Thanks for the migraine, MeFi March 6, 2010 4:32 AM   Subscribe

This FPP links to a multicoloured strobe animation with no warning of its content. Links like this can cause your fellow MeFites to suffer migraines or seizures. Could we please establish a convention -- perhaps backed up by a note in the FAQ -- of adding 'seizure warnings' when linking to fast and/or flickering animations?

I'm dealing with the onset of a migraine after viewing a link from this post. Several commenters were kind enough to add warnings, but not everyone reads the comments before following FPP links -- especially when there's no indication that the post involves animation of any sort. We usually take the time to warn readers about sites that are disturbing, loud or NSFW. Could we please add to that list sites which might make readers sick?
posted by embrangled to Etiquette/Policy at 4:32 AM (113 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Seconded. I am not prone to migraines or seizures but holy crap was that jarring and annoying.

embrangled, hope you feel better.
posted by desjardins at 4:53 AM on March 6, 2010


I thought it was weird that wasn't somehow marked, too. There have even been long metas establishing there are mefites who suffer from seizures from this sort of thing. It sounds like a good idea in the future to add a warning since flashing-lights pages are pretty rare.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:36 AM on March 6, 2010


Oddly, there's a tag "EpilepticsBewareoftheMagicLink" attached to the post. I don't know who added it or when, but if it was the original poster, then obviously they realized the potential and should have made it clearer.
posted by Sova at 5:36 AM on March 6, 2010


I'm normally pretty down on warning labels on things; I like descriptions more than labels, and I don't like living in a world where everyone is running around deciding what's bad for me. But in this particular case we're talking about a situation where clicking a link could in the most literal terms result in physically harming a person.

I don't like the idea that this is true, I do not want it to be true, but it is true. So yes, please consider labeling large hideously annoying blinking things as such.
posted by majick at 6:16 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Or we could just have less mystery meat in general. Posters writing about their links instead of just throwing them bare on the front page would do wonders for all sorts of "needs warning" links.

Personally I just assume non descriptive posts link to loud, flashing, and nude rick-rolls and scroll on by.
posted by Mitheral at 7:02 AM on March 6, 2010 [20 favorites]


Oddly, there's a tag "EpilepticsBewareoftheMagicLink" attached to the post.

Wow, that is really obnoxious and inconsiderate.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:20 AM on March 6, 2010


Yeah, that actually kind of tweaked me out a little and I don't even have epilepsy. It's not so much Metafilter's responsibility (although a warning might be a good idea), but it was irresponsible of the dude who made the Big Ass Letters site to put that in there. If an epileptic saw that, it'd probably mean an emergency room trip.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:30 AM on March 6, 2010


OK, looking at the post, you guys should probably at least edit out the link directly to a premade message with the "Magic" style. That could actually hurt someone, because there's no indication that there's anything like that unless you read the thread.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:39 AM on March 6, 2010


desjardins was kind enough to forewarn me personally about the link, so I didn't check it out, but an epilepsy warning needs to go up before the tags - those of us who would just click through from the front page would get a cruel surprise. A simple "seizure warning" or "contains strobes" would suffice.

And yes, I would appreciate it if more people would add warnings or if mods could add them to flashy lights posts because I do enjoy NOT having seizures!

So, yeah, thanks desjardins! And to the OP of the post - tags are, um, great, but please put the "seizure warning" next to the actual link. It's not that hard to type, and look! I just typed it! You can just copy-paste!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:40 AM on March 6, 2010


Links like this can cause your fellow MeFites to suffer migraines

So can most of the discussions.
posted by jonmc at 7:46 AM on March 6, 2010 [14 favorites]


MLSP
posted by gman at 7:46 AM on March 6, 2010


to the OP of the post - tags are, um, great,

To the OP of the post: a jokey tag with all the words strung together that you can't read without clicking or mousing over, obliquely warning people of deleterious effects of clicking on one of many links, is not great.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:48 AM on March 6, 2010


I'm not sure we know it was the OP who added the "EpilepticsBewareoftheMagicLink' tag. It could have been one of their mutual contacts who added that, as the only way for a non-mod to add any sort of warning at all to the post.
posted by FishBike at 7:58 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


To be honest, I'm not sure I want that level of responsibility for your medical health. I have no idea what sort of things are going to trigger migraines in people (flashy things, I guess, based on the context of this post?) and it's not the sort of thing I'm going to carry around in the back of my mind as I'm selecting links for something. I'd be willing to try (but likely fail) to remember that kind of labeling, but much like the people who demand NSFW tags, I just don't think you can rely on my being able to accurately judge it every time.

You need to take some kind of appropriate precautions on your end, because I don't feel like I'm adequately equipped to help you.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:12 AM on March 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


To be honest, I'm not sure I want that level of responsibility for your medical health. I have no idea what sort of things are going to trigger migraines in people (flashy things, I guess, based on the context of this post?) and it's not the sort of thing I'm going to carry around in the back of my mind as I'm selecting links for something. I'd be willing to try (but likely fail) to remember that kind of labeling, but much like the people who demand NSFW tags, I just don't think you can rely on my being able to accurately judge it every time.

It's really easy to predict if something is going to be seizure-triggery: are there lots of lights flashing? Yes? Put up a warning. No? Don't worry about it.

See seizurerobots.com for an example (obviously I'm not linking to that, because, duh, I don't have self-destructive tendencies). If it looks like that: put up a warning. If not: you're probably fine. Honestly, on a computer, it has to be pretty extreme for it to actually trigger a seizure - LCD screens are pretty easy on the brains. It's really, really easy to tell if something is egregiously bad.

Honestly, if you want to post something with a lot of flashing lights just saying "Flashing lights!" is good enough for anyone prone to migraines/seizures to take the appropriate precautions. Linking to something with no explanation means that we can't take precautions Just describe flashing lights links as having flashing lights, the same way you describe links with boobies as "possibly NSFW." Easy. Peasy.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:26 AM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Pretty sure that tag was there when the post went up (not added later), but not absolutely certain.
posted by cashman at 8:33 AM on March 6, 2010


Can we all also agree that if we see something like this, we'll email a mod and ask them to add a warning? Not everybody is always going to be aware of something like this, and I think we collectively need to take responsibility for it.

In general, though, I think mystery meat links should be discouraged.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:38 AM on March 6, 2010 [16 favorites]


Looks like Matt added a note to the post.

Generally speaking, I think that's what it'll have to come down to; we don't have a high volume of Flashy Strobe Fun posts here and there's no practical way to make the whole posting userbase be sensitive to possible epilepsy/etc concerns on the rare occasions when there is one.

If you see something like that when it does happen, and there's no indication, dropping us a quick note via the contact form explaining the situation is probably the best move; one of us is likely to see it pretty quickly that way.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:47 AM on March 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


To be honest, I'm not sure I want that level of responsibility for your medical health. I have no idea what sort of things are going to trigger migraines in people (flashy things, I guess, based on the context of this post?)

Whaa? I'm pretty sure I learned that bright flashing lights can cause seizures when I was about 9. And if you didn't know, now you do. It's hardly esoteric knowledge, and we know for a fact (see above) that there are active mefites who suffer from seizures.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:48 AM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


As a person afflicted with ADHD, I would appreciate if people only posted multiple link FPPs which excite me.
posted by gman at 8:51 AM on March 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Solon, read what you just quoted: "I have no idea what sort of things are going to trigger migraines in people." Jacquilynne didn't use the word "seizure" in her entire comment.

Frankly, it was news to me that flashing lights caused migraines. I knew about the danger to epileptics and I agree that the link needed a warning (though its omission was surely an innocent mistake), but before I Googled "migraine 'flashing lights'" I found it really hard to believe that looking at a blinky website for a few seconds before glancing away or hitting the back button could cause a migraine.
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:55 AM on March 6, 2010


I added a warning to the Magic link.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:02 AM on March 6, 2010


Call me an insensitive clod if you like, but can viewing a flashing/strobing message for a second or two at most *really* induce a migraine? I mean, really?
posted by metaxa at 9:13 AM on March 6, 2010


Solon, read what you just quoted: "I have no idea what sort of things are going to trigger migraines in people." Jacquilynne didn't use the word "seizure" in her entire comment.

Ah, I see. I personally thought the main point of the post was the danger of seizures and the migraine as tag on to that (i.e. even people who don't suffer from epilepsy can still have problems with strobe lights) but I guess in doing so I misinterpreted jacquilynne's post. It would be a lot harder to know what would cause a migraine in someone. Sorry, jacquilynne.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:18 AM on March 6, 2010


Call me an insensitive clod if you like, but can viewing a flashing/strobing message for a second or two at most *really* induce a migraine? I mean, really?

Yes, and according to embrangled, it did.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:21 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


metaxa, you insensitive clod.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 9:21 AM on March 6, 2010


Yep, mextaxa.
posted by rodgerd at 9:26 AM on March 6, 2010


rodgerd, there's nothing about migraines in your link,which is what metaxa was asking about.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:33 AM on March 6, 2010


I don't get to say this nearly as often as I'd like, so yeah...Mextaxa, you are an insensitive clod.

(Shmoopy)
posted by Grlnxtdr at 9:35 AM on March 6, 2010


Oh hey, thanks to whichever mod fixed my comment link in that thread.
posted by Caduceus at 9:40 AM on March 6, 2010


Call me an insensitive clod if you like, but can viewing a flashing/strobing message for a second or two at most *really* induce a migraine? I mean, really?

Really? You're asking that? I mean, I don't get either seizures or migraines, but looking at these particular flashing messages even gives me a headache, at least for a little while. If you're totally unaffected... well, congratulations, I guess.

Also, you've clearly never cared about anyone who gets migraines on a semi-regular basis, or you'd know better.
posted by Caduceus at 9:43 AM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh hey, thanks to whichever mod fixed my comment link in that thread.

Yours wasn't the only one that needed that fixing, either. I blame bigassmessage.com for choosing to elide the leading "http://" prefix on the generated urls—for folks who don't take the explicit step of adding it themselves, and systems that don't go hunting for that sort of omission, the result is an apparent relative rather than absolute url. Oh well.

Really? You're asking that?

Really, they're asking that. Migraines are some weird fucking neurological voodoo, and if you know about them you know that but if you don't know about them you'd never guess, because they're weird fucking neurological voodoo. I appreciate that metaxa set themself up for some reflexive "insensitive clod" come-backs, but there's no reason to give them a particularly hard time about an acknowledged ignorance about the details of the subject.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:49 AM on March 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


I get migraines in response to flashing lights as well. Thank you for this discussion.

Obviously we can all put all the warnings up all the time or it wouldn't be worth posting things because of all the fine print needed.

Metafilter: this website made in a factory where nuts are handled.
posted by sciencegeek at 9:49 AM on March 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


And that came off a bit more strident than I meant it too, maybe. The point is: learning is good, and also hugs.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:51 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


metaxa: as someone who once ended up donating the dark space under her desk to a co-worker who saw a couple of seconds of flashing from a remote presentation, i can verify that just a second or two is absolutely enough for a brain with signal parsing issues to go into full crisis mode.

they certainly don't pick for that to be the case...how frustrating it must be to put yourself out there with a request for special consideration in a world where "specialness" is equated with "problematic"!
posted by batmonkey at 9:57 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]



Also, you've clearly never cared about anyone who gets migraines on a semi-regular basis, or you'd know better.


I know that is true for me. I had no idea before today, either.
posted by rubah at 10:08 AM on March 6, 2010


metaxa, not to pile on or anything, but just for informational purposes, I am a regular user of this site, I also get migraines, and a few seconds of the wrong kind of flashing lights on a bad day can indeed trigger a migraine for me.

After clicking on some links on this site I wish I could forget, I now ignore posts unless I have some idea what the link goes to. I will usually come back and read some of the comments in a thread to try to deduce what the mystery link might be, but if I never can figure it out, then I don't click on the link.

So yeah, this site would be more friendly for some of us if posts were set up to make it clear what they are linking to, and, just as warnings like loud, or NSFW, and such, can be useful, knowing a link is bright/flashing/has seizure potential is helpful for some of us as well. I can't expect everyone to know or remember this all the time, but it helps if regular site users pay some mind to this anyway.
posted by gudrun at 10:17 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is the kind of conversation that makes grateful we have MetaTalk. Reading the original comment my initial response was "is this REALLY that big of a problem that we have worry about it?". Then as I followed the discussion I picked up a few things and connected a few bits of knowledge I already had with some new perspectives and insight. I moved on to other things, but thought about it a little more, and finally concluded that it's something that is no big deal on my end but can make the experience of another MeFite more pleasant and less painful. It's not that I didn't care before, but I wasn't fully aware of the situation. It's now something I'm conscious of and will remember when/if the occasion arises. What started as a judgmental eye roll on my part ended up with me tweaking my sensitivity a bit. Thanks MeTa.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:32 AM on March 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


I mean, really?

Really? You're asking that?


Oh, I wish this snide "Really?" response were abolished. Can't we just assume that when says something, they really mean it unless it's obviously joking/sarcastic?
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:34 AM on March 6, 2010


tl;dr yes we'll definitely add a note when this stuff comes up and we'd like people to think about this sort of thing.

Similar to NSFW, this is a "we'll try our best" so proceed with caution as always. I am sorry about your migraine, embrangled.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:38 AM on March 6, 2010


Whaa? I'm pretty sure I learned that bright flashing lights can cause seizures when I was about 9. And if you didn't know, now you do. It's hardly esoteric knowledge, and we know for a fact (see above) that there are active mefites who suffer from seizures.

It's not esoteric knowledge but neither is it something that I personally carry with me as a sort of "automatic filter" when it comes to MeFi posting. Guilty of insensitivity? I guess I am, though discussions such as this are certainly educational.
posted by philip-random at 11:00 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's not esoteric knowledge but neither is it something that I personally carry with me as a sort of "automatic filter" when it comes to MeFi posting.

You might not carry it with you, but it would be a good idea to carry it with you if you're going to post an FPP with bright flashing lights. Anyway, the OP clearly knew about it since he included an "EpilepticsBeware..." tag.
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:15 AM on March 6, 2010


The point is: learning is good, and also hugs.

This is true, but I think the initial question read skeptically, rather than as a request for information. ("can viewing a flashing/strobing message for a second or two at most *really* induce a migraine? I mean, really?") I think when you live with a chronic medical condition, it's generally fine when people ask informational questions about it, and not so fine when people react skeptically to requests for accommodation. It's actually sort of the opposite of asking for information: in part, it seems to imply that the questioner knows more about the condition than the person who's suffering from it, and thus knows that the requested accommodation is not really necessary.

This is different from suggesting that the requested accommodation is too onerous, which I think someone can reasonably do -- it's just the suggestion that the sufferer is wrong about what triggers the migraines that bugged me.
posted by palliser at 11:35 AM on March 6, 2010


I'm not sure we know it was the OP who added the "EpilepticsBewareoftheMagicLink' tag. It could have been one of their mutual contacts who added that, as the only way for a non-mod to add any sort of warning at all to the post.

Yeah, take that rational, benefit-of-the-doubt crap to AskMe, or at least give us a fucking warning if you're going to comment about something here without assuming there was dickish intent.
posted by Balonious Assault at 11:36 AM on March 6, 2010


This reminds me of comics blogger Eric Burns' post about his reaction to one of those cheesy shock gag sites where the linker says "Turn the sound way up and look very closely!" He has a heart condition and does his best to avoid shocks, so this didn't go over well at all. One person's funny joke or eye candy site is another person's time wasted in recovery.
posted by cadge at 11:47 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


they certainly don't pick for that to be the case...how frustrating it must be to put yourself out there with a request for special consideration in a world where "specialness" is equated with "problematic"!

Ha. Ask me about my feelings on flash photography and what happens when I request that people turn off the flash when I'm around. OHBOY. It's like I'm asking for people to turn off their freaking pancreas or something.

Though oftentimes people have been very nice and accomodating, it's really those "Really? You're going to try and fight me on this? Really?" moments that stick out in my memory as GRAR is way more memorable than "Ok, thnx!"

Anyway, the OP clearly knew about it since he included an "EpilepticsBeware..." tag.

Well, yeah, and it would just be awesome if that could be put into the post itself because tons of people (myself included) click the links before checking the tags. Just like NSFW posts also have a warning in the post AND the tags.

Just goes to show, you can never be too careful!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:27 PM on March 6, 2010


I get visual/ocular migraines, which are really just fluffy little bunnies compared to Real Migraines. But it's still unpleasant, and it can indeed be triggered by flashing and flickering, especially with particular colors. (LED blue is a bad one for me.)

The "epileptics beware" tag indicates that the OP is clearly aware that flashing lights can trigger an epileptic seizure. (As would be anyone who had seen that Simpsons episode, or been around during the Pokemon seizure scandal which inspired it.)

So this isn't a learning situation. This is a situation where someone tacked on a warning, but in a way that makes it look like they think it's just a funny/hypothetical/jokey thing to say. That's the puzzling bit to me.

Surely the OP is aware that epileptics actually exist? And spend time on the internet? OMG, there's one behind you right now!
posted by ErikaB at 12:30 PM on March 6, 2010


The "epileptics beware" tag indicates that the OP is clearly aware that flashing lights can trigger an epileptic seizure.

No it doesn't. It may mean that someone who is a mutual contact of the OP added that tag afterwards. Or it was a hamfisted attempt to inform by someone not really aware of real concerns. There are a few options and there's no reason not to assume ill intent.

My sister is epileptic. Lots of people don't know about migraine/seizure triggers. The more we can keep this at the level of "let's try to be considerate" and not "someone's fucking around for lulz!" the better this discussion will go.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:34 PM on March 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


And another thing: How come I can't get no Tang 'round here?
posted by Kirk Grim at 12:35 PM on March 6, 2010


As to the migraine/seizure confusion, it may help some people to learn that a migraine and a seizure are similar neurological events.

They're not the same thing by any means, but they are similar, and interrelated in a lot of weird ways. (Like flashy triggering.)
posted by ErikaB at 12:35 PM on March 6, 2010


Very true, Jessamyn - apologies! I had forgotten that others can add tags to posts.

(Oh, how the devil on my shoulder is insisting I use the blink tag. Too soon?)
posted by ErikaB at 12:38 PM on March 6, 2010


The blink tag has yet to induce an epileptic seizure for me, though a seizure of annoyance is certainly within the realm of possibility.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:42 PM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


How about a mock blink tag instead, for the sensitive?
posted by ErikaB at 1:01 PM on March 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


It seems like at least for OSX users, this is something that could maybe be handled in the display driver. I haven't a clue how it would work, but it does seem like something that the computer could easily determine much quicker than the human eye could... i.e.,

"Is 10% or more of the screen vastly different than it was 4ms ago? Okay then... let's black that out...."

Anyone know more about this?
posted by odinsdream at 1:08 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I made a big blinking message using a phrase of great personal significance to me, then watched it on full screen for about 10 or 15 minutes. I recommend that those readers who don't suffer from epilepsy or migraines do the same.

I should note, though, that I substantial trouble typing this comment, so the flashing may have reset something.
posted by planet at 1:15 PM on March 6, 2010


planet: "I should note, though, that I substantial trouble typing this comment, so the flashing may have reset something"

Oh noes you blew a fuse in your brain! Get to the ER NOW! IANAD TINMA!
posted by IndigoRain at 1:29 PM on March 6, 2010


I just want to know how that strobing website represents best of the web. It looks like something dragged in from the 90s.
posted by b33j at 1:58 PM on March 6, 2010


It seems to me there should be money in some sort of browser plugin that can detect crazy awesome flashy stuff and present a warning to people who are caused problems by it. Wonder how that'd work, especially since you also want to see the flash in the page. You'd probably have to force Flash to use one of the rendering modes that doesn't grant it direct access to OpenGL and whathaveyou.
posted by floam at 3:04 PM on March 6, 2010


I just want to know how that strobing website represents best of the web. It looks like something dragged in from the 90s.

I thought the Jeopardy and Pepsi modes were slightly cute. And as a tautology, I liked it so it's the best of the web.
posted by floam at 3:06 PM on March 6, 2010


Anyone interested in learning more about the bizarre neurological voodoo of migraines should check out Oliver Sacks' book, Migraine. They're fascinating creatures. Hildegard von Bingen, who famously suffered from strong geometrical visual distortions, may have suffered from them.

I am slightly less interested in what intriguing stuff this all is when I actually have one, though.
posted by kitarra at 3:14 PM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


it sounds like an FPP on migraines/seizures/et. al. would be interesting & helpful to a lot of people, if assembled by the right person.
posted by batmonkey at 4:19 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


...except if it comes off looking like a public service announcement, it won't be a great FPP. I'd love to learn more about this topic personally, but I'd wait a while til this MeTa is a little more history.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:54 PM on March 6, 2010


Indeed, batmonkey. Migraines are mysterious things. When I had my first at age 19, my mom thought I was having a stroke because in addition to the blind spot and intense pain and vomiting, my left arm went numb. People can have arm numbness with migraines but it's not a common thing. My mom herself nowadays only gets the visual disturbance and mild nausea but surprisingly, no pain. Mysterious.
posted by IndigoRain at 5:04 PM on March 6, 2010


Honestly, if you want to post something with a lot of flashing lights just saying "Flashing lights!" is good enough for anyone prone to migraines/seizures to take the appropriate precautions

If I ever link to anything flashy like that, I'll try to remember to put a seizure warning on it. But I would suggest that if this is something that could cause you to have a seizure, it might be a good habit to check the tags and comments before following links on this site. I have to think that ignorance of "seizure triggers" is widespread enough that the onus would be on the epileptic/migraine-sufferer to be careful of opening random links in this scenario. It's honestly not something I would have thought about before reading this.

I've seen some pretty flashy pop-up and banner ads, too--the internet must be a very inconvenient place for people who are affected by flashing lights in this way. Here's hoping people who read this take note and remember, but I think there's a big enough risk that they won't that you'd want to look into what link you're clicking on.

If it looks like that: put up a warning. If not: you're probably fine. Honestly, on a computer, it has to be pretty extreme for it to actually trigger a seizure - LCD screens are pretty easy on the brains. It's really, really easy to tell if something is egregiously bad.

That's easy to tell-- for you. You know about it because it's something that affects you. This is not common knowledge, and I know it must be very inconvenient, but that's going to be your burden, not everyone else's. I'd heard about flashing lights etc causing seizures before, but that's about it. Even after reading this thread I'm not sure what speed/brightness/medium makes it safe our dangerous to someone with epilepsy or migraines or whatever. Was this OK on an LCD screen? How should I know?

I mean, you say you're affected by flash photography and seem to be surprised that people react with shock and don't want to comply. I would probably react the same way, never having heard of this before--does this mean you've never been around tourists/at a birthday party/sporting event/graduation ceremony/unspecified-event-full-of-cameras-flashing? Because that would be very sad, and there's definitely some situations where that kind of request really isn't reasonable.
posted by Kirk Grim at 5:06 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


My mom herself nowadays only gets the visual disturbance and mild nausea but surprisingly, no pain.

I get that as well. It sometimes takes a bit of explaining, because "migraine without a headache" sounds like nothing at all. The first time it happened to me, I was sitting in my living room and noticed I couldn't read the clock on the VCR.

The brain tries to fill in the missing details but it doesn't really work for specifics like numbers. Over the next 45 minutes, this little spot of flashing light and dark ("scintillating scotoma") slowly expanded until it filled most of my vision. And then it just kind of faded away and everything went back to normal.

The second time it happened was while I was driving at night. The first symptom was that every car I looked at in the rear view mirror seemed to have only one working headlight. It's much harder to realize what's going on at night, because there is so much less detail to see and therefore notice it's missing.

Once I understood what was going on, I pulled off to the shoulder and just waited it out. It probably sounds more dangerous than it was, because you realize something is wrong with your vision long before the scotoma is big enough that you might not see a pedestrian or something.
posted by FishBike at 5:25 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am actually just coming out of a two day migraine that came with all the bells and whistles - scotoma (yup, expanding gradually), sparkly floaters, aphasia, numbness (traveling up one arm, then down the other, then whole face), then nausea and vomiting for hours. Oh, yeah, and the blinding pain.

I ran into the Straightener on the street and he said I looked like I was about to die. It got much worse. Neurological voodoo indeed.
posted by Pax at 6:01 PM on March 6, 2010


Do we really want to expect that every poster is going to be aware of the potential medical ramifications of every link of every post that winds up on Metafilter, even when the triggers of said medical issues are not fully known? Because frankly, I'm not comfortable with that.

I say this as someone who gets migraines from a number of things, including smells (you're all safe there, unless we're at a meetup) and headlights at night (even in movies or other non real life presentations). Please consider that the next time you post footage of cars driving at night. Actually, don't, because that's just not reasonable.
posted by rollbiz at 6:59 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, I watched the magic link for 1 minute. I believe I must be epilepsy free. No seizure.

I do get occasional migraines, but not caused by flashing lights.

I'll admit being in the camp of not knowing that a quick glance could do either to a person. I also did not realize a computer monitor could do it.

So how do people with these conditions watch TV shows and movies? Those never have such warnings.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:42 PM on March 6, 2010


Flashblock, people. Flashblock.

It changed my entire web browsing experience. Pages load much faster. I get to decide which flash I want to see and when. Advertising (that is not already caught by adblock) disappears. It's like a new web.

I will never go back.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:50 PM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do we really want to expect that every poster is going to be aware of the potential medical ramifications of every link of every post that winds up on Metafilter, even when the triggers of said medical issues are not fully known? Because frankly, I'm not comfortable with that.

Did someone suggest having all MeFites sign a guarantee that every link they post would conform to everyone else's medical requirements, on pain of personal liability for any adverse reactions?

This is not the suggestion. The suggestion is: hey, there's this one specific, very serious medical problem that can be triggered by a specific kind of link, so if you're aware, please add a warning. Plus, if you want to really go that extra mile for your fellow man, you can also contact a mod to add a warning, if you see a link to a page with flashing lights that doesn't have one.

That's it. No one's asking for your personal guarantee.
posted by palliser at 9:00 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


The suggestion is: hey, there's this one specific, very serious medical problem that can be triggered by a specific kind of link

Your point stands, but I think the place the comment was coming from was that the guy was surprised about the migraine thing, after realizing it isn't one very specific medical problem (epilepsy) but also migraines, and just deciding this is all just too much to expect anybody to keep up with.
posted by floam at 10:06 PM on March 6, 2010


I don't think it's really a stretch to say "hey, if you know you're affected by strobes, don't click this" if you're posting something like that.

I had a "wow, that feels weird" run-in with the "drawing giant robots in Excel" post and commented a little flippantly on it, but you don't have to know the details of my neurology or anyone else's to make a post a little more informative for everyone.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 10:23 PM on March 6, 2010


So how do people with these conditions watch TV shows and movies? Those never have such warnings.

TV shows and movies have triggered seizures in people many, many times. You may remember the mass seizures in Japan about 10 years ago after an episode of Pokemon aired with a sequence featuring flashing lights about like in the "magic" link. And if I remember right, most of those kids weren't even epileptic.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:58 PM on March 6, 2010


Seriously, after looking at one of those 'magic' links, I'm not bloody surprised someone got a migraine from it. It's fucking awful and hurt my eyes after maybe 15 seconds (I was trying to view source, else I would have just shut the tab right away). And I've never even suffered from bad headaches, let alone migraines or seizures.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines recommend not having anything on a website flashing at a rate greater than 3 times per second, to prevent visitors having seizures. Someone should tell the Big Ass Message guy about that.
posted by harriet vane at 11:44 PM on March 6, 2010


jessamyn:
"...except if it comes off looking like a public service announcement, it won't be a great FPP. I'd love to learn more about this topic personally, but I'd wait a while til this MeTa is a little more history."

heartily agree! "A Very Special FPP on Migraines & Seizures: a Drama" would not be my cup of tea at all. no, ma'am.
posted by batmonkey at 11:50 PM on March 6, 2010


But you are the one who suggested a post on migraines. No one said it had to be a PSA.

Regarding TV/movies, I would think that most times the images are not blinking as quickly as in that FPP link. In fact, once my migraine medications have kicked in and I begin recovering, TV watching is one of the few things I can do, because the computer and reading books tends to hurt more.

Eucalyptus scents cause me to have migraines, so I hereby request no one ever use/wear any eucalyptus body wash/lotion/perfume to a meetup.

I'm totally not being serious with that request. :)
posted by IndigoRain at 1:19 AM on March 7, 2010


This is not the suggestion. The suggestion is: hey, there's this one specific, very serious medical problem that can be triggered by a specific kind of link, so if you're aware, please add a warning.

And the warning for triggers, however many of them there may be. And the warning for NSFW (whose work? Yours? Mine? The millions of readers without accounts?).

I'm certainly not suggesting being a "grar, I hold your concerns in contempt" kind of poster about it, but it would be easy to end up with posts that look like a NASCAR race; where you can barely see the cars for the advertising.
posted by rodgerd at 1:47 AM on March 7, 2010


I'm also sorry anyone got a migraine out of MetaFilter.

I also wanted to chime in that I'm glad this thread happened. Not because of not myself knowing what might trigger fits or migraines but because I also get visual migraines (without the pain, mostly and it's nice to know that there are others out there).
posted by kalessin at 3:44 AM on March 7, 2010


It seems like at least for OSX users, this is something that could maybe be handled in the display driver. I haven't a clue how it would work, but it does seem like something that the computer could easily determine much quicker than the human eye could... i.e.,

So I was looking for some research in automated trigger detection for photosensitive epilepsy and came across this tool for analysing content for trigger sequences. Especially helpful list of references at the bottom for anyone trying to build an automated in-line filter.

When I ran this magic site through the analyser it unsurprisingly maxed out the scales. I think this is the same tool that British TV networks use to screen their content for triggers.
posted by atrazine at 3:48 AM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


So how do people with these conditions watch TV shows and movies? Those never have such warnings.

Sometimes, we don't. If I go to a movie, the only place in the theatre I can sit is the very last row - don't ask me why this helps, but for some reason, being as far back from the screen as possible makes it seem less "flashy." If I sit closer, I get sick.

I can't play video games. Any of them. People don't figure this one out as quickly as they figure out that I'm not going to go out to a club with a strobe light, but it becomes pretty apparent once you think about what the graphics of say, WoW, are actually like. They're FLASHY LIGHTS! Doesn't work out so well for my poor beleaguered squash.

So, what you're saying as a joke is actually true. People with neurological conditions often don't watch TV shows or movies, or if they do, they may choose to do so via LCD screen computer. There have been many times when I've had to politely tell someone whose house I was visiting that I couldn't watch their TV because it was too blinky. (Especially old TVs sometimes "flicker" and yeah, I can't deal.)

I'm so sensitive to light, I can't even go into Home Depot without getting ill from the GIANT ZOMG BRIGHT LIGHTS (and those aren't even flashing). People with neurological conditions avoid a lot of stuff that you think of as mundane and trivial. I'm not trying to whine about this, I'm just making the point that what you're passing off as kind of "absurd" here really isn't.

it sounds like an FPP on migraines/seizures/et. al. would be interesting & helpful to a lot of people, if assembled by the right person.

*groans* If you want to be helped, there's a ton of information online. Much like any other marginalized community, I get sick and tired of "educating" people on my disease and the last thing that I would want to do would be to make a "Hey look, seizures!" post on the Blue so I could have people rip me apart and tell me that I'm wrong in the standard MetaFilter Way. It might be an "interesting" topic to you, but to me it's my every day life and I kind of don't want it to be dragged out in a "OH WOW, THIS IS NEATO!" sort of way.

would probably react the same way, never having heard of this before--does this mean you've never been around tourists/at a birthday party/sporting event/graduation ceremony/unspecified-event-full-of-cameras-flashing? Because that would be very sad, and there's definitely some situations where that kind of request really isn't reasonable.

It's also unreasonable to say to someone with a medical condition "No, I can't take photos without the flash while you're present so you're just going to have to have a seizure." With decent lighting, a flash is not always necessary. And yes, I've had to tell other people in a restaurant on Christmas Eve that their seven year old with the new camera had to turn off her flash or I was going to have a seizure. And I felt like exactly the sort of asshole you would imagine. And even though I did finally say something? It had been going on for twenty minutes and I ended up having a seizure anyway.

Maybe you're not a big softie like I am, but for me, I'd way rather someone I know not be seriously ill (and a seizure is absolutely as "no fun" as you can get) than to get *perfect* photos of something. A little blurriness is fine if everybody stays conscious.

And yeah, the photo thing has turned into a Huge Issue on occasion (even here on MeTa), which I don't get, honestly. Flash is so important to you that you really want to provoke a seizure in someone who has just told you point blank that she will have one if you don't turn off the flash? Really? You want to be That Person? Because as ridiculous as I sound asking you to turn it off, the moment you say "No." to a request like that is the moment where you seem like someone who doesn't take disabilities seriously.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:34 AM on March 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


And yeah, the photo thing has turned into a Huge Issue on occasion (even here on MeTa), which I don't get, honestly. Flash is so important to you that you really want to provoke a seizure in someone who has just told you point blank that she will have one if you don't turn off the flash? Really? You want to be That Person?

As best as I can remember it, the big to-do on Metatalk was not so much "shut up I can't live without my flash you lousy epileptic" so much as "at a way-bigger-than-normal event it may be hard to be sure you're safe from people using a flash without knowing there's a problem", really, with a little interpersonal friction on top in classic Metatalk fashion. I don't recall anyone in that thread actually saying anything like "me using a flash is more important than you not having a seizure", and it feels like kind of a cheap shot to suggest that's what actually happened. I may be forgetting some specific actually-going-there jerk, but it certainly wasn't the overriding thesis of the discussion.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:40 AM on March 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


And yeah, the photo thing has turned into a Huge Issue on occasion (even here on MeTa)

No disrespect intended but I think that's a somewhat unfair characterization of that situation, tbh.
posted by 6550 at 7:53 AM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Or what cortex said, better.
posted by 6550 at 7:54 AM on March 7, 2010


don't recall anyone in that thread actually saying anything like "me using a flash is more important than you not having a seizure", and it feels like kind of a cheap shot to suggest that's what actually happened. I may be forgetting some specific actually-going-there jerk, but it certainly wasn't the overriding thesis of the discussion.

Actually, one user said specifically "That's going to be interesting because I'm going to be there and I'm definitely using a flash." So, yes, someone flat out said *point blank* that their use of flash was more important than my *not* having a seizure.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:44 AM on March 7, 2010


Went back and looked it up:
Also: I don't mean to be a total boner here, but NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY. Seriously. I have faulty brains and that stuff makes me ill like whoa. If I am in the same room with it, I will have a seizure after photo #5. My seizures are petit mal and really boring, so it would be of negative amusement value for everyone if I had one during the meet up. Honestly, it's underwhelming to watch.

So yeah, take as many photos as you like, but I apologize if there's low-light and no one gets to have those evil red eyes in photos because ARGH THE FLASH IT BURNS US.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:26 AM on July 13, 2009 [!]


This will be interesting, because I am definitely going to use flash photography.
posted by jscott at 3:48 AM on July 14, 2009 [!]
Obviously, my reading of this is fairly personal, but there it is.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:48 AM on March 7, 2010


Yes. That happened in the meetup-planning thread. People balked, he bailed, that was it.

Several hours after all that, you took it to Metatalk and it became a much bigger thing, and honestly the muddling of the "Boston-meetup planning" and "jscott was a jerk over yonder" and "this is a hypothetical non-specific question about meetup etiquette" all into one metatalk post was a part of that being a mess. Along with, again, some background-radiation metatalk snarkiness and such.

I know you ended up at sort of the center of a weird mess there and I sympathize about the shittiness of the original interaction in the meetup planning thread, but, aside from some low-grade snark in metatalk that wasn't particularly related to the flash/epilepsy stuff at all, folks in there were mostly expressing a combination of support and practical concern. Again, I hear you that it's a personal frustration and I dig that but your invocation of it here felt kind of like a backhand at a community that was not, in fact, collectively giving you shit about the subject.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:07 AM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


your invocation of it here felt kind of like a backhand at a community that was not, in fact, collectively giving you shit about the subject.

Fair enough. My apologies, it wasn't meant to be a criticism of MetaFilter so much as "This issue is pervasive enough that it's come up here as well as in meat space." Sorry if it came off as more ham-fisted than it was intended.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:13 AM on March 7, 2010


Metafilter: may contain traces of peanuts taters.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:37 AM on March 7, 2010


So, what you're saying as a joke is actually true. People with neurological conditions often don't watch TV shows or movies, or if they do, they may choose to do so via LCD screen computer.

I wasn't joking. I was honestly asking out of ignorance.

I remember laying in bed watching "Supernatural" on the iPhone and it went all flashy flashy flashy for an extended period of time, and I thought, "Wow, that was fucking annoying." So it made me wonder what a person with epilepsy does on these occasions. Do you have to skip shows, have them vetted, pick the format. You touched on what I wanted to know.

It's probably easy to avoid NIN rock concerts and such where you know there is going to be a light show. Channel surfing TV, just was questioning how it's avoided.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:46 AM on March 7, 2010


cortex, sometimes it's the fact that there seems like there's no middle ground here in the community between "giving [one] shit" and "giving a shit" that really pisses me off about this community.

And having you or another mod be at pains to defend the community for having been wrongly criticized for being shitty doesn't really seem to me to be community building.

I get that you are trying to defuse divisive crappiness but I don't get why it's okay to correct someone for saying what feels right and is arguably an accurate emotional read of what was going on there at the cost of building trust with the person you're correcting.

Especially on MetaTalk it seems like you'd be just as well off staying out of it.
posted by kalessin at 10:10 AM on March 7, 2010


you'd be just as well off staying out of it.

It's actually pretty important to differentiate between "a few people were jerks" and "the community responded badly about this" Big fighty MeTa threads are a drain on the community and on mod resources. Sometimes we think it's important to draw the distinction. I don't think anyone is saying "hey grapefruitmoon, you misremembered how it went down" but rather "My recollection is that there were a few jerks, not a groundswell of people being inconsiderate" There's the emotional response, which is valid no matter what pretty much, and the stated truth of what happened, which wavers.

There are a lot of people in this thread trying to honestly understand the outlines of what the migraine-and-epileptic crowd are saying. This is easier when people on both side of the equation feel that they can talk without people telling them to shut up.

Put another way, if there are a few people being jerkish, we can handle that. If the community as a whole is basically saying "no we're not interested in this issue" then we have a problem that needs to be addressed in a larger scale way. I don't think that's what we're saying here, but we have to test the waters and make sure.

So, similar to the NSFW issue, it's important to explain what the community is likely to do and not do [make an effort, yes. always indicate flashy/blinky links, no] as well as maybe summarize how we think discussions about these issues go.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:24 AM on March 7, 2010


It's also unreasonable to say to someone with a medical condition "No, I can't take photos without the flash while you're present so you're just going to have to have a seizure."

Of course, of course...I was more referring to the ubiquity of flashing lights/camera flashes at certain places or events. Particularly for touristy areas and the like, a lot of people spend a lot of money just getting to a place to see it in person and want a really good photo of it. For the most part someone is going to take photos with flash rather than poll all the people present first to see about their medical conditions. And this is just for something like the Statue of Liberty or something--just walking down the street in Tokyo or Osaka would be very challenging with all the blinking neon lights.

And sorry, didn't realize there was already a big discussion about this. I was just curious because I've seen a lot of bright flashy public places and I'm married to a chronic snapshot taker and it's never been something I've thought much about.
posted by Kirk Grim at 10:38 AM on March 7, 2010


> And having you or another mod be at pains to defend the community for having been wrongly criticized for being shitty doesn't really seem to me to be community building.

WTF? Whereas sitting back and letting the community be slandered is community building? What are you talking about? Of course he should say something. The truth is more important than someone "saying what feels right."
posted by languagehat at 10:41 AM on March 7, 2010


There's that languagehat guy, sowing divisiveness yet again. Won't let people slander people! Also, wouldn't it be libel in this case? Man, if only there was someone that could weigh in on such a thing.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:51 AM on March 7, 2010


What I'm getting from this thread is that

A) Posters should do their best to be conscious that readers may have good reasons for wanting to know a little about a link before clicking on it, whether it's because the content might have nudity or sex or some other mundane NSFW thing, or because it might cause someone to have a seizure. Adding "NSFW-or-epileptics" is kind.

But because people making fpps may have no idea that viewing violently blinky-flashy sites can cause some people to get sick, it would also be good if

B) People who have sensitivities - work- or health-related - should not just click links on the front page if there isn't enough context to tell how "safe" it might be. A link that goes to an article in the NYT is unlikely to have seizure-inducing graphics, for instance, but in cases that are more ambiguous, go into the post and read the more-inside text, the tags, and a few of the comments. This is often how I decide if I'm going to read the links at all, honestly, and I don't have a medical or work condition that requires much or any care in which links I click.

As much as possible, people should share in the responsibility.
posted by rtha at 11:52 AM on March 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


NSFW-or-epileptics

I want to see this FPP.
posted by Kirk Grim at 12:20 PM on March 7, 2010


It's probably easy to avoid NIN rock concerts and such where you know there is going to be a light show. Channel surfing TV, just was questioning how it's avoided.

I can't go to any concerts, ever, actually. And that pains me. But just about everyone has some kind of light show these days. I suppose some acoustic open mic night would be safe - but possibly not.

As for touristy places: it may surprise you to know that I'm a photographer myself and I've never had any issue with going places during the day as no one is using a flash. At night, if I'm outdoors and the flash isn't in my face (and being outside keeps the reflection/light bouncing back at me to a bare minimum), it's fine. The only time it's really an issue at all is in a closed room, and in those situations, it's plenty easy for me to politely ask someone to turn off the flash. They might look at me funny or scoff or whatever, but hey, there's no harm in asking.

I'm going to bow out of this thread from here on out, I know the mods mean well, but I really feel like I'm being shot down in a "Your feelings are valid, but your criticism isn't welcome here" kind of way and there's really nothing else I can say at this point without going on the defensive.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:57 PM on March 7, 2010


I want to see this FPP.

It involves more than one kind of flashing, basically.

I'm going to bow out of this thread from here on out, I know the mods mean well, but I really feel like I'm being shot down in a "Your feelings are valid, but your criticism isn't welcome here" kind of way and there's really nothing else I can say at this point without going on the defensive.

I don't particularly want to make you feel defensive, gfm; I disliked your characterization of the previous thing but, again, I'm sympathetic about the actual issues you have to deal with. My frustration there is not with the idea of talking about the accommodation of individuals' needs but with what felt like too uncharitable of a framing on your part of what I understand was for you a frustrating situation but was not in any way this community as a whole flipping you the bird. I was reluctant to broach the subject at all, but I was not comfortable with that characterizing standing unaddressed.

There's always going to be complicated give and take where there's an intersection between personal needs and group/community habits or behavior, and I think it's totally a good thing to talk about and examine that tension and try to find ways to resolve it as much as possible in mutually beneficial ways. I'm cool if you want to take your leave from this thread, but I want to be clear that we're certainly not trying to shout you down on the general subject, at all.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:16 PM on March 7, 2010


I'm 6-foot-3-inches tall. Why don't I get a break when it comes to airline seats?
posted by philip-random at 1:32 PM on March 7, 2010


People who have sensitivities - work- or health-related - should not just click links on the front page

The NSFW issue is less about "mystery meat" posts (so to speak) as it is about explicit NSFW stuff on the front page. Kind of the opposite of this issue.
posted by Mid at 1:37 PM on March 7, 2010


Mystery meat often becomes much less mysterious if one reads the more-inside text, or if there isn't any, reads the tags and the comments.

There have also been posts where the front page text is perfectly safe for work, but links in it may lead to NSFW content and that may not be noted.
posted by rtha at 1:48 PM on March 7, 2010


jessamyn, fair enough. I still think that what I remember about how that thread went down was more like grapefruitmoon's recollection than cortex's, but when it's partly an emotional read I get that when we get to the bottom of it, we rarely prioritize the emotional interpretation - we just go by the words and the most kind interpretation of them possible, even when that's not how it read to me. Sometimes the kind interpretations are not the most honest ones.

languagehat, I often feel like you have a lot of good things to say and I often feel like you agree with how I feel about a thing, but this isn't one of those times. It's also disappointing to see you go so literal and absolutist.

cortex, it seems like with your mod experience of the vast diversity of human needs and expectations you could stand to be not just understanding but truly and believably sympathetic here. You're at pains to be understanding and supportive and I totally get that, but the way you are balancing grapefruitmoon's and the community's needs so explicitly really gets in the way of that believable sympathy which I think would help grapefruitmoon not feel so silenced. At least that's the way it would work for me if I were in gfm's shoes right now with you.
posted by kalessin at 6:42 PM on March 7, 2010


Sometimes the kind interpretations are not the most honest ones.

Kindness and honestly rarely track one another in perfect lockstep; often it's the best we can do to try and be as kind as possible while still trying to be as honest as our ethics require. It's a balance I'm constantly required to keep seeking in this job. I've never believed or suggested that I do a perfect job of it, but I'm not sure I'll ever get used to having my basic sincerity about that effort questioned.

My sympathy for grapefruitmoon is absolutely genuine, but it doesn't exist in a vacuum and I am not going to pretend not to care about the rest of this community just to spare her the possible unkindness of being told I have a problem with how she framed her reference to that situation last year. There was no perfectly kind option before me. So it tends to go.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:23 PM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


IndigoRain said:
"But you are the one who suggested a post on migraines. No one said it had to be a PSA."

Absolutely true, no "buts" about it! And I still think it will be a fascinating post, one I'm excited to read whenever someone finds the inspiration & time to craft it. I was simply agreeing that a PSA approach wouldn't serve the topic as well as something more genuinely interesting (and less likely to become immediately dramatic).

Going into this level of the brain's coping & parsing mechanisms brings up science & anecdote most people don't get a lot of exposure to, so it's bound to be meaty.

Mmm, meaty, meaty brains....

(and hugs)
posted by batmonkey at 12:59 AM on March 8, 2010


on lack of preview, just caught this...

grapefruitmoon said:
"*groans* If you want to be helped, there's a ton of information online. Much like any other marginalized community, I get sick and tired of "educating" people on my disease and the last thing that I would want to do would be to make a "Hey look, seizures!" post on the Blue so I could have people rip me apart and tell me that I'm wrong in the standard MetaFilter Way. It might be an "interesting" topic to you, but to me it's my every day life and I kind of don't want it to be dragged out in a "OH WOW, THIS IS NEATO!" sort of way."

Uh...my brother has had seizures & other neurological effects his whole life, I have mini-seizures a few times a year & cluster headaches every few (based on non-blinky issues, thankfully), and my partner is afflicted with light-sensitive major migraines. Soooo, while I'm guessing you might have needed to vent a little spleen, it's entirely out of place directed at me.

It really would be an interesting post for me to read (and apparently others agree), because I love reading about neurology and deeply enjoy posts about the conditions of existence that millions (even billions) of people can go their whole lives without thinking of even once. I don't feel like enough of a subject matter expert (nor even an adequate researcher on the topic), so I admit I was hoping someone else would find it right up their alley. Sorry that bugged you, but you also don't need to be the person to write it.

Hope whatever's stressing you out is relieved, soon.

(and, again, hugs)
posted by batmonkey at 1:07 AM on March 8, 2010


"Also, you've clearly never cared about anyone who gets migraines on a semi-regular basis, or you'd know better."

I used to get migraines but I had no idea until reading this thread that they could be induced by rapidly flashing light.
posted by vapidave at 4:17 AM on March 8, 2010


cortex: "but I'm not sure I'll ever get used to having my basic sincerity about that effort questioned"

I see this (my part accounted for or not) as basic to your job. I don't think it's possible for an honest and ethical person (as you clearly are) to do the job you do and not have your basic sincerity questioned.

Either you're in the job, doing your job and generating that question both in folks in it for the long haul and in passersby, some of whom will challenge you directly about it, or you're simply not doing your job as a mod and then not raising those questions in the populace.

For the record, though, I do not intend to question your basic sincerity when I articulate to the depth and degree what I did with respect to how you are interacting with other folks around here. When I give criticism, it is meant to be honest and respectful. Sometimes in cases like these where I'm frustrated, I'll show it. But I do not mean to question your basic sincerity. Indeed, if I didn't think you were basically sincere I wouldn't even bother to give you criticism, knowing it would fall on completely deaf ears.

I still do think, though, that the community at large can take care of itself better than a single user (long-time or short-time, though short-timers have fewer defenses and reassurances) can do against the opinion of a moderator. I think that the authority you have gives you extra and unintended but still extant force when you are critical of or dissenting of an opinion expressed by a non-moderator user. When I have moderated smaller communities, I have always erred on the side of trying to reassure the single user and let the community take care of its own issues.

I know I cannot tell you how to do your job, and you should know from reading my prior comments that I think all of the MetaFilter mods do an excellent and stand-up job as moderators as a whole. I am just speaking up here now because it seemed like you weren't and aren't taking enough of the factors into account here and being as sympathetic and supportive of gfm as seems appropriate to me.
posted by kalessin at 4:50 AM on March 8, 2010




"Honestly, if you want to post something with a lot of flashing lights just saying "Flashing lights!" is good enough for anyone prone to migraines/seizures to take the appropriate precautions. Linking to something with no explanation means that we can't take precautions Just describe flashing lights links as having flashing lights, the same way you describe links with boobies as "possibly NSFW." Easy. Peasy."

We run the Harding Test on TV ads at work - anything that fails on flashing does not go on air. They aren't nice for epileptics. I'm a migraine sufferer and have been triggered before by things which failed the test - coloured light patterns do it for me, I've had to go home from gigs before because they used flashing lighting, and people repeatedly using flash photography on the tube really irritates me because if the lighting's wrong it'll trigger one too.
posted by mippy at 8:25 AM on March 8, 2010


"As best as I can remember it, the big to-do on Metatalk was not so much "shut up I can't live without my flash you lousy epileptic" so much as "at a way-bigger-than-normal event it may be hard to be sure you're safe from people using a flash without knowing there's a problem", really, with a little interpersonal friction on top in classic Metatalk fashion. I don't recall anyone in that thread actually saying anything like "me using a flash is more important than you not having a seizure", and it feels like kind of a cheap shot to suggest that's what actually happened. I may be forgetting some specific actually-going-there jerk, but it certainly wasn't the overriding thesis of the discussion."

Mainly, I find flashes annoying because there usually is no need for them in broad daylight in Trafalgar Square. However, something abotu the lighting on the Underground and flashes doesn't agree with my head. I was also once in a Post Office queue near a woman who had given her child a digital camera to play with while he sat in his pushchair - and of course, he kept wanting to see the light go off. I left without parcels but with a burgeoning migraine.
posted by mippy at 9:01 AM on March 8, 2010


FYI there are good, common reasons to use a flash even in bright daylight. Most Trafalgar Square tourists are probably just ignorant of how to turn their flashes off but you can't dismiss all outdoor daylight flash as needless.
posted by Mitheral at 10:53 AM on March 8, 2010


I've had migraines once or twice per year for the last decade. I had no idea that flashing lights could trigger one. Oddly enough, the flashing seizure robots page mentioned above triggered one for me yesterday. Like the idiot that I am, I stared at it for about 20 seconds or so, then felt violently nauseous, followed by the headache. I didn't even get my loud tinnitus-like aura. I'm just now getting over it.

gfm, if you ask me to turn off my flash, I'll do it. I think that part of the static that you get is that many people are blissfully ignorant of the link between flashing lights and epilepsy. Don't forget that there are people in this country (US) who don't know how the government is organized, how to find Europe on a map, that texting while driving is really dangerous, the difference between Iraq and Afghanistan, that there is a world outside of Manhattan, why the diesel pump won't fit into their gas-powered car, etc.

There are a lot of ignorant people in this world. Not everyone is concerned about accommodating others. A common reaction of such people when confronted with something they've never heard of, which requires them to do something unexpected and inconvenient, is to act like you are a bitch for awakening them from their cud-chewing oblivion.
posted by double block and bleed at 3:15 AM on March 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Also, you've clearly never cared about anyone who gets migraines on a semi-regular basis, or you'd know better."

My mother gets migraines. But hers are caused by food allergies (chocolate...dairy...alcohol...basically anything worth eating) so somehow it never clicked that flashing lights were related. But maybe you're right, I don't know that because I don't care about her.
posted by jacalata at 5:59 PM on March 9, 2010


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