I give you the ability to do this because I trust you September 21, 2010 8:30 AM   Subscribe

They're talking about Metafilter's community guidelines and moderation policy over at Hacker News.
posted by chrchr to MetaFilter-Related at 8:30 AM (85 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

I'll alert the media.
posted by pwally at 8:35 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cortex is representin'
posted by nomadicink at 8:40 AM on September 21, 2010


cortex and I both left comments.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:40 AM on September 21, 2010


Maybe there could be a sign-off on that new user info page so new users could know who "I" is?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:43 AM on September 21, 2010


Sorry, Jessamyn, only cortex's was up when I looked at it.

I will now judge both comments on color, clarity, after taste and tannin.
posted by nomadicink at 8:46 AM on September 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


I haven't really developed a regular reading habit over there, but I find Hacker News pretty likable when I end up following a link there now and then. Seemed like a good time to set up an account. I gather there's a fair number of dual-citizens around.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:48 AM on September 21, 2010


For some reason the phrase "I'm jessamyn the other other mod" really struck me as absolutely delightful. You should get it on a t-shirt or something!

I would like there to be more Metafilter t-shirts anyway, but that one is probably pretty specific, huh? I don't think I could really get away with wearing it. On a side note, it would be great if there were t-shirts again! Or maybe I just missed something?
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:50 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sorry, Jessamyn, only cortex's was up when I looked at it.

That's okay, I hadn't even seen your comment when I posted mine.

Can someone who knows give me a summary of what Hacker News is?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:50 AM on September 21, 2010


4 points by skorgu 2 hours ago | link

Anecdotally mathowie usually ends up returning the $5 to keep paypal happy. As disappointing as it is to not screw the spammers it seems to be a pragmatic decision to keep valid registrations flowing cleanly.


Is that true? Man, I knew I should've worked to get my old account banned rather than just pressing the button. God, I'm such a sucker!
posted by Sys Rq at 8:53 AM on September 21, 2010


Why does Matt still use paypal?
posted by empath at 8:58 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've been lurking there for about six months. In my mind, it's a newsblog with user voting founded by or at least deeply associated with Paul Graham, self-targeted at people looking to start up.

The userbase is highly technical in the programming sense. The most vocal users are looking to found startups (or find/work at them). This leads to a lot of "Ten hundred things I learned as a failed founder" or "Nine ways to be productive and feel good about yourself while still wasting all day on HN" articles and a bit of a mercenary tone in the comments when it comes to moneymaking and product development/userbase growth. It also leads to the occasional "Look at this Web2.0/RoR/Haskell/AgilePoodleNubbiPhone thing I made" where the community will critique. I find these discussions very interesting.

I like HN because the articles are generally technically focused medium-length and give insight into the minds of people who think about things I find ugly/foreign like "conversion" and "subscriptions" and ad revenue and so on. The comments often feature people who have tried various flim-flammy-seeming trends and new "paradigms" like "XP" or "Agile" and who are cynical about them. Their experiences (not their cynicism) make the HN comments worth reading.

Also there are "Who's hiring?" roundups of available jobs and other community services that make regular reading worthwhile.
posted by fake at 9:01 AM on September 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


news alert, mefites sometimes visit other sites and say stuff.
posted by desjardins at 9:03 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


skorgu's overstating it; we sometimes end up returning it if the banned person is a prick about it. Much of the time we never hear from them again after we ban them; of those we do hear from, the ones making a fuss over the $5 specifically and/or giving paypal noise about it are a relatively small fraction. Still annoying to deal with, but it's not a "usually" situation.

From a recent email exchange with a link-farmer, on being banned for being an awful spammy internet-ruining shitheel:
Guess that is fair enough. Can I at least have 1 link farm link for the $5 I paid? Or is that too much to ask for???
The answer was yes. Yes, that was too much to ask for.

Why does Matt still use paypal?

I think we're mostly just still with paypal because there hasn't been a compelling alternative for what we do with it. Matt would know more details.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:04 AM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]



Can someone who knows give me a summary of what Hacker News is?


Phew, I'm not alone. From what I've read so far though, I like their style.
posted by Elmore at 9:05 AM on September 21, 2010


Elmore: Can someone who knows give me a summary of what Hacker News is?
Phew, I'm not alone. From what I've read so far though, I like their style.


Me too. However, even though I love my Internet reading beyond what is healthy, I'm sad to think that reading three or four comments at a site and not one:
(A) pisses me off
(B) makes me weep for the future of humanity.

is now the bar where me liking the style of a place is set.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:09 AM on September 21, 2010


Can someone who knows give me a summary of what Hacker News is?

It's a weird mix actually. Half of the posts reflect the "hacker news" title and are very technical. The other half reflect the fact that it's part of Y Combinator, a start-up incubator, and are business oriented.
posted by smackfu at 9:11 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why does Matt still use paypal?

Because as much as it's a pain in the ass for some people there is literally nothing that is better and as universal. We'll accept payment in cash and/or stamps and/or beer if people would prefer to do that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:13 AM on September 21, 2010


I signed up. I have 1 Karma. I don't know if I can trade that for merchandise like I can with my Favorites (I really love the iPod enabled lawn darts!). Here's their "welcome" page. The comments are not bad, actually.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:14 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


You eventually get vote down arrows if your karma is high enough. I think.
posted by smackfu at 9:16 AM on September 21, 2010


> You eventually get vote down arrows if your karma is high enough. I think.

Ah, then they have a proper cabal.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:18 AM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Interesting discussion over there. I think it's important for other people thinking about starting a community to remember that Metafilter's current moderation scheme grew very organically (as far as I know) - mathowie didn't start out thinking, "In a few years I'll lock down sign-ups, then open them up with a fee." There has always been some flexibility from the moderators in terms of changing structure, and I think that's a good thing.
posted by muddgirl at 9:19 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I liked this observation by Jessamyn: "I always figure we're doing something right if people on both sides of whatever argument people are having think we're favoring the other side."
posted by iamkimiam at 9:40 AM on September 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


It was interesting how many actual MeFites are participating in the Hacker thread.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:40 AM on September 21, 2010


jessamyn: "cortex and I both left comments"

"And that's it, no cutesy vowel-removal, no hard-line hellbans."

ha! This is one of the reasons I like metafilter so well: No cutesy manipulation of what I say (if you remve vowels, how can I trust you not to just fiddle with my words wholesale?) just straight-forward "be an adult and use your words"-talking.
posted by boo_radley at 9:42 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


You ever get the feelin' you was beein' watched?
posted by chillmost at 9:45 AM on September 21, 2010


We'll accept payment in cash and/or stamps and/or beer if people would prefer to do that.

Whoa, whoa, whoa.... I COULDA PAID IN BEER?!?
posted by zarq at 10:09 AM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


There's some good links posted to HN, and some very informed commentors (tptacek is a personal fave) but I really get bogged trying to follow a threaded conversation. So I rarely look at the discussions there. Also, there's no culture of encouraging multi-link posts, so you get a context-free headline. Finally, the format doesn't really lend itself to RSS-style reading, and I spend most of my time in Reader.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 10:32 AM on September 21, 2010


> there's no culture of encouraging multi-link posts

Which can be very refreshing, actually.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:34 AM on September 21, 2010


Whoa, whoa, whoa.... I COULDA PAID IN BEER?!?

I lieu of favorites, I too accept beer.
posted by inigo2 at 10:56 AM on September 21, 2010


> skorgu's overstating it; we sometimes end up returning it if the banned person is a prick about it. Much of the time we never hear from them again after we ban them; of those we do hear from, the ones making a fuss over the $5 specifically and/or giving paypal noise about it are a relatively small fraction. Still annoying to deal with, but it's not a "usually" situation.

Heh, thanks. I stand corrected. Even one spammer that gets their money back still sticks in my craw but I'm glad I was wrong about the frequency.
posted by Skorgu at 11:11 AM on September 21, 2010


These Premises Are Alarmed throwing the feed through readable feeds is very very good in Reader (i.e. add this feed).
posted by Skorgu at 11:15 AM on September 21, 2010


Yeah, I hear you. And I'm right there with you on the craw-sticking. Being a pragmatist in an imperfect world is not all that satisfying sometimes.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:31 AM on September 21, 2010


jessamyn: “Can someone who knows give me a summary of what Hacker News is?”

I've been frequenting HN for about four months now. (I'm koeselitz over there, too.) smackfu pretty much captured this, I think – it is a pretty big site for working hackers, and I constantly see neat geek shit there, from ancient articles about the early days of UNIX to crazy working diagrams of kit lasers and stuff. And not just technical geek stuff, but anything interesting that nerds might be into, like statistical data and 'how-things-work' stuff – and up-to-the-minute stuff about hardware and software releases. But all that's combined with the fact that it's on the platform of YCombinator, so you get a lot of articles and blog posts about 'how to deal with your VC' and 'how I learned to hire employees as a first-time founder' and 'should I be aggressive or passive in offering stock options at startup?' and stuff like that. Frankly (as you might imagine) I'm interested in the geeky shit, but the entrepreneurial stuff bores me to tears.

The front page is just a simplified sort of vote-based aggregator like Reddit or Digg; members post links, and posts rise to the top based on upvotes and downvotes. They got the simple part right, I think – coming to the site for the first time, it's extremely intuitive.

The commenting interface, however, is pretty bad, I think; my sense is that it does everything wrong that Metafilter does right, structurally speaking. Comments are rated by anonymous and completely irrevocable upvotes and downvotes, and rise or fall in the thread based on those votes; conversations are threaded; complete and opaque editing is allowed. Worst of all (in my mind) there's a Youtube-like 'feature' where comments that get a lot of downvotes start to fade on the page and become invisible. As a result of all this stuff, a meaningful back-and-forth is almost completely impossible, even assuming 100% goodwill on the part of all participants. A meaningful back-and-forth isn't really the point of the site, I gather; but there are all kinds of complications caused by the various particulars of the system. For example: since up-votes and down-votes are anonymous and irrevocable, unpopular comments start to fade quick, and you don't even know who's making them fade – hell, I get the feeling sometimes the slide starts with an unintentional mistaken click, but even if a downvote was a mistake, there's no way to take it back. And when comments start to fade and peoples' 'karma' (an aggregate score of a person's total points) start to drop, then they start to freak out and trying to explain. Since the most immediate way to explain yourself in a threaded conversation is at the top of the thread, most people in that situation tend to do so via editing; so you see all kinds of comments on Hacker News like this (in this thread):
-4 points by koeselitz 103 days ago | link | parent

Richard Feynman is kind of a jerk.

Edit: What I mean is:
How condescending is it to write someone a letter saying that they don't understand people, and they should try falling in love?
– that is, a lot of people trying to explain why they said what they said. Even worse, people often edit their comments to say things like "look, downvote me if you want, but geez..." The medium really gets in the way of simple interaction.

Also, as you can see, my, er, 'slightly contentious' style really doesn't fit in on HN, and it took me a while to get the hang of it. Even now, I really only participate in a sort of here-and-there way, popping in a comment or post where I feel like I have some small thing to add but staying out of it otherwise. My 'karma' score isn't bad, I guess – actually, it makes HN feel like kind of a game that I'm playing, since it's such a fickle and delicate thing there. Much more so than Metafilter favorites, which have the benefit of being trackable and revocable – that is, I know who favorited a given comment of mine (and that knowledge has real value in a community) and I know that wasn't a mistake (which is good for obvious reasons.) They're something a bit more personal than points. Frankly, being on HN has really brought me around to favorites, at least to a degree; I think I still have a lot of the same concerns about them, but they're really well-designed and well-implemented compared to a lot of alternatives.
posted by koeselitz at 11:37 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


smackfu: “You eventually get vote down arrows if your karma is high enough. I think.”

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I got my downvote privilege when my karma hit 100.
posted by koeselitz at 11:42 AM on September 21, 2010


(But I should note that – perhaps as a small protest, perhaps to be part of a conversational leveling effect – I refuse to downvote anything on HN, and I assiduous upvote every single comment I see that has less than 1 point. I didn't see anything in the guidelines forbidding that, and I think it's better for the site, so that's what I do. Since there's also a flag for spam/detritus, there's no reason for me to really need the downvote; if I disagree with somebody, I'll tell them so.)
posted by koeselitz at 11:44 AM on September 21, 2010


We'll accept payment in cash and/or stamps and/or beer if people would prefer to do that.

Just for future reference, what's the exchange rate on Canadian beer?
posted by FishBike at 11:50 AM on September 21, 2010


Just for future reference, what's the exchange rate on Canadian beer?

I think a Phillips Blue Buck is worth at least two Pyramid Ales.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:54 AM on September 21, 2010


Just for future reference, what's the exchange rate on Canadian beer?

It's par, unless your beer is seasonally flavored in which case it's 2 for 1 no matter what the nationality is. Added hassle with beer is, of course, getting it here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:56 AM on September 21, 2010


Added hassle with beer is, of course, getting it here.

And splitting it threefour ways.
posted by daniel_charms at 11:58 AM on September 21, 2010


koeselitz, you nailed the critique on the commenting system. HN is worse than Reddit, and Reddit's pretty awful. Their commenting system frustrated me to no end.

Hacker News had a leaderboard when I was a member; I was in the top 30 or so for karma. (Username "unalone", for the HN-MeFi crossovers reading our MeFi-HN crossover.) So I was pretty heavily active for the year I was there. Eventually I got hellbanned for posting a comment critical of a moderately well-known coder; Paul Graham didn't like that and he's got his finger pretty continually on the switch. He was kind enough to write me an email alerting me. The site's official policy is simply to cut off accounts without warning, letting those users comment but never displaying those comments to anybody else. Pretty shitty policy for nonspamming users.

Any system that lets you downvote is going to promote a particularly ugly trend of groupthink. Here on MeFi we have lots of highly-favorited comments simply parroting a popular opinion, but we don't let users gray out another user's text if they simply disagree with what they're saying. And HN's graying policy for comments with negative scores means that if a single user downvotes you, suddenly everybody else reading your comment sees it grayed and it provides them with incentive to read your comment in an unfavorable light. Lots of debates where people in each side would mass-downvote each other, so that the one side would emerge with fifty points a comment and the other one would be so gray as to be nearly invisible.

And, of course, HN sorts comments not by date posted but by its special "what do people like" algorithm, so that trotting out a risky unpopular opinion means you might never be read at all.

The community is bright and well-spoken, but has some very heavy biases. It's very pro-free market, which isn't surprising for a site that harbors entrepreneurs. It's also very pro-Paul Graham, occasionally to the point of brown-nosing. Not terrible stances to have, though the number of people who cite Graham's Hackers and Painters like it's a personal bible get tiresome. They only get frustrating because of the downvote system. Lots of good comments about, say, socialism, getting buried in favor of a snarky quip about Communist Russia.

The breaking point for me was the meanness. I always find it funny when people here complain about how everybody else is being an asshole, because no ordinary person can compete with the shrewd cruelty of a bunch of programmers convinced that they are right and their opponents are retarded apes. And Paul's policy of letting more famous people and people associated with YCombinator have more leeway on the site meant that some of them got away with some disgusting shit.

I have up days and down days here on MetaFilter, but I stick because of the mods. They're competent, they communicate well, and they talk about policy without making it sound like they're God handing down the Commandments. HN, for all its good — and there is a lot of good, don't get me wrong — suffers from the incompetence of the people running it.
posted by Rory Marinich at 12:06 PM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


The 'no downvoting' is something I really love about metafilter.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 12:13 PM on September 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


(But I should note that – perhaps as a small protest, perhaps to be part of a conversational leveling effect – I refuse to downvote anything on HN, and I assiduous upvote every single comment I see that has less than 1 point.

I totally do this on Reddit unless it's spam (in my mind, the only thing that "downvoting" should be used for).
posted by cj_ at 12:34 PM on September 21, 2010


I know it's a shibboleth here to say that threaded comments suck but "a meaningful back-and-forth" is much easier in threaded discussions, and you can skip over side conversations you're not interested in easily rather than having them spread through the whole main thread. Sure there are some things to criticize about threaded discussions, but that doesn't seem like a valid one to me.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:55 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


But it also encourages back-and-forth, whereas here that is really discouraged, e.g. "take it to email".
posted by smackfu at 1:17 PM on September 21, 2010


"Take it to email" is more for people being obnoxiously head-to-head in a distracting way; two people having an interesting, civil exchange that's topical is not so much of an issue. It's the "you two clearly want to have an argument with each other" thing that's more where we want them to go do it on their own time instead of making a public display of it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:33 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would much rather part with $5 than with beer.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:44 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Space Coyote: “I know it's a shibboleth here to say that threaded comments suck but "a meaningful back-and-forth" is much easier in threaded discussions, and you can skip over side conversations you're not interested in easily rather than having them spread through the whole main thread. Sure there are some things to criticize about threaded discussions, but that doesn't seem like a valid one to me.”

Well, for one thing, that's not what I said. I said all those factors led to a system that prevented a meaningful back-and-forth. Note please that I'm talking there about Hacker News, not Reddit or any other threaded-comment-using site.

Look, honestly, I'm not just parroting the party line here – like I said, I've been commenting over at HN for four months now, and I've actually done the thing I'm talking about. It's just not something that works on HN. If you've had a different experience over there, I'm open to hearing about it; but that's my position at the moment. And please not that I didn't say that threaded commenting alone was the cause of that.

I will say this, though: however you feel about threaded commenting, it seems to me that HN's way of doing threaded commenting is almost disastrous, and I have a hard time seeing how you'd argue otherwise. I've never been a Redditor, so I can't speak to how it works over there, but at least the conversations make rational sense – you can follow various threads, and they seem to stay in the same place, even if they're expanded or contracted or however it works. But in the simplified, 'cleaner' HN layout, there's no guide or tree or anything to give you any context whatsoever on the threading mechanism; the hidden and often capricious internal algorithm of 'relative importance' (based on number of replies, number of upvotes, number of downvotes, etc) moves posts around on the page based on how it decides they ought to be. So you can't even open a HN thread twice and have things be in the same place! More than once I've come back to a thread and been completely confused by what I see, because there's literally no way to anticipate what's going to be where; you might've responded to a thread that was at the bottom, and now it's in the middle, and another bit you were interested in might be somewhere near the top but you don't know. I don't even mind things moving around, but there at least ought to be something to guide you a bit in the layout. The result is that, whereas metafilter and Reddit can handle massive, 500-comment threads without being utterly confusing to the people taking part, on HN they're a complete mess – or, at the very least, if you comment once in a thread then you're forever thereafter consigned to only getting to that thread through your user profile, so you can see your particular thread in focus.

However – all that aside, I confess that I do have a feeling that threaded commenting isn't good for conversation or a meaningful back-and-forth. I say that's a 'feeling' because (again) I've never used Reddit or any other threaded-comment site aside from HN. I have that feeling, though, for two reasons: first of all, the reason I haven't used Reddit is because it confuses the crap out of me. I have no idea what's going on on the page. I've clicked through dozens and dozens of conversations there, and there's often a whole lot of great stuff on Reddit, but I could not tell you the first thing about how comments work, because it seems opaque to me. I'm guessing it makes a lot of sense to people who used the old BBS systems a lot, but I never understood those, either. And I worry that that kind of barrier will really prevent people from joining a conversation. Second of all, it's always seemed to me that threading tends to isolate branches of the conversation; people involved in a particular thread are more likely to pay attention to that thread, and people not involved are less likely. That's sort of the point of threading, I think – to focus the conversation by explicitly marking its branches – but what that means is that the conversation is less general and less free-ranging. I value that generality and freedom; I think it's essential for keeping conversation online down to earth and direct. And I don't think a thread is meaningfully a conversation unless it's by necessity a shared process; everyone here at Metafilter is forced to follow the same thread, and therefore the conversation itself is something we all have to share in, no matter what our interests. I think that's a good thing.
posted by koeselitz at 2:02 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can someone who knows give me a summary of what Hacker News is?
It's a link-posting and commenting site, with four key features:

1. It's half-filled with a load of early-20s coders who hate the idea of working for the man, and are convinced that they just need to hit on the right combination of Mongrel/Ruby/Scala/Django/node.js to create the minimum viable product that will make them "fuck-you money" and let them spend all their time working on unspecified personal projects. They're like nerd puppies, gambolling while gambling with VC cash, hey can you review their site?

2. The other half is made up of seasoned, cynical, often condescending experts in their fields who hold forth on pressing tech topics.

3. They are bound together by groupthink and groupthink-hate, driven by the voting system. Touchstones: Paul Graham is really pretty great, despite what MeFites would have you believe. Fuck-you money is even greater. But the ability to "work on your own projects", well, man can have no higher goal than this.

4. It all rests on a posting interface that's not only threaded but also shifts posts around depending on their ratings, which is so anti-Metafilter it's through phpBB and out the other side.

Somehow, though, all four which sound terrible in isolation when put together actually make a really great home for nerdery. Much better than even /. in the glory days.
posted by bonaldi at 2:14 PM on September 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


work on your own projects

Is that the thing Christine O'Donnell purportedly doesn't do?
posted by maxwelton at 2:47 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've got a lemon verbena/lemongrass/Sorachi Ace pale ale in my secondary fermenter.

How many sockpuppets do I get for a bomber?
posted by box at 5:40 PM on September 21, 2010


koeselitz: "And when comments start to fade and peoples' 'karma' (an aggregate score of a person's total points) start to drop, then they start to freak out and trying to explain."

This is a terrible system, but it strikes me as so hilarious. I'm picturing a user saying something mildly controversial, then starting to fade away, Back to the Future-style. "Shit!" they say, "What I meant is... you see... FUCK THE RIAAAaaaa..."

But it's too late, and now they're gone.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:39 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Jessamyn: We'll accept payment in cash and/or stamps and/or beer if people would prefer to do that.

WOW. I'm exhausted and obviously my eyes have given out for the day, because I read that as "payment in cash and/or strange and/or beer"

Record scratch!

I tell you what, though - reading that Metafilter takes strange as payment for accounts sure woke me right the hell up.
posted by ErikaB at 8:50 PM on September 21, 2010


The link caused me to read the new user page and this part:

'How signups work
Due to the bursting size of the community, its use of resources,…'

struck me as a strange use of 'bursting' - should it be 'burgeoning'?
posted by unliteral at 9:35 PM on September 21, 2010


Burgeoning is just too bourgie.

reading that Metafilter takes strange as payment for accounts sure woke me right the hell up

I will accept payment in back-issues of Doctor Strange.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:38 PM on September 21, 2010


struck me as a strange use of 'bursting' - should it be 'burgeoning'?

"Bursting" always reminds me of the scene where Garp loses his virginity. Isn't that the line his partner uses?
posted by maxwelton at 9:41 PM on September 21, 2010


Bourgie Bourgie - Careless.
posted by unliteral at 9:55 PM on September 21, 2010


Which, of course, leads to the exquisite - Will I ever be inside of you.
posted by unliteral at 10:06 PM on September 21, 2010


The 'no downvoting' is something I really love about metafilter.

Me too. Except for every once in awhile, I wish I could save something as an unfavorite.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:28 PM on September 21, 2010


Just for future reference, what's the exchange rate on Canadian beer?

It's par, unless your beer is seasonally flavored in which case it's 2 for 1 no matter what the nationality is.


Just when I was wondering what to do with my leftover winter porters, stouts & doppelbocks, now that spring has arrived...
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:12 AM on September 22, 2010


I will now judge both comments on color, clarity, after taste and tannin.

I found Cortex's comment to be light, yet bright in its wisdom, with subtle undertones of a kindly uncle playing a banjo. The aftertaste was shockingly sweet, I could almost swear I tasted a bit of Windows 7 in there, along a bit of oak and glazed donuts.

Jessamyn's comment left a taste of sparkling intelligence, combined with cool aunt who will let you eat ice cream for breakfast sometimes flavor along a oddly vibrant, yet pungent wisp of liberal hippy. The aftertaste was the warm buzz of an east coaster, which everyone knows is the better of the two coasts and it contained a hearty hint of Mac OS x and tea.
posted by nomadicink at 6:19 AM on September 22, 2010


You didn't say what their head was like.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:24 AM on September 22, 2010


"a meaningful back-and-forth" is much easier in threaded discussions, and you can skip over side conversations you're not interested in easily rather than having them spread through the whole main thread.

I was going to launch into an extended metaphor about how threaded comments are like a house party where you can stand in the hallway jawing about the finer points of subject X all night, if you want—while unthreaded comments are like a dinner party where everything anyone says can hold the public attention for a second, discouraging big uninteresting side conversations in the first place... blah blah blah.

Instead, I'll say that I think what bugs me about threaded comments is harder to pin down. Something like: while unthreaded comments encourage synthesizing ideas, threaded comments encourage breaking them down into an unresolvable mess.
posted by fleacircus at 6:59 AM on September 22, 2010


I want a t-shirt that reads:

"I am jessamyn your Mod, who brought you out of the land of AOL, out of the house of slavery; Do not have any other mods before me."
posted by terrapin at 7:01 AM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


... and lately I have been in love with Canadian beers, especially Dieu du ciel! brews.
posted by terrapin at 7:07 AM on September 22, 2010


The 'no downvoting' is something I really love about metafilter.

I agree that down-voting is bad, but constant positive reinforcement is not necessarily a good thing either. My ability to turn off seeing favourites allows me to read the site without having to see the favourite counts, but because others still use the "feature" as a way to collect favourites like badges of honour, my ability to turn them off doesn't negate others constantly looking to focus the light on themselves. *shrug*
posted by terrapin at 7:14 AM on September 22, 2010


You didn't say what their head was like.

While most people think of human heads as spherical, they're actually more like an egg.

So yes, we're all eggheads.
posted by nomadicink at 7:46 AM on September 22, 2010


terrapin: “... and lately I have been in love with Canadian beers, especially Dieu du ciel! brews.”

There is nothing on earth that makes me as happy as a bottle of a good Unibroue beer, particularly La Fin du Monde.
posted by koeselitz at 7:49 AM on September 22, 2010


While most people think of human heads as spherical, they're actually more like an egg.

Bless you for passing over the obvious category of rejoinders. I love this place.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:37 AM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


koeselitz' description of the metafilter-style comment advantages is well done. There is only one thing missing. At hackernews, as at many other sites, the poster's handle or name or ID comes before their comment. Having the name only after the comment allows for a far less subjective reading. The words come at you in a more neutral website voice with the supposedly familiar handle afterwords, unless it is a one-liner.

You may not have a uniformly positive regard for every user here. I certainly do not. I sometimes get a pleasant surprise when I read something which is brilliant or compelling, and then after I see the user and, "Hmmm, maybe that user is not as stupid as I thought they were."
posted by bukvich at 11:03 AM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Compared to a lot of the forums I use, I'm just glad that the Metafilter network doesn't have signature blocks. With the animations and the sparkles and the multi-color text and the confusing abbreviations and the smileys OH GOD THE SMILEYS.
posted by ErikaB at 2:00 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is nothing on earth that makes me as happy as a bottle of a good Unibroue beer, particularly La Fin du Monde.

Yes, but it's a shame about the price. It used to be that you could buy a bottle for around $8, but now it's something like $16 or $18 (and that's with the AUD almost at parity with the USD) so it's only for big occasions like the Changing of the Boot.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:34 PM on September 22, 2010


They're talking about Metafilter's community guidelines and moderation policy over at Hacker News.

It's funny that there really wasn't much discussion over there, and most of the comments are by MeFi members. There is more discussion of HN here than vice versa.
posted by smackfu at 2:48 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


me: “There is nothing on earth that makes me as happy as a bottle of a good Unibroue beer, particularly La Fin du Monde.”

UbuRoivas: “Yes, but it's a shame about the price. It used to be that you could buy a bottle for around $8, but now it's something like $16 or $18 (and that's with the AUD almost at parity with the USD) so it's only for big occasions like the Changing of the Boot.”

Huh – that's odd. At the liquor store down the road from where I live, they're still all less than $10; that "Terrible" stuff (which is quite good actually) is only $6.72.
posted by koeselitz at 3:02 PM on September 22, 2010


Are you talking about the 355mL bottle or the 750mL? They're $8.50 & $19, respectively, at this place. It's possible to find cheaper, but not by much.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:08 PM on September 22, 2010


Taxes may vary.
posted by smackfu at 3:09 PM on September 22, 2010


Forgot about that. The government keeps bumping up the alcohol taxes by 25% or so every year or two - supposedly to combat binge drinking. The only result is that people have less money to spend on food, clothing, medical bills, kids' education, and other kinds of discretionary items.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:15 PM on September 22, 2010


I'm talking about the 750ml, actually - the 750ml "La Fin du Monde" here is $8.98, which isn't awesome, but it's not bad, I guess. I don't drink all that much; I can justify a sixer and something that costs the same as one of those per week to myself financially. If it were $16, I'd probably never get it.
posted by koeselitz at 4:02 PM on September 22, 2010


I see the same prices as koeselitz is seeing here in Vermont.
posted by terrapin at 5:30 PM on September 22, 2010


On afterthought, it's probably less about taxes than economies of scale (or lack thereof). The more ubiquitous imported beers cost about the same as local brews, give or take about 10-20%.

For example, I can get Pilsner Urquell or Samuel Adams sixpacks for about the same as any equivalent Australian beer, but Fin du Monde & its stablemates cost about three times as much as their competitors.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:37 PM on September 22, 2010


I've often thought that one of the happy accidents that makes MetaFilter great is the commenting display system. I'm glad it continues to resist new mis-features.
posted by Mitheral at 7:04 PM on September 22, 2010


In its home and native land, $8.98 is a very good price for 750 ml of Fin du Monde.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 7:27 PM on September 22, 2010


Why does Matt still use paypal?

Just a datapoint - Paypal's on again/off again operations in India kept me from signing up for years.

Now I have a paypal account only because of MeFi - I've since tried using it for other things but it's always a coin toss whether it's going to work for a particular purchase or not, so I stopped bothering.
posted by vanar sena at 1:50 PM on September 23, 2010


MeFi responses to payment alternatives:

Paypal: They suck, they freeze people's accounts.
Amazon Payments: They suck, one-click patents make me so angry.
Google Payments: They suck, "do no evil" my ass, why would I give them even more info like my real address.
CC Processor: They suck, I don't have a credit card.

(The rates are pretty much identical too.)
posted by smackfu at 1:59 PM on September 23, 2010


You know, I've been online a long fucking time now and followed or participated in discussions in every format from old-school BBS to every kind of modern day forum and I just cannot grok the way comments are threaded at Hacker News. I don't mean I hate the way they're managed or despise the voting system or something - I mean I liteally cannot follow the conversations. It's like reading unordered notecards pulled at random. This may be a dyscalculia sequential processing thing but no other format gives me as much trouble as Hacker News.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:44 AM on September 24, 2010


This may be a dyscalculia sequential processing thing but no other format gives me as much trouble as Hacker News.

I think what trips me up with most threaded discussion display formats is that when I think of a thread, to me it means a parallel sequence. I expect a block of comments at the same level of indent to be that sequence, and it's not.

Instead, when every comment is explicitly a reply to one thing (the post, or another comment), what results isn't multi-threading, but a tree structure. I think my brain would handle it better if it was displayed in a more traditional tree format.

Have the post itself centered at the top, replies to the post arrange horizontally underneath it, replies to those replies horizontally under them, and so forth. Which is a bit unwieldy and maybe explains why some of us find threaded tree-structured discussions so hard to follow?

Maybe a better approach would be to allow for explicit conversational thread creation? So a post starts out with a single thread of comments under it, and new comments just go at the end of that by default. But you'd also have a button on each comment that says "start new thread from this comment" and a new thread would appear off to the right of it. Then people can start adding comments to either the original thread, or the new one, and there could be many of these on the go at once.
posted by FishBike at 6:33 AM on September 24, 2010


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