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That group's beliefs differ slightly from our own group's beliefs!
February 22, 2010 1:27 AM   Subscribe

Can we stop with the "Those people are so stupid" poll posts?

A couple have come up recently. They are devoid of any meaningful comparisons, and seem to only serve to provide an opportunity for Metafilter to snark about disliked groups.

If people are curious about what people think, Gallup provides details about many of its polls, dissected by demographics and politics.

By the way, the truly guilty ones here are the reporters, headline-writers, and pollsters themselves who avoided providing context for their results. I just think Metafilter should avoid bigotry disguised as Science!.
posted by FuManchu to Etiquette/Policy at 1:27 AM (158 comments total)

Should we be praising ignorance disguised as Religion!, then? If you let ignorance fester, it grows. You've got to air it out, get some light and fresh air in there before it'll get better.
posted by Ghidorah at 1:36 AM on February 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I just think Metafilter should avoid bigotry disguised as Science!

Should we be praising ignorance disguised as Religion!, then?

yeah, that's *exactly* what FuManchu was saying...
posted by russm at 1:49 AM on February 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is Metafilter really the place to be doing this kind of thing? Most of these posts just don't seem that interesting. They mostly seem to "prove" things that the majority of the community agrees with already, and don't provide a lot of interesting commentary or points for discussion (or at least, any that haven't come up a million times before). It seems to turn into a bunch of people saying "Yeah!" and doing whatever the liberal secular equivalent of chest bumping is.
posted by MadamM at 1:56 AM on February 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have to agree that this kind of post is rather weak and without much value.
posted by orange swan at 2:24 AM on February 22, 2010


Seems to me that this TED link is relevant in this thread as well.
posted by flabdablet at 2:43 AM on February 22, 2010


I think it's a weak post and the discussion is just bunch of commenters trying to out-agree each other.
posted by klarck at 2:51 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think I'm gonna close this up...
posted by telstar at 2:53 AM on February 22, 2010


Why do you think Gallup is doing science while the University of Texas and Research 2000 aren't?
posted by DU at 2:53 AM on February 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, your title kind of gives the game away. Paleontology is not a belief system.
posted by DU at 2:54 AM on February 22, 2010 [21 favorites]


besides the bias you're seeing (which is certainly a little true - but not all encompassing) how are these different than the ok cupid poll results threads?

if you find polls or studies or academic papers that put what you view as the other side in a not so favorable light, feel free to share them. but - what's being posted about in those threads isn't untrue and it isn't bigotry.
posted by nadawi at 3:09 AM on February 22, 2010


Should we be praising ignorance disguised as Religion!, then?

No. You can call that out when it's posted on the blue.


Why do you think Gallup is doing science while the University of Texas and Research 2000 aren't?

I don't think that.
posted by FuManchu at 3:11 AM on February 22, 2010


also (tongue firmly in cheek) : reality has a well known liberal bias
posted by nadawi at 3:12 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


blah blah blah blah blah
posted by mlis at 3:19 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not great threads, but I don't think "a couple have come up recently" is very good cause.

Also, people who believe that dinosaurs and humans walked the earth at the the same time are not a protected class.
posted by fleacircus at 3:27 AM on February 22, 2010


By the way, the truly guilty ones here are the reporters, headline-writers, and pollsters themselves who avoided providing context for their results.

I agree. I actually just made a comment in the Texas thread about my suspicions regarding the source of the reported poll results.
posted by inconsequentialist at 3:33 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


What I think we could use less of: people who take cursory looks into source material and make inflammatory allegations from that. *cough*
posted by fleacircus at 4:00 AM on February 22, 2010


Ghidorah: “Should we be praising ignorance disguised as Religion!, then?”

No. We should be doing neither. Or weren't you aware that it's possible for us to be neither hate-filled pricks nor superstitious bigots?
posted by koeselitz at 4:09 AM on February 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


how are these different than the ok cupid poll results threads?

I think it's more Metafilter's reaction to them. The okCupid posts were taken with some skepticism and the results were really looked at and discussed. In the two posts I linked to, there was more snark than anything. If Metafilter started discussing conservative ideology in earnest, or perhaps how those religious beliefs also occur in liberal voters, then I wouldn't have posted this MeTa.


Not great threads, but I don't think "a couple have come up recently" is very good cause.

Not saying I want it pulled. I just want less of it in the future. And look, I love polls. I read the stuff Gallup puts out pretty regularly. I love little buried tidbits like how anti-Buddhism is stronger than anti-Judaism in the US. Post polls.

Just saying that this particular post was a vector for general anti-Texas bashing, which is lame. Especially when there are existing polls out there that would have showed it's not unusual for North America. I would not have objected to a link to this Gallup poll from a year ago, combined with the link I provided in the original thread showing Canadians have similar beliefs. It probably would have attracted "North Americans across all political ideologies are so dumb" comments, but not the "Conservatives of the US are so dumb" comments which Metafilter is rife with. Neither of those polls made it into Metafilter nor, say, Alternet.


people who believe that dinosaurs and humans walked the earth at the the same time are not a protected class

Not trying to defend them at all.
posted by FuManchu at 4:26 AM on February 22, 2010


As DU points out, paleontology isn't a belief system. It's a science. It's something that used to be taught in school until people thought religious belief was more important. I'm not a hate filled prick, or at least I won't be until a kid of mine has to learn about creationism as a valid argument in school.

And, as pointed out earlier, the title to this thread colors the topic heavily. I don't believe in science. It's a collection of knowledge that has withstood vigorous testing over the course of many, many years. I would like it very much if Christians could stop claiming that reality and science are a form of persecution. Feel free to practice whatever belief system you want, just leave me, and the State (which at some point was supposed to be separate from religion) out of it.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:27 AM on February 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Why do you think Gallup is doing science while the University of Texas and Research 2000 aren't?

I don't think that.


Then why did you point to Gallup as a replacement for them? If it was the "dissection", your R2k example pointed to Nate Silver doing some "dissection" plus the crosstabs are here. The University of Texas poll "demographics and politics" are here. Each of these was a single link deep from the main link.
posted by DU at 4:32 AM on February 22, 2010


As DU points out, paleontology isn't a belief system. It's a science.

And what do you think a science is?
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 4:45 AM on February 22, 2010


A system of organizing actual evidence about natural phenomenon. It doesn't stop happening when people stop believing in it.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:49 AM on February 22, 2010 [19 favorites]


Man, sometimes the checks and balances in this site sure get in the way of a good old-fashioned neener neener your granny's a gnostic and your dad's a Pythagorean.
posted by pracowity at 4:56 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Monday, keep reading. I addressed that, and kuujjuarapik explained it better than I did.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:59 AM on February 22, 2010


Ghidorah: “I'm not a hate filled prick, or at least I won't be until a kid of mine has to learn about creationism as a valid argument in school.”

Oh, I certainly don't think you're a hate-filled prick. Sorry if my comment sounded like I meant that.

I only meant that it's hateful to respond to an argument – any argument, no matter how silly or foolish – by pointing and laughing. And I stand by that opinion. The point-and-laugh method is actually the enemy of careful, rational thought. That's true even when one feels like one is pointing and laughing in defense of rational thought, because every time one dismissively derides someone like that, one is acting as thought reason and rationality don't matter as much as humor.
posted by koeselitz at 5:02 AM on February 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


kuujjuarapik: “A system of organizing actual evidence about natural phenomenon. It doesn't stop happening when people stop believing in it.”

I shouldn't derail this into a sciencey discussion, because those don't always go well, but I think the modern scientific tropes are significantly more restrictive than that. Moreover, I think they're a bit more closed-minded than that, and they assume a whole lot more. For one thing, they assume the fundamental nature of space. For another, they assume that quality does not exist.

Much as Descartes et al would have us believe this, science didn't start in 1622
posted by koeselitz at 5:05 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


just bunch of commenters trying to out-agree each other.

The wittiest and quickest agreers can really take home a lot of favorites.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:08 AM on February 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yeah, sorry about that, we'll get this to 1000-comments if we start going on about the nature of science. Please go on about the main discussion.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 5:08 AM on February 22, 2010


good to know koeselitz. sorry if I came off all fighty. I don't tend to react to stuff like the dino poll with laughter. I tend more towards fear and apprehension. The idea that the appeal to reason is losing its power is a worrisome trend, combined with the willful misrepresentation of terms (theory as tested by the scientific method vs. theory in the 'I have a feeling about it' sense) makes me uneasy.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:14 AM on February 22, 2010


I fail to see how my title, That group's beliefs differ slightly from our own group's beliefs!, betrays anything. The polls very results were framed in the fashion that "X% of Y identifying people believe Z." A belief is something believed. Please stop with the semantics.
posted by FuManchu at 5:25 AM on February 22, 2010


You don't like polls? Post something you do like.

Looks like 50+ commenters did like the polls post, at least enough to comment in it.
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posted by orthogonality at 5:33 AM on February 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


Metafilter likes Texas because it's something else to point at and laugh. Much easier than seeing the same data for your own state, and having to face the reality that the people you hang out with might not be representative.
posted by smackfu at 5:35 AM on February 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


You don't like polls? Post something you do like.

"I bet you can't paint better so who are you to criticize."

Looks like 50+ commenters did like the polls post, at least enough to comment in it.

"It's popular so it's good."
posted by smackfu at 5:36 AM on February 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


Much easier than seeing the same data for your own state, and having to face the reality that the people you hang out with might not be representative.

I'd really love to see data for my own state. I'm under no illusions about the prevalence of idiots in the world and it would be a great way to see where education funding needs to be targeted.
posted by DU at 5:45 AM on February 22, 2010


orthogonality, you can call out a number of similar members (like me) the same way. I don't think that it means what you think it means.
posted by kalessin at 5:50 AM on February 22, 2010


For one thing, they assume the fundamental nature of space. For another, they assume that quality does not exist.

Insofar as those assumptions make sense, they are part of the received view of metaphysical assumptions; science operates in the physical realm and you can't criticize some enterprise for taking on assumption from the received view in another. You might as well criticize a nonspecialist for making a logical inference that isn't valid in a non-classical logic. So what? The received view is that classical logic is acceptable for logical reasoning, and we're not in logic class.

If science makes a metaphysical assumption of note, it makes the following: "Metaphysical assumptions are indifferent to the aims of science." That's really more of a meta-metaphysical assumption, but it's also why creationism shouldn't be taught in science class.
posted by Kwine at 5:51 AM on February 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Moreover, I think they're a bit more closed-minded than that, and they assume a whole lot more. For one thing, they assume the fundamental nature of space. For another, they assume that quality does not exist.

Seriously off topic, but I think you're really misreading things there koeselitz. Scientists don't assume that quality does not exist ---we don't talk about it because there aren't any testable theories that involve it. It would be a weird thing to jam in though, since our current theories are so successful and don't involve quantities with emotional content. That said, you come up with a theory that involves "quality" and makes correct testable predictions, and you'll win converts. Also, the current views about the nature of space (not sure what you mean by "fundamental") are drastically different than they were 100 years ago, and many cutting-edge theories subvert current ideas. It's not fair to say that scientists "assume" spacetime is a Lorentzian manifold, because they didn't use to think that, but changed their mind due to overwhelming evidence, and now many are considering the possibility that it's not one after all.

Also, seriously what is up with all the Buddhist hate? How many Americans even know the first damn thing about Buddhism?
posted by Humanzee at 5:53 AM on February 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't like the poll posts particularly and I don't see what they have to really offer the MeFi community. Surprised more people don't flag them since they seem like an excuse for a five-minute hate.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:16 AM on February 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


it's possible for us to be neither hate-filled pricks nor superstitious bigots

You can also be both! They kind of go together actually.
posted by Mister_A at 6:18 AM on February 22, 2010


I'm sorry, but I don't think of too many creationists as being capable of careful, rational thought. This whole "creation science" or "intelligent design" or whatever the hell they're calling it these days is an enemy of careful, rational thought and instead an attempt to play fast and loose with scientific jargon to pass itself as something which stands up to the rigors of actual, true science.

Also, I think that some of the LOLXTIAN stuff that goes on around here is a product of total disbelief that this crap is still being foisted on us, and so effectively used to drag a society we see as capable of incredible things back to the friggin dark ages rather than something that goes on in peoples' churches and living rooms. For me? I'm so frustrated that sometimes pointing and laughing is all I have left before I reach the last stage, which is crying.

"[S]eriously what is up with all the Buddhist hate? How many Americans even know the first damn thing about Buddhism?"


I suspect it's more out of a "my god's bigger 'n yer god" or just reflexive hating on non-christian religion than anything else.
posted by nevercalm at 6:18 AM on February 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


No, the last stage is violence. Crying comes long before that.
posted by slogger at 6:29 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


How many Americans even know the first damn thing about Buddhism?

The first thing to know about Buddhism is to know you know nothing about Buddhism.
posted by DU at 6:30 AM on February 22, 2010


Yah, sure lot of Texas hate in that thread, which I don't mind too much. The post of the thread seems to pretty much to be a setup for the hating rather than any real valid discussion.

And orthogonality, let's stop being proponents for setting up levels of validity for debating what belongs on Mefi or not due entirely to number of posts made or not made. Otherwise, homunculus would rule over us and I fear he is a tyrannical leader.
posted by Atreides at 6:44 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


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Please don't do this.
posted by grouse at 6:47 AM on February 22, 2010 [28 favorites]


orthagonality: FuManchu's profile
Joined: November 22, 2006
Contributions
MeFi: 0 posts


grouse: Please don't do this.

Seconding that.
posted by zarq at 6:53 AM on February 22, 2010


That group's beliefs differ slightly from our own group's beliefs!

Nearly a third of Texans believe humans and dinosaurs roamed the earth at the same time, according to a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll. Meet the Flinstones.

lol if you have a belief system that literally does not believe in science, history
posted by Damn That Television at 6:56 AM on February 22, 2010


Just in case the results of this thread influence posting (or deleting) decisions in the future, I want to go on record that I appreciate posts like the one being called out.

When I was 16, my brother got me a subscription to the National Review saying, "You need to understand what people you disagree with think." Polls like this (even if flawed) do that for me. It would be easy for me to wander through life thinking that most people think like I think. News like this is (for me) a shot to the solopsism.
posted by qldaddy at 6:57 AM on February 22, 2010 [13 favorites]


When I was 16, my brother got me a subscription to the National Review saying, "You need to understand what people you disagree with think."

Now THAT's a big brother. Good on him.
posted by nevercalm at 6:58 AM on February 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't like the poll posts particularly and I don't see what they have to really offer the MeFi community. Surprised more people don't flag them since they seem like an excuse for a five-minute hate.
posted by jessamyn at 6:16 AM on February 22 [+] [!]

Jessamyn, no doubt you and the majority of the Mefi community are already well aware of prevailing trends of thought among large segments of the US population, because, of course, you and the Mefi majority are US residents. I guess as a 16-year US expat my awareness is not as great as yours, and I personally found these poll results somewhat surprising and noteworthy. And I think information of this sort might be interesting and noteworthy to those Mefi readers who aren't US residents, and who may not, therefore, have their finger on the pulse of America quite as firmly as you or others might. So, maybe that's what a post like this might have to offer the international Mefi community. Sorry if you prsonally disagree, but I'm glad to see from your comment that in fact not so many people flag posts like this latest one of mine.

And I certainly didn't post it as an excuse for, as you put it, a five-minute hate. I posted it because I thought it was interesting. Sad, but interesting. Of course, the vast majority of my posts are, as you are surely aware, excuses for a five-minute (often longer!) love. Quite often they are a celebration of the musical and cultural gems America has given the world. So really, actually, I'm all about the love, sister.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:59 AM on February 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


Umm, hi, pointless metatalker and contributor to metafilter.

The examples cited do nothing more than point to something being discussed. Untangling the internet takes a lot of different inputs and I for one, am always happy to see different sides related to a particular subject. Especially those that may have been missed.

You are creating a bias where one does not exist.
posted by Funmonkey1 at 7:00 AM on February 22, 2010


"MeFi: 0 posts"

Some of us are bad at it, and we're doing the site a favor by not using the negative value of our posts to make it worse. Using (and making a point of drawing attention to) such a shitty metric is a bit out of character for you, o.
posted by majick at 7:01 AM on February 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: Really, actually, all about the love, sister.
posted by toodleydoodley at 7:05 AM on February 22, 2010


I'm glad to see from your comment that in fact not so many people flag posts like this latest one of mine.

Yeah, it's clear from the thread that there are people who like these posts and get a lot out of them, so yeah it's fine. I think if we started seeing a lot of them, we might start being a little more aggressive about keeping them in check but right now, a few polls isn't going to cause any real trouble. The "FUCK TEXAS AMIRITE" angle of this one [not in your phrasing, but in some of the comments] makes it a little more touchy than average.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:08 AM on February 22, 2010


Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter: Metafilter:

*drops injoke in hole, pushes loose dirt over it, brushes off hands, and walks away whistling*
posted by Salvor Hardin at 7:10 AM on February 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nearly a third of Texans believe humans and dinosaurs roamed the earth at the same time, according to a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll. Meet the Flinstones.

Wait, wouldn't the presence of foot-powered cars threaten the Texas oil industry.
posted by jonmc at 7:13 AM on February 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


MeFi: 0 posts

As several other people have said, don't do this. It's a cheap tell-off that makes the foolish presupposition that posting output maps directly and invariably with the validity of commentary about posts.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:13 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Salvor, did you dismember the corpse? Did you? DID YOU!?
posted by Ghidorah at 7:17 AM on February 22, 2010


Please don't do this.

Please don't do what? I'm not saying only contributors can criticize; anyone is free to criticize, of course. And yes, some people contribute in ways other than FPPs. But I think I also have a right to respond when someone implies that reporting a news story, or commenting on it, makes us "bigots".


Mefi's like a potluck dinner. It's rude to complain about what someone else brings to the table; it's even ruder when the complainer has come empty handed; it's really rude when he complains that "people who eat this are morally wrong".

I have no problem at all if Pork-fried Leech isn't to your taste, but don't ruin my dinner by stage-whispering "Pork-friend Leech?? That's naaaaasty! It's haram, it's treif, good people don't eat Pork-fried Leech!"

Just skip that dish. Don't try to form up the food-fashion-police. Especially if your contribution was a big plate of nothing at all.
posted by orthogonality at 7:21 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, seriously what is up with all the Buddhist hate?

It's Tiger Woods' fault.
posted by octothorpe at 7:21 AM on February 22, 2010


Please don't do what?

Please don't selectively quote someone's posting stats back at them as some sort of dismissal of their opinion. I don't see how that's even ambiguous. It's a crappy, substanceless kiss-off. It says nothing except that you're willing to dismiss them because of a number.

You are totally free to rebut FuManchu and explain why it is that you object to their perspective on the situation, but use your goddam words.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:25 AM on February 22, 2010 [16 favorites]


Anyone who can't hold onto their hate for more than five minutes just isn't trying hard enough.
posted by Pot at 7:27 AM on February 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Dr., heel thyself.
posted by Kettle at 7:28 AM on February 22, 2010


Jessamyn, no doubt you and the majority of the Mefi community are already well aware of prevailing trends of thought among large segments of the US population, because, of course, you and the Mefi majority are US residents...And I think information of this sort might be interesting and noteworthy to those Mefi readers who aren't US residents

Actually, I've discovered most of the world seems pretty familiar with the U.S. When my wife's cousin was told I was an American, one of the first things she said was "He's not from the MidWest is he?" Note that this is a European who had never traveled here. They know our musicians and cartoons and our cultural in-jokes. My wife - who has spent a total of maybe a few months in the U.S. - saw the FPP and responded "Oh no, another post about dumb Texans."

If the intent is to make Mefi more friendly to non-U.S. people, I think it'd be better to post about some of the many interesting things going on globally. From my observations, U.S. people could do with more knowledge about global events than people globally could do with information about what Texans think.
posted by vacapinta at 7:30 AM on February 22, 2010 [10 favorites]


Sometimes I wish I believed in the co-existence of people and dinosaurs. Let's face it, it would just be neat.

Anyhow, I probably would have flagged it if it hadn't been posted by flapjax. Not because of any in-crowd bias, just he doesn't strike me as the type of fellow who was motivated by smarmy derisive jerkiness.

Should we be praising ignorance disguised as Religion!, then? If you let ignorance fester, it grows. You've got to air it out, get some light and fresh air in there before it'll get better.

Comments like this are really interesting to me. In terms of the MeFi community it's bunk, because we're almost overwhelmingly a group of pretty rational yay sciencephiles, so the implication (As I see it) is that there is an onus on this community to disseminate and defend that POV to the far greater, non-MeFi community.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:31 AM on February 22, 2010


makes us "bigots".

The difference between saying these polls are "bigotry disguised as science" and calling any particular MeFite or MeFites in general "bigots" is a large one. It's totally appropriate to come to Meta and say "I don't like these sorts of posts, how do other people feel" without having people get all up in their posting history. Do not do that. Thanks.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:31 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Please don't do this.


I agree...

But does anyone else also think this phrase has now become a tired MeFi cliche along the lines of "I see what you did there" and "You keep using this word. I don't think it means what you think it means"?
posted by modernnomad at 7:42 AM on February 22, 2010


MetaFilter: Please don't do this.
posted by Pot at 7:44 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


But does anyone else also think this phrase has now become a tired MeFi cliche along the lines of "I see what you did there" and "You keep using this word. I don't think it means what you think it means"?

sure, but a cliche is just a statement that's been right so many times you're sick of hearing it.
posted by toodleydoodley at 7:47 AM on February 22, 2010


It seems almost cliche for people to call out cliches that they're sick of these days. Let me recycle whatever phrases I want to, dammit!
posted by Think_Long at 7:52 AM on February 22, 2010


modernnomad writes "But does anyone else also think this phrase has now become a tired MeFi cliche along the lines of 'I see what you did there' and 'You keep using this word. I don't think it means what you think it means'?"

When a mod types it? No. Not really.
posted by Mitheral at 7:55 AM on February 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


But does anyone else also think this phrase has now become a tired MeFi cliche

In other words, "Please don't do 'please don't do this'"?
posted by grouse at 7:55 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


"You keep using this word. I don't think it means what you think it means" was a tired cliche before Metafilter ever came along.
posted by box at 7:58 AM on February 22, 2010


If the intent is to make Mefi more friendly to non-U.S. people, I think it'd be better to post about some of the many interesting things going on globally.
posted by vacapinta at 7:30 AM on February 22 [2 favorites +] [!]

Yeah, actually I do a lot of that too. This time it was about Texas, though. Sorry your wife or your wife's cousin already knew about it.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:59 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a nice concise way to say "this is not against the rules, but it is against the norms".
posted by smackfu at 7:59 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


In this particular community, it's hard to see how these kinds of poll posts wouldn't encourage stereotyping. The problem is that it's really hard, if you're not yourself a member of Group X, not to make the cognitive slide from "65% of Group X believe this" to "most members of Group X believe this" to "this is what Group X is all about." And that kind of slide into simplistic, black-and-white thinking is the stuff of which bigotry is made.

Put another way, what would the visceral reaction be to a poll post entitled "What Muslims believe," or explaining that 35% of African-Americans weren't able to correctly answer some paleontology question? Wouldn't we feel some level of indignation because that kind of thinking collapses the true diversity of experience in those communities, and unfairly characterizes huge, extremely variable populations based on a few dubious statistics?

I understand the us-vs.-them impulse-- "Ugh, those people are all the same"-- and it certainly has its pleasures, but I would have hoped for more from Metafilter.
posted by yersinia at 8:00 AM on February 22, 2010 [10 favorites]


(oh, well, discussion has already moved on. shoulda previewed, I suppose)
posted by yersinia at 8:01 AM on February 22, 2010


Maybe it's just me but there seems to be a weird disjunction between people going 'Why are Americans so anti-Buddhist? That's dumb' and people going 'Golly I think religious people are dumb.'
posted by shakespeherian at 8:03 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Please don't selectively quote someone's posting stats back at them as some sort of dismissal of their opinion.

You misunderstood. I'm not dismissing FuManchu's opinion because he's never made an FPP. In fact, I wrote "anyone is free to criticize, of course".

I'm saying that by not making any FPPs, he's not offering any better alternative. And something is almost always seen as better than nothing. You can appeal to the better angels of our natures with a nuanced post about the diversity of opinion in Texas, but in the absence of that, yeah, we're going to snark (rightfully so) over idiots who believe The Flintstones was a documentary.

To re-use my potluck analogy, if on the table we have a choice of greasy potato chips or a healthy fresh fruit medley, many of use will eschew the chips for the fruit. But if there are only greasy chips on the table most of us will eat the chips rather than go hungry. In practical terms, noting that chips are empty calories -- without offering something better -- isn't going to deter most people from the chips.

use your goddam words

I'm not sure if your "goddam" there is meant as a tongue-in-cheek "Texas" cowboy affectation, because the FPP's about Texas, or if you're seriously trying to project anger. Either way, it isn't moderating, it's escalating, and more in the style of Teresa Nielsen Hayden than Mefi.
posted by orthogonality at 8:06 AM on February 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don’t think someone is required to make another fpp as a form of rebuttal against a problematic one – if anything, that kind of behavior is actively discouraged by the mods. We non-posters are allowed to have issues with posts just the same as those who contribute more actively. Besides, posting with the intent to refute another post is begging for editorializing.
posted by Think_Long at 8:10 AM on February 22, 2010


Either way, it isn't moderating, it's escalating, and more in the style of Teresa Nielsen Hayden than Mefi.

One "goddamn" isn't escalating. You can take or leave the advice and polite requests but if that's really what you were intending to get across, you were misunderstood. Taking swipes at cortex just seems like sour grapes.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:13 AM on February 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


I rarely flag posts as "offensive," however I really am starting to think a good reason for post deletion is LOLTEXANS just like LOLXTIAN and LOLREPUBLICANSCAUGHTINRESTROOMSTAPPINGFOOTFORTEHHAWTGHEYSEXXORS.

jessamyn, cortex, vacapinta most of the Texan mefites I know don't FIAMO because in my experience most Texan (and a good portion of other) mefites just stay away from nearly any thread with "Texas" in the title.
posted by WolfDaddy at 8:15 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


If there were ever a candidate for LOLTEXAN it would be me since I am a Texan and I LOL frequently.
posted by grouse at 8:16 AM on February 22, 2010


LOLGROUSE probably believes in God.
posted by Think_Long at 8:18 AM on February 22, 2010


You misunderstood.

You did not make yourself clear, and the chorus of negative readings to your comment kind of strongly suggest that the misunderstanding wasn't just mine. That's why I'm saying be explicit: say what you actually mean instead of posting some little selective stats dump and declining to actually state any constructive criticism that you feel merits airing.

That aside, "post something better", while definitely a good policy in general and it's great that people who do take the time to make good posts choose to do so, is not a coherent response to criticisms of existing posts. The front page isn't a zero-sum game, those posts weren't posted under some sort of "if FuManchu hasn't posted something better, then..." rule. Independent posters make independent posting decisions, and with the possible exception of someone making a different, better pre-emptive post about precisely the same topic, one post has nothing to do with another.

Either way, it isn't moderating, it's escalating, and more in the style of Teresa Nielsen Hayden than Mefi.

I was, and am, annoyed. I regret letting it show in my comment, but there it is. I'm neither being ironic nor actively trying to project anger; I say "goddam" sometimes when I get frustrated. I find having to tell someone as smart and familiar with mefi as you that being obliquely dismissive of someone is a bad thing kind of frustrating.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:20 AM on February 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Salvor, did you dismember the corpse? Did you? DID YOU!?
posted by Ghidorah at 10:17 AM on February 22 [+] [!]
*hears sound behind me, stops, slowly turns around*

Metafilter: Aghghhghhh Braaaiiiinssssss agghlhhshghl...

Oh...oh my god...it's...it's still moving...

*bang bang*

*bang bang bang*

*bang click click*

*click*

*piercing scream*




posted by Salvor Hardin at 8:21 AM on February 22, 2010


I am confused by the strong negative reactions given to ortho and flapjax in this thread by the moderation team and plan to come back after I've recaffeinated to see if I'm still confused. I really hope it's just a not-enough-coffee error because absent some backstage backstory I'm not privy to, the reactions seem disproportionate.
posted by jtron at 8:23 AM on February 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


In practical terms, noting that chips are empty calories -- without offering something better -- isn't going to deter most people from the chips.

Okay but your comment was less 'in the absence of nutrition hungry people will eat anything' and more 'whining is dumb because you should just bring salad' which doesn't make sense.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:23 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Put another way, what would the visceral reaction be to a poll post entitled "What Muslims believe," or explaining that 35% of African-Americans weren't able to correctly answer some paleontology question?"

Someone in the bahleted Santorum thread of last week mentioned that this (your example) is a problem because the subjects are part of an already oppressed/discriminated against/essentially without power minority in this country.

I think in the thread, Blazecock mentioned the Texas book influence thing - which is why many people find these beliefs to be past quirky non-metafilterworthy, and into problematic, "I think you better take a look at this" territory.
posted by cashman at 8:24 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


You misunderstood. I'm not dismissing FuManchu's opinion because he's never made an FPP.

You miscommunicated, because dismissing FuManchu's opinion because he's never made an FPP is just about the only reasonable interpretation of posting that section of his profile page in a comment. you're not doing yourself any favors by fighting people on this one, dude.
posted by shmegegge at 8:25 AM on February 22, 2010


I am confused by the strong negative reactions given to ortho and flapjax in this thread by the moderation team

I'm pretty sure it's a lack of coffee thing; flapjax hasn't been on the recieving end of any sort of ire (Unless you count Jessamyn's dislike for how these sort of FPPs usually go, though she made a point of saying that f@m's post wasn't worded in an inflammatory manner) and ortho is sort of acting like a butthead.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:31 AM on February 22, 2010


Metafilter: Oh...oh my god...it's...it's still moving...

Dismember the corpse next time, and none of this "loosely packed dirt" crap.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:32 AM on February 22, 2010


Surprised more people don't flag them since they seem like an excuse for a five-minute hate.

Jessamyn: This is a curious throw-away line that caught my eye. Does it imply there is a formula for determining what will be deleted?
posted by jefficator at 8:51 AM on February 22, 2010


most of the Texan mefites I know don't FIAMO because in my experience most Texan (and a good portion of other) mefites just stay away from nearly any thread with "Texas" in the title.

Yeah, I didn't even consider opening that thread when I saw it because it was just going to piss me off. I don't have the flag habit but even if I did, I'd have to open it to figure out what to flag it as, and life is simply too short to drink that particular batch of bad beer.
posted by immlass at 8:58 AM on February 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


What? I don't follow you at all. There's the usual "we look at the flag queue then make a decision" formula like there always has been. If I don't personally like a post but the flag queue says almost no one agrees with me, it stays. If I love a post and everyone else seems to hate it, it usually goes.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:58 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


My Minnesota niceness wants to give Jessamyn and/or cortex a cyber cookie. I am conflicted who is suffering more here
posted by wheelieman at 9:06 AM on February 22, 2010


Whoa, wait. Wait.

There's chips?


Greasy, greasy chips.....
posted by nevercalm at 9:06 AM on February 22, 2010


Correction: I am conflicted though, because I cant tell who needs it more
posted by wheelieman at 9:07 AM on February 22, 2010


Ah shit, I cleared my browser of cookies.
posted by wheelieman at 9:08 AM on February 22, 2010


Thank you, I am here all the time, try the PepsiBlue, and dont forget to tip (off) the mods
posted by wheelieman at 9:10 AM on February 22, 2010


Actually, I'm curious about flagging behavior and if I should change mine. Generally, I only flag something if it is an obvious violation of guidelines - if I have to choose "other" as a flag option I'm generally not comfortable doing it. In the case of this post, I smelled the LOLTEXAN/XIAN from a mile away, but as far as I know a post like this doesn't really break the rules. If a post doesn't actually break the rules, but you don't feel we need more pointing and laughing from the peanut gallery, should you still FIAMO or just MO?
posted by cimbrog at 9:11 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


The front page isn't a zero-sum game, those posts weren't posted under some sort of "if FuManchu hasn't posted something better, then..." rule.

Yes, and no. The Texas poll post was the first overtly political post of the day, so it attracted those of us who like politics-filter. if we don't count the Qing Wong Hu post -- which was more policy than partisan -- we have to go back to the Haig obit or the anthrax post to get political, and even those weren't as clearly easily-snarked idiocracy-bashing.

Two and a half years ago, the mods decided there'd been too much politics filter, and so deleted over the course of a week any post about Abu Gonzales's Senate testimony. The result was that that story got posted and re-posted, until finally one stayed up, the release valve popped, and the steam was let off.

Partisan posts (and Dawkins posts, and Boing-Boing posts) are like that: Mefi's audience, for better or worse, wants a steady enough diet of them, and in the absence of a good solid meaty post sufieting this appetite, they'll flock to the junk food post. Look at how the recent Harry Potter putative plagiarism post became a TNH bashing venue.

And there's one type of FPP that's entirely zero-sum: obits. Mods have made it clear that only one obit per corpse will survive; lately they've been making that not the first to be posted but the first to meet some subjective quality threshold. That's why scblackman asked metatalk why there was no Haig obit, even though his own links in his question would have made a good obit. I too was wondering when we'd see the Haig obit, but also figured someone else would do a better job than I would.

I am confused by the strong negative reactions given to ortho and flapjax in this thread by the moderation team and plan to come back after I've recaffeinated to see if I'm still confused. I really hope it's just a not-enough-coffee error because absent some backstage backstory I'm not privy to, the reactions seem disproportionate.

Yeah, I don't get it either, though I'm wondering.

posted by orthogonality at 9:13 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here I sit my bun's a flexin
Squeezin out another Texan
posted by pianomover at 9:13 AM on February 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


> Please don't do what?

Be a dick. You were being a dick. Don't do that.
posted by languagehat at 9:24 AM on February 22, 2010


> Here I sit my bun's a flexin
Squeezin out another Texan


Or that. What are you, twelve?
posted by languagehat at 9:25 AM on February 22, 2010


the mods decided there'd been too much politics filter

We deleted a bunch of crappy posts, this has nothing to do with us deciding "too much politics" at all. Sometimes a newsy political topic winds up destined for the front page but that doesn't mean that any crappy post stays up because it's topical and/or important. Make a good post.

Mods have made it clear that only one obit per corpse will survive; lately they've been making that not the first to be posted but the first to meet some subjective quality threshold.

It's become clear through multiple MeTa posts that people have been upset when the trying-to-be-fair "first obit survives" policy led to a string of really crappy obit posts. This combined with our reluctance to delete obit posts in the first place seemed to not be working very well. So in the case of multiple obit posts on very popular public figures, we'll try to wait for a good one or at least a decent one. I'm not comfortable with this entirely because it involves us making a judgment call which I personally would prefer not to make, but it seemed clear through discussions here that this is what people wanted.

And as far as "what should we flag" basically if you think a post is terrible, feel free to flag it. Most flags that don't have obvious purposes [i.e. "fix this HTML"] is a shorthand way of saying "hey mods take a look at this" and realistically "this post is too crappy for MetaFilter" is an okay reason for us to take a look at something.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:26 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Please don't do this.


I agree...

But does anyone else also think this phrase has now become a tired MeFi cliche along the lines of "I see what you did there" and "You keep using this word. I don't think it means what you think it means"?


This.
posted by slogger at 9:26 AM on February 22, 2010


Every time someone says FIAMO I get part of a mid 60s Italian film in my head. It's a scene where this girl wearing a minidress and scarf with hair in a beehive and those white 1960s sunglasses is walking along a cobbly street while a convertible is coming along behind her. The sky is washed out blue because the kodachrome has faded a little and the camera is a bit jumpy because the dolly is hitting the cobblestones and here comes that guy in the convertible; he's wearing a striped shirt and smoking a cigarette and he calls out "Fiamo!" and she turns and smiles and says "Fiamo, fiamo!" back and they wave and then go on their separate ways.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:31 AM on February 22, 2010 [48 favorites]


Why isn't there a metafilter acting troupe to bring these things to life?
posted by cashman at 9:34 AM on February 22, 2010


Here I sit my bun's a flexin
Squeezin out another Texan
posted by pianomover at 9:13 AM on February 22


laughing really hard at this irl
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:36 AM on February 22, 2010


Okay it's become apparent from this comment that a comment that made an observation that the thread was likely to devolve into Texas (or more a more broadly, religion) bashing was deleted.

Could I have some clarification as to why that observation was removed? It was on-point, and as someone who really doesn't flag every single thing that offends the tiniest portion of my sensibilities, I'm wondering if I need to either have my Mefi flameout* now or adapt and adopt the FIAMO behavior I really don't enjoy.

*That was a little joke. Internet websites are not things over which to flameout.
posted by WolfDaddy at 9:42 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Could I have some clarification as to why that observation was removed?

For fear that it would become a self-fulfilling prophecy, inspiring the derail that the commenter was warning against.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:47 AM on February 22, 2010


So in the case of multiple obit posts on very popular public figures, we'll try to wait for a good one or at least a decent one.

I am absently wondering if this might cause people to purposefully post doubles for obits.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:51 AM on February 22, 2010


I'm sorry Alvy, but the post was phrased to encourage Texas-bashing. Recognition of that should be allowed to stand. If one digs into the links one might find a little more LOLSTATISTICS meat to chew on but it's apparent that many mefites see "Texas" and start their buns a'flexin and their knees a'jerkin.
posted by WolfDaddy at 9:54 AM on February 22, 2010


Okay it's become apparent from this comment that a comment that made an observation that the thread was likely to devolve into Texas (or more a more broadly, religion) bashing was deleted.

The comment was in its entirety that quoted text, and it was the first comment in the thread. It goes up there with "This will wendell" and "*makes popcorn*" and other such things as kind of obnoxious FRIST POST doomsaying—the thread will not be made any better by declaring that it's going to go to shit right out of the gate, and we're pretty tired of people taking that sort of lazy non-participatory dump in a thread especially early on.

We've been deleting stuff like that a bit more in the last couple years than had previously happened, I think, but it's not a big volume of comments (thankfully) in any case. People just not doing that at the beginning of a thread is the best plan.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:04 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Could I have some clarification as to why that observation was removed?

It falls completely under the "early threadshitting considered harmful" axiom as well as the "don't doom a thread before it's gotten started" principle. Sometimes decent threads go bad out of the gate because there are a bunch of early "This will not wendell HURF DURF" comments which fuck it up before anyone can read and/or comment on the links. We delete early snarky and/or doomsaying comments from time to time.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:04 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I sort of can't believe cortex and I both said doomsaying
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:05 AM on February 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry Alvy, but the post was phrased to encourage Texas-bashing.

I honestly don't see it as being a phrased as such - the content definitely invites the same tired outraged people to make the same tired outraged snipes - but the flapjax's wording is very neutral, the tags aren't indicative of any jerkiness, and the post title is just a riff on the actual article's header. If there had to be an FPP on this subject, this is probably the best way to present it.

Best part of that post is the text-version of an awkward silence that settles when the 40% of Canadians believe in homo/dino co-existence stat gets linked to. Also, cross-posting the same joke between an FPP and the related MeTa is some weakass shit, pianomover, regardless of whether the joke is good or not.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:08 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I sort of can't believe cortex and I both said doomsaying

Too much time on IM together, is what.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:09 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


And there's one type of FPP that's entirely zero-sum: obits. Mods have made it clear that only one obit per corpse will survive;

How is this different from how other newsfiltery fpps are handled? If someone posts something newsfiltery and someone comes along a few hours later with an fpp about the same thing, even if many/some/all the links are different, that second one's almost certainly going to get yanked with a "put this in the open thread" note as the deletion reason.

Are you saying that two or three or eight obits about the same person should all be allowed to stay?
posted by rtha at 10:13 AM on February 22, 2010


Very well. I will wait until the double digits of comments before posting an obligatory "sigh," and will then move on to the posts with the gay Buddhist puppies trying to climb down staircases made of robot unicorn fur and Betty White's acerbic wit.

Best part of that post is the text-version of an awkward silence that settles when the 40% of Canadians believe in homo/dino co-existence stat gets linked to.

I did enjoy that, I will admit. Though perhaps the post itself would have been in my opinion more fully formed had that observation been made in the post itself as a sort of "contrast'n'compare" than "boy them Texans sure are different" kind of thing.
posted by WolfDaddy at 10:13 AM on February 22, 2010


I preferred the one about 44% of Democrats believe man was created in his present form. I don't think a single person has responded to that.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:18 AM on February 22, 2010


I preferred the one about 44% of Democrats believe man was created in his present form. I don't think a single person has responded to that.

That's because Republicans are a bunch of stupid religionists, amirite?
I'm sure there are plenty of folks who'll be more than happy to point out that most U.S. Americans are a bunch of stupid religionists.
posted by cimbrog at 10:44 AM on February 22, 2010


I preferred the one about 44% of Democrats believe man was created in his present form. I don't think a single person has responded to that.

That's an interesting number. The plot below suggests a lot of variance for Republicans, based on church attendance. Or perhaps there are just more Republicans out there, so you get a wider range of yes and no answers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:44 AM on February 22, 2010


Man was created in his present form. By proto-man (Mega Man notwithstanding). Before that, he wasn't a man. Duh!
posted by Pot at 11:11 AM on February 22, 2010


I preferred the one about 44% of Democrats believe man was created in his present form. I don't think a single person has responded to that.

That's because Republicans are a bunch of stupid religionists, amirite?


nope, it's because here in the South, many of the people who faithfully *vote* Republican are still, as a matter of identity, registered Democrats.
posted by toodleydoodley at 11:33 AM on February 22, 2010


Can we stop with the "Those people are so stupid" poll posts?

You know that deep down, the same people who use words like "snark" and "over-educated" to describe themselves feel that "these people are so stupid" posts is what they live for.

You get that, right?
posted by hal_c_on at 11:50 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


The "should we clone Neanderthals just because we can" thread also proves that people who believe in Science! are also batshitinsane.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:52 AM on February 22, 2010


The previous statement is proof that people who generalize are batshitinsane.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 12:04 PM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think people in this thread are in denial about what's happening in Texas.

A close friend of mine has been a professor at the University of Texas at Austin for about a decade.

This week she and her colleagues are trying to find a way of keeping their dean from eliminating almost all teaching of foreign languages in their department, despite the fact that these classes are consistently full and often have waiting lists.

Ignorance can look benign at first-- it can be almost charming, in fact-- but if you let it continue to grow instead of extirpating it as best you can, it almost always turns malignant.

Texas may be reaching that point.

I see the post in question as part of Metafilter's effort to help save Texas, not harm it.
posted by jamjam at 12:13 PM on February 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


[...]Language departments' budgets have been slashed by $1.8-million for the 2010-11 academic year. To accommodate that cut, adminstrators have proposed that students ... This is an article for subscribers only. You may access this article by purchasing a:

Yeah, that's a good cite for your argument.
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:19 PM on February 22, 2010


> Man was created in his present form. By proto-man (Mega Man notwithstanding). Before that, he wasn't a man. Duh!
posted by Pot


*waits for the rebuttal by Kettle*
posted by languagehat at 12:26 PM on February 22, 2010


Yeah, that's a good cite for your argument.

I thought so.

Thanks for giving such a good demonstration of what I said about denial.
posted by jamjam at 12:30 PM on February 22, 2010


I thought so

No-one can read the article you linked to
posted by IanMorr at 12:39 PM on February 22, 2010


No, thank you for demonstrating your snobbishness.
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:42 PM on February 22, 2010


A close friend of mine has been a professor at the University of Texas at Austin for about a decade.

This week she and her colleagues are trying to find a way of keeping their dean from eliminating almost all teaching of foreign languages in their department, despite the fact that these classes are consistently full and often have waiting lists


Since you gave a horrible cite for this, I dug around a bit and found an actual complete article. Now, it's definitely bad, but that's big time university politics and budgets for you. And it's nowhere close to "eliminating almost all teaching of foreign languages." Not to mention, I don't see how this has anything to do with lots of people being idiotic about basic science. Are you saying xenophobes are the ones pushing these cuts? There'd need to be some evidence for that.

Last I checked, the University of California system was also facing budget problems and deep cuts in their curriculum. But I don't hear anybody blaming ignorance-peddlers for that.
posted by kmz at 12:49 PM on February 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I see the post in question as part of Metafilter's effort to help save Texas

It's amazing how two seemingly opposing sides to this can both claim to be "saving" the other.
posted by Think_Long at 12:54 PM on February 22, 2010


Perhaps I should have included this for a little perspective on slashing a mere $1.8M from teaching languages:

Texas' Mack Brown becomes highest-paid football coach

By Steve Berkowitz, USA TODAY

Amid pay freezes for many employees and proposed tuition increases, the University of Texas on Monday made Mack Brown by far the highest paid coach in college football history.

Beginning next season, Brown will be paid at least $5.1 million a year under a contract revision approved by the UT System Board of Regents. He'll become the first college football coach to reach the $5 million threshold and he'll zoom past Southern California's Pete Carroll, whose $4.4 million in total compensation for USC's 2007-08 fiscal year topped USA TODAY's 2009 survey of football coaches' pay.

Brown, 128-26 with one national title in 12 seasons at Texas, is making $3 million this season under a 10-year contract signed in September 2007. ...

In other words, they had him under contract for seven more years at $3M, but decided to give him $2M more a year-- and that's just his base pay.

Maybe cutting foreign languages has nothing to do with a rising tide of xenophobia.

The language requirements could have been making it too difficult for the coach to recruit.
posted by jamjam at 1:20 PM on February 22, 2010


jamjam has problems with the way higher education institutions are run, club requests jamjam to join them. Club does not understand why UT's problems are specific to Texas when compared to every other large university.
posted by Think_Long at 1:26 PM on February 22, 2010


I see the post in question as part of Metafilter's effort to help save Texas, not harm it.

Say what? I wasn't aware that making fun of people or looking down your nose at them counted as an effort to help save them. Nor was I aware that Metafilter was engaged in an organized effort to save Texas, except for mathowie's kind contribution to the last Austin meetup of the money that didn't make it to the 10th anniversary shindig. (And it was much appreciated!)

For the rest, I just see some people who plain don't like Texas, which is their right, and being obnoxious about it, which is also their right, but is obnoxious and old, and deserves the occasional MetaTalk callout.
posted by immlass at 1:28 PM on February 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


> Could I have some clarification as to why that observation was removed?

>> It falls completely under the "early threadshitting considered harmful" axiom as well as the "don't doom a thread before it's gotten started" principle.


Sorry, this was a couple hours ago, but can I respectfully ask why the second comment in the thread, about Texans being the whiniest Mefites, was allowed to stand? How is that not poking the bee hive and insulting people here who, with all good intentions, try to head off what Jessamyn called the "'FUCK TEXAS AMIRITE' angle" bullshit.

...but that's big time university politics and budgets for you. And it's nowhere close to "eliminating almost all teaching of foreign languages."

On another note, I work for the UC system. Staff have been furloughed since September 1, resulting in 5- to 11-percent pay cuts for all staff. That didn't fix the problem, obviously, so the university has ordered new rounds of cuts. We now know that there will be layoffs, and we know that there will be programmatic cuts as well. In my department, the decision was made to discontinue a program that was sort of related to foreign languages. (I don't want to give too many details, because if I did, anyone who did some sleuthing could probably figure out which program I'm talking about, and I don't think the cut has been made public yet.) In any case, it wasn't xenophobia that was responsible for the decision. It was the fact that this one course of instruction made up the smallest line item in the instructional budget (and yes, it could be argued that it should have been better funded), so eliminating it would affect the fewest people.

It's easy to get outraged when you hear about the cuts that are made to higher education. That would have been me, before all this budget crap started. But now that I'm 'inside baseball,' I know that sometimes the cuts calculated to do the least damage. That takes some of the sting away. We're all still hurting, though.

posted by mudpuppie at 1:37 PM on February 22, 2010


In other words, they had him under contract for seven more years at $3M, but decided to give him $2M more a year-- and that's just his base pay.

Ah, now you've hit upon the true religion of Texas: football. And that's a big ol' topic for a whole other day. I will point out though, that as far as I know, UT Athletics is completely self-funded (no state or tuition money), and in fact generates extra revenue which is funneled back to the academics side.

I do agree the raise is a bit excessive, since there hasn't been any hints that Mack Brown would want to go anywhere else, and it means perhaps less of a surplus to funnel back to academics. But then again I think we've lost the plot in relation to the topic of the thread.
posted by kmz at 2:05 PM on February 22, 2010


generates extra revenue which is funneled back to the academics side

Athletics makes a small loss. Though football makes most of the revenue and funds pretty much all other athletics.
posted by IanMorr at 2:25 PM on February 22, 2010


I will point out though, that as far as I know, UT Athletics is completely self-funded (no state or tuition money), and in fact generates extra revenue which is funneled back to the academics side.

I was going to say, it seems unfair to criticize what gets spent on football if you're not going to give up what gets made on football.

It's the players, of course, not the foreign-language professors, who seem so ill-used in light of that $5 mill/year.
posted by palliser at 2:30 PM on February 22, 2010


Oops, replaced "Athletics" with "Football" in my mind, but my point still stands.
posted by palliser at 2:31 PM on February 22, 2010


Athletics makes a small loss. Though football makes most of the revenue and funds pretty much all other athletics.

Dang. Learn something new every day.
posted by kmz at 2:38 PM on February 22, 2010


can I respectfully ask why the second comment in the thread, about Texans being the whiniest Mefites, was allowed to stand?

Your read of that comment is different from my own. We don't want to come into a thread and just kill early snark with fire, but we do try to remove stuff that's egregious. By the time that thread was underway, that comment actually wasn't that egregious, though I agree it's bothersome.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:41 PM on February 22, 2010


Thanks. I didn't see the stuff that came before it. Not having that context, I can't really agree that it's not that egregious. Without the context of the deleted stuff, it's the comment that seems to stir the pot. Without the context of the deleted stuff, it reads like Texas-bashing -- and not the bashing of faceless Texan archetypes, or idiotic Texas school board members, but the bashing of 'whiny,' Texas-affiliated Mefites. And the fact that it's there makes it seem like that's A-OK.

I appreciate the explanation, though, and I'll drop it.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:56 PM on February 22, 2010


I would just like to humbly point out that the University of Texas Longhorns football program has won 4 national titles, while the University of Alabama Crimson Tide has won 13.

Suck it, Texas.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:42 PM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I honestly did not anticipate that my initial comment would be a source of ignition in this thread.

Which demonstrates the existence of ignorance a little closer to home than Texas that deserves my attention.

I regret offending people-- you in particular, WolfDaddy.
posted by jamjam at 3:50 PM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


WOH WOLFDADDY HE CALLED YOU STUPID!
posted by Think_Long at 3:56 PM on February 22, 2010


I appreciate your graciousness, jamjam. Thank you. I hope your friend is doing okay under what must be quite difficult circumstances at UT Austin.
posted by WolfDaddy at 4:42 PM on February 22, 2010


Think_Longer.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:45 PM on February 22, 2010


I'll second WolfDaddy's appreciation for your comments, jamjam. The situation at UT sucks, and Mack Brown getting a raise at the same time the rest of the university is dealing with across the board cuts rankles a lot of people. Fingers crossed for your friend's job to stay stable and secure.
posted by immlass at 5:42 PM on February 22, 2010


Are you saying that two or three or eight obits about the same person should all be allowed to stay?

No.I actually prefer the new policy (tendency?) to remove quick and shallow obits for longer and deeper ones. (Though it would be nice (and simple to program) if comments were moved from the deleted post to its replacement.)

I wasn't arguing for "first obit wins!", just offering examples that, contra cortex, sometimes the front page is zero sum.

More broadly, the attention and time of Mefites is limited; more posts means fewer comments, on average, in each. Posts tend to fall in to broad categories (obits, newsfilter, political, outrage, bands, etc.), in which one in each category predominates in any period of time, so we have may posts with few comments and only a few that go long. As any one ppost gets more comments, it becomes richer or more controversial, and attracts more comments, a snowball effect.

The Texas post would have gotten far fewer comments had there been a better/more controversial/more interesting/more whatever political and/or lolxians post to attract the people commenting in the Texas thread.

And finally: snark is easier than thoughtful comment, but an opportunity thoughtful comment or real argument tends to attract comments more than the opportunity to snark. The Texas thread basically only invited, as response, groans (this is not to say that it was a bad post -- it was something I hadn't seen elsewhere and worth knowing, but there's little new we can say to it); a post that invited reflection (e.g., the piece I recently read about a trend of Americans Christians blaming literal demons for their setbacks) would have driven comments away from the Texas piece.
posted by orthogonality at 7:54 PM on February 22, 2010


Think_Longer.

sadly I get that a lot when I'm on the long end of a Monday. Oh wells
posted by Think_Long at 7:55 PM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Man was created in his present form. By proto-man (Mega Man notwithstanding). Before that, he wasn't a man. Duh!
posted by Pot


The origin of specious.

*waves to languagehat*
posted by Kettle at 8:00 PM on February 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


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posted by vapidave at 8:45 PM on February 22, 2010


As someone who wasted far too many words in both of those threads, I have to agree to some extent, but for slightly different reasons.

I think the first problem with both of those threads is a fault I'm seeing in many Metafilter posts - they're comprised of one or two links (three in the second example above) and the links have a very narrow focus.

The first example (on Dinosaurs/humans co-existing) would have been stronger and more educating if its focus had been broader (the US as a whole, maybe Canada), to give more context and background. Is 33% of Texans high by national standards? Low? You wouldn't know from the post. And unless Texas is an aberration, why focus on Texas? I'm not saying DO NOT focus on Texas, but rather if you are going to do so, provide some context for why.

For example, you could cite how the Texas school board is trying to insert religious and conservative propaganda into the curriculum (if you can show there's some kind of overlapping relation).

Anyway, I just wish more posts here would provide better background, context, meaning, or information in them. One-off links to narrow topics like this aren't horrible, but they are too common. And there are far, far worse offenders, like the weak, single link YouTube types.
posted by Davenhill at 11:56 PM on February 22, 2010


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