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Conflict Free?
April 27, 2010 12:25 PM   Subscribe

There is no way of knowing whether or not the original poster of this question has any idea that many so-called "conflict free" diamonds are anything but or even if it matters to him. But in case he does care and has been convinced that conflict free diamond certification means anything (like many people in the thread seem to have been), how is the information not pertinent to his question? Further, why is it okay for people to tell the poster to buy conflict free diamonds, but it's not okay to point out how difficult this is?

The Kimberley Process (which is supposed to certify that diamonds are not of the blood variety) is basically run on the honor system via self-policing within the industry and is failing left and right to keep conflict diamonds from being certified as "conflict free." This information should be allowed in the AskMe thread, not only because it might help the OP, but also because other diamond purchasers in the thread might not be aware of the fact that buying any diamond puts one at the risk of financially supporting human rights violations, war, and murder.
posted by eunoia to Etiquette/Policy at 12:25 PM (82 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

We deleted any answer that didn't answer the question which was basically: bigger diamond or more flawless diamond? Answers that only talk about conflict diamonds [pro or con] don't answer the question. Answers that talk about conflict diamonds as one part of the diamond decision buying process were basically okay. I appreciate that this is a topic near and dear ot some people, and I'm fine with it being in MeTa, but the conflict diamonds meta discussion absolutely does not belong in the AskMe thread if it's not answering the question.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:32 PM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Blood sausage is still ok though, right?
posted by item at 12:37 PM on April 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


I thought the conflict diamonds bit was a bit of an agenda derail/personal drum beating. Slipping it in on the side, mayyyybe. Not providing either an answer to the OP's question or a way for the OP to find that answer? That's just scanning for keywords and spamming a cause.

Your causes are not everyone else's causes. Were everyone to be subject to everyone else's causes, we would grind to a halt, unable to even decide if we ought to keep existing or not. Vegan? Paleo? Declaw or natural defenses? Abolish religion or bring everyone to Islam? Fur? No fur? Faux fur? Art over all, or do we burn the Mona Lisa for a few Joules of heat to cook another meal? Circumcision? Forced reproductive control to avert the coming overpopulation collapse? Which of the thousands of ways might we save the environment? "Well, that's easy," you say, "my cause is more important. It deserves screen time."

Ah, but they all say that. How can one tell?

I propose a battle royale of causes. Everyone with an agenda get in a room together and just hash it out. Return when you have determined the most important cause. It would be nice if the others were prioritized, but really, we just need the Most Important Thing to focus upon, the uber-cause.

I am hoping yours is super-lucky.
posted by adipocere at 12:39 PM on April 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


I actually am interested in hearing why buying conflict-free (Canadian or lab-grown) diamonds is just as bad as buying diamonds direct from a Sierra Leonian warlord, but that question was totally not the place to debate it.

And information about the failings of the Kimberly Process is in the Wiki article I linked to when I suggested looking into conflict-free diamonds. If the asker's interested in pursuing that road, I hope he read it.
posted by oinopaponton at 12:41 PM on April 27, 2010


I flagged a few that did not answer a very simple, very specific question. A couple tried to sneak it in by going "bigger is best, btw conflict free?" Bicycles, cat declawing, polyamory, conflict diamonds...
posted by fixedgear at 12:47 PM on April 27, 2010


I thought the conflict diamonds bit was a bit of an agenda derail/personal drum beating. Slipping it in on the side, mayyyybe. Not providing either an answer to the OP's question or a way for the OP to find that answer?

Indeed that might be a fair point - if (seeing as how I was the person who pointed out that notion of a conflict-free diamond is sort of crazy) I had not previously posted my own views on quality vs size.

It comes down to a question of moderation and in this case I think it was over done. If none of the other posters had not continually harped on the need for "conflict-free" then there would be no reason to bring it up. Instead we get a constant array of people not really answering the question and pushing their own views.

(BTW - I think manufactured diamonds are "Conflict-free" in that they add to the supply of diamonds in the world. Canadian not so much. Its sort of one of those well intentioned ideas that doesn't really work. It would be like buying "low-impact oil" because it wasn't produced in the oil sands. Its all fungible. demand is demand")
posted by JPD at 12:49 PM on April 27, 2010


oinopaponton - i'm not sure if i necessarily agree - but i think the argument goes like this - "to buy conflict free diamonds still is buying a status symbol - the point of status symbols is to have others covet whatever the symbol represents which often turns into people coveting the symbol itself. so even if you know your diamond is conflict free, you're still helping to maintain the profile on diamonds which most people will buy from kay's or jared's or whatever, never thinking about the human price paid. by buying conflict free diamonds, you're actually steering more people to blood diamonds." again, i don't know if i agree or if i think people should change what they want to do because other people are dumb. this arguments comes up with used fur and leather a lot too. it's why some anti-fur groups give donated coats to the homeless, to give it to someone in need and to simultaneously lower the status of the symbol.
posted by nadawi at 12:51 PM on April 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


BTW - thanks for starting this thread.
posted by JPD at 12:51 PM on April 27, 2010


adipocere: Your comment was amusing (seriously), but has nothing do with what I'm talking about. My point is that if the poster cares about this issue, he is being bombarded with false information saying that buying a diamond certified "conflict free" means that this is so. If I were him (and if I cared), I would want to know that the certification process is flawed and that I might in fact be doing something that I do not want to do. This is not a judgment on people who willingly buy diamonds and do not care where they come from.

oinopaponton: The problem is that unless you were there when it was mined, you have no way of knowing whether it came from Canada, a lab, or Zimbabwe. The industry has been known to falsely report where the diamonds originated.
posted by eunoia at 12:53 PM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


What's better for foie gras, d'oie or de canard? And before you say it, I'm looking for free range suggestions only. Treating animals humanely is very important to me!
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 12:56 PM on April 27, 2010 [12 favorites]


eunoia - it doesn't matter if it was mined in Canada - its a commodity, demand drives production.

Even if the certification process weren't flawed its still not solving the problem. I mean I've bought diamonds in the last year - and I realize the impact. I also filled my car up with gas the other day, fly regularly and contemplate having children. These all have impacts. You can't just get a certificate and feel as though you have been absolved of blame or something.
posted by JPD at 12:56 PM on April 27, 2010


My point is that if the poster cares about this issue,

That's exactly the point. We have no evidence whatsoever that he cares about this issue.
posted by stoneweaver at 12:56 PM on April 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


We sort of have to assume that the poster doesn't care about the conflict status, because it's not in the question. If someone else brings it up, they're inviting a derail at best.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:56 PM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks, nadawi and eunoia.
posted by oinopaponton at 12:57 PM on April 27, 2010


eunoia, that would make a very interesting post for the Blue. I'd read it for sure, given that Canada sells its own diamonds (with tiny polar bears on them so you know they are from Cananda - true story!) and just this week started selling from its newest mine in Ontario. Do a post - then we will all know.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 12:57 PM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


What's better for foie gras, d'oie or de canard? And before you say it, I'm looking for free range suggestions only. Treating animals humanely is very important to me!

your philistinesm disgusts me. Even Apicius knows to go for the goose.

(yes this is exactly my point)
posted by JPD at 12:58 PM on April 27, 2010


my spelling disgusts me as well.
posted by JPD at 12:58 PM on April 27, 2010


JPD: I agree with you 100%, but I was [and am] trying not to turn this into an argument about whether the diamond industry as a whole is evil (btw, it totally is) and am instead trying to stress that in the context of the poster's question and the answers that he was receiving, I feel it is appropriate to point out that conflict free certification is nonsense.
posted by eunoia at 1:02 PM on April 27, 2010


I feel it is appropriate to point out that conflict free certification is nonsense.

Skepticism about the Kimberly Process is a part of the Wikipedia article about conflict diamonds. At some point if you're arguing that the OP won't read down to that part of the article, you have to sort of admit that maybe they don't care about the issue. Otherwise the information is there and available. If your argument is that they don't care but they SHOULD care, then we're back in the "totally not okay for AskMe" arena
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:04 PM on April 27, 2010


I think blood diamonds are a huge problem, both in the USA and in the world at large. Further, the manufactured "tradition" of diamond engagement and wedding rings is so pervasive that the fact that it wasn't a tradition until the diamond companies marketed it as one is largely unkown, so awareness of the true cost of diamonds is exceptionally important. Basically, conflict diamonds are up there with oil consumption and greenhouse gases as one of the most important topics in the world today, to my mind, and any opportunity to raise awareness of these things should be taken.

except when it's not relevant for an askme. no sarcasm, them's just the breaks.
posted by shmegegge at 1:10 PM on April 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Q: Hot Dog or Hamburger?
A: Meat is MURDER. (tasty, tasty murder)
posted by blue_beetle at 1:14 PM on April 27, 2010


Ah, eunoia, I think I see what part of the process you may have overlooked.

Mods, aside from minor typos, rarely edit answers. They either stay or go, for the most part. Therefore, an answer with Useful Stuff + Agenda Stuff would stay, but an answer that was all Agenda Stuff gets whacked, because it fails to answer the question.

So, if people replied with opinions and datapoints and conflict-free diamonds, that would stay. Something that was just about conflict-free diamonds would likely get nixed. That's why you are seeing additional clarifications as to the difficulty of obtaining the real deal going by the wayside.
posted by adipocere at 1:14 PM on April 27, 2010


I think the question is chatfilter. Yes there is a problem the asker wants to solve: he wants the internet to guess what his wife would like. He gives us exactly nothing that would help us figure that out, except he figures that some of the people here are women (hey! something in common with his wife!) and that will somehow make them better at guessing what she likes than her husband.

This has got to be chatfilter identification number one: Questions where everyone's answer is equally valid along the lines of "What's your favorite X?". It's like a guy wanting to surprise his wife with a new car, and he asks us whether she would like the green or blue one better, or whether we think she'd want the automatic transmission.

That all being said, if I think of the question in a larger sense, I wonder if maybe the implicit question is more like "How do I weigh the different features of a diamond when buying it? What things are important? I know size and quality are a tradeoff. How do I decide? What else should I know?" If this is the question, then comments about choosing and confirming the source of the diamond are surely useful.
posted by fritley at 1:15 PM on April 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


We sort of have to assume that the poster doesn't care about the conflict status, because it's not in the question. If someone else brings it up, they're inviting a derail at best.


A totally fair point.

Out of interest had anyone flagged the "buy conflict-free diamonds" lines? Had I flagged them would you have deleted them? I have my doubts. I have reasons why I have those doubts - however I also acknowledge that the admins do a shitton of work and they all make decisions on the fly so I'm not looking to make a big deal out of it. (although I guess I am by posting this). For example I had a ton of issues with this askmefi http://ask.metafilter.com/150484/Fullfillment-possible and felt like the moderators allowed that to drift away from the question in a way that was mean spirited.

I just wish they didn't always hew to the median view point of the cohort over here. I mean in the real world I'm pretty center-left. In this place I look like Milton Friedman sometimes. I sort of like that but still.
posted by JPD at 1:16 PM on April 27, 2010


Seems to me like the basis for a decent MeFi post if you could find some good, well-researched, non-inflammatory articles about how the certification is breaking down.
posted by rodgerd at 1:18 PM on April 27, 2010


When you buy a diamond at some an inflated price you make diamonds from the Congo or wherever else worth selling. And all diamonds are sold and stupid inflated prices, especially ones from Canada. That's basically how I argue buying diamonds period is a problem. Conflict Free diamonds are probably an advertising gimmick cooked up by DeBeers.
posted by chunking express at 1:22 PM on April 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Blood sausage is still ok though, right?

I just bought this one for my beloved, but she says that it's a little big for her finger and she may need to have it resized.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:22 PM on April 27, 2010


Ick. I broke that punchline, didn't I? Let's try again
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:24 PM on April 27, 2010


What do bicycles, cat declawing, polyamory, and diamonds have in common?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:46 PM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah, I see fixedgear already got to that one. Carry on!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:47 PM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


What do bicycles, cat declawing, polyamory, and diamonds have in common?
Cat declawing is forever?
posted by Xurando at 1:52 PM on April 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


Here's a project for someone: a cat reclawing foundation. Step 1: Customize these.
posted by ignignokt at 2:03 PM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Of course, we like to call them Peacekeeping Diamonds.
posted by gman at 2:17 PM on April 27, 2010


Q: Hot Dog or Hamburger?
A: Meat is MURDER. (tasty, tasty murder)


Nah... real men make hot dogs with roadkill sausage... that makes it at most negligent manslaughter.
posted by qvantamon at 2:42 PM on April 27, 2010


What do bicycles, cat declawing, polyamory, and diamonds have in common?

What is Wolverine doing in a bicycle?
posted by qvantamon at 2:43 PM on April 27, 2010


I just wish they didn't always hew to the median view point of the cohort over here.

Sometimes I do too, trust me.

That said, unless we want AskMe to become a totally okay place for people to push their agendas, we need to find a way to say "hey, you have to respectfully answer the question" and be able to enforce that. This means that people should be able to ask about things that I personally think are totally shitty or skeevy [though not illegal] and they can have people help them through whatever their issues are with whatever the thing is.

So, at some level, the larger problem with the "conflict-free diamond certification is sketchy" comments was that they were totally ignoring the basic question which was about what diamond to get. And if you really think that people who buy diamonds are sanctioning murder, I can see why you might not want to assist in that process. Totally fine, move on. However if you can't craft an answer that is basically what many of the conflict free advocates seemed to be doing "well I think you need to go for size but since you asked what I'd do, I'd want a conflict free diamond" then you're not really respecting the terms of the space.

Again, a comment that starts with "bullshit bullshit bullshit" is not really a good faith comment that is trying to increase understanding.

So I'd like to restate. I too would love to use MetaFilter to forward my own personal agendas about the way the world is supposed to be sometimes. However, tactically that makes the place shittier and reduces its overall utility in the world at large. So I don't do it. And sometimes it bothers me. And getting back to the point where I realize it's not all about me and the way I wish everyone was is helpful. It's a large complicated world.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:48 PM on April 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


If you're choked about blood diamonds, you're gonna be really choked about blood tantalum, found in every electronic device you own, mined by child slaves. People suck.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:53 PM on April 27, 2010 [14 favorites]


What's the difference between this exchange

Q: What sort of diamond should I buy?
A: Don't buy a diamond because the diamond industry murders children.

and this one?

Q: What sort of bleach should I buy to mix with my ammonia?
A: Don't mix bleach and ammonia because doing so may endanger your health.

or perhaps this one?

Q: How can I learn to stop doing the things that my husband says cause him to beat me?
A: Don't stay in a marriage where your husband beats you.

I have no doubt that we'd allow the latter answers to stand. So why not the former? I can see deleting later answers that harp on the same point in order to avoid derailing a discussion of the merits of different bleach brands or the importance of not burning a man's dinner. But I fail to see why a few answers pointing out that many women wouldn't want a gift that causes so much suffering, and that he shouldn't surprise his wife unless he already knows her preference, are out of bounds.
posted by decathecting at 3:02 PM on April 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think it's kind of amusing that the declawing thing always gets brought up, when Metafilter actually changed my mind on it.
posted by klangklangston at 3:03 PM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I suppose one could have simply said "Given the choice between a bigger diamond and a conflict-free diamond, I personally believe the better choice is the conflict-free diamond, although this is extremely difficult to achieve [link link link] -- and getting a smaller, not-conflict-free diamond is the worst of all options."
posted by davejay at 3:09 PM on April 27, 2010


gman: Of course, we like to call them Peacekeeping Diamonds.

"Canada's mining companies are part of this country's peacekeeping tradition..."

They ain't kidding. Why, without Canadian uranium, Mutually Assured Destruction would be but a pipe dream!
posted by Sys Rq at 3:29 PM on April 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think deleting a comment about the problems of the "conflict free" certification process after someone else has already raised the issue of blood diamonds and the alternatives is severe overmoderation, and degrades the utility of AskMe rather than enhancing it.
posted by jamjam at 3:42 PM on April 27, 2010


I fail to see why a few answers pointing out that many women wouldn't want a gift that causes so much suffering, and that he shouldn't surprise his wife unless he already knows her preference, are out of bounds.

Many people in the thread said he should make sure about that, in fact. I think part of the problem is that people are bummed because he thinks his wife wants diamonds and people think that's ... a bad thing to want. And there's the "can there really be a conflict free diamond?" sub-thread which is far afield. Even if she really really wants diamonds, she might want locally mined ones, or synthetic ones, or who knows what the hell she wants. It doesn't matter. The guy's question was straightforward: size or quality?

What's the difference between this exchange... and this one?...or perhaps this one?

I'm not sure if you're asking me personally or talking to the crowd generally, but I have an answer.

#1 - not disputing the claim, but the link between diamond and diamond industry. I guess to my mind my question back is "can you have a diamond without supporting a child-mudering industry?" and the answer is sort of yes, sort of no [i.e. many people make the cogent argument that even wearing a diamond and buying into the IDEA of diamonds is supporting a craven industry. See also: fake fur]. At the point at which you are saying that no one should buy diamonds, you are making a value judgement about people who buy diamonds and about the normative status of diamonds in our society.

Contrasted with #3 which is also making a normative statement "being in a relationship with someone who beats you is not okay" And yet, you won't find people fighting about this, you won't find people basically saying "eh stay with him and just stop burning the toast" That said, if someone made a comment that said "what are you fucking stupid, DTMFA" we'd delete it.

#2 is a flat out personal safety issue and not at all the same as #1 and #3.

And the rub, as JPD was referring to above, is that the big difference between #1 and #3 is that #3 requires an assumption about what is normal that is commonly accepted in our society and #1 does not. Put another way, it's why saying "Eat McDonalds" isn't considered "political speech" according to Google Adsense and "Don't eat McDonald's" is.

You want people to stop buying diamonds? Fine, go nuts, the world is large and full of opportunity for change. You want to grind that axe in every AskMe diamond thread until people stop buying diamonds? Sorry, that's not allowed.

People who carefully and judiciously challenge the premises of a question are allowed to do that. However, there's no way to start a debate about the true nature of conflict-free diamonds in that particular thread because that's not what the thread was about.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:54 PM on April 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


jamjam, read adipocere's comment at 1:14pm. Middle paragraph addresses your concern.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 3:54 PM on April 27, 2010


The question wasn't about conflict diamonds. If you were to post an AskMe about where to get the best quality steak, would it be appropriate for people to post on the awfuls of factory farming?

I agree that, as with many 'luxury' goods, the process that brings diamonds to US/European stores is not something that should be supported by right-thinking consumers. But that was not what the questioner was asking advice on.
posted by mippy at 4:13 PM on April 27, 2010


(also, I don't really know what diamonds are for.)
posted by mippy at 4:14 PM on April 27, 2010


Just the linked words "blood diamonds" would do the trick; there'd never be need to do more than that.

And while I'm linking to horrible facts, read about coltan mining, the major source for the contents of capacitors, which are choc-a-bloc inside your computer, and an employer of child soldier-slaves. Diamond purchasers might be fools for believing they are "investing," but they aren't the only people who are purchasers of slave-sourced goods.

I'm going to inherit blood diamonds. I'm not sure how I feel about that.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:37 PM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think deleting a comment about the problems of the "conflict free" certification process after someone else has already raised the issue of blood diamonds and the alternatives is severe overmoderation, and degrades the utility of AskMe rather than enhancing it.

Repeated for truth.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:39 PM on April 27, 2010


But, again, it was not a question about conflict diamonds. We live in an imperfect world where sometimes ancillary, contentious issues will come up in an askme conversation in the form of asides in on-topic answers. We prefer not to delete any more of that stuff than is strictly necessary; we generally nix nothing-but-side-conversation responses (both pro- and con-) in thread, and encourage people not to keep going there. That's S.O.P. for askme, regardless of the side-topic in question.

Like Jess said, I can dig that it's frustrating to see something you feel strongly about come up as a tangent in an askme thread and then not be able to dig into it right then and there, but that's not how askme works. If that's too severe as moderation goes, askme may not be the place for you; otherwise, we mostly just ask that you try and respect the general guidelines of that part of the site and keep anything you consider a necessary community discussion about some side topic over here in Metatalk where it has traditionally gone.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:05 PM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


> You want people to stop buying diamonds? Fine, go nuts, the world is large and full of opportunity for change. You want to grind that axe in every AskMe diamond thread until people stop buying diamonds? Sorry, that's not allowed.

Repeated for truth.
posted by languagehat at 5:30 PM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


To expand upon what cortex and jessamyn are saying...

This question is about whether or not someone should by an AKC-registered dog. The responses discussed the ethical behavior of breeders and puppy mills. Those questions are appropriate in that thread because they directly relate to the question being asked. However, if the OP had asked "What sort of puppy would be good for a guy with an allergy to dander?" then jumping in with information about breeders is not what he's asking, and would not be appropriate.
posted by zarq at 5:41 PM on April 27, 2010


"bullshit bullshit bullshit" is not really a good faith comment that is trying to increase understanding.

absolutely. It was never meant to be in good faith but that comment wasn't directed towards the topic of blood diamonds it was directed towards what I felt was excessive/biased moderation. The right thing to do would have been to start this thread.
posted by JPD at 5:44 PM on April 27, 2010


Posts that said "buy conflict free" on their own were fine. A post that said "conflict free is impossible" and sparked that conversation pushed it over the tipping point of requiring deletion. I sort of get that. I guess my problem is I'm not sure the first "buy conflict free" posts weren't as inappropriate as my derail was.
posted by JPD at 5:50 PM on April 27, 2010


Well, go through and do what I did. See if any of the posts that mention conflict free [I think there were 4-6 of them] do not also answer the question.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:52 PM on April 27, 2010


sorry my fault bad phrasing on that comment. not what I meant. W/o someone agitating in the thread people talking about conflict free don't create a derail/require moderation. I didn't mean that once the conflict started you allowed posts purely about conflict free to remain.
posted by JPD at 5:57 PM on April 27, 2010


I think this is a fascinating MeTa. The moderation was clearly following normal moderation guidelines, however, I think the comments pointing the OP towards an understanding that 50% of his choices aren't real are valid comments.

The semantics of the question are tantamount regarding what comments get deleted---as always, but it's a weird and tricksy line that "Can I buy a conflict-free diamond" and "A bigger diamond or a conflict free diamond" and even "Help me buy my lady/man a diamond" will all see different moderation of the same set of answers----all of which are valid answers.

I see the OP asking a question in good faith. I see eunoia, in good faith, attempting to explain that the OP had misconceptions...which I think is a common and important aspect of AskMe.

It's sort of like if I said:
"My girlfriend's sister's son has Trisomy. My girlfriend is 37 years old and 5 weeks pregnant, what kind of abortion should she get?" It's important to tell me, in that case, to pursue other options, to discuss the probabilities of the heredity of Trisomy, to let me know about testing...etc, all answers that, under this level of moderation, would be deleted. Of course, the anti-abortion camp and pro-choice camps would also make it their sounding board, but that's altogether something different.

So...I guess, if you have reason to believe that the very premise of a question is flawed, and it's flawed regarding something with which you have intimate knowledge, I think it's important that you respond with your information. I also think it's important that the mods be entitled to delete your response, assuming good faith on the part of your answer and the moderation---but without prejudice towards you and your answers in the future.

I say that having told many people that the premise of their question is flawed, and having gotten away with it many times. (And having many other answers deleted and MeTa'd.)
posted by TomMelee at 6:19 PM on April 27, 2010


all answers that, under this level of moderation, would be deleted.

This is not strictly true. Answers have to, at least in part, address the question. Making up questions and answers that are similar doesn't really help get to this point. In the case of non-anon questions, we encourage people to email the OP directly if they think they have information that might be important to them but that doesn't belong in the AskMe question. Anonymous questions have a tendency to be touchy specifically because we can't avail ourselves, as mods, of this option.

To my mind the best analogy is the "where's the best steakhouse?" question and the "factory farming is terrible, pelase only go places where they serve grassfed beef" On the one hand, hey you have a lot of knowledge about factory farming practices and grassfed beef may in fact be better and better for the environment and whatnot. On the other hand, you have the sort of normative assumptions that "best steakhouse" doesn't usually mean "best for the environment" or if they did mean that, they'd SAY it.

The OP didn't show a glimmer of caring about conflict-free diamonds in his question. A few commenters mentioned it but did not make it central to their comments. A few more made it central to their comments and didn't answer the questions and we deleted their answers.

So yeah it really depends on what the question was that was asked and trying to, in good faith, help the OP solve the problem. People have even offered diamond-alternatives in the spirit of answering the question. There are many wonderful ways to gently address a premise you might think is flawed but if the statement is "My girlfriend wants a diamond" and your response to that is "well she wouldn't if she knew how cruel they are" that's sort of preuming a lot about people and their ability to decide what's important to them [see also: religion].

We don't let people jump in to every thread abotu abortion with pleas to consider adoption, and vice versa. This is like that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:49 PM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


To my mind the best analogy is the "where's the best steakhouse?" question and the "factory farming is terrible, pelase only go places where they serve grassfed beef"

jessamyn, you're normally a very careful and charitable reader, but I don't feel you're addressing the concern here. That's why I tried to re-assert it above. The OP doesn't want to go into every thread about a subject (diamonds, meat, whatever) and evangelize, he wants to correct a specific bit of evangelical misinformation that popped up in the thread.

Derails are bad for AskMe, we understand that, but when persistent misinformation is being spread in an AskMe it seems important to correct it. Otherwise, AskMe is less useful than it would otherwise be, because any narrowly-phrased question can produce a string of useful answers within the scope of the questions framing, while also producing lots of misinformation outside of that scope.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:13 PM on April 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Apologies for the masculine pronoun, eunoia. As soon as I hit post I looked back at the pronoun and knew I should have gone with my feminine-standard policy.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:19 PM on April 27, 2010


Derails are bad for AskMe, we understand that, but when persistent misinformation is being spread in an AskMe it seems important to correct it.

It's not "persistent misinformation" if it has nothing to do with the question, and if it has nothing to do with the question, it's not at all important to correct it. I'm with the mods on this one- it isn't about one person wanting to make one comment, it's about allowing an issue to creep into any question on any semi-related topic. In this particular question, a discussion of conflict-free diamonds is irrelevant and any comments focused on that aspect of diamond buying should go.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:23 PM on April 27, 2010


I have read that aspect. The concerns about conflict-free diamonds are brought up in the linked wikipedia article that mentions conflict-free diamonds in the first place. No one was at any point preventing anyone from going into that thread, offering their on-topic suggestions to the OP and saying "also conflict-free may not mean what you think" as davejay mentioned above.

Outside-the-scope information needs to pretty much show up in MeTa. Everyone thinks their view of things is correct. However evangelizing, to my mind is going on about your correct view of something when no one asked you in the first place. The people that mentioned conflict-free diamonds in the first place are not doing this; they are answering the question as well as offering alternatives. The people who show up and say "there's no such thing as a conflict-free way to buy diamonds, all diamonds reflect the conflicts and terrible ways of the diamond industry" are, in fact, evangelizing in a thread about how to choose a diamond.

They are welcome to have their say in MeTa, as they are doing. People can come here and read about it. The issue seems to be that people may not do that, but then I think we're back to the "someone on the internet is wrong" problem.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:28 PM on April 27, 2010


Often when threads on the blue spawn MeTa threads, someone will post a comment in the former linking to the latter. Would that be appropriate for an AskMe thread, or for this particular AskMe thread?
posted by FishBike at 7:39 PM on April 27, 2010


I'd like to apologize for bringing up the conflict thing--it was just an aside, a gesture towards considering all things diamond related, no derail intended, honestly! That'll teach me to answer an AskMe. I had no idea that ethically speaking, diamonds were exactly like fur (and cat declawing).
posted by Go Banana at 7:43 PM on April 27, 2010


When I said "this level of moderation", I meant "this level of fair and normal and completely justifiable moderation", not "zomg evil deleter!"

I'm intrigued, because I support both the premise of the deletions and the justification for the pseudo-derail.

Of course, here we are again discussing deleted comments without the benefit of the copy of the deleted material.
posted by TomMelee at 7:51 PM on April 27, 2010


I had no idea that ethically speaking, diamonds were exactly like fur (and cat declawing).

Seriously? That's actually your good faith reading of this discussion?
posted by modernnomad at 8:50 PM on April 27, 2010


I'd just like to mention that I never commented in the original AskMe thread. I would have liked to have been able to point out the fallacy of "conflict free," but it had been made clear that that would not be okay (and I have a lot of respect for the mods' decisions despite this post).

I would like to say that those that are saying that I am trying to further an agenda or blabbing about my pet cause are not really getting what I'm trying to say (if that sort of thing were in my nature, I'd spend a lot more time commenting and a lot less time lurking). I simply believe that because so many people are recommending "conflict free" diamonds, someone should be able to, with facts and respect, point out that there is actually very little way of knowing whether or not a diamond, even with the label of "conflict free" actually is. I am against buying diamonds [obviously], but I am super duper against people giving out information that is not accurate and which someone may take as truth.

That being said, I do understand why bombarding the post with facts about how the certification process is a big fat failure and how blood diamonds are (through various means) being passed off as "conflict free," without also answering the original size vs quality question could be considered an inappropriate derail.
posted by eunoia at 9:02 PM on April 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


fff: "And while I'm linking to horrible facts, read about coltan mining, the major source for the contents of capacitors…"

That's actually a fairly interesting aside - interesting in the way it highlights the fact that prejudices can run amok and get in the way of the truth.

Because the truth of the matter is that the vast majority of capacitors don't contain tantalum, that many 'tantalum' capacitors don't in fact contain tantalum at all (instead using an aluminium* or conductive ceramic sponge), that the ones that do are only used where their particular properties are absolutely necessary (because they're considerably more expensive than their non-tantalum equivalents), that the largest known reserves of tantalum are in Australia & South America, and that the DRC is responsible for < 1% (10 year average; production has peaked a couple of times at 10% of world output) of world tantalum production and is estimated to hold less than 1% of the word's reserves.

Not picking on you, fff - just that, as I said, it's interesting how major issues in an extremely minor producer can be used to demonise a whole market…

(* note: not the same as aluminium electrolytic capacitors.)
posted by Pinback at 11:56 PM on April 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


No one was at any point preventing anyone from going into that thread, offering their on-topic suggestions to the OP and saying "also conflict-free may not mean what you think" as davejay mentioned above.

I figured you see that as stunty, but if that's your preference... done.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:09 AM on April 28, 2010


That's why I only use devices powered by flux capacitors. 1.21 gigawatts!
posted by Pax at 7:28 AM on April 28, 2010


(which only requires hoodwinking a few Lybians with bazookas and a VW microbus out of their plutomium)
posted by Pax at 7:30 AM on April 28, 2010


Libya. Duh.
posted by Pax at 7:30 AM on April 28, 2010


I figured you see that as stunty, but if that's your preference... done.

I only see it as stunty because for whatever reason no one decided to do it on their own, but it's fine.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:39 AM on April 28, 2010


Conflict free*

*with purchase of first conflict. Free conflict must be of equal or lesser value. Only at participating locations. Void where prohibited.
posted by owtytrof at 9:22 AM on April 28, 2010


owtytrof, I always do variations of that in my head when I see a "Free Tibet" bumper sticker. which in this town is fairly regularly.
posted by epersonae at 10:31 AM on April 28, 2010


I only see it as stunty because for whatever reason no one decided to do it on their own....

I wasn't trying to stunt, but if the outcome of this discussion and callout is that derails can and should continue as easy as that, it does start to feel like a moot point.

If you accept answers like: "Size. Now let me tell you about my favorite issue," then someone could reply, "Actually, I prefer cut and clarity. Now let me tell you why anotherpanacea is wrong for a paragraph or two." At which point, I could rejoin with, "No, size is definitely better. But about my favorite issue, please read this long screed...."

That's kind of an odd outcome: it reminds me, in a way, of the canon law derail that showed up here last week. In both cases, users derailed an anonymous AskMe with their pet issues because the poster couldn't come in to clarify their preferences or the facts. Given the confluence of AskMe's rules, the limitations on anonymous, and the hot button nature of some topics, perhaps it's just an unavoidable perfect storm of principles in conflict.

Or maybe I only see the conflict because I'm an atheist married to a lapsed Catholic for whom I bought a synthetic diamond engagement ring. Anyway, I feel bad for wasting your mod time with edge case rule-testing nonsense. Thanks for being fabulous!
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:40 AM on April 28, 2010


Well, put differently, your comment is okay because your comment, as a one-off that is not particularly obnoxious in there, is okay, and because it doesn't seem like you were going for a Fuck You, Mods thing with it.

People using thin pretexts of on-topic discussion as an excuse to keep digging in on an argument in askme are just as likely to get some negative mod attention as someone not bothering with the pretext. That sort of problem isn't particularly uncommon, we have to clean that sort of thing up on a semi-regular basis and tell people to take it elsewhere, along with the more straightforward just-plain-off-topic stuff. Someone aggressively and perfunctorily figleafing such behavior as a sort of nose-thumbing of the guidelines is going to piss us off.

As I see it, in this case we have a situation where the rules that help keep askme work, and which we're not interested in changing, collided with some understandable desire to not have an accidentally lopsided presentation of a side issue in the thread in question. That comment, which is unobjectionable in form an not presumably griefing in intent, seems to answer the desire-for-a-counter desire well enough, and so, okay, we'll leave it.

The ideal situation would probably have been for someone to find a way to make that comment prior to a big discussion in here that'd make the whole thing fall under the collective magnifying glass of the community. And that is what often happens in threads where this sort of thing comes up, which is nice when it works. That's not how it played out this time, but if we're at a point where folks are mostly okay with the compromise in this case, cool. If it's a slightly odd outcome, so be it!
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:02 AM on April 28, 2010


At which point, I could rejoin with

Yeah it happens, but rarely. At the point at which people are engaging in that sort of japery we'd hustle them back into MeTa. This is not unlike the "I'm writing a book" loopholein AskMe. We do not, in fact, require you to have proof of book-writing but we'd much prefer that you not use AskMe for wide ranging hypotheticals in a general sense.

The pet issues thing is huge in AskMe and it's actually something we're pretty fussy about mainly because we want people to see AskMe as a place where they can get answers not where they dread asking a question about something because they believe people are going to give them a ton of shit about it. And still, people manage to sneak in a bunch of judgmental stuff under the guide of being helpful. I don't know if everyone is aware that they are doing this, but I know for a fact some of them are.

So back to the activism/pet topics thing. We don't expect people to automatically become robots with no feelings when they post to AskMe. What we do expect is that people will respect the terms of discourse that have been set up for the place [by us and by the community over time] and realize that something that may be very very important to you may not be very very important to other people. Mention your thing, then step aside.

It helps me sometimes to remember that even for topics that I am 100% totally certain that I am correct in my thinking about, there is someone on MeFi (or the world at large) who disagrees with me. And not every arena is the proper arena to engage in mind-changing. And no one leads an entirely pure lifestyle and we can all be found wanting when measured with other people's rulers. And if I don't want people screwing up my BBQ thread with vegan activism, I need to not screw up their bridal shower thread with my anti-capitalist activism.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:31 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Reiterating Fishbike's question:

Often when threads on the blue spawn MeTa threads, someone will post a comment in the former linking to the latter. Would that be appropriate for an AskMe thread, or for this particular AskMe thread?

In thread I saw Jessamyn mentioned taking it to MeTa, but there was no direct link.

I'm thinking something like: "Since it wasn't apropos to the OP's question, the conflict-free diamond discussion has moved to MeTa." The lack of fig leaf is important AND why I want to ask first.

Of course, this thread is more about how to talk about conflict-free and less about why conflict-free. Still, nice to set a precedent.
posted by m@f at 11:36 AM on April 28, 2010


I added a link that just says MeTa which is usually something that the OP of the MeTa thread does but it's there now. I don't know what you mean by fig leaf.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:51 AM on April 28, 2010


Fig leaf as per Cortex above... barely covering something out of bounds to get get around the rules. Didn't want it to look like a stunt post. "Here's the MeTa. Oh, go big or go home."

But if there is precedent (OP in non-anon questions) then I'm good. :)
posted by m@f at 11:58 AM on April 28, 2010


Ah. I wasn't clear what you meant either. Yes, your proposed "Since it wasn't apropos to the OP's question, the conflict-free diamond discussion has moved to MeTa." phrasing would have been fine.

In general, if there's a metatalk about an askme (or mefi) thread and no link to that metatalk from the source thread yet, it's fine to drop a neutral "there is a discussion about this in Metatalk" comment in there. We generally ask people to leave all metacommentary out of threads, but the necessity of pointing out a metatalk discussion's existence is a key exception there. It's not something only mods can do; most of the time, it gets done by the person starting the metatalk thread, in fact.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:09 PM on April 28, 2010


Thanks jessamyn and cortex, that's what I was getting at with my question, yeah. I'd seen the link to MeTa thing done a lot in the blue, and couldn't recall seeing it done in the green, so just wanted to be sure that was an acceptable thing to do if there's a next time.
posted by FishBike at 12:13 PM on April 28, 2010


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