o look, tis a troll. A hairy, nasty little troll.
June 18, 2010 9:45 AM   Subscribe

Pseudohyotheticalmetatroll filter...What would you do?

I know that memails are verboten to be shared. I also know that generally it's best to not feed the trolls. With these things in mind...

I got a MeMail bright and early this morning that, while short, was very rude and written in such a way (by my interpretation) as to make it clear to me the writer believed I'm some kind of good times Appalachian trash and that, by his account, I should stay out threads about soccer wherein his/her intellect is obviously so superior. I tend to run a little towards the paranoid end of the spectrum, so maybe I over analyze, but that's what I got from the mail. What's weird is I made 1 comment in the vuvuzula thread, on a topic to which the sender hadn't (formerly in thread) disagreed w/.

This person obviously looked at my posting history before sending the mail, so I figured I'd do the same. The sender has something like 25 ask comments and 40 MeFi comments, and he's been around just over a month. I don't presume that anybody here ever pays attention to anything I wrote or that I'm in any kind of way known to most folks around these parts, but it struck me as out-of-character-for-MeFi that a new member would be sending out memails to strangers telling them to stoofoo.

So...I basically responded that I didn't know what he/she was talking about, but it also really irritated me.

So...do you forward these mails to mods? (It wasn't really hostile or threatening, just rude.) Do you troll them into the open and hope they flame out? Close the mail and go on with your day?

I really only ask because although I've had agreement and disagreement memails w/ people on MeMail before, they've never been rude or nasty.

Maybe I'm the minority? I dunno. Kind of strange though.
posted by TomMelee to Etiquette/Policy at 9:45 AM (138 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

"So...do you forward these mails to mods? (It wasn't really hostile or threatening, just rude.)"

If it had been hostile or threatening, I'd forward. Otherwise, no.

"Do you troll them into the open and hope they flame out?"

Nah. That's a waste of effort and contaminates things.

"Close the mail and go on with your day?"

Probably for the best. Trolls die without food. If they reply to your "huh?" with more of the same, though, then I'd forward.
posted by batmonkey at 9:49 AM on June 18, 2010


Do you troll them into the open and hope they flame out?

Please tell me you are kidding.

Harassing people via MeMail is bannable offense. Please feel free to let us know about it or not, but we take that sort of thing pretty seriously around here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:50 AM on June 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


If you feel someone is being abusive via mefimail or email, please do drop us a line via the contact form to let us know about it and we'll look into it.

If you feel someone is being just sort of rude or obnoxious but you don't think it's an actionable sort of thing, I'd recommend just not responding (or sending a simple "I will not be responding to you further" last message and sticking to that). Consider blocking them from mefimail or filtering their email to trash if you want a long-term Not Interesting In Hearing From Them solution that saves you from having to read and process something obnoxious before moving on to the Ignoring It step.

Beyond that, there's not much to say. I'm sorry someone was a dink to you in this specific case; if you want to talk more about the details, write to us directly and we can discuss it, otherwise it's pretty much between you and whoever and probably best dealt with by just ignoring it and moving on with your day.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:53 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someone really needs to start a petition to ban soccer from vuvuzela concerts.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 9:55 AM on June 18, 2010 [50 favorites]


Do you troll them into the open and hope they flame out?

You do not do this, no. If you decide to take problematic email and turn it into some sort of intentional epic battle, you're going a fair way toward forfeiting the higher ground you might have had in the first place and it transforms for us from a relatively clearcut "one user being abusive to another" thing into a much more intractable "two users who are being shitty" thing for which our remedy has to become putting you both on warning.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:55 AM on June 18, 2010


I...uh...what?

I looked at your comments in the vuvuzela thread and thought they were genial and innocuous. So it's not as if *you* were being aggressive or offensive.

Beyond that, I feel like anybody's entitled to have an opinion, even if it's stupid (oh, except on AskMe), and no fair bullying people out of threads because of their perceived expertise or lack thereof.

I would forward it to the mods.
posted by toodleydoodley at 9:56 AM on June 18, 2010


Just dropped in to say sorry that happened to you. And thanks for your comments on this site.
posted by bearwife at 9:56 AM on June 18, 2010


For the record, yes, I was joking about trolling them into the open. Sorry that wasn't clear.

I dunno, I mean, 99% of me really doesn't care, 1% of me almost let it take a crap on my morning. I first read it like 4 hours ago or more, just went on about my day.

I guess what I'm hoping to see here is if this is an isolated event, or if the threads I'm generally in are low traffic enough that I've just never been singled out from the herd before.
posted by TomMelee at 10:05 AM on June 18, 2010


I'd delete it an move on, but I have pretty thick skin.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:17 AM on June 18, 2010


I'd write back something sarcastic, bombastic, and aggressive, and tell 'em to fuck off at the end, but I am an awful person.
posted by Mister_A at 10:19 AM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


What would you do?

Shoot the hostage.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:25 AM on June 18, 2010 [9 favorites]


I'd recommend just not responding (or sending a simple "I will not be responding to you further" last message and sticking to that).

Excellent advice. I've done exactly that three times. Worked perfectly.
posted by zarq at 10:28 AM on June 18, 2010


Make a little voodoo doll with their user number on it. Stab it with pins until you feel better. Mention it to no one. This way, you can get your grar out in a way that has a 0% chance of causing harm to anyone else or escalating the conflict.
posted by FishBike at 10:29 AM on June 18, 2010


memails are verboten to be shared

That isn't a law or a rule, it's something someone made up someday and a lot of people ran with it.

There's nothing inherently more sancrosanct about a private message you receive on MetaFilter compared to a private email, physical letter, or whispered secret that you receive anywhere else. As the recipient, ultimately you get to decide if it's appropriate to share with others or not. Often it's not appropriate to share, and you'll take heat and suffer consequences if you do. But not always.
posted by mdevore at 10:29 AM on June 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


That isn't a law or a rule, it's something someone made up someday and a lot of people ran with it.

it's something someone made up someday

Did they? Who and when?

The mods have asked repeatedly that people not share the contents of private emails in public forums.
posted by zarq at 10:32 AM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Pretty sure it's as close to a rule as it gets on this site, mdevore. I don't think you are permitted to post emails on this site, either.

Let's do an experiment and see if it gets me banned:
FROM: Opal Davis
Hey bud!!

Do you want an extraordinary future, soar in earning power, and the respect of all?

Special offer:
We can assist with Diplomas from prestigious universities based on your present knowledge and professional experience.

Get a Degree in 5 weeks with our program!

~Our program will let EVERYONE with professional experience
gain a 100% verified Degree:

~Doctorate
~Bachelors
~Masters

- Think about it...
- You can realize YOUR Dreams!
- Live a better life by earning or upgrading your degree.

This is a splendid chance to make a right move and receive your due
benefits... if you are qualified but are lacking that piece of paper. Get one from us in a short time.

If you want to get better - you must Call us NOW to start improving your life!

~CALL FOR A FREE CONSULTATION~


1-301-396-3506

You must leave us a voice message with your phone number with country code if outside USA and name and we will contact you asap.


It's your move...
Make the right decision.




Yours sincerely.
posted by Mister_A at 10:34 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


The mods have also said there are almost no hard rules here and what rules exist are tempered with judgement. Anyway, sharing isn't not always public re-posting; there is quite a difference in concept and behavior between the two.
posted by mdevore at 10:37 AM on June 18, 2010


The mods have also said, "posting MeMails to the site(s) is forbidden." So that particular form of sharing, which is the one that most people would naturally think of, is forbidden. I have it right here in my rulebook. Also, you now have to roll a saving throw vs. Banhammer.
posted by Mister_A at 10:44 AM on June 18, 2010


"posting MeMails to the site(s) is forbidden."

If they said explicitly that, without further context (which seems unlikely), they made a silly distinction. What would make sense would be that private communications between two individuals should generally not be publicly reposted, presumably with the usual caveats about exceptions to the restriction. That would make sense.
posted by mdevore at 10:52 AM on June 18, 2010


Ignore the troll. I didn't think there was anything wrong with your vuvuzela comment.
posted by arcticseal at 10:53 AM on June 18, 2010


I probably would have sent the email on to a mod after I noticed that they were new. That's because I moderate on another site and would want to know myself. It's a lot easier to head off bad behavior before it becomes a pattern.
posted by zinfandel at 10:54 AM on June 18, 2010


mdevore, I think you are being deliberately obtuse. The OP here is talking about MeMails, and mentions that it is "verboten" to "share" them, which reasonable people understand. You seemed to dispute this, and I clarified that there was indeed a rule about posting Memails. This doesn't mean it's OK to post email either. I covered that as well. It seems like you're just looking to be "right" about something, so hey, you win! You have won the argument. If your obtuseness is indeliberate, I apologize.
posted by Mister_A at 11:00 AM on June 18, 2010


Anybody what's got a problem with Appalachia's got a problem with me.
posted by The White Hat at 11:06 AM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


I never request an apology for bad remarks, regardless of whether it is done to further a point, as you have done here, or whether it is sincere. There is a real point made about what is "verboten" to share, a claim that has been consistently repeated on the site, and whether you choose to accept it or not is a choice for you to make.

Besides, it's a damn fool thing to get worked up about.
posted by mdevore at 11:08 AM on June 18, 2010


The mods have also said there are almost no hard rules here and what rules exist are tempered with judgement

So? Does that apply here?

It does not.
Here's the mail rules

- do not repost private messages [email, memail, chat] without permission
- if someone is harassing you via MeMail let us know and that's a timeout-worthy offense

And again, all we can really control is what happens on the site. If someone wants to be hateful in their personal life and decent on the site, that's actually okay with us guidelines-wise. It may not be okay with us in the larger picture [i.e. I would not want to be friends with such a person] but all we have to go on is what people say here. That said, if someone is being hateful over email and then disingenuously commenting on the site in a way that suggests they're deliberately trolling [and that's happened once or twice but it's pretty rare] by all means let us know.

We can't keep racists and/or sexists and/or homophobes from using the site, but we can keep them from being racist/sexist/homophobic on the site to some extent. It's a tricky line and we're not perfect at it, but it's what we aim for. Those people who get spitting mad that people can even hold those beliefs need to take those larger "I hate the way you think!" discussions off the site or keep them civil here.
posted by jessamyn at 1:37 PM on October 15, 2009 [+] [!]

posted by zarq at 11:11 AM on June 18, 2010


And also, note the next two comments in that thread:

Does a notice on one's user profile reading "MeMail sent to this account may be reposted publicly" constitute permission?
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:46 PM on October 15, 2009 [+] [!]

No. No it doesn't.
posted by jessamyn at 1:57 PM on October 15, 2009 [+] [!]
posted by zarq at 11:13 AM on June 18, 2010


Literally every time I see that little "you've got mail!" icon up there I get this instinctive gutpunch "oh shit somebody wants to yell at me" feeling.

Which is weird because what little mail I get is usually pretty nice; there's only been one or two occasions where somebody was using memail to pick a fight. Guess I just have a guilty conscience.
posted by ook at 11:13 AM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've only ever gotten one "bad" memail; usually it's like, "Oh, that happened to me too," or a request for clarification or something.
posted by Mister_A at 11:26 AM on June 18, 2010


Consider yourself lucky.
posted by zarq at 11:28 AM on June 18, 2010


It's my dream to become popular enough to get hate-mail, man!
posted by Mister_A at 11:36 AM on June 18, 2010


That isn't a law or a rule, it's something someone made up someday and a lot of people ran with it.


Ummm -- trying to think of a law or rule that doesn't fit those elements. Can't, though some were made up long, long ago, and even those have been modified by people running with new ideas.
posted by Some1 at 11:36 AM on June 18, 2010


The Rule of Gravity?
posted by Mister_A at 11:44 AM on June 18, 2010


> memails are verboten to be shared

That isn't a law or a rule, it's something someone made up someday and a lot of people ran with it.


It is in fact a rule. One of the few fairly bright-line, hard-and-fast rules here. If you want to talk about whether it's possible to prise apart a specific context to find exceptions, we can do that, but this isn't a grey-area "sometimes bad, sometimes good" thing, it's a "avoid doing this if you like having an account here" thing.

There's nothing inherently more sancrosanct about a private message you receive on MetaFilter compared to a private email, physical letter, or whispered secret that you receive anywhere else. As the recipient, ultimately you get to decide if it's appropriate to share with others or not. Often it's not appropriate to share, and you'll take heat and suffer consequences if you do. But not always.

The rule is "on Metafilter, don't republish private communications without specific explicit permission from your interlocutor". Mefimail is the obvious touch point and so the context in which it most often comes up, but the same goes for email you're swapping with another user, an argument over chat, a transcription of an angry phonecall, or a hand-written kiss-off letter posted through the mail. Leave it off the site, period. If it needs mod attention, write to us about it and we can deal with it over email to whatever extent it needs dealing with.

This rule does not apply to the whole world. We don't expect anyone to think it does, nor do we have any illusions that what happens off the site is within our purview; there is indeed nothing globally and axiomatically sacrosanct about private communication, and we're not interested in trying to settle that argument. What we do have is rules about how to deal with it here on metafilter, and the rule is "don't do that".
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:46 AM on June 18, 2010


Mr. cortex, so if I get a Telex from a randy ingenue in Connecticut, it's OK to re-post here? As long as I have implicit oral permission?
posted by Mister_A at 11:51 AM on June 18, 2010


Mister_A: The Rule of Gravity?

OK, and all that thermodynamics stuff too, huh? I should have stayed awake in physics, I guess (and there was a rule about doing that too.).
posted by Some1 at 12:01 PM on June 18, 2010


what about love letters? can I get some smooshy memail?
posted by infini at 12:18 PM on June 18, 2010


It's my dream to become popular enough to get hate-mail, man!

Just be more opinionated about "difficult" topics, and the trolls will beat a path to your door. :P
posted by zarq at 12:18 PM on June 18, 2010


Harassing people via MeMail is bannable offense.

And I should be more clear. This is a bannable offense if you want us to handle it [and this is made easier if you're not involved in a nasty back and forth flamewar] by timing someone out who is harassing you. We do not go through MeMail looking for harassment and consider looking through MeMail something that, while technically possible, is not something we'd do unless something like this were coming up.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:23 PM on June 18, 2010


OK! Here goes!

Pie is stupid! Cats are communiss! If you like Harry Potter you are probably a dork!
posted by Mister_A at 12:24 PM on June 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


what about love letters? can I get some smooshy memail?

After yesterday, there's probably some out there.
posted by jgirl at 12:25 PM on June 18, 2010


Just be more opinionated about "difficult" topics, and the trolls will beat a path to your door. :P

Although I will say, (without naming names,) that the small number of trolls and over-the-top-outraged people I've encountered here have been far, far, far outweighed by the friendly folks who have offered kind, friendly advice and support via email and memail. I've been quite grateful for them.

So that much is good. :)
posted by zarq at 12:27 PM on June 18, 2010


After yesterday, there's probably some out there.

*scrabbles through the rubble, spots shiny thing, beams*
posted by infini at 12:35 PM on June 18, 2010


Pie is stupid! Cats are communiss! If you like Harry Potter you are probably a dork!

Dear Sir,

I am writing to express my extreme outrage at this travesty of "thought". My kitten Bumbledore is a first class capitalist. She makes an excellent living making and selling delicious custom pies at Harry Potter LARPing festivals. Clearly you have no idea what you are talking about.

Yours in rage, etc. etc.
Babblesort
posted by Babblesort at 12:37 PM on June 18, 2010 [14 favorites]


what about love letters? can I get some smooshy memail?
posted by infini at 3:18 PM on June 18 [+] [!]


/sends infini gooey memail

/checks contacts to spouse infini, sees already spoused to infini

/opens askme about how infini is too fucking needy and what do I do

/gets pile of hate memail about abuse of infini

/whines to meta

/gets flamed

/sulks

you see how these things can go?!
posted by toodleydoodley at 1:11 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


is this where i sign up for the mefi love note list?
posted by frwagon at 1:12 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


/deeply hurt by toodleywhatsisface

/goes to fridge

/pulls out another beer

/pouts

/fucking needy? fucking needy? did you just say that ???

/pouts some more

/sneaks look sideways at wasissface

/winks
posted by infini at 1:15 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whoa we made a love connection here! It's sweet and it's creepy - sweepy is what it is!
posted by Mister_A at 1:20 PM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Literally every time I see that little "you've got mail!" icon up there I get this instinctive gutpunch "oh shit somebody wants to yell at me" feeling.

Damn dude I think you're doing Metafilter wrong. Every time I see that little "you've got mail!" icon up there I get this instinctive "awww yeah somebody wants to exchange sexual favors or cookie recipes with me" feeling.
posted by little e at 1:22 PM on June 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


rightly, swept right off my feetses ;p
posted by infini at 1:22 PM on June 18, 2010


sexual favors or cookie recipes

Why does it have to be either/or?
posted by ook at 1:34 PM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


It is in fact a rule

It is a poor rule to state explicitly without qualification, although no one here went so far as to say it is a "sometimes bad, sometimes good" thing to do. You have reframed remarks beyond the scope of the original post.

I recently saw someone post about not sharing even a part of a spam MeMail. If you would unconditionally ban a person for reposting a part of a spam MeMail where it was potentially useful in MetaTalk ("hey, I got this weird kinda maybe spam email quoting blah-blah-blah, did anybody else, can you explain what's goin on?"), then, yes, you have misapplied your "hard-and-fast" rule in a way which is nothing less that stupid. I think that you have a more intelligent and nuanced role than simply scaring people with a-banning.

Leaks of private communications because they were shared are legend. You certainly know of high profile cases which have literally changed history, for good and ill. This includes events posted here on MetaFilter, on your home site and not just out in the whole world. Every so often, one side of the communication involves a member here, on your home site and not just out in the whole world. People on MetaFilter love when that happens, naturally, it makes things more personal.

Locally threatening a ban because Joe shared what Jane said within the confines of common sense, and trying to create an impenetrable divide between the common courtesy treatment of private communication and MetaFilter's (or at least your) declared absolute treatment is, well, it's pretty kneejerk. And, anticipating one response, courtesy-based behavior is more common and flexible than stating this issue lives only in the land of weird exceptions that never come up.
posted by mdevore at 1:35 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dear Sir,

I am writing to express my extreme outrage at this travesty of "thought". My kitten Bumbledore is a first class capitalist. She makes an excellent living making and selling delicious custom pies at Harry Potter LARPing festivals. Clearly you have no idea what you are talking about.

Yours in rage, etc. etc.
Babblesort


Dear Babblesort,

I write regarding the custom pie I was sold at the recent Trilarping Tournament by one Bumbledore, BA (Hons). I found the crust to be unsatisfactory, and registered my displeasure with the afore-mentioned cat (of the feline, rather than jazz, kind). I was directed to you, as the shadow-partner in the PIE$ franchise run by Catbus Bumbledore (we're on first name terms).

I don't really know where I'm going with this, so I'll end by demanding restitution. Payment was in galleons.

Yours,

Disappointed of Lower Beeding.
posted by djgh at 1:35 PM on June 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


Here's what you do; consider the letter and how angry it made you, now, take that anger and let it build up behind your eyes, growing stronger and stronger until you can feel it like a drumbeat hammering in your skull, and as you are doing this, picture this person in your head. You may not know what they look like, but you know them well enough. You know their shape, their essence, and that is what you are going to focus on. Take that anger in your head, fold it into their essence and compress it; squeeze it down, tighter and tighter... it's the size of a house, and then an orange, and then a pea, and now a pin-head. A single point of fury with the density of a star, keep crushing it down until it's just gone...

Now relax. Take a deep breath. Feel better? Good.

Because you just gave them a giant throbbing pimple right in the middle of their forehead.

As you read this, consider the following; have you ever been mean to me and woken up with a big zit? Yeah, now you know better.
posted by quin at 1:36 PM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


sexual favors or cookie recipes

Why does it have to be either/or?


here's zarq's recipe for toddler enchilada cookies, now fuck me doesn't quite work does it?
posted by infini at 1:41 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


George Clooney
Date :
Jun 18, 2010 1:39 PM
Subject :
Smooshy MeMail
Message :
Hi infini, George Clooney here.

I spotted your request for smooshy memail, and I turned my head and smiled in that sexy way I do so well, and I thought, "Well, perhaps I ought to send infini something smooshy." So I did a Google search for "smooshy," but all I found were pictures of yarn, babies, and kittens.

But none of those really brought forth feelings of smooshiness. Now, I've been letting Alec Baldwin use the guest room, so I asked him if he knew where I could find something smooshy. "Look under the azaleas," he said, "I lost one of my shoes and I stepped on something when I came home last night."

I gave up and turned on the television. Larry King was interviewing someone from BP.

"...it's not as bad as it looks, it just covers everything with a smooshy residue, and we--"

"We're out of time," said Larry.

I needed to get out of the house, so I went to the Apple Store and bought a new iPhone. I checked my email, and there was a note from Leno, begging me to visit him. I wrote back, "I'm with Coco!" and listened to that satisfying SMOOSH sound iPhones make when you send email.

--George

P.S. You have my permission to post this email.

posted by infini at 1:45 PM on June 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


sexual favors or cookie recipes

Why does it have to be either/or?

here's zarq's recipe for toddler enchilada cookies, now fuck me doesn't quite work does it?
posted by infini at 4:41 PM on June 18 [1 favorite -] Favorite added! [!]


infini kills me. I'm so glad we're spoused.

gee honey, I wouldn't take nuthin' for ya.

/mods please kill that mopey askme ;-p
posted by toodleydoodley at 1:45 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


...and i just got love notes from infini AND toodleydoodley... I promise i'm not trying to squeeze between you two. (but thank you both - brightened an otherwise blah day)
posted by frwagon at 1:47 PM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


here's zarq's recipe for toddler enchilada cookies, now fuck me doesn't quite work does it?

o.O
posted by zarq at 1:50 PM on June 18, 2010


I think that you have a more intelligent and nuanced role than simply scaring people with a-banning.

I think us being clear that rule exists is important. I think addressing clearly the statement that such a rule does not exist or is made up is important. You declared upthread that there was no such rule; that's wrong and not helpful.

We don't hand out bans like candy here; if someone stumbles unknowingly over the rule in a non-malicious way, we let them know what's up and that's likely that. But the rule itself is pretty simple and straightforward, and if it gives people pause in weird grey-area situations such that they err on the side of caution, that's a good thing. We'd much rather someone hit us up privately or address a general issue than have them paste some bit of correspondence into a thread or a post, period.

Folks who know the rule and violate it anyway, especially in a malicious was, are angling for a banning. That's the intent, and us having been very clear about that when it comes up is what we can point to on the rare occasions that it's necessary.

I'm not sure if what you're asking for is for everyone who ever mentions the existence of this rule to type out several paragraphs qualifying it as such; I don't think that's realistic, and so people mentioning it in a one off as "don't post private correspondence" is a practical expectation. See also "don't self-link", which is not a sufficiently nuanced statement of the issue but is absolutely a sufficiently clear and simple first approximation.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:50 PM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


That isn't a law or a rule, it's something someone made up someday and a lot of people ran with it.

Reposting someone else's words from email, mefimail, hand written letter, whatever, breaks copyright laws in many places. If you posted on your website word for word an email I sent you I'd be sending you a take down notice (and it would stick). There's no reason why personal communications are treated differently than other writing, I still own the copyright.

I'm sure the reason for the rule here is much more about it being a shitty thing to do than worrying about copyright but to roll your eyes and say 'there are no laws against it' is frankly wrong.
posted by shelleycat at 2:13 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Look here, people.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:17 PM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I looked at your comments in the vuvuzela thread and thought they were genial and innocuous. So it's not as if *you* were being aggressive or offensive.

Presumably the MeMailer is upset that TomMelee posted in good faith in the guns v taser AskMe.
posted by desuetude at 2:18 PM on June 18, 2010


Let me be clear: You all have my explicit (wink wink) written permission to publish the nude pics of myself that I've been sending to your mobiles.
posted by Mister_A at 2:24 PM on June 18, 2010


I don't get the comment, Burhanistan
posted by infini at 2:29 PM on June 18, 2010


I looked at your comments in the vuvuzela thread and thought they were genial and innocuous. So it's not as if *you* were being aggressive or offensive.

Presumably the MeMailer is upset that TomMelee posted in good faith in the guns v taser AskMe.
posted by desuetude at 5:18 PM on June 18 [+] [!]


well shit, all bets are off, then.
posted by toodleydoodley at 2:35 PM on June 18, 2010


jessamyn writes "Harassing people via MeMail is bannable offense. Please feel free to let us know about it or not, but we take that sort of thing pretty seriously around here."

If this comes up what kind of information do you want us to include? Just the harrasser's name? The time stamp of the MeFiMail? Complete text?
posted by Mitheral at 2:51 PM on June 18, 2010


It is a poor rule to state explicitly without qualification,

I'm just not seeing it. It's not hard. It doesn't require ten paragraphs of explanation to be clear.
posted by rtha at 2:54 PM on June 18, 2010


If this comes up what kind of information do you want us to include? Just the harrasser's name? The time stamp of the MeFiMail? Complete text?

Depends a bit on context, but if it's an issue of someone being abusive/creepy/etc we'll likely need to see the text, yeah.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:56 PM on June 18, 2010


I think they're kind of awesome. I think it's awesome that Africa gets to host its first ever world cup...and they've been happening for ~93 years. I think it's awesome that the Afrikaaners are so excited, and (although I'm not there in person), I think it highlights just how awesome and exciting soccer is to the rest of the world (and for some of us here.

Not that it would ever excuse rudeness, but I don't think that Afrikaaners means what you think it does.
posted by Meta Filter at 2:56 PM on June 18, 2010


/ sends TomMelee hate memail

/ realizes s/he's probably related to TomMelee

/ wonders fretfully if he'll be at the family reunion this fourth of july
posted by toodleydoodley at 2:58 PM on June 18, 2010


I think Soccer Fans really need to take page from the Baseball Fan playbook - though baseball is often called the most boring sport in the world, most of its adherents take the time to share their excitement and intellectual engagement. Sometimes they'll give a little trash talk*, or they'll shrug and ignore you, but mostly they'll get misty eyed, and recount their favorite play. Get a smart and passionate fan, and it's like reading about Dwarf Fortress or EVE Online, even if you don't want to get into it yourself, you =understand=. One fan put together an 18 hour slideshow set to music that a lot of people liked, sports fan or not.

What they generally don't do is sneer at you and call you arrogant, stupid or parochial.

(*"Football combines the two worst things about America: it is violence punctuated by committee meetings" - George Will, baseball fan.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 3:04 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Man I wish people sent me rude memails, i loves to pwn me some newbs.
posted by empath at 3:04 PM on June 18, 2010


I'll send a creatively rude memail for every spousing, just saying.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 3:48 PM on June 18, 2010


Good times. I just got a MeMail from a (much more friendly person) who magically guessed the identity of the troll based on a MeMail THEY recently got that was seemingly out-of-line a little bit.

Really though, not hostile, not threatening---just a dick. I kind of doubt that being a dick is a bannable offense, forwarding to mods seems kind of like tattling.
posted by TomMelee at 4:12 PM on June 18, 2010


Burhanistan's link is going to haunt my dreams. Or at least the part where weird things float through my brain right before the big myoclonic jerk that sends me into sleep.
posted by catlet at 4:15 PM on June 18, 2010


is going to haunt my dreams. Or at least the part where weird things float through my brain right before the big myoclonic jerk that sends me into sleep.

Speaking of Metafilter-related things that float through your mind just before the myoclonic jerk, about 10 times now, I've had an image of AskMe questions scrolling by on their green background just before I sleep.

The third time this happened, I realized that, if I paid attention, I could actually read parts of the questions, namely, all of the bold yellow writing and some of the white, yet so far none of the questions in toto.

That gave me a myoclonic jerk all right, but not the kind just before you drop off.

Has this happened to anyone else?

It upsets me a little bit. It makes me feel like something new is going wrong with my brain.
posted by jamjam at 5:40 PM on June 18, 2010


the big myoclonic jerk that sends me into sleep.

That's a terrible thing to call your husband/wife/s.o./dog/cat/Edward-Cullen-shaped body pillow!
posted by tzikeh at 5:41 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


You take that back, tzikeh!

team draco malfoy
posted by catlet at 6:52 PM on June 18, 2010


Just be more opinionated about "difficult" topics,

I try, but it's not working. Where is my deluge of hatemail, dammit.
posted by rodgerd at 7:07 PM on June 18, 2010


Anybody what's got a problem with Appalachia's got a problem with me.

FINE THEN as a good times Appalachian person myself, I'm blaming you for:

1. so fucking hot
1a. so fucking humid
2. all these damn bugbites
2a. so itchy
3. the nearest bookstore is two hours away
4. why is it so difficult these days to get shine
2b. really fucking itchy
5. those jackasses who robbed a pharmacy with a sword yesterday
posted by little e at 8:20 PM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


> Burhanistan's link is going to haunt my dreams.

You're welcome!
posted by Burhanistan at 8:44 PM on June 18, 2010


Anybody what's got a problem with Appalachia's got a problem with me.

FINE THEN as a good times Appalachian person myself, I'm blaming you for:

1. so fucking hot
1a. so fucking humid
2. all these damn bugbites
2a. so itchy
3. the nearest bookstore is two hours away
4. why is it so difficult these days to get shine
2b. really fucking itchy
5. those jackasses who robbed a pharmacy with a sword yesterday
posted by little e at 11:20 PM on June 18 [1 favorite -] Favorite added! [!]


lemme get in on this:

6. cold in the winter
7. goddam mountains make it get dark early, light late
8. no goddam phone service hardly
9. poison ivy
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:22 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Reposting someone else's words from email, mefimail, hand written letter, whatever, breaks copyright laws in many places

This may come as a shock, but the copyright issue of reposting private messages online has been debated by many, including lawyers, for at least a couple decades now. I first remember an extended debate about it on CompuServe, a discussion which at the time did include two attorneys. The general consensus then was that there were no reasonable damages for a civil claim of copyright infringement for an email from a regular citizen, if no trade secrets, literary considerations, or similar items of import were involved. In short, it was not an attractive legal issue to pursue for anyone in the general populace.

This is not new stuff here. It is ground that has been hashed and rehashed many times over many years. People have been reposting private communications since the net began, often for shitty reasons, and sometimes for good ones.

I can suggest a little light reading for you about sharing private communications. It involves Joyce Maynard and J. D. Salinger, and her subsequent public auctioning of his personal and private letters to her for $156,500 while Salinger was still alive (J.D. of course being a public figure of literary renown far beyond anyone here). There is a brief overview on Wikipedia about the incident, or further details can be researched.

If you posted on your website word for word an email I sent you I'd be sending you a take down notice (and it would stick).

I doubt this, even with recent excessive DRM oogie-boogie. Reposts of email happens all the time. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people repost messages from others over the years, but I bet it's been several hundred times just from casual browsing. I don't necessarily agree with their action; I just happen to know people do it. A whole lot. Effective protection of a private email is almost nil if a recipient wants to repost it, unless the aggrieved party has deep pockets, great patience, or a large amount of resources to pursue the matter.
posted by mdevore at 2:00 AM on June 19, 2010


You declared upthread that there was no such rule; that's wrong and not helpful.

I indicated that a statement to the effect that sharing of MeMails falls in the "verboten" category is a nonexistent rule. And I maintain that despite contrary claims, the rule does not exist except as a somewhat arbitrary enforcement by the admins, because there are a sufficient number of exceptions that a blanket rule would resemble swiss cheese. Well, you can share a private communication if it's already been in other public media, something which happens frequently. Or if it's an emergency. Or if the interested parties think it's OK. Or, well, I can name you ten other ways that sharing of a MetaFilter email or other private communication could legitimately occur. Did you want me to list them all? No? Good, cuz I didn't want to rethink them all up now anyway. I could shoot for a 100 if you gave me enough time. We both have better things to do than me write, and you read, them.

The no self-links rule is not the same idea. Prohibition of spamming and self-linking, typically actions related to each other, is a hard-and-fast rule you find on almost any public forum because it is a rule about a behavior which touches upon monetary or commercial interests, usually to the detriment of the forum members. Insta-ban rules about reposting something somebody sent someone when benign intent is clear is not a common rule on forums. In fact, a few public forums encourage such behavior, particularly when the intent is less benign or more amusing, but probably the less said about those forums, the better.

You needn't make a rule about "malicious wa[y]s" of reposting a private communication because you got the ban justification at "malicious". You ban people who act maliciously here. Good enough, don't need to qualify beyond that.

I don't know where the several, or ten, paragraphs bit comes from, but presumably it's an indulgence in a smidgeon of hyperbole for effect.
posted by mdevore at 2:51 AM on June 19, 2010


Everytime I get a MeMail, I feel all shiny in my happy place as they're usually really nice and/or silly. I've only gotten one nasty MeMail and that was quickly resolved by "I'm not gonna argue with you" and ignoring any further attempts to argue.

I'm figuring that instead of hate mail, my detractors have set up an elaborate system of voodoo dolls that explain things like those nasty zits I keep getting...
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:21 AM on June 19, 2010


--I maintain that despite contrary claims, the rule does not exist except as a somewhat arbitrary enforcement by the admins--

But you're wrong, in fact. The rule is not arbitrary and it says: "please don't fucking post private messages". All else is beside the point.
posted by peacay at 6:21 AM on June 19, 2010


I indicated that a statement to the effect that sharing of MeMails falls in the "verboten" category is a nonexistent rule. And I maintain that despite contrary claims, the rule does not exist except as a somewhat arbitrary enforcement by the admins, because there are a sufficient number of exceptions that a blanket rule would resemble swiss cheese.

You may be right. That said, I can only think of a few instances where reprinting a member's MeMail or email on the site [or off, occasionally] has even happened and most of the time we delete the comment and give the person who did it a time out or ban them. I doubt you could find 100 examples much less 100 exceptions.

I agree with you in the larger world of the internet this sort of thing happens all the time, so people who are being practical about their communication should know that if their text is copy-pasteable it may be copy-pasted, but really the rule is don't do that here. With the sanction for not following it that your account may be time-outed/banned at our discretion.

The rule, like all rules here, has a little bit of leeway, but not much. And it's only got the arbitrariness that "One of four people decides it is/is not okay." if there's a question. Is there something about the system as it is that you dislike, mdevore? Or do you just think we're misrepresenting it?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:44 AM on June 19, 2010


Boiled down to its essence, "don't post memail/email from another member" is "don't be a jerk."

Some people have really broad definitions of what being a jerk is. Some people have very narrow definitions of what being a jerk is. Rather than get into how ever many meTas it would take to hash out exactly what "don't be a jerk" means here on metafilter when it comes to what kind of correspondence between members is okay to post when, it's easier to keep people from being deliberately or accidentally jerky (in this particular way) by making the rule the way it is.

People mostly seem to have no trouble understanding this, and are happy to find other ways to be jerks.
posted by rtha at 7:07 AM on June 19, 2010


I indicated that a statement to the effect that sharing of MeMails falls in the "verboten" category is a nonexistent rule. And I maintain that despite contrary claims, the rule does not exist except as a somewhat arbitrary enforcement by the admins, because there are a sufficient number of exceptions that a blanket rule would resemble swiss cheese.

Calling it a "nonexistent rule" is silliness. It's a rule, and a clearly stated one. No rule on the site would exist except by arbitrary enforcement by the admins. I seriously do not understand how you think this place works. We have thankfully few hard rules and tend toward guidelines, but all of it comes down to what's okay and not okay to do on the site and none of that would matter if there were no consequences for violating those expectations. That's how rules work.

Yes, there are exceptional cases. The main one we deal with comes down to people just not knowing they're stepping over a line; like I said, when that happens in a benign context we usually just end up deleting the pastejob and having a discussion about the don't-post-private-correspondence rule.

Beyond that, though, the exceptions are not so rife in practice as you either actually think they are or just want to speculate they might be for the sake of this argument. This is isn't something we're just theorizing about, this is the rule that's firmed up over years of actually running this place and dealing with the occasional correspondence-related issue.

Well, you can share a private communication if it's already been in other public media, something which happens frequently.

Public media publishing a random couple of mefites' private correspondence is manifestly not something that happens frequently, no.

Or if it's an emergency.

It would depend an awful lot on the nature of the emergency. The answer would still be no most of the time.

Or if the interested parties think it's OK.

If both parties in a private conversation explicitly grant permission for one or the other to copy a portion of that conversation into public discussion on Metafilter, we are no longer talking about someone reprinting a private conversation without explicit permission to do so. This is not an exception, this is someone paying mind to the rule and doing the right thing in the case that it's worthwhile/important for them to bring private conversation into the public view.

Or, well, I can name you ten other ways that sharing of a MetaFilter email or other private communication could legitimately occur. Did you want me to list them all? No?

You can list them if you want to. I feel like you are still trying to make an argument that this can't be a rule because their might be things that you think the rule shouldn't or wouldn't apply to, and that's not a compelling argument. It is a rule, one we've stated and discussed a whole bunch, and that we have the sense to consider exceptional cases when they arise is part and parcel of pretty much all the work we do here and is hardly an argument to throw the rule out the window.

Again: this is a rule for metafilter, regarding private conversations off-channel between mefites. It's not a rule for the whole world. It doesn't need to accommodate the requirements of a whole-world-scope rule. Many of the rules and guidelines here don't fit that bill, and couldn't, and don't need to: we're concerned with this site, this community, and helping it keep running healthily based on what we've seen come before.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:30 AM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]



4. why is it so difficult these days to get shine

I wasn't aware that it was.

My daddy, who doesn't drink at all, still turns his hand to peach 'brandy' every year. The stuff would knock a mule down and take all the enamel off its teeth to boot. There are all these sealed bottles of dangerously strong peach likker in the cellar, growing ever more potent.

He's not the only one of whom I know, but he certainly is the only one who doesn't drink the final product. I always tell this story and people jump to say 'Oh, you can send me some! I will drink it!' Then I do and they do, and then they never ask for any more. The headache alone lasts a week, I am given to understand.
posted by winna at 10:29 AM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


> I indicated that a statement to the effect that sharing of MeMails falls in the "verboten" category is a nonexistent rule. And I maintain that despite contrary claims, the rule does not exist except as a somewhat arbitrary enforcement by the admins, because there are a sufficient number of exceptions that a blanket rule would resemble swiss cheese.

Man, you sure are picking an odd hill to die on. You are wrong, you have been told you are wrong by everyone, including the mods, and yet you keep coming out with your guns blazing. It won't destroy your intellectual credibility to say "OK, I was wrong," you know.
posted by languagehat at 11:02 AM on June 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


I could shoot for a 100 if you gave me enough time. We both have better things to do than me write, and you read, them.

My doubt on this point grows every time this thread reloads. Apparently you have nothing better to do than stubbornly dig in the literal definition of "rule" against the understood guidelines of how this place runs.

Man, I'd hate to be a jaywalker in your town, with you making citizens' arrests for violation of THE LAW.
posted by desuetude at 11:14 AM on June 19, 2010


this definitely does not compute
posted by infini at 11:31 AM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


You take that back, tzikeh!

team draco malfoy


Oh GREAT, now I'm imagining a fight between Edward Cullen and Draco Malfoy.

VAMPIRES VS. DEATHEATERS + VUVUZELAS = WOMAN RUPTURES THROAT DURING VUVUZELA CONTEST
posted by tzikeh at 2:41 PM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is memail encrypted on the server? Do mods have an interface to read users' memail?
posted by floam at 4:06 PM on June 19, 2010


Oh and: does deleting a memail actually delete the data, or just hide them?
posted by floam at 4:09 PM on June 19, 2010


ook: "every time I see that little "you've got mail!" icon up there I get this instinctive gutpunch"

My first thought upon reading that was "There's a way to punch people in the stomach over the internet? AWESOME!"

Sorry, I'm a terrible person. If it helps at all, I did resist the urge to memail you and test the gut-punching protocol.
posted by the latin mouse at 4:10 PM on June 19, 2010


Is memail encrypted on the server?

Nope. With mefimail, the answer to "I need feature x" is pretty much universally "please use a robust email client that provides feature x", and that includes secure encryption of mail message content.

Do mods have an interface to read users' memail?

We do not, and we will not ever have one. We do not look at the content of folks mefimail. I can contrive very unlikely circumstances in which e.g. verifying the content of one specific message could be desirable, but nothing like that has come up in three years and ideally will never come up at all.

Oh and: does deleting a memail actually delete the data, or just hide them?

I don't know, but Matt or pb would.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:46 PM on June 19, 2010


I once got one of those years ago. It bugged me, so I wrote back to the guy, basically saying, "what's your problem, dude?" He wrote back saying, "well, your response was stupid" and i wrote back that my response was my opinion and even if it was stupid (though it wasn't!), that still didn't mean that he should be a dick.

He never wrote me back, and though it's deleted in my MeMail, I was obviously sufficiently traumatized about it that I still remember it, to this day.

I'll be ok, but it was then I realized that everyone DOES need a hug.
posted by jasper411 at 6:50 PM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


hug * from users where userid<>87842
posted by FishBike at 7:18 PM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


i've been flipping back and forth between this thread and 4chan and think i've confused myself

why are we mefimailing each other vuvuzulas?
posted by subbes at 8:04 PM on June 19, 2010


i've received so many wonderful and beautiful memails - but, the shitty ones do sort of stand out. i've started responding with "uh, ok" or "lol, what?" when communications have fallen to a shitty level.
posted by nadawi at 10:44 PM on June 19, 2010


omg. can i just say - i know a lot of people hate them and i understand why, but i LOVE the vuvuzula. i love it just as and i love the furor over them. i love the single use websites and parodies and all mentions of "stop playing soccer at the vuvuzela concert". i love them! i might order 2 for the house.
posted by nadawi at 10:46 PM on June 19, 2010


I wasn't aware that it was.

There are seasonal variations in supply.
posted by little e at 8:20 AM on June 20, 2010


((( ))) hugs jasper411

sorry late jasper hope u made it thru the nite ok ;-)
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:39 AM on June 20, 2010


Man, you sure are picking an odd hill to die on

Nothing is dying, and there ain't no hills; I'm debating an (claimed) rule or policy. Well, actually, your application of the analogy died an unmourned death, but fortunately it is easily revived for bigger issues where it actually applies. I said something you and a few others don't agree with about the policy. I happen to think cortex has too deeply committed himself to a zero-tolerance position which isn't supported by common sense, and he is sufficiently entrenched in his position that we're not going to make any further progress by sweeping rhetorical flourishes at each other. I'm betting he feels approximately the same way about me. OMG, I think the admins make mistakes just like real people. All of 'em, and they do it pretty regularly too. Oh, the horror.

No one here is the divinely appointed forum designate to decide All That Is Correct, although that would be a pretty cool job to have. You have been actively online long enough that you know people in forums do not agree about quite a few issues, and they often speak up about the disagreement: you certainly know better than most about that whole "open discussion" thing as one of the definitions of forum. Typically there is no final answer that everybody agrees is fitting and proper. Kind of real life, that.

Finally, "everyone" didn't participate in this. This is small corner of a small part of a relatively low-traffic subsite with a low member to post ratio, concerning a topic that is now ancient in forum post terms. Damn near everyone hasn't read the topic down this far. Kind of like the TL;DR meme, that.
posted by mdevore at 1:28 AM on June 21, 2010


is there something about the system as it is that you dislike

I dunno, did you feel like more critical debate? I thought everybody was tired of it by now; I'm a bit weary myself. Probably need a nap. But sure, like most complex systems in the world, there are a number of things about MetaFilter I dislike, either a little or a lot, and typically refrain from remarking on. Restraint in practice, hard as it is to believe.

I have, of course, forsworn further debate on favorites, so that's out for me. Or dots in obits, that's a discussion which has been way overdone. But we could discuss an unfortunate trend towards moderation by intimidation (i.e. ban threats) in policy discussions as a first-line defense rather than an item of last resort. Or the heavier hand lately in censoring topics which irritate the sensibilities of the easily offended. Or to broaden the target area, how MetaFilter increasingly has front page posts of a particular political POV. Wow, we could piss off everybody.

Probably better to wait until the issues come up over the months or years here in MetaTalk and then more judiciously choose a time to jump in, though, dontcha think? Outrage overdose, it's just not good for anyone.
posted by mdevore at 2:13 AM on June 21, 2010


we could discuss an unfortunate trend towards moderation by intimidation (i.e. ban threats) in policy discussions as a first-line defense rather than an item of last resort.

Yeah I guess we're in "agree to disagree" territory here. There are a few things that we think are important enough to community harmony that we have them on the "if you do this we may ban you" list and reprinting people's private communications that happen on our system are one of them.

I personally don't see that as intimidating but that may be because I don't find it a difficult rule to follow. This site is lightly moderated. We have few hard-and-fast rules and even those are applied thoughtfully [yes even sometimes friendslinkers do not get banned 4eva] but it's worth knowing what the worst case scenario is as well as what, realistically, might happen if you broke them.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:00 AM on June 21, 2010


mdevore writes "No one here is the divinely appointed forum designate to decide All That Is Correct"

Uh, cortex and jessamyn via mathowie.
posted by Mitheral at 7:08 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


moderation by intimidation

So, stating "this is a rule, if you break the rule, these are the consequences" is intimidation? You must have a difficult time making your way through the world.
posted by rtha at 7:16 AM on June 21, 2010


I'm debating an (claimed) rule or policy.

You are taking the odd approach of trying to wedge a "(claimed)" into a place where it does not belong, on the strength of, I guess, your conviction that we have been thinking this was a rule for the last several years only because we are mistaken and you are correct about what mefi site policy is. I don't know any other way to say this: you seem to be badly mistaken about this point and to not know it.

I happen to think cortex has too deeply committed himself to a zero-tolerance position which isn't supported by common sense

I think you haven't been reading my comments very carefully in this thread if what you got was "zero-tolerance position" out of my explanation of what happens when the rule collides with benign ignorance. I have been pretty clear on that point at least twice in this thread.

It's fine if you don't like the rule, or think that there are problems with how it has been and will be enforced, and if you want to talk about those practical results of it I'm game, but the rule exists, functions reasonably well as a deterrent to the kind of conversational-transplant stuff that was once a problem on the site years ago but is not so much now, and gives us a clear position to work from when dealing with a new instance trying to prop up. It exists. It's a rule. There is no ambiguity here.

But we could discuss an unfortunate trend towards moderation by intimidation (i.e. ban threats) in policy discussions as a first-line defense rather than an item of last resort.

You want to document that trend? Like Jessamyn, I don't agree with this analysis and am curious where you see it.

Or the heavier hand lately in censoring topics which irritate the sensibilities of the easily offended.

Again, I'm not really seeing it from our end. I guess it'd be helpful to know where you feel you're seeing this as an actual ongoing trend rather than a proportional reaction to a weird spate lately of, in particular, I/P-related threads—removing crappy fight-starter threads is not a new idea.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:23 AM on June 21, 2010


> I said something you and a few others don't agree with about the policy.

The "few others" happen to include everyone who makes policy on the site.

> You have been actively online long enough that you know people in forums do not agree about quite a few issues, and they often speak up about the disagreement

Yup, and I have no problem with disagreements. You're perfectly within your rights to say "I don't agree with the policy." What's odd, and ludicrous, is that you're stubbornly insisting that there is no policy and arguing the point with the people who make the policy. But hey, knock yourself out; I'll just sit here and enjoy the popcorn.
posted by languagehat at 8:22 AM on June 21, 2010


Geez, busy for a day and things go in five different directions. Maybe you guys can collaborate on creating one totally awesome post which presents an irrefutable argument that will leave me stunned and unable to muster a riposte. No? Well, perhaps I can run quickly through this. No promises next round.

Uh, cortex and jessamyn via mathowie.

Uhh, no, unless you believe in admin infallibility as with Papal infallibility. That does seem to be an idea which is making the rounds, but it's an unhealthy symptom to see in any forum. Maybe it's all an misunderstanding, so let's try a slightly more blunt and vulgar approach. Admins fuck up just like everybody else here: they have fucked up, they do fuck up, and they will fuck up. They fuck up a little pretty often, and they fuck up a lot once in a while. This is basic human behavior writ profane, and is not held in abeyance by the pure light of noble MetaFilter intentions. Throughout the history of the real world, online communities, and MetaFilter itself, enforcement power has never granted the holder an exemption from bad or confusing decisions. While admins' actions follow law by definition, the definition umbrella does not extend to cover the correctness of those actions, cf any political debate that ever occurred.

So, stating "this is a rule, if you break the rule, these are the consequences" is intimidation? You must have a difficult time making your way through the world.

It is interesting how often people extrapolate a position they don't agree with to incredibly broad predictions on how the other person must be or must experience some horrible or difficult thing because of that disagreement. This happens often enough that I'm betting there is one of those clever Internet laws named after it. But no, I make my way fine through the world, or at least as well as average, and have for quite a long time. Of course, there are many who say that the way an average person makes their way through the world is not good, but, that's a topic for another time. This discussion has already spread like, hmm, saying an oil slick is probably too soon.

MetaFilter, as represented both by admins and especially by a great many active members, has a real hard time lately taking criticism, and it didn't use to do it all that badly. I don't know if it's the downside of those "this is the greatest forum and we have the great mods evah" posts, if a lot of people feel under assault from the recent spate of high-profile world's ills and believe they must defend the ideal of one perfect spot in the world, or, sheesh, I can wildly extrapolate as well as the next person. The phenomenon exists, but as for why, I don't have a good answer. Still, it would be "nice" if the clock were turned back on the "smash the infidel" trend.
posted by mdevore at 12:50 AM on June 23, 2010


I personally don't see that as intimidating but that may be because I don't find it a difficult rule to follow.

While I put that "moderation by intimidation" in a middle of paragraph on general issues with the MetaFile system, per your remark, and followed it with a paragraph about possibly joining a discussion on them at a future time, I had a hunch that it might be pull-quoted as if it only applied to the current discussion. Because of that, I considered not mentioning it. I did anyway because it related to what we were saying, so I guess I should follow my hunches more often, because here we are. Another turn, but let's stop at this one.

Semi-briefly put, the point is that because admins apparently believe it useful, they show and talk about ye olde bannhammer with members more than may be wise. Even threaten them, perhaps, although you might not agree with that interpretation. Anyway, members may oooh and ahhh over the cool hammer jokes and cartoons, but ultimately, I think it is counterproductive to mention bans regularly and casually in policy remarks. Much of the ban's power is in its rare reveal. You place it in regular public view as an mark of enforcement, or intimidation against those who would transgress. Yet its power is limited and better served with subtlety.

Don't think so? Well, banning is effective for SEO/spammer types. You've removed their ability to post the precious links. No argument there, but those actions are not different from most other public sites. Similar deal with griefers. Plus, you have what, a few hundred active members that strongly identify with the site and post frequently. Many of those would suffer from a ban, no doubt. So what about the rest of the people, what does the dread banhammer do?

It makes the site read-only.

That's it? That's all? Banning makes the site read-only? Somebody who is banned joins the status of the vast majority of people who read this site and never post anyway. This is not an onerous burden to bear. OK, I know for the people who are really into the site, banning is a terrible thing that would significantly affect their life, but those people are a small percentage of your readers and direct income. What it is the typical social forum ratio? 5% of members are highly active and make 95% of posts? 2/90? 10/80? I dunno, I'd have to look it up, but the basic concept is sound.

Blanket IP bans are not possible unless you are willing to potentially shut off large swaths of areas and innocents covered by dynamic IPs. In addition, there are ways around post bans, both with and without admin intervention and knowledge, but I needn't, shouldn't, and won't detail them.

Incidentally, this discussion is still wavering in its treatment of MeMail as a unique communication pathway versus an easily identified portion of all private correspondence covered by repost rules. We should be able to agree that MeMail is not particularly special in how it relates to the reposting of private communications. The fact that MeMail is sited here doesn't, or shouldn't, subject it to extra rules beyond technical administration and support. A significant percentage of my original point, way back when, was that MeMail is no special snowflake that needs, or should have, its very own MetaFilter rules and enforcement designed for protection of members, or what have you.
posted by mdevore at 3:38 AM on June 23, 2010


Incidentally, this discussion is still wavering in its treatment of MeMail as a unique communication pathway versus an easily identified portion of all private correspondence covered by repost rules.

What discussion? The discussion has been hijacked by your limitless smarmy ranting.
posted by desuetude at 6:43 AM on June 23, 2010


> Blanket IP bans are not possible unless you are willing to potentially shut off large swaths of areas and innocents covered by dynamic IPs. In addition, there are ways around post bans, both with and without admin intervention and knowledge, but I needn't, shouldn't, and won't detail them.


Dude, they ban people from getting new accounts by tracking PayPal IDs, not IP address blocking. Where are you going with all of this?
posted by Burhanistan at 7:00 AM on June 23, 2010


mdevore writes "Uhh, no, unless you believe in admin infallibility as with Papal infallibility."

Matt == The Pope? Sounds about right.
posted by Mitheral at 7:16 AM on June 23, 2010


It makes the site read-only.

The vast majority of people who are banned or time-outed--except for SEO linkspammers who are the vast majority of banned folks--are actually welcome to come back after some decent interval and after we've had some sort of discussion with them. The number of people, to my knowledge, who want to come back and can't [i.e. people who sign up for accounts and we say "thanks but no thanks" and refund their money] I think I can count on one hand.

Much of the ban's power is in its rare reveal. You place it in regular public view as an mark of enforcement, or intimidation against those who would transgress. Yet its power is limited and better served with subtlety.

This is a difference of opinion regarding tactics. We only talk about it as much as we do in MetaTalk because it's one of the very short list of tools that we do have, and because people ask. We don't mention it anyplace else on the site unless there's a huge problem and this is another rarity. We do not threaten individual people with banning as a way of keeping them in line. We mention that some things you can do here are sufficiently damaging to the community that if you do them you can't remain a part of this community. And, again, even then we'll often reconsider, but the process remains fairly consistent and straightforward in its application.

I think we've been fairly clear about the mistakes we've made, though some of this takes place over email and not here in MeTa, and the presence of MeTa itself is a place for talking about disputes with mod actions among other things. And again mdevore, I'm not even sure what you're arguing except that you'd do things differently if you made the rules. That seems fine, but I'm still curious if you think we should be doing things differently for reasons other than style reasons. Put another way, do you have specific examples of how what we're doing is negatively impacting the community or is it just that we're doing things differently from how you would and you feel that things would go better if we did them anothe rway. And better in what way?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:18 AM on June 23, 2010


Admins fuck up just like everybody else here: they have fucked up, they do fuck up, and they will fuck up. They fuck up a little pretty often, and they fuck up a lot once in a while.

This isn't under debate. You'll have a hard time finding any of the three of us trying to claim anything like the notion that we don't fuck up.

What's not clear to me is what that has to do with whether or not the rules and guidelines that we say exist on metafilter exist, and so I'm not sure what practical objection you are making.

Are you saying that our repeated requests that people not post private correspondence without permission and our occasional taking of administrative action to enforce that is a years-long string of fuckups?

Or is this an argument that, because we are bound by common sense to fuck up sometimes, we are ergo bound to fuck up the enforcement of the correspondence rule, and ergo the rule shouldn't exist?

Or what? I'm really not trying to antagonize you here, but I don't know what your actual objection beyond you apparently generally disliking the "don't post private correspondence on mefi without permission" rule. You're welcome to dislike it; you're can't make it not exist by disliking it; and it will not have any direct practical effect on you unless you personally make a point of breaking it, so if you otherwise find the whole thing impossible to deal with you may want to just mark it off as something to forget exists and go on with your day.

Anyway, members may oooh and ahhh over the cool hammer jokes and cartoons, but ultimately, I think it is counterproductive to mention bans regularly and casually in policy remarks.

I disagree with you that it gets trotted out all that often, especially by us. We may just disagree with what "often" qualifies as, of course, so if we disagree then we disagree, but it'd help if you could show where this impression lines up with practice, maybe.

To the extent that we do talk about it, it's usually to acknowledge that it has happened in the odd cases where it needs discussion, or to clarify a policy question about serious offenses (often in the context of "no, we aren't going to ban someone for x"). Our belief in transparency about what we do here and how we look at site policy, and the fact that people ask us about this stuff, is pretty much the only reason it gets discussed at all.

That's it? That's all? Banning makes the site read-only?

That's it. That's all. Banning isn't intended as some grand punitive measure, it's a tool for keeping people who can't figure out how to use the site without egregiously misbehaving from being able to use the site when nothing else works—that's why by far most of the bans that happen are of spammers and the like, who were never here to try and be good faith members in the first place. I don't care if they weep into their google juice or go skipping into the sunset; whether they're brokenhearted about not being able to spam mefi further is not part of the metric.

The far fewer and generally far more complicated bans are the rare ones involving someone who does seem to want, for one reason or another, to be part of the community but is managing to really really fail to keep up their end of the bargain. Those ones bother us a lot because it means us trying to work things out with them is coming up short. For them, the ban usually seems like a genuinely unhappy outcome, and that sucks and we don't like doing it either. Thankfully that doesn't happen often at all.

Again: it's a mistake to think that bans are intended as punitive. They're intended as firm solutions to problems we can't solve by discussion and compromise.

Blanket IP bans are not possible unless you are willing to potentially shut off large swaths of areas and innocents covered by dynamic IPs. In addition, there are ways around post bans, both with and without admin intervention and knowledge, but I needn't, shouldn't, and won't detail them.

Yes, we know this. We don't do IP bans; we do do our best to keep an eye out for the very rare obsessive returnee who tries to sneak around a "do not come back" departure with what tools we do have available, and it works pretty well and that'll have to do.

This seems like it's rather badly off the mark from the original topic. I'm not sure why you're lecturing us on what bans do, and again I'd ask that if this is something you really want to have a go at you do some of the groundwork to at least show us what specific volume of and instances of splashing "ban" around the room you actually have a problem with. If your feeling is just that we shouldn't ever discuss banning, we're going to disagree; if your feeling is that we do it too much, show us how much we're talking about.

Incidentally, this discussion is still wavering in its treatment of MeMail as a unique communication pathway versus an easily identified portion of all private correspondence covered by repost rules. We should be able to agree that MeMail is not particularly special in how it relates to the reposting of private communications. The fact that MeMail is sited here doesn't, or shouldn't, subject it to extra rules beyond technical administration and support. A significant percentage of my original point, way back when, was that MeMail is no special snowflake that needs, or should have, its very own MetaFilter rules and enforcement designed for protection of members, or what have you.

The discussion, from an admin perspective certainly, has not been wavering on that point: I already said very clearly up thread that this applies in general to the posting, on mefi, of private correspondence mefimail or otherwise without explicit permission from the interlocutor.

Mefimail is not a special snowflake that needs its own special rule for this, and it does not have its own special rule for this. The rule is for all private correspondence. The rule applies only to what happens on Metafilter, not out in the entire world. If you feel the rule should not apply to metafilter, that's your prerogative but it does not overturn site policy.

In practice, mefimail is the likeliest specific referent in a discussion on the site about this rule, because it's local and likely venue for interuser discussions. Sometimes the rule will get discussed in shorthand as being "about" mefimail, when the subject is raised by something mefimail-specific. That sort of casual imprecision has not generally caused a problem in the past, and happens on a very broad range of subjects and is an unavoidable part of people getting comfortable with the site and how it works and discussing policy in less than lawyerly terms. If this conflation was confusing you before, hopefully it is clear now.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:33 AM on June 23, 2010


Much of the ban's power is in its rare reveal. You place it in regular public view as an mark of enforcement

...and so that people will know what kind of hijinks will get them banned. Different sites have different rules with different consequences. If you're used to site [foo] and its rules and consequences for breaking them, it's good to know that site [bar] has different rules consequences for breaking them

The fact that banning people makes the site read-only for them is fine, since you can't commit stupid shit here by reading it. Preventing shit-stirrers/spammers from participating solves that problem. The point of banning them is not to impose hardship on them, but to keep their shittiness from disrupting the site. It's like getting 86ed from a bar - it's not a huge hardship for the person who gets 86ed. The benefit is for the people still in the bar who don't want bottles thrown at their heads.

Your take on banning seems contradictory: it is lightweight and inconsequential, and yet it is intimidating and bad.

Incidentally, this discussion is still wavering in its treatment of MeMail as a unique communication pathway versus an easily identified portion of all private correspondence covered by repost rules.

No, it really hasn't been. It's been quite clear that private correspondence between members is not to be posted here without explicit permission from the parties involved. It was clear before this discussion. It's still clear.

I'm still having a hard time understanding what it is you're having such a hard time understanding. And I'm totally okay with you not explaining further.
posted by rtha at 9:54 AM on June 23, 2010


I had a co-worker once who did that thing where whenever the result of a discussion wasn't to her liking she'd continue to refer to it as still under discussion. She seemed to believe it, too.

I don't work there anymore.
posted by ook at 10:18 AM on June 23, 2010


That whole thing was odd.
posted by Mister_A at 12:35 PM on June 23, 2010


it is lightweight and inconsequential, and yet it is intimidating and bad

Come now, you are a clever person. The first idea flows easily to the second.

The ultimate ban effect is lightweight for most people (though not quite inconsequential by definition, despite your use of it as a stronger restatement of lightweight). However, a ban is generally perceived here as having a large effect, probably because the (relatively) few members who would be heavily burdened by it are the same ones who talk about it the most. If you don't think a significant number of active members don't or haven't remarked negatively on the consequences of a ban, I suggest that you have either forgotten or bypassed reading a lot of content on the subject.

The fact that a ban, after actual implementation, isn't going to be much of an life upset to the majority of people fits neatly to why ban-based remarks and warnings, or intimidation, beyond the rare need are a bad idea. "Bad idea". Not "bad", lest we enter into the realm of religion. Which, given that someone is already embracing the most dubious of the Papal powers, is best left unexplored.

It was clear before this discussion. It's still clear.

There is a touch of irony to be found in this use of "clear". Your restatement indicates you didn't clearly grasp what was the subissue in contention, which is that MeMail either is, or contrawise is not, a messaging system to be treated differently than other private communication pathways. A requirement of explicit permission is neither a for nor an against argument in that. So perhaps not so clear as you had thought.
posted by mdevore at 12:03 AM on June 25, 2010


This is kind of just solipsistic now.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:05 AM on June 25, 2010


Put another way, do you have specific examples of how what we're doing is negatively impacting the community or is it just that we're doing things differently from how you would and you feel that things would go better if we did them another way. And better in what way?

Of course I have issues with various moderation decisions, including specific examples. In fact, I doubt there is a single member who hasn't, at some point, disagreed with at least one of your collective decisions and policies. Let me offer my belated welcome to running a site with fifty thousand people sitting in the peanut gallery.

However, a big problem with exploring them here is that this is a zombie topic that has already ranged farther than it had ever ought, which of course I am as much to blame for as anyone and more than most. But every once in a while I can't resist. No doubt it will add heavily to my karmic burden.

Anyway, did you want to start a new topic about what you do in your admin roles which I think is, uhhh, suboptimal? Three immediate problems spring to mind. First, I'm about done in with spirited MetaTalk debate for the next, ohh, let's say four months. The back and forth is rather draining and I don't enjoy it the same way as I did twenty years ago when I would willingly take on all comers, and often did. Keeps you on your toes and sharpens your thinking skills if you got the time and energy to stay in the game. I don't.

Second, I'm actually kind of busy on a couple of fronts, so I can't provide timely feedback. Topics age poorly here, far more poorly than many forums for a variety of reasons. And third, almost any time I see a topic where someone complains about administration or moderation (admittedly often not phrased in a very nice way), there are outspoken MF cheerleaders who feel that all criticism is an attack on their cherished site and they must swoop in to defend MetaFilter's honor by chewing on the offender. Boy does that get old fast, even just reading it. At least in this thread the initial criticism was aged and buried, so the effect was mitigated.
posted by mdevore at 12:33 AM on June 25, 2010


You'll have a hard time finding any of the three of us trying to claim anything like the notion that we don't fuck up.

Brief suggestion per prior comments inviting same: reduce your internalization of comments made in reply to and directed at another's comments. Unnecessary bad feelings and high blood pressure may result.
posted by mdevore at 1:14 AM on June 25, 2010


kthxbye
posted by rtha at 5:46 AM on June 25, 2010


That is a pretty remarkable series of posts mdevore. For a number of reasons. None of them good. Please stop posting.
posted by empath at 5:52 AM on June 25, 2010


WTB closure of my thread. It seems to no longer be about trolls. :(
posted by TomMelee at 6:05 AM on June 25, 2010


> Brief suggestion per prior comments inviting same: reduce your internalization of comments made in reply to and directed at another's comments. Unnecessary bad feelings and high blood pressure may result.

Hahahahaha!

You're clearly a busy man with better things to do. Go away.
posted by languagehat at 6:17 AM on June 25, 2010


Anyway, did you want to start a new topic about what you do in your admin roles which I think is, uhhh, suboptimal?

If you have specific mod stuff you want to talk about, that's fine, yeah. Be specific, give us some examples, and I'm okay with that; it's part of my job.

It sounds like you don't particularly want to do that, which is also fine.

I'm not clear how me saying "we know we fuck up and have never denied it" in response to you bravely informing us that we fuck up is grounds for advice to me to watch my blood pressure, but I'm not clear on much of anything here as far as what your actual goal in all this has been and we may be better served by getting our modus vivendi on than trying to make any progress there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:36 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


we know we fuck up and have never denied it" in response to you bravely informing us that we fuck up is grounds for advice to me to watch my blood pressure

I didn't bravely inform you that you fuck up. I told someone else that you fuck up, just like the rest of us, in response to an actual remark on that point.

I actually don't know why saying that gets you het up, it's the semantic equivalent of saying you make mistakes. There is nothing brave or cowardly about it, so you might dial back the editorial asides which, yes, do indicate you've got some hard feelings there. But whatever, if you decide you're gonna take it personal, not much I can do about it. I don't much care, you indicated you don't much care, what are we still doing here? Nothing much left to say.
posted by mdevore at 11:18 PM on June 26, 2010


What a charmer!
posted by Burhanistan at 11:35 PM on June 26, 2010


You're clearly a busy man with better things to do. Go away.

I'm busy, you're busy, cortex is busy, we're all busy.

As for going away, I appreciate the sentiment, unfortunately it's nothing really new from you here. But yeah, I'm tired of the whole thing. Aren't you?

Anyway, I just got my new Safari 5 extension working properly after many hours of fooling around with limitations, bugs, and bad documentation on Apple's extension model, as well as my own mistakes, of course. And the Snow Leopard+latest Xcode gigabytes of updates appear to be working pretty well, finally, for iOS 4 support. This news makes me rather pleased. So I'll tell you what, I will grant you whatever boon related to posting of which I am capable, within broad boundaries. Let me guess: "stop posting here". Done, dude. Bonus request? OK, languagehat is a great person and deserves all the love he may receive. cortex too.

That should about do it.
posted by mdevore at 12:29 AM on June 27, 2010


WTB closure of my thread. It seems to no longer be about trolls. :(

I'm pretty sure it still is.
posted by zarq at 5:25 AM on June 27, 2010


Performance art on metafilter always loses a little something in the translation, I feel, but is sometimes still pretty amazing.
posted by rtha at 8:46 AM on June 27, 2010


I didn't bravely inform you that you fuck up. I told someone else that you fuck up, just like the rest of us, in response to an actual remark on that point.

I actually don't know why saying that gets you het up, it's the semantic equivalent of saying you make mistakes.


You are insane. Just so you know.
posted by desuetude at 11:13 AM on June 27, 2010


>trollface.jpg
posted by subbes at 8:50 AM on July 5, 2010


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