate for Projects and things appropriate for a front page post are, for any specific potential poster, disjoint sets.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:53 AM on January 6, 2010


When I think I have something post-worthy but I can't do it myself for some reason, I reach out personally to other mefites I know. Make more mefriends, maybe they will post it for you.
posted by hermitosis at 9:55 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't like the idea of there being more or less "draft" posts on MeTa, and I think projects comes close enough to being a member-submitted sounding board for certain nascent post inspirations.

A couple of thoughts:

-If this happened to me, I might use tags/search capabilities to find a user who seemed interested in (via posting/comment history) the subject matter, and drop them a MeMail to suggest they pick it up.

-Sometimes I see something in a daily news source, and think "Oh, I've got to prepare a post on this RIGHT NOW, gotta hurry!" I've never actually made the post I considered, but I think every time I have seen someone else pick it up within a day or two. Recognizing that you may have a unique take you want to bring to the table, I would suggest that (a) There's no race, no points for being the one who posts the FPP. People should feel free to bring their unique approach to the discussion inside, and (b) If it's very important to someone to have the FPP written with a certain slant, than it might be more of a "post it on your blog" type moment.

I am not accusing you of either being in a hurry to be first, or wanting your own personal brand/slant on the post. Just my 2 cents.
posted by bunnycup at 9:55 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I agree with the mods re: vetting/handing off posts through meTa.

On the topic of the NYT article: I saw that earlier this week and contemplated making an FPP, but hadn't found much good commentary online (besides the NYT piece itself), and the only other way I could think to frame it was a bunch of links about the history of the death penalty and the various moratoriums (moratoria?) that have happened in recent years, and that seemed meh to me. I also had a hard time imagining how the thread wouldn't turn into a shitstorm. So I skipped it.
posted by rtha at 9:57 AM on January 6, 2010


Why not just wait until you are capable of making the post?
posted by pwally at 9:58 AM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why not just wait until you are capable of making the post?

Yes. What is the need here? It's already on the NYT so it's not exactly like this is some obscure or buried story that desperately needs to see the light of day. When in doubt, leave it out.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:04 AM on January 6, 2010


Bad idea. Wait till you can do it yourself or just forget about it. Not everything needs to be posted to MetaFilter.
posted by languagehat at 10:27 AM on January 6, 2010


A great way to determine if something is best-of-the-web is to see if it has an expiration date of interest. If it does not, and still interests you after some time has passed, then you likely have a good FPP.
posted by davejay at 10:29 AM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


OK, there's a clear consensus already that it's generally not done (and that explains why I'd only seen people running with someone else's ideas in the odd comment here and there.) Also clear that 'vetting' is not desired.

hermitosis: When I think I have something post-worthy but I can't do it myself for some reason, I reach out personally to other mefites I know. Make more mefriends, maybe they will post it for you.

That's the disadvantage of being relatively new here; not many links. Hopefully that'll improve over time. Maybe I can be bold and make more use of MeFiMail when appropriate.

Burhanistan: What is the need here? - Not a need so much as a desire to bring up something that seemed to be barely discussed here; in this case the ALI had only four hits on the blue. Point taken that the story itself wasn't obscure; I was thinking more about the group than the article. But, yeah, point also taken re: when in doubt.

Thanks all, and chalk this up to inexperience. At least this has cleared a few things up for me.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 10:34 AM on January 6, 2010


It's very easy to see this degrading into many examples of "I'd love to read/chat about a great post about subject X but I'm too tired/lazy/uninformed to make it, somebody take the ball!" It's way too low a bar to clutter up MeTa. Given the timely and relatively important nature of some of the stuff in MeTa it seems wise to actively discourage stuff that increases the posting rate here. It's not like there are a dearth of posts to the front page anyway.
posted by nanojath at 10:36 AM on January 6, 2010


Either contribute using the established channels or don't. No one wants you fraction of a good idea. It's not like there's some dire shortage of posts.
posted by GuyZero at 10:44 AM on January 6, 2010


Thanks all, and chalk this up to inexperience. At least this has cleared a few things up for me.

No sweat, it's fine to ask.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:48 AM on January 6, 2010



That's the disadvantage of being relatively new here; not many links.


This should not stop anyone from making friends here. New? Welcome! Not many links? It's okay, there's no rush or quota.
posted by keli at 10:51 AM on January 6, 2010


reminds me of a guy from a community radio station I used to contribute to. He was enthusiastic, had lots of great ideas (in his mind at least) to make the station better, and he wasn't shy about sharing them. But no one ever acted on them which frustrated the hell out of him.

I remember someone finally saying to him, "We're all too busy acting on our brilliant ideas to really have time for yours, unless you want to pay us for your time."
posted by philip-random at 11:02 AM on January 6, 2010


but am unable to do the cognitive legwork about framing it intelligently, giving it context, being sensitive to the nature of the topic (and the site), and other things that go to make a good post on an important subject.

Posting is supposed to fun and/or interesting, not a term paper.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:17 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't worry about making The Perfect Post (TPP), either. TPP does not really exist, and for every person who thinks that Long Post X is TPP, another person will think that it went on and on, and wish more people realized that brevity is a virtue. For every person who thinks Short Post Y is TPP, another person will wish there'd been a bit more context, background information, or framing.

The beauty of Metafilter is that the Metafilter Community is full of Awesome Dudes* who'll happily chime in with additional links, information, or anecdotes. Post about Gallagher, and someone will have his number on their phone. We've got doctors, lawyers, economists, and Mythbusters. Or at least one. If you think you've got a decent post, pull it all together, preview it, and if it looks good, let it fly. If it looks a little lacking, sit on it for a day or so, but it doesn't have to be perfect.

*Dude, of course, being in the traditional gender-neutral sense of including those of all genders.
posted by explosion at 11:24 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe use a Delicious tag, like for_mefi?
posted by Pronoiac at 11:26 AM on January 6, 2010


I wanted to ask this question about that specific article, but decided against it. Thanks Hardcore Poser.

I wanted to post that article for various reasons, because I think it is BIG NEWS and fascinating. But I REALLY don't want to start a shitstorm and I sort of wanted to make sure I could create an ALI/Death Penalty post that wasn't shitstormy. (ie one that addressed the recent development with a lot of other links and information about the evolution of this issue - as well as including interesting links to other ALI things like the "Statement on Essential Human Rights" that they created which heavily influenced the drafting of documents like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.)

But one of my law professors was quoted in that article, and I'm also terrified of running afoul of the self-link ban. So I decided that was too many partial strikes against that particular post and just decided to keep it quiet and blast it to my Facebook/Twitter instead.

But I'd gladly take part in that conversation and I'm glad to see I wasn't the only one wondering about it.
posted by greekphilosophy at 11:44 AM on January 6, 2010


greekphilosophy, note that I'm no mod by any means, but I highly doubt that you would be banned for posting that article. There's a difference between writing it and/or promoting it (self-link, often though not always banned) and being too close to the subject to make a good FPP about it (your situation, I'm guessing).

Also, I've been on Mefi long enough now to know that certain topics stir up shit no matter how carefully framed (police brutality, Israel/Palestine, um, other things). I would only say (not, naturally, having made a post to the blue yet myself) that if you are posting on a controversial topic, watch out for weak links. Er, so to speak. If a link asserts something, or you grab a choice pull-quote from a link that asserts something, that isn't factually based, people do tend to jump on that link to the exclusion of other often excellent links. So, watch out for Last Link Syndrome.
posted by librarylis at 12:12 PM on January 6, 2010


Hardcore, don't be shy. Add some contacts.

If you notice some usernames start looking familiar and you find you like what a person posts, add them as a contact. It's not going to hurt anyone. No one's going to think you're strange (for that anyway). You don't have to fill in anything about the nature of the contact if you don't want to (I usually don't). Once you have some contacts you'll start getting updates about them on the sidebar of the front page, which, if you don't read carefully, allows you to jump to silly conclusions and make yourself look the ass.
posted by BeerFilter at 12:18 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've seen this kind of attitude crop up in a few of these conversations recently -- the whole "I want to make a post but I'm terrified of it not being good enough / everyone making fun of me / it getting deleted / etc..."

I don't think the spread of this attitude is a good thing. Yes, of COURSE we all want people to put effort into their posts and to avoid links to crap, but maybe we need to take the expectation down a peg or two here... I mean, people are talking about making an FPP like it's public speaking or some other event that is nerve-wracking for a lot of people... It's just putting together some links on a topic you think others might find interesting. If it's not great, it'll get deleted, and life will continue. No one is going to be tarred and feathered.

I'm not calling out the poster of this topic here, but rather suggesting maybe we all need to think about what we are doing to create this atmosphere where it seems (anecdotally, to be sure) more and more people are too nervous/scared or otherwise unable to contribute to the site in the way they want to. I'm not offering up any easy answers, but maybe less snark on "soon to be deleted" FPP's would be a start (I'm sure I've been guilty of that, of course).
posted by modernnomad at 12:20 PM on January 6, 2010


I'm not offering up any easy answers, but maybe less snark on "soon to be deleted" FPP's would be a start.

I think another good start would be less of the race to make the first comment and have it be along the lines of "tl;dr" or "your favorite band sucks."
posted by marxchivist at 1:23 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not offering up any easy answers, but maybe less snark on "soon to be deleted" FPP's would be a start.

Yeah, if I have a single MetaFilter pet-peeve, it's those early, negative, THIS-POST-SUCKS-WORST-OF-THE-WEB comments.

A. because sometimes they're just plain wrong,
B. even if they're correct, that's what flagging is for,
C. because dumping on people in public, particularly reflexively with no real time taken for reflection, just isn't good for the community.
posted by philip-random at 1:33 PM on January 6, 2010


modernnomad: "I'm not calling out the poster of this topic here, but rather suggesting maybe we all need to think about what we are doing to create this atmosphere where it seems (anecdotally, to be sure) more and more people are too nervous/scared or otherwise unable to contribute to the site in the way they want to."

Agreed; the snark can be intimidating when you first join. For me that went away after I started reading more MetaTalk for some back story on the more prolific commenters (putting a face to the unfamiliar).

My current hesitations probably have more to do with something said by Brandon Blatcher: "Posting is supposed to fun and/or interesting, not a term paper."

Favorited for too-close-to-home-ness. My nickname is also (in a way) a trait I'm working to change; confronting my trying too hard is a good thing. So please, MeFi, don't hold back on future criticism (shy retiring folk that you are!)
posted by Hardcore Poser at 2:37 PM on January 6, 2010


it's those early, negative, THIS-POST-SUCKS-WORST-OF-THE-WEB comments.

We've been deleting those more and more lately, especially if they're not at all constructive. Please feel free to flag them.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:43 PM on January 6, 2010


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