iPadGate July 18, 2011 10:59 PM   Subscribe

I'm a little uncomfortable with the personal information being revealed in this thread.

I know that iPadGate is a big deal, particularly within the special needs community, but I feel...not great that the names and, implicitly, addresses, of maybe unrelated people are being posted in the thread, not to mention the suggestion that posters might stop by the location. I'm not sure this type of info posting should be OK on MetaFilter.
posted by lalex to Etiquette/Policy at 10:59 PM (253 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

Yeah.
posted by gingerest at 11:05 PM on July 18, 2011


Did that guy drive by the address listed on the site registry? It's all a bit much.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:24 PM on July 18, 2011


I agree. I don't think this is something that MetaFilter needs to do.
posted by grouse at 11:37 PM on July 18, 2011


Just start flagging then. The mods have said recently that they often need a critical mass of flags before they take action.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:13 AM on July 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Guess what happens next" says the post. I have no idea what happens next and don't really care to puzzle it out. Weird, insidery framing right from the get-go.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:17 AM on July 19, 2011 [26 favorites]


I've removed two comments which were linking to Facebook pages and personal information, not even necessarily of the right people.
posted by vacapinta at 1:22 AM on July 19, 2011


I agree, Dr. Jimmy — if that's your real name. It was hard to muddle through, even though about half the people in the thread seemed to already know everything that was going on.
posted by klangklangston at 1:22 AM on July 19, 2011


I have rotten tomatoes and nobody to hit. I need a target.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:41 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do flag stuff you worry about, and it is nice that you're worrying about the right things - but have faith in the mods, MeFi has looked into this sort of thing before. And yeah, it is sad like this one. Actually this seems worse than some of the others, due to the involvement of the real children who were expecting to get iPads.
posted by batgrlHG at 3:23 AM on July 19, 2011


In China, this sort of thing is described as the Human Search Engine.

Let's not do it on MetaFilter.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:47 AM on July 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


"Guess what happens next" says the post. I have no idea what happens next and don't really care to puzzle it out. Weird, insidery framing right from the get-go.

Does Kaycee Nicole even count as 'insidery' on MeFi? I know I was thinking of her before I even got to the $30,000, let alone the 'Guess what happened next.'
posted by jack_mo at 4:21 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]



"Guess what happens next" says the post. I have no idea what happens next and don't really care to puzzle it out. Weird, insidery framing right from the get-go.


I agree that it was a bit more cryptic than necessary. In case you still aren't sure, what happens next is the apparently nice man with the terrible life situation who accepted thousands of dollars in donations to help his terrible life situation turns out to be a fabrication and/or a scam artist, just like so many of these situations in the recent past.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 4:22 AM on July 19, 2011


I don't want it to have been a scam. I am rooting for the nice guy in way over his head narrative. Also I can't resist a mystery.
posted by humanfont at 4:48 AM on July 19, 2011


I think people are trying to repeat MeFi's success at solving the Kaycee Nicole mystery. I don't remember the thread very well, but I like to think it didn't involve doxing everyone with a similar name.
posted by Kalthare at 4:53 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't give money to random people on the internet unless you're okay with it probably being some kind of scam.
posted by empath at 5:29 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not a random person on the internet, you can send me money or ginger ale.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:31 AM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Don't give money to random people on the internet unless you're okay with it probably being some kind of scam.

I will hardly ever give money to anything but a registered and reputable charity. This way I know it's real and I also get a tax receipt.

But then I'm a bitch like that.
posted by orange swan at 5:40 AM on July 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Jesus christ orange swan, do you have to be such a peach?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:50 AM on July 19, 2011


I think people are trying to repeat MeFi's success at solving the Kaycee Nicole mystery. I don't remember the thread very well, but I like to think it didn't involve doxing everyone with a similar name.

Yeah, I think people like to jump into these things feet first here because of old KC - this is a good thing when two Russian women are heading into a dubious situation, but not so much when people go all 'Woo! I'm a hard-bitten internet detective!' because they know how to type whois.

There was a bit of this sort of iffiness in the Kaycee Nicole thread - eg., the girl in the pictures that purported to be Kaycee Nicole was outed, complete with lots of personal info (IIRC, mathowie mentioned fairly recently that she's still upset about it?).
posted by jack_mo at 5:55 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


That whole thread reeks of outragefilter, GYOBness and GRAR.
posted by malocchio at 6:25 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, OP came off as too agenda-driven right out of the gate, and it went downhill from there.
posted by 6550 at 6:27 AM on July 19, 2011


Is this where I sign up to get my free iPad?
posted by cjorgensen at 6:29 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, but here's a ginger ale and a smile.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:32 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Would this be the right place for me to mention that I'm in a bit of a pickle in re: the frozen assets of my billionaire uncle, and I could really do with a hand with the handling fees? Or should that go in Projects?
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:36 AM on July 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


These stories depress me because it makes it that much less likely that people will trust me enough to give me thousands of dollars when I decide to defraud them.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:51 AM on July 19, 2011 [18 favorites]


I removed a few more comments from that thread and left a mod note, people need to dial it back a little.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:56 AM on July 19, 2011


Well, that's turning into a witch hunt.
posted by zarq at 6:56 AM on July 19, 2011


I'm upset that I don't have an iPad. It would be incredibly useful for my work, and deep down I really believe that I deserve one. If someone was able to make that happen for me, I'd be very grateful.

Just putting that out there.
posted by hermitosis at 6:57 AM on July 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


The scooby squad instinct is understandable and if done with a lot of care and discretion not too much of a problem—looking into something personally if it smells a bit is fine, that's your business; thinking out loud with scrounged up identifying info is often problematic at best and can easily get into very weird territory and we basically would prefer people not do that on the site.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:59 AM on July 19, 2011


"I'm not a random person on the internet, you can send me money or ginger ale."

I am a random person on the Internet. I'm fine with it if you just give me the benefit of the doubt. Or ginger ale. My tummy's a bit upset today.

Hugs are good, too, when we return to the unsweaty times.
posted by Eideteker at 7:12 AM on July 19, 2011


I wish I hadn't been part of that. Yeesh.
posted by koeselitz at 7:17 AM on July 19, 2011


Why doesn't get the children netbooks, they're so much better and cheaper than iPads?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:20 AM on July 19, 2011


I think that this is all so much posturing and hypothesizing until we've thoroughly checked the guy for the devil's mark.

Of course, I tend to think that about most situations, so never mind me.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:22 AM on July 19, 2011


I would actually send ginger ale to folks requesting it, except that I imagine it is very expensive to ship. Maybe I can just send you some ginger?
posted by maryr at 7:59 AM on July 19, 2011


Good idea; send the ginger to everyone else, send me the ale.
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:01 AM on July 19, 2011


Adding to the outrage is that nobody has apparently considered getting Nook Colors for less than half the price and installing Android. Twice as many chances to win! Or more money for the ginger beer/ale/whatever.

As with other similar outings, the inchoate outrage of the gulled as it transitions from naivete through passive-aggression into GRAAAAAAR is uncomfortable to behold. Also, the indignation of people that their insurance policies will pay for assisted learning technologies that have been validated but not for consumer tablets that have not been acceptably validated is... tricky. The "evidence" that the expensive pedagogic machines can help is thin, but it exists in that there are published papers and some FDA approval (insofar as it goes for devices and not drugs, which is weak). But there's no evidence that dropping a consumer tablet into the lap of a "special needs" kid (or any kid for that matter) will change outcomes. There's even some equivocal evidence that cognitive machine tools in the hands of non-special-need kids can lead to some mild retardation in social skill acquisition.
posted by meehawl at 8:10 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Speaking of scams, the only benefit from ginger ale on an upset stomach is a placebo. Get yourself a Sodastream, some ginger root extract, and a little lime juice, and sip gently until your tummy improves.

(This message brought to you by the Association of Frequently Hungover Organic-Food-Market Shoppers.)
posted by Zozo at 8:18 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


But there's no evidence that dropping a consumer tablet into the lap of a "special needs" kid (or any kid for that matter) will change outcomes.

You should read Rob Rummel-Hudson's take on this. His daughter currently communicates through a combination of a (very expensive) assisted speech device and sign. He has stated several times on his blog that he feels that an iPad would work nearly as well for her, with the bonus that she could carry around a "cool gadget" vs what she currently has, which (despite it being pink) is clearly a "medical device". His daughter doesn't always like to bring out her device, and he tends to think that unwillingness to "show her difference" would go away if the device she had to use what somewhat cooler.
posted by anastasiav at 8:19 AM on July 19, 2011 [16 favorites]


Why doesn't get the children netbooks, they're so much better and cheaper than iPads?!

Not sure whether this is a serious question/opinion or not, but I'll address it anyway...

My wife works with autistic / non-verbal / limited-verbal kids and their families. The iPad's simplicity, size, and the ease of use of a touch screen make it a "wonder device" for these people and their families.

See: Apps for autistic children.

(Certainly the same can be said for Android tablets.)
posted by The Deej at 8:22 AM on July 19, 2011 [13 favorites]


Adding to the outrage is that nobody has apparently considered getting Nook Colors for less than half the price and installing Android.

Nooks don't have cameras or microphones, both of which would be a desired function as alternate inputs to assist use by a special needs user.
posted by scalefree at 8:22 AM on July 19, 2011


meehawl, I think you're waaaaaaaaaay out of line with that last paragraph. This thread exists to remove and discuss the net-stalking element of the original post.

You adding in speculation about the "indignant" mindset of special needs families around their insurance... about whether the expensive devices are worthwhile... about whether the FDA approvals for these devices constitutes "evidence" of their impact,

...and, holy shit, a completely irrelevant cherry-topper that iPads make non-SN kids socially retarded?

I'll just say I'm glad you dropped that flaming deuce in here instead of the FPP, since you clearly felt compelled to drop it at all.
posted by pineapple at 8:25 AM on July 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think that Nook comment had to be a troll. Nooks are tiny and the speaker doesn't have much volume. They're fun for tinkerers, but nothing really remotely useful for special needs.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:26 AM on July 19, 2011


More apps at autismspeaks.
posted by The Deej at 8:37 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


meehawl: " The "evidence" that the expensive pedagogic machines can help is thin, but it exists in that there are published papers and some FDA approval (insofar as it goes for devices and not drugs, which is weak). But there's no evidence that dropping a consumer tablet into the lap of a "special needs" kid (or any kid for that matter) will change outcomes. "

I watched a speech therapist evaluate my kid with one a few weeks ago. She raved about it and said that many people in her field are using them to great success.

There are multiple reasons why parents and therapists are embracing consumer tablets instead of assistive technology devices such as those manufactured by DynaVox -- who are now also making tablets -- but the primary difference is most likely cost. Whereas a device from Dynavox might be upwards of $10,000, an iPad is around $600-$700, not including monthly 3G service charges.

Of course, an iPad is not as durable or specialized as a device that is specifically designed for someone with special needs. Nor is it covered in any way by insurance or Medicare. But it does fit a niche market -- those who perhaps are not as severely learning disabled or impaired that they might need such an expensive device with additional features. Plus, what anastasiav mentions above is accurate: to some people there is a stigma associated with such devices, and having an iPad may ameliorate that to some extent.
posted by zarq at 8:40 AM on July 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


pineapple: I'll just say I'm glad you dropped that flaming deuce in here instead of the FPP, since you clearly felt compelled to drop it at all.

Yeah, the Nook thing is flippant, as is much of the ginger beer commentary here. But the principle of buying one of those $100-$200 7" Android slates (which usually come now with cams/mics and HDMI output) could stand in here. The gulf between practicality and brand aspiration is telling here.

As to my flaming deuce, you're right. It doesn't belong in a blue thread devoted to... well... something to do with the topic at hand, but also basically an outragefilter-cum-net stalking. That's why it's not there. I believe that MeTa is, well, a meta-commentary upon blue and green items, or upon the site itself. Therefore, I commented as to why I believe so many of the people heavily invested in the situation display a messianic belief in the ability of tech to ameliorate their difficult situations. I've worked with damaged kids and damaged adults and seen tech work for some. And have zero impact with others. In some cases, the tech has even exacerbated social dysfunction. From what I've seen in my experience, there is so good way to predict how and when re-orienting skills training around tech will benefit. It's all very individual. We know many things that work, and we suspect that tech is one of those things. But we can't say for sure. And much of the research in this area is unfortunately led by or funded by device makers, and uses relatives' hopes as fuel.

If you're now appointing yourself to e-moderate this MeTa thread as to what's acceptable as topics and what's now then, well, congratulations. Have fun.
posted by meehawl at 8:43 AM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


WSJ: Parents turn to iPad for Speech Therapy. Has much more cogent arguments than the ones I was trying to make. :)
posted by zarq at 8:43 AM on July 19, 2011


As to my flaming deuce, you're right. It doesn't belong in a blue thread devoted to... well... something to do with the topic at hand

It's not terrifically in line here either, really.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:49 AM on July 19, 2011


>> If you're now appointing yourself to e-moderate this MeTa thread as to what's acceptable as topics and what's now then, well, congratulations. Have fun.

Love it. You're allowed to bring a bunch of barely-tangential anecdata into the MeTa, but when I call it out as such, I'm "e-moderating." (Which - what does that even mean? Is it like "e-mail"? Are the mods somehow analog moderating? Doofus.)

By all means, use this MeTa to sound your wise and clearly more informed yawp about the indignancy of special needs families and their messianic beliefs. But you're coming off as ton-deaf and superior and if that's what your aiming for, well, congratulations.
posted by pineapple at 8:51 AM on July 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Tone-deaf, that is.
posted by pineapple at 8:52 AM on July 19, 2011


Did that guy drive by the address listed on the site registry? It's all a bit much.

I actually did. Why do you feel that is a bit much? This is an individual who took $30,000 from people and failed to deliver on his promises. It might have been pre-meditated fraud or an after-the-fact decision, but either way this is fraud and theft.

I think there's a double standard being applied here and it's one this crook is taking advantage of. If this was a website that had been taking deposits for some sort of electronic gadget and they behaved this way then we'd be perfectly comfortable going to the business address and looking to see if it was actually there. But since there's this possibility that it's only 70% fraud and not 100% made-up we're supposed to be uncomfortable investigating?

This guy may well be someone in an unfortunate life situation who let it push him to making bad choices, but that's not a pass from scrutiny. There are obvious reasonable limits to this, but taking a drive down a suburban street isn't one of them.
posted by phearlez at 8:52 AM on July 19, 2011


meehawl: "The gulf between practicality and brand aspiration is telling here."

You're making a huge assumption here.

How do you know this is about brand aspiration, and not about word of mouth between parents? One parent gets an iPad for their special needs kid. Sees how much it helps their child. Mentions it online. Other parents say to themselves, "It worked for them. Maybe it could help my kid!" And it snowballs.

The iPad was not the first tablet. But it is the first one to embed itself in mass consciousness and sell like hotcakes. It is practically synonymous with the idea of a tablet computer at the moment. Android and HP are going to have to work hard to gain back some market share for a while.

You're assigning motivations that I do not believe exist and am not convinced are really supportable. The effect consumer tablets may have in removing the perceived stigma associated with medical assistive learning devices ≠ Apple fanboyism.
posted by zarq at 8:57 AM on July 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is a good relatively recent summary of the spectrum of assistive tech available, and its variable impact across a spectrum of disabilities. It's a veru heterogeneous topic.
posted by meehawl at 8:57 AM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is a good review as to how and why assistive tech is adopted and then often abandoned by different segments across the disabled spectrum.
posted by meehawl at 9:01 AM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


drjimmy11: ""Guess what happens next" says the post. I have no idea what happens next and don't really care to puzzle it out. Weird, insidery framing right from the get-go."

Yeah I fucking hate when people do that too.

Just tell me.
posted by Bonzai at 9:02 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did that guy drive by the address listed on the site registry? It's all a bit much.
I actually did. Why do you feel that is a bit much? This is an individual who took $30,000 from people and failed to deliver on his promises. It might have been pre-meditated fraud or an after-the-fact decision, but either way this is fraud and theft.
I agree that this is a bit much. What did you hope to accomplish by driving by the house?
posted by lalex at 9:05 AM on July 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Are the mods somehow analog moderating?

I do almost all of my administrative work via a modified theremin, yes.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:11 AM on July 19, 2011 [34 favorites]


> I actually did. Why do you feel that is a bit much? This is an individual who took $30,000 from people and failed to deliver on his promises. It might have been pre-meditated fraud or an after-the-fact decision, but either way this is fraud and theft.

Because what are you going to do? There's clearly a house there that can be seen from Google Maps. Are you law enforcement? They would at least need a warrant or permission from the occupants to check out the place.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:14 AM on July 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


zarq: Android and HP are going to have to work hard to gain back some market share for a while.

It's always a danger on MeFi to invoke Apple and Windows/Android. Because then any thread can turn into a nerdfest. I do note that although no single Android tablet has yet become a "hit", Android tablet sales in aggregate were ~35% of the total market in 2011Q1. I think this trend will continue until the tablet market sales shares resemble the mobile market, and it won't need a big name like HP to accomplish this. The shelves of ToysRUs or Big Lots or similar low-end stores are already well-stocked with low-end $100-$150 Android tablets and this diffusion will increase and creep upwards. These tablets right now are usually only single-point resistive screen tech. As this market grows, they will add multi-point/touch, and appear in more salubrious outlets. I think you'd be hard put to quantify meaningful differences in impact for kids exposed to a low-end Android tablet or an Ipad that costs 3x-4x as much. Most kids basically just love poking at screens and getting instant feedback, and this affinity can be seen in most by 12 months.
posted by meehawl at 9:15 AM on July 19, 2011


lalex: “I agree that this is a bit much. What did you hope to accomplish by driving by the house?”

What? I thought this was obvious. You're telling me you sincerely didn't see that some people wondered if it was a fake address, and that it was worth finding out?
posted by koeselitz at 9:16 AM on July 19, 2011


> You're telling me you sincerely didn't see that some people wondered if it was a fake address, and that it was worth finding out?

Even if it was a fake, are you saying random internet vigilantes should be knocking on doors to find out? It takes two clicks to verify that it's a house and not an abandoned warehouse or something. Not to mention that most shady site owners hide their registrar info.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:18 AM on July 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Slow down guys, I'm running low on popcorn.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:25 AM on July 19, 2011


I started to respond to this with some explanation of what could be determined by visually verifying an address but it occurred to me that there is nothing I can say that will reassure someone who would describe knocking on someone's door as "vigilante" behavior. Good luck getting the Hague to charge some Jehovah's Witnesses with war crimes.
posted by phearlez at 9:41 AM on July 19, 2011


> I started to respond to this with some explanation of what could be determined by visually verifying an address

Please do. I retract the vigilante comment if it helps. But, what in the world could you do by driving by the place?
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:42 AM on July 19, 2011


I agree these threads are a mess.

I am grateful to see pineapple use the word "yawp". I love that word. It deserves daily use.
posted by bukvich at 9:44 AM on July 19, 2011


Horselover Phattie: “Even if it was a fake, are you saying random internet vigilantes should be knocking on doors to find out? It takes two clicks to verify that it's a house and not an abandoned warehouse or something. Not to mention that most shady site owners hide their registrar info.”

Yeah, that's a good point. I hadn't even thought of that, and I didn't see your previous comment before commenting myself. If you can verify via google earth, it seems like you've done all the verification that's necessary – unless you're a reporter with some intention of researching this seriously, in which case you ought to take the proper precautions and measures.
posted by koeselitz at 9:52 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Open up! I'm from the internet!"
posted by zarq at 9:54 AM on July 19, 2011 [24 favorites]


phearlez: "there is nothing I can say that will reassure someone who would describe knocking on someone's door as "vigilante" behavior."

So were you planning on driving by, or actually knocking on their door?
posted by zarq at 9:54 AM on July 19, 2011


there is nothing I can say that will reassure someone who would describe knocking on someone's door as "vigilante" behavior. Good luck getting the Hague to charge some Jehovah's Witnesses with war crimes.

Knocking on someone's door given the context and motivations being discussed here may or may not be "vigilante" behavior, but it is without a doubt goddam creepy as fuck, and comparing it to the Jehovah's Witnesses' proselytizing is a complete red herring intended to distract us from that stalkery creepiness.
posted by dersins at 9:59 AM on July 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


But there's no evidence that dropping a consumer tablet into the lap of a "special needs" kid (or any kid for that matter) will change outcomes. There's even some equivocal evidence that cognitive machine tools in the hands of non-special-need kids can lead to some mild retardation in social skill acquisition.

Here you're talking about two completely different things. No one who uses autistic spectrum apps for their child simply "drop the tablet into their laps". These apps are use by both parents, educators and children together to ensure that the cognitive abilities they are designed to improve do make progress. Your second statement reads more like "video games make children socially awkward" or something along those lines, and I see little to no relation between these two assertions at all, on top of the first statement being based on a false assumption; i.e., that autistic children are merely given cognitive development tools and told "there you go, kid, get better".
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:01 AM on July 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


I don't really think that knocking on the door of someone's house in search of information is a terribly creepy thing to do. I mean, they don't have to answer (I don't answer the door if I don't know who it is). As long as you actually fuck off when someone tells you to fuck off, then it's not stalkery at all.

But personally I wouldn't really go that far unless I had some sort of personal or professional stake in the issue at hand.
posted by hermitosis at 10:04 AM on July 19, 2011


dersins: “Knocking on someone's door given the context and motivations being discussed here may or may not be "vigilante" behavior, but it is without a doubt goddam creepy as fuck, and comparing it to the Jehovah's Witnesses' proselytizing is a complete red herring intended to distract us from that stalkery creepiness.”

It strikes me that this is true, but I can also imagine that there's a right way to do this. If someone who were actually interested in doing some research and writing it up for publication went about it in the proper way, I don't think it would be creepy.

The proper way, of course, would involve emailing and/or calling before knocking on somebody's door. And it would involve staying away if Mike protested that he just wanted privacy and to be left alone.
posted by koeselitz at 10:05 AM on July 19, 2011


I do almost all of my administrative work via a modified theremin, yes.

I would pay money to see that. Especially in the middle of a good villager torch-fest.
posted by scalefree at 10:18 AM on July 19, 2011


Okay, taking the "what do you discover" at face value:

Simply verifying an address works in Google Maps is meaningless. Here's an entry for an address in my old neighborhood which was and is an empty lot. You can see that on street view but there's no street view for the address attached to the fraudster's URL.

Now, as it turns out I didn't need to go by to see that this lot had been built upon; the Fairfax property records indicate clearly that a home was there and there's an unbroken chain of ownership since 1980. However the domain name was registered in 2008, at the point where people started to have financial issues during the downturn and found themselves unable to keep their homes, meaning it could have been in foreclosure or they might have vacated. Driving by might have revealed a house that wasn't being maintained and/or is obviously empty.

Or it could have had a dozen cars parked in front of it. Or several very expensive cars, which would leave me inclined to think this was more a case of deliberate fraud vs someone who initially meant well and got tempted. Or it could have been a burned-out husk.

Or there might have been people hanging out on the lawn, in which case yes, I probably would have gotten out and talked to them. I pondered knocking on the door but decided I wanted to be better educated on the backstory before I did that. If there really was a Mike I wanted to be able to ask the right questions. If they were innocents whose address had been used I wanted to be able to explain the situation accurately.

I may still do so and write the story on We Love DC, depending on what sort of coverage has showed up since yesterday and what else turns up about this. However I don't think my being a part-time volunteer journalist is pertinent; I don't believe it would be inappropriate at all for someone to satisfy their idle curiosity about some criminal behavior by driving down a public street. You're welcome to think that's a waste of time but its their time to waste, not yours.

Knocking on someone's door given the context and motivations being discussed here may or may not be "vigilante" behavior, but it is without a doubt goddam creepy as fuck

I don't know how to reassure someone who takes that as self evident. I consider it decidedly NOT creepy to knock on a door associated with someone who has defrauded a lot of people out of approximately $30,000 in order to determine if they actually live there or if someone is using the address fraudulently.

I suppose it might be disconcerting to someone who has stolen money from people on the internet to discover that someone could actually come knock on their door and ask them why they did it. I suppose it might be disconcerting to discover that someone has defrauded people on the internet and falsified your address as their own, but my knocking on their door and alerting them to that fact isn't the misdeed.

The proper way, of course, would involve emailing and/or calling before knocking on somebody's door.

Do you really think it's wrong to knock on someone's door without prior notice/permission? I do not. I don't think anyone has an obligation to answer their door (or phone) when someone calls, but the knocking I think is perfectly okay.

And I dispute that comparing it to "Jehovah's Witnesses' proselytizing" is in any way a red herring or an effort at distraction. I have no interest in being converted, so a JW knocking on my door is a waste of my time and I actually do find their religion and its determination to convert people somewhat distasteful. If I could wave a magic wand and prevent them from ever being a distraction in my life again I would. But they have a right to ask for my attention and I have a right to deny it. It's not creepy for them to come ask me to let them babble at me, it's just part of living in a society rather than a remote shack in the woods or behind a locked gate.
posted by phearlez at 10:23 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh my god. And I felt bad about posting their Twitter accounts, which were pretty much in plain view in their blogs.

*scalefree backs slowly out of the thread*
posted by scalefree at 10:24 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


But the principle of buying one of those $100-$200 7" Android slates (which usually come now with cams/mics and HDMI output) could stand in here.

Proloquo2Go, basically the modern gold standard for non-verbal kids, does not run on Android. Every moms-of-special-needs-kids e-mail list on I'm on talks about that app. It costs $190 -- but it's still far less expensive than most text-to-speech or modified PECS systems. Furthermore, more apps aimed at young kids with or without special needs are probably developed for the iPad than for Android or other mobile platforms. Willie Sutton robbed banks because, he said, that's where the money is. Parents of kids with special needs use iPads because that's where the apps targeted towards kids with special needs are.

The gulf between practicality and brand aspiration is telling here.

You're seriously assuming that kids with special needs and their parents prefer to use iPads because they're all nouveaux riches Apple boosters, and not because the wide variety of apps out there actually make iPads the more practical, more mobile, and more affordable choice?

My mother-in-law is a longtime bonafide Apple fangirl. It was she who very generously bought an iPad for our son as a third birthday present, after watching him navigate her own iPad with remarkable ease despite his myriad of worrying developmental delays (not autism, but other stuff). But using the iPad for as something more than entertainment was his doctors' idea. My son's speech therapist and occupational therapist e-mail me recommendations of what apps to use, and trade lists with their other patients' families. He does puzzles and Tangrams, helping his visual field discrimination problems. He traces letters and numbers with his fingers, learning in ways (visual, tactile) his probable central auditory processing problems make it hard for him to do otherwise. He uses "touch the big apple" / "touch the top frog" kinds of apps to help his discrimination of spoken word instructions (especially chained adjectives and longer sentence lengths). His fine motor control has increased dramatically.

Furthermore, his pediatric optometrist, who diagnosed his convergence insufficiency (inability to focus his eyes at close range, leading to seeing double of close-up objects, compounding a lot of his other developmental problems), wrote as one of his recommendations in his diagnosis that he not only work with expensive prism lens eyeglasses we had to special order from Europe, but that he watch visual media close-up to help his eyes learn to focus together. Yes, a doctor actually prescribed watching TV with his nose in the TV as a way to help his brain. The iPad's video screen was perfect for this, too.

If his doctors told us to use some $5000 WhangDoodleMaBob to help him instead, we would strongly consider it. But they didn't and don't; the iPad is now ubiquitous for special needs kids whose families can afford it because it is clearly ridiculously effective and yet remains less expensive than almost every single other assisstive technology option out there. And yes, if he were using his iPad in public, which he generally doesn't, the "blend in" ability is nothing to sneeze at, either.

But clearly, we're just aspirational brand snobs! And there's no proof that the iPad has in any way helped our son's life or physical or verbal delays, except for the part where it clearly did, and does, and we have the written quarterly reports from a slew of doctors charting his progress, step by step.

There's even some equivocal evidence that cognitive machine tools in the hands of non-special-need kids can lead to some mild retardation in social skill acquisition.

Thereby making this statement totally irrelevant to the topic at hand. Why should I worry that an iPad might make some kids who do not have special needs a little more geeky and introverted, when balanced against the obvious effects for many kids with special needs that they can now learn, have greater motor control, and TALK?

Finally, I am amazed at the truly stupid privilege being waved around here. Every single person in this thread, or the original thread on the blue, or on MetaFilter itself, or the entire fucking Internet is using a piece of assistive technology that helps them communicate in ways that were previously hard for them to master. They're called computers. But see, our tech is a tool we have mastered to help us, so we can talk to each other and make new things and have fun and share experiences and not feel so alone, but their tech is a silly toy that their mommies bought them because only aspirational and deluded mommies "display a messianic belief in the ability of tech to ameliorate their difficult situations".
posted by Asparagirl at 10:29 AM on July 19, 2011 [65 favorites]


> I may still do so and write the story on We Love DC

Ok, so ostensibly you're a blogger-journalist. That would explain your motivations. Thank you.

Still, you can understand why just posting "I may drive by their on my way home" without your motivations being clarified is problematic. Really, if you are going to do some kind of investigative journalism, then it might be best to not mention that to the site at large until maybe you have something to post to your blogging site.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:29 AM on July 19, 2011


I consider it decidedly NOT creepy to knock on a door associated with someone who has defrauded a lot of people out of approximately $30,000 in order to determine if they actually live there or if someone is using the address fraudulently.

Actually, we're not talking about knocking on a door associated with someone who has defrauded a lot of people out of approximately.

We're talking about a door which may be associated with someone who may have defrauded people. We do not know, and, frankly, it isn't our job as a bunch of random people on the internet to make the determination.

And as someone who is not an investigating officer, nor a journalist, nor even an alleged victim, you have no real reason to knock on the door in question except to satisfy your own prurient interest and / or narcissistic desire to become part of the "story." Sorry dude, but that makes it fucking creepy. I'm sorry you don't have the social acumen to understand the creepiness of it, but that doesn't mean it's not there.
posted by dersins at 10:32 AM on July 19, 2011 [10 favorites]


Ok, so ostensibly you're a blogger-journalist. That would explain your motivations. Thank you.

As I said, I contend it's irrelevant. What makes me a "blogger-journalist," to use your terminology, is my desire to be one. As it happens I have a track record to point to but at some point I made a decision to look into things that interested me and report on them. A person running apparently fraudulent raffles is without question a matter of public interest and I don't see why it would be inappropriate for an interested party to look into it.

And you're welcome to disagree with me, dersins, but you've crossed the line from disagreement and are being insulting. Or since we seem to be unable to agree on the basics of public behavior and boundaries I will say instead: I find your word choice and descriptions of me to be insulting.
posted by phearlez at 10:45 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


And as someone who is not an investigating officer, nor a journalist, nor even an alleged victim, you have no real reason to knock on the door in question except to satisfy your own prurient interest and / or narcissistic desire to become part of the "story." Sorry dude, but that makes it fucking creepy. I'm sorry you don't have the social acumen to understand the creepiness of it, but that doesn't mean it's not there.

Whoah, that's like the absolute least-charitable possible reading of the situation. He did mention up thread that he's a volunteer journalist.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:55 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


He mentioned "a desire to be one", which is noble and all (journalist here), but journalists are typically held to editorial standards and codes of conduct. As phearlez seems utterly convinced of their right to find where this guy lives and physically approach him, unsolicited, to ask him some questions about what may be a scam or may be not, the only thing I'd add is that maybe a career with Dateline is in the cards.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:12 AM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Please. Being a blogger is not the same thing as being a journalist, despite what the blogosphere has to say on the matter. I mean, the venn diagrams do certainly overlap, but writing for a blog that covers news does not make the one into the other.

(And if you've ever wondered what the difference is, this thread and the one in the blue offer ample demonstration. Bloggers do things like baldly assert in writing, in public, that someone is a criminal despite a lack of proof (or even any evidence beyond the highly circumstantial) that a crime was committed in the first place, publish links to the home address of someone who may or may not be associated with the alleged crime, and suggest that it would be a good idea for people to drop by the address and check it out. This is not something that a journalist-- or at least a responsible one-- does. In fact, this is precisely the sort of thing journalists are taught NOT to do in every journalistic ethics and standards class out there.)
posted by dersins at 11:16 AM on July 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I felt a certain... I don't even know whaddyacallit... last night when I realized I was reading that thread on an iPad I'd won in a raffle. I just felt... wrong.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:22 AM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Being a blogger is not the same thing as being a journalist

Exactly, he didn't even think to hack into the guy's voicemail first. Lots to learn, these bloggers.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:24 AM on July 19, 2011 [16 favorites]


"This is not something that a journalist-- or at least a responsible one-- does. In fact, this is precisely the sort of thing journalists are taught NOT to do in every journalistic ethics and standards class out there.)"

on the one hand, i'd go by the house. on the other, yes, any editor would be writing "LIBEL SUIT" in huge red letters across the top of the copy
posted by klangklangston at 11:24 AM on July 19, 2011


maybe a career with Dateline is in the cards.

Yeah but when someone from Dateline gets up in your face you at least know what you're in for and what the boundaries of the encounter are; you can be made very uncomfortable but you won't feel unsafe. If some random angry citizen who may or may not write a blog post about it later finds your address and knocks on your door you absolutely do not have that guarantee.

And anyone who doesn't think it's creepy vigilantism to go and knock on someone's door to confront them, well, maybe we oughta send someone down to explain it to ya. Real thorough like.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 11:28 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah but when someone from Dateline gets up in your face you at least know what you're in for and what the boundaries of the encounter are; you can be made very uncomfortable but you won't feel unsafe. If some random angry citizen who may or may not write a blog post about it later finds your address and knocks on your door you absolutely do not have that guarantee.

Thanks, that's my point entirely.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:37 AM on July 19, 2011


dersins: “And if you've ever wondered what the difference is, this thread and the one in the blue offer ample demonstration. Bloggers do things like baldly assert in writing, in public, that someone is a criminal despite a lack of proof (or even any evidence beyond the highly circumstantial) that a crime was committed in the first place, publish links to the home address of someone who may or may not be associated with the alleged crime, and suggest that it would be a good idea for people to drop by the address and check it out. This is not something that a journalist-- or at least a responsible one-- does. In fact, this is precisely the sort of thing journalists are taught NOT to do in every journalistic ethics and standards class out there.”

I just wanted to point out, for the record, that phearlez did exactly zero of the things you're discussing in this paragraph. So, y'know – you're kind of stretching a bit here.

Posting someone's address? Sleazy. Telling people they should go to said address, even if you don't post it? Sleazy, yes. Stating outright that someone has committed a crime when in fact they have not been convicted yet? Maybe not sleazy, but certainly unethical, whether you're a journalist or not; and maybe libelous.

Again, phearlez did none of these things.
posted by koeselitz at 12:02 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]




phearlez did none of these things.

You know comments have been deleted from that thread, yes?
posted by dersins at 12:08 PM on July 19, 2011


As phearlez seems utterly convinced of their right to find where this guy lives and physically approach him, unsolicited, to ask him some questions about what may be a scam or may be not

I say with all seriousness that my experience of living in society is clearly very different than many people's here. I am approached by random individuals all the time, on the street, by phone, by email, and at my front door. Sometimes they know nothing about me and ask directions, or for money, or if I'd be willing to answer a variety of questions for their survey. Folks on the phone often know my name - or think they do - and other things about me. Folks at the door range from religious folks to people asking for donations to Verizon looking to upsell me some services for my home tv/internet. The ones looking for political support know my name and sometimes say things about stuff I have donated in the past.

I don't love any of these contacts. Sometimes I find myself annoyed at their putting me in a circumstance where I need to politely decline a request I'd have rather not have heard at all, or requiring me to go to my door and look though the peephole.

But at no point have I for a second questioned the "right" of these people to dare to speak to me. When I don't want to be bothered I walk by and say "no thanks" or I don't answer the phone or my door. But I am actually shocked at the number of people who assert that knocking on someone's door to ask them a question is this unbelievable and terrifying imposition and prima facia inappropriate behavior.

Yeah but when someone from Dateline gets up in your face you at least know what you're in for and what the boundaries of the encounter are; you can be made very uncomfortable but you won't feel unsafe. If some random angry citizen who may or may not write a blog post about it later finds your address and knocks on your door you absolutely do not have that guarantee.

I think perhaps you have never seen a stand-up out on the street. Here's a picture of a radio reporter talking to a public information official at a CERT live training that media was invited to observe. In the background you can see the TV news representation - a man in a black shirt and blue jeans and a cameraman similarly dressed. Neither wore some sort of uniform that would immediately identify them as associated with some television show/station that you may or may not recognize. At that moment they were standing on front of the broadcast truck but subsequently we walked a quarter mile down the way and they had nothing to distinguish them other than what they carried. If those people walked up and started asking you questions you would have no rational reason to believe they're necessarily associated with any reputable news outlet with editorial standards or signatory to any code of conduct.

That ambiguity aside, you and everyone else who find this idea of approaching someone at their home to be disturbing keep throwing in these judgmental words or attributing a style of behavior that isn't supported. Angry citizen, vigilante, in your face, "explain it to ya. Real through like."

So I'll put my money where my mouth is. If any of you would like to look up my address and come knock on my door to ask me questions, I firmly believe in and support your right to do so. I may decline to answer them or ask you to leave or not even answer the door. But you have every right to walk up and knock.
posted by phearlez at 12:12 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


dersins: “You know comments have been deleted from that thread, yes?”

Yes. And I know I was watching that thread from the beginning last night, before anything was deleted, and didn't see any comment where phearlez did the thing you seem to be accusing him of. Maybe this happened and I didn't catch it. If so, can someone confirm?
posted by koeselitz at 12:12 PM on July 19, 2011


I say with all seriousness that my experience of living in society is clearly very different than many people's here. I am approached by random individuals all the time, on the street, by phone, by email, and at my front door. Sometimes they know nothing about me and ask directions, or for money, or if I'd be willing to answer a variety of questions for their survey.

You heard it here, folks: knocking on a stranger's door with allegations of being involved in an illegal online scam is the same as asking someone for directions.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:18 PM on July 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


As we wait word on whether my memory of those now-deleted comments is faulty or yours is, I'd like to point out that in this thread we have multiple assertions from phearlez that this guy is guilty of a crime. He tells us not only that this is "someone who has defrauded a lot of people out of approximately $30,000" but also that "[t]his is an individual who took $30,000 from people and failed to deliver on his promises. It might have been pre-meditated fraud or an after-the-fact decision, but either way this is fraud and theft." So, y'know, there's that.
posted by dersins at 12:20 PM on July 19, 2011


phearlez didn't actually knock on the door or approach anybody, did he?
posted by Gator at 12:20 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Being a blogger is not the same thing as being a journalist, despite what the blogosphere has to say on the matter.

Journalism is something you do, not your job. If you're engaging in journalistic activity, you're a journalist.
posted by empath at 12:21 PM on July 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is that the issue? I thought the issue was the whole Vigilante Journo-Blogger thing.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:22 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reading Metafilter is not journalism.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:23 PM on July 19, 2011


> Journalism is something you do, not your job. If you're engaging in journalistic activity, you're a journalist.

Eh, kind of. It's generally agreed that you're doing it because you're being paid or will be paid, or are voluntarily contributing to a publication of some sort, not because it's "something you do". It's not really equivocal to being a street musician or something.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:24 PM on July 19, 2011


Sorry, was responding to Gator there.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:24 PM on July 19, 2011


Well if we're back to arguing about "vigilante" activity, vigilantism tends to involve punishment, not finding-things-out. What phearlez did (even if he did knock on the door) seems no worse than your average harmless not-yet-drunk-with-power neighborhood watch group.
posted by Gator at 12:25 PM on July 19, 2011


villanelles at dawn: “Yeah but when someone from Dateline gets up in your face you at least know what you're in for and what the boundaries of the encounter are; you can be made very uncomfortable but you won't feel unsafe. If some random angry citizen who may or may not write a blog post about it later finds your address and knocks on your door you absolutely do not have that guarantee.”

This is a risk inherent in a free society. You can say this about almost any other interaction we have with others. "If some random angry citizen finds your phone number and calls you, you absolutely do not have a guarantee that you know what you're in for." Yes, but people are allowed to look up your phone number and call you if they want to. The same is true of people walking up to you and talking to you on the street, as phearlez points out.

None of this indicates that it is 'creepy' or unethical to talk to people unsolicited. And, yes, that's what we're talking about – going up to people and talking to them unsolicited. If we call that 'creepy,' we've consigned virtually every interaction that occurs in public to the creepy bin.

“And anyone who doesn't think it's creepy vigilantism to go and knock on someone's door to confront them, well, maybe we oughta send someone down to explain it to ya. Real thorough like.”

This is where you and many others are making uncharitable assumptions about what was said – and, given those assumptions, I can understand why you'd think it's creepy. phearlez didn't say he'd knock on their door and "explain it to [them]." That does sound a bit creepy – confrontational, pushy, maybe unfair.

But – again – those were not phearlez' words. His words were that he might drive by, and that if he knocked on the door it wouldn't be necessarily creepy. I think he's right. There are un-creepy ways to do this. That's why your flat assertion that he would invariably be creepy for knocking on the door doesn't really hold up, in my eyes.

Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: “You heard it here, folks: knocking on a stranger's door with allegations of being involved in an illegal online scam is the same as asking someone for directions.”

It could be the same. It could be much worse. Come to think of it, you could do some pretty awful things by way of asking someone for directions. It seems odd that people are assuming that this must be bad.

If I went up to Mike's door, knocked, and carefully explained to him that I am writing a piece on what happened here; if I told him that I merely wanted to get his side of the story and put it out there, giving him a platform to tell the world what really happened at a safe distance; if I promised him that I wouldn't harass his family or publish private details if he didn't want me to, and that this interview was purely on his say-so – would that be creepy? Seriously, would people find that creepy?
posted by koeselitz at 12:26 PM on July 19, 2011


> Well if we're back to arguing about "vigilante" activity

I was being hyperbolic using the word "vigilante" and retracted it.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:27 PM on July 19, 2011


I know, I was responding to Marisa Stole the Precious Thing.
posted by Gator at 12:29 PM on July 19, 2011


But I am actually shocked at the number of people who assert that knocking on someone's door to ask them a question is this unbelievable and terrifying imposition and prima facia inappropriate behavior.

Yeah, I'm pretty surprised at that too, and even more surprised that knocking on someone's door rhetorically slips into vigilantism and intimidation. Even if it's not something you'd do, that doesn't make someone who finds it unremarkable a threat.
posted by OmieWise at 12:31 PM on July 19, 2011


Seriously, would people find that creepy?

If I asked which media organization that person represented, and they said they were a blogger?

Hell yes it would be creepy. And ludicrous, but the creepy would be pretty strong competition.
posted by winna at 12:31 PM on July 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Seriously, would people find that creepy?

If you were representing an actual newspaper, television show, or other media outlet, I'd be pretty intimidated by such a confrontation but I don't think "creepy" would be the word. If you were just some random blogger who read about my story on the internet and wanted to drop by for posting material? Yes, I'd find that creepy. I just don't view random bloggers as the same as journalists, mostly because of the professional standards and codes of conduct that journalists (at reputable sources) are bound to. Maybe it's professional bias on my part, but yeah - the anchor for a local CBS affiliate dropping by; scary, Joe Blogger looking for posting material dropping by; yeah, kinda creepy.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:31 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm sure that phearlez isn't going to show up at this guy's doors and kneecap him, and I apologize if my little joke at the end of that comment made it seem like I was saying he would. But that doesn't mean that everyone who would be encouraged by the publishing of the guy's address and an exhortation to go "check him out" would be as honest or restrained; and that's why that sort of thing should be explicitly discouraged here and left to professionals.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 12:34 PM on July 19, 2011


Gator: "phearlez didn't actually knock on the door or approach anybody, did he?"

This was answered by phearlez upthread:

phearlez: " Or there might have been people hanging out on the lawn, in which case yes, I probably would have gotten out and talked to them. I pondered knocking on the door but decided I wanted to be better educated on the backstory before I did that. If there really was a Mike I wanted to be able to ask the right questions. If they were innocents whose address had been used I wanted to be able to explain the situation accurately."
posted by zarq at 12:37 PM on July 19, 2011


winna: "If I asked which media organization that person represented, and they said they were a blogger?"

So bloggers can't be serious journalists?

Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: "Yes, I'd find that creepy. I just don't view random bloggers as the same as journalists, mostly because of the professional standards and codes of conduct that journalists (at reputable sources) are bound to. Maybe it's professional bias on my part"

It is. Media standards have sunk, definitely, but bloggers are legit. Matt Drudge uncovered the freaking Monica Lewinsky scandal more than a decade ago, which I think was the official turning point that bloggers became acceptable investigative journalists.
posted by I am the Walrus at 12:37 PM on July 19, 2011


I just want to say now that if any of you ever walked up to me out of the blue and said, "Hi, Mefite" I would be very creeped out.
posted by Surfurrus at 12:38 PM on July 19, 2011


winna: “If I asked which media organization that person represented, and they said they were a blogger? Hell yes it would be creepy. And ludicrous, but the creepy would be pretty strong competition.”

Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: &ldquoIf you were representing an actual newspaper, television show, or other media outlet, I'd be pretty intimidated by such a confrontation but I don't think "creepy" would be the word.”

Seriously? I'm having a hard time processing this. You guys would be creeped out and/or intimidated by this?

me: Hi there – I read about your situation online, and I was thinking about writing a piece about you. Can I schedule an interview where we could sit down and talk about it? I can promise it would be respectful.

you: No, I'd rather not.

me: Okay. [walks away]


If that's creepiness or intimidation, what isn't creepiness or intimidation? Seriously, I appreciate it if you – rightly or wrongly – view bloggers and "real journalists" as different. But – is it really odd if someone asks you a question, lets you answer, and respects your space if you ask to be left alone? If that's the case, how is journalism supposed to work at all?
posted by koeselitz at 12:38 PM on July 19, 2011


Even if it's not something you'd do, that doesn't make someone who finds it unremarkable a threat.

You're on my porch, asking personal questions that are none of your fucking business. That makes you a threat. Choose your questions and tone carefully.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:38 PM on July 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I agree that this is a bit much. What did you hope to accomplish by driving by the house?

You could check if the house looks currently lived in (as opposed to whatever date the Google Streetview was taken). Additionally, you could check that the name on the mailbox matched that in question. Those are both completely reasonable.

I don't really think that knocking on the door of someone's house in search of information is a terribly creepy thing to do. I mean, they don't have to answer (I don't answer the door if I don't know who it is). As long as you actually fuck off when someone tells you to fuck off, then it's not stalkery at all.

No, I'm sorry, that *is* a terribly creepy thing to do. For someone to show up at your door looking for you specifically without you giving them your address or inviting them? That is straight up creepy. Having had friend from IRC call me in my dorm room by searching my college's very public phone directory? It was lovely to hear from them, but yeah, it was creepy. So if it was a complete, possible hostile stranger? I'd be freaked out.

As for not answering the door if you don't know who it is - well, yes, I do that too, but I live in city(ish) walk-up with no view of the front door or intercom system. I get a little freaked if a friend who has been to my place before drops by unannounced. Additionally, there's not much of a chance anyone at the door could tell if I was home. Growing up in a suburb, we always answered the door. You could see if it was safe through a window and the person at the door could probably tell that you were home.
posted by maryr at 12:39 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


If that's creepiness or intimidation, what isn't creepiness or intimidation?

It's creepy that a random stranger on the internet read about my story and is now standing on my doorstep, out of the blue, wanting to talk about it. Does this really need explaining?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:41 PM on July 19, 2011 [19 favorites]


And koeselitz, yes part of living in this society is that you always run a risk of random violence or even just unpleasant encounters, but dispersing someone's address in the context of a discussion about what a bad person they've (possibly) been and saying that's there's no issue at all with showing up at their door and demanding information unnecessarily and dramatically increases that risk.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 12:42 PM on July 19, 2011


You heard it here, folks: knocking on a stranger's door with allegations of being involved in an illegal online scam is the same as asking someone for directions.

Oh come on, you're down to sarcasm now? The point is clearly that we are all approached all the time by people wanting our attention when we may not be thrilled to give it. I find it simply impossible to believe you're a working journalist yet have never approached someone to ask them a question they might not want to be asked.

Perhaps you believe that working for a large corporation or a daily or doing it full-time or some other classification gives you a moral right I do not have, but the law does not and I don't think common sense does either. I may not always be covered by shield laws because but the distinction between myself and many print weeklies is small and shrinking; to be quite frank, my daily circulation exceeds that of a lot of small-town papers. One of our contemporaries, DCist, has an estimated circulation that rivals what the Washington Post claims as the circulation for their free tabloid called Express.

But I stand by my position - which is probably just as biased by my circumstance as yours is by profession - that it's irrelevant.: I believe in the right of citizens to investigate matters of public interest and ask questions regardless of their eventual goals (or lack thereof) to publish.
posted by phearlez at 12:43 PM on July 19, 2011


So bloggers can't be serious journalists?

I was going to carefully explain how people like Josh Marshall are in a different category than all the other people who claim to be journalists based on their blogspot site, but was stymied by the fact that I can't imagine anyone who worked hard enough at journalism to get to that level who would think it appropriate to drive up to a random house based on some lackadaisical internets sleuthing and ask of the inhabitants whether or not they were involved in a purported shady internet charity scam.

If that's creepiness or intimidation, what isn't creepiness or intimidation? Seriously, I appreciate it if you – rightly or wrongly – view bloggers and "real journalists" as different. But – is it really odd if someone asks you a question, lets you answer, and respects your space if you ask to be left alone? If that's the case, how is journalism supposed to work at all?

If I went around a neighborhood asking questions of someone who may have nothing to do with the story altogether in the hopes of becoming the next Matt Drudge or something based on the aforementioned lackadaisical internets sleuthing?

I'm really having trouble understand how that's journalism, so yes, it's creepy. It's just impertinence and prying with no discernible public benefit.
posted by winna at 12:44 PM on July 19, 2011


Seriously, I appreciate it if you – rightly or wrongly – view bloggers and "real journalists" as different.

Were someone standing on my doorstep, it would make an enormous difference if someone could hand me a business card indicating who they were, where they worked, who they worked for, and the history of the organization, not to mention the potential to contact their supervisor. There is a far greater chance a "real journalist" could do this, whether or not that makes them a better reporter than a blogger.

Besides which, our imaginary blogger in this conversation seems to be less a journalist and more an interested party. It's not someone writing a story, it's someone verifying your story.
posted by maryr at 12:45 PM on July 19, 2011


phearlez, if you can find the address, you can find a phone number - maybe even a work number. Your mode seems more sensational (ego-driven) than journalistic.
posted by Surfurrus at 12:46 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The point is clearly that we are all approached all the time by people wanting our attention when we may not be thrilled to give it. I find it simply impossible to believe you're a working journalist yet have never approached someone to ask them a question they might not want to be asked.

And my point is that when you compare showing up on someone's doorstep bearing allegations of being involved in an illegal online scam to asking for directions you are engaging in a false equivalency.

If you want to do this right, I strongly suggest you try other means of contacting him, repeatedly, such as by phone or email. If this leads to no fruition, and you still feel as though you want to play Dateline Ambush, at the very least bring someone with video recording equipment. Should he get defensive and decides that he doesn't feel like talking to some random blogger looking for posting material, you might want to have a video record on hand in case things get ugly.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:48 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was going to carefully explain how people like Josh Marshall are in a different category than all the other people who claim to be journalists based on their blogspot site, but was stymied by the fact that I can't imagine anyone who worked hard enough at journalism to get to that level who would think it appropriate to drive up to a random house based on some lackadaisical internets sleuthing and ask of the inhabitants whether or not they were involved in a purported shady internet charity scam.

Have you never seen local news?
posted by empath at 12:49 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, I guess "creepy" is somewhat subjective.

But if that's creepy, it seems to me that a little creepiness is the cost of a free society.

In thinking about these issues of privacy, it strikes me that even fifteen years ago they were not issues at all. That's because we've been afforded a whole private life by the internet, with some expectations of a certain kind of anonymity, that we've never had before. Before the internet, if you did things in public, you did things in public; you could expect that maybe people'd knock on your door to talk to you about them, or call you and ask about them, et cetera. Maybe they'd be news writers. Maybe they'd be curious neighbors. But that was the meaning of the public sphere.

Now, we all have an expectation of a certain kind of anonymity, and abrogating that anonymity feels like it threatens all of us. And that's understandable; I mean, I can at least sympathize with those who might feel it's "creepy" for someone to break the wall between RL and internet-world intentionally and blatantly. That anonymity is therefore treated with respect even when we're talking about someone who has done very public things – organizing nonprofit trusts and raffles and benefits, for example – that is, it's treated as 'anonymity' even when people name themselves and are open about who they are and what they're doing, sharing private details of their lives with the world.

I think there's a contradiction here that won't quite stand. And maybe that means renegotiating the standards of what is decent and what's not, of what is proper contact and what is unacceptable.

Still, in the name of freedom of speech and freedom of information – in the name of the freedom of the press that I believe is essential to the function of our nation – I don't think we can draw the lines here. I think there's a certain amount of contact of this type that we'll have to learn to be tolerant of.
posted by koeselitz at 12:49 PM on July 19, 2011


Still, in the name of freedom of speech and freedom of information – in the name of the freedom of the press that I believe is essential to the function of our nation – I don't think we can draw the lines here. I think there's a certain amount of contact of this type that we'll have to learn to be tolerant of.

I agree with your larger point, and think you've explained why I think it's creepy better than I did, but I still think that the contact should match the initial state of the 'public' interaction.

So calling or emailing the person, or calling the number associated with the house, while I'd be perplexed and put off by it, would be far less of an escalation than going physically to someone's home who may or may not have anything to do with whatever internet thing is being investigated.
posted by winna at 12:54 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


... in the name of freedom of speech and freedom of information ... we'll have to learn to be tolerant ... and so we'd just have to fall on the second amendment if we aren't??


... faustian bargain ...
posted by Surfurrus at 12:55 PM on July 19, 2011


But if that's creepy, it seems to me that a little creepiness is the cost of a free society.

You don't have to shout "Fire!" to prove free speech exists. Just because you *can* do something doesn't mean you *should* do something.

I don't think anyone is saying it's illegal or verboten to show up at this guy's doorstep. I think folks are (I know I am) just applying the golden rule. Especially while there is no proof that this guy has purposely committed fraud.
posted by maryr at 12:56 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


(Er, basically I agree with what winna just said.)
posted by maryr at 12:57 PM on July 19, 2011


You're on my porch, asking personal questions that are none of your fucking business. That makes you a threat.

Not really. If you tell me to go away and I don't, then I'm a threat.

That's what it all comes down to, I think -- it's not that approaching someone and speaking to them is what's inappropriate, it's what happens next. If someone knocks on my door and I tell him to go away, does he keep knocking? Does he try to grill me through the door? Does he walk around my house and look in my windows? Does he sic his friends on me? Does he start calling me? Does he get his friends to call me? All of those things are bad and would have me on the phone to the cops in no time, but the act of knocking on my door and asking to speak to me? That in itself isn't special.
posted by Gator at 12:58 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


And my point is that when you compare showing up on someone's doorstep bearing allegations of being involved in an illegal online scam to asking for directions you are engaging in a false equivalency.

You seem to be unable to stop projecting some sort of tone and content onto what would happen when someone you don't consider a journalist knocks on a door. Why would I or anyone make "allegations of being involved in an illegal online scam" to someone just because they open the door at that address? You certainly can't have missed my repeated statements that this may be a bogus address.

Why do you think I'd start throwing allegations at someone that they were criminals rather than asking for this Mike person and explaining the situation if there's no such person there and/or they ask why I'm there?

I suspect that a lot of you who find this so completely abhorrent are assuming some sort of extreme method of talking to someone that isn't typical in life. Maybe you just don't notice all the human contact of this sort you have every day because it's simply a polite conversation rather than the dramatic event you're seeing in your head here?
posted by phearlez at 1:06 PM on July 19, 2011


There's no real polite way to ask people if they're internet charlatans that I can think of.

Although I have been famed in song and story for my lack of the smooth, so perhaps I'm just not able to conceptualize it.
posted by winna at 1:09 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think there's two basically correct points being made here, which is the basis for all my favorite fights.

Creepy Side: Having someone connect you to your online activity and come ask you questions about it at your house is pretty unsettling. This would be true even if you were only visited by a stream of conventional reporters. But it is especially true if you can't figure out what your visitor is up to. The difference between a reporter from a local TV station (or a Jehovah's Witness, or someone asking for directions) on the one hand, and a representative of the internet on the other, is that I know the first person's motivations and can predict what they'll do next. The second person could be harmless, or could be dangerous -- I have no explanation for their behavior so it's hard to guess.

Freedom Side: At the same time, it's true that we have the fundamental right to walk up to (virtually) anyone's door and ask them (virtually) anything we want. There are some pretty important freedoms of association and expression underpinning that right. If anyone was suggesting that it should be illegal to knock on a stranger's door (lacking a no-trespass sign), they'd be wrong. And some very important things are discovered because people (journalists or not) walk up and ask a question that someone was hoping wouldn't be asked.

So in conclusion: yes, you do have the absolute right to look up a stranger's address on the internet and go ask them whatever you want. But if you do that, you can expect that they'll find it pretty creepy, and may have reasonable fear for their safety, because the only things they know about you are that you behave unexpectedly and know where they sleep. So if you're going to do that, you should have a really good reason. I doubt there's one right answer, but in most cases I probably would decide it wasn't worth it. And I would sure as heck never encourage some random person on the internet to do it.
posted by jhc at 1:14 PM on July 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


You seem to be unable to stop projecting some sort of tone and content onto what would happen when someone you don't consider a journalist knocks on a door.

Let's take a look at what you said:
I say with all seriousness that my experience of living in society is clearly very different than many people's here. I am approached by random individuals all the time, on the street, by phone, by email, and at my front door. Sometimes they know nothing about me and ask directions, or for money, or if I'd be willing to answer a variety of questions for their survey.
Here, you are very clearly putting your plan on the same keel as asking someone for directions. It has nothing to do with tone, but it does have to do with content.

Why would I or anyone make "allegations of being involved in an illegal online scam" to someone just because they open the door at that address? You certainly can't have missed my repeated statements that this may be a bogus address.

And assuming it were an legitimate address, I'm guessing the entire iPad debacle would come up in conversation, yes? Is that not the point of your visit?

Look, I love it when people get a wild hair up their ass and want to dig. That's awesome. There needs to be more people like that in the field. I'm just saying that there's ways of going about it, and I've offered suggestions. You might get a more compliant interview subject if you approach them professionally, say, by email or phone, with your queries and concerns, saying you want to give them a chance to clear the air, tell their side of the story, and so forth. The Ambush is a cheap, sensationalist tactic when not used as a last resort, and I strongly urge you to avoid using this at all possible costs but, if you insist on it, do bring a video person.

posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:15 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Given that the guy has received messages that he interprets as threatening or even blackmail, it should be obvious that approaching him unannounced in person is a bad idea. If you feel you must contact him, do it through his preferred, specified channel of email. It won't have the immediacy or dramatic impact of a face-to-face encounter, but that's the point then isn't it?
posted by scalefree at 1:15 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I suspect that a lot of you who find this so completely abhorrent are assuming some sort of extreme method of talking to someone that isn't typical in life. Maybe you just don't notice all the human contact of this sort you have every day because it's simply a polite conversation rather than the dramatic event you're seeing in your head here?

What I find unnerving is not having conversations with strangers who appear at my door. Human contact with strangers in my book is wonderful when it's by chance or arranged in advance. But in this case there's an element of planning that would make me uncomfortable.

A lot of people go out of their way to conceal their home addresses on the internet. I don't know if this guy did or not, but you came across his address online and went out of your way to visit his house. Taking it from one dimension, internet, to another, real life, without his prior consent or notifying him, is somewhat odd.

I realize you did not meet him. I am speaking largely in the hypothetical sense.
posted by vincele at 1:15 PM on July 19, 2011


I also want to make it clear I'm not mad about this or something. I love talking about this subject, and I get pretty excited about it. So much so, in fact, that I forgot to close my italics tag after "... You certainly can't have missed my repeated statements that this may be a bogus address."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:17 PM on July 19, 2011


There's no real polite way to ask people if they're internet charlatans that I can think of.

"Are you an internet charlatans, please?"
posted by davejay at 1:18 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Davejay brings it home!

It's an interesting question, how the internet spaces and the physical spaces connect.

Although all this has reaffirmed my refusal to ever answer the doorbell. No one will ever find out if I'm an internet charlatan that way muhwhaha!
posted by winna at 1:24 PM on July 19, 2011


For what it's worth, a lot of old-school journalists view this kind of "creepiness" as their duty in uncovering stories. And you can be pretty forward over the telephone, too:
Once the police arrive at a crime scene in force, [reporter] Edna [Buchanan] often finds it more effective to return to the Herald and work by telephone... With a cross-indexed directory, she can phone neighbors who might have seen what happened and then ducked back into their own house for a bolstering drink. She will try to phone the victim's next of kin. "I thought you'd like to say something," she'll say to someone's bereaved wife or daughter. "People care what he was like." Most reporters would sooner cover thirty weeks of water-board hearings than call a murder victim's next of kin, but Edna tries to look on the positive side. "For some people, it's like a catharsis," she told me one day. "They want to talk about what kind of person their husband was, or their father. Also, it's probably the only time his name is going to be in the paper. It's their last shot. They want to give him a good sendoff."

There are people, of course, who are willing to forgo the sendoff just to be left alone. Some of them respond to Edna's call by shouting at her for having the gall to trouble them at such a time, and then slamming down the telephone. Edna has a standard procedure for dealing with that. She waits sixty seconds and then phones back. "This is Edna Buchanan at the Miami Herald," she says, using her full name and identification for civilians. "I think we were cut off." In sixty seconds, she figures, whoever answered the phone might reconsider. Someone else in the room might say, "You should have talked to that reporter." Someone else in the room might decide to spare the upset party the pain of answering the phone the next time it rings, and might be a person who is more willing to talk. A couple of years ago, Edna called the home of a TV-repair-shop operator in his sixties who had been killed in a robbery attempt—a crime she had already managed to separate from the run-of-the-mill armed-robbery murder. ("On New Year's Eve Charles Curzio stayed later than planned at his small TV repair shop to make sure customers would have their sets in time to watch the King Orange Jamboree Parade," Edna's lead began. "His kindness cost his life.") One of Curzio's sons answered, and, upon learning who it was, angrily hung up. "Boy, did I hate dialling the second time," Edna told me. "But if I hadn't I might have lost them for good." This time, the phone was answered by another of Curzio's sons, and he was willing to talk. He had some eloquent things to say about his father and about capital punishment. ("My father got no trial, no stay of execution, no Supreme Court hearing, nothing. Just some maniac who smashed his brains in with a rifle butt.") If the second call hadn't been productive, Edna told me, she would have given up: "The third call would be harassment."
— Calvin Trillin, Covering The Cops, 1986

posted by koeselitz at 1:30 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


"You're on my porch, asking personal questions that are none of your fucking business. That makes you a threat. Choose your questions and tone carefully."

C'mon, it's not like he's a lost Asian on Halloween.
posted by klangklangston at 1:31 PM on July 19, 2011


There's no real polite way to ask people if they're internet charlatans that I can think of.

If they've given me cause to suspect that they are internet charlatans, there is no reason why politeness need be extended to them.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:36 PM on July 19, 2011


For what it's worth, a lot of old-school journalists view this kind of "creepiness" as their duty in uncovering stories.

The story you provided shows a good example of getting an interview through persistence, and differs from this case in that a) the reporter tries first by phone and didn't just show up on that person's doorstep (which is a great way to ensure a hostile interview, or that you will blow your chances of getting any kind of answers at all), b) happens to work at the Miami Herald, identifying herself as such right off the bat, and isn't just some random blogger.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:36 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, a lot of old-school journalists view this kind of "creepiness" as their duty in uncovering stories.

Except that commenters on a web forum — bloggers — are not journalists. Not even the old-school kind.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:38 PM on July 19, 2011


Dear internetz, please do not butt into grifters' or heroes' lives unannounced. Srsly.
posted by butt elephant at 1:39 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


And assuming it were an legitimate address, I'm guessing the entire iPad debacle would come up in conversation, yes? Is that not the point of your visit?

Of course it would, but you use a statement about "allegations" and it implies a way you believe someone would approach this situation. I don't know about your professors but mine stated that an interview is a conversation.

Hello, can I speak to Mike please. Well, I'm looking into a story about some online contests run at a website called MarissasBunny, are you familiar with it? It's written by a man about his special needs daughter.

No? Well the registration records for the website list this as the owner's address. Could it be someone else who lives here or a friend using your address without your permission? The person writing at that website has been taking donations and running contests promising ipads as prizes, and now he's gone back on that promise. At least one person claims to have reported him to the local police. Has anyone else contacted you about this?

Yes that's you? There's a lot of very upset people; you've offered to give refunds if anyone wants them, has anyone requested them? Have you given them? You've claimed before there actually were ipads, are they in your possession? What happened here? Would you like to tell your side of the story?

Etc whatever. It may or may not be a comfortable conversation for anyone but I flat-out reject the idea that it would be some sort of confrontational trauma if the people answering the door have no idea what I'm talking about. Mostly it would just be confusing, I think, depending on how internet-savvy the folks answering the door are.

Thanks for that quote, koeselitz. I grew up in Miami reading the Herald when it was at its best (when it had the Miami News competing and pushing them) and remember Edna Buchanan's byline.

Marisa (I can shorten this, yes?), I think that quote implies that Buchanan worked the phone not out of a sense of obligation but because she found it more expedient once the police were on the scene and folks were less likely to answer the door.

Be that as it may, if modern journalism believes that it is always verbotten to simply approach someone to ask questions without calling/emailing ahead and providing them an alternative to having to say no to someone's face then I can comfortably state that I disagree with modern journalism. It wouldn't be the first time.

If they've given me cause to suspect that they are internet charlatans, there is no reason why politeness need be extended to them.

Politeness should be extended to everyone under every possible circumstance. I merely dispute that politeness demands never putting someone in a circumstance where they might have to say no.
posted by phearlez at 1:42 PM on July 19, 2011


Except that commenters on a web forum — bloggers — are not journalists. Not even the old-school kind.

How do you define journalists these days? What, exactly separates Matt Drudge from Woodward and Bernstein?

I recently was the event organizer for a big sporting event, and we had some press turn up. About half the people there representing The Written Word (ie: not radio or tv) were freelance. Two of them were bloggers, and one had called the local weekly asking if he could get issued credentials and was writing an article basically on spec for them.

"The Mainstream Media" isn't going to pick up on this - certainly not to the point of solving what went down. If this is going to be investigated, we're all we've got.
posted by anastasiav at 1:46 PM on July 19, 2011


Be that as it may, if modern journalism believes that it is always verbotten to simply approach someone to ask questions without calling/emailing ahead and providing them an alternative to having to say no to someone's face then I can comfortably state that I disagree with modern journalism. It wouldn't be the first time.

And that's your prerogative. I'm just trying to offer some suggestions on how you can better get your questions answered. Ambushing tends to make subjects incredibly defensive and unwilling to answer questions. It's a great tactic for setting up a story that seeks to prove that the subject "has something to hide", if that's your goal from the start, but it will make it far less likely to get your questions answered. So call or write first, repeatedly, is what I'm suggesting.

I respect your aspirations but keep in mind that to many in the general public, a random blogger is not a journalist. So you need to be a bit more cautious if you want to get answers. If all you're after is springing on this guy and getting him all flustered and clammed-up, go for it.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:47 PM on July 19, 2011


Blazecock Pileon: “Except that commenters on a web forum — bloggers — are not journalists. Not even the old-school kind.”

I think you're confusing several things. Commenters on a web forum are not journalists simply by virtue of them being bloggers. But they might be journalists. In fact, they might be journalists even if they have not published their work in traditional media.

Or else maybe I have no idea what you mean by "journalist." Either way, the fact that I haven't heard of the publication surely isn't the standard by which they are or are not journalists, is it?
posted by koeselitz at 1:55 PM on July 19, 2011


What, exactly separates Matt Drudge from Woodward and Bernstein?

I'm not sure I would call Drudge a blogger, someone who comments on news by way of putting snappy titles to other people's hard work. He is more of a tabloid news aggregator. So it's not a good example, comparing a news aggregator with real journalists who interview subjects, do independent verification, write stories, etc.

That said, the line between blogging and journalism draws long and wide, and the matter generally seems to come to courtrooms on the basis of established standards for verification, demonstrated reporting that can be rationally argued is done in and serves a clear public interest, etc.

This is an interesting and nuanced subject, and some operations have turned from comment aggregators into news outlets, but very clearly, some random outraged user on Metafilter walking up to John Q. Public's house and asking questions is not reportage by any sensible, established metric.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:57 PM on July 19, 2011


IMO, if you publish news, you're a journalist. I don't care if you're just posting a video of a traffic stop on youtube.
posted by empath at 1:58 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Besides, this:

Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: “The story you provided shows a good example of getting an interview through persistence, and differs from this case in that... the reporter... happens to work at the Miami Herald, identifying herself as such right off the bat, and isn't just some random blogger.”

Blazecock Pileon: “Except that commenters on a web forum — bloggers — are not journalists. Not even the old-school kind.”

... seems circular to me; or at least it misses my point.

My point was that several people here (like philip_random) have apparently been saying: "this isn't what a real journalist would do. A real journalist would act very differently." Well, here's an example of a "real" journalist doing just this. So saying "yes, but she's a real journalist!" kind of brings it back to my point: by what standard?
posted by koeselitz at 2:01 PM on July 19, 2011


When I tweet my farts I'm freakin' Robert Fisk.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 2:01 PM on July 19, 2011


Robert Fisk freaks that easily?
posted by Surfurrus at 2:46 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'd think showing up in person *after* being ignored or rebuffed by telephone/mail would be worse than just showing up in person.

It's funny to think that someone would need permission to knock on the door - that is a modern thing. I think once upon a time the idea would be that you'd knock on the door first to try to obtain permission for whatever else you wanted to do.

In an age of e-mail and cell phones and text messages and a gazillion ways to get a hold of somebody, a first contact by door is somewhat surprising, but I don't think it's inherently creepy if the contact-er does it in a respectful way. Come at reasonable time of day, preferably when it's light outside. Knock. Stand back a decent distance from the door. Be dressed appropriately. Speak politely and don't make assumptions or sudden moves.

Sure, if you can hand the person who answers a card from the Wall Street Journal or Newsweek, that'll probably get you a lot further than the name of your personal website, but I don't see how it's inherently rude or creepy to ask. Especially, you know, when approaching someone who's actively working on making themselves a public figure over the internet.
posted by Salamandrous at 2:46 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of the bloggers that "broke" the story showed up in the thread.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 2:53 PM on July 19, 2011


What, exactly separates Matt Drudge from Woodward and Bernstein?

I'm currently reading All The President's Men (yet again) and I'm quite amused that we're arguing about going knocking on some bloke's door when Woodward and Bernstein seemingly devoted a hell of a lot of time to knocking on random people's doors and cold-calling people. They'd say "We heard you might be interested in talking to us." when that was total bullshit--they just thought the person might have information and no one had suggested the person would be interested in talking to the press.

I will admit that every time I read the book, I do wonder why it's acceptable to go knocking on people's doors and expect them to talk to you just because you're a reporter.
posted by hoyland at 3:03 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I do wonder why it's acceptable to go knocking on people's doors and expect them to talk to you just because you're a reporter.

Whether it's acceptable is clearly a matter of great contention :)

As to why they talk to you, you can hear it in a journalism class or a seminar on dating: People talk because they like to talk about themselves and they like to share what they know. You don't need to be a reporter or a seduction artist to see it at work - just consider how many times in a day people give you advice you haven't even asked for.
posted by phearlez at 3:11 PM on July 19, 2011


It's hard to approach someone and expect them to talk to you, even if that person is a public figure -- someone whose theoretical job description includes talking to reporters.

As Joan Didion says: "I do not like to make telephone calls, and would not like to count the mornings I have sat on some Best Western motel bed somewhere and tried to force myself to put through the call to the assistant district attorney."
posted by virago at 3:27 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Phearlez, your takeaway from this thread could have been: "Wow, clearly there are a lot of people who feel like there are distinct lines that I'm crossing. I might want to think about why that is, at the very least because it could affect my chances with my intended interview subject."

Instead of: "Wow, ALL the people who think I'm being creepy are clearly wrong because I'm a JOURNALIST! Doing JOURNALISM!"
posted by danny the boy at 3:53 PM on July 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Unless you've found the door into my head a la Being John Malkovitch you cannot actually know what my takeaways are from this thread, danny the boy.

However I think you are applying your bias here rather than reading my words if you think anything I have said indicates that I believe I am engaged in some noble pursuit of in-all-caps-JOURNALISM! and it's a get out of free card for any and all behavior.

My opinion on talking to strangers and the right of us all to do so - and their right to tell us to buzz off - is exactly the opposite of believing that being a JOURNALIST! who is doing JOURNALISM! has some sort of magic power or authority. It is based on my opinions about being a member of an open society where people manage to interact with each other all the time.
posted by phearlez at 4:10 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


danny the boy: “Phearlez, your takeaway from this thread could have been: ‘Wow, clearly there are a lot of people who feel like there are distinct lines that I'm crossing. I might want to think about why that is, at the very least because it could affect my chances with my intended interview subject.’“Instead of: ‘Wow, ALL the people who think I'm being creepy are clearly wrong because I'm a JOURNALIST! Doing JOURNALISM!’”

Man, I hate it when people do this condescending thing.

His point is that journalism is important, and if everybody here wants to ban journalism (as some seem to have indicated) then there are reasons why that might be seen as a bad idea.

But no – go ahead with your "ew! Asking questions is creepy! Stay away, creepy man!" line of argument. Meanwhile, in the world, questions will be asked of other people. As offensive as people might find it, they might actually have to interact with other human beings. Painful, I know, but necessary.
posted by koeselitz at 4:17 PM on July 19, 2011


What? Who wants to ban journalism?

You really wouldn't find it creepy if I found out your name and address and came to talk to you about something you wrote on Metafilter?

Or is that ok, if I say I'm doing it to research a "blog post"?

Whether or not you want it to be true, people generally have pretty structured definitions about who a "journalist" is, and some guy form the internet who has no institutional affiliation, ain't it.
posted by danny the boy at 4:43 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not really. If you tell me to go away and I don't, then I'm a threat.

No, you're not getting it. You're on my porch asking personal questions, you're a threat, period. It doesn't matter what you do next, because what I'm going to do first is come out of my house and get in your face, so at the very least you leave me the fuck alone. I've done it before (weird neighbor troubles) and I'll most definitely do it again. And that was for a situation that didn't involve him asking personal questions, just nosy ones. That and they want raise taxes here and I'm pissy about that.

So yeah, you go right ahead and decide that "No this really isn't a threatening situation". It doesn't matter what you think, it matters what the person on the other side of the door thinks. If you want to step into that, that's your business, I'm just reminding you that you may not understand what you're doing and the consequences of "attacking" a less than ethical person at their home.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:43 PM on July 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


And for the record, if any of you show up at my doorstep to talk to me about something I wrote on the internet, I'm calling the police. Because people who no clue about what is acceptable behavior... have no clue about what is acceptable behavior.
posted by danny the boy at 4:50 PM on July 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


danny the boy: “What? Who wants to ban journalism?”

"It's creepy" = "don't do it." "Don't do it" = "it should not be allowed." This is pretty simple, and the implication runs through this thread: people should not ever have to talk to someone they don't know, regardless of whether they're a journalist or not.

“You really wouldn't find it creepy if I found out your name and address and came to talk to you about something you wrote on Metafilter?”

Nope. I appreciate that I'm a weird case, but the fact is that "creepy" really doesn't seem to be a rational or describable quality here. It seems at this point to be entirely subjective. And that's worrisome.

“Or is that ok, if I say I'm doing it to research a "blog post"?”

Or is that okay if I'm a "private investigator"? Or is it okay if I'm a police officer? These are muddy waters.

My objection was to the claim made by many above that if anyone contacts this Mike person for any reason via the approach of walking up to his door and knocking, it is invariably creepy. This seems silly, and moreover seems to lean toward prohibiting all sorts of necessary and natural behaviors.

“Whether or not you want it to be true, people generally have pretty structured definitions about who a "journalist" is, and some guy form the internet who has no institutional affiliation, ain't it.”

People generally have all kinds of silly ideas. The silly ideas people in general have shouldn't be a basis of law, much less morality.

Brandon Blatcher: “No, you're not getting it. You're on my porch asking personal questions, you're a threat, period. It doesn't matter what you do next, because what I'm going to do first is come out of my house and get in your face, so at the very least you leave me the fuck alone. I've done it before (weird neighbor troubles) and I'll most definitely do it again. And that was for a situation that didn't involve him asking personal questions, just nosy ones. That and they want raise taxes here and I'm pissy about that.”

The fact that you hate people does not mean that they are always and in all cases a threat to you personally, no matter whose "property" they happen to be on.

danny the boy: “And for the record, if any of you show up at my doorstep to talk to me about something I wrote on the internet, I'm calling the police.”

And another police dispatcher rolls his eyes widely.
posted by koeselitz at 4:54 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Funny, were I live, the police would come a day later if at all. Kind of like anarchy!
posted by clavdivs at 4:57 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cops only come if there's blood or teenagers being loud.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 4:59 PM on July 19, 2011


Here, I'll try to give a better account of what I mean.

danny the boy: “You really wouldn't find it creepy if I found out your name and address and came to talk to you about something you wrote on Metafilter? Or is that ok, if I say I'm doing it to research a "blog post"? Whether or not you want it to be true, people generally have pretty structured definitions about who a "journalist" is, and some guy form the internet who has no institutional affiliation, ain't it.”

Your mistake here is that you seem to think that I'm arguing that there are no cases where it's creepy for a person to walk up to your door and start asking questions. But I've admitted over and over again that there are many circumstances where that is creepy. My point is that you're wrong when you say that it's creepy for one person to walk up to another's door unannounced in all circumstances.

So you can sit here all day and try to come up with circumstances that you think I must believe are creepy. It doesn't have any bearing whatsoever on the issue. My point is this:

If someone you don't know walks up to your door and knocks, with the hope of finding out about you by asking questions, it is not necessarily creepy. There are perfectly legitimate situations where this might be comfortable, I believe, for everyone in this thread. And the insistence that there is no right way to talk to strangers is really odd to me.
posted by koeselitz at 5:00 PM on July 19, 2011


"It's creepy" = "don't do it." "Don't do it" = "it should not be allowed." This is pretty simple...

Wait, what? This is not simple, this is a huuuuge leap of logic.
posted by lalex at 5:01 PM on July 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


If someone you don't know walks up to your door and knocks, with the hope of finding out about you by asking questions, it is not necessarily creepy. There are perfectly legitimate situations where this might be comfortable, I believe, for everyone in this thread. And the insistence that there is no right way to talk to strangers is really odd to me.

You seem to be looking for a reason to argue and incapable of understanding what other people are saying, while insisting that your way is the right way. That's different.

The fact that you hate people does not mean that they are always and in all cases a threat to you personally, no matter whose "property" they happen to be on.

Dude, people don't have a problem believing that not everyone is a threat to them. The problem is that they can't necessarily know who is and isn't a threat and they're not going to treat everyone nicely because they can't tell who is and isn't a threat. I'm not sure what that's a difficult to understand.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:16 PM on July 19, 2011


IANAL, but...

There's clearly precedent for what the British call doorstepping a potential source of news - standing on public property (or someone else's property) and questioning or photographing them when they emerge from their homes. However, doorsteppers are sensitive to issues of trespass - so, for example, one photographer anecdotally ordered flowers to be delivered to a target, and then photographed the target when they opened the door - the delivery boy being blameless, the photographer not being on private property. Of course, it's harder to do that with interviews.

Entering private land without permission, intentionally or negligently, is the tort of trespass of land (your jurisdiction may vary). If a delivery person walks up your driveway and rings your doorbell in the doing of their job, they are assumed to have implicit permission unless or until it is stated otherwise - but as soon as you tell them to leave, they have to, or they are performing constructive trespass. Jehovah's witnesses, for reference, should not enter private land with clear "no trespassing" signs, and should leave if told that they are trespassing.

If someone wants to deny you access to their home, their lawn (if you are a darn kid) or their driveway they generally have the right to do so, and if you remain in or on it they have the right to call the police and have you removed and/or arrested. You have the right to ask questions over their hedge unless or until you cause a nuisance or violate another law.

If we're looking for unusual journalistic behavior, it isn't driving past an address of interest to a local story. It's making a statement in a public forum, under one's own name, about the as-yet-unproven guilt or innocence of the subject of a story one intends to cover before investigating, before filing copy and while naming your publication.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:33 PM on July 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure what that's a difficult to understand. I'm not sure why that's a difficult thing to understand.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:33 PM on July 19, 2011


One more try, Brandon.
posted by maryr at 5:34 PM on July 19, 2011


If someone you don't know walks up to your door and knocks, with the hope of finding out about you by asking questions, it is not necessarily creepy.

In Calvin Trillin's 1980 America I may have agreed with that -- after all, there was no way to send me email ahead of time. Now there is so little privacy anywhere in our lives; we have only our homes as private. The thought of someone 'stalking' (yes, that is the right word) anyone to their front door is far worse than creepy. How could the person ever feel safe in their own home again?

And crazed online vigilantes do exist (as we saw when one shot a doctor who performed abortions). I bring that up, not because I want to throw the charge of violence on this 'campaign to find the scammer' -- but because no one in this campaign can know what else they might be setting off. Even writing about this campaign could encourage unbalanced online lurkers. This is all very ugly.
posted by Surfurrus at 5:37 PM on July 19, 2011


If you tell me to go away and I don't, then I'm a threat.
That's what it all comes down to, I think -- it's not that approaching someone and speaking to them is what's inappropriate, it's what happens next.


Except that when you show up on my porch, I don't know that you're only approaching me. How do I know that you aren't going to punch me as soon as I open the door? Or as soon as you confirm my identity? Or if I don't answer your questions?

It is surprising when someone shows up at your door unexpectedly. It's strange when you don't know that person. It's creepy if this stranger seems to know personal details about you. It is threatening if they then bring up money troubles. Does that seem like a reasonable, or rather, understandable chain of responses? Ever watched on of those Repo shows? Sometimes you can watch this happen.

The point some of us are I am trying to make is not that showing up makes you a threat. The point is that showing up may (may not, it's true!) make Mike feel threatened. If you want to take steps to avoid what might happen if he feels threatened, I would recommend not ringing his doorbell (or at least having a good cover story and not asking any iPad-related questions). If you are willing to take the risk that he might feel threatened and become defensive and/or agressive, go for it.
posted by maryr at 5:43 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


My opinion on talking to strangers and the right of us all to do so - and their right to tell us to buzz off - is exactly the opposite of believing that being a JOURNALIST! who is doing JOURNALISM! has some sort of magic power or authority. It is based on my opinions about being a member of an open society where people manage to interact with each other all the time.

I, at least, am not faulting you for being curious, wanting more answers, and wanting to publish them online. My point is pretty much twofold: a) there are ways of accomplishing your task, some more beneficial towards your goal than others. I don't think ambushing is a method you should be reaching for at this stage - rather, try to set up something through other channels of communication that could actually result in getting answers, and b) your ideals aside, you have to recognize that people are just going to react differently to an actual working journalist showing up at their door and some blogger. To ignore this reality, or at least to not factor it in to how you approach your subject, because of your personal beliefs in what journalism entails is going to make things a lot harder for you.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:45 PM on July 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


One more try, Brandon.

Koeselitz, you're being stubborn and one day I will write a coherent sentence to show that fact.

But not today.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:24 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just put a sign up, Brandon.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:30 PM on July 19, 2011


On your gate. Not in front of Koeselitz.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:30 PM on July 19, 2011


How is this better than followers of Nancy Grace going human-flesh search engine on Casey Anthony, if they haven't done it already?

Granted, Mefites probably to a man/woman/trans despise Nancy Grace and the Casey Anthony Baby Killer whoopla.

But you are not the law. If he is a crook, the law will take an interest in iPad Guy. Leave him alone.
posted by bad grammar at 6:42 PM on July 19, 2011


At this point, maybe somebody should put up a sign in front of me. Heh

Okay, Brandon. *sigh* I guess I can cop to a bit of stubbornness.

I imagine what you're saying is this - stop me if I'm wrong:

When someone walks up to your house, unknown and unannounced, no matter what they look like or who they are, they are potentially a threat to you; and it's wholly understandable that you would, at the very least, take that into account in your interactions with them. This is regardless of their intentions or they hopes or dreams. And this principle which holds throughout civil society - on the bus, in the bank, on the street, etc - is particularly forceful on your turf, where you have more to lose and more to protect.

The other side of the coin is that people who walk up to your door and not intend a threat to you at all. In that sense, they might be wholly harmless to you in fact - but you don't know that, so you won't act that way. Nor should you.

So we were talking past each other, arguing two different things. I haven't thought about it yet, but it seems likely that that's what's going on in this thread in a more general sense, too.
posted by koeselitz at 6:58 PM on July 19, 2011


"I know where you live" is a classic gangster movie threat. Most people don't give strangers on their doorsteps the benefit of the doubt - strangers are usually required to provide evidence of their need for access to you or the domicile.

Of course bloggers can be journalists. But writing a blog is neither necessary nor sufficient to be a journalist. Showing up on someone's doorstep and announcing, "By dint of my blog, I am an unaffiliated volunteer journalist! Answer my questions!" is ridiculous, pretentious, unlikely to gain the desired result, and, yes, creepy.

Real journos, whether old media or new, carry press credentials to differentiate themselves from nosy lunatics and justify their access to (physical and virtual) spaces to which the general public isn't admitted.
posted by gingerest at 7:03 PM on July 19, 2011


To ignore this reality, or at least to not factor it in to how you approach your subject, because of your personal beliefs in what journalism entails is going to make things a lot harder for you.

You are discussing issues of probability of success. I, at this point, am only commenting on what I believe are the reasonable moral constraints about interacting with other human beings. While I have weighed Brandon's belief that anyone stepping onto his porch and engaging him in conversations is a DEFCON 3 level threat, I remain firm in my conviction that saying hello and conversing with people without 72 hours notice is short of Stalinism.
posted by phearlez at 7:28 PM on July 19, 2011


I remain firm in my conviction that saying hello and conversing with people without 72 hours notice is short of Stalinism.

That's not what you're doing, though, is it? You're either investigating a story or shooting the breeze. You may obscure which of those you are doing in conversation with your subject - although that brings up some issues, as well - but it's useful to be clear in your mind about which one you are doing.

The morals of conversation are different from the professional ethics of journalism, and for that matter also different from the legalities of trespass.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:37 PM on July 19, 2011


You're being disingenuous about your intentions. You're not stopping by to say hello and converse, you suspect him of internet malfeasance and you've taken it upon yourself to investigate him. No one (except Brandon Blatcher) is saying that no one should ever knock on someone's door, they are saying that sometimes journalism is best left to journalists and that not everyone who's motivated to investigate internet rumors in person will be as well-balanced and conscientious as you.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 7:37 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


internet malfeasance

I promise to use this phrase whenever possible.
posted by ryanrs at 7:48 PM on July 19, 2011


phearlez: “I remain firm in my conviction that saying hello and conversing with people without 72 hours notice is short of Stalinism.”

running order squabble fest: “That's not what you're doing, though, is it? You're either investigating a story or shooting the breeze. You may obscure which of those you are doing in conversation with your subject - although that brings up some issues, as well - but it's useful to be clear in your mind about which one you are doing. The morals of conversation are different from the professional ethics of journalism, and for that matter also different from the legalities of trespass.”

But it doesn't matter what he or anyone else is doing. That has nothing to do with the point. The position being debated is this: "it is creepy to approach the doorstep of someone you don't know without prior notice."

All he has to give is one example in which it isn't creepy to demonstrate that the position is not as generally correct as its statement makes it. And he's given more than one, I think.
posted by koeselitz at 7:51 PM on July 19, 2011


You are discussing issues of probability of success. I, at this point, am only commenting on what I believe are the reasonable moral constraints about interacting with other human beings.

Well, I'm not solely concerned about probabilities of success, but now that you mention it, I wonder why this distinction was made. If your motive is journalistic, you'd hope that you would want the story to be a success. This is not an unreasonable thing to assume, is it? Because otherwise it suggests your motive is more about making some sort of point.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:52 PM on July 19, 2011


villanelles at dawn: “No one (except Brandon Blatcher) is saying that no one should ever knock on someone's door... ”

That is distinctly what you and others directly implied, and I believe it's been said more than once. To quote you:

“If some random angry citizen who may or may not write a blog post about it later finds your address and knocks on your door you absolutely do not have [the guarantee that you know what's going on].”

... implying that you have no idea what any random citizen might be after if they walk up to your door and knock, and therefore it's "creepy" when someone you don't know does so.
posted by koeselitz at 7:55 PM on July 19, 2011


The position being debated is this: "it is creepy to approach the doorstep of someone you don't know without prior notice."

Only you are debating this particular point. Seriously, everyone else seems to be talking about whether it's creepy to go up to this particular guy's door and ask him about this particular issue. You are building a hell of a straw man over there, though, I'll give you that.
posted by dialetheia at 7:55 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The position being debated is this: "it is creepy to approach the doorstep of someone you don't know without prior notice."

"Yes, and that's why I shoot cookie-bearing Girl Scouts on sight," is not, I think, a position anyone has advanced in this thread.

There are plenty of good reasons why a stranger might knock on one's doorstep. How suspiciously you treat said stranger is a matter of personal preference/temperament and neighborhood sketchiness level, but I think most people have their antenna up in any such situation, simply because there's a stranger who is seeking access to their home.

There are things the stranger can do to defuse suspicion --- have credentials, be affiliated with a known organization, be a tiny wee girl, not act like a giant sketchball --- and there are things a stranger can do that would heighten suspicion to the point where pretty much any reasonable person would regard them as creepy --- say, seeming to know a lot of personal information about me though they are a complete stranger.
posted by Diablevert at 8:02 PM on July 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


koeselitz On preview - what dialetheia said. If that really is the issue, then fine - USPS. Approach doorsteps of people they don't know without prior notice. Not creepy. We can all now go home.

What phearlez actually said in re: creepy is this:

I consider it decidedly NOT creepy to knock on a door associated with someone who has defrauded a lot of people out of approximately $30,000 in order to determine if they actually live there or if someone is using the address fraudulently.

That's this particular guy and this particular issue.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:05 PM on July 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


What phearlez actually said in re: creepy is this:

I consider it decidedly NOT creepy to knock on a door associated with someone who has defrauded a lot of people out of approximately $30,000 in order to determine if they actually live there or if someone is using the address fraudulently.

That's this particular guy and this particular issue.


Yes! Come on, people, context.
posted by sweetkid at 8:26 PM on July 19, 2011


MStPT: These apps are use by both parents, educators and children together to ensure that the cognitive abilities they are designed to improve do make progress.

Asparagirl: the wide variety of apps out there actually make iPads the more practical, more mobile, and more affordable choice ... there's no proof that the iPad has in any way helped our son's life or physical or verbal delays, except for the part where it clearly did, and does, and we have the written quarterly reports from a slew of doctors charting his progress

Asparagirl, I value your anecdote and experience and thank you for sharing. I feel that you are misunderstanding my point, which is not about the Apple "brand" itself but about the strongly held notion of absolute relativity within assistive tech/apps ("It must be THIS ONE and no other!"), and the idea that milestone progression would not or could not happen without them (in fact, even in kids with PDD, we expect milestone development, just... slower, and weirdly skewed with unusual sequences accelerations and delays). There's a lot of hearsay without much hard data to support the notion that specific software items can either accelerate progress towards developmental milestones, or reduce milestone retardation. Too often with this tech, absolute time spent interacting with the UI is used as a proxy for milestone achievement but that's a pretty fuzzy reach. Unless you can show some kind of dose-response relationship differentially between softwares between the time spent and acceleration/reduction of retardation then you are contributing to a hothouse culture where parents in dire straits feel pressured to purchase specific tech and specific apps. Sadly, we know what is the single best tech for increasing the probability of successful socialisation and potential maximisation and that is 1:1 or 1:many time with focussed teachers and structured peer settings within a framework of equitable behavioural boundaries. But that's expensive and generally unavailable and so we deploy technological augmentation and substitutes and simulated software teaching instead to make up the numbers.
posted by meehawl at 8:26 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sadly, we know what is the single best tech for increasing the probability of successful socialisation and potential maximisation and that is 1:1 or 1:many time with focussed teachers and structured peer settings within a framework of equitable behavioural boundaries. But that's expensive and generally unavailable and so we deploy technological augmentation and substitutes and simulated software teaching instead to make up the numbers.

This probably varies depending on geography, but I think most special educators try to use a multitude of tools for encouraging cognitive development - these are tools being used with the children, in other words; not as a substitute for interaction with an educator but as a part of it.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:37 PM on July 19, 2011


Meehawl, what kind of authority do you have in this subject? Or is your opinion about as valuable as mine?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:37 PM on July 19, 2011


me: “The position being debated is this: ‘it is creepy to approach the doorstep of someone you don't know without prior notice.’”

dialetheia: “Only you are debating this particular point. Seriously, everyone else seems to be talking about whether it's creepy to go up to this particular guy's door and ask him about this particular issue. You are building a hell of a straw man over there, though, I'll give you that.”

Look, again, nobody in this thread has advocated going up and conducting an impromptu interview right there, confronting and pushing somebody when they have a right and expectation of privacy. If there's a straw man here, it's this invention of the fantasy that some of us here are advocating some kind of evil vigilante justice via home invasion. Like I said, it seems like everybody's talking past each other here. Maybe we agree with each other more than we'd like to admit.
posted by koeselitz at 9:10 PM on July 19, 2011


I think we're looking at it from different ends: you're taking the point of view of someone in their house and saying they can have no reasonable expectation that they are protected from anyone ever coming up and knocking on their door, and I agree. You live in the world, people knock on your door and it almost never ends in anything tragic. But I'm looking at it from the other end and saying we should not encourage the average unafilliated internet user to investigate these kinds of situations on their own by confronting (however politely) the potential con artist at their door. Not because it's wrong ever to go to someone's door expecting to talk to them, but because that kind of behavior can have very negative results when it's conducted by less than conscientious or well-intentioned people.

I'm not (at all!) accusing anyone in this thread of being the kind of person who is incapable of asking a stranger questions in a calm and restrained manner, but you don't have to pass an ethics exam to read this or the original thread. Today of all days we don't need to be reminded that journalists can and do act unethically, but they're easier to hold accountable, and they're easier to trust. As someone said upthread when you're handed a business card or a badge number you feel more secure. You're not going to get that when someone is on your porch saying they're from the internet.

We need to discourage that behavior for the same reason that we should have stricter gun control, not because there aren't plenty of people who can't use a gun safely, but because laxer controls would make it easier for those who can't use a gun safely to hurt someone. Maybe phearlez would make an excellent citizen journalist, but he's not everyone reading the thread.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:31 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can't think of a single instance of anyone with any experience with assistive technology suggesting that appropriate tech and software presents a substitute for qualified teachers and/or speech-language pathologists. As for specific tech and specific apps, the simple truth is that both the equipment and the software are key. Language system such as MinSpeak on PRC devices or Proloquo2Go on the iPad are designed to provide not just a kind of electronic PECS substitute. They are designed to develop learning patterns that guide in the development of language. The resulting benefits to non-verbal subjects is measurable and well-documented, not just anecdotal.

Parents aren't living in a desperate dream world. We are pragmatic, educating ourselves and working to put together the best system for our kids based on our specific situations. Companies like Prentke Romich and DynaVox have been leading the industry in this respect; the iPad has opened the door to new opportunities and independent developers.

What we do know for sure is that the Nook (swell though it may be as an e-reader) and it's available software options is wildly inadequate for most users with disabilities. To suggest otherwise frankly shows a pretty casual level of experience with assistive technology.
posted by rumhud at 9:43 PM on July 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


Wrong thread, rumhud?
posted by koeselitz at 10:24 PM on July 19, 2011


Huh? I was responding to meehawl at 8:26 PM.
posted by rumhud at 10:35 PM on July 19, 2011


Wrong thread, rumhud?


No.

posted by bakerina at 10:36 PM on July 19, 2011


To suggest otherwise frankly shows a pretty casual level of experience with assistive technology.

Yeah, pretty much. Don't come to Metafilter for the tech posts.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:37 PM on July 19, 2011


Come for the personal visits!
posted by klangklangston at 11:03 PM on July 19, 2011


Stay for the snark.
posted by Admira at 11:04 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeesh, I need to sleep. Sorry, ru HUD. Welcome, anyway.
posted by koeselitz at 11:22 PM on July 19, 2011


Argh, damn you autocorrect! Sorry AGAIN, rumhud!
posted by koeselitz at 11:24 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


No one (except Brandon Blatcher) is saying that no one should ever knock on someone's door...

I wrote no such thing. I specifically wrote about someone, a stranger, knocking on the door and asking personal questions.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:36 AM on July 20, 2011


koeselitz:Look, again, nobody in this thread has advocated going up and conducting an impromptu interview right there

Again, what phearlez actually said in re: asking questions of people on their own property:

Or there might have been people hanging out on the lawn, in which case yes, I probably would have gotten out and talked to them. I pondered knocking on the door but decided I wanted to be better educated on the backstory before I did that. If there really was a Mike I wanted to be able to ask the right questions. If they were innocents whose address had been used I wanted to be able to explain the situation accurately.

So, I don't know what you mean by "advocating", but certainly phearlez stated himself that he was considering doing so, and did not because he did not have enough background information.

Like I said, it seems like everybody's talking past each other here.

Actually, I think you might not be responding to the same thread - see also your response to rumhud, above - it suggests you might be trying to have this discussion on a mobile device, which I think is unwise.

Regardless, the attempt to make this an Ask MetaFilter thread about whether it's ever OK to look at someone's house, or whether one should ever knock on someone's door, is a derail - I don't know to what end.

The question asked here (paraphrased) was whether it was OK on MetaFilter to share the personal information of people who may be involved in a situation which is causing considerable moral outrage, especially in the context of the suggestion that people will use this information to visit them in person? The specific example was the iPadGate thread. This is all at the top of the page.

The question was then introduced of what being a journalist means, and what rights and responsibilities being a journalist, professional or citizen, added to the situation. That's pretty much been answered, I think.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:30 AM on July 20, 2011


Since everybody is saying the same stuff again and again about creepy home visits, I will say this, which no doubt is the same as what someone else has said:

Strangers have a right to come to my door and ask me questions. I have a right to refuse to answer those questions. I also have a right to tell them they have thirty seconds to leave my property before I call the police and have them charged with trespassing. If they base their questions on something like mistaking me for the famous pervert who shares my name, I will be impolite.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:35 AM on July 20, 2011


Strangers have a right to come to my door and ask me questions.

Not in most common-law jurisdictions, I think. If your door opens onto the street, strangers have a right to come to it as long as they stay on the street. If your door is at the end of a driveway on your property, strangers have an implied permission to come to your door. If that permission is explicitly denied - say, by a sign saying "no strangers past this point", they are trespassing as soon as they enter your property (this is why going into "staff only" areas in public buildings is still trespass, fact fans). If you rescind their permission to be on your property, whether that permission was explicit (you said "come to my door" or "you'd better come into the living room) or implicit (you had a driveway leading from the street to your door), they are committing constructive trespass from that moment on.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:43 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


But I don't have any such sign, so they aren't trespassing until I tell them they are.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:49 AM on July 20, 2011


Your driveway may vary.


I don't care whether it does.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:50 AM on July 20, 2011


running order squabble fest: “So, I don't know what you mean by "advocating", but certainly phearlez stated himself that he was considering doing so, and did not because he did not have enough background information.”

You assume that's what "ask the right questions" means. I don't.

running order squabble fest: “Actually, I think you might not be responding to the same thread - see also your response to rumhud, above - it suggests you might be trying to have this discussion on a mobile device, which I think is unwise.”

You know, forget apologizing if one's basic ability to read and respond is being attacked. Almost all of this conversation has been conducted on my end sitting in front of my computer, in my office, at home – where I work. I make one comment lying in bed on my iPad, and I get this. Yeesh.

Maybe you have trouble looking at other threads and reading them, too. If you could, you might have noticed that I haven't participated in the other thread about this for days now. In truth, I haven't even read it.

“Regardless, the attempt to make this an Ask MetaFilter thread about whether it's ever OK to look at someone's house, or whether one should ever knock on someone's door, is a derail - I don't know to what end.”

Look, dersins et all have been saying since the beginning: "look, it's JUST CREEPY, given the situation." And I responded: "but there are right ways to approach it, even given the situation!" And this is what I got: "NO. IT'S JUST CREEPY. Leave it alone!"

I don't know what to do with that, but that's the conversation so far as I can tell. I'm not the one generalizing this. The "IT'S JUST CREEPY" crowd are the ones doing that.
posted by koeselitz at 7:02 AM on July 20, 2011


dersins et all

Interesting Freudian typo. When you find yourself arguing against "all"about whether something is creepy-- or at least presenting a point of view that's in the significant minority-- you are at least in some sense on the losing side of the argument no matter the merits of your case. This is true not just for whether something is creepy, but for anything that's a matter of perception.

If a majority of people find an activity creepy (or cool, or boring, or whatever), then it is creepy (or cool, or boring, or whatever), regardless how well-reasoned your arguments against its creepiness may be. It may not be creepy (or cool, or boring, or whatever) to you, but someone who chooses to engage in the activity needs to know that people will be creeped out no matter how reasonable they think they're being.
posted by dersins at 7:38 AM on July 20, 2011


Everybody is generalizing everything.
posted by maryr at 7:47 AM on July 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Everyone is gay.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:52 AM on July 20, 2011


scurvy dog, scurvy dog, wock!
posted by clavdivs at 7:55 AM on July 20, 2011


Strangers have a right to come to my door and ask me questions.

What's your address?

I don't know what to do with that, but that's the conversation so far as I can tell.

How about listening to what people are telling you, instead of insisting they're wrong? If I tell you I don't like pecan pie, there's nothing rational to examine or attack or review there, I just don't like pecan pie, period. It looks like someone threw up in a pie dish and then baked it in the oven

But it's like you're not getting that, want to argue a person's feelings on the subject are wrong and then make shitty generalizations which you label as facts ("The fact that you hate people..."). WTF?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:58 AM on July 20, 2011


> scurvy dog, scurvy dog, wock!

I'm hearing that in the tune of "Jingle Bell Rock".
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:59 AM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks, HP. Now we all are.
posted by pineapple at 8:09 AM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


koeselitz: You assume that's what "ask the right questions" means. I don't.

Let's recap. You said:

Look, again, nobody in this thread has advocated going up and conducting an impromptu interview right there

I pointed out that phearlez had considered doing exactly that, and did not because he did not "have the backstory", either to ask the intended subject the right questions or to explain the situation to a third party if the intended subject was not there. What "ask the right questions" means is incredibly clear. It means "ask the right questions (of the intended subject, based on having the backstory, having knocked on the door and found it actually to be his residence).

If you really want to try to lawyer this, I'd suggest arguing that phearlez was not "advocating" knocking on his door, merely considering it an appropriate thing for him to do himself, due to his status as a journalist (although he kind of steps on your point there with everything he says subsequently about this being about everyday social commerce rather than investigative journalism).

You also said:

Stating outright that someone has committed a crime when in fact they have not been convicted yet? Maybe not sleazy, but certainly unethical, whether you're a journalist or not; and maybe libelous.

Again, phearlez did none of these things.


In the same thread as phearlez, earlier:

This is an individual who took $30,000 from people and failed to deliver on his promises. It might have been pre-meditated fraud or an after-the-fact decision, but either way this is fraud and theft.

I think there's a double standard being applied here and it's one this crook is taking advantage of.


So, when you say:

You know, forget apologizing if one's basic ability to read and respond is being attacked.

I don't think you need to apologize. But you are, and have been throughout the thread, making "corrections" which are completely inaccurate, and appear to be based on reading a totally different thread - like, one in a parallel universe, not the one on the Blue. Nobody can stop you doing that, and it certainly doesn't make you a bad person, but it is what you're doing.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:13 AM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


What's your address?

That's one of the questions I'm going to refuse to answer. If you come up my driveway and ask it, I'm going to laugh at you.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:07 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think I am at the point of repeating myself so I'm pretty well done responding here (unless someone really wants to hear something more out of me, which hardly seems possible at this point), but all the discussion about journalism and online writing and the like made me think some of you might be interested in this, which J-Lab just published today: Rules of the Road: Navigating the New Ethics of Local Journalism. They talk to a lot of operations working in the local online news space, including some people from TBD who our operation was aggregated by for a while.

Nothing in it I have seen in my quick skim discusses source contacts but there's a lot of talk about privacy and who is or is not a public figure, as well as the challenges of drawing those lines in local interest journalism. If the direction of news interest you then this probably will as well.
posted by phearlez at 9:15 AM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Okay. I'll shut up and listen now. What's creepy about this situation?
posted by koeselitz at 10:44 AM on July 20, 2011


I'm going to cut through all the noise and break this down to the question that I think we all want answered most at this point.

I wonder how you pronouce phearlez.

I mean, I've been reading it as "fur-LEZZ". But is it "fear-LEZZ"? "Feerls"?
posted by pineapple at 11:27 AM on July 20, 2011


I think it's "fear-lez".
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:29 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's creepy about this situation?

What specific situation are you talking about? I'm not being snarky here, there seems to be disconnect about what was proposed by phearlez, so if you could articulate what you specifically have in mind, that would help.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:43 AM on July 20, 2011


I wonder how you pronouce phearlez.

You mean when you're speaking, because you've come to my doorstep to ask me a question? Out loud its pronounced "Don."

(in my head it sounds like 'fearless')
posted by phearlez at 1:08 PM on July 20, 2011


I was saying it in my head as "fur-lezz" like rolling a French flag.
posted by klangklangston at 1:31 PM on July 20, 2011


Companies like Prentke Romich and DynaVox have been leading the industry in this respect; the iPad has opened the door to new opportunities and independent developers.

I was talking to an ABA Therapist who is the director for a large non-profit in Seattle a few months ago, and she told me about how a salesman for one of the large retailers for assisted tech came by to show off the new gadgets and hopefully for all the therapists to tell the parents about them. She kept shutting the guy down by asking him why she would still suggest their product when there are lighter, smaller, and easier to use options that are a fraction of the price. Such as the IPod Touch or the IPad.

Basically they had a nice little niche market that fell right out from below them when an innovative company like Apple came along and dumped an easy to use product into people's hands.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:35 PM on July 20, 2011


It could sound like "pier-lize" like in Belize. I read it as "pear-lize" but I think it it is intended as "Pur-lize"
posted by clavdivs at 1:39 PM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Koeselitz, it's creepy because it's like ambushing someone. No prior notice, no professional credentials, someone trespassing on my personal property asking me personal questions.

I worked part-time on the census once, and when we went to residences we were required to have our name tags and badges and carry our clipboards and all that, and even before that there was this big advance press movement to let people know the census was coming, and what we looked like and that you should mail it in or someone might come to your door. We had a number they could call if they wanted to, when we got there, to verify we were actual census workers.

And even then, people still were suspicious. I always made it very clear that I wasn't trying to "catch them" at anything, that we only wanted answers to figure out general population statistics, and that getting that info might help get more funding for the community.

In fact, legally, as a census worker, I couldn't report anyone if I came across an illegal alien or a meth lab in the course of my work. But I was still on private property, and people feel very protective about that being their personal space.

If an actual reporter really wanted to interview someone, he could could call, identify himself, and ask for an interview. That gives the interviewee some notice. If he doesn't respond, you can still research the story and just say, "We wanted to approach Mr. Wifebeater about the alleged wifebeating, but he would not return our calls."

But sometimes you'll see News programs, or faux News programs, where a reporter (all credentialed and everything) will stick a microphone in the face of a person ducking into his car, asking, "Are you still beating your wife?"

I don't like that, either.

So, for me, personally, the creepiness factor comes in when a person with no credentials to lend them credibility comes to my home, without calling first or giving me any warning or asking for my permission, and ambushes me.

If you're a UPS guy in a uniform with a truck, and I have recently ordered something, I will open the door and say thank you for that package. If you're in my neighborhood and I have no idea who you are, I might not even open the door.

Because that's creepy.
posted by misha at 2:34 PM on July 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Basically they had a nice little niche market that fell right out from below them when an innovative company like Apple came along and dumped an easy to use product into people's hands.

In fairness, having worked in education and seen a lot of high-priced vertical market stuff, part of it has less to do with Apple being innovative and more with regards to their making millions of the things and realizing an economy of scale. Vertical market folks like that assisted tech seller can only dream of selling a million units; they have to recoup their investment spread across a much smaller number of sales and each unit will cost them more because of the smaller run.

That's not a blanket pass for selling something that does an inferior job for 20x the cost - smart companies use as much off the shelf basis as they can - but they're more a victim of a shifting world than of any particular innovation.
posted by phearlez at 2:40 PM on July 20, 2011


*sigh* I guess what I just need to face is the fact that creepy is different for different people. There's no point in arguing, because some people will find this creepy whereas I will not.

I still feel as though maybe we need to find a better standard than creep factor – and I'm sure people do have different standards. I mean, if something is almost entirely subjective, it's not a very good basis for morality.

At the same time, "creepy" is largely a measure of comfort, it seems like. And that measure of comfort matters in a moral sense. It's good not to abrogate someone else's comfort if one can help it.
posted by koeselitz at 2:51 PM on July 20, 2011


I was talking to an ABA Therapist who is the director for a large non-profit in Seattle a few months ago, and she told me about how a salesman for one of the large retailers for assisted tech came by to show off the new gadgets and hopefully for all the therapists to tell the parents about them. She kept shutting the guy down by asking him why she would still suggest their product when there are lighter, smaller, and easier to use options that are a fraction of the price. Such as the IPod Touch or the IPad.

Basically they had a nice little niche market that fell right out from below them when an innovative company like Apple came along and dumped an easy to use product into people's hands.


Well, he should have had an answer. The key isn't the expensive devices. it's the language systems. Prentke Romich Co. (PRC) uses a language system called Unity, which is basically their licensed version on MinSpeak. (They are the only company licensed to use MinSpeak; I honestly can't imagine what DynaVox uses as an argument against cheaper systems.)

Unity/MinSpeak has proven to be incredibly robust; most speech pathologists who are in the know are unhesitatingly Team PRC because of that alone. The problem is, that's a hard case to make to new potential users. If it were twice as expensive or three times as expensive to have a system running MinSpeak? Perhaps. But eight or nine times as pricey is hard to make an argument for, especially since Proloquo2Go has been beefing up nicely. The last upgrade was a doozy.

If PRC finds that they are losing a large market share to the iPad, I think they will eventually develop a MinSpeak app in order to at least keep their language system in front of users. It's that language system that is the heart of what they do.

One more thing to consider is that the iPad really will work beautifully for a very specific population of ambulatory users; this includes kids with autism, so it's not a tiny niche. But it's still a niche. Companies like PRC and DynaVox will always serve a large community of users with accessibility issues requiring hardware solutions. The expensive devices are designed to interface with things like wheelchair mounts and head switches, and I don't see Apple or its third party developers moving into heavy medical equipment like that. Especially since insurance companies still balk at funding tech like the iPad that aren't dedicated medical devices.
posted by rumhud at 3:21 PM on July 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, he should have had an answer. The key isn't the expensive devices. it's the language systems.

Not for an ABA Therapist. From what I've seen there's considerable overlap between the usage of the tech between ABA and SLP's and the like, but just to be clear she is a behaviorist, not a speech therapist, and she was speaking from that viewpoint.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:35 PM on July 20, 2011


Creepy is when a perfect stranger asks for intimate answers. FOAD, creeper intruder into my private life. Mind your own business. Don't aak me to come up to your room for coffee. Don't come to my home to ask me questions about anything. Don't even bother phoning me.

People who are not creepers will make first contact over the Internet or telephone. They'll arrange to meet somewhere public and neutral. A coffee shop, for example. Their treat. Or the library. Maybe even a local (but not isolated) park.

Once I have met you, then I might give you permission to contact me other ways, or decide to answer personal questions.

Don't be a damned creeper, folks. It just ain't that hard.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:48 PM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, I've certainly made up my mind about ever disclosing my address on the internet, ever. Up until now I thought "Well, what's the harm? It's not like someone's going to come waltzing up to my door!"

Except, apparently, you are.
posted by sonika at 6:36 PM on July 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


I don't have the energy to read this post this whole way through, has the guy knocked on the door and got his ass kicked yet ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:51 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't be a damned creeper, folks. It just ain't that hard.

Get out of here, creeper!
posted by subbes at 5:40 AM on July 21, 2011


By the way, when did we start saying 'creeper?' I feel like I've been hearing it from the younger 20s set/kids mostly, but it's not really something I hear a lot in my own age group (early -mid 30s) or older, compared to just 'creepy person' or whatever.
posted by sweetkid at 6:36 AM on July 21, 2011


Ever since Minecraft took the world by storm. (You should totally start playing. Join us. Join us.)
posted by Gator at 6:40 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always picture Nicki Minaj now.
posted by maryr at 6:58 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


koeselitz: "At the same time, "creepy" is largely a measure of comfort, it seems like"

Put another way, "creepy" is less a measure of comfort, and more of whether or not someone's actions may reasonably be judged potentially threatening. This was alluded to upthread.

A stranger showing up unannounced on someone's doorstep might be anything from innocuous to an imposition to an outright threat. Which of those it may be depends on the circumstances and the person being visited.
posted by zarq at 7:29 AM on July 21, 2011


Several years ago, I was at home when my phone rang. I answered and a woman's voice goes, "Hi, this is Kate", then a man's voice goes "and this is Joe", and then together they chorus, "We're the Griswolds!" (Kate and Joe, not the names they used, Griswolds is though)

At first I thought it was someone I knew playing a strange Vacation themed joke on me, but they explained that they were a couple from Boston, thinking of moving to Seattle, and had found an old resume of mine on the internet that showed I lived in the same building they were thinking of renting a place in. They wanted to get my opinion on the building and it's general neighborhood. I answered their questions, then checked with the apartment manager to see if there really had been a Griswolds looking for a place. There had been, and we both agreed it was a pretty unusual thing to do. It felt kinda creepy at the time. A month later, my door mat goes missing, and I wonder if they snagged it as some sort of weird memento of their moving experience.

Which is to say that a phone call can be just as creepy-feeling-inducing as an in-person visit, if not more so. If a person comes to my door and I send them away, I've seen what they look like. If someone just calls my phone, thanks to modern tech, I don't even necessarily know what number they actually called me from.
posted by nomisxid at 8:25 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Considering how the Murdoch Empire is crumbling at this very moment -- and the reasons for it, the unveiling of Pervasive and Malignant Creeper-ism -- one might wonder why anyone would want to emulate that kind of "journalism" in this case.
posted by Surfurrus at 10:33 AM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think I might have a lower tolerance for creeperism, honestly, koeselitz, so don't feel bad.

My family, when I was a kid? Not into hugging and kissing each other all the time. If we needed emotional support, hugs were plentiful, of course, but, for instance, hugging when saying hello or good-bye? No. Never did that. At a wedding/funeral/family reunion? Sure, we'd hug. My husband's family is, and so I got used to it with them, and I like it. When my kids were born, I made a point of being more huggy with them, because I think touch is important. But, anyway, I'm a little more aware of my personal space, I think, than those that have always been huggers.

Now that I'm all grown up and I live in the suburbs (go ahead, hate me, I own my house and I'm happy about it), I know all my neighbors. Strangers hanging around the house make me wary.

I had a guy duck under my garage door once when I had just driven in with my kids (they were about 3 and 5 at the time, maybe even younger), and it freaked me right the fuck out. Turned out he was serving me papers because I might be called as a witness in a court case involving a former employer and a disgruntled employee (never called up, case settled). So he had good reason for approaching me, but the way he did it was still really creepy.
posted by misha at 12:32 PM on July 21, 2011


I had a guy duck under my garage door once when I had just driven in with my kids

Was it one of those Jordi LaForge rolling entances?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:56 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I misread that as a "a guy duckroll under my garage door" and I thought it was another weird chan-meets-real-life moment like Rick Astley in the Macy's Parade.
posted by subbes at 2:22 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


He rolled under the garage door, then lifted a boombox high over his head playing "Never Gonna Give You Up".
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:56 PM on July 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Then he took a Facebook photo. *duckface*
posted by maryr at 6:46 PM on July 21, 2011


I guess someone should write a pamphlet on etiquette in the 21st century.
posted by nola at 7:11 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK, so - to recap. phearlez needs to do a commando roll onto the lawn of the house, then hold up a boombox and play Peter Gabriel's In Your Eyes to make this ethical journalism, right?
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:42 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


That'd certainly be a disarming approach.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:17 PM on July 21, 2011


« Older Just sayin', you're all pretty bitchin'   |   Welcome to town Newer »

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