Post Brutality July 27, 2011 12:53 PM   Subscribe

Why are so many police brutality posts deleted off metafiler? For sure, there are some fairly inflammatory ones that need-a-delete'n but perfectly reasonable ones are frequently deleted with nothing but claims that the discussion won't go anywhere.

There are obviously all manor of posts, newsfilter or otherwise, who's discussion obviously won't go anywhere, but the posts still somehow collect interesting links.

Is there any evidence that the noise vs. content ratio is so much worse in police threads? There are enough lawyers here that I'd naively imagine the non-linky comments being informative too.
posted by jeffburdges to Etiquette/Policy at 12:53 PM (96 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Did you read the deletion message from cortex? There is evidence, and plenty of it.
posted by tommasz at 12:57 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


OutrageFilter posts rarely go well.

Once you've said, "well, that really sucks" then what else is there to discuss?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:59 PM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Found something cool on the web?"
posted by Gator at 12:59 PM on July 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


Is there any evidence that the noise vs. content ratio is so much worse in police threads?

Yes, it's much worse in those threads. FWIW, I read that deletion reason as being 50% "deleted because it's outragefilter" and 50% "deleted because it's going to get shouty." Police brutality is like I/P, you have to go out of your way to frame it right.
posted by axiom at 12:59 PM on July 27, 2011


The reality of police brutality sucks. It really does. But how much is there to say about it? Do you really need dozens of threads to say the same things in? "Oh man!! Down with the police state!!"

If someone goes above and beyond just "here's a video of a guy getting unreasonably attacked and then people reacting", than it probably won't get deleted. Just my two cents.
posted by Askiba at 12:59 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Couple of things.

1) these posts are sometimes newsfiltery
2) these posts tend to bring out the GRAR
3) they aren't particularly productive as posts

It's not best of the web. It's something shitty that is all too common and that we're not going to stop by getting shouty on the blue about.
posted by gauche at 1:01 PM on July 27, 2011


That is not a perfectly reasonable police brutality thread and is not a good example for your general question. Let's look at why it is not a good thread...

- editorializing through selective quoting
- provocative quoting above the fold
- crappy comments from the get go
- lots of flags

Our gneeral assertion is that if you're going to post a thread about an incident of police brutality, you should not make the same general errors that doom a thread to failure as dozens of police brutality threads have done before you. Just because something terrible has happened doesn't mean that any post about that will make a good post on MetaFilter. People rarely take the time to do this sort of thing, going for the intentionally button-pushing framing which then often gets defended with "Well it's TRUE and people SHOULD care!" which is not such a great reason to make a post.

Take your time, make a post well, explain why you think people should be interested, let the links speak for themselves, don't try to make it deliberately inflammatory. It's possible, it's just rare.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:02 PM on July 27, 2011 [10 favorites]


They are exhausting, they do go badly, and most of the time they're pretty much precisely in that "there is nothing to do with this post but be angry about how bad this situation is and/or argue with each other about the degree and scope of culpability different parties have for this state of affairs" vein of post-about-bad-news that stands way off to the side from the Interesting Stuff On The Web idea at the core of Metafilter.

In theory we could quantify some of the level-of-crappiness stuff through a careful sifting through of flag data and correlating against our personal email and mefimail archives; to a significant extent it's not quantifiable because (a) we don't do micromanagement-style time tracking of how every fifteen minute chunk of our day is spent and (b) there's a serious qualitative aspect to why a day spent corralling a post about police brutality is different, in terms of emotional energy required and the effect on mefites' collective mood, from a day spent cleaning up little messes here and there on the site even if those notional timecards pretty much tallied up the same for both cases.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:03 PM on July 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


It was a story better suited for a Daily Kos dairy entry than a Pick of the Web.
posted by Slackermagee at 1:05 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


And to reiterate a framing of this that is a big part of how we look at it, "why are so many posts about x deleted" is a question very necessarily secondary to "why are there so many posts about x made". We have deleted many posts about police brutality/abuse/tasing in large part because there have been even more made; it is not hard to find them in the archives, they do not seem to stop coming.

The idea that Metafilter needs even as many as have been allowed to stay is something I don't particularly agree with but we don't edit the front page based on our personal opinion so that's more an issue for my daydream schedule than anything. But they need to not be something that gets posted Just Because. Metafilter is not a news outlet or a staging ground for anti-police activism, and I feel like people who understandably care very much about these issues forget that sometimes.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:07 PM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Metafilter is not for breaking news, it's for cool stuff on the web. Unfortunately some news gets through anyway. This is unfortunate.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:16 PM on July 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Why are so many police brutality posts deleted off metafiler?

I like to believe that it's the mod's efforts to try to keep me from flipping out in some sort of psychotic rage that ends with me standing silhouetted on a hill, holding a stolen AK over my head, screaming "Wolverines!!"

But then, I like to believe that everything that happens in the world can, in some way, be traced back to keeping me from eventually acting like a lunatic.

I suspect that the truth is far more mundane though; they all know that nothing can stop that from happening, and instead are doing it to keep the noise and anger-on-demand from everyone else from spilling over into other threads.
posted by quin at 1:24 PM on July 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Outragefilter is the bastard stepchild of Newsfilter. It is even worse than Obitfilter or Opedfilter.
posted by LarryC at 1:24 PM on July 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


3) they aren't particularly productive as posts

What do people mean by this? Is there some other class of posts that result in advancement of the well-being of humankind? What does it mean for a post to be "productive?"
posted by enn at 1:27 PM on July 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Metafilter is not for breaking news, it's for cool stuff on the web. Unfortunately some news gets through anyway. This is unfortunate.

Yes, yes. I groan for this reason every time there's an obit or a celebrity birthday FPP.
posted by herbplarfegan at 1:27 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Police brutality posts wouldn't go badly if we didn't have fascist apologists around here.

Chocolate Pickle: "Once you've said, "well, that really sucks" then what else is there to discuss"

Lots. "What people can do about/to cops who pull this shit?", for example.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:28 PM on July 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


While the discussion in these threads is not always the greatest it's not at all obvious to me that it's worse than in any other kind of contentious thread. The Slut Walk post was clearly going to have terrible discussion, and in fact it did; but those posts don't get deleted the way police brutality posts do.
posted by enn at 1:33 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


enn: " What do people mean by this? Is there some other class of posts that result in advancement of the well-being of humankind? What does it mean for a post to be "productive?""

Posts that are either heavily editorialized ("This is BAD! Don't you AGREE this is BAD?!") or soapboxing ("You should CARE about this!") tend to direct the flow of thread conversation into arguments. Which means that meaningful discussion gets lost to people shouting each other down.
posted by zarq at 1:34 PM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


3) they aren't particularly productive as posts

This means that the threads turn into shouting matches where people fgight with each other because they are upset and angry at what happened or who people are chosing to pin fault or responsibility on. They tend to tear the community apart more than bring the community together. Since one of this community's goals is to stay in existence, this is counter-productive. More to the point, they generate a lot of heat and very little light, a ton of flags, account closures, and angry email to us and to other people. If these sorts of threads were one of our core reasons for being, this wouldbe acceptabel. They're not, so the amount of mod time they take up becomes problematic.

those posts don't get deleted the way police brutality posts do.

That post was derailed early on by some noxious threadshitting by someone who was given the day off. That post did not have some brutal rape description above the fold. We can and do delete posts when they go that way. Often.

Police brutality posts wouldn't go badly if we didn't have fascist apologists around here.

My point exactly. You [the general you] know who the people are who disagree with you, since you fight with them in every single fighty thread. Why don't you just take your fighting to email instead of acting it out in front of everyone as if this were some sort of colliseum spectacle? Go organize people offline who want to be organized about this topic and help them deal with and manage issues with police in their own communities. Treating MeFi threads as if they're soapboxes for community organizing is a neat idea in principle but tends to go badly in practice.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:36 PM on July 27, 2011 [23 favorites]


I personally despise graphic descriptions of violence and/or torture right on the front page above the fold.

For that reason alone I'm not sad that it was deleted.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:41 PM on July 27, 2011


- crappy comments from the get go

The third comment in the thread (c/o slaphappy):

[anticipating] "Yeah, but you have to understand how stressful a cops job is and [blah blah]... line of danger for [blah blah]... occasional mistake [blah blah]... two sides to the story [blah blah]..."

Just no. I can't even begin to condone/sanction/rationalize/excuse such blatantly psychopathic abuse of authority, of which this is only one recent example.

And if *you* can (back to the anticipating), please take a good hard look in the mirror and ask what "humanity" means to you.


I pretty much agree with all this except it leaves no room to move. You've got to either agree with slaphappy or you must " ... take a good hard look in the mirror and ask what "humanity" means to you." Any hope of positive discussion is pretty much dead.

So yeah, consider me sickened by the "murder" of Kelly Thomas but supportive of the thread being deleted. It would just be more sickness.
posted by philip-random at 1:44 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love Big Brother.
posted by telstar at 1:47 PM on July 27, 2011


please take a good hard look in the mirror and ask what "humanity" means to you.

Toga parties with black lights by a big swimming pool.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:47 PM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


There is scarcely a medium to large city in the US where the police are not mostly out of control and totally a law unto themselves, but this just does not seem to be true of northern Europe, for example.

Anders Breivik was able to get teenage kids-- left wing teenage kids-- to let down their guards completely by saying he was a policeman; here, that would alarm such kids and put them on high alert.

I really do not understand why the US has to be this way, but I want to. Every time one of these threads comes up, I see it as an opportunity to get a better grasp of what's going on in this weird sub-basement of American life in which what actually happens is so much at variance with what we believe should happen, and even with what most of us are willing to admit does happen.

And I'm rarely completely disappointed. If you want to unlock an enigma, the key is in the details, along with the evil.

I think all this whining about 'outrage filter' is emotional, moral, and intellectual cowardice-- if not incapacity; and the phrase itself is extraordinarily stupid.
posted by jamjam at 1:48 PM on July 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


And farm animals, JUST IN CASE.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:48 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Take the time to make a really good post about police brutality, with some links to good reporting, and maybe some perspective from cops. If it gets deleted, then bring it to metatalk.
posted by theora55 at 1:52 PM on July 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


I think all this whining about 'outrage filter' is emotional, moral, and intellectual cowardice-- if not incapacity; and the phrase itself is extraordinarily stupid.

You are suggesting that people who dislike these posts are possibly incapable of emotions, morals, and intellect. Really? And you can't see why maybe the moderators aren't thrilled to have an infinite number of posts filled with comments like these?
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:54 PM on July 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think all this whining about 'outrage filter' is emotional, moral, and intellectual cowardice

And I think it's a case of people knowing the proper place and the proper time to get involved in a huge intellectual brawl about a local news story about one of their pet topics. You can not want to see provocative fighty posts about police officers absuing their authority on MetaFilter without it meaning that you're turning a blind eye to the larger issues involved. Many of us have active politically-involved lives outside of MetaFilter where we deal with these and other issues on a regular basis.

I'm not whining about it. I work here. I enforce the guidelines. The community helps shape the guidelines. And I'm saying they make crappy posts and if the posts are crappy we'll keep deleting them. And if you think that makes this some sort of Big Brother situation, then you may be someone who is not going to be happy with how this community is run generally. Make. A. Better. Post. It's that simple.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:55 PM on July 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


In my ideal Metafilter, a post about police brutality would look like

* a brief look at its history, including incidents which sparked major events or legislation
* links to articles that describe the effect on society and individuals
* a link or two from police officers giving their opinion on the subject in general or a specific incident.
* articles about how people act, react and deal with those in government positions of authority
* stories about methods of decreasing police brutality that have worked.

That would be a post worth spending some time reading, but it would be a difficult post to create. I don't have time to do (Gotta work on MeFi Mag!). Is there anyone or several some ones who'd be interested in working on such a post? Ya'll should chime in and work together to make the post happen.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:03 PM on July 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


This means that the threads turn into shouting matches where people fgight with each other because they are upset and angry at what happened or who people are chosing to pin fault or responsibility on. They tend to tear the community apart more than bring the community together. Since one of this community's goals is to stay in existence, this is counter-productive.

So...um...I take it this means no more posts on the topics of religion, feminism or veganism?
posted by Pants McCracky at 2:10 PM on July 27, 2011


Pants McCracky: " So...um...I take it this means no more posts on the topics of religion, feminism or veganism?"

Posts on religion and feminism, Israel/Palestine and many other controversial topics are deleted around here on a regular basis when they look like nothing more than a thin excuse for the OP to start an argument.
posted by zarq at 2:17 PM on July 27, 2011


Outrage filter might suck, but it's gotta be better than a post on Tom fucking Bombadil.

Take the time to make a really good post about police brutality, with some links to good reporting

That piece in the Fullerton Stories link was one of the best things I've read on Metafilter in quite some time.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:18 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gotta say I'm not really fond of someone leaping into the beginning of a thread to lay down some "oh boy heeere we go, [users I disagree with] on the horizon", because - as I learned the hard way - you're pretty much inviting confrontation in a "with me or against me" way, excluding any room for an actual discussion.

Brandon Blatcher's excellent outline for a good FPP about police brutality wouldn't be exempt from this, but it would at the very least give people more material to work with and discuss. This FPP may as well have been a LiveLeak video. You can't really go anywhere from there but "fuck, this really sucks" or "no it doesn't".
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:19 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why are so many police brutality posts deleted off metafiler?

Who are you to be questioning the mods? Put yourself in their shoes for a minute; they're the ones out there on the frontline, boots on the ground day in and day out, protecting you from drive-by snarkings, repeat derailers, thread vandals, con artist self-linkers, booby-trapped URLs, and Scott Adams. It's a high-stress high-speed no second chances job and they're damn good at it. Are they perfect? No. Do they ever make mistakes? Sure, they're human. But that's no excuse for you sitting at home in your cushy little chair to be second-guessing the very people who have sworn to keep you safe.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 2:20 PM on July 27, 2011 [12 favorites]


Yeah, I'll accept that "these posts make moderating metafilter suck unless they're done really well" sounds reasonable.

You mods should however realize that posters don't see what mods see, so some guidance might be helpful. How about :

If you're writing about police brutality inside the U.S.1, then :
- Don't write anything inflammatory yourself.
- Don't use inflammatory quotes from secondary sources.2
- Don't quote anything inflammatory above the fold.
- Provide more than one link, if only to distract the flamers.
- Connect your post to larger issues, like video taping police.
- Glance over the policebrutality and police tags to gain a picture of what works.
- Behave yourself well in your thread even if you'd usually get fighty on that topic.
- Remember you're posting will have more impact if more people post linky comments instead of opinions.

I would personally love seeing more police brutality posts on metafilter because honestly I use metafilter as a news source. I'm fairly sure I've yelled at the mods here for deleting them more than I've posted them, well unsure I've ever posted one myself.

1 Afaik, all non-American police brutality posts survive deletion here, presumably nobody defends non-American cops.
2 By secondary sources, I mean anyone who isn't themselves involved in the original case, i.e. journalists, bloggers, etc.

posted by jeffburdges at 2:26 PM on July 27, 2011


I would at least refer to you as Big Sister, jessamyn, if that was the trend of my thinking (which it's not, nor is that apparent in anything I've said here or elsewhere on Metafilter that I can recall), which from me would be a term of high and rather involuntary respect, since my own personal Big Sister frightens me more than any other living being.

Nor am I saying I want Metafilter to do anything directly about police misconduct, other than not sweeping it under the rug, and, as a matter of fact, Metafilter sweeps it under the rug less than other general interest websites I visit.

I am also fairly happy with how Metafilter is run generally, but if it ever does become unacceptable to register a strongly worded, not disrespectful disagreement (I hope you don't feel I've crossed that line here) with some particular judgment or policy when the issue arises, that won't last long, and you will have gutted MetaTalk.
posted by jamjam at 2:27 PM on July 27, 2011


that won't last long, and you will have gutted MetaTalk.

Super. Okay. I'm not sure I even understand why you're bringing it up then. The Big Brother comment was a reference to someone else entirely.

You mods should however realize that posters don't see what mods see, so some guidance might be helpful.

We're all reading the same website. There's no real penalty for haivng your post deleted except that you can't post again for a day. You're welcome to use MeFi as a news source but that is not what it is intended for and your view of the news will be bizarrely skewed towards flash games and Apple announcements in addition to the occasional high level political talk and complaints about cops/TSA/Willaimsburg.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:31 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


...but it would at the very least give people more material to work with and discuss.

We all know police brutality is bad, for the most part. We may differ on exactly where that line is, but we'll generally agree that the idea is bad. So where do you go from there, post making wise? I'd say, you have to look at the details, see what the effect of it is, how it comes about on societal and city level. Oooo, another interesting aspect would be to look at police training, how are they taught to deal people in dangerous situations. Does that training differ from city to city or nation to nation? If so how and what effect does that have on the problem?

Give me brain food, not the processed junk I can cheaply get from anywhere on the internet.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:32 PM on July 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


jeffburdges: " - Provide more than one link, if only to distract the flamers."

Oh man, I know this is going to sound odd coming from me, but if your post can't stand on its own without becoming an outright encyclopedia entry, then perhaps it's worth examining to make sure it's a good idea before posting. And I say that as a member in good standing of the "HEREZ MOAR LINX" FPP crew.

Extra links and explanations can definitely help defuse incendiary topics. But they can also screw up a perfectly good post. It could be a fine line. And adding in fluff for fluff's sake is never a good thing.
posted by zarq at 2:43 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Now if you'll all excuse me, I have to return to the 243-link opus that will soon become my post for tomorrow. ;)
posted by zarq at 2:44 PM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


We're all reading the same website.

Actually no, not really. You're seeing what a third of the flags, deleted posts, deleted comments, etc. I doubt any regular user see even one 20th of all that jazz, and the average user sees far less.

Shouldn't the question be "How to post it right?" There will obviously be occasions when users never make the post because they're "trying to do it right" but wander off instead. Isn't that preferable to no guidance however?
posted by jeffburdges at 2:55 PM on July 27, 2011


Remember you're posting will have more impact if more people post linky comments instead of opinions.

That misplaced apostrophe on "you're" takes a way from the impact of your comment.
posted by philip-random at 2:59 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


jeffburdges: "Shouldn't the question be "How to post it right?""

Unfortunately, there is no good all-encompassing answer to this question. General guidelines are the best we can do.

MeFi Wiki: What Is A Bad Post / What Is A Good Post
posted by zarq at 3:05 PM on July 27, 2011


Now if you'll all excuse me, I have to return to the 243-link opus that will soon become my post for tomorrow.

noooo I have actual work to do tomorrow, dammit
posted by elizardbits at 3:09 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Via zanni:

RULE OF THUMB
This is cool; other people will want to see it == Good post
This is important; I want other people to see it == Bad post
posted by Gator at 3:09 PM on July 27, 2011 [18 favorites]


I would personally love seeing more police brutality posts on metafilter because honestly I use metafilter as a news source

This is something you need to significantly manage your expectations on, then. There is some news on Metafilter, and it's fine if you like that, but it's expected to be at most part of the mix and, on a site that doesn't have more than two or three dozen posts a day, it's not a practical source or real time news.

If you are frustrated by the lack of police news content, the thing to do here is to find a blog or news site that covers that stuff more to your satisfaction and incorporate it into your reading habits, not to give us a hard time for not catering to your preferences. This is the same boat everyone else is in, for whatever their personal preferences are; Metafilter isn't and can't be all things to all people, and a police brutality watchdog site is one of the many things it definitely isn't and shouldn't be.

You're seeing what a third of the flags, deleted posts, deleted comments, etc. I doubt any regular user see even one 20th of all that jazz, and the average user sees far less.

Sure, to an extent, but most of what makes police threads suck is the stuff that's totally visible in the threads themselves, readable by anybody who cares to. What I feel like happens is that people who have zero interest in watching people yell at each other about cops ten-foot-pole those threads, and reasonably so, and the people who go into those threads and yell at each other tend not to think it's a problem because they don't mind it.

It's tough, because on the one hand, yeah, everybody as above has their own preferences, everybody comes here for something a little different. But the people who aren't interested in, say, Minecraft or cute cat videos or book publishing projects don't really have to deal with a lot of negative vibes and GRAR spillover from threads about same; the same is manifestly not the case with dicier or more contentious stuff. There's a significant asymmetry there in how different kinds of posts/threads effect the overall mood of the community, and it's not something visible solely to us mods.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:23 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do people on Metafilter have any manors?
posted by crunchland at 3:28 PM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


elizardbits: " noooo I have actual work to do tomorrow, dammit"

No worries. I do too. :)
posted by zarq at 3:32 PM on July 27, 2011


no crunchy, we are apartment and the occasional villa type folk.
posted by clavdivs at 3:49 PM on July 27, 2011



Who are you to be questioning the mods?


Is this sarcasm or are you just being an idiot, I can't actually tell.
posted by doctor_negative at 3:55 PM on July 27, 2011


Police brutality --> out
Mummified bodies --> in
posted by Ardiril at 3:56 PM on July 27, 2011


I was about to comment on that post when it was deleted. Obviously I won't rehash my comment here, but suffice it to say that I think it was a good deletion (even though it rendered moot ~7 minutes of typing on my part!!) because the materials linked to contained little real information about what happened. The post was a blank canvass upon which people could project their preconceived notions of what the police do. This was already happening in the comments, despite the fact that people's opinions about this incident were informed entirely by 1) the fact that someone died from injuries inflicted by cops and 2) some comments from bystanders who thought the force was unnecessary. This is really insufficient to draw any sort of conclusion about what actually happened, so folks were just going to divide into partisan camps and assume facts to support their viewpoints.

I thought the Fullerton Post obituary/biography link about the deceased was fascinating and tragic, though, and would be really interested in more of that angle on the story.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 3:57 PM on July 27, 2011


Sorry, Fullerton Stories.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 3:58 PM on July 27, 2011


Outrage filter might suck, but it's gotta be better than a post on Tom fucking Bombadil.

Dead serious question: why? Other than personal taste, in which case close the tab or FIAMO. But why is police brutality better as a Metafilter post subject than Tom Bombadil?
posted by immlass at 4:01 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're welcome to use MeFi as a news source but that is not what it is intended for and your view of the news will be bizarrely skewed towards flash games and Apple announcements in addition to the occasional high level political talk and complaints about cops/TSA/Willaimsburg.

This...explains so much about my worldview.
posted by longtime_lurker at 4:10 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Look, as soon as someone that shops at whole foods gets gunned down by the police, you'll be welcome to post on it.
If you don't like it, the internet is a big place, you could start a poorpeoplefilter site or something.
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:20 PM on July 27, 2011


Look, as soon as someone that shops at whole foods gets gunned down by the police, you'll be welcome to post on it.

This is a shitty implication not remotely borne out by the actual record of posts and deletions around here. A given police outrage post get nixed for being put together in a way that's not gonna make a good post on Metafilter, not because the principals in the situation being posted about are one one side or the other of the median income line.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:32 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lots. "What people can do about/to cops who pull this shit?", for example.

Guns are widely available. FYI.
posted by aramaic at 4:33 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why are so many police brutality posts deleted off metafiler?

Duh, because the admins are out of control and there are like no Watchmen, man!
posted by yerfatma at 4:40 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Look, as soon as someone that shops at whole foods gets gunned down by the police,

eh, they'd just sell the corpse as 'organis meat product." (at a huge markup)
posted by jonmc at 4:40 PM on July 27, 2011


Ugh, I only eat organis vegetarians.
posted by Elmore at 5:16 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well all that fucking tofu probably makes them extra tender.
posted by jonmc at 5:19 PM on July 27, 2011


FUCK THE POLICE
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:25 PM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


COP KILLER
posted by philip-random at 5:39 PM on July 27, 2011


Nah, stringy. But I like 'em chewy. I still get a funny feeling about that old man and the kid.
posted by Elmore at 5:40 PM on July 27, 2011


I flagged that thing.

The OP lazily used as the initial link a virtual coffee klatch op-ed all set up to deliver the GRAR. That piece deliberately uses the most incendiary language possible to elicit outrage and solicit comments, even ending with, "Do you think this is right?"

I would like to see a broader range post done on, say, the rampant abuse of power across the entire Fullerton police force (sadistic behavior including intentionally breaking a man's fingers and attempting to dislocate his wrist while the man was confined in a jail cell, this beating, punching a camera man, ignoring the public concerns).

Or maybe one addressing how mental illness in the homeless has left them so vulnerable to this kind of violence, delving more deeply into the helplessness their families feel at the lack of resources available to them and how sometimes they abandon family members to the system in an attempt to get them help.

But no, we just got the outrage filter over this poor man's beating, complete with graphic photo, which just felt exploitative and GRAR-provoking.

Bad post, good deletion.
posted by misha at 5:47 PM on July 27, 2011


I totally agree the post was badly framed and supported. I totally agree with how the guidelines treat "news." And I totally agree the Mods have to make tough calls far more often than they or we would like.

However, this is a unique community. In most communities, someone says, "I'm no rocket scientist, but..." while here it's, "I am a rocket scientist, and...." So when it comes to "news" (again, in scare quotes) this site is - to me at least - uniquely trustworthy unlike the alternatives to which Cortex alludes, all of whom have their own special frame of reference that is often at odds with the actual truth.

That brings up a meta-meta issue: in the case where a trend becomes so prevalent despite its obvious evil, should the community shy away from it, claiming it's neither newsworthy (in our narrow sense of what "news" is worthy) or simply too GRAR inducing?

In more concrete terms, I rely on this community to give me insight above and beyond other sites that might be available. ALL those sites have agendas inherently at odds with the type of discussion Metafilter is all about.

So the question becomes: do we want to let Trend X become normative by saying that posts about it are no longer relevant or that we don't "do them" well? Because if communities like ours are all, "dude, it's police brutality, it's normal, get over it, nothing to see here move along" than the side of rational, long term thinking has good and truly lost this battle.
posted by digitalprimate at 6:10 PM on July 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


while here it's, "I am a rocket scientist, and...." ... the idiots believe it.
posted by Ardiril at 6:13 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The rocket scientists here have helped me more than once in Ask me regarding intense personal issues, so yeah.

*no actual rocket scientists were involved, but people with intense training in child care, yes.
posted by digitalprimate at 6:14 PM on July 27, 2011


in the case where a trend becomes so prevalent despite its obvious evil, should the community shy away from it

@digitalprimate: Hell yeah!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:15 PM on July 27, 2011


Hmmm...

Rhetorical fail on my part :)

[hangs head in disgrace]
posted by digitalprimate at 6:17 PM on July 27, 2011


> 3) they aren't particularly productive as posts
>
> What do people mean by this? Is there some other class of posts that result in
> advancement of the well-being of humankind? What does it mean for a post to be
> "productive?"

What would you want in the face of something like egregious police brutality, other than to put a fucking stop to it? Posts about that kind of thing (on sites like mefi that are not devoted to breaking news) just make me sad and tired because I don't believe they lead to anything significant being done outside of the never-never-land of the web. They just lead to lots of people fapping themselves into a froth of competitive outrage, tossing virtual dead cats at the usual suspects (who will not even be aware), and then... moving on to the next thread. They aren't even productive in a get-the-word-out sense--I can't think of a standard newsfilter thread in years that wasn't a repost of something somebody saw on some other site and didn't already have 1200-comment threads on reddit and kos and elsewhere.

Mefi threads on monster news stories (9/11, Fukushima, Anders Breivik) -- that's good newsfilter, because those threads contain stuff that mefi does very well: rumor debunking, analysis by people who know what they're talking about, pointers to hard-news sites that aren't slammed. But.. the SWAT squad showed up at the wrong apartment and shot granny and the dog? Hell, even Instapundit hates that and Glenn can be counted on to report it. And when he does so he is not preaching to the choir.

There's plenty of bad shit that happens in the world on a daily, hourly, and minute-ly basis and there may actually be things people can do to fight or help. Firing off a more-outraged-than-thou thread here is not one of them.
posted by jfuller at 6:18 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Posts about that kind of thing (on sites like mefi that are not devoted to breaking news) just make me sad and tired because I don't believe they lead to anything significant being done outside of the never-never-land of the web.

Actually no. I'm moving my family out of the country because of it. Because the threats in Europe aren't of the existential nature they are here, judicially, economically, etc. Family leaves August 19th, I leave in early October after house is on the market.

I'm some random Privileged White Dude, and without Metafilter I'd have little idea beyond a vague sense of dread about what's really going on here.

So, yeah, real world is real worldish. My personal opinion is Metafilter should be that way too.
posted by digitalprimate at 6:23 PM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Metafilter should be that way too. - I do not recall any instance when Matt or any of the mods suggested that Metafilter is meant to be anything other than entertainment. It certainly was never meant to be informational, otherwise at the very least, threads would be nested and tags would allow spaces to form multiple words.
posted by Ardiril at 6:28 PM on July 27, 2011


I fully recognize that my opinion is not that of Matt or the Mods, and I reiterate again that they do a superlative job here, and I have no beef with them. I know this is a minority view I am merely expressing a personal opinion that would be inappropriate to express elsewhere on the site.

I do, however, think the opinion has a bearing on the discussion at hand.
posted by digitalprimate at 6:31 PM on July 27, 2011


OK, given that, "real worldish" how?
posted by Ardiril at 6:47 PM on July 27, 2011


I can only speak for myself, but I made a real world decision to move my family to a different continent based in part on how this site has has informed my thinking about the likely future trajectory of the US over the next ten years, the time before my oldest son goes to college.

What I mean, from an epistemological point of view, Metafilter has a privileged place for me, and I think for many others. Whether that was Matt's or anyone's intention is not the point; it simply is. That point of view has ethical consequences, so in my opinion, the site should allow the community rehash as many GRAR inducing topics as necessary. Again, I know hold a minority view on this, so I will stop talking about it now.
posted by digitalprimate at 6:56 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's no such thing as police brutality: they're just serving too hard and protecting too much, the poor dearies. Let's give them a nice cup of tea, shall we?

Just make sure it's not hot enough for them to scald themselves, or they'll jam that nightstick straight up your ass.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:30 PM on July 27, 2011


The true victims of these speedy deletions are the fascist apologists who weren't even given the chance.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:25 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


You guys have looked "fascist" up in the dictionary, right? Because you seem to have no idea whatsoever what it means.
posted by joannemullen at 9:40 PM on July 27, 2011


You've looked up sarcasm, right?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:59 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


speaking as a fascist apologist (at least, that's what some drunk poet called me once when I wouldn't give him any more Scotch), let me just say how badly I feel victimized by the deletion of threads such as these.
posted by philip-random at 10:10 PM on July 27, 2011


You guys have looked "fascist" up in the dictionary, right? Because you seem to have no idea whatsoever what it means.

Well...as the guy who rages against imprecision in language perhaps too much (we've got so many wonderful damn words, get your epithets right! Reach for the descriptive stars!) the common comeback to charges of fascist opinion -- "you have no idea what fascism means!" -- would also equally apply to, well, everyone. The debate over the exact nature of what constitutes fascistic behavior is raging and likely to never be resolved in a definitional or definitive manner.

If you accept the Trotsky-ite definition of fascist action from Whither France?, that forces seeking to "smash the working class, destroy its organizations, and stifle political liberties when the capitalists find themselves unable to govern and dominate with the help of democratic machinery" are Fascist, then many would agree that leveling the charge against Gov. Walker and many GOP actions IS appropriate. Many would argue that Umberto Eco's definition applies readily to the Tea Party.

Roger Griffin's definitional work on Fascism, though, can easily be applied to Progressives in the United States, especially those who reappropriate patriotic rhetoric ala "not in my America" and "what ever happened to American values like equality and freedom", and championing proposals like a "People's Budget" and trans-class rhetoric about united the two Americas. In fact, under this rubric, a lot about the rise of Obama could be tied to proto- or para- fascistic ideation and tendencies. John Flynn's definition encompasses almost entirely the policies of centrist democrats and Blue Dogs, as well as the actions of President Obama (as opposed to the Griffin Fascism imputed on Candidate Obama).

Orwell wrote a whole essay on this very clash, and concluded that by 1944, in contemporary English, charges of "fascism" or fascist apologism were really just synonymous with being a bully or taking/defending actions that are "cruel, unscrupulous, arrogant, obscurantist, anti-liberal [or] anti-working-class". I tend to use Orwell's prescriptive definition when seeing it on MeFi or hearing it in conversation -- more often than not, its not a charge seeking the backing of scientific and definition rigor (and if it is, they ought to make it clear whose definition/science they're using), but an emotional appeal connoted as Orwell described.

But maybe I'm just a language fascist.
posted by Chipmazing at 10:40 PM on July 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


some drunk poet called me once when I wouldn't give him any more Scotch

I would have called you far worse names that, you monster....
posted by Chipmazing at 10:42 PM on July 27, 2011


*whacks Chipmazing over the head with a bundle of sticks*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:16 PM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Police brutality posts wouldn't go badly if we didn't have fascist apologists around here.

Look, as soon as someone that shops at whole foods gets gunned down by the police, you'll be welcome to post on it.

Gee, I wonder why these posts might be deleted. I can't possibly fathom what can go wrong with them.

My personal opinion is Metafilter should be that way too.

The world is full of good and happy stuff. I can get a never-ending stream of if-it-bleeds-it-leads shit designed to terrorize and depress me from the TV.
posted by rodgerd at 1:11 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I suspect that the truth is far more mundane though; they all know that nothing can stop that from happening

I am not sure if you are spoiler averse, but just to let you know this never ends up happening - you die peacefully at home.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:26 AM on July 28, 2011


Police brutality posts wouldn't go badly if we didn't have fascist apologists around here.

Everything would be better if people we disagreed with weren't allowed to talk or didn't exist.
posted by empath at 6:10 AM on July 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


I can only speak for myself, but I made a real world decision to move my family to a different continent based in part on how this site has has informed my thinking about the likely future trajectory of the US over the next ten years, the time before my oldest son goes to college.

The idea that anyone, anywhere has used some shit they read on Mefi as the inspiration to flee a continent makes me very much wish we had less news and/or outragefilter. Mefi is not a life plan. Mefi will not give your mouth sex appeal. Mefi will not get rid of the nubs. Mefi will not make you look five pounds thinner. Mefi will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath. And it will not put you in the driver's seat.

The mefi I like is the one that is broad and thoughtful --- the one that brings your interesting shit from all over. Not the one that helps you narrowcast yourself into your preferred variety of secular millenarianism.
posted by Diablevert at 2:17 PM on July 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Everything would be better if people we disagreed with weren't allowed to talk or didn't exist.

Nah, I enjoy a good argument too much.
posted by philip-random at 3:51 PM on July 28, 2011


So when it comes to "news" (again, in scare quotes) this site is - to me at least - uniquely trustworthy unlike the alternatives to which Cortex alludes, all of whom have their own special frame of reference that is often at odds with the actual truth.

I'm sorry, but this viewpoint is at distinct odds with reality. MeFi is a lot of things. Unbiased about news or politics is not one of them.
posted by tocts at 7:15 PM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh my, this discussion is still going on.

And @Diablevert what part of, "based in part", did you not understand? You think I am moving my family based solely upon one website? What a narrow view of decision making you have; apparently, I can blame your reading comprehension skills.

And @tocts could you (or Cortex) please provide a list of less biased and more considered websites you'd point a curious space alien to if said space alien wanted to see, YO! what's the deal with humans? Seriously, give me one.
posted by digitalprimate at 7:35 PM on July 28, 2011




You think I am moving my family based solely upon one website?

No. You cited it as a contributing factor, i.e. an inspiration. If the outrage filter here is so prevalent that the site is literally inspiring otherwise reasonable people to run for the hills, then I believe that is a bad thing. It is, of course, possible that you are an outlier with respect to susceptibility and/or reason.
posted by Diablevert at 8:44 AM on July 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it's only fair that this post gets deleted, too.
posted by crunchland at 7:11 AM on July 30, 2011


Yep.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:52 AM on July 30, 2011


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