Thank you, MetaFilter. July 15, 2010 7:48 PM   Subscribe

This is just a quick post to thank the hundreds of MeFites who helped me with my dissertation research.

Late last month, I successfully defended my dissertation, What We Talk About When We Talk About Talking: Ethos at Work in an Online Community. For those of you who are so inclined, you can download the entire thing in PDF format (4.4 MB).

More than 200 MeFites responded to my survey, and several of you offered additional feedback and advice via email and MeFi Mail. Matt, Jessamyn, and Josh graciously put up with my pestering requests for help, sat through a long group interview, and even read a draft of the document. To all of you who contributed to the project in any way: thank you, thank you, thank you. I have admired the members of this community for ten years, and now I can proudly say that I got my Ph.D. by reading MetaFilter.
posted by lewistate to MetaFilter-Related at 7:48 PM (115 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

I remember that survey. Congratulations, Dr. lewistate!
posted by cooker girl at 7:50 PM on July 15, 2010


Well, that's just groovy.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:55 PM on July 15, 2010


Congrats again, man. Like I said after seeing the draft, I really genuinely enjoyed reading the dissertation.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:56 PM on July 15, 2010


That PDF must not be searchable. It returned 0 results for my name. Don't make me drive up to Ames!

Or congrats, whichever you like.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:56 PM on July 15, 2010


Congratulations Dr. Quinn, Metafilter man.
posted by Vectorcon Systems at 8:12 PM on July 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


Congratulations, lewistate! I've really been wanting to read this.
posted by nangar at 8:29 PM on July 15, 2010


So are we now talking about what we talk about when we talk about talking? My head hurts.

Congratulations! I will read this tomorrow while I wait for my supervising professor to continue to ignore my questions and give me no work to do.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:35 PM on July 15, 2010


This is wonderful and congratulations! Can't wait to read the paper, and will pop back in soon when I do.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:45 PM on July 15, 2010


Yay!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:50 PM on July 15, 2010


Nicely done, sir! Welcome to the ranks.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 8:51 PM on July 15, 2010


Fantastic! Looking forward to reading it, as I thought the questions on the survey were super interesting.
posted by gemmy at 8:51 PM on July 15, 2010


Could you post a summary or abstract for those who don't want to download the whole PDF?
posted by Quietgal at 8:53 PM on July 15, 2010


You know what I liked about that paper? The professional white background.

But seriously. Love the title, and my first skim of the paper was interesting indeed. A very thorough and fascinating study of the elements that make this community function, with lots of transferable learning for other communities. Clearly written with little academese, too! Thanks for sharing it. What a cool project.
posted by Miko at 8:53 PM on July 15, 2010


Oh, and congratulations of course, Dr. Lewistate. (You've earned that capital L.)
posted by Quietgal at 8:54 PM on July 15, 2010


Well done dic! Congratulations.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:54 PM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Doc! Sorry, f'ing autocomplete.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:55 PM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh yeah, and congrats on being a Dr! Now, can you look at this funny thing on my toe?
posted by Miko at 8:57 PM on July 15, 2010


I'm guessing paulsc is not one of those whom you're thanking.
posted by dersins at 8:57 PM on July 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Hey! On page 100 there is a table listing "Metafilter Members Frequently Mentioned as 'Credible.'"

I'm not on the list, but I've met some of those people.
posted by marxchivist at 8:58 PM on July 15, 2010


Wow, that's impressive.
I've never read a dissertation before. Now I understand all those people who are "ABD."
Congratulations.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:59 PM on July 15, 2010


Oh also, most intelligible rhetoric paper I've ever read!

/smug social scientist
posted by DiscourseMarker at 9:02 PM on July 15, 2010


Congrats! That was a fun survey.
posted by Kattullus at 9:07 PM on July 15, 2010


So are we now talking about what we talk about when we talk about talking? My head hurts.

Just call it metatalk. It's much simpler.

And congratulations to MetaFilter's OwnTM Doctor lewistate!
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:10 PM on July 15, 2010


Congrats!!!!!!!
posted by k8t at 9:12 PM on July 15, 2010


Congratulations!
posted by dg at 9:13 PM on July 15, 2010


dg was here
posted by cjorgensen at 9:15 PM on July 15, 2010


.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:15 PM on July 15, 2010


Oops.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:15 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Congrats, Doc!
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:15 PM on July 15, 2010


Thank for the kind words, everyone.

cjorgensen: That PDF must not be searchable. It returned 0 results for my name.

I know you're joking, but it's probably worth explaining why many people who responded to the survey aren't quoted in the actual dissertation. When I posted the survey request, I thought I would get 50 responses. In my wildest dreams, I hoped for 100. But the responses kept flooding in, until there were more than 200. As a result, the dissertation focuses on just a few of the questions in the survey, and a lot of the excellent responses are never directly quoted. I have ideas for a few journal articles that will draw upon the survey responses, but those are still in the early stages.

Lemurrhea: So are we now talking about what we talk about when we talk about talking? My head hurts.

Mission accomplished.

Quietgal: Could you post a summary or abstract for those who don't want to download the whole PDF?

Sure. It's incredibly boring (thanks, ProQuest Dissertation Abstract requirements!), but here it is:

"This dissertation explores the rhetorical concept of ethos as it functions in contemporary online communities, via a case study of one successful online community, MetaFilter.com. A year-long virtual ethnography of MetaFilter demonstrates that understanding ethos as it functions online requires a multilayered definition that accounts for the traditional notion of ethos as vir bonus, the strict Aristotelian conception of ethos as textual element, and the pre-Aristotelian idea of ethos as "gathering place." It also documents the unique strategies employed by digital rhetors to establish and maintain their individual ethos, evaluate the ethos of their interlocutors, and shape the collective ethos of the communities to which they belong. Finally, it argues that ethnographic research in digital environments necessitates a mixed-methods approach for collecting, coding, and analyzing data. This study employs a limited number of quantitative measures and a variety of qualitative measures to analyze four types of data: (1) statistical information from the MetaFilter database (2) archived discussion threads from one of MetaFilter's forums, MetaTalk, (3) survey responses by MetaFilter members, and (4) interviews with the community's moderators. After presenting the study's findings, the dissertation concludes by indentifying four paradoxes manifested on MetaFilter that can help researchers, practitioners, and teachers of digital rhetoric better understand online communities and the essential role of ethos within those communities."

Still awake? Yeah, me neither. If you don't want to slog through the whole thing (and I don't blame you), you could probably skip straight to Chapters 4 and 5, where I focus exclusively on MetaFilter and MetaTalk.
posted by lewistate at 9:21 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bravo!
posted by ericb at 9:23 PM on July 15, 2010


Yeah, reading that thing will be a lot of work.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:23 PM on July 15, 2010


Does the dog die at the end? 'Cause it's been a rough day, and I don't think I could take that.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:27 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, but gman is immortalised with “mmmmmmmmmm... prison rape. Sign me up!”
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:30 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


cjorgensen, if it's any consolation you do appear prominently in Figure 4.1.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 9:31 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Kickass! I do. I'm immortalized now. My life is complete. This will be my last metafilter comment (tonight).
posted by cjorgensen at 9:36 PM on July 15, 2010


Holy woah, quoted at length! Huge congrats, lewistate, and my ego thanks you.
posted by carsonb at 9:36 PM on July 15, 2010


Thank you for the update! I have been looking forward to reading this for a few months now (no, seriously). And congratulations, Doctor!!
posted by barnacles at 9:56 PM on July 15, 2010


Congrats!
posted by .kobayashi. at 10:03 PM on July 15, 2010


you could probably skip straight to Chapters 4 and 5, where I focus exclusively on MetaFilter and MetaTalk.

That's actually what I did, even before your comment. Pretty interesting stuff.
posted by grouse at 10:31 PM on July 15, 2010


I shouldn't be awake, I shouldn't be reading it, but I glanced through and saw footnotes. I love footnotes. And I know that some of them are just citations. They're cool in their own special way. I mean real footnotes, like on page 79.

Footnotes are the best thing to happen to research papers since graphs and charts.

Finally, congratulations. I'll bet it's a huge relief to be done.
posted by theichibun at 10:35 PM on July 15, 2010


TLDR version: “MetaTalk is the place where you can walk around without your pants”
(grapefruitmoon).
posted by oinopaponton at 10:35 PM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Congrats!

I'm in there, but as Schlyer523...I'm not sure if that was my mistake in the survey or not. *shrug*
posted by schyler523 at 10:36 PM on July 15, 2010

Indeed, MetaTalk is a bottomless well of data waiting to be studied by researchers of all stripes. - lewistate
posted by amtho at 10:40 PM on July 15, 2010


Grr. When I stop kiting internet at dialup speeds, I will read your paper! Until then, I'm actually seeing jpegs load in chunks again, like surfing for porn in the '90s.
posted by klangklangston at 11:01 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fantastic! Congratulations!
posted by rtha at 11:02 PM on July 15, 2010


Coming from nowhere near your discipline I was really pleasantly surprised at how easy this was to read. I have slogged through many a dissertation and they are rarely such a delight. It's incredibly hard to balance readability against technical rigor and I think you did a great job. Congrats!
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:15 PM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Table 4.2 proves my long-held belief that this "mathowie" person (if that his real name) is barely credible on this site.

I don't know why we listen to him.
posted by djgh at 11:18 PM on July 15, 2010


Oh, and congrats, obviously! Jokes aside, it's making some interesting reading.
posted by djgh at 11:19 PM on July 15, 2010


Hey I just read the appendices and saw your bio:
He has accepted an appointment as an assistant professor of English writing and rhetoric at St. Edward’s University, in Austin, Texas, beginning in fall 2010.

You got a professor job! That's really fantastic. I double my previous congratulations!
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:27 PM on July 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


Congrats!

Also, "digital rhetor" would go on my business card if I had one.
posted by juv3nal at 12:58 AM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I didn't know I was a "digital rhetor," but it sounds like something I would have told my parents I wanted to be when I grew up:
Mom: "Don't you want to be a nurse?"
Me: "noooooooooooo......."
Mom: "How about an astronaut?"
Me: "noooooooooooo..."
Mom: "I know, you want to be a digital rhetor!"
Me: "YES YES YES YES SEND ME TO COLLEGE, MOM!"

If she only knew, she could have launched my future career for $5 and some Cheez Doodles (because, you know, I get hungry with all the thinking).

Congrats, Dr. Lewistate!
posted by deep thought sunstar at 2:04 AM on July 16, 2010


I especially like how the discussion of Metafilter beings with "For more than two millennia...". It's like somebody asks how I'm doing and I start: CHAPTER 1, I AM BORN.
posted by Justinian at 2:14 AM on July 16, 2010 [7 favorites]


Although Meatbomb is not one of the community’s moderators, he invokes the specter of punishment by the moderators for actions he deems inappropriate.... Almost an hour later, cortex makes the first appearance by a moderator in the thread and confirms that April Fool’s Day jokes aren’t appreciated on MetaFilter, but by this point, the matter is already settled—the community has drawn upon borrowed ethos to resolve an issue without the moderators becoming actively involved.

No, that is not how it went down at all bucko. My ethos, let me show you it.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:21 AM on July 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


You are hereby required by law to begin all exclamations of amazement with "Great SCOTT!" from this point in time until the day you cease to be.

Congrats!
posted by pyrex at 3:31 AM on July 16, 2010


Although Meatbomb is not one of the community’s moderators, he invokes the specter of punishment

A specter, like a ghost. Clearly a hermetic reference to Meatbomb's hyper-space/astral mod status.
posted by atrazine at 3:37 AM on July 16, 2010


Congratulations! Now you can't ever use the "IANAD" in AskMe anymore!
posted by crunchland at 3:43 AM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just as in a traditional community, where the work of deliberating and governing is handled by a small fraction of the community’s members P129

A small fraction does the deliberating and governing. Hmmm, that almost sounds like a Caba... hold on there's someone at the door.
posted by atrazine at 3:54 AM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


In such cases, displaying a knowledge of the community’s history by linking to specific past events greatly enhances the ethotic appeal.

You make this typo a few times; It's actually spelled 'erotic'.
posted by Mike1024 at 4:00 AM on July 16, 2010 [9 favorites]


omg omg you quoted me! I'm legitimate!

(And my impulse to read your paper at 3:30am is justified!)

Gosh, I'm inordinately pleased. Also this is the most readable thing about rhetoric I've ever...read.
posted by Mizu at 5:35 AM on July 16, 2010


ZOMG! I'm "credible!" Thank you, 6 people! I'mma gonna put this on my resume!

"grapefruitmoon: Nanny. Artist. MetaFilter said I'm credible."

Seriously, this is awesome and I'm also way boosted in the ego department.

CREDIBILITY FTW!!!!

Also: I'm glad if I ever had to be quoted in a dissertation that it was about not wearing pants. Awesome.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:36 AM on July 16, 2010


I think that we should all just start writing completely unfounded research papers about each other to cheer us all up whenever it's needed. Like a great big academical hug.
posted by Mizu at 5:52 AM on July 16, 2010


digital rhetor

So I had just finally gotten around to reading through Anathem when lewistate sent us the draft of this and I have to say that enhanced somewhat my enjoyment of that phrase. I could all pretend that I was reading like flavor text in a Snow Crash video game or something. IT ALL TIES TOGETHER, MAN.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:23 AM on July 16, 2010


Another great thing about this is that it gives a bit of summary of previous research on MetaFilter. We were just talking about how there's not really a comprehensive list of that anywhere yet - this is a place to start.

I also like the discussion of the role of humor in the self-governing. That's important and often overlooked.
posted by Miko at 6:23 AM on July 16, 2010


I never knew the word rhetor before. It's almost Harry Potterish.
posted by Miko at 6:24 AM on July 16, 2010


schlyer523: I'm in there, but as Schlyer523...I'm not sure if that was my mistake in the survey or not.

Yeah, it was capitalized in the survey response, and I took the spelling directly from that file. Sorry about that—I should have double-checked everyone's profile pages.

Meatbomb: No, that is not how it went down at all bucko.

My apologies if I mangled the play-by-play recap of that thread, Meatbomb. Sadly, my committee members were nowhere near ready for a discussion of what it means to be an astral mod.

Miko: Another great thing about this is that it gives a bit of summary of previous research on MetaFilter. We were just talking about how there's not really a comprehensive list of that anywhere yet - this is a place to start.

There's a great wiki page about the Infodump; perhaps we should create one for other types of research about MetaFilter. Sort of like a mini annotated bibliography, maybe? I'd be happy to contribute my (admittedly oversimplified) summaries of the other academic pieces I found. Since I finished my project, another article has been published, and I know of at least two other research projects by MeFites that are in the works right now.

Miko: I also like the discussion of the role of humor in the self-governing. That's important and often overlooked.

If I could go back and start over, I would probably focus solely on the ways that humor is used as a rhetorical device in MetaTalk. I had been reading MetaTalk for a long time before I started this project, but it wasn't until I printed out a bunch of threads and started coding them that I realized just how big a role the phatic/ludic stuff plays in community governance.
posted by lewistate at 7:06 AM on July 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


There's a great wiki page about the Infodump; perhaps we should create one for other types of research about MetaFilter. Sort of like a mini annotated bibliography, maybe? I'd be happy to contribute my (admittedly oversimplified) summaries of the other academic pieces I found.

Yeah, it'd be nice to put this together. Like Miko said, we were discussing just that idea the other day (in the thread for that Answerbag et al paper, I think); carsonb helped me dig through a few minor references I found on a JSTOR search, and I was planning on using your bibliography as a starting point for some of this stuff as well. If you'd like to do some of the grunt work there, that'd be totally okay with me.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:12 AM on July 16, 2010


Not one mention of sweater stuffers and taters. I feel cheated.

Nice work, congrats!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:35 AM on July 16, 2010


I managed to read a bit of this, enough to convince me that the whole thing is worth reading as soon as I can arrange a bit of uninterrupted time. But so far:

digital rhetor

I like this expression, even though it was the first clue that I probably won't be smart enough to understand the whole thing.

Using scripts developed by MetaFilter member FishBike, I imported these 23
files into a MySQL database [...]


::thud::

Ok, now that I have gotten up off the floor and back into my chair: cool! I know that a bunch of people have downloaded these scripts, but it's great that somebody found them actually useful for something serious outside of the various MetaTalk threads themselves. Thanks for the credit, and also thanks to Kadin2048 who re-worked the original SQL Server scripts into ones suitable for MySQL and sent them to me for inclusion on that page.

There's a great wiki page about the Infodump; perhaps we should create one for other types of research about MetaFilter.

That would be very neat, yeah. There's some intersection between these two things as well, given the utility of the Infodump in support of MetaFilter as a research subject in general. I think there are more research papers in the pipeline, too, just based on having provided some extremely minor Infodump-related help to a couple of researchers.

Not one mention of sweater stuffers and taters. I feel cheated.

Check the end of Appendix C or search for "tatortalk". I'm not kidding.
posted by FishBike at 7:40 AM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's awesome! Good work and congrats. Thanks for the update!
posted by absalom at 8:06 AM on July 16, 2010


OK, I thought I was smart, and then I read your abstract above. I have no idea what you're talking about when you're talking about what we're talking about, man. You are probably lucky I wasn't on your committee :)

Congrats! At some point I will look at the whole thing.
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:23 AM on July 16, 2010


I assume a collection of my wisdom will be included in the appendix at the time of publication.

Also, your real life name is kind of awesome.
posted by Think_Long at 8:26 AM on July 16, 2010


nthing the readability comments above. Dissertations offer such temptation to be intentionally obscure and elitist, particularly in fields that have strong internal vocabularies (like rhetoric), but not yours. As DiscourseMarker said at the top of the thread, welcome to the ranks.
posted by catlet at 8:43 AM on July 16, 2010


Metafilter: "Serious Communities are Powered by Silliness"

Great work, congrats on finishing and on the job!
posted by Mngo at 8:45 AM on July 16, 2010


OK, I thought I was smart, and then I read your abstract above. I have no idea what you're talking about when you're talking about what we're talking about, man.

For what it's worth, abstracts are horrible monsters designed to scare mortals away from reading papers. I couldn't get much out of that bit either, but it's not meant for me; the dissertation itself takes a much more readable approach to introducing the ideas the abstract just sort of vomits at you.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:56 AM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


thank you for taking the trouble to MeMail, Doctor Q!

Looking forward to reading this ::) Congratulations!
posted by infini at 8:56 AM on July 16, 2010


My apologies if I mangled the play-by-play recap of that thread, Meatbomb. Sadly, my committee members were nowhere near ready for a discussion of what it means to be an astral mod.

Oh, I see you displaying a knowledge of the community’s history by linking to specific past events to greatly enhance your ethotic appeal. You won't manipulate *me* that easily.
posted by Mike1024 at 8:58 AM on July 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


perfect, there's a link to plate of beans
posted by Danila at 8:59 AM on July 16, 2010


Check the end of Appendix C or search for "tatortalk". I'm not kidding.

OK, I see it. But I'm still not getting the sweater stuffers.

Which, if you think about it, could be the story of my life.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:01 AM on July 16, 2010


<3>
*starts making new image for desktop at work*

Also love the "days since a bannin" counter.

posted by jeoc at 9:09 AM on July 16, 2010


Although Meatbomb is not one of the community’s moderators, he invokes the specter of punishment

You misspelled sceptre [MB is Canadian]. And yay! I read this in almost-final draft and am very very pleased for you. I was talking about you last night when someone asked me if I was going to be including Raymond Carver allusions as chapter titles in my book and I said "No, but there's this guy who did his PhD about MetaFilter..."
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:09 AM on July 16, 2010


PS - Congratulations! On the dissertation and the job!

I was forever changed by your survey ("wait - is there more than one way to say MeFite?").
posted by jeoc at 9:10 AM on July 16, 2010


After presenting the study's findings, the dissertation concludes by indentifying four paradoxes manifested on MetaFilter...

Indentifying? As in:
"This statement is false."
Sounds like important research!

Just teasing. Congrats on a great project!
posted by albrecht at 9:47 AM on July 16, 2010


Congratulations -- look forward to reading this for real this weekend.

Also I apparently find Metatalk thread titles in a table hilarious, even (or maybe especially) for upsetting topics.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:48 AM on July 16, 2010


I'm going to echo the general consensus: what a terrific dissertation! Congratulations on writing it and on grabbing the brass ring of an academic post. Not only is it amazingly well written for an academic work, I learned stuff, for instance:
However, early weblogs had their limitations; for instance, few blogs had comment systems, which made it difficult for bloggers to track responses to their posts and comment on others’ posts. MetaFilter filled that gap by providing a central gathering place where bloggers could interact with one another and keep tabs on the rapidly expanding blogosphere.
I only discovered MeFi in 2001 (thanks, Songdog!), by which time comment sections were common. This is slyly funny:
Early on, the nascent community emphasized linking to interesting sites more than it did discussing those sites (the majority of posts in July 1999 received no comments at all, and those posts that did receive comments typically received only one or two), and a casual observer of these early posts might conclude that MetaFilter was destined for obscurity.
This is perceptive and eloquent:
The practice of using guidelines rather than rules has undoubtedly created more work for Haughey and the other moderators of the site, since each dispute must be settled on its own merits and each request must be evaluated individually. At the same time, this case-by-case approach allows the moderators to be both human and humane.
And I would urge that nobody miss "Figure 4.11 — Administrative interface used by MetaFilter’s moderators" (p. 117). Now you can all share the experience enjoyed by those of us who have hung out with jessamyn at meetups!

Finally, I absolutely love this:
their ability to “overthink a plate of beans”40

40. http://www.mssv.net/wiki/index.php/Plate_Of_Beans
posted by languagehat at 9:53 AM on July 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


wait - is there more than one way to say MeFite

That was iamkimiam's survey.

lewistate, your writing is incredibly clear. You're a rhetorician who can actually do rhetoric! I'm especially impressed given that your paper must have gone through a gazillion revisions before becoming your final thesis. Plus, a lot of what you have to say makes sense, especially the parts about the importance of MetaTalk and collective ethos.

And your discussion of the origin and usages of the word "ethos" was interesting, to me anyway, because I knew nothing about that, even if it was just old-hat stuff for your thesis committee.
posted by nangar at 10:11 AM on July 16, 2010


I really enjoyed this! (I read it over lunch.) Thanks for explaining us, lewistate!
posted by ocherdraco at 10:35 AM on July 16, 2010


Congratulations! This is wonderful!
posted by jeanmari at 10:52 AM on July 16, 2010


<3>

Awesome.

And congrats! This is great work. Good job, Dr.

posted by fiercecupcake at 11:42 AM on July 16, 2010


Hello, I failed the internet.

That was
<3>

posted by fiercecupcake at 11:43 AM on July 16, 2010


Facepalm. Congratulations. :]
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:43 AM on July 16, 2010


Nice catch on the typo in my abstract, albrecht. Ugh! It was the very last thing I wrote, and I was pretty much brain-dead at that point. I guess it speaks to the mind-numbing nature of abstracts that two editors and five members of my committee all missed it, too.

And thank you to everyone who has commented on how readable the dissertation is. I am genuinely humbled by your praise, especially since I know that several people in this thread have written dissertations of their own and know what a strange beast the dissertation is. There's a running joke in academia that dissertations are written to satisfy the five members of your committee, and you'll be lucky if all five committee members actually read the dissertation. When I chose MetaFilter as my research site, I knew that other people would want to read the finished dissertation, so I decided early on to write for two audiences: (1) the five members of my committee, and (2) all of you. That decision slowed me down a bit (you folks can be pretty intimidating in my imagination), but I think it made the dissertation stronger. Hearing that non-rhetoricians can read and understand what I've written is the icing on the cake for me.

And this...

nangar: You're a rhetorician who can actually do rhetoric!

Well, shucks. That may be the nicest thing anyone's ever said about me.
posted by lewistate at 11:53 AM on July 16, 2010


I read through this sort of hoping that I would somehow be quoted, only I realized that I couldn't remember anything I'd actually said. And I couldn't remember if I'd asked to be anonymous or not. And then I couldn't remember if I'd actually completely the survey.

But I do remember that this was a really interesting read! I think it's fascinating that more people listed Jessamyn than mathowie as credible.
posted by rosethorn at 12:12 PM on July 16, 2010


I am the smiling buddha.
posted by gleuschk at 12:26 PM on July 16, 2010


who woulda thunk it... a guy's website built 11 years ago (today or tomorrow?) gets to be a PhD dissertation on its birthday (or is it the day before?)

talk about the reputation economy and the man who didn't work for money :p
posted by infini at 12:35 PM on July 16, 2010


Holy Cow, I was quoted!

This was really interesting- I always like getting a sense of how other folks approach the site; this was like the favorites discussion in which the breadth of different perspectives on the use thereof was like a parade of "hunh!", but at a broader perspective.

Congratulations on your PH.D. I hope Iowa State has kickass doctoral robes (including a cool distinctive cap); you deserve to strut!
posted by julen at 3:53 PM on July 16, 2010


Congrats!

Hey! On page 100 there is a table listing "Metafilter Members Frequently Mentioned as 'Credible.'"

Also, on page 172 there a table listing "Metafilter Members Frequently Mentioned as 'Gullible.'"
posted by joe lisboa at 5:28 PM on July 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


Hey, on p 6 of Ch 1 there is a reference listed as (xx). Is this some sort of typo or possibly a shorthand to a previously listed reference?
posted by beepbeepboopboop at 10:32 PM on July 16, 2010


SO exciting. Now your dissertation will be what I turn to when I'm trying to procrastinate. Congratulations on the diss and the Dr.!
posted by ms.codex at 12:38 AM on July 17, 2010


Hey, on p 6 of Ch 1 there is a reference listed as (xx). Is this some sort of typo or possibly a shorthand to a previously listed reference?

No, it's just a reference to the introduction of Rheingold's book, which uses Roman numerals.

Congratulations on your PH.D. I hope Iowa State has kickass doctoral robes (including a cool distinctive cap)...

I did it all for the velvet tam!
posted by lewistate at 6:59 AM on July 17, 2010


Wow, lewistate. You make writing a dissertation look easy, which is quite an accomplishment. I really enjoyed reading it. Congratulations, and enjoy your tam!
posted by EvaDestruction at 10:06 AM on July 17, 2010


I did it all for the velvet River tam!

ftfy.
posted by mecran01 at 11:07 AM on July 17, 2010


MetaFilter: Phatic, Ludic, vir bonus.
posted by ctmf at 12:47 PM on July 17, 2010


Congratulations on the dissertation! It was fascinating and very approachable for someone who has no idea about your field. Also, yay for the job!

I remember agonizing over the survey last year because I wanted to make sure I gave really thoughtful answers. And you used something I said! That makes me happier than perhaps it should.
posted by lilac girl at 4:26 PM on July 17, 2010


Way to make it about you.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:40 PM on July 17, 2010


By invoking a running joke, I implicitly remind others that I am not new to the community and thus should be taken seriously when I speak seriously.

And now seriously: great read, lewistate, and congrats. I suspect it isn't terribly common for someone's dissertation to be a widely-read as yours, either.
posted by ctmf at 7:22 PM on July 17, 2010


Is it too early to get the last word on this post?
posted by cjorgensen at 7:47 PM on July 17, 2010


Yes.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:30 PM on July 17, 2010


No!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:33 PM on July 17, 2010


Reply hazy, try again later!
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:42 PM on July 17, 2010


I went clubbing last night and tried to show everyone my ethotic appeal, but the music was too loud.
posted by Think_Long at 9:16 AM on July 18, 2010


Congratulations! What a great diss topic!
posted by Heretic at 11:54 AM on July 18, 2010


I read the whole paper and thoroughly enjoyed it! Well-written, informative and interesting.

And it easily was the most FUN dissertations I've ever read.

Thanks for sharing it with all of us!
posted by iamkimiam at 1:58 PM on July 18, 2010


Congratulations lewistate! I found it both interesting and readable, which as others have mentioned is quite a feat for an academic paper.

Tl;dr - you have earned a cookie.
posted by arcticseal at 4:44 PM on July 18, 2010


Congratulations! I look forward to reading this.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:20 AM on July 19, 2010


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