You have reached you posting limit for this thread at 15% of all comments, why not have a donut instead? March 31, 2011 4:12 AM   Subscribe

Pony Request: A limit to the number of comments one user can make in a thread.

A lot of really fighty threads seem to end up in a user vs everyone format, and one obvious way of discouraging that would be some kind of limit on any single user's participation in a thread. It seems like a no-brainer to me, so I'd welcome an explanation as to why it's a terrible idea and should never happen.
posted by Proofs and Refutations to Feature Requests at 4:12 AM (150 comments total)

Let's say I'm an expert in something. Let's say there's a thread about my area of expertise.
Or perhaps I'm personally involved in the topic of a thread.
posted by sciencegeek at 4:17 AM on March 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Your post title != your suggestion. If you're serious about the title, that's a problem for threads like this one.

How do you propose the mods choose this magical number for the limit?
posted by knile at 4:22 AM on March 31, 2011


Based on your title, I don't think that suggestion is very feasible or practical. In fast moving threads, which tend to be those "fighty" ones, that 15% threshold would change in 5 minutes and then they can post again.
And if you go the route of a static number, well go ahead and try and suggest a "reasonable" number, I'd love to hear it.
posted by like_neon at 4:23 AM on March 31, 2011


Oh and the percentage thing also doesn't work in low commented threads. So you're saying if a post has 10 comments, I can do one comment and then that's it?
posted by like_neon at 4:24 AM on March 31, 2011


It seems like a no-brainer to me, so I'd welcome an explanation as to why it's a terrible idea and should never happen.

Because sometimes that one person has a salient point that a few other people really don't want to hear and this would limit that person's ability to defend their position while the offended people used their allotted comments to accuse her/him of witchcraft or heresy. Then other people who have merely skimmed the thread and buy the unfounded accusations wholesale use their allotted comments to further muddy the discourse.

If you're not worried about the economy of your opinions you don't have to worry about a quick "uhh, I didn't say that."
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:25 AM on March 31, 2011 [10 favorites]


I can't imagine this being a major problem, or a particularly major minor problem, justifying the effort, added complexity and maintenance required ("Hi mods! cool person x is holding a q&a session over in thread y but has hit the invisible wall of posts. plzfix.").
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:25 AM on March 31, 2011


A percentage-based limit wouldn't work. Comment #1 would always be 100% of the thread.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:25 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


A percentage-based limit wouldn't work. Comment #1 would always be 100% of the thread.

This is easily fixed by waiting for a certain minimum number of comments. The same solution fixes the "rapidly changing percentages" issue.

But maybe a "mean time between comments" feature would be better anyway. Like no more than 10 comments in 5 minutes and no more than 50 in an hour or whatever.
posted by DU at 4:28 AM on March 31, 2011


Oh man, I can't wait for the mods' responses to this one, as it goes completely against the grain of how Metafilter works (in both social and technical senses).
posted by The Michael The at 4:29 AM on March 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've been wanting to do this for so long.

Your post advocates a:
[ ] community moderated
[x] technical
[ ] social
[ ] legislative
[ ] economic
[ ] authoritarian
solution to fighty MetaFilter comments.

I'm afraid it won't work due to:
[ ] the King of the Shitpile problem
[ ] Matt doesn't have time
[ ] the code doesn't work that way
[ ] technology doesn't work that way
[ ] wishing doesn't make things better
[ ] scoreboards don't fix anything
[x] it doesn't prevent fighty comments from appearing
[x] nobody ever agrees what a fighty comment is
[ ] requiring cooperation from asshats
[x] it would cause new problems for legitimate, unfighty commenters

In summary:
[x] Yours isn't the worst idea I've ever heard, but it's not good.
[ ] That's a pretty dumb thing to do.
[ ] Do you even understand the words you're using?
[ ] Die.

posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:36 AM on March 31, 2011 [129 favorites]


I think it's a great idea and I'd love to see it tried. Just not here.
posted by Skorgu at 4:38 AM on March 31, 2011


I've got a muuuch better idea. Why don't fighty commenters just stop? There, I said it. Take that, fighters. Want some more? Hah.
posted by Namlit at 4:42 AM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


As a general rule, trying to enact rules about human interaction with program code rarely goes well.
posted by Malor at 4:58 AM on March 31, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm not sure this is a problem that needs a solution. I'm also surprised that after less than three months of membership, and less than 15 visible interactions with the site, you'd think that you're qualified to so confidently suggest such a sweeping change to how Metafilter works. (Perhaps you've been involved under another user name, which would obviate my second point.)
posted by OmieWise at 4:59 AM on March 31, 2011


Dude, that pony is DOA and beating it makes the site dusty.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:02 AM on March 31, 2011 [17 favorites]


Because sometimes that one person has a salient point that a few other people really don't want to hear and this would limit that person's ability to defend their position

I wonder what the ratio of this ever happening is, versus "actually, just a crank who's not listening to counterarguments and has picked a stupid hill to die on." One to one hundred trillion?
posted by fleacircus at 5:06 AM on March 31, 2011


Please stop saying 'fighty.'
posted by jonmc at 5:08 AM on March 31, 2011 [24 favorites]


Can we impose this rule on real world conversations?

Example:

P1: ... and in conclusion, the way to end poverty forever is...
P2: I'm sorry, you've used more than 15% of the conversation, you'll have to stop and leave space for everyone else.
P3: I DUN MAYD ME SOME PIE!
P2: Much better!
posted by blue_beetle at 5:08 AM on March 31, 2011 [7 favorites]


I wonder what the ratio of this ever happening is, versus "actually, just a crank who's not listening to counterarguments and has picked a stupid hill to die on." One to one hundred trillion?

Yeah, the popular opinion is always the right one. History proves that.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:09 AM on March 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


Fighty != verbose.

More to the point, fighty can equal verbose, but it doesn't all the time, and getting rid of people's ability to counter argument means that the minority opinion will tend to go unheard, and as more fighty people realize that two fighty people can out-post-limit one person, then they will do so, because that's what fighty people do.

(On preview, apologies to jonmc, but I ain't recasting all that this early in the morning.)
posted by Etrigan at 5:11 AM on March 31, 2011


I'm really curious to know which thread(s) you had in mind when you thought this up, and if the limits you're proposing would have actually made a difference in those posts. Except in some short threads, I doubt most users get up to 15% of a thread's comments, and so it probably wouldn't make any impact.

I think an interesting alternative might be for people to have the option of blocking other users. Sort of like a "mute" button. Sometimes there are people you just don't ever want to hear from, who consistently ruin threads for you and prevent you from enjoying an otherwise awesome post or conversation. I think that being able to ignore their stupidbullshitfuckingtrollbait comments might have a better chance at stopping the GRAR before it starts.
posted by sambosambo at 5:12 AM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


And Etrigan just succinctly explained why it's a bad idea. And it seemed so good in my head...
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 5:18 AM on March 31, 2011


I feel like I should point out that one thread down you've currently made 3 of the 15 comments.

That's 20%.
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 5:18 AM on March 31, 2011 [8 favorites]


I feel like I should point out that one thread down you've currently made 3 of the 15 comments.

That's 20%.


I was all ready to hate this idea (what's next, "karma" systems and other gross and easily gamed technical solutions to social problems?). Reading those comments has converted me.
posted by atrazine at 5:25 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


a user vs everyone format, and one obvious way of discouraging that

You're presupposing that we should want to discourage this. If you want to make the site even more of an ideological echo chamber, go ahead. But at least admit that that's what would happen.
posted by John Cohen at 5:30 AM on March 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


This gets a resounding no from me. How are you going to have a discussion if you have a limit on how many comments you have for that conversation?
posted by arcticseal at 5:40 AM on March 31, 2011


When you limit the underdog's voice, the big dogs get all pissy when the little dog won't respond.

Oh, and you just ate your MeTalk limit, newb.
posted by Ardiril at 5:46 AM on March 31, 2011


Strongly opposed.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:49 AM on March 31, 2011


Of course, any limit on number of comments will encourage people to make huge mega-comments to make sure they say everything they want to say before hitting the limit. You'd need to also have a word or character limit. I'm sure this would be great fun for the mods to institute and police.
posted by John Cohen at 5:52 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


How are you going to have a discussion if you have a limit on how many comments you have for that conversation?

For that matter, what kind of conversation can you hope to have where you throttle only the people talking? I hereby support the opposite of this pony! In order for your comments to appear they must exceed 15% of the total comments in a thread.
posted by dirtdirt at 5:52 AM on March 31, 2011


As a general rule, trying to enact rules about human interaction with program code rarely goes well.

Piffle. If that were true, MetaFilter would do just as well with threaded comments. Or an edit system with no time window. Or wiki style comments where everyone could edit everyone else's comments.
posted by DU at 5:54 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I do not like this idea. It seems unnecessary, possibly restrictive and unlikely to achieve the desired result: rather than making numerous argumentative responses on a thread it's also possible to condense all one's rage and fightiness into a single sprawling post of black fury. I'm not sure enforcing that approach would be an improvement.
posted by Decani at 5:54 AM on March 31, 2011


Why stop at number of comments!? We should also factor in comment length. And since we're talking about the overtalkers, we shouldn't ignore the stonewallers and those who refuse to respond to our questions and argument follow-ups. So to that end, I suggest we also create some code to make sure that we're not underparticipating in threads as well.

Mediocrity, people. Don't strive to hard for it.
posted by iamkimiam at 5:56 AM on March 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


And since we're talking about the overtalkers

While we're at it, don't forget the closetalkers.
posted by arcticseal at 5:59 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


So to that end, I suggest we also create some code to make sure that we're not underparticipating in threads as well.

posted by iamkimiam at 1:56 PM on March 31


I like this! But why stop there? Let's have a "Lurker Wall of Shame"!
posted by Decani at 6:00 AM on March 31, 2011 [9 favorites]


What if I want to play Alphabet games in dead threads or argue about comics with Shakesperian or make a lot of funny type-related book titles? WHAT THEN?
posted by The Whelk at 6:01 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think an interesting alternative might be for people to have the option of blocking other users. Sort of like a "mute" button.

I used to be on a site that had this. I had to quit the site when something like 75% of the active user base was on that list.

It isn't as necessary here because we have good moderators and the users here, even those with whom I disagree, are not irretrievably stupid on every subject. The ignore feature is only good when you're certain that nothing ever emerging from that username will be valuable or interesting.
posted by winna at 6:25 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pony Request: A limit to the number of comments one user can make in a thread.

How do you suggest we decide who that one user will be, though?
posted by FishBike at 6:26 AM on March 31, 2011 [14 favorites]


I used to want a block list, too. I had a small selection, maybe a dozen, of prolific mefites who I had on a personal, mentally-curated shitlist and I'd recognize their opening salvos, scroll to check username, and then immediately stop reading. Then I was scrolling through my favorites (the ones I give, not the ones I receive) and it turned out that something like 2/3rds of the mefites on my shitlist had either had best answers for me on my own askmes, or had left concise, brilliant advice and emotonal support in questions that I've followed closely.

Everybody sucks sometimes, but everybody's worth listening to once in a while.
posted by Mizu at 6:35 AM on March 31, 2011 [7 favorites]


Please stop saying 'fighty.'

I propose replacing it with "hoppitamoppish".
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:35 AM on March 31, 2011


Grumpitymumpity.
posted by Mizu at 6:36 AM on March 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


the popular opinion is always the right one. History proves that.

They laughed at Galileo and they laughed at Einstein, but they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

Why don't we meter comments and leave this problem to the invisible hand.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:38 AM on March 31, 2011


Please stop saying 'fighty.'

I propose replacing it with "hoppitamoppish".
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:35 PM on March 31


Eponysterical.

How about the good old British "stroppy"? I've always liked that one.
posted by Decani at 6:43 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


There'd be a rise in sockpuppetry, I bet.

On preview: stroppy! Yes. I vote for that, though I have nothing against fighty.
posted by rtha at 6:46 AM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why don't we meter comments and leave this problem to the invisible hand.

I think we tried that with favorites and PEOPLE KEPT USING THEM ALL UP. ARE YOU TRYING TO CAUSE A COMMENT SHORTAGE TOO???
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:47 AM on March 31, 2011


Oh, and you just ate your MeTalk limit, newb.

A member's user number is irrelevant to the point that they are making.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:49 AM on March 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


What kind of pie?
posted by electroboy at 6:57 AM on March 31, 2011


Why not an hourly and/or daily limit, coupled with a percentage limit for threads over a certain threshold length?
posted by molecicco at 7:02 AM on March 31, 2011


Apple!
posted by rtha at 7:03 AM on March 31, 2011


A member's user number is irrelevant to the point that they are making.

While I agree that someone should not be prohibited from making a point like this because they have only been a member for a bit less than three months, I do think that the length of time they've been a member inevitably colors the reception of such a sweeping and radical suggestion for change.
posted by OmieWise at 7:06 AM on March 31, 2011


I will limit my comment on this to one more word: No.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:17 AM on March 31, 2011


rtha: Apple!

A lot of people tend to agree.
posted by gman at 7:17 AM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


As far as "fighty" goes, we ought to resort to twee neologisms only when there is no other decent word in the language. We already have:

belligerent
obnoxious
contentious
argumentative
combative
confrontational

all of which make "fighty" sound like blowing on a kazoo into a toilet.
posted by argybarg at 7:18 AM on March 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Mardy.
posted by Abiezer at 7:22 AM on March 31, 2011


I would've liked this while a recent Libya thread was unfolding, but in hindsight know it was better to have the community self-correct these kinds of compulsive rapid fire commenting behaviors rather than try to automate it.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:24 AM on March 31, 2011


Also, Barmy.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:26 AM on March 31, 2011


I got here as soon as I could to say that The Whelk totally thinks The Flash is the best superhero and he is wrong.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:34 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


SLANDER! LIES!
posted by The Whelk at 7:39 AM on March 31, 2011


It seems like a no-brainer to me, so I'd welcome an explanation as to why it's a terrible idea and should never happen.

The idea at the core of it is fine: it'd be nice not to have people be inappropriately hyper-reactive in a thread or go on a drunk posting spree or engage in some other sort of voluminous freakout, yeah.

The problem is that a technical solution to that isn't trivial, for a couple big reasons:

1. It involves making up some magic constants (exactly how much commenting is too much commenting? Hard number? Proportion to the thread? Limited per unit time? Does comment character count come into it?) to quantify a range of behaviors that are functionally qualitative on this site.

2. It requires designing a formula that doesn't produce false positives: if the throttling function ever tells someone participating in an unproblematic fashion that they're commenting too much and have to stop, we've got a big problem. So the throttling function can't be too zealous. And since situations differ from thread to thread, there are a lot of edge cases even if an acceptable baseline throttling value gets figured out, and all those edge cases need to work and not incorrectly block someone's commenting as well. And all of that needs to be tested and maintained.

Beyond that, adjudicating the auto-throttler's activation or failure to activate sounds like pure hell. Defending our actual mod decisions is part of the job, but I don't want to spend my time defending my robot's decision-making.

The current system is: if someone is flipping out in a thread, flag it and maybe drop us an email; maybe drop some gentle encouragement into the thread that they throttle back; if you're part of the them-flipping-out dynamic, remove yourself from the conversation.

It's a reactive process, and it can mean that if it's e.g. the middle of the night and Team Mod is asleep then someone can keep being a dingus for a couple more hours if they have the momentum. But if someone makes a habit of that sort of thing, we're going to very much be talking to them about it, and if it's something they can't get a handle on they're going to get some time off and a much shorter leash.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:41 AM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm also surprised that after less than three months of membership, and less than 15 visible interactions with the site, you'd think that you're qualified to so confidently suggest such a sweeping change to how Metafilter works.

It's not really surprising. Rarely do these kinds of sweeping change suggestions come from brand new users or long time users. It's the users in the middle who are starting to figure things out without yet having truly grokked the site who are confident enough to post to Metatalk without being able to anticipate how their suggestion is going to be received.

UbuRoivas writes "A member's user number is irrelevant to the point that they are making."

True. But as above this kind of suggestion is most likely to come from someone still in a honeymoon period.
posted by Mitheral at 7:43 AM on March 31, 2011


The Whelk thinks that if The Flash teamed up with Hawkman then there would be no need for Batman.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:44 AM on March 31, 2011


The current system is: if someone is flipping out in a thread, flag it and maybe drop us an email; maybe drop some gentle encouragement into the thread that they throttle back; if you're part of the them-flipping-out dynamic, remove yourself from the conversation.

Ugh, you mean you want us to act like grownups???
posted by elsietheeel at 7:50 AM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


How does The Whelk feel about Aquaman?
posted by electroboy at 8:00 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


With his hands, presumably.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:09 AM on March 31, 2011 [28 favorites]


no need for Batman.

I've never considered this. And I hate it.
posted by pwally at 8:14 AM on March 31, 2011


Who doesn't like fights?
posted by mrgrimm at 8:14 AM on March 31, 2011


The Whelk and I are collaborating on elaborate Flash/Aquaman slash fiction. SPOILER: It's underwater.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:17 AM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have wondered about temporal throttling within a thread. Some form of exponential backoff, with a cap. A wait time, as it were.

Your first comment whenever.
Your second comment at least 1 minute later.
Your third comment (time of 2nd)+2 minutes.
+4 minutes
+8 minutes.
Capped at +15 minutes, which means after your first five comments, you'd be limited to making 4 new comments per hour.

But then I remember technical solutions for social problems rarely work as intended, and realize it's all a ball of rubbish.
posted by fings at 8:17 AM on March 31, 2011


A further problem I'd have with it would be lack of ability to edit comments. Say you make a typo. Can't correct it. You can only post again. Either you're eating up another comment to do so, or if you've already gone over the allotment, you can't fix it. Sometimes a typo or dropped word can completely reverse your message.
posted by ego at 8:30 AM on March 31, 2011


a softer approach, instead of a ban, might just be to require confirmation. a little window that pops up saying "you seem to be posting a lot - are you sure you want to post this?" or something fairly reasoned and polite. just a little speedbump.
posted by molecicco at 8:31 AM on March 31, 2011


'You seem to be posting a lot -- are you in an abandoned thread, playing the alphabet game by yourself?'
posted by shakespeherian at 8:38 AM on March 31, 2011


I propose that, at the end of the year, we delete the accounts of the hundred most-active members...
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:39 AM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


As far as "fighty" goes, we ought to resort to twee neologisms only when there is no other decent word in the language.

To speak in defence of fighty and hoppitamoppita, I think they convey something that other words don't. Describing this particular variety of reflexive pugnaciousness as being "belligerent" or "contentious" lends the offender a certain dignity, framing them as a MEFI WARRIOR FOR TRUTH, when they're just being an immature jerk. If "fighty" makes you think of bathroom mirlitonists, I'd contend that's all to the good.
posted by zamboni at 8:39 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I propose that, at the end of the year, we delete the accounts of the hundred most-active members...

As one of them, I favor this notion.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:39 AM on March 31, 2011


300
posted by clavdivs at 8:46 AM on March 31, 2011


As one of them, I favor this notion.

As someone who slept in this morning, I concur.

cortex pretty well covered this, but we really really avoid mod-by-robot, especially in the decision-making parts of our jobs. When a thread turns into everyone vs. someone, we can see that with our human eyes and figure out why it's happening and curtail it if we need to. More to the point, everyone else can see it and try to find ways to help route around that sort of thing. I think otherwise we're subscribing to a "I can't help myself and need a robot to make me stop commenting" view of the world which is not a view we hold. You're responsible for your own good and bad behavior and only in the really egregious cases of you not keeping it in line, will we offer to keep it in line for you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:47 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


A further problem I'd have with it would be lack of ability to edit comments. Say you make a typo. Can't correct it. You can only post again. Either you're eating up another comment to do so, or if you've already gone over the allotment, you can't fix it. Sometimes a typo or dropped word can completely reverse your message.

There's an even worse problem: limits on posting rate or volume make it harder to apologize quickly. Do we really need any additional obstacles to apologies?
posted by FishBike at 8:48 AM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


octobersurprise: "They laughed at Galileo and they laughed at Einstein, but they also laughed at Bozo the Clown."

Aye, well but they said Crippen was crazy didn't they?
posted by Chrysostom at 8:48 AM on March 31, 2011


Okay Jessamyn but robots are still awesome, right?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:50 AM on March 31, 2011


When they're not taking my medicine, yes.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:52 AM on March 31, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'll hear no complaints from you! You live in a tree!
posted by shakespeherian at 9:00 AM on March 31, 2011


If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all. ~Noam Chomsky
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:08 AM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


W ll I think w  should start by limiting th  numb r of l tt rs  ach p rson can us , and just work up from th r .
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:15 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like Ian A.T.'s idea.

It might be just the motivation I need to make that leap into 100-most-active-commenters status.
posted by box at 9:18 AM on March 31, 2011


Chrysostom writes "Aye, well but they said Crippen was crazy didn't they?"

You seem to forget the Crippens enjoyed many happy years of marriage before he murdered her.
posted by Mitheral at 9:25 AM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ded Pony


Don't worry, Mom and I were just napping.
posted by Favorites Pony at 9:29 AM on March 31, 2011


You seem to forget the Crippens enjoyed many happy years of marriage before he murdered her.

This is my new "Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the show?"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:31 AM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


we can see that with our human eyes

I don't know why I find this phrasing such a delight but here we are.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:34 AM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


we can see that with our human eyes

100 years from now our cyborg mods will look back on this and chortle an especially nostalgic string of 0s and 1s.
posted by elizardbits at 9:40 AM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


shakespeherian: "'You seem to be posting a lot -- are you in an abandoned thread, playing the alphabet game by yourself?'"

I once saw a vintage poster in a store that said:

"PRESIDENT NIXON, PULL OUT LIKE YOUR FATHER SHOULD HAVE!"

...but I guess saying that to MeFites would be a bit rude.
posted by zarq at 9:41 AM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nixon hasn't even commented in this thread, man.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:42 AM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I personally love being able to point out to someone that their comments have entirely dominated a thread, because I imagine them in their stinky little hovel/cubicle going back through and counting exactly how many times they commented, and doing the math and finding out that yes, they have indeed accounted for about a third of the entire discussion.

All that time spent figuring is at least time that they spent NOT COMMENTING.
posted by hermitosis at 9:47 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm about to start going through Nixon's comment history to catch him in some convoluted hypocrisy.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:50 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


When the situation at the Fukushima nuclear reactors looked really dire, I was making... probably more comments than I have made (at least on Mefi, rather than AskMe) in the decade I've been a member. It wasn't because I was getting combative or trying to dominate the discussion; it was because the English language media were being really slow and/or wrong in conveying information.

I just think there are legitimate reasons to participate heavily in a thread, beyond getting angry and shouty.
posted by Jeanne at 9:52 AM on March 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


I for one favor an approach where every additional comment a person makes in a thread has a cumulative chance of having an arbitrary restriction placed on it, like every time you click in the comment field to reply there's a chance the site will tell you that it will only accept this comment if it's in iambic pentameter, or in the form of a haiku or limerick, or if it doesn't include one randomly-selected letter (out of the ETAOIN SHRDLU group, natch), and so on, and so forth.

"Now, wait," you may now be saying. "FAMOUS MONSTER, I bow to your ineffable wisdom (as should we all, let's face it), but I can't help but notice that this seems like actually it's an apocalyptically terrible idea."

Well, sure, that's objectively true, but it would make me clap and giggle like a little schoolMONSTER so let's not lose sight of what's important here.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:55 AM on March 31, 2011 [10 favorites]


it will only accept this comment if it's in iambic pentameter

Wait can we do this for all comments right now? Because awesome.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:01 AM on March 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is my new "Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the show?"

hillarious.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:05 AM on March 31, 2011


I propose a credit system. For evey thread you do not comment in, you get a comment quantity credit (CQC) equal to 15% of the comments in those threads. These credits roll over indefinitely. This will allow you to leave more than 15% of the comments in threads that you do comment in, not to exceed your total earned credits (TEC). Additionally, users can earn best answer credits (BEC) for having a best answer in AskMe. This credit is equal to to 30% of the comments of the AskMe question in which the user earned the BEC. User can also earn implemented pony request credits (IPRC) when a user's pony request is granted. This credit is equal to 50% of the comments in the pertinent MeTa pony request thread.

Users can also lose credits, however, and have them all revoked by posting a stupid ass pony request in MeTa (SAPRIM). This will result in all credits being lost immediatley upon posting a MeTa pony request that is immediately and obviously stupid-assed.

(I work for the Federal Government.)
posted by The Deej at 10:13 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I suppose that will work as long as I try to remember the basics of CQC.

GET IT
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:22 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're new aren't you?
posted by infini at 10:23 AM on March 31, 2011


You know, you just keep adding feta and Caesar dressing, and at some point it stops even being a salad.
posted by box at 10:35 AM on March 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


the future does not need these robot nuns
slapping us with arbitrary algorithms
on metaphorical wrists

our MetaFilter family is quick to let us know
when welcome approaches limits
the trick is in the listening
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:56 AM on March 31, 2011


You seem to forget the Crippens enjoyed many happy years of marriage before he murdered her.

From the Hawley Crippen wiki entry:
After a party at their home on 31 January 1910, Cora disappeared. Hawley Crippen claimed that she had returned to the US, and later added that she had died, and had been cremated, in California. Meanwhile, his lover, Ethel "Le Neve" Neave moved into Hilldrop Crescent and began openly wearing Cora's clothes and jewellery. The police were informed of Cora's disappearance by her friend, strongwoman Kate Williams, better known as Vulcana.

posted by electroboy at 11:02 AM on March 31, 2011


Can we make it a rule that you have to be a member for a year before you post a MeTa thread about how this place can be improved? Please?
posted by entropicamericana at 11:20 AM on March 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is not a good idea.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:34 AM on March 31, 2011


I've been wanting to do this for so long.

So glad to see the tradition still stands!
posted by majick at 11:37 AM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


So glad that both Cortex and Jessamyn say that there's no plan to do anything like this.

See the Fukushima thread. A LOT of the heavy lifting has been done by just a few users. Their input has been invaluable. Every day when I want to catch up with what's happening there, I just check back into the tail end of the thread, and thanks to several users, especially nickyskye, I can quickly get a rundown on what's been happening in the last 24 hours.

Right now, I can see 63 posts by nickyskye there and every one has been informative and useful.

No way would I want to see this stopped.
posted by marsha56 at 12:12 PM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Please stop saying 'fighty.'

Man, you're all sorts of GRARY today.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:41 PM on March 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


He's Schmoopy-intolerant.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:52 PM on March 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


So if we hug him, he explodes?
posted by The Whelk at 12:53 PM on March 31, 2011


Like a beer grenade.

Which isn't altogether a bad thing.

(((((jonmc)))))
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:56 PM on March 31, 2011


Beer grenade...
posted by Namlit at 1:10 PM on March 31, 2011


Vulcana, the Welsh Strongwoman.
posted by electroboy at 1:14 PM on March 31, 2011


Any hop based ordnance must be tested by committee.
posted by clavdivs at 2:03 PM on March 31, 2011


I AM NOT A COMMITTEE.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:06 PM on March 31, 2011


I eponysterically disapprove.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 2:08 PM on March 31, 2011


So if we hug him, he explodes?

The Sohma family curse as written by Michael Bay.
posted by NoraReed at 2:10 PM on March 31, 2011


I think an interesting alternative might be for people to have the option of blocking other users. Sort of like a "mute" button.

Why don't we have this? Two other forums I'm on have Ignore Lists and they work well. And why can't we edit/delete comments? It would be good to take back stuff I regret
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 2:43 PM on March 31, 2011


Oh dear god.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:49 PM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are third party user scripts for blocking other users. It doesn't need to be part of the site itself.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:50 PM on March 31, 2011


I started blocking myself years ago. I highly recommend it.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:53 PM on March 31, 2011


> 63 posts by nickyskye there

*hangs head in obsessive compulsive anxiety shame
posted by nickyskye at 3:31 PM on March 31, 2011


Why don't we have this? Two other forums I'm on have Ignore Lists and they work well.

That is awesome for those other forums, but we don't think it'd be remotely awesome for Metafilter, which is why we don't have that feature. Folks who really truly want a killfile function can go get a third-party script that'll do the job for them; everybody else can get by with the internal killfile we've all got, and just ignore the stuff they dislike or skip past the comments from the people they can't abide.

And why can't we edit/delete comments? It would be good to take back stuff I regret

Edit window is a long and storied discussion. There's a lot on this in the metatalk archives (and a lot on killfile discussions, for that matter) so if you do some searching you can find some good meat. It's a feature that might show up at some point, in some form, but if it does it will be pretty much specifically for the small stuff: typos, formatting errors, a sentence you forgot to finish, a paste job that went awry.

The stuff you would want to take back because you regret is the stuff that, on Metafilter, we basically want you to find a way to not say in the first place.

You've got, we've all got, some really fantastic hardware and software sitting on our respective necks; learning to tune it a bit to filter out the stuff that needs filtering out is a pretty valuable skill, and in my more optimistic moments one that I think of Metafilter as being a pretty good training regimen for. On-site tools can be handy, but the can also enable laziness, and I'd rather someone deal with people who annoy them or comments they regret by working on their self-control and internal filtering than come to expect a tool to take care of that stuff for them.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:42 PM on March 31, 2011 [7 favorites]


bellicose, combative. fighty.
posted by sciencegeek at 4:26 PM on March 31, 2011


Flag It And Move On

Metafilter doesn't need elaborate solutions to simple problems.

auto-throttler would be a fine MeFi name. I could add to my Army of Sockpuppets, which would also be a good name. I like this game.
posted by theora55 at 4:50 PM on March 31, 2011


bellicose and combative are both much better words than fighty. All the just-add-a-y to a noun adjectives make people sound fucking stupid, so stop using them unliess you want me to consider you stupid.
posted by jonmc at 4:51 PM on March 31, 2011


Ah, so you are THREAD KILLER.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:52 PM on March 31, 2011


(Meant for theora55)
posted by Burhanistan at 4:53 PM on March 31, 2011


My god man, think of The Whelk!
posted by Mick at 5:00 PM on March 31, 2011


You've got, we've all got, some really fantastic hardware and software sitting on our respective necks

But it's not wireless.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:31 PM on March 31, 2011


Stupidy.
posted by WalterMitty at 5:53 PM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


hermitosis writes "I personally love being able to point out to someone that their comments have entirely dominated a thread, because I imagine them in their stinky little hovel/cubicle going back through and counting exactly how many times they commented, and doing the math and finding out that yes, they have indeed accounted for about a third of the entire discussion. "All that time spent figuring is at least time that they spent NOT COMMENTING."

I'm guessing most people commenting to metafilter have access to a computer. This is a problem a computer can solve in less time than it took to write this comment. I suppose it would work for those people accessing the site from their phones though.

electroboy writes "From the Hawley Crippen wiki entry:

My comment was supposed to be a pop culture reference that apparently wasn't quite as pop as I thought.
posted by Mitheral at 5:56 PM on March 31, 2011


Metafilter doesn't need elaborate solutions to simple problems.

i dunno. i think an Ignore List is as simple as it gets. don't like me? put me on Ignore
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:05 PM on March 31, 2011


My god man, think of The Whelk!

If you kill me I only become stronger.
posted by The Whelk at 6:11 PM on March 31, 2011


I like MetaFilter like this, it means that if someone is stupidy then their stupidy is there forever and ever and ever for everyone to see. Including themselves, if one day they are no longer trying to be stupidy. Ignore lists mean someone can be stupidy and you can't see them being stupidy because you put all the stupidy on the Ignore list so it's almost like stupidy doesn't exist. And you'll be all like what are people responding to, it's like so weird and shit. Stupidy stupidy stupidy.

Same reasoning for edit/ delete. I like it this way, it creates accountability, unlike a lot of the rest of the internet where you can totally be stupidy and then delete everything and it looks like you've never ever been stupidy. If we're gonna say something we should at least be sure we can look at it later, then look at ourselves, look at it again and say, "Yup, I said that." without blushing in mortification.
posted by WalterMitty at 6:13 PM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


i dunno. i think an Ignore List is as simple as it gets. don't like me? put me on Ignore

And then people are seeing different versions of a thread, and we end up with misunderstandings and crosstalk when one person responds to something that someone else doesn't see, or the shape of an exchange creates different connotations for the person who sees all the comments vs. the person who doesn't see all of it.

And then we have to worry about metacommentary about those misunderstandings; about discussions of the merits of the feature, whether it's being used in an appropriate way, whether people should talk about their use of it, etc.

There's a lot of baggage that comes with an official killfile function or widespread, publicly acknowledged use of killfiles. The simplicity of hitting the plonk button does not capture it.

And, again: for a site that wants to have that feature, they can have it. And if it's something that's baked into a site from the start, there's a lot less likelihood of disruptions because it's an accepted and expected part of that site's culture. But that's not the case for Metafilter, and I don't see us ever going that route.

If any given individuals want to kluge their own killfile functionality into their mefi experience, and if they keep that more or less to themselves, fine, I'm okay with that compromise. For some people, it may be the best solution to a poor-impulse-control situation, and that's a pretty okay reason to go that way. I once made a chart about all this, even. But that's as far as it goes on mefi.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:14 PM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


i dunno. i think an Ignore List is as simple as it gets. don't like me? put me on Ignore

Works for other places, not going to work here. People need to talk to everyone. If you've got an impulse control problem when you read someone else's username there are some offsite options you can use but generally it's like the "You must be THIS tall to ride this ride" sort of thing. You have to be THIS non-obnoxious to be here, you can't just rely on technology to make other people able to stand you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:23 PM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


jonmc: "Please stop saying 'fighty.'"

No.

fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty fighty FIGHTY
posted by deborah at 11:04 PM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


That is awesome for those other forums, but we don't think it'd be remotely awesome for Metafilter, which is why we don't have that feature. Folks who really truly want a killfile function can go get a third-party script that'll do the job for them; everybody else can get by with the internal killfile we've all got, and just ignore the stuff they dislike or skip past the comments from the people they can't abide.

One thing I like about not having a killfile: there are a few people that I would have killfiled, if it was easy to do so. Obviously I haven't. And every one, every single one, has subsequently posted something that I've found insightful or useful. Give me a killfile and I'd use it in hot blood when someone made me mad, and never get the benefit of those subsequent posts. (It's also a good lesson that people aren't necessarily evil or stupid just because they disagree with me).
posted by Infinite Jest at 11:57 PM on March 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


I am always impressed by the patience of cortex and jessamyn in their gentle and every-time-freshly-written explanations of why resurfacing bad ideas are bad. Good on you.

My suggestion: search Metatalk for the word 'killfile', read every thread that you find, and get back to us. My feeling is that you probably won't.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:25 AM on April 1, 2011


I am always impressed by the patience of cortex and jessamyn in their gentle and every-time-freshly-written explanations of why resurfacing bad ideas are bad.

Do the mods have a Danger Room or something, where they can work off the stress?

Pleasepleaseplease tell me I'm one of the Sentinels.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:52 AM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


My comment was supposed to be a pop culture reference that apparently wasn't quite as pop as I thought.

I had no idea what it was about, so I had to look it up. Neat stuff.
posted by electroboy at 6:22 AM on April 1, 2011


The Crippen case is somewhat famous though the reference was to a UK Coupling.
posted by Mitheral at 6:42 AM on April 1, 2011


I forget how tech-heavy this place is until complicated systems are proposed to quantify qualitative assessments so that appropriate parameters for human interaction can be programmed into Metafilter.
posted by desuetude at 9:43 PM on April 1, 2011


MetaFilter: Rejoice, a gun!
posted by Splunge at 4:29 AM on April 2, 2011


Stupidy is a new word for me. What is its provenance?
posted by infini at 10:27 AM on April 2, 2011


jonmc: "Please stop saying 'fighty."

Fighty. Wanna go? Wanna GO?!

[/hockey]
posted by bwg at 6:22 AM on April 8, 2011


All you Fighty guys are so fighty.

bellicose and combative are both much better words than fighty.

Belligerent is better than all three.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:34 PM on April 8, 2011


Crabby.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:00 PM on April 8, 2011


infini: Stupidy is a new word for me. What is its provenance?

jonmc: All the just-add-a-y to a noun adjectives make people sound fucking stupid, so stop using them unliess you want me to consider you stupid.
posted by WalterMitty at 7:57 PM on April 17, 2011


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