Spaces are for sissies! May 19, 2011 7:58 PM   Subscribe

Genuine question time: What's up with this question?

Is there a reason why the OP is not spacing between sentences and punctuation? Is that an ESL thing? Is that something they do in some other (not germanic or romantic) languages/cultures/whathaveyou? I'm really curious, and I'm not trying to be a jerk here. Can someone enlighten me?

I wasn't sure if this should be an askme or a metatalk... It's a question about a question! Eep!
posted by two lights above the sea to Etiquette/Policy at 7:58 PM (119 comments total)

My guess is it was posted from the smartphone version and poster didn't see on the tiny screen what was going on.
posted by birdherder at 8:01 PM on May 19, 2011


I don't understand why you wouldn't just email the OP and ask him/her.
posted by amro at 8:01 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


amro: I'm not sure! I was going to say because I thought it would offend/embarrass them, but I guess asking this could be embarrassing, too. But I'm guessing that this particular user doesn't use the site other than to post questions and possibly lurk, so it's possible he/she won't even see this.

Also, the previous askme that the user made was formatted in a similar style, which lead me to believe that it was not an error as far as what birdherder is suggesting.
posted by two lights above the sea at 8:06 PM on May 19, 2011


I do hope that you at least alerted the OP to this thread.
posted by amro at 8:06 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


On lack of preview: I think calling them out on MetaTalk is way more embarrassing.
posted by amro at 8:07 PM on May 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think you should drop them a note and ask them.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:24 PM on May 19, 2011


This didn't need a meta. formatting crap happens.. It doesn't need a discussion.
posted by tomswift at 8:25 PM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe they like whitespace.

Some of us do, you know.

I mean, sometimes it just helps to separate ideas.
posted by koeselitz at 8:30 PM on May 19, 2011


I'm guessing that this particular user doesn't use the site other than to post questions and possibly lurk, so it's possible he/she won't even see this.

So you want to talk about them behind their back where all the rest of us can see? And then have us speculate on their motives (guess, really) for something as insignificant as this? That really doesn't seem very nice.
posted by BlooPen at 8:31 PM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's like open mic night in Meta!

Wha-uh-at? is uh-uuuUUUp? with thaaAAAt?
posted by carsonb at 8:39 PM on May 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


*shrug* Weird formatting happens.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:53 PM on May 19, 2011


Phone-typing causes problems like he'll.
posted by The Whelk at 8:54 PM on May 19, 2011 [9 favorites]


I think some of you are misunderstanding my question. The user has asked two questions, which are both formatted in the same way, and I'm wondering if that's a common thing in other (non-germanic, non-romantic) languages, or if that's some other phenomenon I don't know about. Did ya some how miss that part? I didn't feel like asking them because it wasn't a "what's wrong with you/this user" question, it's a "is that a thing I don't know about" question. And if you are saying that it's not actually a thing that happens by calling me out for being a jerk, then you must be more clear because I am not a jerk, and I don't speak your cryptic jerk language. Can't you see I don't know much about language!?

What's a girl gotta do to get a real response? Should this actually be an askme? Mods? Do I have to use some kind of code? 'Cause I do know all of the meta cliche, and I WILL use them.


Be afraid.
posted by two lights above the sea at 8:57 PM on May 19, 2011


Random data point: when I get English emails from my relatives in China, they often forget to put spaces between punctuation marks, because they're used to typing using Chinese input where the keyboard automatically adds a space after punctuation. (Or maybe the punctuation in the font file just comes pre-specified with a space? Who knows.)

So if the OP used to inputting/typing in a different language, that could be why.
posted by Phire at 8:57 PM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Maybe they like whitespace.

You didn't read the question,did you?
posted by ericost at 9:00 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The askme made perfect sense to me... And I'm up way too late...

Why are we still talking about this?
posted by tomswift at 9:02 PM on May 19, 2011


Huh?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:03 PM on May 19, 2011


It's just something I do with my sockpuppets to make them harder to connect to my primary account.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:05 PM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is there a reason why the OP is not spacing between sentences and punctuation?

Yep!

Is that an ESL thing?

Likely? Maybe? It happenswhen I cut sentences around.and to me paste too.

Is that something they do in some other (not germanic or romantic) languages/cultures/whathaveyou?

Definitely! (I don't know!)

Can someone enlighten me?

Like jessamyn said, maybe the asker?
posted by carsonb at 9:05 PM on May 19, 2011


As far as poorly-formatted or poorly-worded posts go, this one hardly registers.
posted by sanko at 9:14 PM on May 19, 2011


What's a girl gotta do to get a real response? Should this actually be an askme? Mods?

A mod (jessamyn) already answered your question. It shouldn't be in MetaTalk or AskMe. It should be in a MefiMail to the OP.
posted by John Cohen at 9:17 PM on May 19, 2011


Why do you care? Why do you think anyone else should care?
posted by dogrose at 9:18 PM on May 19, 2011


A mod (jessamyn) already answered your question. It shouldn't be in MetaTalk or AskMe. It should be in a MefiMail to the OP.

Nevertheless, it would still make a valid question in AskMe, preferably in general terms & not linking to this particular person's examples.

"Dear AskMe, are there any languages or countries in which it is commonly taught not to put spaces after punctuation?", for example.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:22 PM on May 19, 2011


Maybe they just did really badly on their SRAs?
posted by Justinian at 9:22 PM on May 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


If you're havin' formatting problems I feel bad for you son/I got 99 problems and spacing ain't one
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:28 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why do you care? Why do you think anyone else should care?

You were joking there, right?
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:30 PM on May 19, 2011


OP pressed the red button.
posted by BeerFilter at 9:39 PM on May 19, 2011


hey, this is what happens when you learn how to read from cards
posted by pyramid termite at 9:40 PM on May 19, 2011


OP pressed the red button.

Oh damn, that sucks.
posted by cashman at 9:46 PM on May 19, 2011


This is just to say
I have read






your metatalk, the one






about



space, and I
don't


understand
posted by Papaver somniferum at 9:48 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


eponysterical!
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:49 PM on May 19, 2011


""Dear AskMe, are there any languages or countries in which it is commonly taught not to put spaces after punctuation?", for example."

There are no spaces in Japanese, neither between characters, nor after punctuation.
posted by Bugbread at 9:51 PM on May 19, 2011


so, dhartung was doing SRA before K-12, figures.
jebus, i'm still on aqua.
posted by clavdivs at 9:53 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


OP pressed the red button.

Oh damn, that sucks.


Yeah it does. I feel defensive about it, which probably means I was being an ass.

I'm sorry for being an ass, and I hope two lights above the sea finds their way back to MeFi soon.
posted by carsonb at 9:55 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


oh and SPAAAAAAAAACEs!!!
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:00 PM on May 19, 2011


Curiously, there was a space after the initial semicolon.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:15 PM on May 19, 2011


Genuine question time: What's up with this question?
posted by defenestration at 10:19 PM on May 19, 2011


Well, I think it would have been taken more seriously without the "sissies" reference and the tweet about this person's spacing patterns that ended in a "WTF!?"

This is like one of those relationship askmes where the best answer really is to ask the person directly.
posted by BlooPen at 10:29 PM on May 19, 2011


w h i t e s p a c e


t h e f i n a l f r o n t i

e

r
posted by arcticseal at 10:32 PM on May 19, 2011


Geez, the OP really did hit the button. Maybe we should rename Metatalk "Thunderdome" or something.
posted by Justinian at 10:48 PM on May 19, 2011


MetaTalk: I do know all of the meta cliche, and I WILL use them
posted by juv3nal at 10:53 PM on May 19, 2011


This didn't need a meta. formatting crap happens.. It doesn't need a discussion.

Oh yeah!? What are you? Someone that has a job, and a family, and hobbies?
posted by philip-random at 10:53 PM on May 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


The user has asked two questions, which are both formatted in the same way, and I'm wondering if that's a common thing in other (non-germanic, non-romantic) languages, or if that's some other phenomenon I don't know about.

I'll take a stab at this. The OP was asking about reading cards used in schools in the 70s. These cards are made by McGraw-Hill, a US company. Going out on a limb I'll guess these cards were not widely used outside of the US, particularly in the 70s, or at least not outside of North America. Regardless of the OP's origins if we were to also assume they were a student using those cards during that period and have been in the US or North America since then this gives them 30-40 years of continuous exposure to English. Further, and this is important, that was since childhood; it's far easier to pick up a language as a child than an adult, which ought to make them a proficient speaker.

So the ESL/Germanic/non-romance/whatever connection would appear to be of relatively minor importance, making the smartphone idea or perhaps some form of netspeak/textspeak or laziness/unconcern/unawareness more likely candidates. See also ur in place of you're in one of the comments, a relatively common shorthand used by native English speakers. Additionally, the OP's other question asks about a product widely available in the US and gives no indication they are in a different market where such products are not as available or not-supported locally.

Of course all those assumptions could be completely off base but it seems reasonable enough on the surface. And...you've disabled your account so if you're still reading I hope that was helpful.
posted by 6550 at 10:57 PM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


All I know is that the first person I talk to tomorrow, I am saying, "you must be more clear because I am not a jerk, and I don't speak your cryptic jerk language."
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:17 PM on May 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


Disabled their account? *blink*

This has to be the strangest MeTa flame-out ever.
posted by hippybear at 11:50 PM on May 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I wanted to say, "You're the strangest MeTa flameout ever," but then I was worried that, like, it'd be taken the wrong way.

So maybe, "Your mom's the strangest MeTa flameout ever," unless she has an account in which case I apologize.
posted by klangklangston at 11:55 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's that strange. Yeah, this post is a bit off, but it's earnest and the OP has come back to clarify her stance and most of you are not listening. And being jokey, which could be also interpreted as being a-holes. So I imagine that if I were a person with a lot of emotional investment in the topic, the reactions here might set me over the edge.

Please come back, two lights. Where will two or three cars park under the stars without your bright shining lights above the MeFi?
posted by iamkimiam at 12:36 AM on May 20, 2011 [13 favorites]


topic=post
posted by iamkimiam at 12:37 AM on May 20, 2011


BlooPen: "Well, I think it would have been taken more seriously without the "sissies" reference and the tweet about this person's spacing patterns that ended in a "WTF!?"

This is like one of those relationship askmes where the best answer really is to ask the person directly.
"

WHOA WHOA WHOA. If digging into someone's profile in MeTa is verboten, then I think bringing in their Twitter history is too. I think that was way out of line.

And now I'm a bit mad at you guys because I like two lights above the sea. I don't think her question was awful.
posted by IndigoRain at 12:39 AM on May 20, 2011 [10 favorites]


Furthermore, I checked her feed and (unless there was a tweet she deleted) that tweet was directed at me, in reply to something else I said, and did not have the words or hashtags mefi or metafilter.
posted by IndigoRain at 12:45 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


The first rule of MeTa, or in fact any dysfunctional relationship, is "questions shall be considered attacks", so you have to ask them REALLY REALLY delicately.

Q: "Why did this person type like this? I'm very curious."
Will be interpreted as:
Q: "What the fuck is wrong with this person? What is their goddamned problem?"
posted by Bugbread at 12:57 AM on May 20, 2011 [9 favorites]


It doesn't go well to be just curious here, in other words. I mean genuinely curious, as in not a jerk. I mean genuinely not a jerk. Like: as explicitly mentioned in the post.
So even some (relatively innocent, let's face it) real question shall be considered attacks, and the asker gets a free ticket to you-should-have-done-this-doesn't-belong-here-land. Good to know.

Is this why it's so much easier to survive over here with random noise comments in the honey badger and donut licking department? *blinks too*
posted by Namlit at 2:42 AM on May 20, 2011


THERE.
ARE.
FOUR.
LIGHTS!

(above the sea.)
posted by Eideteker at 3:50 AM on May 20, 2011


Aww, sorry. Didn't see that the poster disabled his/her account.

I think it's worth noting that their user number was 111337, or "...llleet," which would make an awesome username if they come back. (Two lights, you can also just e-mail the mods and reactivate your account!)
posted by Eideteker at 3:54 AM on May 20, 2011


It doesn't go well to be just curious here

Well, real curiosity should mean that one is curious to hear the responses to the question.

We had a mod who answered that the OP should resort to email.

I suggested that it was a legitimate topic for AskMe.

Some others answered that the question was silly, and others just joked around.

IMHO, none of these responses should have warranted a "Screw you, MetaFilter pussies!!! I'm LEAVING!!!"
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:58 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, real curiosity should mean that one is curious to hear the responses to the question.

Really? When I'm curious, I like to get the answers to the question I ask, not just responses. Your comment that her question could be asked on AskMe is fair enough, but had this question actually been asked on AskMe, I would have flagged the shit out of most of it ("Why do you care? Why do you think anyone else should care?" is a nice example).

Two Lights' question was simple: "this poster has asked a question in a way that's different to my expectations; is this a product of non-Western orthograpy?" It wasn't a call out of the OP in that thread, it was an honest question about the way different people write. MeMailing the OP is kind of intrusive and puts that person on the spot ("Hey, your posts are different. Are you possibly from a non-Western culture?").

Granted, this is not AskMe, where we're actually supposed to be helpful to someone with an honest question ("Ask MetaFilter is as useful as you make it. Please limit comments to answers or help in finding an answer. Wisecracks don't help people find answers. Thanks."), this is MeTa, where everyone needs a hug.

Most of the hugs in this thread were made of ass. Ass, I say. Two Lights, come back home.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 4:24 AM on May 20, 2011 [9 favorites]


Two Lights, come back home.

Home isn't a place that treats you like Metafilter does. Or, at least, it shouldn't be.

I have always liked two lights' contributions - sure, a relatively newer user with relatively limited interaction with the site - but not minimal, instead insightful and, to use two lights' own words, one who was "not a jerk."

The same can not be said for everyone on Metafilter. I say this not to call out individual users or otherwise name names. I remain of the opinion that the majority of jerks know who they are and more importantly they know what they are doing. Maybe not the "why" behind it, but they know. If they didn't, you couldn't so easily lump them in the jerk category. There is a need for their complicity in order to call them that.

If what two lights learned from this was that she didn't want to be hardened enough to learn Metafilter's "cryptic jerk language" (has it ever been more aptly described?), then she's probably better off for it.

This site has many great things about it, there have been many high points, shining beacons to point to in Metafilter's history of which we can say "this was something good." I experienced one personally when I lost a Metafilter friend. This for me is why I can say without doubt that I have stuck around through many more negative experiences than I probably otherwise would have - I can remember back to those times where something good was done.

What about those who don't have that to cling to? What would be there motivation to stay? I ask because I'm really not sure what it could be.

If we don't lose people like two lights, we won't learn. Don't get me wrong - I want two lights to come back to. But I'm not sure that if they were an IRL friend of mine, I'd tell them I thought they should.

I still believe, at my core, that people are inherently good, if perhaps marred or stained in a semi-permanent manner, of myriad means. I have learned much from Metafilter, changed much as a person over the years, and yet this belief in the inherent good of humanity - this has remained.

Barely.
posted by allkindsoftime at 5:05 AM on May 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


MetaTalk is awful. I just email the mods if I have any questions because I know they won't attack me.
posted by smackfu at 5:34 AM on May 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was going to make a jokey, "How dare you say that about MeTa you bastard." comment. But I'm afraid it would be taken the wrong way and people would quit over it.

So I won't.
posted by Splunge at 6:06 AM on May 20, 2011


Two Lights' question was simple: "this poster has asked a question in a way that's different to my expectations; is this a product of non-Western orthograpy?" It wasn't a call out of the OP in that thread, it was an honest question about the way different people write. MeMailing the OP is kind of intrusive and puts that person on the spot ("Hey, your posts are different. Are you possibly from a non-Western culture?").

I just don't buy this. Perhaps I am an ungenerous person who should give the benefit of the doubt more, but as 6550 said above, WOLF101 was asking about American reading cards from the 70s. There's no indication that WOLF101 isn't American, and if anything I'd say it's implied that s/he is.
posted by amro at 6:08 AM on May 20, 2011


The first rule of MeTa

MeTa is murder.
posted by mahershalal at 6:17 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


WOLF101 was asking about American reading cards from the 70s. There's no indication that WOLF101 isn't American, and if anything I'd say it's implied that s/he is.

There's actually nothing in the question that connects it to the US (which would have been helpful, of course), nor is there anything to suggest that the US is the only jurisdiction where these cards were used, even though the cards are from the US. I'm not trying to be disingenuous here; I've never heard of these cards before. Maybe Two Lights hadn't, either.

I grant you that one can dress up snark in many forms ("Genuine question to satisfy my curiosity: are you the dumbest person in your family, or is there someone even dumber than you, har har har?"), but that's some seriously next-level shit, even for MeTa. There's nothing in Two Lights' posting history to suggest she was just dying to go out in a blaze of glorious snark.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:52 AM on May 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


I liked two lights, too, and I hope she comes back.
posted by winna at 7:16 AM on May 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


MeTa is murder.

It's snark for no reason
And snark for no reason is murder
posted by malocchio at 7:38 AM on May 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I grant you that one can dress up snark in many forms

And that's just the point here, right: one doesn't seem to, metaphorically spoken, be able undress non-snark in a clear enough fashion, even if one tries ever so hard, so that some people don't get their silly little knee-jerk reflexes. Poor two lights.
posted by Namlit at 8:15 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Your comment that her question could be asked on AskMe is fair enough, but had this question actually been asked on AskMe, I would have flagged the shit out of most of it ("Why do you care? Why do you think anyone else should care?" is a nice example).

This is just fiddling with details, but the difference here would between posting this verbatim to askme (which would, yes, get flagged and deleted because "let's talk about something on metafilter" doesn't fly on the green) and posting the core orthographic query (which would be totally, absolutely fine).

Not a huge deal in any case and I hope two lights will feel comfortable wandering back at some point.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:44 AM on May 20, 2011


This is just fiddling with details, but the difference here would between posting this verbatim to askme (which would, yes, get flagged and deleted because "let's talk about something on metafilter" doesn't fly on the green)

Yes, that was a follow up point that occurred to me, as well. Personally, I think the question was appropriate on the Gray, asked in earnestness by a member I liked, and undeserving of the snark it reaped.

Also, I see now that you've pulled the quote that I should have clarified that the flagging I would do was of the snarky responses she got (like the one in my parenthetical from upthread). Ah, indelible internet, why are you so cruel?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:51 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ah, and I totally misread your comment on the flagging there as being "the post would be flagged" in my pre-coffee fugue and so was clarifying against something you didn't even say. Woo!
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:25 AM on May 20, 2011


Ah, the pre-coffee fugue. Any opus number yet? Any collection planned (like the ill-tempered clavierist or something)? Keep us updated.
posted by Namlit at 9:32 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Personally, I think the question was appropriate on the Gray, asked in earnestness by a member I liked, and undeserving of the snark it reaped.

I agree, and yes, I tossed in a bit of light snark, never for a moment considering that it might contribute to a cool user (based on profile) disabling their account. Am I sorry about this? I guess. Though I am with many here who find it kind of a thin reason to disable. But there you go. We're all working different thresholds of sensitivity, and yeah, MetaTalk is not for the overly sensitive. The rest of the site does a mostly okay job of keeping the snark, insults, shit-hurling to a dull roar (he said, mixing up his metaphors), but the gray, not so much. It's more akin to how the rest of the internet works, like we do a good enough job of restraining ourselves on the blue and green (and those other colors I don't visit much) but tend to let the dung fly here.

Maybe there should be some reference to this on the posting page, something along the lines of: "You do realize you're entering Thunderdome, don't you? Are you sure you want to go through with this?"
posted by philip-random at 9:50 AM on May 20, 2011


I don't know what happened there, but I hope two lights returns.
posted by facetious at 9:52 AM on May 20, 2011


"You do realize you're entering Thunderdome, don't you? Are you sure you want to go through with this?"

Believe. Or perhaps we could have MeTa and MeTaEXTREME (a/k/a MetaChan or MeFark).

I also wonder what a roaring shit-hurler would look like, as it is clearly an apt mascot. Probably some sort of Grar.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:05 AM on May 20, 2011


Maybe there should be some reference to this on the posting page, something along the lines of: "You do realize you're entering Thunderdome, don't you? Are you sure you want to go through with this?"

This was 2L's sixth post to MeTa. I don't think it is fair to assume she was unfamiliar with it.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:36 AM on May 20, 2011


MetaTalk is not for the overly sensitive...Maybe there should be some reference to this on the posting page, something along the lines of: "You do realize you're entering Thunderdome, don't you? Are you sure you want to go through with this?"

God, if there's one thing I hate about MeFi's self-conception, it's this. I see no inherent reason why asking a question about the community should make you an acceptable target for dismissive, passive-aggressive nerd snarkery. Why should the "overly sensitive" be excluded from any part of the site?

I know things aren't deleted from MeTa, and that's fine, but even a little bit of mod/community pushback against the kneejerk, usually-male, "if you want to be heard, you'll have to make it through our gauntlet of 25+ comments of cliquey, mean-spirited, half-joking hazing first" brigade would be really, really fantastic.
posted by dialetheia at 11:40 AM on May 20, 2011 [13 favorites]


usually-male

What the hell? Why bring gender into it? Men are no more or less likely to be assholes than women are. And I bet a lot of the people you believe to be male don't actually indicate a gender in their profile or posts and you are just defaulting them to maleness.
posted by Dano St at 11:55 AM on May 20, 2011


Men's rights! Men's rights!
posted by klangklangston at 12:02 PM on May 20, 2011


Totally beside the point now, but...

There's no indication that WOLF101 isn't American

Yes there is:

They all had a colour on the the right corner I think.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 12:03 PM on May 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Men are no more or less likely to be assholes than women are.

We have data, actually. The most flagged members from the last 90 days, 12 months, and all time. I'm sure there's an argument that can be made that being flagged doesn't necessarily make you an asshole, so just speaking in broad terms here.

90 days: M, M, F, M, ?, M, M, M, M, M, M, ?, M, M, M, M, F, M, M, M
All time: ?, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M

Two of those question marks are the "Anonymous" account, so we've really only got one user whose gender is totally unknown, unless people are misreporting. Most of these people I know personally to be male.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:18 PM on May 20, 2011 [18 favorites]


And all of them are me.
posted by koeselitz at 12:20 PM on May 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


"God, if there's one thing I hate about MeFi's self-conception, it's this. I see no inherent reason why asking a question about the community should make you an acceptable target for dismissive, passive-aggressive nerd snarkery. Why should the "overly sensitive" be excluded from any part of the site?"

Couple reasons:

First off, "sensitivity" is near infinite. There will always be members who don't think that their question or complaint is being treated with the seriousness it deserves, even when it's treated with exactly the seriousness it deserves, i.e. very little.

Second off, MeTa works in some ways as a pressure release valve for the site — letting people know that they can vent here keeps them from venting in the blue or green. The trade off is that people vent here.

Third, a lot of the "passive aggressive nerd snarkery" is just people goofing, and really not meant personally. When Brandon Blatcher makes fun of me or tells me to shut the hell up or get back to work on the mag, I know that he's just fucking with me. I understand that folks not inured to the MeTa experience can see stuff like that as kinda brutal, but it's not really meant as such — it's just that a lot of us have been here for years and know each other pretty well.

I know things aren't deleted from MeTa, and that's fine, but even a little bit of mod/community pushback against the kneejerk, usually-male, "if you want to be heard, you'll have to make it through our gauntlet of 25+ comments of cliquey, mean-spirited, half-joking hazing first" brigade would be really, really fantastic."

Except that's not really what happens or what happened here — the gantlet is a handful of jokey comments interspersed in the generally sincere responses. And even that's mostly just harmless goonery (NOT SA-IST) and not directed at Two Lights…
posted by klangklangston at 12:20 PM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


UbuRoivas: " IMHO, none of these responses should have warranted a "Screw you, MetaFilter pussies!!! I'm LEAVING!!!""

Again, please, please do not put words or an attitude in Two Lights' mouth. I can almost guarantee you she never even had a thought of "screw you." I know her a bit outside of Mefi and she's not like that.

I am hoping she will come back soon.

Re Bugbread's comment -

Yes, I think sometimes MeTa is harsher than warranted by the situation. It doesn't help when it's sometimes hard to tell who is joking around and who isn't.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:01 PM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Except that's not really what happens or what happened here — the gantlet is a handful of jokey comments interspersed in the generally sincere responses. And even that's mostly just harmless goonery (NOT SA-IST) and not directed at Two Lights…

I agree with this completely. Every so often MetaTalk engages is an ugly pileon, which I try not to contribute to. This was manifestly not one of those times. There was nothing which a reasonable person at all familiar with Mefi would construe as particularly harsh in the comments preceding Two Lights' disabling her account. People can step back from Mefi for whatever reason they choose but we shouldn't read too much into it.
posted by Justinian at 1:48 PM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Again, please, please do not put words or an attitude in Two Lights' mouth.

Sorry, that was meant to be a reference to one of our most famous flameouts: xteraco.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:59 PM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I understand that folks not inured to the MeTa experience can see stuff like that as kinda brutal, but it's not really meant as such — it's just that a lot of us have been here for years and know each other pretty well."

I've been a reader of MeFi for, I dunno, over 10 years now (it's been that long?! holy shit!!), and the snark on MeFi almost always reads, to me, as people being passive-aggressive assholes. Perhaps the only "personally targeted" snark that I generally interpret as "old friends joking" is the stuff directed at jonmc.
posted by Bugbread at 2:07 PM on May 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


We have data, actually. The most flagged members from the last 90 days, 12 months, and all time. I'm sure there's an argument that can be made that being flagged doesn't necessarily make you an asshole, so just speaking in broad terms here.

Oooooh, data! Can we get the full set to play around with? This should include the flagging reasons (mandatory in the dropdown), as well as the members' total number of comments within the periods in question. Finally, a breakdown of M / F / unknown / cisgender members & their comment volumes for the same periods.

Then, we could begin to start to make sense of what's going on.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:13 PM on May 20, 2011


dialetheia, I really don't get the connection between your complaint about metatalk/metafilter and it's supposed maleness. I'm sorry for my earlier abruptness, but I am still curious about why you added that phrase, "usually-male", to your comment. It struck me as out-of-left-field and needlessly offensive. So, again, what does gender have to do with the point you are trying to make?

Men are no more or less likely to be assholes than women are.

jessamyn, I believe, that on an individual level, any given person has the same likelihood of acting like an ass regardless of gender(/race/whatever). I was angry and may not have conveyed that well. Your flag data does not really seem relevant to what I meant, but if you want to believe men are bigger assholes than women based on it... I guess we'll just have to disagree on that.
posted by Dano St at 2:19 PM on May 20, 2011


I would like to add that I don't really think anybody was much of an ass in this thread, though I may have given the impression I agree with that assertion.
posted by Dano St at 2:22 PM on May 20, 2011


if you want to believe men are bigger assholes than women based on it... I guess we'll just have to disagree on that.

That is not what I said and I would thank you to not put words in my mouth. I know many assholes of all genders. I'm reporting on what we know to be true about flag data and gender on MetaFilter.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:28 PM on May 20, 2011


Afterthought: I'm assuming here that we're talking about flagged comments vs flagged posts, because posts would presumably carry the reason "double post" or "breaks the guidelines" (ie just not a good post). The subsite would also be useful data, because presumably things flagged in the green would most commonly be "breaks the guidelines" (ie not answering the question, eg jokey comments).
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:30 PM on May 20, 2011


"jessamyn, I believe, that on an individual level, any given person has the same likelihood of acting like an ass regardless of gender(/race/whatever)"

On an individual level, yes, but on a larger group level, I believe that it depends on context. I know that in groups of mixed company (males and females), I've seen more assholish behavior from men than from women, but I've heard many stories from women about assholish behavior by females in female-only groups. I think that men and women are, at heart, equally assholish, but they (overall, of course, with individual exceptions) express that assholishness in different ways and at different times. My feeling is that MeFi's brand of assholishness is generally of the male variety.
posted by Bugbread at 2:32 PM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dammit, I meant to add: a breakdown of absolute # of flags v number of comments with flags. A comment allowed to stand in a contentious thread with lots of eyeballs could attract many flags, without being necessarily deemed deleteworthy. In that sense, the distinction between being flagged & having a comment deleted is analogous to being charged with a crime, and actually being convicted of it.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:36 PM on May 20, 2011


> My feeling is that MeFi's brand of assholishness is generally of the male variety.

This should have been obvious even before Jessamyn provided the most-flagged data, but now that she has, it takes a really determined masculinist to continue denying it. One can believe men are more likely to be Internet Assholes without thinking men are evil spawn who should be eliminated for the good of humankind, you know.
posted by languagehat at 3:05 PM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is anybody actually denying it, though? Personally, I'm more interested in data & methodology, because there are all kinds of potential flaws in (what I can make out of) what jessamyn posted earlier.

The conclusion may still be the same in the end, but without further transparency I wouldn't be inclined to take that analysis at face value.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:13 PM on May 20, 2011


And not just that men are more likely to be Internet Assholes, but are more likely to be Internet Assholes on MeFi. I've seen plenty of female Internet Assholes on MySpace and Yahoo Answers and the like. Different sites break down different ways.

"Is anybody actually denying it, though?"

Dano St is.
posted by Bugbread at 3:15 PM on May 20, 2011


The methodology for that is very simplistic and shouldn't be overthought too much, yes; it's a raw count of (non-"fantastic") flags by user since the beginning of time. It doesn't say a whole lot about intra- and inter-cohort variation, doesn't parse out neutral flags (double, display error) from negative ones, isn't normalized over a given users period of activity on the site (so someone who got flagged a lot on a daily basis but was only around for a month won't break into the top 20), etc.

That said, it's not a terrible first blush indication that as far as highly visible crappy behavior on the site goes, it breaks hard toward the self-identifying-as-male end of the spectrum, something that is frankly pretty consistent with my gut take on things. Which is not to say that Men Are Assholes And Women Are Not in some universal sense, it's to say that as far as what is visible on Metafilter (and as microcosm to that, Metatalk), we seem to have more men acting up in a crappy fashion then women.

I'll think about what would be involved in doing a more detailed breakdown/analysis, but I don't want to make any promises because flag data is one of those things we kind of prefer not to get overly freewheeling about. Releasing the raw data publically is pretty much a non-starter; if an academic is specifically into doing research that'd involve looking closely at it, they can talk to us about that directly but that's probably as far as that would go.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:25 PM on May 20, 2011


dialetheia, I really don't get the connection between your complaint about metatalk/metafilter and it's supposed maleness.

Mostly it's just my observation over years of reading MeTa, and you're right, it was a bit out of place in my comment. I just read the grey pretty religiously and find that female members are far, far less likely to do the whole early threadshit "your concern is stupid and you are stupid for posting it" thing. In particular, the whole "MeTa = thunderdome, come prepared to get shit on" meme (seen above) seems pretty obviously macho and exclusionary to me, and I would be very surprised if it didn't keep plenty of people, male and female, from participating in MeTa.
posted by dialetheia at 3:25 PM on May 20, 2011


Note that jessamyn wrote "Two of those question marks are the "Anonymous" account" - this means that by definition these most-flagged things can only possibly be AskMe questions.

This to me suggests very strongly that the flagging has nothing whatsoever to do with assholishness (how often are people assholes when asking questions on the green), which in turn casts doubt on the asshole:flagging correlation generally.

To be fair, jessamyn also disclaimed that "being flagged doesn't necessarily make you an asshole" but still, an implied fuzzy connection was still being made.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:25 PM on May 20, 2011


Sorry, should've previewed.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:29 PM on May 20, 2011


This to me suggests very strongly that the flagging has nothing whatsoever to do with assholishness (how often are people assholes when asking questions on the green), which in turn casts doubt on the asshole:flagging correlation generally.

It's kind of dancing on a line here because on the one hand I am for a variety of reasons not comfortable dropping a list of Most Flagged Users, but on the other hand I can guarantee you that no one would be particularly surprised by the names involved. The idea that some users on the site have been bigger pains in the ass than others shouldn't really be controversial, it's practically a law of group dynamics even setting aside the practical anecdata of just spending a few years hanging around here.

There is not a one-to-one relationship between having a comment or post flagged and acting like a jerk, absolutely; that said, there's a pretty unambiguous correlation once you move into large individual flag counts.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:30 PM on May 20, 2011


I'm going to be quite disappointed by that list, aren't I? I'm probably not on it. =(
posted by Eideteker at 3:55 PM on May 20, 2011


Just curious, what's the rough M/F breakdown on MeFi? Or, in other words, is the male dominance of flag queues a reflection of the gender ratios on MeFi generally?
posted by donnagirl at 4:12 PM on May 20, 2011


I deny that men are flat-out more likely to be inherently more anti-social than women. Data about the outliers doesn't convince me of anything about the average member of the community, but then again I don't think any data would convince me. I've never of heard of being a masculinist before but apparently I am one so I guess it's off to the google machine for me to find a definition and perhaps a community of like-minded folks who believe people are all basically the same.

Enjoy the push back against those shitty men that make metafilter shitty, ya'll.
posted by Dano St at 4:13 PM on May 20, 2011


Oh and thanks for the reply, dialetheia. Sincerely.
posted by Dano St at 4:13 PM on May 20, 2011


Just curious, what's the rough M/F breakdown on MeFi?

It's hard to answer definitively because the only thing we have to go on in terms of (at least semi-reliable) public data is what people put in the gender field. I took a quick look at that, including some raw data, late last year. Notes and caveats galore in that comment.

The very short version of that: of the ~20% minority of mefites who have chosen to put something in the gender field, of those using the most common and unambiguous labels (of which male, female, m, and f lead the pack by a lot), male-identifying labels are about 2.5-3 times as common as female-identifying. There's a ton of problems with taking that number as face value—we talked about that a fair amount in that other thread—but its not unremarkable even so.

It'd be interesting to do a proper anonymous demographic survey of mefi some time to try and at least limit the constraints presented by this view of the data.

Or, in other words, is the male dominance of flag queues a reflection of the gender ratios on MeFi generally?

I think there's definitely a significant alignment there, yeah. Whether that's all there is to it, or whether there some other effects in play, whether those effects are general or apply specifically to outlier circumstances, etc: all complicated questions.

But at face value, the assertion that the aggro friction that occurs in Metatalk is "usually male" is kind of a dicey thing to throw into a comment out of nowhere but also not something I have trouble understanding the reasoning behind.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:29 PM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


The idea that some users on the site have been bigger pains in the ass than others shouldn't really be controversial

No, of course not. But highlighting the gender mix of the most flagged users, comments, or posts doesn't really shed light on any kind of male / female behaviour generally within the broader population, because that analysis clearly only applies to the very extreme end of the assholishness distribution.

To use another criminal analogy, it's like asking "Are males or females more predisposed towards criminality? Well, here's a list of the top 20 serial killers of all time! They're 90% male so it's not a terrible first blush indication that as far as criminal behavior in society goes, it breaks hard toward the self-identifying-as-male end of the spectrum"
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:30 PM on May 20, 2011


behaviour.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:33 PM on May 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


To use another criminal analogy

My feeling there is that the distance between "average citizen" and "serial killer" is a great deal larger in terms of behavioral anomalies than the distance between "average mefite" and "particularly jerky mefite", to the point of silliness. Both are by definition outliers, yeah, but the former is a hell of a lot farther out into the tail of the graph than the latter, and the social disincentives for murder are much more profound than those for being kind of a jerk on a website.

How and why serial killers trend male is not, I think, a question that even in analogy has the least thing to do with why there's an apparent male-identifying skew toward jerky behavior on this website.

Which, let's back the truck up and remember how this started: someone characterized haze-the-newbie type grar in Metatalk as "usually male". On a site where self-identified* males significantly outnumber self-identified females, that doesn't require a belief that men are fundamentally more aggro/jerkish/etc than women. It's not a particularly weird impression to have at all unless we're going to assume that in fact men (or at least the men of metafilter) are significantly less aggro/jerkish/etc than women, which is an assumption more extraordinary than "site with apparently more men has apparently more jerkish behavior from men".

I think it's a very big and complicated topic and very unlikely to get settled here, and like I said above it's probably not the best thing to just toss into a discussion because it's kind of a fight-starter (and because it's such a complicated thing all told to try and suss out). But as far as it goes, what data we do have, and certainly my best assessment of my anecdotal experience over the years here, makes "more jerkish behavior on this site comes from men than women" a pretty unblinkworthy thought.

* This is one thing that'd go on my list for further analysis of the gender stuff: how does gender field label chosen (or the choice to fill it out at all) correlate to level of activity on the site? My guess is it'd correlate pretty strongly toward higher levels of activity, since folks more involved in the site day to day, having more conversations with other users and more investment in the place, running more often into the possibility of confusion over their gender identity, etc. would have more incentive to be detailed about the contents of their profile. But beyond that who knows; would there be a split in gender identification rates between male and female users that differed at level of involvement? Would being very active make someone more likely to identify as female vs. male, or less? And so on.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:59 PM on May 20, 2011


Metafilter: men are evil spawn who should be eliminated for the good of humankind, you know.
posted by nooneyouknow at 6:50 PM on May 20, 2011


Justinian: "There was nothing which a reasonable person at all familiar with Mefi would construe as particularly harsh in the comments preceding Two Lights' disabling her account. People can step back from Mefi for whatever reason they choose but we shouldn't read too much into it."

Rereading the beginning of this thread I have to say it felt a lot harsher last night than it does now... I don't think any one person was being inappropriate (except in the one case where I previously expressed it, and that's over now) but yeah, last night it felt a bit like a pile-on to me.

I love Metafilter even though we're all assholes at some point; hopefully the good will outweigh the bad and she'll come back.
posted by IndigoRain at 7:06 PM on May 20, 2011


I don't doubt for a second the conclusion that people being aggressive assholes on Metafilter tend to be male. But I don't think the presented flag data can be looked at in a vacuum even beyond the caveats already stated. I mean, I know cortex and jessamyn already know its not great evidence but I think it's even less good than that... despite not doubting the conclusion. If that makes sense which it does not.

For example, this does look pretty scary:

All time: ?, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M

But now here is the list of MOST COMMENTS broken down by gender:

All time: M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M, M.

The list of oldest accounts would look similar.

So like I said, I think dudes are more likely to be this particular kind of jerk (there are other kinds) but I don't think you can look at straight most-flags to show it, even in a rough way. At the least you'd have to do flags/comment ratio.
posted by Justinian at 7:08 PM on May 20, 2011


Caveat: I'm depending on others for the "most comments" list. I didn't compile it myself.
posted by Justinian at 7:10 PM on May 20, 2011


It's totally clear from Jessamyn's data that the snarkiest, most difficult posters tend to pretend they are men in their MeFi profiles.

I am shocked at their deviousness.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:27 AM on May 21, 2011


There was nothing which a reasonable person at all familiar with Mefi would construe as particularly harsh in the comments preceding Two Lights' disabling her account. People can step back from Mefi for whatever reason they choose but we shouldn't read too much into it.

If a poster is already on the edge of taking a break for whatever reason (even just too busy), a dip into the grey can be the final straw. I took a vacation once because I was in the middle of something and needed the mental bandwidth and, frankly, to stop being stressed by reading and commenting on the site. I considered a break for a while before doing it, but the thing that made me pull the trigger was something that happened on the grey.

I hope two lights comes back. I didn't and don't understand why two lights made this post, but it makes me sad that two lights left in tandem with it and possibly over it. On the other hand, I've hung around long enough on the grey that short of a technical issue/bug, it would never occur to me to make a post on the grey because I know the snark in the comments would probably make me leave or at least take a vacation.
posted by immlass at 8:05 AM on May 21, 2011


> but then again I don't think any data would convince me.

And there we have it! Tune in next week for another episode of Firmly Held Beliefs on Parade.
posted by languagehat at 11:38 AM on May 22, 2011


On a site where self-identified* males significantly outnumber self-identified females, that doesn't require a belief that men are fundamentally more aggro/jerkish/etc than women. It's not a particularly weird impression to have at all unless we're going to assume that in fact men (or at least the men of metafilter) are significantly less aggro/jerkish/etc than women, which is an assumption more extraordinary than "site with apparently more men has apparently more jerkish behavior from men".

I (believe I) understand what you are saying here and appreciate you sharing it, in part it because it may reflect some of the logic LH was using when he called me a "determined masculinist". After looking up the term, I was pretty flummoxed that my assertion that "men are no more or less likely to be assholes than women" could somehow be twisted into "an advocat[ion] of male superiority or dominance". (Oddly a more more informative wikipedia page turns up at the top my googling today that wasn't in the top 5 results last week.)

But "men are significantly less aggro/jerkish/etc (on metafilter) than women" is not at all a point I was trying to make. As I said, I posted my initial comment in anger and haste so my words were not as precise as they could have been.

My objection to 'the kneejerk, usually-male, "if you want to be heard, you'll have to make it through our gauntlet of 25+ comments of cliquey, mean-spirited, half-joking hazing first" brigade' is/was that it implies, to me, that there is something inherently wrong with the "maleness" of metafilter. That the men here should feel responsible for making this place inhospitable for women and they are bad people because of it. That's a lot, I admit, to read into "usually-male" and could fairly be called "an uncharitable reading", but over the years I have seen that charge against men made explicit enough times here that it doesn't seem like a wildly illogical jump even after taking a few days to cool off about it.

And, again, it just seemed out of place to me in this thread. Gender hadn't really been brought up yet, and my impression was that some of the most vocal criticism of the OP was from women. I hadn't read any of the Thunderdome comments as advocating for the meme, but rather as a simple statement of how it is sometimes.

All that said, I shouldn't have jumped all over two little words and apologize to dialetheia for doing so.

another episode of Firmly Held Beliefs on Parade

It's next week, but I'm afraid all I've got is a repeat: it is my firmly held belief that snark is not exclusively, or even primarily, the domain of males. I do not really associate it much with machismo. Insecure nerds and flamboyant homosexuals, for example, snark as much as the "dudebros" we love to hate here. And, yes, feminist bloggers are some snarky-ass people too. I identify with some of those categories of people, and not with others. Gender, though, is not really a trait they share. Internet-user is a much more common trait of the snarky. For every 4chan out there, there's a Jezebel.com and a PerezHilton and a Kos. All of which have a bigger problem with snark than metafilter IMO. I get tired and cranky about having my penis get blamed for assholes on the internet. It gets into plenty enough trouble on its own.
posted by Dano St at 10:06 AM on May 26, 2011


That the men here should feel responsible for making this place inhospitable for women

I didn't mean to implicate all of the men here! I'm sorry if I inadvertently accused anyone of anything. Let me try to explain myself better.

My experience is just that men are far, far more likely than women to engage in this mild hazing ritual of exchanging insults/snarky jokes, and that their greater experience with this style makes it much easier for them to put those mildly insulting comments into context and understand it's just good-natured ribbing. Enforcing the idea that this style is "the Inevitable Way of MeTa" inherently excludes or disadvantages people who are uncomfortable with that dynamic, or who don't have the appropriate context or experience to accurately gauge the tone of the comments.

Obviously there are exceptions to the gender aspect (some men hate this dynamic, some women love it), but to me it's pretty clearly a more masculine style of relating, and I do think it makes the place somewhat less hospitable for people who aren't accustomed to operating in that context (though this can include both genders - I can think of plenty of men who also seem to struggle with this aspect of MeTa). This whole dynamic is probably just an inevitable outcome of men being in the majority on the site, but I still have to object when I see people actively promoting it as the Law of the Land.

Now I'm really curious how much the male:female participation ratio varies across the subsites, though I remember there was a whole MeTa about the many difficulties with this kind of analysis. My hypothesis would be that MeTa skews most male, Ask skews most female.
posted by dialetheia at 5:30 PM on May 26, 2011


WOW!
I dont know what I did wrong asking this question.
Im rather new here.
And no,the questions was not asked from a smart phone,lol.
I never expected this kind of response,lol.
posted by WOLF101 at 9:55 PM on May 31, 2011


loll
posted by carsonb at 10:25 PM on May 31, 2011


METAFILTER: I never expected this kind of response,lol.
posted by philip-random at 10:32 PM on May 31, 2011


« Older Imagine Metafilter, only on the radio   |   Ashamed of our History? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments