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languagehat: "my work here is done"
September 15, 2011 1:09 AM   Subscribe

languagehat has left the building.

He gives reasons:
Aug. 21, 2011: For anyone who may be wondering why I'm not around much these days (and not visible at all in MeFi or MeTa), this thread is a perfect distillation of what I've grown to dislike so intensely I don't want to be around it any more: an interesting interview with a great novelist is posted, and the comments consist of nothing but a bunch of ignorant yammering about how stupid the author is and because she says something they don't like about kanji dictionaries (!) her book can't be any good.

Now, I know all about the recency illusion and I've rolled my eyes many times about people saying MeFi isn't what it used to be, so feel free to roll your eyes at me, but I really don't think this kind of thing was as common (in fact, inescapable) a few years ago as it is now. I'm sure the proportions of well-intentioned, thoughtful commenters versus surly asshats interested only in putting things down hasn't changed, but the sheer numbers make it inevitable that the latter have reached critical mass and now dominate any thread that isn't directly focused on topics dear to MeFi's collective geeky heart. That wonderful y2karl Yeats thread that is still my favorite? Couldn't happen today; right out of the gate asshats would be saying "Yeats sucks," "I can write better poetry than that," "Is this something I would have to be a boomer to care about?" ... you get the picture. I don't expect anyone else to care about my frustration and disappointment, but if you were interested, now you know. I will continue to try to provide useful information in AskMe, but otherwise, I think my work here is done.
Also something to note, he winds up on exactly 100 posts, exactly 10000 comments. 7 MeTa posts, 7000 comments.
posted by wilful to MetaFilter-Related at 1:09 AM (1779 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

.
posted by troll at 1:18 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, that sucks. I thought languagehat could be a little hard on people, but he knows a great deal, and frequently had really great things to contribute. I hope he changes his mind at some point.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:30 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


*rolls eyes*
posted by Segundus at 1:35 AM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Communities change. I've changed, an incredible amount in the last ten years.

I think he's got a point; when a community gets to be a certain size, the same percentage of signal to noise can still hold true, but suddenly what was 1 negative, derailing comment, is now 50.

And those assholey comments I might have identified with and cheered on 10 years ago, just make me want to go outside now.

It's also possible that we're all just turning into cranky old dudes.
posted by danny the boy at 1:36 AM on September 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


That's a damn shame, a stand out and well informed contributor. To my perspective a MeFite who could really add to the debates he got involved in - a real loss to this site.
posted by biffa at 1:53 AM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


and the comments consist of nothing but a bunch of ignorant yammering

Sure you can find lots of threads like that one, but there are also exceptional threads. Yesterday's FPP on the Higgs field was anything but ignorant yammering.

languagehat once sent me an encouraging MeFi mail when I was being drawn and quartered in a MeTa and it was such a totally, decent, kind, thoughtful - and unexpected - thing to do it is not hyperbole to say it sort of restored my faith in this community.

i will miss him around here and hope to see his sock-puppet zombie lurking around here in the future.
posted by three blind mice at 2:07 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is a terrible shame and a great loss to MeFi. It's heartening that he still plans to offer his considerable wisdom on AskMe but, damn :-(
posted by dg at 2:12 AM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Speaking of great loss: this also happened, half a year ago.
posted by mahershalal at 2:31 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, this sucks.

Sooner or later the lesser among us seem to be able to break down even our brightest contributors. It seems no one is invincible - it is curious to me to see the many and varied ways in which one can be broken.
posted by allkindsoftime at 2:33 AM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'm sure the proportions of well-intentioned, thoughtful commenters versus surly asshats interested only in putting things down hasn't changed, but the sheer numbers make it inevitable that the latter have reached critical mass and now dominate any thread that isn't directly focused on topics dear to MeFi's collective geeky heart.

I don't think this makes any mathematical sense. If the proportion hasn't changed, why would they suddenly dominate any thread? Just saying "critical mass" doesn't explain anything.

Which isn't to say stupidity can't vary over time. I've certainly noticed being more crabby at the end of summer, because of many reasons (kids home all summer, garden ending, product release at work imminent, etc).
posted by DU at 2:50 AM on September 15, 2011


I don't think I can ever hope to be as valuable a contributor to this community as languagehat has been, but I had a similarly disappointing experience lately, and it initially freaked me out about the value of the MeFi community as a whole.

I feel like, in an effort to come across as smart enough to hold their own with the truly brilliant languagehats who are full of specialized knowledge on MeFi, a lot of us have fallen back on what we think of as "critiques". However, unlike a true critique, which is a deep reading of the matter at hand, there's a tendency to do a shallow reading and latch on to the most familiar word in the post, regardless of its centrality to the main idea.

So I choose to stay and make fewer, better contributions, and I do hope languagehat changes his mind because the culture of the site is no more than the sum of its parts, and we can ill afford to lose great parts.

After all, in both my post and the post languagehat is referencing, after the initial onslaught of irrelevant comments, the great users of MeFi (the ones who actually clicked on the FPP links and looked at them prior to commenting) surfaced and contributed great stuff. I realized that the MeFi community that I always thought of as "typical" really is the majority; they just don't post too much in the first half hour or so after the post goes up because they're busy digesting content.
posted by lesli212 at 2:52 AM on September 15, 2011 [57 favorites]


I think people have a natural Mefi lifecycle. Maybe for a few it's indefinitely long, but most people will naturally move on after a couple of years or so. The majority of people don't stay interested in the same stuff forever, and anyone who's run a blog for an extended period will have seen regulars come and go. However, those who make a conscious decision to leave tend to mention, on leaving, things that irritated them. It does not usually mean those things are actually any worse than they were.

languagehat's a terrifically erudite and intelligent guy (also somewhat tetchy now and then) and getting a favourite from him always felt like the highest commendation Mefi could bestow. It's a shame that won't happen any more, but you can still read his stuff and I intend to go on doing so.
posted by Segundus at 3:12 AM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


I don't think this makes any mathematical sense. If the proportion hasn't changed, why would they suddenly dominate any thread? Just saying "critical mass" doesn't explain anything.

Per this MeTa the number of posts per day has increased only slightly with time (21/day in 2001, 24/day in 2005, and 27/day in 2010) but apparently the number of comments per post has increased more, although I'm not finding data to back up the latter assertion (and don't want to to analyze the infodump right now). If it is true that a relatively constant number of posts are attracting an increasing number of comments then every post has a higher chance of receiving shitty/snarky/derailing comments. When those sorts of comments are received, especially if early in the post, they can really set the tenor of discussion, and not in a good way.

Anecdotally, I'm noticing an increasing number of posts where a commenter is dropping in just to say they are uninterested in the topic or hate it or hate the link/subject/etc, which I think is particularly toxic. Don't know if that's confirmation bias or not, though.
posted by 6550 at 3:16 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


mahershalal, I can not for the life of me figure out what that comment or thread has to do with languagehat's departure.

LH, you'll be missed.
posted by knile at 3:20 AM on September 15, 2011


knile: sorry, I wasn't very clear. What I should've said: it seems Dee Xtrovert also left us, have a year ago already.
posted by mahershalal at 3:27 AM on September 15, 2011


DU: I don't think this makes any mathematical sense. If the proportion hasn't changed, why would they suddenly dominate any thread?

It makes sense if surly asshats post more frequently than thoughtful commenters. Critical mass might occur when (# of surly asshats * average # of posts/surly asshat)>(# of thoughtful commenters * average # of comments/thoughtful commenter).
posted by jon1270 at 3:35 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also something to note, he winds up on exactly 100 posts, exactly 10000 comments. 7 MeTa posts, 7000 comments.

If this isn't a Dan Brown-level secret conspiracy clue, I don't know what is. I bet a bunch of prescriptivists are holding languagehat hostage in a secret base in the antarctic, feeding him drugs and forcing him to post, and this is his way of calling for our help.
posted by Dr Dracator at 3:37 AM on September 15, 2011 [39 favorites]


Sigh. I can understand his perspective, though I don't share his end-of-the-road-edness.

In the spirit of examining irritants:

* People who go into a thread to talk about how little they like the subject or care about same;
* People who discuss the post itself rather than its content (ie, "is this a good post?", "this seems thin", "double" when it's not or even when it is, etc.)
* People who take it as personally insulting a subject which discusses generalities (ie, "white men do generally do x" even if you, White Man, don't)
* People who clearly haven't visited the link(s) arguing about something they've assumed is in them that just isn't

It's like we need* a post discussion page that lives for the first two hours of each post's life. This would be a place for talking about how the free thing someone else took the time to post isn't up to metafilter standards, claims of doubles, clarifications of where the links should go, all that noise. After two hours, it evaporates, and if the post is still standing, it's understood the time for that sort of discussion is done. All the usual rules of decorum apply, too, it's not a free-for-all. Just a place to air concerns since that's going to happen anyway.

That takes care of the first two points. The last two points, I have no idea, they're probably unfixable..

* Not suggesting this for reals, necessarily
posted by maxwelton at 3:53 AM on September 15, 2011 [25 favorites]


That's really a shame. I posted a thread recently (for a career-best one comment!), and I was surprised that LH had not left a comment in the thread. Now I know why. I share many of his frustrations.
posted by OmieWise at 3:57 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't know what to say. I really, really don't. I'm actually more saddened about this than I thought I'd be. I'm going to have to think about this some and then post again. And send him an email when I can figure out what to say. I just don't know right now. But I wish him the best (while I selfishly hope this is only a temporary absence).
posted by iamkimiam at 4:01 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


languagehat was one of the reasons I joined metafilter in the first place. Articulate and incredibly well-read, I always read through the entirety of threads that he commented in because they were all the more interesting for his participation. His absence is metafilter's loss, truly.
posted by kisch mokusch at 4:04 AM on September 15, 2011 [14 favorites]


languagehat has left the building.

He hasn't disabled his account. He explicitly said he'll still be on AskMe. He posted a followup comment to an AskMe back on Sept 10th.

He hasn't left the building, he just hangs out in his office most of the time now, probably playing video games and downloading erotica (not porn).
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:04 AM on September 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


It's like we need* a post discussion page that lives for the first two hours of each post's life. This would be a place for talking about how the free thing someone else took the time to post isn't up to metafilter standards, claims of doubles, clarifications of where the links should go, all that noise. After two hours, it evaporates, and if the post is still standing, it's understood the time for that sort of discussion is done. All the usual rules of decorum apply, too, it's not a free-for-all. Just a place to air concerns since that's going to happen anyway.

I like this, maxwelton. Much better than my idea of no posting from anyone for the first hour after the post goes up; instead of comments, you'd just see a big red box telling you to click the damn links.
posted by lesli212 at 4:05 AM on September 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


So once he hits 50 questions and 5000 answers he'll be done with everything!
posted by Grither at 4:13 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Damn it. Like it was mentioned above, Languagehat was one of the reasons I joined. A lot of people who aren't here anymore were instrumental to me finally ponying up to get in here. I realize things change, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. I feel like the tenor of this place has changed, even though everyone always says that. I know we always say flag it and move on, but part of me wishes that the mods would be just a touch more willing to delete the near inevitable "is this something I would have to have X to care about" comments and their ilk. Even as jokes, it's not funny, and nearly always generates the same tired derail. If you don't care, fine. Please just stop trying to impress people with how little you care. It's poisoning the fucking well. A touch less grudge holding and general fightiness would be swell.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:20 AM on September 15, 2011 [18 favorites]


Speaking of; these posts always make me realize there's someone else I haven't heard from recently. What the he'll happened to Astrozombie? The account is still active, but nothing since July?
posted by Ghidorah at 4:25 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not to pick on wilful, but what's the etiquette regarding copying and pasting a chunk of something on someone's profile page?
posted by misozaki at 4:27 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Astro Zombie posts under a different name now, I think.
posted by misozaki at 4:28 AM on September 15, 2011


Astro Zombie is still here and active under a new name. His new profile page states that he used to be AZ, I'm not sure if it's OK to post the new name here, though?
posted by Infinite Jest at 4:35 AM on September 15, 2011


A touch less grudge holding and general fightiness would be swell.

languagehat is/was a great contributor and I will miss reading new stuff from him.... but he was as grudgey/fighty as anybody here. In fact he seems to left over a grudge against "surly asshats".. So I find that sentence to be somewhat misplaced. It is not community "grudge holding and general fightiness" that caused him to hang up his hat, I don't think. If it were he would be the site's biggest hypocrite.
posted by Dano St at 4:39 AM on September 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


Languagehat's contributions are ones I'll miss. I hope he comes back after taking a breather.
posted by arcticseal at 4:40 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


When surly asshats are right, and here that happens a lot of the time, they are not "grudgey/fighty", they are RIGHT. And you should be thankful.

I find the post and comment deletion policy here absolutely autistic, and think that it directly encouraged the kind of crap that made a lot of mefites leave, but I'll just sit back down now.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 4:45 AM on September 15, 2011


For some reason, this place was better mannered back when there used to be grand, noisy flameouts on a regular basis. I suppose it helped to weed out the troublemakers, though this hardly explains how I survived with this account.
posted by item at 4:46 AM on September 15, 2011


This is a little weird. I'm trying to figure out what the charitable reading of your post here is.

Here are the facts that bother me: he's not gone, and you've posted something from his profile page, the private protected part of the site.

I'm probably being a surly asshat, but if the man wants to stay out of the blue and the gray, why drag him back in with something like this? It's almost like you wish he'd flame out, and since he wasn't doing it on his own, you're trying to goad him into it.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:56 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


languagehat is/was a great contributor and I will miss reading new stuff from him.... but he was as grudgey/fighty as anybody here.

Yes, this. I'll miss him for all the times he pitched the good stuff — but I won't miss the bad, as much. I hope he comes back when he has a decent break and feels like coming back.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:58 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not to pick on wilful, but what's the etiquette regarding copying and pasting a chunk of something on someone's profile page?

Not feeling picked on, but surely a profile page is designed to be public knowledge?
posted by wilful at 4:58 AM on September 15, 2011


the private protected part of the site.

Huh?
posted by wilful at 4:59 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'll miss LH's contributions.

LH: I'm sorry if I ever left one of those surly comments that turned you off of MeFi and MeTa. I will try to be more mindful in the future.
posted by subbes at 5:00 AM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


you've posted something from his profile page, the private protected part of the site.

Some fields of a user's profile are private, but not the general field (where that quote was from).
posted by inigo2 at 5:02 AM on September 15, 2011


People's profile pages aren't Google indexed.
posted by misozaki at 5:04 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to figure out what the charitable reading of your post here is.

You definitely haven't succeeded. The charitable reading (I would say, the only logical one) is that when one of the most respected MeFites decides to stop contributing to most of the site, and gives his reasons, it behooves us to pay attention.

Hope you change your mind at some point, LH.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:07 AM on September 15, 2011 [18 favorites]


When surly asshats are right, and here that happens a lot of the time, they are not "grudgey/fighty", they are RIGHT.

It is entirely possible to be both grudgey/fighty and right. No one is obliged to withdraw all criticism of a person's communication style just because the information they are imparting is correct.
posted by dfan at 5:12 AM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's almost like you wish he'd flame out, and since he wasn't doing it on his own, you're trying to goad him into it.

Well, to be fair, Languagehat loves a good flame out.
posted by OmieWise at 5:16 AM on September 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


You can't change a system by leaving. Unless you can. In LH's case, he might be a big enough loss that people will wise up. Or maybe otherwise thoughtful people will just follow suit, reducing the amount of signal on the site.

Me? If I disappeared, I might merit a shrug if people even noticed. So instead, I'm going to stay and fight. Threadshitters, prepare to meet your cork.
posted by Eideteker at 5:21 AM on September 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Everyone loves a good flame out! These days we mostly have people starting Metas about something innocuous in the larger scheme of things, and then the wolfpack comes out and hounds them until they quit. Much less satisfying.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:21 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


If the proportion hasn't changed, why would they suddenly dominate any thread?

Three interacting reasons:

1. Quantization effects smooth out as populations grow. Consider a user base with 2% surly asshats. If you have enough users that 30 people are online simultaneously at any time, you get substantial periods when no surly asshats are available to screw things up, and threads frequently get off to good starts. If 300 people are online simultaneously at any time, ~6 of them will always be surly asshats.

2. Shit attracts flies. A thread that's been found by one surly asshat will generally attract contributions from others, while simultaneously discouraging more positive discourse.

3. 10x users / 5x mods = less responsive moderation.
posted by flabdablet at 5:26 AM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


This is a shame; I've been reading MetaFilter pretty much since the start, on and off, and Languagehat turning up in a thread with a well-informed, persuasively explained comment on languages was always a pleasure to read.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:30 AM on September 15, 2011


Wow, I haven't been around much lately myself and I had just been thinking "Man, haven't seen languagehat around lately. Wonder if I'm just hanging out in the wrong threads."

Be well and may the hats be with you.
posted by sonika at 5:39 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sad. And not that my take means anything as I mostly lurk but I tend to agree with his feeling about it. Collectively Mefi definitely has certain priorities over others, and it can be tiring to see the kneejerk "lala I don't know anything about this but I'm going to loudly dismiss it right away anyway" thing without fail in threads not about those surefire Mefi fave topics like video games, comic book heroes, Roger Ebert, etc. This is perhaps inevitable, since it is a community and all communities have things they lean towards or whatnot, whether intentional or no. Bums me out it was enough to drive him away.
posted by ifjuly at 5:42 AM on September 15, 2011


This, too, shall pass.
posted by mkultra at 5:42 AM on September 15, 2011


He always seemed so annoyed that everyone else wasn't a linguistics expert.
posted by smackfu at 5:44 AM on September 15, 2011 [17 favorites]


misozaki: "People's profile pages aren't Google indexed."

Huh, they don't seem to be. Didn't know that.
posted by octothorpe at 5:44 AM on September 15, 2011


I believe languagehat left the building once before, and then at a later point re-entered the building. If he has left it again, he may in the future decide to re-enter the building for a second time. The building has evidently been irritating him—perhaps the fresh air outside the building will sooth his irritation: I hope so. Among people who leave the building, some, like languagehat, will announce 'I am now leaving' where others will depart in silence. Not to mention those who remain in the building all along without anyone else in the building being aware of their continued presence. Of those who announce their departure, some will ask of them, why must we be told? Of those who leave silently, others will wish to have been informed. There's no pleasing everyone.
posted by misteraitch at 5:53 AM on September 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


CautionToTheWind: "I find the post and comment deletion policy here absolutely autistic, and think that it directly encouraged the kind of crap that made a lot of mefites leave, but I'll just sit back down now."

I would tend to agree that there isn't enough deleting around here...but clearly many people feel otherwise. See the 45,000 MeTa complaints about mod deletions.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:56 AM on September 15, 2011


The syndrome (which has been ever thus, I suppose, but does seem to be becoming worse) is that it's easier to win points against anything by putting it down. If you're unfortunate enough to look at the comments on The Guardian's Comment is Free pages, you'll see that the vast majority of the comments are people insulting the article above them, the newspaper, the other commenters and pretty much anything else to hand. That's why I try to stop reading before the comments start.

I'm not hugely positive myself (was very rude about Ron Paul this morning, for example), but certainly as far as culture is concerned, have come to the conclusion that I'm interested in things that people like and are enthusiastic about (even, or especially, if I disagree) but have virtually no interest in what people don't like, especially if they're vociferous about it. It's so easy to say Meh! or This sucks! that it adds no value at all to the conversation. Even if the thing in question really does suck. It's just noise.
posted by Grangousier at 5:56 AM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Reminds me of the David Graeber fiasco (thread, MeTa, relevant comment from the MeTa).

We need a meta-metafilter to filter out the LOLcats and "poop" comments.
posted by ReWayne at 5:57 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's almost like you wish he'd flame out, and since he wasn't doing it on his own, you're trying to goad him into it.

Wow. That's completely not how I read this, even though I'd barely had any coffee when I saw it a few minutes ago and started reading, and being undercaffeinated is a state most likely to make me uncharitable.

My initial - and continuing - read on this is "Dammit, a great contributor has left (part of) the site and here are his reasons. Let's talk about those reasons."
posted by rtha at 5:57 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


It seems like everyone gets sick of MetaFilter and MetaTalk every couple of years, and that's completely normal. What else in your life have you done and enjoyed for five or ten years? Don't you think you are changing over that time as much as the site is? I think AskMe tends to keep people from closing their accounts more.
posted by smackfu at 5:58 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Among people who leave the building, some, like languagehat, will announce 'I am now leaving' where others will depart in silence.

Meh - he changed his profile, but you'd have to seek it out. It's not like he put a big sign in MetaTalk.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:59 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Grangousier: "it's easier to win points against anything by putting it down."

What are these "points" you speak of? Are they like favorites??
posted by Grither at 6:07 AM on September 15, 2011


He wasn't the reason I joined, but his rather prominent voice here was definitely amongst the things that attracted me to MetaFilter in the first place. I've had some fruitful exchanges with him, and learned stuff/re-assessed stuff I thought I knew because of his generally enlightened perspective. So when he says "(...) comments consist of nothing but a bunch of ignorant yammering about how stupid the author is (...)" it gives me pause, because I've been busted being that guy before, and I had to re-think my stance.

I wish I had the time and the wherewithal to contribute in as substantial a way as LH has over the years, I'm thankful to him for the things he did contribute, and I truly appreciate those of you who still do.

Anyone spurred by this post to pause for reflection I suppose is a good thing. A little less of the dismissive know-it-all-ism around here would be a positive boon. BE THE CHANGE, PEOPLE!
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:07 AM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


2. Shit attracts flies. A thread that's been found by one surly asshat will generally attract contributions from others, while simultaneously discouraging more positive discourse.

Also, I think bigger piles of shit are more likely to lead to Heroic Shit-Cleanup Efforts that tend to derail a thread.

If there's one snarky fuck in a thread with ten participants, we tend to be like "Guys, don't feel the troll" and we move on. Because it feels like, okay, whatever, this is just one person being an asshat. We don't need to let one weirdo ruin our day. And so the conversation continues in the direction it was headed before he showed up.

If there's five snarky fucks in a thread with fifty participants, we're more likely to feel like "Oh, man, this particular bit of snarky fuckery is a serious problem on the site. We've got to speak out and counter it." Even though it's the same proportion, from a social point of view it feels less like "this is just one lone weirdo, ignore it" and more like "okay, this is a whole nasty little subpopulation of users, maybe something oughta be done." And so people start pushing the point, and the conversation derails into "Here's why y'all's snarky fuckery is not okay" and the snarky fucks fight back and the whole thing goes off the rails.

I dunno. Sometimes when a thread takes a big polemical Stand In Solidarity Against Snarky Fucksterism turn, it's worth it. I'm thinking of some of the ginormous discussions we've had about sexism and racism — which really did seem to make a positive difference in the site as a whole. But it seems like nowadays, on a daily basis, I'll wander into a thread and see that it's turned into Snarky Fucks vs. Antifuckitarian Crusaders — maybe over something like racism or sexism, maybe just over something like "modern art sucks" or "television is boring and you're dumb if you like it" — and, sorry, I'm not up for fighting that fight on a daily basis, especially if it's over something like television.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:10 AM on September 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


*commits seppuku in mortal shame*
posted by loquacious at 6:13 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some fields of a user's profile are private, but not the general field (where that quote was from).

I see that now. Please accept my apology for the uncharitable and error-ridden misreading, wilful.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:14 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


*commits seppuku in mortal shame*

Mmm, bacon!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:16 AM on September 15, 2011


Languagehat sucks. I could write a better list of reasons for leaving than that. Is this something I would have to speak languages or wear hats to care about? Am I doing this right?
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:17 AM on September 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


You'll be missed, l-hat.

Though - if you're going to go - I can't help but feel you owe us a proper flameout. I'll just leave this jug of whiskey and stack of dishes right here.

My goodness, just look at that precarious, fragile pile of dishes. It would be a shame if someone came and drank that bottle of whiskey and then accidentally knocked the dishes over. Or even worse, if they picked them up one by one and dashed them on the floor and walls!
posted by loquacious at 6:17 AM on September 15, 2011 [19 favorites]


So once he hits 50 questions and 5000 answers he'll be done with everything!

Nu-uh. He's made 0 posts to mMefi Music, and only 18 comments there. He'll need to post two songs and make 2 more comments. Then he'll be done with everything!

Gonna miss him around here, for sure. Hell, I'm starting to feel like the gaddam old guard or something...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:21 AM on September 15, 2011


That's a shame, if only because I learned quite a bit about Russian (ostensibly, my mother tongue) from him.
posted by griphus at 6:22 AM on September 15, 2011


I remember posting a link to an interview with a book's author where the comments were filled to the brim with snark about the think tank hosting the interview. Languagehat came in and justly complained that people had obviously not read the interview, let alone the author's book, and that instead they were just pointing and shrieking at that think tank's presence.

I understand his frustration. Other threads make up for that kind of stuff, but it's still a problem.

I'm not sure which thread LH is referring to in that comment, though.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:30 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


smackfu He always seemed so annoyed that everyone else wasn't a linguistics expert.

I never received that impression. Somewhat related, I remember him saying:

I would never dream of pointing at someone else and saying "Hey, everybody, look -- that person can't spell!" I think it's deplorable, no better than pointing at someone and saying "Hey, look at that fattie!" Just my opinion.
posted by mlis at 6:31 AM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Noise can be flagged and filtered out.

A certain amount of noise and thread shitting is tolerated in MetaFilter and in MetaTalk. It is not a law of numbers nor a curse. Rules like in AskMe can be set up and can be actively supported by the community. Other spaces can be opened, each with specific rules, including some for noise and thread shitting if it's deemed necessary for the balance of the site.

MetaFilter is an interesting experiment. It is always evolving. I agree with languagehat that the amount of noise can be deafening. But Matt and the mods are at the helm, they do an awesome job and obviously they know something about the virtue of noise that I don't.
posted by bru at 6:33 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


The thread at fault - on a brief skim - looks interesting enough to a dilettante such as myself, and pretty far from YouTubism. If anything, it seems to be an example of a derail because people couldn't be arsed RingTFA. Well, fuck. This truly is a downhill turn. Maybe if Matt raised the entry barrier to $10 people would RTFAs instead of indulging in unenlightened chitchat.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:34 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mais, dit Candide, n'y a−t−il pas du plaisir à tout critiquer, à sentir des défauts où les autres hommes croient voir des beautés?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:35 AM on September 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


Shame that he's scaling down his involvement, but as others have said I feel that's the nature of online communities - people leave. New people arrive. It's always going to be that way.

On the wider point, I tend to agree. There are whole topics I avoid now because I know they'll just be filled with quips designed to elicit favourites by appealing to the majority view, whatever their accuracy or relevance to the original post. And we, collectively, do seem to delight in tearing down a lot of what's posted here. [On preview, I tend to agree with Ubu that the particular thread in question doesn't seem that bad, but obviously I lack LH's knowledge of the topic]

UbuRoivas: Am I doing this right?

I believe you would need to refer to him as "Language-fat" (probably adding "LOL!"), for maximum right-ness.
posted by Infinite Jest at 6:37 AM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


"but have virtually no interest in what people don't like, especially if they're vociferous about it."

I don't care what people like or don't, but rather why. This is why I'm on record as anti-".".
posted by Eideteker at 6:39 AM on September 15, 2011


I see that now. Please accept my apology for the uncharitable and error-ridden misreading, wilful.

No wukkas. I merely posted because I too have great respect for languagehat, and I was sure it was a matter of community interest.
posted by wilful at 6:41 AM on September 15, 2011


Now that he's gone, maybe I should let out my terrible confession that L hat must never know: I bought his book used! At Barnes and Noble! He didn't get a red cent from me! forgive me stephen.
posted by Think_Long at 6:45 AM on September 15, 2011


loquacious: "*commits seppuku in mortal shame*"

Oblique Joe Haldeman reference?
posted by Chrysostom at 6:45 AM on September 15, 2011


I have missed LH lately.

Well, I'll keep the 'Hat Signal operational just in case.

He does have a good point. But I've also been glad to see the mods have been pretty diligent about removing derailing first comments, as they said they would. Many times I've read a well-crafted, interesting front page post only to see the first comment is some variation of "hay that suxors" or "is that all you could think of." Usually within minutes, such comments have been deleted, so thanks for that.

I try to keep my filter finely tuned, and generally don't let the noise bother me. There are tons of good things going on here, and I won't let the idiots rob me of it. But, we all have different levels of sensitivity.

See you on AskMe, LH!
posted by The Deej at 6:48 AM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Call him Language FAT! Then put LOL!


I too will miss his contributions.
posted by namewithoutwords at 6:52 AM on September 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


Be the change you want to see.

This said, I've been around since 2007. Lurked for a long time before then.

I'm become much less of an asshole or snarker or hateful pissant. You either have to or grow bored.

I do agree with him though. As much as thread shitters piss me off I really try hard not to do it myself. I know one man's witty comment is another's pile of thread crap.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:59 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I am confident that, as America shifts into yet another delightful election cycle, assy yammering will find no home here at MetaFilter.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:59 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can see why people who like Metafilter leave. What I don't understand is why the people who hate it stay.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:11 AM on September 15, 2011 [46 favorites]


Bummer. languagehat was one of the reasons I liked MeFi so much.

So long, and thanks for all the ghoti.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:11 AM on September 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


More evidence that in trying to increase MetaFilter's popular appeal, the moderators have dumbed-down the site. Sure, it's more popular than ever, but it's not the site it used to be, and that's a shame. I'm not quitting, not yet, but the mods need to sit up and take notice when the oldsters start leaving. Mods, are you going to do anything different now, or is this attrition acceptable to you?
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:15 AM on September 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


languagehat didn't say he was leaving, but rather he was confining himself mostly to askme. This is something everyone on this site does. Very few people have a use for all the sections of metafilter. In many ways I metafilter is actually a subsite of askme (as far as traffic goes).

I can name you the thirty or so people that regularly visit projects (and vote or comment). I can tell you who the top posters are on metafilter or metatalk, but I have no idea about jobs, IRL, and very little about music.

Everyone picks the sites they want to use.

I've done what languagehat is doing with askme. I've gotten pissed at enough of the people over there that I'd taken a huge break (only just now dipping my toes back in). I just didn't announce it to the world that I was leaving that section.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:19 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe we could have a five minute no comment period when someone makes a post. That way, users can actually read the article before commenting.
posted by frecklefaerie at 7:21 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


the moderators have dumbed-down the site

Um, how?

Mods, are you going to do anything different now...?


Like what?
posted by neroli at 7:22 AM on September 15, 2011


More evidence that in trying to increase MetaFilter's popular appeal

I'm pretty sure that Matt has said increasing Metafilter's popular appeal is exactly what he doesn't want to do.

the moderators have dumbed-down the site.

This is the sort of thing that people say that make me realize I could never be a moderator because hearing this would make me want to throw things.

LH's contributions were often more than my feeble brain could handle, but I recognize them as valuable and insightful. Still though, people leave. It's not really up to the moderators to keep them around.
posted by bondcliff at 7:22 AM on September 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


This is kind of like when John Lennon left the Beatles. Everybody created this big stir and people blamed Yoko and whatnot, but to me the essence was the man was just tired of being a Beatle; how long could you be a Beatle before all the commotion just became exhausting?

The man has read a lot of threads and written a lot of posts. A lot more than I think I would have the energy for even if I liked the site far more than I do.
posted by bukvich at 7:24 AM on September 15, 2011


frecklefaerie: "Maybe we could have a five minute no comment period when someone makes a post. That way, users can actually read the article before commenting."

That would no doubt give people who still won't read the article time to fine-tune their snark.
posted by zarq at 7:28 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll miss his contributions.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:30 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


MrMoonPie: I'm not quitting, not yet, but the mods need to sit up and take notice when the oldsters start leaving.

I don't know all the reasons these people left (or stopped contributing), and in putting some names down here, I'm not saying I agreed with everything they posted, but they were all old time big contributors that I've definitely noticed are gone.

boo_radley, Faze, orthogonality, Pope Guilty, Artw, Rory Marinich (although not such an old account), Dee Xtrovert, Optimus Chyme, ND¢, and I'm quite sure there are plenty more I'm missing on this list.
posted by gman at 7:32 AM on September 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


Damn it.

I realize that he's still around, albeit in a less active way, but I hate seeing people I respect and enjoy reading feel the need to walk away from the community.

languagehat, I've been a big fan of your contributions over the last decade or so, and I sincerely hope you change your mind and continue to drop by the blue every once in a while; it may not be perfect, but it remains the best I've ever found, and it is diminished by your leaving.
posted by quin at 7:33 AM on September 15, 2011


Threads like this end up as excuses for people to sit around and bash the site with generalities, say things about how everyone awesome has left or will leave (uh, thanks?), and generally be unpleasant.

He's still registered here, people can still send him mefimail, so it's not about sending him good wishes...so why the public gnashing of teeth?
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:34 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Noise can be flagged and filtered out.

I think what languagehat was saying is that the noise has become the signal.
posted by John Cohen at 7:34 AM on September 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


Faze is gone? Well, at least we can say that the collective blood pressure of the site has dropped a few ticks.
posted by griphus at 7:36 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think what languagehat was saying is that the noise has become the signal.

Wait, really? I thought he was saying he'd like a pizza with extra whiskey with a side of kittens.

Man, if only we had some kind of expert... word-type person around. A wordist? Anyway, that would be cool.
posted by loquacious at 7:37 AM on September 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


I think the word you're looking for is "tonguist."
posted by griphus at 7:38 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not quitting, not yet, but the mods need to sit up and take notice when the oldsters start leaving.

People move on. What seemed like a great website in college may not be to your taste when you are married with kids and have no extra time and don't need more stress in your life. Reading too much into "oldsters" leaving is not worthwhile. Today's oldsters are yesterday's newbies, and yesterday's oldsters are forgotten.
posted by smackfu at 7:42 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm also really, really sorry to hear this (though glad he will still be around to answer questions). He is one of the members I most respect, for his intellect, knowledge, and general values, and have come to feel he's a friend, though we've never yet met. I hope that the new choices he's making for interacting with the site will feel rewarding and that perhaps at some point he'll return.

I feel like, in an effort to come across as smart enough to hold their own with the truly brilliant languagehats who are full of specialized knowledge on MeFi, a lot of us have fallen back on what we think of as "critiques". However, unlike a true critique, which is a deep reading of the matter at hand, there's a tendency to do a shallow reading and latch on to the most familiar word in the post, regardless of its centrality to the main idea.

So I choose to stay and make fewer, better contributions, and I do hope languagehat changes his mind because the culture of the site is no more than the sum of its parts, and we can ill afford to lose great parts.


This, I think, is an excellent response. Over my 10 years on MeFi, six or so as a contributing member, I've had moments as well where I felt the site was taking a turn. Lately I've been very frustrated by the willy-nilly, somewhat lazy contributions of ignorant commenters casually throwing stuff out there with no research or background knowledge. Also, the lack of RTFA-ing is a shame. I had fun with a recent post I made but based on the comments, it seemed as though not a single poster actually looked at the content. That's disappointing - why go to the trouble if we just want to say "Talk amongst yourselves. I'll give you a topic."

But all you can do, if you stay a member, is try to raise the bar with your own behavior, individually.

Myself, I've definitely done the 'default to critique' thing quite a bit, probably much too much. It's a fault. Yes, I'm naturally a critically minded person, but it doesn't hurt to be thoughtful and considered rather than just going for the slam. I have been working on doing something different for a while and will take this as a spur to work harder at it.
posted by Miko at 7:47 AM on September 15, 2011 [20 favorites]


People change, their focus shifts, other priorities come and go. It's odd, to me, that people don't seem willing to accept that and feel that something must be done to keep everyone they like or feel is valuable around. Leave the door open, but let people go if they wish to go.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:50 AM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


At last! I can post my spurious etymologies without looking nervously over my shoulder!

I am sad to learn that lh won't be commenting so often; good poster and a fine man.
posted by Abiezer at 7:51 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mods, are you going to do anything different now, or is this attrition acceptable to you?


Are you suggesting that this cultural problem has a structural solution? If so, what ideas do you have?
posted by Think_Long at 7:55 AM on September 15, 2011


Languagehat is the reason I read The Foundation Pit and felt like I wasn't smart enough; he's also, I believe, the first person who signed his IRL name in a MeMail to me, which seemed a special kindness extended to a Metafilter nobody like me.

With any luck, he's reading this thread right now, feeling slightly guilty for reading all the nice things people are saying about him even though he's not dead, but also probably going through a lot of pains at not correcting all the stupid things people are saying. Rest in peace, languagehat, or at least keep blogging.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:56 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Pretty much any thread about writers or writing is borderline intolerable to read. Mostly because people are simultaneously extremely hasty AND really lazy about expressing their opinions. I really sympathize with 'hat on this one.
posted by hermitosis at 7:59 AM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


the young rope-rider: " He's still registered here, people can still send him mefimail, so it's not about sending him good wishes...so why the public gnashing of teeth?"

In nearly seven years of membership (and more spent as a lurker) I've seen a definite change in tone on MeTa, AskMe and MeFi. (Positive, Negative and Cyclical.) Languagehat chose to express his feelings about that. He's a long-term, respected and (mostly) active user and there isn't anything wrong with discussing what he's said.

Perhaps some of us feel similarly. Or have felt similarly in the past. We can empathize. Sharing our feelings and experiences about it can be a good thing: maybe we can learn from each other. How to change things from within, both passively and aggressively. When to walk away. That doesn't necessarily mean this is going to turn into a bash-Metafilter fest.

Personally, I love languagehat's contributions. They're one of the best things about this place. Have learned a great deal of fun, unexpected things from him. He's also been kind, defensive and supportive of those he felt were being treated unfairly in MeTa or Mefi. Which says a great deal about his character and heart, I think. I'm relieved to know that he'll still be active on AskMe and will miss him here and on the Blue.

The simple truth is that as we age and (hopefully) mature, our tastes and opinions usually do too. We learn from and adapt to new experiences. Most of us who have been here for years are different people than we were when we signed up. I certainly am. That's normal and to be expected. For better or worse, we grow up. And in a way, so has MeFi. How the community continues to grow and evolve is now up to us, as active members.
posted by zarq at 8:02 AM on September 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


Miko: " But all you can do, if you stay a member, is try to raise the bar with your own behavior, individually. "

Or, this. (Well put, Miko.)
posted by zarq at 8:03 AM on September 15, 2011


I do think people change and lives change and sometimes we need to move on, but their reasons are worth paying attention to. When someone identifies the cause as a change in themselves, they tend to just move on a bit more quietly, not locating the reasons for their discontent in any media they may be reading or community they may be following, but just recognizing it's time for something new even while still feeling that the experience they are separating from is fine for the folks that still derive enjoyment from it.

But there are also times when they identify the impetus for the change as external, and then it's appropriate,if you respect that person's opinion, to examine whether that charge has merit, whether the culture or content has changed significantly, and ask if there are things we'd like to do as correctives, individually or structurally. There might be, there might not, and not everyone is self-aware enough to recognize changes in themselves as opposed to changes in the external environment. But with languagehat I don't really think that's the case. This place has never really had halcyon days, and I'm actually glad it's maintained its activity by bringing in lots of new members in recent years. I don't think any structural correctives are really called for here, but those of us who do have a vision of the community which we'd like to maintain can use this opportunity to think usefully about individual behavior, and how to better embody the community norms we say we value.
posted by Miko at 8:03 AM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Mods, are you going to do anything different now, or is this attrition acceptable to you?

It's a balance. I knew he left a ways back so I guess people can see what we've been doing and make their own decisions. We made a few prominent deletions over the last few days of ELECTION 2012 stuff that was intended, among other things, to keep the surly asshat tenor down here a little bit, but that sort of thing has a lot of people who don't like it as well. We delete more, it makes some people more comfortable, we delete less, it makes other people more comfortable.

So, yeah we've been doing a few things slightly differently. You only sort of get to make small adjustments here or everything goes ass-over-teacup, but the sort of thing that he's grousing about sort of has to start with people working on their own game. I've been working on my own game as well. It's slightly telling that LH is staying, perhaps, on the most heavily moderated part of the site. If we were to do a close read of that I'd say he was asking for more deletions. That is not, I don't think, what many people who are unhappy in this thread would prefer. We are, as always, open to suggestions. They're a bit more easy to implement than complaints.

That said we've had some oldsters come back (and a few leave) and a bunch of new members many of whom are delightful. There's a regular churn here that is somewhat inevitable.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:04 AM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


ass-over-teacup

Isn't the phrase ass-over-teakettle? Or are they both used? Oh! If only we had some language person here, preferably with a hat, to provide some color the ass-over-tea-instrument question.
posted by mreleganza at 8:09 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Faze is gone?

My stars, he is. I hadn't noticed. I'm vaguely curious about that back story, I'll tell you what. Let this, then, be my encomium to a determined man someone.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:11 AM on September 15, 2011


gman: " boo_radley, Faze, orthogonality, Pope Guilty, Artw, Rory Marinich (although not such an old account), Dee Xtrovert, Optimus Chyme, ND¢, and I'm quite sure there are plenty more I'm missing on this list."

Artw is back but (as you say,) not contributing. He commented in a MeTa post yesterday.

We can add immlass, proj, bunnycup (she's been gone a while,) and shmeggege to the 'currently closed accounts' list, too.
posted by zarq at 8:11 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


octobersurprise: " I'm vaguely curious about that back story,"

I'm hoping he's out there somewhere, hunting down a veritable herd of ass-jittering cattle.
posted by zarq at 8:12 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


We made a few prominent deletions over the last few days of ELECTION 2012 stuff that was intended, among other things, to keep the surly asshat tenor down here a little bit

As you say, opinions vary on this, but I'd like to say thanks. I am really dreading the full-blown HOLY FUCKSTICK AN POLITICS!!! that I know will happen here next summer and the later it starts the better.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:14 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


" boo_radley, Faze, orthogonality, Pope Guilty, Artw, Rory Marinich (although not such an old account), Dee Xtrovert, Optimus Chyme, ND¢, and I'm quite sure there are plenty more I'm missing on this list."

I was gone (due to IRL events) for nearly a month and didn't make the list!

*cries*
posted by sonika at 8:15 AM on September 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


My singular anecdotal datapoint:

I don't think the tone or general intelligence here has really declined that much at all. We actually have better/nicer user comments and guest comments then we did before, and more of them.

But we do also have more users and more random noise along with that.

I look back at some of the old threads and comments - some of them written or posted by myself - and cringe at how mean and boy-zone and fighty we could get about things. I've written some ridiculously stupid stuff on this site. Hell, I once ripped a certain well known ARG/games specialist a great big new one and she was even in the thread, and I was an idiot about it.

I think what has happened is that a lot of us oldsters have developed and grown a lot over the last 10 years. We have newbies saying some of the same things we did 10 years ago, but our perspectives have changed, so we get annoyed by it.
posted by loquacious at 8:16 AM on September 15, 2011 [17 favorites]


At last! I can post my spurious etymologies without looking nervously over my shoulder!

I too regard this as a joyous day, and am delighted that language hat has been utterly defeated.

It was obvious when I first began amassing my forces of evil that languagehat was the main obstacle to my plans for MetaFilter domination.

Thus, I spent long nights in my secret lair of criminality, pondering strategies for his downfall. How I cursed his moral fortitude, his infinite compassion, his linguistic erudition! Then, deep within my malicious pit of loathing, a subtle tactic dawned.

I gathered my henchmen, and we registered four hundred sock puppet accounts. Each false personality was dedicated to hateful intolerence and mocking jibery, and we descended on MeFi as a painful horde. How we spoiled each thread - often without reading the links! Our perverse pleasure was in dismissal, pedantry, and one-upmanship.

And then - on that blessed day in August - we broke the noble spirit of language hat, and he was cast down into the depths of despair, an inescapable prison from which he will NEVER return.

Now, I am unchallenged in my twisted craft; the path of tyranny lies clear and empty before me. Tremble, you worthless fools, before me - yes, tremble! - for no-one can stop me in my plan to post a succession of spurious psuedo-grammatical justifications for the most outlandish constructions.

From now on, whatever Strunk & White says is an authoritative rule! Words such as "fuck" will be given incorrect backronymic etymologies! I'm going to criticise people who use the US spelling of words as being "uneducated" and "not speaking correct English!" HA HA HA HA HA!

AND NO ONE CAN STOP ME!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:17 AM on September 15, 2011 [29 favorites]


It's not too hard to pull up thread from the good-old-days to show there's always been grar, thread shitting and snark. Pretty much everything people complain about can be found in threads from 10 years ago.

The more things change the more they blah blah blah.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:18 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


In my own experience, there is now a greater degree of nastiness on the site, specifically in any thread related to nuclear power or American politics.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:19 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


gman: “boo_radley, Faze, orthogonality, Pope Guilty, Artw, Rory Marinich (although not such an old account), Dee Xtrovert, Optimus Chyme, ND¢, and I'm quite sure there are plenty more I'm missing on this list.”

Ethereal Bligh and amberglow, too.
posted by koeselitz at 8:20 AM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


A few things:

I know we always say flag it and move on, but part of me wishes that the mods would be just a touch more willing to delete the near inevitable "is this something I would have to have X to care about" comments and their ilk.

We have been trying to be active about this, both for literally "I don't care about this" type comments and more generally just non-productive dumb one-liners early in threads. But we can not do it by ourselves; there are two big things that make it possible to actually do that effectively site-wide:

1. Flag it. Don't just think it ought to be flagged by someone, actually flag it. We see dumb comments like this with no flags until hours later sometimes.

2. Don't respond to it. A dumb one-liner in isolation is trivial to clean up. A dumb one-liner with five people responding to it and folding that response into otherwise solid contributions to the thread makes it very difficult to clean it up in a sane way.

More evidence that in trying to increase MetaFilter's popular appeal, the moderators have dumbed-down the site. Sure, it's more popular than ever, but it's not the site it used to be, and that's a shame. I'm not quitting, not yet, but the mods need to sit up and take notice when the oldsters start leaving. Mods, are you going to do anything different now, or is this attrition acceptable to you?

What are we trying to do? What are you taking about? Oldsters have been leaving since year one, Metafilter has jumped the shark every year since 2000 if you take what the disenchanted have to say during the peak of their disenchantment. We very much care that people who seem like good members of the community decide to leave, but trying to outright prevent that from ever happening would be a great foolishness.

This site cannot be forever everything to everyone; the site may slowly shift as an aggregate community over time, but individuals are likely to shift more easily because they're independent beings with their own arcs of engagement and enthusiasm and wants and needs that aren't constrained by what 10,000 other people are feeling.

Not to pick on wilful, but what's the etiquette regarding copying and pasting a chunk of something on someone's profile page?

Profile pages are a weird penumbral place privacy-wise. They're intentionally not indexed on google; some of the fields on them are viewable only to logged-in members; and generally speaking we want people not to yank personal information off of them and into threads, because that can be all kinds of frustrating or problematic.

That said, they're semi-public spaces, and what someone writes in the free-form area of their profile page isn't necessarily sensitive in a privacy sense; if it's commentary on Metafilter itself, it's probably closer to the "we can talk about this if there's a good reason" sense than e.g. someone's email or full name or contact info out on the rest of the internet. Still something to approach with a bit of care, but as far as that goes this seemed like a reasonable call on wilful's part even if it's still likely to make some folks uncomfortable.

He always seemed so annoyed that everyone else wasn't a linguistics expert.

Mostly I've seen him get annoyed when someone tried to force fake language expertise on other people. Not knowing something about language is normal, we're all amateurs because language is big and complicated and our crazy amazing brains let us learn it by accident. Not knowing something and then blithely or sniffily Telling Someone How (You Don't Really Know) It Is is more objectionable because it's perpetuating a cycle of linguistic bullshit for no good reason other than, I guess, the satisfaction of Being Right In Public.

There's lots of shades of grey and lord knows lhat can be a bit grumpy about it himself, but, yeah, the key distinction is between mere not knowing and outright linguistic bullshitting.

I like languagehat a great deal, and hope he ends up feeling more like participating across the site in the future, but it's ultimately his call and him doing what's good for him is the only thing that makes sense. People have the right to disengage or wander off if they want to, and it's an inevitability that some people will, for any number of reasons. This is a community, not a prison or an old-schooler's club.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:21 AM on September 15, 2011 [33 favorites]


I still want to know what happened to amberglow, but always felt it was too nosey a question.


(Clearly I don't feel that way any longer.)
posted by aclevername at 8:22 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I left for a year and no one made a Meta post. Thus, I came back.

You all have just made certain Le Hat won't come back. YOU FOOLS.
posted by PapaLobo at 8:23 AM on September 15, 2011


I went from being a very active participant in the blue to commenting in about 20 posts a year. I shifted my focus to AskMe because I like it and there are a lot fewer assholes.

So basically languagehat is doing exactly what I did. He idolizes me and wants to be just like me, so it's really not surprising.
posted by iconomy at 8:32 AM on September 15, 2011 [21 favorites]


Sometimes I dream, that she is me. You've got to see that how I dream to be. I dream I post, and answer most. Like iconomy. I'd like to be like iconomy.

Seriously though, I miss The Straightener. Cause I've got scoliosis now.
posted by cashman at 8:35 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


He idolizes me and wants to be just like me, so it's really not surprising.

He's not the only one.
posted by OmieWise at 8:38 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is a community, not a prison ...

THEN WHY CAN'T I LEAVE?
posted by griphus at 8:40 AM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


> Ever wonder where the word "shit" comes from. Well here it is:

Certain types of manure used to be transported (as everything was back then) by ship. In dry form it weighs a lot less, but once water (at sea) hit it. It not only became heavier, but the process of fermentation began again, of which a by-product is methane gas.

As the stuff was stored below decks in bundles you can see what could (and did) happen; methane began to build up below decks and the first time someone came below at night with a lantern. BOOOOM!

Several ships were destroyed in this manner before it was discovered what was happening.

After that, the bundles of manure where always stamped with the term "S.H.I.T" on them which meant to the sailors to "Ship High In Transit." In other words, high enough off the lower decks so that any water that came into the hold would not touch this volatile cargo and start the production of methane.

Bet you didn't know that one.

Here I always thought it was a golf term.

Freee! Freeeeeee!
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:45 AM on September 15, 2011 [17 favorites]


It's slightly telling that LH is staying, perhaps, on the most heavily moderated part of the site. If we were to do a close read of that I'd say he was asking for more deletions.

Well, I do think it's relevant that AskMetafilter has higher standards for what's an acceptable comment, but that doesn't mean there should be a higher number of deletions. Those are two different things. The ideal on AskMe is that everyone knows about the standards and fears deletion, so they keep their answers helpful and relevant. Deletions should happen or not happen depending on how many unhelpful answers there actually are, not for the sake of having a certain level of moderation.

A couple years ago, I made a similar comment on the blue to languagehat's, saying I'd still regularly contribute to AskMe but I was tired of the Mefi comments sections because they end up being a way for people to vent hostility and take self-righteous poses. (I'm not going to link to it since I don't want to dredge up an old argument.) I don't know what languagehat's reasoning is for drawing this distinction, but my distinction was: on AskMe, I know that at least some of the time, I have actually helped people by posting comments on the internet. In contrast, I question whether discussions on the blue ever really help anyone. And yeah, I think the level of moderation has something to do with this, but not to the extent where you could fundamentally change either subsite by deciding, today, to increase or decrease the number of deletions. Deletions enforce the standards for the subsites, so the deletions are important, but what's even more important is everyone's shared understanding of the prevailing standards.
posted by John Cohen at 8:47 AM on September 15, 2011


gman: “boo_radley, Faze, orthogonality, Pope Guilty, Artw, Rory Marinich (although not such an old account), Dee Xtrovert, Optimus Chyme, ND¢, and I'm quite sure there are plenty more I'm missing on this list.”

Ethereal Bligh and amberglow, too.


Those latter two belong to an older wave (as does ND¢); a lot of users around now wouldn't even know who they are, as with people like ikkyu2 and occhiblu and jonson. The Straightener. Rory Marinich is in a newer wave than that, it seems like a big deal that he's gone but ask around in three years. The site is better now than it was ten years ago; go read some threads and you'll see.

Easy come easy go, so it's been so it will be.
posted by Kwine at 8:48 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Language Hat getting angry over a language issue isn't a very new phenomenon on MeFi.

I've run into this once or twice - when you're a really-for-real expert in a difficult field, it's amazing when the armchair quarterbacks come out to call a few plays. They are so wrong, you don't know where to begin to correct them, and when you try, they gang up and combine their ignorance into mecha-troll!

The solution is to stand back a ways, and enjoy the site for what it is - interested laymen trying to understand tricky concepts. Sometimes you can't correct common misperceptions, or convince someone you're right just because you understand the material. Welcome to real life. Just find another post where you're the interested laymen trying to talk through a tricky concept, and have fun.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:48 AM on September 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


With much love and respect to LH and other longtime members who feel displaced in the newer, bigger MetaFilter, I disagree with a lot of the tenor of the argument. For as long as I've been around here, MetaFilter has been modeled as a community, not a book club. We have conversations, not symposiums or faculty dinner parties. This is public welcome, open bar.

Posts should stand on their own merits, as links to cool stuff. Nobody is owed the brilliant conversations they are so sure they would have carefully crafted had they been in charge. Not even Matt. Even if this were a dinner party, and Matt only invited the most brilliant people, sooner or later, after a few years, the conversation would wander off. Because nothing is as useless as pure signal, and Hell is other people.

There were no golden years. There were only our derails. Now that it's their derails, it all seems so... unseemly.

MetaFilter doesn't need slipcovers and a high gate. It needs high standards, and the wisdom to recognize that nothing is ever perfect until it is dead.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:48 AM on September 15, 2011 [43 favorites]


As to the more negative tone on the site, that's reflection of the world at large to this mostly American and left leaning membership. The world, on multiple levels, is considerably more negative and darker and the collect we are mirrors of that. I'm not sure if it's possible to change that, but if you believe it is, I would suggest that everyone posting in this thread make a sincere effort to not be reflect those negativity.

Metafilter, as I understand it, is about sharing interesting stuff you've found on the web. Live that ideal in your activities here or flag it and move on.

THEN WHY CAN'T I LEAVE?

The mustache, of course.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:51 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Pretty much any thread about writers or writing is borderline intolerable to read.

Frankly, this is generally true for any post on which one has a specialized interest. They're alternately horrifying and baffling to read (people really think that!?!). Reflexive humor, polemics and misconceptions dominate many discussions, while informed comments are often lost in the noise. (I'm far from innocent on contributing to the noise myself).

This is just something that just needs to be accepted, if one wants to continue to participate here. I'm not certain the the noise levels are any worse (or better) than five or ten years ago. It does, however, get wearing, and I'm not surprised that many people get tired of it.

The mefi mods do do a good job of keeping the noise levels down, imo, and prune the worst of it. Certainly, one of the values of this site is in the frequency with which good comment survives and is promoted. However, many of the commenters named so far have to deal with similar signal-to-noise issues as part of their day jobs. Doing it here too, for free, well, it's easy to walk away from.
posted by bonehead at 8:57 AM on September 15, 2011


Tough shit. Really. That's how the internet, and the world, work.

I just passed 10 years here and never once did I wish for the good old days. The Entire Internet is full of a bunch of "ignorant yammering" jackasses, Metafilter has always been full of them as well. You're right, I don't care about your frustration and disappointment, no one should.
posted by Blake at 9:00 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Personally, I don't really worry so much about the politics threads. Of course those are going to be incredibly contentious. Just can't get around that. Some people like that, some people don't.

But, I've been noticing lately that I've been avoiding a lot of threads related to topics I like. There have been a lot of threads lately, where I start out thinking, "Oh boy! That's interesting! I can't wait to see what people have to say!" and then I just close the thread after about 20 comments, because it's all so hateful. I'm no one special on the site, and I really don't comment much on the blue regardless, but it's something I've noticed. The Graeber Event may be the most clear-cut example of it.

There have also been threads where I've wanted to say something to the effect of, "Hey! This is really neat!" But the hate in the thread is so strong I don't feel comfortable doing so -- when there are twenty or thirty posts about how lame something is, it can make you feel like a goober for liking it. I guess I'll try more from now on to speak up about the positives.

At least these days we'd never insult Wil Wheaton on the front page.
posted by meese at 9:03 AM on September 15, 2011 [20 favorites]


> You're right, I don't care about your frustration and disappointment, no one should.

To be fair, he did put that in his profile, seemingly for the benefit of anyone who clicked on it looking to see if he was still active. It's not the same as posting a parting shot Metatalk post or something. It's kind of easy to conflate those two when his profile blurb is pasted at the top of a post here. There's certainly a lot of ground to disagree with his assessments, however, and these kinds of wakes are weird because the people who are being eulogized are reading right now. But, he's allowed to share his motivations for not posting.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:05 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


THis is a loss for MetaFilter
posted by Daddy-O at 9:05 AM on September 15, 2011


Pretty much any thread about writers or writing is borderline intolerable to read.

mmm that's how I feel about many of the threads about biology. Although to be fair, that's often the consequence of ridiculous science reporting distorting something and creating a derail off the bat rather than the mefi members in the thread.
posted by gaspode at 9:06 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought the Graeber Event was a large net positive. Could it have gone a lot better? Of course it could have. There is a fortune cookie about the perfect being the enemy of the plenty fine.
posted by bukvich at 9:07 AM on September 15, 2011


I'm sorry the rest of the world doesn't live up to your high and exacting standards, Languagehat.
posted by crunchland at 9:08 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


as with people like ikkyu2 and occhiblu and jonson

Ah, I miss jonson. I think of him every time I see a pug.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:08 AM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


You're right, I don't care about your frustration and disappointment, no one should.
...
I'm sorry the rest of the world doesn't live up to your high and exacting standards, Languagehat.

Also, maybe since languagehat didn't post this MeTa or ask for it to be posted, people could at least refrain from being dicks in the second-person?
posted by Greg Nog at 9:10 AM on September 15, 2011 [46 favorites]


Am I the only one who gets a little excited* any time a member leaves? This means I move up one in the Metafilter Succession Plan! We all do! If only that bastard jonmc would get out of here, then the universe would be MINE, MINE, MINE!

*Not that I only feel excited, I sometimes feel sad or bewildered, too. Still wondering what the heck happened to amberglow.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:11 AM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Speaking of great loss: this also happened, half a year ago.

Wow, Dee Xtrovert left over a youtube video with a bad Obama pun? There's got to be more to it than that. I mean, I have a better sounds-like-they-said-Obama video if it helps bring her back
posted by Hoopo at 9:13 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know that things go back and forth, but it seems pretty clear to me that there has at least been a shift in the way people approach links here; that is, nowadays, the default is "this sucks." You don't have to look far to find examples of this. For instance, the latest post on the front page is pretty distinctly this. Unfortunately, this is true in almost all cases now.
posted by koeselitz at 9:13 AM on September 15, 2011


There have been a lot of threads lately, where I start out thinking, "Oh boy! That's interesting! I can't wait to see what people have to say!" and then I just close the thread after about 20 comments, because it's all so hateful.

I've been thinking a lot about this. A friend of mine who teaches Intro to Lit says that he's always reluctant to assign them literature that he really likes. A lot of kids - the smarter ones, in particular - think that what you're supposed to do in a literature class is figure out what's wrong with a piece of literature.

I see that a lot on Metafilter. Any time an FPP starts with a pull-quote, the first half dozen or so comments are arguing with the pull-quote. Which is an ironic response, especially when folks often use divisive or counterintuitive quotes to pique people's curiosity to RTFA. Arguing with the quote is missing the point.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:13 AM on September 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


You're right, I don't care about your frustration and disappointment, no one should.

I think this is an outlook that helps make things worse, not better.
posted by rtha at 9:14 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


The links don't even matter on a lot of posts. People are just using it as a jumping off point to talk about the subject like they would on a talk discussion board.
posted by smackfu at 9:15 AM on September 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


> Ah, I miss jonson. I think of him every time I see a pug.

Heh. I was sad that the video linked in this post was removed and seems to have been taken down across the internet.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:17 AM on September 15, 2011


This is a community, not a prison

Why not? We need to send agents to follow him home, pump his rooms with green knockout gas, and bring him back to the Village.

"What do you want?"

"Participation."

"You won't get it!"

"By hook or by crook, we will."

We already have numbers! It's an easy switch.



Also did you know that posh stands for "port out starboard home" and that "hopefully" is used incorrectly by almost everyone? Also Eskimos have nine hundred words for snow and hats suck
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:18 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Before we start a round of intense soul searching about Languagehat's passive-aggressive profile message, maybe the real reason why he's decided not to post anymore is so he doesn't destroy his display of quasi-significantly-round numbers in his posting profile?
posted by crunchland at 9:19 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


smackfu: “The links don't even matter on a lot of posts. People are just using it as a jumping off point to talk about the subject like they would on a talk discussion board.”

That's true. Weirdly, I get the impression that the current trend of everyone instinctively hating on the main link is kind of an instinct toward that. People perceive (rightly) that one of the best things about metafilter is our ability to offer insightful independent commentary on a subject; so there's a big rush to get away from the material we're given and move on to our own thoughts. The trouble is that we get caught up in the effort to get away from the material so that that becomes the whole thread – a steady stream of "this article sucks."
posted by koeselitz at 9:19 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


You want suggestions?

End favorites--you gave folks a point system, so they started trying to score points.

End flags--if there's a big problem, you'll get emails. Increase the difficulty of complaining, and people will complain less.

Freeze membership (or make it invitation only)--No more yahoos, at least. Let membership numbers drop to a much lower number. This will, again, reduce the amount of modding you need to do. Casual, drive-by assholes will drop out, leaving only those of us who actually care about the site.

Mod less--the changes outlined above will reduce the amount that you need to mod, and will make it less likely that you'll even see (perceived) problems. But in addition, you need to stop deleting items that don't directly break the guidelines. Bad advice in Ask? That's your opinion, and not a deletion reason. Too much grar? Again, not your decision to make. Yet another political thread? Leave it alone. Sexist, racist, homophobic rants? Let us see who the assholes are.

I love MetaFilter. I've made real, lasting friendships through the site, and have learned (and been entertained) an enormous amount. My wife's new job, pretty much, stemmed from a series of AskMes. It's a great site, with potential to be even more wonderful. But it's too damned big right now, and there's too much moderation.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:21 AM on September 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


Perhaps some of us feel similarly. Or have felt similarly in the past. We can empathize. Sharing our feelings and experiences about it can be a good thing: maybe we can learn from each other. How to change things from within, both passively and aggressively. When to walk away. That doesn't necessarily mean this is going to turn into a bash-Metafilter fest.

I don't even really mind the metafilter-bashing (although it does suck when people aggressively call out the mods for fucking this place up because, what).

What I dislike is what I see as the devaluation of newer members and those older members who have stuck around. It's really unwelcoming and inaccurate.

Of course people are free to talk about it. I don't think we're running out of metatalk. However, I remain unconvinced that it does much of anything besides reinforce a sort of in-group bias towards older/former members and give an opportunity to blame departures on people/types whom we don't like.

Especially irksome is when it's implied by these long lists of former members that all of them left due to site culture issues when I know for a fact that some of them left for reasons wholly personal.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:21 AM on September 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


The links don't even matter on a lot of posts. People are just using it as a jumping off point to talk about the subject like they would on a talk discussion board.

I couldn't even begin to tell you all the great links I've seen from Mefites on G+ where they posted them and said 'This is super great, but I would never put it on Metafilter' and then everyone said 'Yeah.'

Doesn't that suck?
posted by shakespeherian at 9:22 AM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


The links don't even matter on a lot of posts. People are just using it as a jumping off point to talk about the subject like they would on a talk discussion board.

This is apparent in the recent post on a (long) George Packer essay that appeared in the New Yorker... It seemed evident that few people (early on in the thread) had even read the article.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:22 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Doesn't that suck?

It seems like they want to have the discussion on a smaller, more intimate scale with those mefites whom they know will respond positively.

Wasn't there a thesis done at least partly about mefi on the fact that more off-site interaction between members leads to less on-site participation?
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:26 AM on September 15, 2011


Especially irksome is when it's implied by these long lists of former members that all of them left due to site culture issues when I know for a fact that some of them left for reasons wholly personal.

"Where did you learn to get this snarky?"

"From you alright? I learned it from watching you!"
posted by Hoopo at 9:31 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think what has happened is that a lot of us oldsters have developed and grown a lot over the last 10 years. We have newbies saying some of the same things we did 10 years ago, but our perspectives have changed, so we get annoyed by it.

This may well be true. Hindsight isn't really 20/20, it's fuzzy, myopic, and sepia-toned.

. Let membership numbers drop to a much lower number. This will, again, reduce the amount of modding you need to do. Casual, drive-by assholes will drop out, leaving only those of us who actually care about the site.


I would really worry about doing that because it could be the first step in a long slow death for the site. MetaChat, for instance, dropped to some really low traffic a couple of years ago. It was functionally the site in the ICU. It's recovered quite a bit due to some focused efforts to bring aboard new users and treat them well, and to re-engage 'mature' users, but it was really clear in the days of steep decline that a continuous inflow of new users was absolutely necessary to replace the natural attrition of folks who just move on - outgrow it, get too busy to socialize online, develop more social outlets IRL, whatever.

People do just move on, not always because of a problem with the site, so if you don't want a site to die, you have to keep the water trickling in or the pipes will freeze. I love MeFi as much as ever but have much less the time I used to to post and comment - I'm glad that other people are taking up the opportunity so I have stuff to read and comment on when time does allow.
posted by Miko at 9:31 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would really worry about doing that because it could be the first step in a long slow death for the site. MetaChat, for instance, dropped to some really low traffic a couple of years ago. It was functionally the site in the ICU. It's recovered quite a bit due to some focused efforts to bring aboard new users and treat them well, and to re-engage 'mature' users, but it was really clear in the days of steep decline that a continuous inflow of new users was absolutely necessary to replace the natural attrition of folks who just move on - outgrow it, get too busy to socialize online, develop more social outlets IRL, whatever.

I agree; it's happening on another bulletin board that I frequent, which has been in a long steady multi-year decline now. I think part of the problem is the ubiquity of facebook/twitter/GooglePlus. If someone wants an outlet to discuss something interesting online, they now have several other places that are trying to be the Default Interaction Zone, and they're less likely to seek out some new little internet-nook where they don't know anyone.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:35 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


6550 writes "I'm noticing an increasing number of posts where a commenter is dropping in just to say they are uninterested in the topic or hate it or hate the link/subject/etc, which I think is particularly toxic."

Not a new problem, these things tend to ebb and flow.

John Cohen writes "In contrast, I question whether discussions on the blue ever really help anyone. "

I learn a lot from the discussions here, it's the main reason I keep coming back.

villanelles at dawn writes "'hopefully' is used incorrectly by almost everyone?"

This I don't get. If the vast majority of people are using a word in a certain way, even if that way isn't how it was used historically, then the word now means how it's being used. It's not like English was handed down on high via stone tablet.
posted by Mitheral at 9:36 AM on September 15, 2011


End flags--if there's a big problem, you'll get emails. Increase the difficulty of complaining, and people will complain less.

What? My impression is not that people should complain *less*, but that they should stop derailing threads with complaints. Think a post is weak, a double, or spam? Flag it.

Increasing the difficulty of registering complaints probably will lead to fewer complaints, if only because people will see less point in complaining because more and more asshattery will be left to stand, people will take it as a given that this is How This Place Operates, and then we can complete the journey to becoming an unmoderated site full of racist trolls making shitty comments. It's a destructive cycle.
posted by rtha at 9:38 AM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's not like English was handed down on high via stone tablet. --- Too bad we don't have some kind of expert around who could refute or amplify this statement.
posted by crunchland at 9:39 AM on September 15, 2011


This I don't get. If the vast majority of people are using a word in a certain way, even if that way isn't how it was used historically, then the word now means how it's being used. It's not like English was handed down on high via stone tablet.

The point being, I think, that languagehat would vehemently agree with you. Villanelles at dawn was jokingly posting some things that would annoy LH, or that he would disagree with, at least.
posted by Infinite Jest at 9:39 AM on September 15, 2011


English was handed down on high from the offices of Strunk, White, and Safire. Everybody knows that.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:41 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Everyone loves languagehat, but people are going to leave, you can't freeze the site in amber. These "the site sucks now" are always going to happen, remember when that guy posted the meta about how all the recent FPPs were shit? It is like a bar, a new crowd starts coming in and the regulars suddenly discover they have a wife and kids.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:42 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is sad news, but not surprising. Cynicism is a very corrosive force.
posted by ozomatli at 9:42 AM on September 15, 2011


the problem is favorites & fishing for favorites

snark and single line condemnation or adulation results in the highest effort:favorite ratio
posted by nathancaswell at 9:43 AM on September 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


I found the David Graeber thread really disappointing, and the issues there are issues that I see a lot here. But what can you do? The site is successful and a lot of people like it. If there's some kind of collective or administrative desire to change it, then that's great, otherwise... well, you either accept it or you move on.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:43 AM on September 15, 2011


rtha: "End flags--if there's a big problem, you'll get emails. Increase the difficulty of complaining, and people will complain less.

What? My impression is not that people should complain *less*, but that they should stop derailing threads with complaints. Think a post is weak, a double, or spam? Flag it.
"

Strongly agree with it. The problem is not people being complain-y, it's them doing it in the wrong place. Shitting in a thread kills a thread. Flagging/contacting the mods, does not. If you have to get on a high horse, start a MeTa thread.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:44 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I learn a lot from the discussions here, it's the main reason I keep coming back.

Agreed. I learn a fair bit from the discussions actually, sometimes about the topic and sometimes about site culture or certain individual members. Languagehat consistently made good contributions, but I'm not comfortable drawing any conclusions or recomending any huge changes to the site as a whole based on his personal experience with it.
posted by Hoopo at 9:51 AM on September 15, 2011


I think MetaFilter is way less snarky and nasty than the "good old days."
posted by grouse at 9:53 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


A sincere question to the couple people who have said that they are reluctant to read posts because "invariably the first few comments are snarky" --

Why not flag those comments?

Those of you who don't think the mods are Mod=y enough --

Have you flagged the things you haven't liked or memailed them about it?

People, it's like the mods are Congress: they can't take care of a problem if they don't know about it. This isn't like THE MATRIX where they're permanently jacked in to every thread. People need to tell them "hey, there's something going down here that's funky."

That isn't to say that everything you flag will get deleted, though. Sometimes you're the only one bugged by a thing. But -- at least you've given the mods a chance to...MOD. You know, like people want them to.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:54 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


There have been a lot of threads lately, where I start out thinking, "Oh boy! That's interesting! I can't wait to see what people have to say!" and then I just close the thread after about 20 comments, because it's all so hateful.

Yeah, I've definitely noticed that, too. This summer was a slow period at work for me and so I spent a lot more time on the blue than I can right now, for example. A significant number of political threads this summer were just filled with anger, despair, and vitriol.

The 9/11 build-up was just miserable--glad that's over and I sincerely hope the next 'big event' (election, disaster, etc) gets more heavily moderated than others have in previous years. I know it's not always popular to say 'more moderation and deletion' but honestly between the idea that 'there's already an existing thread on this topic' and that 'more GRAR doesn't make anyone happier' I do think flashpoint topics should be looked at carefully.

For my own mental health, I decided I'd rather just stay out of political threads entirely. I read the threads on cool new digital archives and happy kitten commercials and the antics of Apple/Microsoft/Facebook and I'm a much happier Mefite.

Also, I do hope that LH keeps his account open as he says he will. I owe him a long overdue Memail and think I'll take the chance now to send it to him.
posted by librarylis at 9:54 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


This isn't like THE MATRIX where they're permanently jacked in to every thread.

I'm sensing the need for a new pony....
posted by rtha at 9:55 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


It tends to irk me when someone shows up in a thread to proudly announce their complete unawareness of the subject of it (yet, somehow, also their concurrent disdain for same), but honestly it's not like that's a practice unique to Metafilter, or to the internet, even. So I guess I'm figuring that removing oneself from participation here would do little to reduce one's exposure to that particular practice.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:55 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I flag a lot and it pretty much always works. Not sure why people are reluctant to do it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:59 AM on September 15, 2011


do superheroes get super flags, or like a red phone to the mods?
posted by Hoopo at 9:59 AM on September 15, 2011


Yeah, I really need to tell myself to flag more, threadshit less, and respond to threadshitting even less.
posted by Think_Long at 10:00 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


This isn't like THE MATRIX where they're permanently jacked in to every thread.

I assume that jacking into a thread is the opposite of threadshitting?
posted by griphus at 10:03 AM on September 15, 2011


shakespeherian: " I couldn't even begin to tell you all the great links I've seen from Mefites on G+ where they posted them and said 'This is super great, but I would never put it on Metafilter' and then everyone said 'Yeah.'

Doesn't that suck?
"

In my case, it's less a matter of "that sucks" and more a matter of "Eh. It's not worth the effort today."

This site does not handle certain topics well. Creating a post around one that is more likely to foster a decent conversation rather than a flamewar takes time and care. Sometimes, the content simply isn't deep enough to bother.
posted by zarq at 10:04 AM on September 15, 2011


do superheroes get super flags, or like a red phone to the mods?

No special phone. But I'm pretty sure my flags count 10x.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:05 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


FAMOUS MONSTER: "It tends to irk me when someone shows up in a thread to proudly announce their complete unawareness of the subject of it (yet, somehow, also their concurrent disdain for same)...."

"I have no idea how these people got their cats wedged into their scanners, or why."
posted by zarq at 10:06 AM on September 15, 2011


I've said this before, but I'm regularly surprised by people who literally say in threads "that was a dumb comment and should get deleted," but don't flag it. That is sort of the opposite of productive.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:06 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


People, it's like the mods are Congress

Hey, no need to get nasty.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:07 AM on September 15, 2011 [22 favorites]


Wow, I just read the Helen DeWitt thread and it was absurd. I've never read the Last Samurai but a lot of people I really admire rave about it and DeWitt herself has a fascinating blog and to think that a thread purportedly about her book turned completely into MeFi's own Dwight Schrute arguing with people about dictionaries is just sad. Put out more flags.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 10:07 AM on September 15, 2011


ignorant yammering

This is the most intelligent community I know of anywhere online. By and large comments here are anything but "ignorant." Frankly I don't really see a problem with people who feel otherwise taking their business elsewhere.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:08 AM on September 15, 2011


This is a community, not a prison

I keep telling the people I have locked up in my basement the same thing, but they just don't seem to believe me.

Which is why they get the hose.
posted by quin at 10:08 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


people are going to leave, you can't freeze the site in amber

If we could, we'd still have amberglow.
posted by orange swan at 10:09 AM on September 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


boo_radley, Faze, orthogonality, Pope Guilty, Artw, Rory Marinich (although not such an old account), Dee Xtrovert, Optimus Chyme, ND¢

I find it baffling that people are always talking about how site hostility drove former users away. At least a couple of people on the aforementioned list were frequently hostile and often problematic for the site, and in my opinion their absence is blessing. I do miss Rory a lot, though.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 10:09 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


wilful: " Also something to note, he winds up on exactly 100 posts, exactly 10000 comments. 7 MeTa posts, 7000 comments. "

THERE MUST BE A WORD FOR THIS PHENOMENON. WE SHOULD ASK THE EXPERT. SOMEONE BREAK OUT THE LANGUAGEHAT SIG- awfuck.
posted by zarq at 10:10 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dee Xtrovert is gone? That completely sucks.
posted by jbickers at 10:14 AM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


No special phone. But I'm pretty sure my flags count 10x.

They should. Pink Flag was a tremendous album, by the way.
posted by Hoopo at 10:14 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


> THERE MUST BE A WORD FOR THIS PHENOMENON.

numerology or maybe even gematria.
posted by bukvich at 10:15 AM on September 15, 2011


to sir with millipedes: "At least a couple of people on the aforementioned list were frequently hostile and often problematic for the site, and in my opinion their absence is blessing."

I don't want to go too far with good riddance, but it's certainly the case that your mileage may vary on any given user. Lots of people were saddened when MiguelCardoso dropped out, for example, but personally I found him not necessarily an asset to the site.

Old people drifting away and new people coming into play is important to keep the site from ossifying.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:17 AM on September 15, 2011


Whether or not they were assets is debatable, but the idea that hostility drove away some of the more hostile users on that list is a bit laughable.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:24 AM on September 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


I agree with languagehat that the amount of noise can be deafening. But Matt and the mods are at the helm, they do an awesome job and obviously they know something about the virtue of noise that I don't.

I agree with the first sentence, wonder what virtue there might be in noise.

Width and breadth of noise, snark and nastiness gets tiresome. I've found myself thinking, "Wow, a thread that's actually more thoughtful comments than noise, snark and nastiness; what a pleasant surprise."

Can feel like a relatively small number of people with hundreds of noise-snark comments per month have an impact beyond their numbers, both through the comments themselves and their contributions to the tone in threads and in general.
posted by ambient2 at 10:25 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I tend to stick to AskMe these days, with occasional peeks into the blue, for the same reasons outlined above.

I do think that the first-responder threadshitting that maxwelton and Grangousier talk about upthread has become an unwelcome tic in many online forums, and I'm not sure if there's a neat technological workaround.

Perhaps a short delay between a post going live and comments being accepted might create a pause for thought?
posted by holgate at 10:26 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Edit window!
posted by KokuRyu at 10:28 AM on September 15, 2011


An edit window Trojan horse!
posted by stinkycheese at 10:29 AM on September 15, 2011


Aw, banana oil.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:29 AM on September 15, 2011


I feel that people with strong personalities and/or opinions that they stated frequently could be somewhat polarizing in that "you love them or you hate them" sort of way and are a much more noticable loss to the community than the people who drift in and out of here. If people are curious about why people left, they are welcome to drop us a note. We won't pass on the details on "oh soandso is back under a new username" reports, but we'd confirm/deny.

And again, there are real differences of opinion on how much it's a mod's place to reign in any of this. We try to encourage flagging, refuse to build any more features around favorites, make politicalfilter posts meet some decent standard, and remove early threadshtting. We'll also encourage people to take grudge matches off the site, discourage pile-ones or flame-outs (sorry languagehat) and discourage threads turning into "one person with unpopular opinions taking on all comers" to the extent that we can.

We try to keep MetaTalk a place where people can go to air grievances, but I have to say there seem to be some people who just hang out in MeTa because they have an abundance of free-range grievances and just bring them up in unrelated threads because ... well I have no idea why people do that. The guidelines for this part of the site means that sort of casual grousing is okay here but man I'd love to see less of it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:30 AM on September 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


There have been a lot of threads lately, where I start out thinking, "Oh boy! That's interesting! I can't wait to see what people have to say!" and then I just close the thread after about 20 comments, because it's all so hateful.

This is why I almost never make front page posts (I'm averaging less than one a year). I see stuff and think, "this would make a great post on Mefi" and then remember that even the most innocuous posting get slagged on for reasons that I would never have thought of.
posted by octothorpe at 10:32 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


How very unlike him to be so snottily disdainful. Guy was always way too far up himself for my taste. Still, it makes a change for someone I don't like to bail out.
posted by Decani at 10:32 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


We could encourage posting restraint by adding a feature where we favorite comments that users don't make.
posted by mazola at 10:32 AM on September 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


but I have to say there seem to be some people who just hang out in MeTa because they have an abundance of free-range grievances and just bring them up in unrelated threads because ... well I have no idea why people do that

I think MetaTalk is the watercolor to the watercolor that is Metafilter proper (the cups are very small) ala "Hey fellow member, how about that shitty post about topic I don't like, AMIRITE?!"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:36 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here are some comments from this brand new Jon Stewart Esquire piece thread. I flagged many of them, and they remain (perhaps some were removed that I didn't notice). Many of them are more substantial than the phrase "threadshitting" implies, and yet their pure negative energy, cumulatively, drags the thread into silence and makes discussion of the very interesting subject or even the merits of the writer difficult. A discussion nevertheless ensued there, thanks to the usual thoughtful people who make this a great site, but the whole thing took on a very defensive tone.


"A whole lot of axe grinding and damning with faint praise for very little in the way of a point.
posted by T.D. Strange at 11:43 AM on September 15 [11 favorites +] [!]

You're not missing much, if the first two sections are any indication. I didn't read the rest but it was shaping up to be a hatchet job.
posted by IanMorr at 11:46 AM on September 15 [+] [Flagged]

Blah, blah, blah...what a worthless article. Fuck you very much Tom Junod.

Stewart's interviews are the very best on television.
-He had the prime minister of Iraq on at the height of the violence there just after the Virginia Tech shooting, and asked him how they dealt with the same events on daily basis.
-He had Musharraf on to ask him where Bin Laden was, then had him on again after Bin Laden was killed, to ask him why he didn't know before.

Does anybody else do anything comparable?
posted by Chekhovian at 11:56 AM on September 15 [5 favorites +] [Flagged]


That was a kind of bloviatingly wanky article.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:47 AM on September 15 [1 favorite +] [Flagged]

That is waaaaaaay longer than it needs to be. I scanned it, got the angle and left. I'll continue watching TDS every night.
posted by davebush at 12:02 PM on September 15 [+] [!] [Flagged]


The conversational tone there was terrible.
posted by Aizkolari at 11:48 AM on September 15 [6 favorites +] [Flagged]
"

I do not advocate that all of these be deleted, just that people think more about the cumulative effect of negative comments in the beginning of a thread. If you hate the article, come back in 20 minutes or an hour and say at length what you don't like about it. If you post one sentence (or any kind of) pure dismissals you are hurting other people's experience. I have done it too, I'm sure! I'm sure even languagehat and other folks who get mad about threadshitting do it.

Let's try to click the X before saying anything snarky y'all.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:36 AM on September 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


It's always interesting to me, to watch as people come and go. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that not only am I not the lowest non-mod-3-digit alum still active on the site, but that they even live in the same town as I do.

The site has changed character, sometimes more annoying to read than others, but also capable of so much more than before.
posted by nomisxid at 10:37 AM on September 15, 2011


What the he'll happened to Astrozombie?

I'm Astro Zombie. And the reason for my name change?

So I choose to stay and make fewer, better contributions


This, basically. It's hard. I understand LanguageHat's complaints, and don't blame him for leaving, although I will miss him. I have been, in general, trying to be less jokey (the hardest thign of all) and to actually contribute something to a thread -- a perspective, new information, whatever. I try to read the links before I comment. I try not to react with anger, but instead to make sure I have explained myself clearly, and, when somebody is challenging me, even if they are hostile, to ask questions that will make sure I understand their position. And, if I disagree, to state my disagreement as clearly and as in non-fighty a way as possible (also very hard).

Astro Zombie had a lot of baggage, some good, some bad. But I wanted to start posting under a name that I actually associate with myself (Bunny has been my nickname for years, and The Ultramods is my band name) and start posting in a way that is more consistent with how I wish to behave. It's an ongoing struggle.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:39 AM on September 15, 2011 [33 favorites]


I do not advocate that all of these be deleted

Well you did flag them apparently.
posted by Hoopo at 10:42 AM on September 15, 2011


when you're a really-for-real expert in a difficult field, it's amazing when the armchair quarterbacks come out to call a few plays.

Indeed. See, "Someone is wrong on the Internet." It's difficult for me to believe that LanguageHat's primary motivation for cutting back on MeFi is frustration with "surly asshats," since that's not an especially unfair characterization of his own commenting behavior. On the other hand, he wouldn't be the first or even the most high-profile member (e.g., ikkyu2) to depart after getting frustrated with MetaFilter's treatment of a subject within his expertise. It's common, it's understandable, and it sucks because it makes the site worse. Or more specifically, it makes the site more lay and less expert, which I think is worse.

It's also a more concrete issue than "The site's gone downhill" and might make a more interesting discussion.
posted by cribcage at 10:42 AM on September 15, 2011


> End favorites--you gave folks a point system, so they started trying to score points.

Yes.

I suspect this horse has bolted, but I also think it's one of the few changes the site could make that would have an impact on some of the issues that are being raised here without changing the fundamental nature of the site itself.
posted by Georgina at 10:45 AM on September 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


If you hate the article, come back in 20 minutes or an hour and say at length what you don't like about it. If you post one sentence (or any kind of) pure dismissals you are hurting other people's experience.

I disagree with this. If you read the article, then by all means state your opinion. But if the article was about something you don't care enough to read, then no one cares what your opinion is.

My rule is is I consume the link, then I'm going to say what I think about it. If I can't be bothered to actually watch the clip or read the article, then I'll skip the thread, but just because my reaction isn't love when viewing doesn't mean my observation is invalid or needs to wait.

But then I also think people need to stay the fuck out of threads where they have no interest.

If that article was on Surf Boarding I would never have read it. I did read it. I thought it was about 8,000 words too long.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:46 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm calling bullshit. I think this is more of a stunt for LH's amusement than a genuine condemnation. Obviously that's just my opinion, but there it is.

1) The number of posts thing makes this a stunt. Full stop.
2) The site has always been like this, or worse, in terms of the things he's complaining about. Always. And I think he's objective enough to see the truth of that.
3) While undeniably a great contributor, LH has been more of a surly asshat than the average poster. Perhaps his name calling and snark has been more erudite than others, but I see a real pot/kettle thing in his reasons for leaving.
4) Claiming to be stepping away due to a small minority of "I don't care about this" posts just doesn't hold water. Why would someone stay on this site as long as he has if their filter for such things wasn't automatic? I don't even bother to flag it and move on, as comments of that sort are so trivial and easily ignored. Obviously the posts are crap, but if your ceiling for acceptable comments is "only 100% on topic and productive posts allowed" you wouldn't spend years on an Internet forum.

So he's bored with the site, wants to leave with a bang, and can't resist calling people names on the way out. In other words, in my humble opinion, it's not us, it's him.

Irregardless, he was a great contributor, and will be missed.
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:49 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Turn off favorites for a month, see if it helps.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:50 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, _that's_ who you are!
posted by subbes at 10:50 AM on September 15, 2011


I think MetaFilter is way less snarky and nasty than the "good old days."

It's less vicious, but there's also less of an upside, and it's harder to tolerate pervasive low-level negativity when you don't perceive the commenters as being particularly superior to or more sympathetic than their targets.

I also think you guys should try ditching favorites – maybe for a year – just to see what happens.
posted by furiousthought at 10:50 AM on September 15, 2011


In the spirit of examining irritants:

* People who go into a thread to talk about how little they like the subject or care about same;


I'd discriminate between these two. Comments which state how little the commenter cares about the subject of the post are annoying and always unwelcome. Comments which state how little the commenter likes the subject of the post can be non-annoying and even valuable, particularly when then commenter articulates exactly why they don't like the topic. Commentary on a post about Carvaggio shouldn't be limited to those who like his work.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:51 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


He hasn't left.
posted by futz at 10:51 AM on September 15, 2011


Dang. I need that "pause the thread" pony.
posted by subbes at 10:51 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


trying to be less jokey (the hardest thign of all) and to actually contribute something to a thread

I kinda like it when people are jokey. It's the negativity that gets me down. For me Metafilter would be a lot less fun if people took it too seriously and didn't joke around a bit, and I think fun is important here because outside of Ask were not really providing a public service, are we?
posted by Hoopo at 10:52 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Languagehat's sentiments are what keep me off the blue.

When I want snark, I head over to Gawker.
posted by jbenben at 10:52 AM on September 15, 2011


"Not that I only feel excited, I sometimes feel sad or bewildered, too. Still wondering what the heck happened to amberglow."

Without ParisParamus, he lost his balance.

"English was handed down on high from the offices of Strunk, White, and Safire."

One thing I loved about Safire was that he insisted on pronouncing seminal as "seeminal."

"I flag a lot and it pretty much always works. Not sure why people are reluctant to do it."

I've been trying to flag more and complain less, but flagging is at best moderately correlated with deletion. Though it does make me feel better to do it, usually.
posted by klangklangston at 10:53 AM on September 15, 2011


There is a carrot but no stick. There are zero jokes on HN and almost no OT comments, everything is on point. But that is because there are downvotes. On metafilter, people are encouraged to shotgun comments untill they get favorites. If I post 50 one line jokes in a thread, there is no downside, I wont lose any of my favorites.

You could also force everyone to use a real name, like g+ and facebook. People wouldn't post half the shit they post if employers could see it.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:54 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I kinda like it when people are jokey.

I should say I'm trying to not just be jokey. I'll always be jokey. It's a reflex.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:54 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


William Safire Orders Two Whoppers Junior.
posted by griphus at 10:54 AM on September 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


Upon preview - jokey is fine! I'm referring to the negativity!!
posted by jbenben at 10:54 AM on September 15, 2011


Well you did flag them apparently.
posted by Hoopo


That's true, and I shouldn't have since the mods just use flags to see what thread to check out but I wanted to point them out and figured I should flag them all in case they wanted to see exactly the kind of thing I meant. Then I decided to post them here and can't of course unflag them.

I disagree with this. If you read the article, then by all means state your opinion. But if the article was about something you don't care enough to read, then no one cares what your opinion is.

I think both are problems. The second one is somewhat worse, but also, there are a lot of people stating really easy opinions at the top of threads. If you hate something, maybe out of politeness wait until the discussion develops, unless you have some really really magic groundbreaking thoughts about why you hate it.

Comments which state how little the commenter likes the subject of the post can be non-annoying and even valuable, particularly when then commenter articulates exactly why they don't like the topic. Commentary on a post about Carvaggio shouldn't be limited to those who like his work.

I'm not sure how valuable that is exactly to state, even cleverly, why you hate something? You picked a good example: anyone who doesn't like Carvaggio should probably be excluded from all discussions of art, or anything that requires judgement.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:54 AM on September 15, 2011


You all are driving me insane with this "turn off favorites" thing, and I know you're not doing it on purpose, but the moderators did something like that already and got a shockingly hostile reaction for thousands and thousands of comments.

For some reason I don't think it's going to happen again.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:55 AM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


People wouldn't post half the shit they post if employers could see it.

Or stalkers.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:55 AM on September 15, 2011


You all are driving me insane with this "turn off favorites" thing

I think they mean that people can disable seeing them in their profiles, not that nobody would see them.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:56 AM on September 15, 2011


I'm in a helpful mood today because I locked myself out of my apt. but then broke in with a credit card. Does anyone have a little old lady that needs to cross a street?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:57 AM on September 15, 2011


Commentary on a post about Carvaggio shouldn't be limited to those who like his work.

There are people that don't like Caravaggio?
posted by nathancaswell at 10:57 AM on September 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


The fact that the mods got a "shockingly hostile" reaction to switching-off favorites temporarily (it was opt-in, wasn't it?) is kind of an ironic rebuttal to people suggesting that it's a feature that encourages hostile behavior.
posted by cribcage at 10:57 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO000000000000oooooooooooooooo.................
posted by Lynsey at 10:58 AM on September 15, 2011


Maybe instead of turning favorites off or on or whatever, there's an option that replaces the favorite count on your posts/comments/profile with an affirmation of unconditional love and esteem:

posted by wilful to MetaFilter-Related at 4:09 AM (232 comments total) [add to favorites] What a fantastic post! [!]

Favorited by others: Keep going, buddy!

posted by griphus at 1:56 PM on September 15 [We love and respect you] [!]
posted by griphus at 10:58 AM on September 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm not sure how valuable that is exactly to state, even cleverly, why you hate something?

It could be an emperors-new-clothes thing, if done properly. The key word here being "properly" (which I acknowledge is subjective as hell) -- a discussion about how Caravaggio is using a particular approach to color theory which has its detractors, and the drawbacks to that theory are foo, baz, and snerf, could be pretty interesting. At the very least, I'd be aware that there are a couple different opinions about color theory, and decide that I either like Caravaggio regardless, or I could walk away thinking "oh, you know, I've always wondered whether that was just me, or whether there was a name for that."

That, however, is different from an approach to critique I flagged recently -- "I didn't even look at this because I already think it's going to suck because it was a cover version as opposed to the original by so-and-so, so who cares."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:59 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


There are people that don't like Caravaggio?

Ranuccio Tomassoni from Terni might have had issues with him.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:59 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I didn't know about the no-favorites experiment and subsequent backlash. But it makes perfect sense, and the backlash only serves to prove how much of a big part of the user experience they have become.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:01 AM on September 15, 2011


People wouldn't post half the shit they post if employers could see it.

Or stalkers.


Yeah, obviously I am not really in favor of that, it isn't like Ad hominem is on my birth certificate. Although it would be a cool name.

I would not be opposed to anti-favorites though.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:02 AM on September 15, 2011


anyone who doesn't like Carvaggio should probably be excluded from all discussions of art, or anything that requires judgement.

Caravaggio? I could see how someone might not like Caravaggio. His technique is undeniably excellent, but his subject matter was often manipulative, melodramatic and full of racial stereotypes. I went and saw an exhibit of his over the summer in Ottawa. I liked it, and found the cartoonish subjects pretty funny, but Caravaggio is certainly a bad example here.
posted by Hoopo at 11:02 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, didn't they get thousands of complaints about turning off the img tag?
posted by nathancaswell at 11:03 AM on September 15, 2011


lang may yer lum reek : )
posted by sgt.serenity at 11:03 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


1) The number of posts thing makes this a stunt. Full stop.

Yeah, you see how his last comment was an update about his wife's health condition? What could be more stunt than that?!

You all are driving me insane with this "turn off favorites" thing...

Especially since they can be turned off at the user level.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:03 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure how valuable that is exactly to state, even cleverly, why you hate something?

Quite the opposite, actually: in other threads on snark I've advocated not trying to be clever when stating why you hate something. I value sincerity over cleverness, especially in criticism.

There are people that don't like Caravaggio?

I don't know—I just picked a quasi-random example—but if there are, I would be interested to learn why they don't like him.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:03 AM on September 15, 2011


Oh, and as a side note, Languagehat was one of the few folks who didn't promise something then flake out for the latest MeFiMag issue. So there's that to look forward to.
posted by klangklangston at 11:04 AM on September 15, 2011


Ad hominem: " You could also force everyone to use a real name, like g+ and facebook. People wouldn't post half the shit they post if employers could see it."

I know this is never going to happen but for the record, if it did, I'd stop posting entirely and close my account for good.

This is a safe space for me and probably some other people here, in which we can express how we really feel about politics, sports, civil rights, gender equality and other contentious topics. I know for a fact that some members are grateful that they can speak honestly here about abuse or religious coercion or other things they have experienced in real life without opening up to their families. Or that people can be comfortably "out" here without having to be so in the outside world, where they might be discriminated against.

Destroying that would be a huge loss.
posted by zarq at 11:05 AM on September 15, 2011 [26 favorites]


So he's bored with the site, wants to leave with a bang, and can't resist calling people names on the way out.

If he'd wanted to leave with a bang, putting a statement on his profile is a pretty un-bangy way of doing so. And I don't see where he called people names. Cite, please?
posted by rtha at 11:06 AM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Especially since they can be turned off at the user level.

Me turning off favorites has no effect on the behavior of the community. It might affect my behavior, but that's about it.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:11 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


> It's difficult for me to believe that LanguageHat's primary motivation for cutting back on MeFi is frustration with "surly asshats," since that's not an especially unfair characterization of his own commenting behavior.

I think part of this was he was seeing his own tendency to respond in the same tone, instead of taking a second to continue the discussion without the negativity.

There are definitely threads and areas of conversation I realize that I really can't stick around or comment in, because the tone is already such that I am going to just want to dig in and fight about things instead of actually having a clear level headed conversation about it. I think that is more frustrating because it is something I want to talk about, but having to fight upstream against the negative bullshit in order to have a normal conversation.

It is like talking in a loud room. You have to raise your voice so the other person can hear you, and then all of a sudden you have to change your cadence and affect as well with a raised voice, so the other person responds raising their voice (and other people start speaking louder since you are drowning them out), so pretty soon everyone is shouting at each other. And it is very hard to have a sincere conversation while shouting without it turning into an argument, since shouting is associated with anger, and if there is anger, then that anger must be directed towards the person you are shouting.

Sometimes you just got to realize you can't talk in loud rooms anymore without feeding into that cycle, or that you are tired that such conversations only seem to occur in those loud rooms. And at times it becomes a point where you enter a room and you see the six or seven people already talking loudly, and you just say "fuck it, it's only going to spiral out of control from here" and you turn around and leave.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:13 AM on September 15, 2011 [14 favorites]


Destroying that would be a huge loss.

I agree with this, one of the reasons I like online communites is the "third space" aspect. But then again, I think the site is pretty much ok. I wish people would stop pointing out how privileged other commenters are, but that might be guilt talking.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:15 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think snark has become part of the language of the web, which I think I can safely say without Languagehat correcting me.

That is to say, a lot of the web is dedicated to demonstrating how cleverly you can put something down. And sometimes it doesn't even rise to that level -- a lot of websites nowadays seem to be people demonstrating their extraordinary taste in how good they are at picking out things to mock. At it's best, it can be sublime -- I'm fond of the "How Did This Get Made" podcast, and once in a while I like to browse something like Cake Wrecks.

But it's all trickled down, and, at the bottom, I think it's indistinguishable from bullying. And, with so much of that online, we're going to get some of it on MetaFilter. Additionally, I have noticed that the web has created something of a cult of an "amateur expert" -- somebody who has just enough knowledge about something to offer an abrupt, dismissive critique. That's all over the web, and we're going to get some of it here too.

I don't know what can be done about it. I flag it when it's egregious, try to offer an additional perspective where I can, try to add some additional data points when possible. If I thread doesn't interest me, I stay out of it, and, when I don't especially like something that has been linked to, I ask whether or not my opinion is educated enough, or important enough, to actually be valuable. (Of course, this is a hard question for me to honestly answer for myself -- as we have seen, people often don't actually know how uneducated they are, and of course I'm going to think my opinion is marvelous; I still think the question is worth asking.)

I suppose it also helps to remember that I've been fighty, thread-shitty, uninformed, and obnoxious myself in the past, and MAN ALIVE I probably still am now. So I'm going to try to have some patience with others when they don't live up to my self-declared standard of awesome online conversation. I hope they will likewise be patient with me, because I'm going to make a miserable mess of it myself.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:16 AM on September 15, 2011 [22 favorites]


I can sympathize with languagehat. There is a different feel now than years ago. MeFi remains one of the few places on the internets with intelligent conversation about a wide variety of topics. Sure you can find that in hyper-specialized forums dedicated to some obscure area, but it seems less easy to find in a general interest site. I think Matt has done a marvelous job of growing the site while still maintaining much of what makes it special. It has changed though. There seem to be less interesting links being posted but I think much of that has to do with what is out there. MeFi still does an incredible job of finding much of the interesting stuff and getting it up on the blue and there remain many threads unpolluted by the tripe which LH takes issue, either through good moderation or user restraint. Nevertheless, too many threads end up off the rails, usually over stupid stuff. Perhaps LH is right and the volume of noise is what pushed these threads over the tipping point rather than the S/N ratio.

LH distinguished himself here by usually thinking before typing. He made many meaningful contributions and is missed.
posted by caddis at 11:20 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


There are people that don't like Caravaggio?

He probably made a few enemies over the whole artichoke incident.
posted by elizardbits at 11:22 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Especially since they can be turned off at the user level. --- That's like taking morphine for cancer. It does make the pain go away, but the cancer is still there. Granted, we should have no illusions that favorites will ever go away.
posted by crunchland at 11:24 AM on September 15, 2011


I think you're right, Bunny Ultramod, about the general attitude of the internet and how it relates to our issues... But I also think there's also a story that can be told about our specific community, too.

I keep thinking back to when the "offensive" flag went into effect and when there was a more concerted effort to stomp out fightiness. Here's an idea: the community learned that you can't get away with coming out as a complete asshole towards others here, but that didn't lead to less hostility, just hostility presented in a different way. It's no longer acceptable to say "You suck." But you can get away with saying, "This article really sucks." You can't say, "Man, you're a total jackass." But, if you word it right, you can get away with saying something like, "Man, you'd have to be a total jackass to like this." The particular kind of nasty, biting non-commentary we're seeing these days is the replacement for the open hostility that's been banned.

Maybe. It's a thought.
posted by meese at 11:27 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Claiming to be stepping away due to a small minority of "I don't care about this" posts just doesn't hold water. Why would someone stay on this site as long as he has if their filter for such things wasn't automatic? I don't even bother to flag it and move on, as comments of that sort are so trivial and easily ignored.

Perhaps he doesn't have a filter like that. For whatever reason, the "I don't care" comments really stand out to me, too; I don't know if it's an increase in their frequency or my sensitivity, but they drive me nuts almost as much as people posting comments that clearly show they haven't bothered to really check out the FPP's content or even other comments, which leads to reading the same joke or seeing the same links over and over and over (Of course, everyone's done 'On preview, so-and-so beat me to it,' I'm talking about posting the same thing thirty comments or an hour later).

"Flag it and move on" is a good policy, but only really works if one feels personally invested in the site. If one feels already distanced or alienated from the site (And for a person who once felt really involved it doesn't take much disengagement to feel really outside of things), the personal incentive to tidy up via flagging doesn't seem worth the effort. I'm not saying this is how things are for LH, but I feel our respective participation on MeFi has followed similar trajectories over the same amount of time.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:28 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I agree with his assessment but where is there left to go?
posted by infini at 11:28 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


The particular kind of nasty, biting non-commentary we're seeing these days is the replacement for the open hostility that's been banned.

I wonder if the solution is to bring back the open hostility, but force people to begin it with "the right honorable gentleman," or "my distinguished colleague," as they do in British debates.

I don't actually think it would help, mind you. I just find that sort of thing funny.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:31 AM on September 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


Also, languagehat was nice. He reached out once during a random comment left about a very bad time for me and that impression has always stayed with me (and created part of what made MeFi a good place)

but yes, what Bunny Ultramod is saying holds as does this feeling too:

we're all just turning into cranky old dudes.

I found myself saying this today on a call "I'm probably just being a cranky old woman but... " etcc etc (I think it was on tablets vs keyboards ;p )
posted by infini at 11:34 AM on September 15, 2011


I looked at the current wikipedia caravaggio article and my favorite tidbit has disappeared. At one point they said his killing (murder? manslaughter? justifiable?) was in a dispute over a line call in a tennis game. Did somebody make that up?

Because it is a really great story. Better even than him using his own face for the "head of Goliath" and "head of John the Baptist".
posted by bukvich at 11:35 AM on September 15, 2011


y6y6y6: I'm calling bullshit. I think this is more of a stunt for LH's amusement than a genuine condemnation.
...
Irregardless, he was a great contributor, and will be missed.


Are you trying to call him back by taunting him with a controversial incorrect word?
posted by filthy light thief at 11:38 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've also found, through a MeMail conversation or 2 with longer-term members, that the perceived increase in lazy snarky comments of newer members has sort of made it difficult for them to distinguish between people legitimately disagreeing or taking issue with something in a post and knee-jerk dismissiveness.
posted by Hoopo at 11:38 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


infini: I agree with his assessment but where is there left to go?

Follow his lead: everyone, to the outdoors! Let's go! I'll turn off the lights, I promise.

What? I won't raid the kitchen for donuts and ice cream, why would you think that?
posted by filthy light thief at 11:42 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


the young rope-rider: "You all are driving me insane with this "turn off favorites" thing, and I know you're not doing it on purpose, but the moderators did something like that already and got a shockingly hostile reaction for thousands and thousands of comments."

They didn't eliminate the ability to favorite a post, they just obscured the count of how many favorites had been received. Not the same thing.

I'm not advocating turning off the visibility of favorites. I think that it's perhaps time to remove the feature entirely. The benefits don't seem to outweigh the overall negative effect on behavior anymore.

If you want to bookmark something, copy/paste it into a Word document or something. If you agree with/want to show support for someone's comment, explain why. If you want to cheer on the poster to give some moral support, MeMail the person.

(And hopefully there's some inherent value in having figured out how to do that coding. Maybe it can be re-purposed somehow.)
posted by desuetude at 11:43 AM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


...the latest MeFiMag issue

Oh ship in high transit!


I think that it's perhaps time to remove the feature entirely.

Or just make it less public. No more displaying favorites on posts and comments, while still counting them on the backend so people can see more popular posts in the last 7, 14, and 30 days.

I imagine the mods are like "What are they not getting about we're changing anything about favorites? Are they on drugs, we've said this many times, right? Jesus, I hope they all manage to get laid over the winter and calm down about this."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:49 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I would love to see favourites gone. I've turned them off when I view posts but their presence still affects how I use the site and it sure as hell affects how most people use it.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:50 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


> There are people that don't like Caravaggio?

All of his fruit is way past its sell-by date, and a lot of his people are too.
posted by jfuller at 11:53 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


All of his fruit is way past its sell-by date, and a lot of his people are too.

And all those cheating gamblers. It's like dogs playing poker.
posted by Hoopo at 11:55 AM on September 15, 2011


Can we not just try adjusting favorites so only the person leaving the favorites can see them (i.e., "bookmark" style favorites rather than +1! style favorites)? They're really ghastly, and have turned the site into just another game. Everything in tech is a competition now, between favorites, views, checkins, linked networks. It's so awful.

I do like the churn, though. I never ran into LH much, but recognized him as an authority on language and hats. Old timers go, n00bs come in, n00bs become old timers, sic transit gloria mundi.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:56 AM on September 15, 2011


If you want a referendum on favorites I think you at the least need to open a new Metatalk. This one is nominally about eulogizing 2/3 of languagehat's site participation.

The last time it was discussed my recollection was it was not as close as Reagan-Mondale.
posted by bukvich at 12:03 PM on September 15, 2011


" You could also force everyone to use a real name, like g+ and facebook. People wouldn't post half the shit they post if employers could see it."

I probably post more and better under my real name on g+ and professional blogs on most topics. I also never post useful but vulnerable information, or even just personal likes and nonsense; I imagine my promotion committee receiving a printout.

I've also found the level of dismissiveness and vitriol in many threads off-putting. I used to read threads first, but that's unlikely to contain substantive talk on most threads.

I guess I could flag a lot more noise, but I'm not the mefi parent. I feel bad and ineffectual flagging something which is noise, but conforms (as I observe it) to the actual community norm.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 12:04 PM on September 15, 2011


Don't ditch favorites, just ditch them for comments. That is nothing but a popularity contest.
posted by caddis at 12:06 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Languagehat was one of the few folks who didn't promise something then flake out for the latest MeFiMag issue

I'm really sorry
posted by Miko at 12:07 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


while we're on the topic, is there a precise definition of "noise"? It's the one flag I always hover over for a minute, then think "hmmm, no I'll go with something else"
posted by Hoopo at 12:11 PM on September 15, 2011


This one is nominally about eulogizing 2/3 of languagehat's site participation.

Tell that to all those Caravaggio lovers
posted by infini at 12:11 PM on September 15, 2011


HEY GUYS DID YOU HEAR THE NEW SINGLE FROM AMY WINEHOUSE
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:12 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


> is there a precise definition of "noise"?

Noise.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:12 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's noise. Nothing to do with the topic, just... talking to hear yourself speak.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:12 PM on September 15, 2011


Just skip the first few screens of comments on any FPP, then it's like 2005 again.
posted by telstar at 12:13 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's noise. Nothing to do with the topic, just... talking to hear yourself speak.

Don't worry, I flagged it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:14 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I figured everyone could use the opportunity to practice :)
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:14 PM on September 15, 2011


Just skip the first few screens of comments on any FPP, then it's like 2005 again.

You mean the 2005 where people constantly complained about the signal to noise ratio and early thread shitters and kept wishing we were back in the carefree days of 2003, when Metafilter was so much better?
posted by bondcliff at 12:19 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


yes
posted by caddis at 12:22 PM on September 15, 2011


If you want a referendum on favorites I think you at the least need to open a new Metatalk. This one is nominally about eulogizing 2/3 of languagehat's site participation.

The last time it was discussed my recollection was it was not as close as Reagan-Mondale.


I come to bury languagehat, not to praise him, as the line goes. In any event, he's not gone, he's just just limiting himself to the one part of the site that, more or less, works. Good for him. That's pretty much where I hang out as well. There are clear goals (help answer the question) and it's well-moderated. What's not to love? Ask a meaty language or hat-related question, and I'm sure he'll pop up.

I think the best thing that can come from his self-imposed semi-hermitage is that the site reconsiders what works, and what doesn't. I totally agree, people love favorites. They also contribute materially to the environment that LH seems to be reacting against.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:24 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Three things:

1) It's too bad about Languagehat leaving. I like reading this site for the expert posts on stuff (sidebar items, that is to say), but I don't take much stock in making celebrities of Internet personae.

2) I agree that it's frustrating when a post (especially a post you've made) goes haywire in the first three comments because of people who've done nothing but read the FPP and pick stuff out of it to argue about. But, if you think Metafilter is bad, try spending time on some other large-ish sites.

3) The word "asshat" makes me furrow my brow like no other portmanteau. Blech.
posted by codacorolla at 12:25 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Regarding favorites:

On November 1st, 2009 the mods changed the way favoriting on MeFi worked. Comments and posts no longer read "# of people favorited this post" but instead "has favorites", thereby obscuring favorite counts. . Before the experiment had even begun, there were 200+ comments complaining about the change. And there are another 2000+ comments in that thread that range from "OH SHIT WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!" (the majority) to "I love this pony!" (the minority.)

It was a perfect little shitstorm. And the mods were still apologizing for not giving people the ability to immediately opt-out a year later. They promised to never do it again.

For those of you advocating the elimination of favorites, please consider that little piece of MeFi history, then ask yourself just how likely it is that the mod team would consider experimenting any further with the favorites system. Because my guess is it would be a cold day in hell before they would subject themselves to that again.
posted by zarq at 12:30 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's too bad about Languagehat leaving.

HE DIDN'T LEAVE.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:32 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I feel like a broken record sometimes making this point when the discussion turns to complaints about how "haters" and "snark" are ruining MeFi — but really, once more: isn't the problem with lazy, stupid putdowns not that they're putdowns but that they're lazy and stupid? In the Junod-on-Jon Stewart thread that Potomac Avenue complained about, gompa and several others chipped in with pitch-perfect satires and critiques of Junod's style that I think are representative of the very best of MeFi — funny, thoughtful, cutting, insightful stuff, not something we should be talking about as a problem. There's a huge difference between "this article sux" and a carefully purpose-written send-up. Don't throw out the babies of satire and critique with the poopy bathwater of knee-jerk commenting.
posted by RogerB at 12:33 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


For those of you advocating the elimination of favorites, please consider that little piece of MeFi history

If your point is that it's a moot argument because the mods are almost certain not to consider it, then fair enough. But if your point is that we should consider that last time didn't go well ("It was a perfect little shitstorm"), then I think you're missing the point. Those people behaving the way they did during that experiment—someone upthread described it as "shockingly hostile"—is exactly why it's a good idea, not a bad one.
posted by cribcage at 12:37 PM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Why has the conversation turned towards favorites? From what I've seen threadshitting and unreflective negativity don't get many favorites but they do dampen discussion and often irretrievably divert it. I'm unclear on how hiding favorites would change that.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 12:38 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


HE DIDN'T LEAVE.

Leaving the part of the site that I read the most? I dunno, not commenting or posting is the same as leaving, in my opinion.
posted by codacorolla at 12:38 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


languagehat is now the User Across the Water.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 12:40 PM on September 15, 2011


cribcage: " If your point is that it's a moot argument because the mods are almost certain not to consider it, then fair enough. But if your point is that we should consider that last time didn't go well ("It was a perfect little shitstorm"), then I think you're missing the point. Those people behaving the way they did during that experiment—someone upthread described it as "shockingly hostile"—is exactly why it's a good idea, not a bad one."

I meant the former. My point was that people reacted very very badly. Far more than I think the mods anticipated. I don't think it was a pleasant time for Team Mod, and as a result I'm doubtful they'll ever revisit the idea in the future. Can't blame them, really.
posted by zarq at 12:41 PM on September 15, 2011


This is a shame, but like Brandon points out, he hasn't left completely. Hopefully he'll get inspired to pop over to the Blue on occasion after he's had a break.

I don't know all the reasons these people left (or stopped contributing), and in putting some names down here, I'm not saying I agreed with everything they posted, but they were all old time big contributors that I've definitely noticed are gone.

boo_radley, Faze, orthogonality, Pope Guilty, Artw, Rory Marinich (although not such an old account), Dee Xtrovert, Optimus Chyme, ND¢, and I'm quite sure there are plenty more I'm missing on this list.


Also fourcheesemac.

Ah, I miss jonson. I think of him every time I see a pug.

Yeah, the Battlepug thread just wasn't the same without him.
posted by homunculus at 12:47 PM on September 15, 2011


Ad hominem: "There is a carrot but no stick. There are zero jokes on HN and almost no OT comments, everything is on point. But that is because there are downvotes. On metafilter, people are encouraged to shotgun comments untill they get favorites. If I post 50 one line jokes in a thread, there is no downside, I wont lose any of my favorites."

I mean. You might have a point (although 'Downvote' is often interpreted as 'Disagree', which is why we don't use it here), but I certainly wouldn't hold HN up as a paragon of excellence.

I'll grant you that HN is a "better Slashdot," and that their user moderation system works better than most for some reason, likely because they've got a niche audience, and have somehow managed to stay on topic.

However, the percentage of posts that get buried is still quite high, and they occasionally go through really bad days/weeks (*browse* *browse* *browse* Right now, their front page is actually rather good). However, the complete lack of a self-link rule absolutely kills HN for me. So many of the FPPs and comments are outright masturbatory.

Oh, and you can practically make up a bingo card for stereotypical HN posts. "Fund me", "How can I get funded", "Look at what I made", "Isn't 37signals great?" submitted by 37signals, etc.

That isn't to say I dislike HN. It's aight, and like I said earlier...the content today actually seems rather fresh, and I may need to put it back on my reading list. However, a few of its quirks annoy the crap out of me, self-linking being first and foremost. I'd also love to see the site split into 3 or 4 different sections so I can ignore the VC/financial stuff. Don't turn it into Reddit, but I think that Metafilter handles the subsite thing exceptionally well.
posted by schmod at 12:49 PM on September 15, 2011


Why has the conversation turned towards favorites?

I think the theory is that the reason some people are running straight for the snark is because they are trying to "be clever" so as to earn favorites.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:51 PM on September 15, 2011


villanelles at dawn: “From what I've seen threadshitting and unreflective negativity don't get many favorites but they do dampen discussion and often irretrievably divert it.”

More often they don't dampen the discussion; they are the discussion. When every comment in a thread is deeply and unthinkingly critical of the topic being discussed, you can't really refer to any of those as a derail. And the best of those are naturally favorited a lot. I don't know if favorites have anything to do with it, but I disagree with your characterization of "unreflective negativity" as a small set of derailing comments. It is most comments in most threads.
posted by koeselitz at 12:51 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm really sorry

It's Ok. You're not the only one by any stretch of the imagination, and I'm really trying to keep the guilt more on the level of "So, you'll do something for us in the future and follow through and maybe not be so ambitious with it" level, and less on the "AND YOU ALL SUCK!" level, not least because the flakers who promised stuff over email and memail — so I didn't work as hard grinding on making sure that anyone who had anything interesting to say on MeFi about the topic got contacted and asked to contribute and reasked and reasked and reminded etc. — a lot of those people were folks who I'm really good friends with, including my girlfriend. And I meant to write something but it didn't come out to the level that I would have been confident in publishing it.

So, yeah. Brandon and I were pretty disappointed in this one, because it promised to be the BEST EVER, and was instead still full of interesting and good stuff, just kinda scant and even getting some of that stuff was like pulling teeth. And like I said, I really hope that means that people who were working on this stuff realize that the themes are all fairly fluid and that we're really hoping that with a little bit of editorial jiggering, stuff can be repurposed easily.

Also, if you have stuff, just submit it. We're also about all out of the hopper, which is where we pull things from when people flake. But I'm worried that people are too hung up on the themes and just not submitting the random stuff that kind of sustained us earlier on.

Anyway, /derail, and I hope that you can contribute something to us soon. And don't take my grousing too seriously.

posted by klangklangston at 12:51 PM on September 15, 2011


you realize you're opening the floodgates for me to demand a monthly column of pretentious nonsense.

posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:53 PM on September 15, 2011


Great example of the futility of flagging. This thread which just started is not actually about the practice of giving teachers pink slips for labor flexibility. I went through and flagged 2/3 of the comments as noise or derail, but that feels super weird. When it's 2/3 that's just the norm.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 12:56 PM on September 15, 2011


The problem with the negative comments in the Jon Stewart thread is that they are not remotely negative enough.

That Esquire piece is a slimy-- and clumsy!-- crypto-conservative hit-job designed to undercut Stewart's political influence in the runup to the November elections.

At least a few of the people complaining about the thread here I recognize as among the more conservative Mefites; if you're sincere in deploring election driven animosity here, don't play these kinds of games, guys.
posted by jamjam at 12:57 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are you trying to call him back by taunting him with a controversial incorrect word?

Given languagehat's well-known espousal of the descriptivist point of view (he made a convert out of me, and probably many others here), I doubt he would blanch at "irregardless."

Taunting him by calling "irregardless" an "incorrect word," on the other hand...
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:57 PM on September 15, 2011


I feel like a broken record sometimes making this point when the discussion turns to complaints about how "haters" and "snark" are ruining MeFi — but really, once more: isn't the problem with lazy, stupid putdowns not that they're putdowns but that they're lazy and stupid? In the Junod-on-Jon Stewart thread that Potomac Avenue complained about, gompa and several others chipped in with pitch-perfect satires and critiques of Junod's style that I think are representative of the very best of MeFi — funny, thoughtful, cutting, insightful stuff, not something we should be talking about as a problem. There's a huge difference between "this article sux" and a carefully purpose-written send-up. Don't throw out the babies of satire and critique with the poopy bathwater of knee-jerk commenting.
posted by RogerB at 3:33 PM on September 15 [+] [!]


Hey man I agree! Gompa's comment was made at 12:49, 1.2 hours after the post was posted. Bicyclefish's hilarious deconstruction of the article's style was posted 20 minutes later at 1:08. So my point stands--cogent satire and critique take time, so if we have one or the other, craft them and make our points strongly, rather than jerking our knees and leaving anything shorter than a paragraph within the first hour of the post.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:58 PM on September 15, 2011


"Are you trying to call him back by taunting him with a controversial incorrect word?"

I've been on record here for years as a huge and tenacious fan of the word irregardless.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:01 PM on September 15, 2011


"you realize you're opening the floodgates for me to demand a monthly column of pretentious nonsense."

You realize that this is not a threat that frightens me and that we actually have pretty good editors working with us — now more than writers! — so we can wrangle your nonsense into something printable.

posted by klangklangston at 1:01 PM on September 15, 2011


jamjam: lolll so I dislike comments like this "What an obnoxiously stupid article, and yes I read the whole thing. Can I have my 20 minutes back?

Jon Stewart is a hero to me.
posted by spitbull at 3:55 PM on September 15 [+] [!] "

because I'm conservative? Dude, no. It's because the comment is a waste of space. I enjoy Jon Stewart immensely and had some issues with the writing in the article, which I said in a comment that tried to address other stuff besides ME HATE ME LOVE THE END.

klang: aiight I'll holler atcha.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:02 PM on September 15, 2011


I think the theory is that the reason some people are running straight for the snark is because they are trying to "be clever" so as to earn favorites.

Which doesn't really stand up to inspection. A snarky, "clever," comment might get five or ten or even twenty favorites. It's the heartfelt comments, or illuminating comments, or non-snarky comment fables that earn hundreds of favorites.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:02 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, our position at this point is that favorites are here to stay. We will likely not be building any more tools on top of favorites. You can opt, as I have, to not view them as you use the site. We'd like people to make their peace with their existence. We understand if you can not. However, as much as everyone has a bunch of different ideas for tweaking them so they would be, in their opinion, less noxious for site interaction, we find that the drama and hostility and ragequitting that accompanied the well-meaning-but-poorly-implemented favorites experiment and tweaking pretty much assures that we're not planning on doing something similar again. This goes for other ranking things like downvoting, killfiling etc. Not happening.

It's an odd balance between being a community site, but also one that has, ultimately, one person who has the "buck stops here" decisionmaking power and a few paid moderators in-between. I don't like getting called names, personally, and while I understand that comes with the territory somewhat, I don't think I'd willingly jump into trying to making changes that would stir up a bunch of drama. Not complaining, just pointing out that for most positions people can make about what they think makes the site suck, there are generally also other well-respected members of the community who think it's what makes the site awesome. We try to balance that sort of thing when we make mod decisions, but I don't like feeling that people are going to be bitchy and assholish about it but can understand that we're often trying to make decent compromises.

There are other fun things we've been working on that we think make the site better--geolocation in AskMe, building out IRL, a few notification things over the years, profile page enhancements--that people seem to really like and that enhance their enjoyment of the site without much of a downside.

I went through and flagged 2/3 of the comments as noise

Please do not do that. Once we're looking at a thread, we'll check out all the comments in it. We manually clear out the flag queue by hand and even though it often take a few flags before we look at comments in AskMe, at the point at which you are flagging more than 3-4 comments in a thread, you should really just send us an email. Honestly, people wanted to talk about the pink-slipping in a post where that was the first sentence. This is another example of where people posting about a certain thing should be cognizant of whether the phrasing of the post will lead towards discussing the links in the post or something else entirely.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:03 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Like elsewhere on the internet, there are lots of lonely and/or bored people on metafilter.

Like somebody mentioned above, they want to talk/complain/kvetch about stuff, whether or not it's related to the link. Metachat is sort of a "feel good" kind of place, not suited for the complainers and kvetchers. So most of the bitching is done on the blue.

Maybe if there was a "discussion" page (a "red" or "purple" page?) where people would talk about whatever the hell they wanted to talk about, the blue would probably be much less ranty and prone to the sort of empty criticisms that usually comprise the first 5 comments on any given metafilter post.

People like to complain. I dunno if they need an outlet for it or if they are able to eliminate the urge entirely, but I think a separate "discussion" page might be an interesting experiment for metafilter. People would put up stuff they want to talk about, and then, well, talk about it.

Only a suggestion.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 1:05 PM on September 15, 2011


So if I'm reading him correctly, languagehat's basic issue is that Metafilter was better back when it was underground, before it sold out and went mainstream?

Anyway, I'll just leave it as that since hipster accusations are the new Godwin.
posted by GuyZero at 1:06 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


> I think the theory is that the reason some people are running straight for the snark is because they are trying to "be clever" so as to earn favorites.

Which doesn't really stand up to inspection. A snarky, "clever," comment might get five or ten or even twenty favorites. It's the heartfelt comments, or illuminating comments, or non-snarky comment fables that earn hundreds of favorites.


You're absolutely right, but the people trying to be "clever" don't always do a good job of picking up on that particular nuance, I'm afraid.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:08 PM on September 15, 2011


DevilsAdvocate: "I think the theory is that the reason some people are running straight for the snark is because they are trying to "be clever" so as to earn favorites.

Which doesn't really stand up to inspection. A snarky, "clever," comment might get five or ten or even twenty favorites. It's the heartfelt comments, or illuminating comments, or non-snarky comment fables that earn hundreds of favorites.
"

I think the "favorites increase snark" idea is the kind of thing that sounds plausible, but I don't know how we'd demonstrate it to be actually true.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:09 PM on September 15, 2011


I think the theory is that the reason some people are running straight for the snark is because they are trying to "be clever" so as to earn favorites.

The counter-proof would be to show that there was no jump straight to snark prior to the implementation of favourites.

Which is very, very clearly untrue. This behaviour existed long before favourites were implemented.
posted by GuyZero at 1:11 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, and you can practically make up a bingo card for stereotypical HN posts. "Fund me", "How can I get funded", "Look at what I made", "Isn't 37signals great?" submitted by 37signals, etc.

I'm not going to argue about the front page of HN, the self promotion aspect is kinda baked in, It is a site for "entrepreneurs" telling those guys they can't self-promote would be like .. well it aint gunna work and the love 37signals gets there is almost embarrassing.

But for the comments, they have zero poop jokes or pointless inflamatory banter, I think MetaFilter would be a worse place for it, but if we want to be a brand new super serious and polite metafilter ( and that is certainly debatable, I mean what kind of humorless person hates LOLcats) there are worse places to emulate.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:14 PM on September 15, 2011


With respect to what Jessamyn has written above in regards to not changing favourites, I have sometimes wondered whether adopting a more neutral term for favourites such as 'memories' in the manner of LiveJournal would assuage some of the perceived issues. It does not infer approval or disapproval, simply that it is a post or comment that the user wishes to remember. I fully understand why the mods do not wish to tweak anything further, however.
posted by frogbit at 1:14 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


homunculus: " Also fourcheesemac."

Since cortex says it's okay to do this if we're talking about it in MeTa, this is what fourcheesemac put in his profile before he closed his account:
I'm leaving my account open for a few weeks in case I change my mind, but I'm gone as of July 6, 2011 for at least a month or two, and I'm seriously thinking it's permanent this time - I keep taking short breaks and coming back hoping it's just my mood, but it keeps turning out to be MeFi's culture that's off somehow. I'll come back and kill this account in a month or two, like I said unless I change my mind.

MeFi once felt like a real community. You recognized most of the names. Even in the most heated arguments there was a sense of fair play. Now it's become too large, too dominated by a certain self-righteous hipster "alternative"-identifed element, way too obsessed with gender/sexuality issues, oversaturated with context-free crapfilter posts, and far too tolerant of outright bullying and bad faith argument in discussion threads, and downright abusive conduct on MetaTalk especially. And ironically, even as the community has scaled out in size, a very small number of resident bossy busybodies seem to have made it their business to dominate certain topics and dictate the acceptable range of beliefs (and language!) that can be expressed about those topics.

You can tell me it was ever thus, and I recognize some truth to that. Maybe I've changed. But I started posting here under a different handle in 2005, so I've been around even longer than this screen name, and I can tell the difference. It's not just me.

Like a lot of longtimers and prolific contributors who are leaving (many longer-timers than me, and many better contributors), there's a sense that MeFi has jumped the shark and lost the essence of what made it special, really in just the last year or so.

Mostly, I don't get why a site with 3 full time moderators and a professed commitment to community and respectful discourse cannot police the piling on and bullying and shouting down that has become all too typical of this place. The content here is still better than anywhere else, but it won't stay that way at this rate. There is a deep streak of anti-intellectualism, in particular, that seems to be insurgent across the site.

Good luck keeping it real, folks. I've had some really memorable conversations here, learned a lot, made a few friends, and (if my favorites ratio means anything) contributed a little something here and there too.

Turning up the volume is not a substitute for making sense. Shouting people down is not a substitute for debate. And if you are well off enough to own a computer and have the time to post to Metafilter, you're not really all that oppressed either, no matter how you identify.

Over and out. The Johnny Cash picture expresses my genuine feeling about roughly a dozen people I've encountered here, almost all in the last year or so. But I've really enjoyed hanging with most of y'all. Peace out.
His stated issues with MeFi's tone were both similar and different from languagehat's. But both seem to source to what they perceive are a rise in bad faith comments and behavior.

Snark rarely adds much to a conversation. Shouting people down (bullying tactics) doesn't either. But when they happen, they tend to be popular. Favorite magnets. They also tend to derail threads if they're made at the very beginning. And as both LH and FCM point out, they are being used in place of addressing FPP content directly or discussing a topic civilly.

Perhaps it's confirmation bias on my part but I feel like we seem to be talking about this a lot more in MeTa lately. Threadmodding. Threadshitting. Bad faith arguments. Bullying. Silencing tactics. Trolling for Favorites, etc. It seems apparent to me that at least a few folks are scaling back their activity or leaving the site entirely in order to get away from it.
posted by zarq at 1:16 PM on September 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


> Over and out. The Johnny Cash picture expresses my genuine feeling about roughly a dozen people I've encountered here.

Is this a user we should miss?

I strongly feel that the median human is a lot nicer than the average human. I don't know him, but I bet this guy is one of those who takes down the average.
posted by bukvich at 1:25 PM on September 15, 2011


Perhaps it's confirmation bias on my part but I feel like we seem to be talking about this a lot more in MeTa lately. Threadmodding. Threadshitting. Bad faith arguments. Bullying. Silencing tactics. Trolling for Favorites, etc. It seems apparent to me that at least a few folks are scaling back their activity or leaving the site entirely in order to get away from it.

A lot of the same people publicly storming away from the site to get away from it have had episodes of participating in it themselves. This isn't meant to be a callout of anyone in particular, more of an observation that those more likely to get upset here on site will also be upset when they leave. It's why the term "flameout" is so appropriate- it doesn't surprise me that some of our brightest flames burn out, who wouldn't become exhausted?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:26 PM on September 15, 2011 [8 favorites]



Perhaps it's confirmation bias on my part but I feel like we seem to be talking about this a lot more in MeTa lately. Threadmodding. Threadshitting. Bad faith arguments. Bullying. Silencing tactics. Trolling for Favorites, etc. It seems apparent to me that at least a few folks are scaling back their activity or leaving the site entirely in order to get away from it.


Karpman Drama Triangle ftw.
posted by sgt.serenity at 1:31 PM on September 15, 2011


'Metachat is sort of a "feel good" kind of place, not suited for the complainers and kvetchers. So most of the bitching is done on the blue.'

Excuse me, but
(subbing in for the lovely Specklet, who I believe is currently traveling with her almost-as-handsome-as-me husband)

THIS IS NOW A SHOUTING THREAD!!!
posted by Eideteker at 1:33 PM on September 15, 2011


And seriously, as someone who flamed out years ago, the whole "I'm not posting anymore" or "I'm killing my account" thing is silly. You can read less or post less without submitting some self-aggrandizing manifesto. I cringe now at my two flameouts, as they were, in the big decade plus context of MeFi, idiotic, even if they made sense at the time. MetaFilter is one small piece of the Internet, and all fit it into a collection of sites we go to every day. Some people use MetaFilter as their main hub, others just touch bases once a week, and where you fit on that continuum means nothing. Right?

If you post less on MetaFilter, 10 people on the whole planet will notice, and only half of those will care. But if you post a "look at me" condemnation of the site, thousands will notice. Just do yourself a favor and dial it back gracefully, which all you really want anyway.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:33 PM on September 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


There is a deep streak of anti-intellectualism, in particular, that seems to be insurgent across the site.

quick tip: "anti-intellectual" is not a synonym for "does not agree with me"
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:35 PM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Man I'd been hoping fourcheesemac was just taking the summer off.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 1:35 PM on September 15, 2011


I've been here a long time. I'd say this:

AskMe has generally improved over time. There used to be a lot more jokiness and "attack the poster" behavior, and the mods have done a good job keeping answers focused.

The tone of MeFi hasn't changed much, but it does feel amplified because there's so much more of it. I think the "it used to be better here" attitude comes from people who remember when there was a lot less "current events" stuff, so threads were inherently less contentious. Allowing more controversial posts, as opposed to "here's an interesting thing I found on the web", drew a different kind of poster. But, there's no going back even if we wanted.

MeTa is kind of a well-intentioned disaster. This thread (miraculously) notwithstanding, it's very hard to have a substantive discussion here that doesn't quickly devolve into sniping.

GuyZero: "Which is very, very clearly untrue. This behaviour existed long before favourites were implemented."

Yes. Kids these days forget the bygone times when <img> was allowed.
posted by mkultra at 1:36 PM on September 15, 2011


ThePinkSuperhero: "A lot of the same people publicly storming away from the site to get away from it have had episodes of participating in it themselves. This isn't meant to be a callout of anyone in particular, more of an observation that those more likely to get upset here on site will also be upset when they leave."

The things they are complaining about are not things that they have specifically done themselves, unless you are saying that languagehat was prone to snarky anti-intellectualism or that fourcheesemac was prone to bulling people or shouting them down?
posted by zarq at 1:36 PM on September 15, 2011


Sidebar note, but as the old vanguard gets (naturally) older, people need to frame announcements that others are leaving more carefully. If LH wants to hang out in Ask exclusively, that's toasty keen but when I saw this post in Meta, I thought the guy had died and people were dishing out 135 dots already.

Seriously, people, we need to spread gossip with a little more care.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:38 PM on September 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


The things they are complaining about are not things that they have specifically done themselves

This isn't meant to be a callout of anyone in particular, more of an observation that those more likely to get upset here on site will also be upset when they leave."
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:39 PM on September 15, 2011


I heard Languagehat is hosting the Oscars this year.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:41 PM on September 15, 2011


ThePinkSuperhero: " This isn't meant to be a callout of anyone in particular, more of an observation that those more likely to get upset here on site will also be upset when they leave.""

Yes, I read that sentence. People who are emotionally invested in the site are going to be more emotionally invested about leaving, yes.

But that's not all you said, which is why I quoted the first sentence of your comment in my response: "A lot of the same people publicly storming away from the site to get away from it have had episodes of participating in it themselves."
posted by zarq at 1:44 PM on September 15, 2011


fourcheesemac was prone to bulling people or shouting them down?

He would sometimes do that, yes.

A lot of the same people publicly storming away from the site to get away from it have had episodes of participating in it themselves.

This reflects my feelings. I totally respect people wanting to turn over a new leaf, but a lot of these MeTas have people saying "well I'm guilty of this too BUT we should do a lot less of it"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:45 PM on September 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


I always suspect Darling Bri was into midget tossing while dressed as Thor, so the photos weren't surprising.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:47 PM on September 15, 2011


'Metachat is sort of a "feel good" kind of place, not suited for the complainers and kvetchers.

Oh, there's plenty of complaining and kvetching, believe you me, ut just in case people aren't sure about the boundaries, it's important to note that MetaChat is emphatically not the place to kvetch and complain about MetaFilter. It's a separate and separately run site, meant to be really a purely social space where MeFites can interact about stuff that doesn't have to have a topic focus. But because we value a good and harmonious relationship with MetaFilter and its denizens, one of the few strongly enforced rules we have is that we don't allow MetaChat to be a place to go to criticize MetaFilter or to point and laugh or to talk about MetaFilter people and issues. The guidelines specify this:
Offsite issues stay offsite....This applies also to MetaFilter issues: they belong on MetaFilter, not here. A good relationship with MetaFilter is important to MetaChat.
posted by Miko at 1:48 PM on September 15, 2011


but when I saw this post in Meta, I thought the guy had died and people were dishing out [] dots already.

this
posted by infini at 1:50 PM on September 15, 2011


jessamyn: " This reflects my feelings. I totally respect people wanting to turn over a new leaf, but a lot of these MeTas have people saying "well I'm guilty of this too BUT we should do a lot less of it""

I've seen you say this before.

If people are trying to encourage others towards good will, civility and good faith discussions by saying, "I've done this in the past. It's wrong. I'm making an effort to be the change I want to see here and it would be great if others tried to do that too," then isn't that a good thing? I mean, I've said as much myself here recently.

I don't really understand why that would be problematic.
posted by zarq at 1:53 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


A snarky, "clever," comment might get five or ten or even twenty favorites. It's the heartfelt comments, or illuminating comments, or non-snarky comment fables that earn hundreds of favorites.

Assume favorites equal "points"; create cheat code for favorites (for purpose of "winning"):

Assign favorites as points to most popular comment in Popular Favorites section, create broad category for nature of comment:

338. Slightly-whimsically-written informative piece about recent technological history.
216. Maker of that history popping in with additional information.
111. Pun
109. Teardown of annoying OP (to make OP feel worse)
103. Politically-righteous comeback to conservative comment
101. Politically-righteous takedown of conservative candidate
98. Teardown of OP's annoying beau (to make OP feel better)
97. Teardown of OP's annoying beau (to make OP feel better)
95. Absurdist animated gif
93. Pun
91. Self-deprecating riff on article's premise
90. Heartfelt defense of emotion as basis for introspection
89. Politically-righteous comeback to conservative comment
89. Ironically-posted maudlin jpg
88. Pop-cultural reference
85. Left-wing soapboxing
85. Politically-righteous takedown of conservative anti-science
82. Left-wing soapboxing
81. Autobiographical advice for self-improvement
79. Wordplay

Further broaden categories of the above comments for ease of grouping:

338. Information
216. Information
111. Wordplay
109. Snark
103. Affirmation of political mindset (Politics)
101. Affirmation of political mindset (Politics)
98. Emotional solidarity and advice toward community members (Emotional support)
97. Emotional solidarity and advice toward community members (Emotional support)
95. Absurdism
93. Wordplay
91. Absurdism
90. Emotional solidarity and advice toward community members (Emotional support)
89. Affirmation of political mindset (Politics)
89. Absurdism
88. Affirmation of Pop-Cultural shared knowledge (Referentiality)
85. Affirmation of political mindset (Politics)
85. Affirmation of political mindset (Politics)
82. Affirmation of political mindset (Politics)
81. Emotional solidarity and advice toward community members (Emotional support)
79. Wordplay

Total point value for each category, out of 2220 points, with rough percentage following:

554 Information (24.9 %)
545 Politics (24.5 %)
366 Emotional Support (16.5 %)
283 Wordplay (12.7 %)
275 Absurdism (12.4 %)
109 Snark (4.9%)
88 Referentiality (4 %)

Create comment which roughly replicates percentage of each category, sequentially:


The ubiquity of the fez is due to its spread throughout the Ottoman Empire, beginning with Sultan Mahmud II adopting it as the official headgear for his military. So given their chicken-hawk natures, I’m frankly surprised Republicans haven’t taken to wearing fezzes at their debates while they clamor for the end of health care. Still, I think you should go ahead and buy yourself a fez, 'cause you'll look absolutely great! Unless you’re already hassock-shaped, and don’t want to remind people of an "ottoman". Fez-haters can fuck right off. Fezzes are cool.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:54 PM on September 15, 2011 [35 favorites]


This thread (miraculously) notwithstanding, it's very hard to have a substantive discussion here that doesn't quickly devolve into sniping.

There seems to be a direct relationship between the intelligence of the discourse on the internet and the amount of obnoxious, pedantic bullshit that must be suffered to participate in that discourse. I post a fair amount on a sports site with a very astute readership that prides itself on being more sophisticated than your average sports site (not that this is difficult) and posting there can be a real drag. You have to qualify EVERYTHING and preemptively defuse 15 arguments for every statement you make because someone will inevitably pick at some tiny little thing you wrote and refuse to let it go. But yet I suffer through it because the discussions there can be a lot more fulfilling than any other sports site I've found. Reminds me of somewhere...
posted by nathancaswell at 1:54 PM on September 15, 2011


jessamyn: " He would sometimes do that, yes."

OK. I do not recall him doing so.

But that should not dismiss the point he made, which I think is worth discussing.
posted by zarq at 1:56 PM on September 15, 2011


You forgot

13. "Off the cuff" short story tangentially related to OP demonstrating you got a B- in some creative writing classes in college (1%)
posted by nathancaswell at 1:57 PM on September 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


SNAP
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:00 PM on September 15, 2011


The guidelines for this part of the site means that sort of casual grousing is okay here but man I'd love to see less of it.

Maybe I should disable my account then.
posted by grouse at 2:00 PM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


I don't know all the reasons these people left (or stopped contributing), and in putting some names down here, I'm not saying I agreed with everything they posted, but they were all old time big contributors that I've definitely noticed are gone.

boo_radley, Faze, orthogonality, Pope Guilty, Artw, Rory Marinich (although not such an old account), Dee Xtrovert, Optimus Chyme, ND¢, and I'm quite sure there are plenty more I'm missing on this list.


I miss a fair few of these guys too, but this list certainly demonstrates that some of the people leaving were as guilty as anyone of the things Languagehat and fourcheesemac are complaining about. Faze had dropping a huge derailing turd in the first few comments down to a science, he is truly a legend. A couple others in that list would drop a snarky one liner but would stick around to angrily fight about it.
posted by Hoopo at 2:00 PM on September 15, 2011


91. Self-deprecating riff on article's premise

Inasmuch as my comments on MeFi are poetry, that was the speaker talking, not me. Definitely not me, no sir. My self-esteem is high as a kite and oh god everyone knows now.
posted by griphus at 2:02 PM on September 15, 2011


No, grouse, because I don't think you grouse casually, at least not from what I've seen.
posted by rtha at 2:03 PM on September 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


In my own case, when I find myself overly (or appropriately) sensitive to Metafilter noise, it's usually at a time when I don't have much tolerance for things in other areas as well. I've never been one to enjoy arguing of any kind. This doesn't stop me from thinking someone's opinon is stupid/ignorant/etc., I just don't waste any time responding to those things.

About 3 years ago, I was a bit overwhelmed in life, and Metafilter annoyed the hell out of me. But I didn't want to walk away from the good things that were (to me) buried under the noise. So, I disabled this account, not that it had any baggage associated with it (to my knowledge), and opened a new one under a new name. Some kind of psychological placebo effect took place, just by determining that under the new name I wouldn't let things bother me, and would refuse to get sucked into any controversy. And, it was great. I can't explain why it should have make a difference, but it did.

After about a year, I had Matt restore this account, and honestly, not much at all bothers me here. It's been said many times before: if it's getting to you, take a walk.

I'm glad LH is still contributing in AskMe. Maybe in time he'll return to the Blue as well, but we all have to decide what our limits are. I've gained so much knowledge and insight from Metafilter, and made so many friends here, that it's well worth enduring anything I perceive as noise.
posted by The Deej at 2:05 PM on September 15, 2011


Faze was truely great, I still remember him calling meat eaters "corpsegrinders"

It is pretty hard to crack 100 favs on a comment, I have been trying and the closest I have gotten is 82, and that was in my first week. I am also amazind I got 52 with a direct quote from 4chan.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:05 PM on September 15, 2011


I don't really understand why that would be problematic.

Because many if not most of the people saying it continue to get on and off that wagon, do better and worse. I understand it's a hard thing to do, but there's a finger pointing aspect that fails to include that they're among the people causing the problem, if not the current problem, then part of the future problem that is basically about the same thing.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:06 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rereading the Helen DeWitt thread, while it had its moments, it turned out okay.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:09 PM on September 15, 2011


OK. I do not recall him doing so.

But that should not dismiss the point he made, which I think is worth discussing.


I remember him doing it, which I don't think obviates his comment as a topic for discussion, but does call into question its tone s bit. I think it's one thing to point out your own behavior and say you are seeking to change it, and another to essentially say that the bad behavior over there is ruining your time. But what concerns me more about his comment, and I am sorry fourcheesemac has left, is that it seems like a thinly veiled suggestion that "political correctness" is ruining Metafilter. While I think everyone can get a little shrill at times, I'm never sympathetic to arguments that treating others with respect and an anknowledgment of history is a horror. His last sentence recalls that wonderful Heritage study about how being poor in America really ain't half bad.
posted by OmieWise at 2:10 PM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


I've had favorites hidden ever since that was possible because it made the site less enraging for me ( That comment got 25 favorites!!!!Grrrrr) however you guys have conditioned me like a dog and I've actually come to enjoy tossing them out like puppy biscuits: You made me laugh! I so agree! Well said! Oh, I feel for you! to the point where I get upset when I am on other sites, "Oh you are spot on...wait..where's the damn favorite button?"

My relationship with the flag button, however, is less comfortable. I find it very difficult because I don't like being a crabby complainer. Also it feels impolite.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 2:11 PM on September 15, 2011


It is pretty hard to crack 100 favs on a comment, I have been trying ...

Think I found your problem.
posted by doublehappy at 2:12 PM on September 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


Leaving MetaFilter in a huff is on the same end of the behavior spectrum as throwing thread tantrums and posting brutal, hurtful, thoughtless things before you give yourself time to reflect on what's actually going on. I think that's why so many of the folks being eulogized in this thread are also being remembered as people who perpetuated behavior that they are claiming ruined metafilter.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 2:12 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


> , I have been trying and the closest I have gotten is 82

That's beggin' for a stabbin'.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 2:12 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think that's why so many of the folks being eulogized in this thread are also being remembered as people who perpetuated behavior that they are claiming ruined metafilter.

While I hate to speak ill of the dead, I gotta say that languagehat was not always the most pleasant MeFite to interact with, and I got the sense that his behaviour (eg, "not suffering fools gladly") was tolerated or even loved because of his "elder statesman" status.

That said, handled with kid gloves, as you would an elderly, grouchy dog, languagehat made quite a contribution to this site.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:16 PM on September 15, 2011


WE ARE CORPSEGRINDER AND WE ARE HERE TO MELT YOUR FACE OFF AND THEN GRIND YOUR CORPSE
posted by nathancaswell at 2:19 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hate me all you want, just don't take my favs, they are like mothers milk to me.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:20 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jessamyn, I understand. Even so, it strikes me as counterproductive to discourage even hit-or-miss efforts to treat each other kindly.
posted by zarq at 2:24 PM on September 15, 2011


I just went back and had a look at the MetaTalk entries for April 2nd, 2004 (the day I joined the site), and they include a complaint about a "lame newsfilter post," a plea for users to "please dispense with pissing all over the Blue," and another complaint about a post that "should not have been posted to the front page" (and which was subsequently deleted).

Exactly how far back was The Golden Age, again?
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:26 PM on September 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Little known fact about the etymology of my user name...it's just a short form of "surly asshat". Leave it to languagehat to figure it out!
posted by SassHat at 2:26 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have to say I'm surprised that LH used that thread as his exemplar of What's Wrong These Days.

There was some meanness and some kind of icky sniping, but for someone like me with no knowledge of Japanese, it was an interesting read. Sure, charlie doesn't seem to be all that aware of how patronizing he's being (and how his past may have gifted him with some not-very-useful bias), but on the whole the discussion was interesting and informative for an outsider.

He commented a LOT. I think he probably burned out. It happens. And judging by zarq's post volume, he's due for it in, oh, about three weeks.
posted by kavasa at 2:27 PM on September 15, 2011


We'll really know we've done it if Cortex or jessamyn ★ quit, or if Matt just pulls the plug.
posted by Daddy-O at 2:28 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


quick tip: "anti-intellectual" is not a synonym for "does not agree with me"

No, I think he's right to a certain extent, and I think your characterization of what he was saying is unfair and dismissive. Witness this discussion about Peter Hacker, where the argument never really gets past, as nasreddin once wonderfully put it, "LOL WHO THE FOCK IS THIS GUY?!"-type putdowns, which to me aren't really acceptable even if the author of whatever it is isn't well-known and doesn't command the respect of a large, worldwide group of people know who know what they're talking about.

There was a point in my life where I got frustrated with shooting the shit with my fellow slackers at the coffeeshop because of their willingness to argue in bad faith and their willingness to attack or even support positions based on a serious paucity of knowledge. I found this place to be a great antidote, because there were knowledgeable people here who would weigh in on interesting topics, and yes, there were dickheads (I have been one of them), and sometimes those knowledgeable people were themselves the dickheads, but the nature of this place meant that they were easily heard. I don't really have a huge problem with dickheadery, actually. I find bad arguments and disingenuous bloviating a lot more annoying, and it's an uptick in same that I've noticed. I think part of it is that the internet, and Metafilter especially, is stocked with autodidacts (and probably will have a higher percentage of those as time goes on), who tend to be (justifiably) skeptical of the merits of institutions and the types of knowledge and thinking that they value, but then get extreme about it and decide that credentials are meaningless and that book on philosophy of mind that they read a few pages of before they go to bed every night gives them more than enough ammunition to disagree with some asshole with a few letters after his name. I'm not saying that non-experts shouldn't get involved in discussions, but that for anything useful to get done their contributions need to be thoughtful and their attitude needs to have an element of willingness to be wrong in part or in full. The other type of environment really discourages the people who know their shit from getting involved in a discussion. Maybe the proportion of bloviators to informators hasn't changed, but the comment above about how the post to users ratio has changed might have some explanatory power as to how this change might have come about, if it has.

I'm not going to change the world by writing this and I'm not going to leave, because there's still good conversation to be had here, but I have been less enamored of the place recently. For myself I've been putting a lot of effort into the ability to withhold judgment and the ability to concede to a superior argument, and I have my lapses but for the most part I think I've made inroads into really changing how I interact with people here. Every little bit helps, right? Hopefully I'm wrong about any trends I've picked out, or, if I'm not, that the pendulum starts swinging the other way.
posted by invitapriore at 2:28 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


> I have to say I'm surprised that LH used that thread as his exemplar of What's Wrong These Days.

I gotta agree there. True, lots of comments are getting stuck on what could be seen as irrelevant technical points if someone was already well versed in the subject, but for a general interest site it sure was a pretty contained thread.

There are plenty more examples of people willfully flaunting their ignorance that I would've gone with, but I'm just a layman.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 2:30 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mefi has had this discussion since forever but I welcome any initiative that makes Mefi a nicer and better place. So what are people suggesting that we do?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:31 PM on September 15, 2011


Nah. I'm making more FPPs than ever this year. Commenting a lot less than I used to. It all evens out.
posted by zarq at 2:32 PM on September 15, 2011


I find the most valuable conversations often come when people are thoughtful about what they say and are careful how they say it. Perhaps naturally what might follow from "thoughtful and careful" is a reduced need to machine-gun comments back and forth. It's rare when I'll comment more than once in a thread, and more than twice is really rare. I feel that changing someone else's mind on The Internet is pretty rare, and it's even more rare when you try and beat someone over the head. So I listen, say my piece (or make my hopefully harmless joke), and then listen some more and then maaayybe respond or clarify or extend. That works for me.

I wonder if something like that would be a good direction for more folks to head, but I don't know. Everyone has a different communication style. The problem I see is when people with voluble styles congregate in a thread. Whether they're polite or snarky, they still dominate. And then someone gets offended, or someone becomes Wrong On The Internet, and away it goes and we get what happened a couple weeks ago.

If there was some way to encourage a more thoughtful and careful communication style perhaps would that help the level of conversation? Now I know a hard limit on # comments per day in a thread would never work (because sometimes conversations are what's really needed) but are there any other ways of encouraging less snark and more thought? Hmm.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:33 PM on September 15, 2011


it strikes me as counterproductive to discourage even hit-or-miss efforts to treat each other kindly.

Then we are in agree to disagree territory. I am not discouraging people from treating each other kindly, at all. I am encouraging an honest assessment of every member here as a mixture of good and bad attributes such that any one member isn't deemed to be more important than any other and that keeping the site running decently should be one of the priorities people have when interacting here.

I think it's very useful when this comes up time and time again to point out the things people said last time about how they wish things were better and how they were going to work on things, to ask them how that's going. Of course, in my dream world we are more supportive of people who are trying to make a general effort to not be part of the problem instead of pouncing on them when they have an occasional misstep, but I feel that the short attention span of the internet sometimes makes real change challenging if not impossible because we all either forget the things that we have said in the past, or we only remember the things we want to remember (good or bad) and somehow gloss over the rest of it. People become remembered as a stereotype of their worst or best behaviors because we have trouble assessing quality over time.

So while I think generally speaking it's a good idea for everyone individually to try to do better and be supportive of each other's efforts, it's also important to set expectations about what sort of things are not that okay but tolerated, versus actively supported and encouraged and trot those ideas out when people are bemoaning the way the site is or is not changing.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:34 PM on September 15, 2011


languagehat once called me pedantic. Seriously. It was an honor.

Also, bummer.
posted by stet at 2:35 PM on September 15, 2011


Jessamyn, I understand. Even so, it strikes me as counterproductive to discourage even hit-or-miss efforts to treat each other kindly.

zarq, I always appreciate your investment in making the site better, but I think that this is a mischaracterization, and one that misses what I think is jessamyn's good point. Calling for people to behave better, without acknowledging your own bad behavior, is kind of a form of bad behavior. It's a bit like concern trolling. Now, there are obviously people who really want to do better, and work hard at it, and sometimes slip up, but there are also folks who only want to reform their behavior on their time, when it most suits them to be pointing fingers. That's tiresome, and disingenuous.
posted by OmieWise at 2:36 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I miss jonson. I think of him every time I see a pug.

I will tell him you said that the next time he and I go to some Neil Finn-related concert. He will be giddy with delight.

posted by scody at 2:38 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can't really keep up with the thread, but here's my 2 cents, FWIW:

-re: complaints about "the way this site is going/has changed/etc."
I'm a relative noob, though I've lurked for awhile and spent many a day unemployed reading the archives; I'm still figuring out the site culture, etc. BUT I find that the most notable threadshitters/shit disturbers aren't newbies but are those recognizable members with the lower-than-mine membership numbers.

-re: favourites (yes, that's how you spell it damnit!)
Wouldn't it just be easier to decide as a site (or by the mods/Matt) for once and for all what the purpose of "favorites" is, and name them as such. Either call them "bookmarks" or call them "likes" (or some non-FaceBook variant) and be done with it?

-re: moderating
Personally, as much as I like free speech and not being over censored (I've written a few times here how much I HATE when I hear "That's something we don't do well here" or some such statement. It feels like such a failure, and it sucks that I can't have a dialogue with this interesting and intelligent community because it's been determined that people here supposedly can't handle talking about cat declawing or whatever. I never used to flag and in the recent months, I've become a flagger. Possibly annoying to the mods, but at the same time, I'm at least exercising my "right" (or priveledge, however that's spelled) as a member of this community to at least point out to the mods that something, to me, seems to break the guidelines. Yes, it's annoying when something I flag is allowed to stand, but so what? Better to flag it (and maybe to gently point it out in an aside, if it can be done in a non-threadshitty, non-grary, non-fighty way) and that way I at least know that I've made the mods aware of it, and they can use their judgement about how to handle the comment/post from there.

It's sort of like voting: if you don't exercise your ability to vote (flag, when appropriate), then you really don't have a right to bitch about how the site isn't what it used to be in the glorious golden days, etc. etc.
posted by 1000monkeys at 2:39 PM on September 15, 2011


there are also folks who only want to reform their behavior on their time, when it most suits them to be pointing fingers. That's tiresome, and disingenuous.

It is tiresome, and often disingenuous. Particularly with regard to quick-trigger threadshitting. People often have trouble recognizing when they're being a jerk, though. What enters your ears as aggrieved self interested bitching leaves my mouth as the clarion call of wounded righteousness. So to some extent I think amending this behaviour is impossible without an inherent degree of self awareness not everybody possesses.

That said, this thread has made me realize there's an awful lot of contributors no longer contributing whom I used to enjoy. Churn is eternal and all. But cultures are also real and subject to change. How many would have to ditch before it's a real problem?
posted by Diablevert at 2:53 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've written a few times here how much I HATE when I hear "That's something we don't do well here" or some such statement. It feels like such a failure, and it sucks that I can't have a dialogue with this interesting and intelligent community because it's been determined that people here supposedly can't handle talking about cat declawing or whatever.

I would like repeat my previous comment on this subject:
I'm pretty tired of the "MetaFilter doesn't do topic X well" construction myself, especially when it refers to a small number of people behaving badly when topic X comes up. Sometimes where the number of people is two, or maybe even only one. Usually, it would more accurately be "a tiny number of MetaFilter users don't do topic X well."

The other thing I don't like about "MetaFilter doesn't do topic X well" is that it is often accompanied by an explicit or implicit consequent that "therefore, we should not discuss topic X." This gives the power to shut down discourse on a particular topic to any minuscule proportion of the membership that is willing to be obnoxious enough.
posted by grouse at 2:54 PM on September 15, 2011 [15 favorites]


I can't really keep up with the thread, but here's my 2 cents

I agree that it's challenging to keep up with large, fast-moving threads. It's one of the architectural challenges of this site. (For instance, threading could help, but has been rejected.) On one hand, it really sucks to say to somebody, "You can't participate unless you first read all 300+ comments...and by the way, when you've finished, here's 20 more." It's a good thing that you're not sitting by your computer refreshing MetaFilter all day, and that fact shouldn't be a bar to participating. On the other hand, it's almost antisocial to say, "I can't be bothered to read what everybody else thinks about this topic, but here, read my thoughts." We could certainly expect better discussions if everybody would read what's been posted before commenting.

It's a genuine issue, and I don't point it out to criticize 1000Monkeys, or to derail. I think it's part and parcel of this thread. MetaFilter has grown, and certain aspects of its architecture (just like favorites) erode quality as it grows.
posted by cribcage at 3:13 PM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Oh, by the way, I just wanted to mention how happy I am at how incredibly civil this threat has been.

(You fucking assholes)
posted by to sir with millipedes at 3:20 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I no fucking assholes.
posted by gman at 3:25 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


All this reminds me of a thought that's crossed my mind: It would be enlightening to have occasional (annual? semi-annual?) State of the Site thoughts posted by the mods.

Feels like various things get touched on from time to time in threads like this, but even they're fragmented (in one thread and otherwise) and it feels like it takes some effort to get a get any sort of clear sense of what the mods think about various topics.

More clarity would be a good thing (?).
posted by ambient2 at 3:26 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'll miss you, LH. I'm glad I can still read your contributions to AskMe, at least.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:26 PM on September 15, 2011


The fact that the mods got a "shockingly hostile" reaction to switching-off favorites temporarily (it was opt-in, wasn't it?) is kind of an ironic rebuttal to people suggesting that it's a feature that encourages hostile behavior.

They were not opt-in, originally, I think. A large portion of the outcry was from people who were just annoyed at a unilateral mod action then not buying the reasoning. Possibly it was a chance for some anti-mod people to get in some licks, or just people for whom the word "experiment" is a trigger of some sort. It was weird, and a lot of those people didn't seem so much pro-favorite as wanting to fight the mods.

The anti-favorite people were much more hostile and grandstanding than the pro-favoriters. They (the anti-'s) were saying totally unsubstantiated stuff about favorites, slipping over commonly into bad-faith-assuming stuff about pro-favorite people, saying arrogant pompous and insulting stuff about them as if they could read minds, then getting more and more ridiculous, ignoring the way their arguments were trashed and countered. Perhaps they thought, with the mods behind them, a bold charge could carry the day. Or perhaps those were just the people who are often that kind of arrogant scold type.

That's my biased biased memory of it, anyway.
posted by cold dead hans at 3:27 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


(For instance, threading could help, but has been rejected.)

Yeah, rejected like the idea of slitting your throat to cure a headache.
posted by cold dead hans at 3:29 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, by the way, I just wanted to mention how happy I am at how incredibly civil this threat has been.

Indeed; it has been good natured by MeTa standards. So civil that I'm not going to snark that you substituted "threat" for "thread."*

*Fear my formidable snark paralipsis, you fucking asshole. I keed, I keed, we're good.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:32 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


A particularly egregious example of derail occurred in this thread about the Tunisian revolution. It was well-researched post about a major on-going world event, with a number of good links. And it was derailed out of the gate by a link (given in good faith by the first commenter, who was not to blame) to the "Wikileak that started it". After that the thread became largely (60 % of the comments) a discussion about Wikileaks, including meta-comments about the derail, snarks etc.
I believe that this kind of problem is a by-product of the flat (sequential) nature of Mefi threads. In nested threads, people can go off-topic as much as they want in a branch while other people can ignore them and create more on-topic discussion branches. In the DeWitt thread, folks could have discussed Japanese dictionaries in a corner while others could have safely discussed the book's merits. But like in the Tunisia thread, the sheer amount of derail made any other discussion difficult. I'm not saying that nested threads are a solution (they have problems of their own). Flat threading forces people to write for the community rather than to individual members - which is good - but the discussion dynamics do suffer in some cases.
posted by elgilito at 3:36 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


"I have to say I'm surprised that LH used that thread as his exemplar of What's Wrong These Days."

When you're close to your limit, even a small thing can push you over that limit.
posted by klangklangston at 3:37 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


cold dead hans: “The anti-favorite people were much more hostile and grandstanding than the pro-favoriters. They (the anti-'s) were saying totally unsubstantiated stuff about favorites, slipping over commonly into bad-faith-assuming stuff about pro-favorite people, saying arrogant pompous and insulting stuff about them as if they could read minds, then getting more and more ridiculous, ignoring the way their arguments were trashed and countered. Perhaps they thought, with the mods behind them, a bold charge could carry the day. Or perhaps those were just the people who are often that kind of arrogant scold type.”

There was plenty of hot air on both sides. This uncharitable recollection of things doesn't help anybody.
posted by koeselitz at 3:42 PM on September 15, 2011


nomisxid writes "It's always interesting to me, to watch as people come and go. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that not only am I not the lowest non-mod-3-digit alum still active on the site, but that they even live in the same town as I do."

Wendell is still active too, just not under that name.

Ad hominem writes "You could also force everyone to use a real name, like g+ and facebook. People wouldn't post half the shit they post if employers could see it."

This won't work. First off it would force a large number of current members into not participating. But besides that people don't work that way in the vast majority of cases. All you have to do is look back at early UseNET where people not only posted under their real names but those names in most cases were directly tied to their employers. To the point that disclaimers in signatures that the writer wasn't speaking for their employer were common to the point of cliche and mockery. There was still lots of crappy behaviour.

a robot made out of meat writes "Great example of the futility of flagging. This thread which just started is not actually about the practice of giving teachers pink slips for labor flexibility. I"

The framing of it made it about that even if the link isn't. I'm not really sure why that is a problem anyways.

DevilsAdvocate writes "Which doesn't really stand up to inspection. A snarky, 'clever,' comment might get five or ten or even twenty favorites. It's the heartfelt comments, or illuminating comments, or non-snarky comment fables that earn hundreds of favorites."

However it's a lot easier to crank out a dozen one liners than come up with a topical comment fable.

elgilito writes "I believe that this kind of problem is a by-product of the flat (sequential) nature of Mefi threads."

I'd say it's also a by product of lecture threads. If you are posting about something cool on the web then the discussion is likely to be about that thing. But, to paraphrase Lester, you post about a wide open topic and you don't know where it's going to take you.
posted by Mitheral at 3:45 PM on September 15, 2011


> plenty of hot air on both sides

Yes. I remember being astonished at what the deal was. It was like every fourth comment in the thread was a WTF?
posted by bukvich at 3:46 PM on September 15, 2011


iconomy: "... basically languagehat is doing exactly what I did. He idolizes me and wants to be just like me, so it's really not surprising."

We all want to be just like you!
posted by dg at 4:00 PM on September 15, 2011


All this reminds me of a thought that's crossed my mind: It would be enlightening to have occasional (annual? semi-annual?) State of the Site thoughts posted by the mods.

I dig the idea, but I don't really know what such a thing would practically look like and I'm not sure how I, at least, would go about trying to sort of Talk About How Everything Is in a summing-up-a-period-of-months sort of way. We joke about not being able to remember what happened a month ago on the podcast, but it's kind of true because the nature of this place is that it's busy every day, and a little different every day or ever week, within what is otherwise a fairly stable framework of site activity and highs and lows and kinds of good and bad things that happen.

We respond to stuff piecemeal as it comes up in one Metatalk thread or another in part because that's a bite reasonably sized for chewing: I can tell you my feelings on one thing or another or how I approach a given situation or whether I think behavior x has been spiking or improving lately, because I can wrap my head around that, think about it a bit, and come up with a reasonable distillation of my thoughts. Trying to do that for everything all in one go would be extraordinarily difficult and frankly require a whole bunch of record-keeping of the sort that I'm glad this job doesn't usually entail.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:02 PM on September 15, 2011


Since you mention it, cortex: let's say behavior x is the stuff that languagehat mentions. Do you feel it spiking, or improving, lately?
posted by box at 4:07 PM on September 15, 2011


This is kind of like when John Lennon left the Beatles. Everybody created this big stir and people blamed Yoko and whatnot...

Languagehat's girlfriend broke up Metafilter.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:15 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I dunno. I like MetaFilter.
posted by Trurl at 4:17 PM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I do too. We should have like, punch or something.
posted by The Whelk at 4:18 PM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Cortex is a flag and favorite liberal, no way I'm listening to his speeches.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:20 PM on September 15, 2011


and pie.
posted by elizardbits at 4:20 PM on September 15, 2011


I like 'or something' after a brisk morning walk. Let's do that.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:21 PM on September 15, 2011


This sort of thing makes me sad. I totally understand needing a break from a flavor of discourse you're not a fan of, but I hope he returns after a bit.
posted by smirkette at 4:24 PM on September 15, 2011


grouse: I don't know. There's a growing number of topics where I just don't bother reading the comments anymore. Not that it stops those threads from exploding to a few hundred anyway.

For me, it does have a chilling effect. I spent a good hour staring at the submit button for Creed Crusher, eventually chasing down another 19th-century example of the same kind of design. There's a few articles I've considered collecting FPP but just throw onto my tiny Google+ or Tumblr instead.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:24 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Languagehat's girlfriend broke up Metafilter.

What would languagehat's girlfriend's username be, one wonders? Hmm... Musicsocks? Mathematicspants?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:29 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cryptoshoes.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:32 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


languagehat once called me pedantic.

I'll see your "pedantic" and raise you a "chucklehead." (And it was worth every letter, just to watch our distinguished colleague at work.)
posted by octobersurprise at 4:32 PM on September 15, 2011


No, I think he's right to a certain extent, and I think your characterization of what he was saying is unfair and dismissive. Witness this discussion about Peter Hacker, where the argument never really gets past, as nasreddin once wonderfully put it, "LOL WHO THE FOCK IS THIS GUY?!"-type putdowns, which to me aren't really acceptable even if the author of whatever it is isn't well-known and doesn't command the respect of a large, worldwide group of people know who know what they're talking about.

See also: every single post on the vlogbrothers.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:34 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Now that nearly all my posts are about Art Thing I Love instead of News Item I Hate, the representatives of the "Oh please" brigade pain me more than before. But I find one "thanks for posting" comment makes up for any number of poopypants. YMMV.
posted by Trurl at 4:56 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I didn't have time to comment this morning, but the Hat was a friend of mine and I'll miss him. He was incredibly smart and knowledgeable but never made you feel stupid for not knowing some obscure detail. And he liked Grand Funk Railroad. He'll be missed.
posted by jonmc at 5:00 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


He's a good old salt. A fine example of a man.
posted by nola at 5:05 PM on September 15, 2011


I once encountered him on the N train. He was so absorbed in his book, I had to flick it hard to get his attention. He was angry for a moment then focused and got an "Oh, It's You," expression.
posted by jonmc at 5:06 PM on September 15, 2011


Languagehat's right.

The book and movie threads on the blue are rife with negativity. There's almost a hipster attitude about popular culture around here, like once someone posts on a book or movie it's no longer cool to admit you ever liked it. And there's very little patience for escapist enjoyment--if you like a creative work, you had better be prepared to explain why it is worthy and socially acceptable for you to do so.

But then, when you go over to the green and ask for book suggestions, everyone's so helpful! I don't get the disconnect.

There's always been beanplating, of course. But that's mostly geekiness and academic curiosity. I don't mind derails into weird side issues, in fact I enjoy them. But pile-ons get depressing.

More and more often, I'll favorite a thread with the intention of coming back a couple days later, hoping that by then the haters have gone on to hate on something new, and the people who actually enjoy discussing the subject can actually do that. And I'm spending more time on Google+ these days, too.

I'm really sorry to see Languagehat disappearing into the ether like this, but I can understand where he's coming from.
posted by misha at 5:07 PM on September 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


Since you mention it, cortex: let's say behavior x is the stuff that languagehat mentions. Do you feel it spiking, or improving, lately?

The signal-to-noise ratio thing is probably the most concrete thing in there I can really try and address, and I think there's a kernel of truth to the "more people = more people behaving obnoxiously" thing that's inescapably a challenge with a large group in a way that it's not with a much smaller group. The proposition that if 1% of people are jerks, you're going to have more jerkishness on display in a crowd of 1000 than a crowd of 100 is a pretty fair one, at least as a baseline. I think it's more complicated than that in practice because jerkishness is rarely evenly distributed and there can be complex reinforcement/feedback mechanisms that turn a little jerkishness into more than it is when people deal badly with it.

In any case, Mefi is the size it is, and other than slow growth it really has been this size for years and years, and I don't think "radically reduce the size of the userbase" is a remotely reasonable approach to dealing with the problems that a large userbase introduce, so I'm more inclined to look optimistically at how we can help make things work with the folks we have.

Is noise spiking? I don't feel like it is in general, feel like maybe it is a bit on political stuff as GOP primary season has been starting up, but I don't think it's a non-issue even at non-spiking levels. I am frustrated when people derail threads out of the gate with unproductive snark or moaning, I am frustrated when otherwise thoughtful members lapse into crappy arguments or interpersonal sniping or reiterate old grudge-matches. These things are a drag, and they do happen, and I'd love to see less of it. To some extent we are working on it, as always, by trying to talk to folks where crappy behavior is a recurring issue.

I know languagehat has often found stuff on the site frustrating, and some of that is stuff I totally dig can be frustrating while some of it feels like maybe it's just stuff that bugs him more than it bugs a lot of other people. It's hard to really get specific about how I think one person's perspective and feeling about the site universalizes or doesn't to the general site experience; I don't want to presume to read his mind. I've definitely agreed with him about some problematic stuff, and disagreed with him about others. We chat a fair bit, I feel like I have a decent idea of where he's coming from a lot of the time but I don't always have the same take he does.

Sort of looking at this generally as a how-to-make-things-be-good thing, I think the biggest thing we can do collectively as a community is buck the understandable tendency to get frustrated into non-action or bad habits by the things we don't like, and to instead really try and help, even in little tiny ways, to help the site be a better place of the sort we'd like to see it be.

I mentioned up thread how valuable it is for us in modland to have people (a) flag deraily noise and (b) not respond to it, so that we can get in and make that stuff happen less. Flagging really only helps us clean up, but not-responding-to-noise has an immediate positive net effect on the quality of threads. Beyond that, though, occasionally just putting in a little effort to engage is great.

Contributing to or even bootstrapping a substantive discussion on mefi shouldn't ever feel like it's your obligation or job, but now and then looking at a thread where you wish things were going better and just deciding to cheerfully try to make the sort of comment you wish folks were making more of is really a valuable thing. This place is made up of exactly that sort of making-a-little-effort-to-write-something-good contribution, and it's great that most of the time it doesn't feel like something that requires effort but it may be worth getting out and pushing now and then. You're not just making a better comment, you're providing a foundation for better conversation to continue.

I've seen threads that start sour get better for no other apparent reason than that people who would rather have an interesting discussion than an angry or dismissive one just start talking about what they find interesting or neat or confusing about the topic. I've done it myself very deliberately a few times. Worst case, it doesn't make a thread any worse and does make it a little bit better. Rerailing is always kind of a matter of chance, but there's a lot of art and science to it too and just trying to make it happen is a good starting point.

By the same token that "everybody just needs to not respond to dumb stuff" is tricky because it's hard to get everybody instead of just mostly everybody to not do something, "everybody can help make discussions interesting" is really more powerful than maybe it feels if you just think of it as you being on your own and not being able to change the site by yourself. Of course you can't do it yourself, but you don't have to; you're one pair of hands in a bucket brigade, and if everybody can just do a little good themselves it turns into a whole great big pile of good.

Crowds are impressive things; they can produce pretty obnoxious behavior in aggregate, but they can also produce really great stuff, and as much as Mefi is not perfect and has challenges with noise and GRAR and such, I think we're as a rule all here because we feel like on the balance what the crowd here produces is pretty good and interesting. Keeping that up isn't solely a matter of never having negative feelings about the site, which is why I think it's important we talk about this stuff in Metatalk, but to some extent keeping the frustration to the grey and just being as much of a positive contributor to the actual posts and threads on the blue is a pretty solid plan for helping things be good.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:11 PM on September 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


Oh, and as a side note, Languagehat was one of the few folks who didn't promise something then flake out for the latest MeFiMag issue. So there's that to look forward to.

Hey, now, I said I'd try to put something together. That's not a promise in my book.
posted by juv3nal at 5:16 PM on September 15, 2011


languagehat is up in heaven now...
posted by Crabby Appleton at 5:26 PM on September 15, 2011


On the other hand, it's almost antisocial to say, "I can't be bothered to read what everybody else thinks about this topic, but here, read my thoughts." We could certainly expect better discussions if everybody would read what's been posted before commenting.

It's a genuine issue, and I don't point it out to criticize 1000Monkeys, or to derail. I think it's part and parcel of this thread. MetaFilter has grown, and certain aspects of its architecture (just like favorites) erode quality as it grows.
posted by cribcage at 6:13 PM


I totally get what you're saying, but what I meant was that I had actually read all the comments but WHILE I was typing up my comment, I had 32 new comments show up and I really didn't want to get stuck in a preview-cycle :)
posted by 1000monkeys at 5:27 PM on September 15, 2011


The book and movie threads on the blue are rife with negativity. There's almost a hipster attitude about popular culture around here, like once someone posts on a book or movie it's no longer cool to admit you ever liked it. And there's very little patience for escapist enjoyment--if you like a creative work, you had better be prepared to explain why it is worthy and socially acceptable for you to do so.

I disagree with this, and I struggle with it, too, because it feels lately like every time someone posts something that's, say, a feminist critique, or something that discusses racial aspects of a work (the recent GRRM and Planet of the Apes/The Help threads come to mind), the silencing comments there aren't "the subject of this post sucks" but rather "feminism, again?" Frequently lately there seems to be a misunderstanding that the ability to critically analyze something and the ability to enjoy something have almost nothing to do with one another (you can critically analyze a work and love OR hate it). This seems to me to be fairly recent thing, in as much as I've been participating in these conversations on metafilter for about as long as I've been here and I don't remember this attitude here before (though I've been told that I joined during a brief respite from intense boyzonedom). I've also spoken to a few geek feminist mefites who have told me that they just won't participate in these conversations anymore, and only as of recently, because they feel like they're explicitly not welcome.

I understand your frustration and how it comes from an almost inverse perspective of mine, but I think it's important to remember that one person's threadshitting might be another's valuable discussion and debate.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:30 PM on September 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


, but I think it's important to remember that one person's threadshitting might be another's valuable discussion and debate.

Or one person's duck eating a pizza
posted by The Whelk at 5:41 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm sympathetic to the weary feeling that comes with reading the threads on the blue lately. I agree with the impression that there are probably more good comments, and even better comments than in years past, but that the uptick in cynical, negative, fighty, dismissive stuff seems like "more" somehow, even though it's probably stayed in proportion. I'm not really sure what to do about it, but the whole dragging negative feeling has kept me from posting much in the past several months. When I do it seems to go alright, so you'd think that would count for something psychologically, but reading comments threads in the interim seems to weigh disproportionately heavily on my desire to post anything anyway -- which is the nature of negative things. I just have a heavy "ugh" feeling associated with comments that all the good stuff doesn't seem to put much of a dent in.

I'm generally like the favorites system and the month trial we did without them convinced me they don't have much of an effect on whether people exhibit undesirable behavior or not. Still, something I've started doing is not favoriting things that express my opinion (or else some interesting argument) if they don't do it in a decent way. For example, I suspect that a lot of people will favorite something, even if it's kind of assholishly phrased, just because it expresses an idea they have sympathy for, and favoriting it is their way of saving themselves and everyone else the trouble of a redundant post. I use favorites this way a LOT, but I've gotten more selective lately because I've realized that when I see something largely negative that I disagree with that's been favorited by a lot of people, it really discourages me from feeling like contributing a more nuanced counterpoint; I don't feel like it will do any good and I don't feel like getting into arguments with the original fighty negative person AND potentially all thirty of the people that favorited it, or whatever. But in reality, a lot of those people just probably favorited it because it was easier and they might not be as fighty about it, or they might be open to other arguments, etc. (Of course, many might have favorited it because they thought it was stupid or simply something they hadn't thought of, but I think we can assume that's a minority of favorites on most comments.) So now I don't favorite those comments, because I don't want to give the impression that the viewpoint is inherently fighty and insurmountable, and I don't want to discourage other, potentially more reasonable, people from posting.

I also think there is something to the idea that when people *do* get a lot of favorites for that behavior, it encourages it. This is different from the idea that people purposely post to get favorites, which if it's a thing at all, I don't think it's a common thing. I think it's more subtle than that, i.e. someone posts something fighty and negative or whatever, and they get rewarded for it and do not feel the community disapproves of it, so they have little reason to change their approach. I suspect that's why eliminating favorites didn't really change anything, because they're probably going to act that way regardless, but it gives them little incentive for introspection and changing in the future. As I said, I like the favorites system and I don't think people post to get favorites, but insofar as favorites tell an individual whether their behavior is appreciated or not, I (and everyone else) can be more selective about what we favorite. Someone might post some concise, assholish comment that reflects my immediate frustration, but that's exactly the sort of thing I try to stop myself from posting; I don't want to encourage other people to do it. And by favoriting that sort of comment, I'm really *not* saving myself the trouble of writing a redundant post, because they are not actually saying what I would have said in many important ways.

I like jokes so I favorite those, as long as they're not snark-jokes. Like the Higgs Boson going to mass thing, yeah, I want to see more of that. The anti-jokey thing I don't quite understand, because I'm not sure how often someone really means anti-snark (which I mostly am, too) or that they seriously don't like seeing jokes at all.

Anyway, I also agree with Bunny. I've tried to wean myself off posting if I think I'm going to be a jerk or something, or else not really give good quality posts, and I've caught myself before I've done a lot of stupid stuff -- not quite along the lines of the knee-jerk negativity or "I don't care about this" (which I have done before) but something like it, where ultimately there's really no point to my saying anything and it may just kill the buzz for people who enjoy the topic at hand. Sometimes it helps to ask myself, "If this thread were about X instead of Y, how would I feel if someone posted what I'm going to say?" where X is something I do like. Most stuff is so subjective that when someone comes along simply to say they don't like it, there really isn't a point, though the impulse to say that one doesn't like it is strong. I don't much mind when someone has a substantive reason and it's interesting to read why they don't like something, especially if it sparks a real discussion and not just "NUH UH", but then there's also that critique-for-the-sake-of-critique thing that comes up a lot and can get tiresome. There's a thin, blurry line for what's whack in that regard or not, though, especially since no one ever realizes they did that until a long time later (speaking from experience). It'd be a lot easier to deal with that if there were much less of the non-substantive negative noise, though. The "good ole days" framing of the discussion wears a bit thin too, but I do think talking about it over and over helps in the long run. After a while it sinks in with people that they're doing that thing everyone says sucks, and they do it less; learning to recognize you're doing it is really the hurdle.
posted by Nattie at 5:43 PM on September 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


I dig that duck, dude.
posted by jonmc at 5:45 PM on September 15, 2011


(although his owner could've sprung for better than fucking Pizza Hut. Come on..)
posted by jonmc at 5:47 PM on September 15, 2011


The book and movie threads on the blue are rife with negativity. There's almost a hipster attitude about popular culture around here, like once someone posts on a book or movie it's no longer cool to admit you ever liked it. And there's very little patience for escapist enjoyment--if you like a creative work, you had better be prepared to explain why it is worthy and socially acceptable for you to do so.

"Nothing creates rage on the Internet like sincerely enjoying something. That drives people up the fuckin’ wall." - Patton Oswalt
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:47 PM on September 15, 2011 [22 favorites]


I don't think this makes any mathematical sense. If the proportion hasn't changed, why would they suddenly dominate any thread? Just saying "critical mass" doesn't explain anything.

I think this is what he's talking about in a nutshell. 'This doesn't make mathematical sense'. Come on.

and yeah, heaps and heaps of snarky assholes. I'm starting to be come the same way. It feels like everything needs to be defended fiercely, because MeFi will hate everything.


The book and movie threads on the blue are rife with negativity. There's almost a hipster attitude about popular culture around here, like once someone posts on a book or movie it's no longer cool to admit you ever liked it. And there's very little patience for escapist enjoyment--if you like a creative work, you had better be prepared to explain why it is worthy and socially acceptable for you to do so.

"Nothing creates rage on the Internet like sincerely enjoying something. That drives people up the fuckin’ wall." - Patton Oswalt


EXACTLY.
Its why I barely post music threads. I know what the haters will say.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:54 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's almost a hipster attitude about popular culture around here,

What you mean 'almost,' Kemosabe?
posted by jonmc at 5:56 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


The framing of it made it about that even if the link isn't. I'm not really sure why that is a problem anyways.

I guess I was expecting threads to be about the links. The OP quoted part of their into, which was trying to make the point that there are problems in primary/secondary education. I suppose that it could be framed better, but it immediately devolved to one-linear favorite-hunting jokes (which worked) and anything-about-the-economy/poltics.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:11 PM on September 15, 2011


We should admit that we love that hipster vibe. Then that hipster vibe would be forced to eat itself.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:16 PM on September 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


I have much to learn from you, sensei.
posted by jonmc at 6:17 PM on September 15, 2011


"Nothing creates rage on the Internet like sincerely enjoying something. That drives people up the fuckin’ wall." - Patton Oswalt


I don't agree with this. It's more that you're posting something globally, where at the very least, thousands of people will see it. Like everything else, people will have opinions on it and sometimes those opinions will differ from you. There's always someone who doesn't like what you love and through the wonder of the internet, you get to meet more of them now.

I like making posts about space and space probes and manned space flight and will be making another post about the subject in a day or three. When I do, no matter how positive or amazing the information or links are I'm willing to bet that one if not more people will chime in with comments about how there shouldn't be any manned space flight programs. They'll say it's too expensive, too dangerous, not worth it etc, all things I fundamentally disagree with.

But that's ok. That's part of the beauty of the web, being able to rub our minds up against each and get different points of view and in the process learn something. A world where everyone agree with everyone would be boring.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:18 PM on September 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


Its why I barely post music threads. I know what the haters will say.

While not disagreeing that there is a certain amount of unwarranted, nasty negativity that can happen in music threads (hell, just about any threads, really), I think it should also be noted that expressions of opinion about music are often interpreted unfairly. If someone comes into a music thread with a negative personal opinion about some band or some genre or whatever, but seems to be entering the discussion in good faith, well, personally, I like that.

The blanket dismissal that the facile term "haters" conveys is, I'm afraid, often just lazy. A lively and informed discussion about some particular music can be a great thing when some of the participants don't especially like the music being discussed. I've come into some music threads over the years with an opinion on what's being linked to that wasn't especially *positive* (not a 'rah-rah I love this' kind of comment, you know) and have been accused of being nasty or threadshitting or whatever. Hasn't happened that often, but it has happened.

So, I personally think that people being (what I would consider) a bit oversensitive about their posts is also a problem. Sure, loving something and wanting to share it is great. It's pretty much all I do with my music posts here at Mefi. But interpreting every negative comment that might pop up here and there on the music you love so much shouldn't be labeled "HATE!", but should ideally be embraced as an opportunity to have an interesting discussion about what you love. This would be the ideal, anyway.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:21 PM on September 15, 2011 [14 favorites]


Aaaand, I see that BB and I were pretty much thinking the same thing there. whaddaya know about that! How's the weather in Jaw-jah, Brandon? It7s still pretty hot here in Toe-kee-yo.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:22 PM on September 15, 2011


I think languagehat is a great contributor, and I understand some of his points I guess, but I really hate the finger-wagging tone of some of these leaving-posts/declarations, or even comments on the site (yes, I know this isn't language-hat's own leaving-post). The whole thing about "I don't want to be around it," or "bowing out," or whatever. Metafilter's just a big mass of people from all walks of life and all over the world sharing opinions. There's no curation, just deletions and Metatalk. What's the point of wagging fingers at the group and saying "do x and y differently, my sensibilities can't handle it?" Personally I felt like I had a lot to say about the awkward black girl thread, but a lot of people had said what I wanted to say, and yes, some of the comments about why do minorities need to see themselves represented were frustrating and hurtful, but I didn't want to get in the fray and I liked the videos so I just left a little comment.

There was no microphone in my face asking me how I felt about it, and no need for me to post anything in the thread if I didn't want to. If I don't want to read something in a thread I don't like, I just don't read it. No reason to wade in and scold everyone.
posted by sweetkid at 6:28 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


How's the weather in Jaw-jah, Brandon?

The water's fine and the AC works like a charm.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:30 PM on September 15, 2011


Lovecraft in Brooklyn wrote:

and yeah, heaps and heaps of snarky assholes. I'm starting to be come the same way. It feels like everything needs to be defended fiercely, because MeFi will hate everything.


Well, to be fair here is an example of a derail that you posted in the naked rugby thread:

Would this sort of post be okay if it was aobut women?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn


Which, incidentally, I did flag. I just wanted to point it out in light of your comment because it's basically an example of the point you're making/agreeing with. I'm not trying to be GRARy or attack you or anything, I just remembered it because it was the last thing I flagged. I think this comment would've been more appropriate as a MeTa thread (if necessary) rather than to insert it into the FPP and potentially derail it. Just wanted to point out that we all need to start with our own contributions and go from there...
posted by 1000monkeys at 6:34 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


jessamyn: "Then we are in agree to disagree territory. I am not discouraging people from treating each other kindly, at all. I am encouraging an honest assessment of every member here as a mixture of good and bad attributes such that any one member isn't deemed to be more important than any other and that keeping the site running decently should be one of the priorities people have when interacting here.

Ah. OK. I understand your intent more clearly now. And I agree. But I did not pick up on that from your previous statements in this and other threads. Mostly I've felt as if people were saying, "We could do *this*" and you've been shooting them down. Which bothered me, honestly.

I think it's very useful when this comes up time and time again to point out the things people said last time about how they wish things were better and how they were going to work on things, to ask them how that's going.

Agreed.

Of course, in my dream world we are more supportive of people who are trying to make a general effort to not be part of the problem instead of pouncing on them when they have an occasional misstep, but I feel that the short attention span of the internet sometimes makes real change challenging if not impossible because we all either forget the things that we have said in the past, or we only remember the things we want to remember (good or bad) and somehow gloss over the rest of it. People become remembered as a stereotype of their worst or best behaviors because we have trouble assessing quality over time.

True. I think familiarity, meetups, being more connected offsite and just getting to know people over time helps a lot with people treating each other more kindly around here. That's one of the nice things about MeFi being such a small community. I know you of all people here know this very well and have experienced it to a far greater extent than me.

So while I think generally speaking it's a good idea for everyone individually to try to do better and be supportive of each other's efforts, it's also important to set expectations about what sort of things are not that okay but tolerated, versus actively supported and encouraged and trot those ideas out when people are bemoaning the way the site is or is not changing."

That makes sense. Thank you for explaining.
posted by zarq at 6:36 PM on September 15, 2011


Also something to note, he winds up on exactly 100 posts, exactly 10000 comments. 7 MeTa posts, 7000 comments.

This seems to have had something to do with his decision. His last MetaTalk comment was a haiku about it:
Ten thousand comments,
plus seven thousand more here.
Too goddamn many.
posted by John Cohen at 6:46 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I hate it when smart, interesting people leave the site, and I hope languagehat shows up again.

There's always been a fair amount of Internet noise. People who use the distance and anonymity of the Internet to be too cool to actually like anything. People like to show off by finding errors (yea, what's with the four score and 7 years, dude, why can't you just say what you mean) or perceived errors. Conan O'Brien expressed it in his plea for less cynicism.

I frequently enjoy the one-liners and jokes, esp. on MeTa, but I often don't have the energy to sift through the dross to follow the comments in what are probably some good posts. Is it because there are more members commenting now? I see too many comments where somebody expresses fear or at least a lack of confidence to post to the front page, because the response may be mean. I don't like that much. I keep thinking the answer is to be smarter, wittier (in my dreams), better informed, more thoughtful.

There's a lot of that sort of discourse in this thread, so clearly it's possible.
posted by theora55 at 6:47 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


"I've also spoken to a few geek feminist mefites who have told me that they just won't participate in these conversations anymore, and only as of recently, because they feel like they're explicitly not welcome."

I actually had a brief email back and forth with Lhat a month or so ago, and he mentioned the anti-feminism stuff specifically.

The thing with that is, while there are a handful of regular, shall we say, critics of feminist readings here, there are really just so many more low-frequency users that will toss out a dismissive one liner and usually get called on it and hopefully learn. But then some new guy (90 percent of the time, it's a guy) will toss off some other semi-thoughtless brodawg snark and that'll repeat ad infinitum.

So, yeah, it's wearing, but it isn't as bad as the old boyzone used to be, and the rest of the world is pretty goddamn boyzone all the time. That can be true simultaneous with "It's fucking frustrating to have to explain the 101 shit again and again and again." And while there's occasional complaints about how some members might not even agree with the 101 stuff, most of it is one dude being stupid per thread.

(As a side note, Miko used to be really good at pouring oil on those waters, but I've noticed even she's been kind of fed up and curt lately — it's not easy work.)
posted by klangklangston at 6:48 PM on September 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


and, I would totally be up for MeFiCon.
posted by theora55 at 6:52 PM on September 15, 2011


Also something to note, he winds up on exactly 100 posts, exactly 10000 comments. 7 MeTa posts, 7000 comments.

ten thousand comments to the blue
and seven to the gray
that's a lotta typing, friends
i had a lot to say
but now my work is finished
i'll bid you all farewell
i'll be up in heaven, y'all
enjoy your snarky hell
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:52 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Frequently lately there seems to be a misunderstanding that the ability to critically analyze something and the ability to enjoy something have almost nothing to do with one another (you can critically analyze a work and love OR hate it)."

Oh, and if you want a great analogy that will ring true with a lot of the sports nerds here:

Crit is to Lit like SABR is to baseball. The exact same uninformed criticisms come out for both.
posted by klangklangston at 6:53 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


"It's fucking frustrating to have to explain the 101 shit again and again and again."

This is one of the problems I encounter, where there are always new users who don't know the culture and who don't have the same collective experiences here who come into threads about difficult topics and start making comments that would be indistinguishable from trolling if they were made by longtime members. And while I've been one of the people who has patiently sort of explained things over and over, it does get tiresome and the longtime users get tired of having to go through the "THIS is why minority representation on television is important and hey did you even look at a single link in the post?" to quote one recent example. But it's very challenging to differentiate sincere concern and questioning from someone who is just in it to push buttons and I think our longitme tolerance (to a certain extent) of people's sincerely held but differing beliefs can sometimes mean we go around the mulberry bush with those people a little too much, sometimes at the expense of the thread. And a bigger site means faster moving threads and so jumping in as mods to try to manage difficult comments/commenters now has much higher visibility [i.e. is seen by more people and can become its own derail] than it used to.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:54 PM on September 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


PhoBWanKenobi writes "I disagree with this, and I struggle with it, too, because it feels lately like every time someone posts something that's, say, a feminist critique, or something that discusses racial aspects of a work (the recent GRRM and Planet of the Apes/The Help threads come to mind), the silencing comments there aren't 'the subject of this post sucks' but rather 'feminism, again?' "

My feeling, and I'm willing to admit this is probably in whole or part confirmation bias, is that gender/feminist/gay rights/anything to do with rape posts have seriously ramped up in GRAR in the last couple of years. And it is almost impossible for there to be any kind of discussion in those posts because comments from the, lets call it, the oppressor class in these posts are essentially unwelcome. For example I seriously debated commenting in the Stay/Go post because it has the possibility of exploding and the hypothetical in the final link had the maybe bad guy being of the straight male veriety.

See also knee jerk comments almost every time something bad happens to a black/female/gay person declaring that this particular bad thing must be racist/sexist/homophobic even if there isn't any indication that the bad thing is the result of prejudice. Or the straw manning in any vaguely American political post.

Mostly I just, somewhat unsuccessfully, try and avoid those posts but I'm really dreading the next 14 months to the point where I'm considering a MetaFilterVacation.
posted by Mitheral at 7:05 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


So, yeah, it's wearing, but it isn't as bad as the old boyzone used to be

During the Dawkins thread, I had multiple private conversations with Mefites who were upset because they felt that the Schroedinger's Rapist thread had put an end to the idiotic boyzone bullshit around here. They felt the site had slid backwards. I barely contributed to that damned thread or its Meta, and yet I was spending quite a bit of time talking about it elsewhere with people I care about. Because just because you convince one group of people of something, that doesn't necessarily mean you'll hit a tipping point for all of them. Especially not on a site like MeFi where the userbase changes over time.

It was sad and frustrating. Because some of them felt betrayed by a community they trusted to be better than what was on display. And what can you possibly say to that other than to sympathise and hope they aren't too disillusioned?

"It's fucking frustrating to have to explain the 101 shit again and again and again."

It really, really is.

And while there's occasional complaints about how some members might not even agree with the 101 stuff, most of it is one dude being stupid per thread.

Most of it is multiple guys being defensive. I don't necessarily think they're being stupid, but rather deeply invested in a particularly insensitive, uninformed or unaware worldview. It's hard to understand lack of privilege and oppression when you've been in the majority your entire life. Worse, they seem uninterested in listening.
posted by zarq at 7:07 PM on September 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


Speaking of feminism (well, in this case, sexism specifically) and of Monsieur LeHat, I was reminded by some of the later comments above to revisit one of LH's great contributions during those epic sexism threads from a few years ago: http://metatalk.metafilter.com/15398/Sexism-debate-displaced#484100.

I like languagehat; he's an honest player with a good heart. But he's not dead.
posted by peacay at 7:12 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


You know, I just had this weird epiphany about flagging, and I want to put it out here to see if it is off the wall.

Reading upthread when jessamyn said only flag a few comments you find objectionable in a thread because they'll look at it then, it occurred to that could really be a bad policy with the flagging system.

Here's why: You read a thread, you start with the first comment and you read down, right? And if you see something really bad, flag it. And then maybe you flag another comment, or two. And then you stop, because the mods are going to come in and look at the thread at that point, right? We don't want to be obnoxious. So there's maybe some stuff further down the thread we would flag, but now we don't.

But when the mods come into that thread, they take into account our flags when making deletions, right? So they delete those two or three comments most of us flagged, which is great. Maybe they leave the thread then, or maybe they stay and read the whole thing. If they do read the whole thread, those ones further down, the unflagged-out-of-politeness-ones, they'll stay, right? Unless the mods really see something they think should be gone.

I trust the mods' judgment and I think they do a great job. If just a few people decide if something goes or stays, I'd be okay with it being them. They know site policy the best, after all.

But the flags are there for the community to weigh in too, right? In that case, it seems like the flagging system isn't working the way it should unless we DO flag all the comments in the thread we have a problem with. Or why bother even having the flags?

Am I way off-base with my thinking here?
posted by misha at 7:15 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


The thing with that is, while there are a handful of regular, shall we say, critics of feminist readings here, there are really just so many more low-frequency users that will toss out a dismissive one liner and usually get called on it and hopefully learn. But then some new guy (90 percent of the time, it's a guy) will toss off some other semi-thoughtless brodawg snark and that'll repeat ad infinitum.

It's worth noting that you're often not nearly this civil in your phrasing, having called me an "asshole" for expressing supposedly wrong opinions on gender issues. (And I'm not generally a critic of feminism, by the way; I'm just a skeptic who likes to look at all claims from all sides in a skeptical way.) So you're engaging in some revisionism in trying to make it sound like you're the reasonable one and those "browdawgs" are so insensitive. But congratulations on making the site's atmosphere increasingly hostile to anyone with opinions that are at all challenging to yours. It's very gallant of you to protect feminism from criticism.
posted by John Cohen at 7:18 PM on September 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


Misha, they say that when they're summoned to a thread by the flags, they then read the whole thread. I assume that's because even a single threadshitting comment can cause a derail dozens or even hundreds of comments down.
posted by zarq at 7:19 PM on September 15, 2011


"It's fucking frustrating to have to explain the 101 shit again and again and again."

I'm just starting to come to terms with the fact that every discussion about privilege will be the first discussion you ever had about the subject, repeated over and over again. The privilege discussion is the world's Eternal September.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:19 PM on September 15, 2011 [22 favorites]


But congratulations on making the site's atmosphere increasingly hostile to anyone with opinions that are at all challenging to yours. It's very gallant of you to protect feminism from criticism.

When you're addressing one person specifically in a discussion like this, there is a good chance that you're diverting the discussion away from the subject at hand and toward a personal issue that can probably better be handled via MeMail.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:21 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


when jessamyn said only flag a few comments you find objectionable in a thread because they'll look at it then

So, misha, are you alleging that despite jessamyn's statement, the mods do not in fact review the entire thread when they notice flags on multiple comments in the thread?

My reading is a bit different:

they take into account our flags when making deletions, right?

Take into account, yes. Mindlessly follow, no.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:21 PM on September 15, 2011


If they do read the whole thread, those ones further down, the unflagged-out-of-politeness-ones, they'll stay, right? Unless the mods really see something they think should be gone.

Generally speaking, once we see trouble in a thread we'll read through it and look for further trouble cascading along from where we started, so that's not really so much the case. Fruit of the poison tree is a major metaphor in what we go looking for in a thread that has gotten out of hand, and if crappy behavior early on begets crappy behavior later it's as like as anything that the action deletion-wise will be with the later stuff to make it very clear it can't keep going, and we'll leave a note saying as much.

The thing with "don't flag 20 things in the same thread" for us is not that we don't need to know about the 20 things, but rather that at that point it's better to drop us a quick note saying "hey, a bunch of this thread is a mess" since at that point we're gonna be taking a look at the whole thing anyway and don't need to remove another dozen flags while we're at it.

So, short version is that, yeah, getting our attention to a thread with a few flags will get us looking at the whole thread most of the time.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:23 PM on September 15, 2011


The mods have said that voting via flags doesn't really determine whether comments get deleted except that they'll verify that a comment should be deleted. So the flow is more: Comment gets some/a lot of flags >>>> this gains the mods attention to the post >>>> decision to delete is made >>>> after deletion, ya this thing was flagged to hell and back so the deletion was righteous.
posted by Mitheral at 7:23 PM on September 15, 2011


I'm just starting to come to terms with the fact that every discussion about privilege will be the first discussion you ever had about the subject, repeated over and over again. The privilege discussion is the world's Eternal September.

Privilege is a shitty and ineffective frame for changing anyone's mind.
posted by Diablevert at 7:27 PM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


(As a side note, Miko used to be really good at pouring oil on those waters, but I've noticed even she's been kind of fed up and curt lately — it's not easy work.)

Glad I was once helpful, if no more. Sorry if I've seemed curt lately.

I certainly think I can cop to the "here we go again" feeling, and I do recognize a lot of it is because there are constantly new people coming into the stream and they are not all part of shared stream of history of the gradual hashing out of this stuff on MeFi. It does feel like Groundhog Day sometimes, which is a bit unfair if the players are brand new and just haven't been along for the ride. We all started somewhere.

At the same time, the older I get, the less I feel like maybe the burden's on me to reach out a hand and walk along together. I've probably gotten a little more radical with life experience, and though I still have all the egalitarian beliefs I ever did, I'm less patient with the 101-level discussion and just want to push on to the next perimeter, already. I remember having a gay friend in college who, exasperated with a string of boyfriends who had just come out and all that that entailed, finally said "I don't want to give lessons." What Bunny Ultramod says is true - it's not just tiring or hard to rehash arguments - I can handle tiring and hard things - it's that ultimately, for someone interested in horizons and new ideas, it gets boring to re-experience the same curriculum over and over. We just don't come to MeFi to be bored. I'd like to be able to make some assumptions about the community so we can move on to more nuanced or interesting or sophisticated conversations, but each time the new challenge arises, that means having to go back to Level I and have that 101 discussion again. I still feel it's important to weigh in and help re-assert some of the foundational values I think we've arrived at as a continuous community, So we keep going round and round with every new troll, every skeptic and Puck, and every new influx of well-meaning people just getting some consciousness raised.

That said, I strive to be fair and say things in a basically respectful way.

More often than not, lately, though, it's not curtness I notice so much as the fact that I just don't want to wade again into the fray. Others are already there, hashing it out, and maybe it's time for me to move on to some other set of points. But I'm really very glad that MetaFilter became a much more respectful place to do the business of talking about topical stuff, and it's one of few spaces online - or, actually, in the world - where I feel I can walk in with the expectation of being accorded fully human status. That's pretty valuable and it came about because of a lot of goodwill and collective work. I don't want it to backslide and so I re-engage sometimes when I might really rather just move on.

However, even saying that, I've actually learned some new stuff and developed new ideas from the gender threads of the last year. I guess I could never say that there was an overabundance of gender threads as things are now. It's a fascinating topic that has been kind of central to my life and the lives of many of us; I don't think it's some tangent or sidebar. It's great to have a place that isn't a narrowly focused feminist blog to talk about the aspects of topical discourse in modern-day life that have a gendered dimension, and be able to unpack that a little. I think it's all worth talking about as long as we're learning and developing. It sounds like I could use more patience if I'm planning to continue engaging with them, though.
posted by Miko at 7:30 PM on September 15, 2011 [17 favorites]


Bunny Ultramod: "I'm just starting to come to terms with the fact that every discussion about privilege will be the first discussion you ever had about the subject, repeated over and over again."

I volunteered for GMHC for a number of years in my 20's. NYPIRG and Planned Parenthood before that. When you work for activist organizations, you quickly learn that they rarely change minds in bulk all at once. They have to fight to win hearts and minds one person at a time. Or to channel Anne Lamott for a moment, the way you accomplish things in this life is simply bird by bird. It's a slow, involved, personal process. You talk to people and explain why what is important to you should also be important to them. You explain your point of view, and perhaps something will click. Perhaps not. You have to simultaneously take the long and the short view.

Do it enough, and you begin to either look at every conversation as an opportunity, or as a worthless endeavor. You have goals. You fight battles. You lose some and win others. And hopefully you make progress. But the one on one conversations go on, because familiarity often breeds empathy.

I've recycled comments I made here two years ago in other MeTa threads for precisely this reason. As far as I'm concerned, it's worth repeating oneself to a new audience if you might change someone's mind.
posted by zarq at 7:30 PM on September 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


Privilege is a shitty and ineffective frame for changing anyone's mind.

I have found it absolutely essential for changing mine. And may I suggest to you that what you just offered, which is, in tone, a pissy comment that contained no analysis at all, but instead an abrupt dismissal, is precisely what can be so exhausting about these discussion.

People change their own mind. But i need to be able to use exacting language to discuss things, and privilege is the exact language in discussions where privilege is the problem.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:30 PM on September 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


I'm disappointed that people are or got upset because Metafilter was not transformed into in fortress of racial/gender/whatever equality. That is not a realistic view. That isn't going to happen, not ever, not when the world is still grappling with those issues and the only barrier to entry to the site is $5 American dollars. At best, we aspire to better, to educate when needed, when we're able but this is not the platform for completely changing the world. There is no single platform. Nothing wrong with trying, but don't expect it to do a lot or more importantly, don't expect to see that change you wish to see.

I like to think that challenging racist/sexist perceptions is like putting a single note in someone's pocket. Eventually, those notes will add and the person may rethink their views on the subject.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:33 PM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


No, no, I wasn't trying to point fingers at jessamyn! I'm sorry if it looked like I was disparaging her, that wasn't my intent. I didn't realize that she'd specifically said all the mods read the whole thread, I thought she just said they vist the thread. I apologize. I was wrong, wrong, wrong.

I'd still like to know, though, am I wrong about the rest of what I said? I am not snarking, I am not criticizing, I'm sincerely asking if that isn't a potential problem, that things further down in the thread don't get flagged as often not because they aren't egregious, but because people who flag know we're supposed to stop after just a few flags.

they take into account our flags when making deletions, right?

Take into account, yes. Mindlessly follow, no.


Yeah, I'm not suggesting they should. Just that they can't even "take into account" our flags unless they know everything we'd flag in the first place.
posted by misha at 7:34 PM on September 15, 2011


Because some of them felt betrayed by a community they trusted to be better than what was on display. And what can you possibly say to that other than to sympathise and hope they aren't too disillusioned?

Well sometimes I ask them if they're happy being here, on a site where there are shifting approaches to topics. I don't mean this in a "if you don't like it, here's the door" way but in a way where it's sort of useful to have a perspective of the range of opinions and attitudes here as well as your own place in it. So for me, I know that I am waaaay out on one end of the "are political discussions fun?" spectrum. I dislike them, I find them painful, I tend to not read them, it's probably one fo the worst parts of my job. And yet I'm aware of my own bias and try fairly hard to not use my mod-powers to make the site just more like I like it. I'm aware that my own view isn't the centrist view.

Similarly, I think there are people who like being assholes here, but that's sort of because they like being an asshole on a site full of mostly non-assholes, they wouldn't enjoy it if everyone were like them. Similarly there are people who would like MeFi to be a safe space, or a space with no swearing, or a space that is always SFW and I think it's important, if that's your feeling, to understand that your position isn't centrist and that if that's what you actually want, you'll have to either stay here and work towards it, or be on a site that is at variance with your ideals and realize that you will often be disappointed. Some people are okay with that. Other people, I find, want the site to be different because they sort of can't accept that it is the way it is, which makes every day another "look it's those people doing what they DO again" revelation. And I think it's important to understand those things. There's a very short list of things that are absolutely verboten here, a larger number of things that are discouraged-but-okay and a much larger range of "things people do that some people don't like" that are all over the map. This ranges from people being sexist to people calling other people sexist to people overcorrecting people's gendered language faux pas or whatever. Everyone's anoying to someone.

There was a time sort of after the Schroedinger's Rapist thread and the discussions where the bulk of the people who were regulars here sort of all got the same clue for the short term. And it stuck with some people and less so with others and still other people, many people, thousands of other people, came to the site after that and have differing opinions about things. And that's how things are going to continue to go. So what do I say to people? I say that's how things work in lightly moderated web communities and maybe people were expecting something based on their own incorrect feelings about the way MeFi changes and evolves. I've tried to be crystal clear about the things that we-as-mods will work on and will not work on, but I also think I have a sense of what we-as-community will work on and not work on or what we're realistically able to do. A lot of the weird crappy comments I've been seeing lately really aren't from longtime users, so we may need to do some better mentoring of newer users at the same time as we think about whether we need "rtention strategies" for burnt out older users or whether it's okay if they just wander off sometimes.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:34 PM on September 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


this is not the platform for completely changing the world.

But I think it is within reason to change MetaFilter; in fact, MetaFilter is the only platform that can change MetaFilter for the better. It has already been done to some large extent.
posted by Miko at 7:35 PM on September 15, 2011


am I wrong about the rest of what I said?

If I were telling people exactly how to do this, which I am not, I'd say consider not falgging more than three or four comments at a time. Give us a chance to check the thread out, see if things need doing, leave a note or whatever. Later on, if things are still problematic, flag a few more. Keeping in mind that in the middle of the US night our repsonse times are slower. But yeah once we've seen a few flags we will check things out, so flagging 15-20 things, while it may feel satisfying, starts having diminishing returns as an "alert the mods" strategy.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:36 PM on September 15, 2011


That, however, is different from an approach to critique I flagged recently -- "I didn't even look at this because I already think it's going to suck because it was a cover version as opposed to the original by so-and-so, so who cares."

Figured I'd get called out for my hypocrisy. But I had knowledge of several aspects of that FPP, and so my comment was at least SOMEWHAT informed.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:36 PM on September 15, 2011


sorry, cortex, I should have previewed. This thread is moving fast!
posted by misha at 7:36 PM on September 15, 2011


I have found it absolutely essential for changing mine. And may I suggest to you that what you just offered, which is, in tone, a pissy comment that contained no analysis at all, but instead an abrupt dismissal, is precisely what can be so exhausting about these discussion.

I apologize for being glib; you are correct. And my use of "anyone" was probably over-broad. But I genuinely think the whole discourse of privilege vs. non-privilege is ineffective rhetoric in terms of actually persuading people to who don't already accept the fundamental tenants of privilege rhetoric to believe in them.

I must be as clear as possible here: My belief about its ineffectiveness as rhetoric is entirely separate from its truth or falsity or usefulness as an analytical framework. It can be both true and useful and yet unpersuasive, and in my view, it all those things. Therefore I find it tiresome when it comes up again and again.
posted by Diablevert at 7:38 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Privilege is a shitty and ineffective frame for changing anyone's mind.

It was the one thing that finally clicked the light switch in my head. It was a simple link to one of the 101 topic. It probably is the place you have to start at to realize all the other cascading effects.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:39 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I genuinely think the whole discourse of privilege vs. non-privilege is ineffective rhetoric

I personally haven't found it to be ineffective, either here or in real life; just the opposite, in fact. Sometimes you need a concrete, illustrative construct.
posted by Miko at 7:41 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Therefore I find it tiresome when it comes up again and again.

That's your prerogative. It's essential to my understanding of how people can be disenfranchised, and how those who are not can unwittingly support a system of disenfranchisement, without even being cognizant of the system or how it benefits them. So I shall continue to use it where it seems appropriate, and I hope you can either bear with it or just not let it bother you.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:41 PM on September 15, 2011


But I think it is within reason to change MetaFilter; in fact, MetaFilter is the only platform that can change MetaFilter for the better. It has already been done to some large extent.

But Metafilter isn't static, so any change that happens has to be watered and fed in order to just stay alive, let alone grow.

The site has changed and isn't quite so boyzonish. The next "big battle" is probably over black racism or transgender issues. Probably the later, they're more organized, heh.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:41 PM on September 15, 2011


But I genuinely think the whole discourse of privilege vs. non-privilege is ineffective rhetoric in terms of actually persuading people to who don't already accept the fundamental tenants of privilege rhetoric to believe in them.

I don't know, I've found that the discussions where I tend to make the most headway (not here so much, but in general) are those where you can put that lightbulb moment into someone's head, when they realize that no one ever says they're articulate for a white guy.

I'm kind of lukewarm on xkcd but I have to give the guy credit for the "Wow, you suck at math / Wow, girls suck at math" comic. It's a really helpful little thing, for demonstrating how it goes.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:41 PM on September 15, 2011


But Metafilter isn't static, so any change that happens has to be watered and fed in order to just stay alive, let alone grow.

That's totally true.

The next "big battle" is probably over black racism or transgender issues. Probably the later, they're more organized, heh.

They are pretty organized and are developing some very powerful ideas, and they are maybe? probably? more represented in places like MeFi.
posted by Miko at 7:44 PM on September 15, 2011


Thanks, jessamyn! I definitely see where you are coming from, too, after reading both cortex's comment and your own. I could see how it could get really, really onerous to have to go in and remove all those flags. I didn't realize that was how it worked, that you had to remove them all.

Honestly, that must really suck.

Now I feel bad about flagging at all.
posted by misha at 7:44 PM on September 15, 2011


I hadn't seen that before. It is a good one.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:44 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, long thread and so hard to keep up.

Am I the only one here who has a MEGA CRUSH on LanguageHat? He favourited me one time and it was like that moment in high school when your crush finally notices you and vaguely nods in your direction. I may have practised writing my first name and his last name together for the next few weeks. Honey-Hat has such a nice ring to it.
posted by honey-barbara at 7:45 PM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Oh, man, have I had crushes on Metafilter!
posted by misha at 7:47 PM on September 15, 2011


In a gift of the magi-style twist, he was calling himself Language Barbara.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:47 PM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ah, the crushes!
posted by Miko at 7:48 PM on September 15, 2011


I did a happy dance the first (maybe only) time languagehat favorited me. Realtalk. Also I just flagged the shit out of that post that jessamyn swooped in and deleted. I think it's easy to feel weird about flagging stuff, like you're a hall monitor or something, but I know if I were a mod I'd be really happy to not be doing my job in a vacuum.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 7:48 PM on September 15, 2011


IN MY DREAMS!
posted by honey-barbara at 7:48 PM on September 15, 2011


Honey-Hat has such a nice ring to it.

put on your honey hat, babe
i'll whisper language in your ear
we'll make 10,000 comments
and then we'll disappear
i'll announce that you are leaving
i'll post it to the gray
and you can do the same for me
and we'll slide out that way
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:49 PM on September 15, 2011 [23 favorites]


But I genuinely think the whole discourse of privilege vs. non-privilege is ineffective rhetoric in terms of actually persuading people to who don't already accept the fundamental tenants of privilege rhetoric to believe in them.

To add to my last comment about this; it's easy enough to understand the idea, but it's a whole 'nother dynamic to understand why it needs to be talked about. Even more specifically, IT NEEDS TO BE OKAY TO TALK ABOUT.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:49 PM on September 15, 2011


Oh man, I'm printing that out to stick on my fridge flapjax.
posted by honey-barbara at 7:51 PM on September 15, 2011


Languagehat is/was the kind of MeFite I'd like to be. WWLHD? I want to do that... when I'm not Being Right In Public or Picking The Low-Hanging Comedic Fruit.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:51 PM on September 15, 2011


I spend most of my time Being Jealous of Greg Nog.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:53 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I didn't realize that was how it worked, that you had to remove them all.

It's not a big deal by itself, certainly not at all a reason to avoid flagging a thing that needs flagging since that's kind of the whole point. It's just part of why flagging twenty things instead of just writing us a note is sub-optimal; it's a bit like ringing the bell on a bus more than once when you want the driver to stop.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:56 PM on September 15, 2011


Oh man, I'm printing that out to stick on my fridge flapjax.

That'll be great! And when the guy from BMI comes around trying to collect royalties for me, tell him to fuck off, cause my quarterly checks have been weak these past coupla years. I think they're sending my money to Lady Gaga, you wanna know the truth...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:57 PM on September 15, 2011


I spend most of my time Being Jealous of Greg Nog.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:53 PM on September 15 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]


My husband calls Greg Nog "the funniest man on the internet."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:59 PM on September 15, 2011


I hadn't seen that before. It is a good one.

It is a good one. I like it. For me, I think the difference in how something like the strip works and how these discussions usually go here is that there is a sympathetic bond established between the writer and the audience in a humor strip: they're telling you the joke, on the assumption that you're smart enough to get it. The critique is directed at the world; you and the writer are on the same side.

When Module 101 gets launched in a thread here because someone said something that the instructor thought was ignorant, there is an inherent antagonism. "In saying this, you have demonstrated that you don't understand. Here, let me teach you. This is the way the world really is, and now that you know this, you must accept you were wrong." I tend to think that about 99% of the time, this causes a wall to get thrown up rather than a lightbulb to go off. It's like being told that, hey, even though you've never heard of our religion, you were a sinner, but fortunately I'm here to save you.

I don't think you can eliminate the antagonistic aspect from challenging someone's ideas. There will be some, doubtless, who will have a road to Damascus moment due to such a challenge, and be converted. But a far greater percentage of the time, it just turns into a fight.

It was probably pretty dumb of me to bring this up; I'm pretty sure I'm in the minority on this and won't be changing anyone's mind either, though haveing been so foolish as to light this fuse, I probably have a responsibility to stick around and pick over the shrapnel. I get that a lot of people think such fights are worth having. My personal instincts run more towards diplomacy.
posted by Diablevert at 7:59 PM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Damn that languagehat, he is devilishly clever. He somehow or other managed to spawn an enormously long flameout thread without even showing up! Dude has the power. Add my name to the litany of those who hope this is just for a space of time, but sadly, I doubt it.

I don't think there was any golden age of mefi and I think mefi is still the best place I know to get in a discussion or find super things. But in truth, it used to feel more intimate to me. People's personalities seemed to stand in bolder relief. Now you could make the case that one person's "more intimate" is another person's "too cliquey" - although, I dunno, I've never felt like part of a clique.

It's just to be expected that people will move on over time, they have in every other aspect of my life, why wouldn't they here? Some flame out in rage, some in annoyance, some in frustration. Some have life changes that just carry them off. Who knows why, the reasons are as manifold as the departures. Even when people articulate their reasons in long, painstaking missives, angry bursts, or a few sorry phrases, I still don't understand, but I am sorry to see them go. Even the crazy uncles and the nattering nabobs of negativity, I mourn all the leavings. Even if you were crazy or mean, you were our crazy and mean.

The constancy of some members was always a good part of of the allure here for me. Kind of like going into the Cheers bar with a comfortable crew of regulars but a changing cast that kept things from getting stale. It was a conversation with people "I knew." Well, no, I certainly never knew everyone, but there was a core of people I "knew," and that I looked forward to hearing from.

Today, it just feels more anonymous to me.

For one thing, there is volume. For example, in the entire month of 8/03 there were only about a half dozen posts that topped 100 comments. We've had twice that number in the last three days. I used to read almost every thread on the blue and the gray daily. I was able to keep up with things, keep up with people, pick up on the in jokes, read things thoroughly and think before I commented. With fewer comments, you could pay attention to what was said and who said it in a way that I find almost impossible today. The idea of reading every thread today is ludicrous.

The comment volume creates another problem. Most people don't want to add noise or repeat what someone else said, but damn, who has time to read a small book before commenting? The volume means people scan faster, skip over comments, find ways to manage the volume by skipping along through favorited comments or to just the names they know. More and more you see apologies that "I wasn't able to read the whole thread so sorry if I am repeating." People post a good in-thread link and 3 or 4 people post the same link later because who has time to click all the links?

I think the volume of comments make that neighborly, intimate feeling hard to sustain. Sometimes I wish we could have a limit of 5 comments in any given thread. Well not really, that would be artificial. But in my perfect world, people would write just three or four comments that really counted rather than dozens and dozens in any one thread. There are some exceptional circumstances, but generally when you start being able to count a user's comments by the tens, methinks that's often a sign of excess.

Then there is the revolving door. I have been thrilled to embrace new people. I was thrilled and embracing in 2004. Thrilled and embracing in 2005. Thrilled and embracing in 2006. And in 2007. And in 2008. Damn, would you all just stay still for one freaking minute, you new people? I can't even keep up with all your names before you're leaving.

So yes, I miss the old days. They were not better, just different. I am nostalgic for the days when I entered the bar and always spotted a few familiars. Some were people I was happy to see, a few less so, but they were familiar. I am nostalgic for the days when I could largely keep up on what was going on in the neighborhood. I am nostalgic for the days when I knew most of the gossip.

So as I watch my mefi "contemporaries" move on and move away, it does indeed diminish things a bit for me. Usually, some new sweet soul or well turned comment can restore my spirits. I try to parcel my own time out to avoid the dread burnout because I am very fond of mefi and all the many wonderful people I've met here, laughed with, cried with. There are more people who are wrong on the internet than I could possibly ever cope with so I try not to waste my time on that or accumulate the many frustrations of that type of fray. I see why people go away but I hope won't find myself in that number (although the idea of reading my flame out thread is not without some appeal...) I sometimes slip off for days or weeks at a time, but I am careful not to slam that door.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:02 PM on September 15, 2011 [33 favorites]


In my experience, if an idea is genuinely challenging, a certain percentage of people will respond defensively however it is phrased. I am not out to teach anybody, but merely to express my own thoughts with as much clarity as possible, and am not sure that being circumspect in order to dull the challenge will do anything other than muddy my point.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:02 PM on September 15, 2011


Would it kill traffic to MeTa to raise the price of admission to ten dollars? This is actually a serious question. I mean, inflation takes its toll. A $5 bill doesn't mean as much as it did in '04.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:12 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


$20.

SAIT
posted by zarq at 8:15 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]



I spend most of my time Being Jealous of Greg Nog.

My husband calls Greg Nog "the funniest man on the internet."


I would like to petition to League Of Calamitous Intent to name Greg Nog as my Official Nemesis.
posted by The Whelk at 8:18 PM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


$20.

Seriously, not enough to really throttle new membership, but enough that people will value what they have bought.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:19 PM on September 15, 2011


I just want to point out even 10$ isn't that big a deal ( except to the people for whom $10 is a huge fucking deal, like getting on the train to an interview or signing up for metafilter, I would like to see a fund set up for those people)

The barrier is having a bank account or credit card to link to paypal. Are there other ways to pay such as money order?

People get upset about the privilege debate because they honestly don't feel privileged. We look around and see people raking in millions, by comparison we are just scraping by along with the rest of the schnooks. Yeah, we may be straight white men, and we certainly get things easier than people who are not, there is no debating that. But as Obi Wan said, there is always a bigger fish, and those fish are eating us.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:23 PM on September 15, 2011


Are there other ways to pay such as money order?

Totally, it's in the FAQ and I email people directly who ask via the contact form. People can pay with a fiver sent directly to me or $5 worth of unused US postage. For people who say that $5 is a hardship, I tell them to send me a postcard. If it's someone from another country, I tell them to send me a postcard from their country, or some local currency that doesn't have to be worth anywhere near $5. I have a lot of local currency on my fridge and some neat postcards.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:28 PM on September 15, 2011 [35 favorites]


I did not know that, Jessamyn. That's rather terrific.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:30 PM on September 15, 2011


That is very cool, thanks.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:31 PM on September 15, 2011


I suspect I will now spend my next few weekends constructing WhelkBot and GregNogBot to battle it out in my backyard to the nerdy-fearing horror of my neighbors.
posted by elizardbits at 8:31 PM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Would it kill traffic to MeTa*

* Oops, I meant AskMe, since it's the high-visibility sub-site for newcomers.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:32 PM on September 15, 2011


I don't think it would kill traffic, but I don't think it would accomplish much either. As Ad Hominem said, the barrier is the decision/ability to go through an online payment hoopjump and part with a nominal fee. This is part of why Jess' "send me postcard/currency" thing works for those odd cases: it's replacing one speed bump with actually a somewhat more challenging one.

As much as anything, I like it being as low as $5 because that minimizes entitlement issues while still being not quite pocket change for a lot of people. Jack up the fee and you jack up the expectations associated with it, which is not something we want to have to deal with. (As it is we get grouchy demands for refunds sometimes from people who didn't read the signup stuff carefully, or crazymail from people telling us that our site is DOOMED if it charges money when the internet is FREE, etc.)

So having a speedbump is good. Making the nominal fee less nominal doesn't I think solve anything other than ensuring people who sign up have more disposable cash on average, which doesn't seem like an inherently positive development.

If we wanted to get pie in the sky, my favorite idea for increasing the speedbump is to have a short essay question during the signup process: 100ish words on why you want to join Metafilter. Which when I'm feeling idealistic I think would be kind of great—it makes people think, it gives them a reason to consider why they're signing up, and in some cases it'd be a tremendous additional early warning system for spammers and other such chuckleheads. But it's also something that might deter people who are otherwise great new members because they'd be put off by the stuffiness or the on-the-spot nature of it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:57 PM on September 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


my favorite idea for increasing the speedbump is to have a short essay question during the signup process: 100ish words on why you want to join Metafilter.

5$ and a 100 word essay, or just the essay?
posted by longsleeves at 9:10 PM on September 15, 2011


I know there's two sides to that coin, and all that makes sense. I have these funny idealistic thoughts about value now and then, but I shouldn't expect that from every new joiner. I was just curious if there was any site-operator thought given to a larger speed bump, and if not, why. At some point the actual rate of inflation may come in to play as far as real-world value, but it sounds like now is not that time. I problem-solve by throwing ideas at the wall to see what sticks, but i also problem solve by controlling for variables & I appreciate the level-headed and thorough approach you all are able to take to variables like that, and the relative worth of changes vs. the trade-offs.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:17 PM on September 15, 2011


Or we could close sign-ups entirely and have them open for random five-minute windows every day. That was fun the last time around, right?
(/jest)
posted by kaibutsu at 9:22 PM on September 15, 2011


It takes 500 comments before someone makes a "hung up his hat" pun? No wonder he's disappointed.
posted by BurnChao at 9:23 PM on September 15, 2011


It takes 500 comments before someone makes a "hung up his hat" pun? No wonder he's disappointed.

Strictly speaking, that doesn't really constitute a "pun". Your misuse of the term would have been the real disappointment.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:32 PM on September 15, 2011


"It's worth noting that you're often not nearly this civil in your phrasing, having called me an "asshole" for expressing supposedly wrong opinions on gender issues. (And I'm not generally a critic of feminism, by the way; I'm just a skeptic who likes to look at all claims from all sides in a skeptical way.) So you're engaging in some revisionism in trying to make it sound like you're the reasonable one and those "browdawgs" are so insensitive. But congratulations on making the site's atmosphere increasingly hostile to anyone with opinions that are at all challenging to yours. It's very gallant of you to protect feminism from criticism."

I probably thought you were acting like an asshole. And you probably aren't used to being called an asshole when you're acting like an asshole — hey, kinda like you are now, by misrepresenting what I said and offering a sarcastic congratulations to a comment you admit was civil.

If your comments here are predominantly "skeptical" of feminism, it's fair to call you a critic; you can't expect to be judged for opinions you don't voice. And I don't generally include you in the "brodawg" grouping, which, if you'll care to peruse up, you'll note I said were generally the new folks.

But I don't really protect feminism from criticism, I simply point out that many of the criticisms you and others offer are hackneyed, simplistic and dismissive. I'm sure if you bothered to find the comment in which I called you an asshole, I could provide more context for why I thought that was a fair characterization. Until then, casting yourself as the reasonable naif who is unduly oppressed by my vulgarisms is pretty hypocritical in a comment where you allege the same thing about me.
posted by klangklangston at 9:33 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I find myself being thoughtful about this, and thinking about what would happen if we collectively just started flagging comments as "derail" every time someone dropped in a short personal attack or pointless attack on the FPP? After all, we can hardly complain about the apparent change in the signal to noise ratio without taking some time to help the mods find the noise...and as the more egregious comments are deleted, helping some folks learn how to comment in a productive way.

it takes a village etc
posted by davejay at 9:48 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or just make favorites visible to the favoritor and the favoritee, and then everyone wins and there's no goddamn snarkvote +1 doubleplusgood incentive.

(I was pro-favorites back in the day, by the way.)
posted by desuetude at 9:54 PM on September 15, 2011


Oh, uh, finally made my way through the rest of the comments and saw it has been discussed. Nevermind!
posted by davejay at 9:54 PM on September 15, 2011


MetaFilter: I'm sure if you bothered to find the comment in which I called you an asshole, I could provide more context for why I thought that was a fair characterization.
posted by Trurl at 10:00 PM on September 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


Greg Nog may or may not be the funniest man on the internet, but every so often I will say to myself, "I am, after all...THE PLAYER OF GAMES" just for fun.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:04 PM on September 15, 2011


I think it's great to take breaks from the site in general, or from specific parts of the site, if you are feeling more grumpy than happy from being here. I've taken a few breaks, mostly by just walking away, but I think twice by closing the account down and later imposing on the (endlessly patient) moderators to reopen it. Seriously, it's words on a screen; if you are getting angry or sad or anything other than smiling, taking a walk is the right thing to do.

That said, Languagehat is one of my favorite people here, and I think he is correct about something changing in the social dynamics as numbers grow and the community shifts. That's ok, really, but as above, if that shift makes you angry, it's the right time to take a walk outdoors. There are definitely entire topics that I avoid because they make me angry, and my contributions make other people angry; if I really went back and looked carefully, I'll bet that the topics that don't work for me have changed over time, in large part because of that shift in participation dynamics.
posted by Forktine at 10:06 PM on September 15, 2011


I agree with davejay. I know I'm in a small minority on this, as in many other things, but I think the level of discourse would improve if people weren't allowed to call each other 'assholes'. People would then have to pause while frothing over their keyboards to think of a polite way to express an impolite thought and so, at best, give themselves a chance to think better of it or, at worst, come up with something witty or well argued and so a tad more entertaining for others.

The language conventions in the House of Commons and wider British political circles, touched on about a thousand comments ago, may sound quaint but actually facilitate rather than impede discourse by encouraging the use of the barb rather than the blunderbuss. Churchill called Attlee "a modest man, who has much to be modest about", Ramsay Macdonald "A sheep in sheep’s clothing" and said Stafford Cripps possessed "all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." We can be grateful he wasn't posting here, as he may well have just labelled his opponents a twat, an asshat and a fucking jerkface and called it a night.

Davejay's wrong about one thing though. It doesn't take a village - children are not commonly raised in a collective way in traditional societies. The survival of a child depends largely on the survival of his or her mother. We have to take responsibility for things ourselves, rather than expect everyone else to do it for us. It's up to us to make the site what we want it to be. I would like to see a wider range of opinions tolerated without tripping the automatic troll!/racist!/sexist!homophobe! alarm sirens and fewer LOL (metafilter hate group) circle jerks but, given they are staples of the site despite the best efforts of the mods, at least the ritual mass stonings could be conducted with a little more wit and decorum.
posted by joannemullen at 10:24 PM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


And the survival of the mother depends on...? Human beings are highly social animals and we depend on each other. There's no getting around that.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:33 PM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


joannemullen: "Davejay's wrong about one thing though. It doesn't take a village - children are not commonly raised in a collective way in traditional societies."

Which doesn't really mean, you know, that they shouldn't be. I'm a Mom, and absolutely take responsible for raising my child (along with my partner), but I think it's beneficial to to the kids AND the community for people to work together to collectively raise a responsible, productive new member of the community.
posted by misha at 10:38 PM on September 15, 2011


I probably thought you were acting like an asshole. And you probably aren't used to being called an asshole when you're acting like an asshole — hey, kinda like you are now....

Considered decaf, Klang?
posted by ambient2 at 10:43 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


cortex: "If we wanted to get pie in the sky, my favourite idea for increasing the speedbump is to have a short essay question during the signup process: 100ish words on why you want to join Metafilter. "

Except that that moves the speedbump from the user to the poor mods, who would have to read the damned things! Or, I guess, just count the words.
posted by dg at 11:26 PM on September 15, 2011


Metafilter has made me a better person in at least two regards: I think a lot more about the privilege I have by virtue of "qualities" I did nothing to earn, and I think a lot more about what constitutes a "boyzone" and how my behavior and communication might contribute to forming one. This is true both on metafilter and offline. I have thoughtless moments, but I hope they're rarer than they might otherwise be.

(Note this was not painful for me; I don't feel like I'm obeying a set of rules I don't understand. It's more like putting on a pair of glasses, focusing things which were once blurry.)
posted by maxwelton at 11:26 PM on September 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


Except that that moves the speedbump from the user to the poor mods, who would have to read the damned things! Or, I guess, just count the words.

No, they would just become part of your profile. Uneditable and unhideable. And each year on your signup anniversary, you would have to write a "state of metafilter and my place in it" essay, which would be posted as well.
posted by maxwelton at 11:29 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


dg writes "Except that that moves the speedbump from the user to the poor mods, who would have to read the damned things! Or, I guess, just count the words."

You could crowd source it. Your essay needs an upvote from another user before you can post.
posted by Mitheral at 11:29 PM on September 15, 2011


the default is "this sucks." You don't have to look far to find examples of this. For instance, the latest post on the front page is pretty distinctly this.

That Jon Stewart post is a very interesting example. I took a quick look at the link, and it just made me tired. The headline seemed like there would be something interesting there, and I set into the first few words... There was nothing there... So, I went to read the comments to see if there was something redeeming I should have been looking for.. Wall of noise. Ick.

Seems like a whole bunch of people had the same reaction I had, but just couldn't help talking about it. 20 comments go by.. maybe more, and nothing interesting passes through the thread either. And there it is, one big pile of steaming wasted time.

Yet there might actually be something worthwhile in that 8000 word essay. I'll never know. The MetaFilter has failed me.
posted by Chuckles at 11:48 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Being jealous of Greg Nog feels faintly ridiculous to me, like being jealous of Louis XIV or Lionel Messi. Someone with talents so different than my own...there wouldn't be a recognizable 'me' there, if I did what they did.

If I were the best me that I could be, I would be more like cortex, so I'm jealous of him. I mean, not really, but if I sat around and conjured some jealousy.
posted by Kwine at 11:50 PM on September 15, 2011


Yeah, our position at this point is that favorites are here to stay. We will likely not be building any more tools on top of favorites. You can opt, as I have, to not view them as you use the site. We'd like people to make their peace with their existence. We understand if you can not. However, as much as everyone has a bunch of different ideas for tweaking them so they would be, in their opinion, less noxious for site interaction, we find that the drama and hostility and ragequitting that accompanied the well-meaning-but-poorly-implemented favorites experiment and tweaking pretty much assures that we're not planning on doing something similar again. This goes for other ranking things like downvoting, killfiling etc. Not happening.

And just for the sake of experiment, I turned favourites on for the first time since it was possible to turn them off. In those first 20 comments (in the Jon Stewart thread) we get 32 favourites for one kind of "this is crap", 15 favourites for another flavour of "this is crap", and 10 more favourites for another expression of "this is crap".

Maybe you should be using favourites the same way you use flags. Like, if a one liner has a bunch of favourites, it should get close examination for possible deletion.
posted by Chuckles at 11:57 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


And favourites are turned off again--what a relief :)
posted by Chuckles at 11:59 PM on September 15, 2011


Just wanted to pop in and wish Mr. Languagehat godspeed on his journey.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:06 AM on September 16, 2011


My thoughts:

a) The Hat abides. We still have him on Ask, and I hope that he will wander back to the blue when he's good and ready.

b) I actually love the essay idea. It doesn't really make a lot of sense for people who are joining to use AskMe, but it still makes me feel tingly.

c) Here's the thing about so-called feminism threads (so-called, because basically, any vaguely woman related post usually by necessity turns into a "feminism" post): On other topics we can reasonably expect a minimum level of sophistication and knowledge from participants. In a thread about William Gibson, for example, you are not going to get dragged down into a discussion that goes somewhat like this...

    Books? What are books, exactly?

        Fiction? Isn't that just another term for "lies"? LOL srsly, I don't get it.

            Science Fiction? With respect, which is it? Are you making this up?

                Cyberpunk? Is this something about sexting?

                    Neuromancer? I'm very well read, and I've never heard of it.

This pretty much happens in every single post that addresses any woman-related issues/topics. It's unpossible to sustain any kind of intelligent discussion without it devolving into the 984,206,183rd Sexism and/or Feminism 101 thread at the most basic level. No wonder people become tired of it.

In my ideal world, there would be an Always-On 101 post open where people who make comments like, "I'd love it if I got catcalled every day!" could be sent, with links that answer every one of the basic questions and misconceptions, and whoever has the energy could comment in that thread to help people along. When it gets too long, close it, and open the same resource-laden post again, for new tyros.

(Yes, I understand the 984,206,183 reasons this is a terrible idea, but an intelligent site shouldn't be so resigned to the idea that a whole world of subject matter is impossible to discuss because some people are on the level of lacking even the most basic concepts required to participate. If it was All Science topics, for example, and you had creationists constantly popping up to derail any discussion, most members would not take it lying down. )
posted by taz at 1:09 AM on September 16, 2011 [35 favorites]


A while ago, I made an inconsequential-but-I-thought-it-was-interesting post, which for the most part I think people liked. I can't remember the discussion, though. The only thing I really remember about it was a comment which said something like, "Wow, are there really people who didn't know this?"

I just remember feeling intimidated and stupid, like I'd let the site down or outed myself as an obvious idiot. On balance, it was one comment of many, but it's funny how negativity sticks with you much longer. Even now, some time later, I find an inconsequential-but-I-think-it's-interesting internet item and hesitate to post it, because what if it's old news despite not being a double, what if it's obvious, what if it's not important or cool enough?

A lot of that is my own oversensitivity, and I'm not putting the blame for that on anyone else. But I take languagehat's point. The ratio of snark and contempt may be the same, but the incidence is larger, and it can seem overwhelming at times.
posted by Errant at 2:02 AM on September 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


children are not commonly raised in a collective way in traditional societies. The survival of a child depends largely on the survival of his or her mother.

Those two statements are not logically exclusive, and speaking as an anthropologist, the first statement is eminently false if by "traditional societies" you mean small-scale hunter-gatherer or foraging groups, where a vast ethnographic literature pretty much confirms that the nuclear family/self-contained household as we know it in the west is a pretty exotic confection. In the tribal society where I work, it is very common for elders, especially, to name 2 or even 3 sets of "parents," in fact, since they practically share their kids among different households in an extended community.
posted by spitbull at 2:35 AM on September 16, 2011 [10 favorites]


*extended family, not community
posted by spitbull at 2:39 AM on September 16, 2011


jessamyn: "Totally, it's in the FAQ and I email people directly who ask via the contact form. People can pay with a fiver sent directly to me or $5 worth of unused US postage. For people who say that $5 is a hardship, I tell them to send me a postcard. If it's someone from another country, I tell them to send me a postcard from their country, or some local currency that doesn't have to be worth anywhere near $5. I have a lot of local currency on my fridge and some neat postcards."

Aw, I remember registering in 2005 and sending an email (in what was probably broken English admittedly) about my inability to pay using Paypal but no one ever replied.
posted by Memo at 3:32 AM on September 16, 2011


He was[is] the only Metafilter luminary where I chatted outside of Metafilter.

not suggesting he like me or anything!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 3:40 AM on September 16, 2011


This is a good thread. I'm glad we are having this thread.

I have learnt that when I get the most trouble with my links or comments is when I've been sloppy or too lazy to make sure all the details are correct and the words are framed well. I'm also learning not to post when I'm in that slapdash mode. (And capitalize and what not which I wouldn't have earlier)
posted by infini at 3:52 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


the default is "this sucks." You don't have to look far to find examples of this. For instance, the latest post on the front page is pretty distinctly this.

That Jon Stewart post is a very interesting example. I took a quick look at the link, and it just made me tired. The headline seemed like there would be something interesting there, and I set into the first few words... There was nothing there... So, I went to read the comments to see if there was something redeeming I should have been looking for.. Wall of noise. Ick.

Seems like a whole bunch of people had the same reaction I had, but just couldn't help talking about it. 20 comments go by.. maybe more, and nothing interesting passes through the thread either. And there it is, one big pile of steaming wasted time.

Yet there might actually be something worthwhile in that 8000 word essay. I'll never know. The MetaFilter has failed me.
posted by Chuckles 3 ¾ hours ago [+]


Exactly. Common courtesy provides that if you don't like a post, just don't say anything at all. We really don't want to hear your whining and you tend to fuck it up for those who might actually like the content of the post. I understand that some posts are so universally awful that they scream for negative attention. It's the folks who feel like they need to be the critic for everything that detract from the place. On an average day I might find one to five posts I really like. I am not going into the others to say, "what were you thinking in posting this tripe?" That would be awful, and juvenile. It sort of like the lame *&%#ers who feel compelled to tell people that their favorite band sucks. They probably think that makes them look cool but if you need to put something down to achieve cool then I have news for you, you are not cool. You should have moved past this by about the time you got out of high school. Failing to progress is not cool. Keep your meh to yourself and do us all a favor. If you want to bitch then take it to MeTa, or if you cannot do that at least give the poor post and hour or two to get established before you drop your turd into it.

/ranting. I think it may be time for that first cup of coffee this morning.
posted by caddis at 3:53 AM on September 16, 2011


Observations on favourites [disclaimer: only one data set observed, over time however]

Imho it has felt to me that a) more favourites are being given out in general in the recent past, but that could also be a function of increased user base but b) the quality of things favourited has dropped. I get some [i keep favourites turned off but do check when the number jumps up in profile] that make me go huh? wtf was so interesting about that comment that makes you wanna favourite it?

Back even 3 or so years ago, it felt more like 'earning' a favourite - as some have mentioned above, like getting one from languagehat or cortex - now, its 'like this and get a coupon' kind of thing.
posted by infini at 3:57 AM on September 16, 2011


infini: " wtf was so interesting about that comment that makes you wanna favourite it? "

You could always ask, you know. MeMail is free. ;)
posted by zarq at 4:06 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


As any site gets bigger, the discourse is going to get dumber. I found charlie don't surf's comments in the thread that drove Language hat completely ridiculous.
posted by delmoi at 4:07 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


1. He once called me a "Merry Prankster manqué". Because of that I learned the word "manqué". And although I think he meant it disdainfully, I have been proud to wear that badge ever since. I am not linking to that thread because it is embarrassing what an asshole I used to be.

2. He also once reminded me of the word "taxonomy", over Google chat, when it was on the tip of my brain and I needed it for a pithy comment.

3. He is a bit of a grumpy and fighty asshole, but I don't think it is possible for someone to be intelligent and interesting without having some fighty asshole in them as well. Grumpy is added bonus because he is an old man.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:20 AM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is a serious question for the mods or the old-timers who have a better memory than I do: Are there long-standing, high-ish profile female members who've bowed out with this kind of noteworthy fare-thee-well? I can't think of a one! Is this a guy thing?
posted by thinkpiece at 4:28 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


He didn't post this thread!
posted by Horselover Phattie at 4:30 AM on September 16, 2011


He didn't even quit. He certainly didn't make any big dramatic show, and nor did some of the others cited in here. Leaving a statement on your profile is not flaming out.
posted by spitbull at 4:53 AM on September 16, 2011


delmoi: "As any site gets bigger, the discourse is going to get dumber. I found charlie don't surf's comments in the thread that drove Language hat completely ridiculous"

I'm much more of a lurker than a commenter in my many years but I think there's something to the idea that more recent arrivals aren't quite getting with the tone of the site before they jump in to commenting. I lurked on the site for what seemed like forever waiting for the signups to open back up, and in that long time of reading but not being able to comment I got a great deal of insight into the mentality of the place. Just like everyone else I look back at early comments – hell, recent comments, too, who am I kidding? – and cringe about how I was a few years ago, and so theoretically try to be forgiving in approaching people who are new to the site.

That said, within the last year or two, it seems like I'll read a comment, shake my head and think "This is obviously a person new to MeFi", then mouseover their username to reveal a very high user number. It's not every recent person to the site, but I think there's a much greater number of people who are coming to Metafilter without a full understanding of the culture of the place. Greater moderation can only do so much about this; you can't legislate culture, really. We just have to gently ease people in to how things are done here.

And at the same time, I think comments are very much to blame for some of the behavior around here. As it was pointed out above, people are rewarded for being threadshitters if they're funny; they're rarely sanctioned. More moderation can do much in this case, and good comments from other uses and judicious use of flags for notifying the mods is something I'll start aiming for.

This is a good community. I've learned a tremendous amount here, and it's a bloody shame that languagehat is moving on to greener subsites. I understand why, though, and it's something we all have to work to change in the culture here – with the help of the mods, of course. Just because the site is growing larger doesn't mean the discourse has to become dumber. I hope.
posted by barnacles at 4:56 AM on September 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


Common courtesy provides that if you don't like a post, just don't say anything at all.

There is nothing wrong with saying you don't like a post or its subject matter IMO. It's how it's done that matters. "This sucks" is lazy and

In my ideal world, there would be an Always-On 101 post open where people who make comments like, "I'd love it if I got catcalled every day!" could be sent

There is now a page on the wiki titled "Metafilter Inro to Feminism". It has a few initial sentences written by my half awake, non-coffeed self, so anyone should feel free to change the text.

BUT.

I strongly suggest this intro be very, very brief (readable in other five minutes, preferably two or three). Nothing is more off-putting than insisting that someone read a textbook before they can have a conversation. Include links at the end to the various Feminism 101 blogs sure, but this introduction should be like a 099 passing conversation. It should attempt to establish a basic framework and understanding for the ignorant and hopefully build common understanding on the subject.

So, what say ya'll?

Quick question: There was a great and simple illustration of the gender/sex/ that was posted around here, possibly by me which was great. it was just a simple human figure showing how the various terms related to what part of the body. Anyone have a link for that? It should go in the Wiki.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:01 AM on September 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is this a guy thing?


Yeah, let's do this again. Men suck amirite!!!!!???? Women never engage in anything reeking of drama.
posted by spitbull at 5:02 AM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


The concept of privilege was definitely one that I learned from Metafilter.

Although I've been what's considered a lefty from a very young age I have to admit to not having really understood until relatively recently just how my life experiences have been coloured by simply having been born into this body in this part of word with my particular upbringing and how this has filtered my outlook until I was given the concept of privilege to ponder.

This is not the only revelation I've had since I started reading Metafilter - I've learned so many things from this site, including various ways to present an argument without coming across as a contrary, game-playing, point-scoring arsehole. Sometimes being an arsehole is hard to resist, I admit, but you can learn things from people on both sides of the fence and from those who are perched firmly on top of it.

It really bugs me when someone says something like 'oh Metafilter, is this what you really think about *controversial subject*?' when often there's a whole gamut of feelings and opinions on display in a thread. It's also incredibly annoying when people just come in and fart all over a thread without offering a meaningful opinion. And as for the opining on things that haven't even been read properly... Talk about disrespectful!

I love Metafilter and all its various subsites; I truly believe that it is home to some of the most insightful commenting and conversation on the internet. Having said that, it would behoove all of us to be a bit more aware that there are actual people behind all these words. Just because one is capable of stringing together a devastating retort doesn't mean that one should.

To be slightly more on topic: Languagehat is (not) dead. Long live Languagehat!
posted by h00py at 5:19 AM on September 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh, unnecessary capitalisation of username, how I wish I could take you back.
posted by h00py at 5:28 AM on September 16, 2011


h00py: "The concept of privilege was definitely one that I learned from Metafilter.

Although I've been what's considered a lefty from a very young age I have to admit to not having really understood until relatively recently just how my life experiences have been coloured by simply having been born into this body in this part of word with my particular upbringing and how this has filtered my outlook until I was given the concept of privilege to ponder.
"

This a thousand times. I wish I had written this. MetaFilter was the first place that got me thinking about privilege (at first, very defensive until I realized my defensiveness was coming from having my [white male] privilege pointed out to me), and I cannot thank the site enough for that. In modern social critique I find the concept of privilege to be a very powerful thing for thinking from, and also something that is relatively easy to introduce to other people who don't have the full gamut of social critique authors under their belt. We can understand privilege; we all have some sort of privilege others don't.

And this I thank MeFi for. And this is something we'll go through 101-level lectures on every few weeks or months. But it's okay, because of the thousands of people who read those words, a few will recognize their actions in the words and start to think and change.

And, really, can you say that sort of thing about too many other internet communities these days?
posted by barnacles at 5:30 AM on September 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm totally going to start flagging the hell out of early idiotic snark comments in every thread I see.

Just a heads up.
posted by mediareport at 5:36 AM on September 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've been doing it a lot, mediareport.
posted by h00py at 5:37 AM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Good. Let's get a posse going.
posted by mediareport at 5:37 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is a posse I want to be a part of. Threadshitters: beware!
posted by barnacles at 5:40 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I want to join the posse. I have a 10-gallon hat but I don't have a horse, just a pony.
posted by subbes at 5:44 AM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can say yeehah fairly convincingly.
posted by h00py at 5:44 AM on September 16, 2011


Too Much Posse.
posted by box at 5:51 AM on September 16, 2011


I've watched that "Fistful of Datas" episode of Star Trek:TNG like five times
posted by subbes at 5:51 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've got some cowboy boots.
posted by rtha at 6:02 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've got a sweetheart.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:10 AM on September 16, 2011


As a child, I had both cowboy boots and mukluks. That's gotta give me some kind of cred in this posse. Beware, threadshitters; I will kick your ass with teenytiny multicultural footwear.
posted by taz at 6:10 AM on September 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


i am a posse magnet.
posted by elizardbits at 6:11 AM on September 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


rtha, as I recall from meetups you also command the power of hawks and other raptors. That sort of thing is very useful for any posse!
posted by barnacles at 6:13 AM on September 16, 2011


The posse-bilities are endless.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:13 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Or we could close sign-ups entirely and have them open for random five-minute windows every day. That was fun the last time around, right?
That's how I got in, and if it was good enough for me, it should be good enough for everybody!
posted by Karmakaze at 6:13 AM on September 16, 2011


Can we call this posse event "The Great InFlagration"?
posted by Think_Long at 6:24 AM on September 16, 2011


Flagrant intolerance!
posted by h00py at 6:27 AM on September 16, 2011


LH was the first person who I ever tangled with on the site after he (rightfully) called me out for jumping in with a fighty opinion in a situation I had very little context to understand. As you can probably guess, I came out of that tangle a lot more bruised than he did.

That was the beginning of a very long lesson in what acceptable discourse on Metafilter should look like. It's a lesson I'm still learning. With respect to a lot of issues (especially the boyzone and feminism discussions here), I've learned things and absorbed perspectives that have been helpful to me well beyond this site. I've grown up (with some help from MeFi), and in my opinion, the site has grown up too. If you disagree, seriously consider spending some time with threads from 5 or 6 years ago. They were a LOT more wild and are probably only readable because there were generally a lot less comments posted back then.

I think sometimes, people (myself included) are assholes. As the hammer comes down on one way of doing this, people find another way. And on it goes...

Anyway:

-I hope Sir Hat returns to the blue at some point.

-I think Metafilter has some issues to deal with regarding snarking and sniping. I think we'll make progress in fixing them, and then we'll probably have new issues to deal with.

-As a hardcore defender of favorites in their current form when it was originally discussed, I now wish that they were less useful as a point scoring system. I say this while understanding completely that they're not going to change.
posted by rollbiz at 6:28 AM on September 16, 2011


Wo ist der Flaghaven?
posted by Think_Long at 6:28 AM on September 16, 2011


Think_Long: "Wo ist der Flaghaven?"

Am linken.
posted by subbes at 6:36 AM on September 16, 2011


Common courtesy provides that if you don't like a post, just don't say anything at all.

There is nothing wrong with saying you don't like a post or its subject matter IMO. It's how it's done that matters. "This sucks" is lazy....
[emphasis added]

No, you are not an art critic here.
posted by caddis at 6:42 AM on September 16, 2011


Are posses just for cowboys or is there a role for us Indians?
posted by infini at 6:49 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Greg Nog: "Fezzes are cool."

Someone just outed theirself as a Doctor Who fan. How many points does that earn?
posted by I am the Walrus at 6:58 AM on September 16, 2011


I'm glad he's ok, was worried he had died when i opened the thread.
posted by By The Grace of God at 7:04 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am totally willing to flag like crazy, though it's something I've never really done before. I just flagged this, for instance, because it contributes nothing much and is inflammatory. But is this going to create a better atmosphere on the site? I'm not sure, I'm not sure. I'm sensitive to the concern that MeFi is a more regulated place than in the past. I'm generally in support of the increased moderation and believe it's mostly responsible for the consistent good quality. But does more deletion of noisy comments equal a better site? I'm not sure, I'm not sure.
posted by Miko at 7:10 AM on September 16, 2011


I flag comments that are just 'man this sucks' and the equivalent. I try really, really hard not to flag comments that are saying something that I disagree with.
posted by h00py at 7:15 AM on September 16, 2011


I think part of the problem is that we now expect mods to put out all the fires, do all the training, policing, aisle clean up, etc. When it was just mathowie, members did much more in the way of self-policing and we hashed things out in the gray. But today, bringing a post quality complaint or a point of etiquette to Metatalk is almost a hanging offense. It's all "flag it an move on" today.

No sir, I don't agree with that, it's lazy. Hashing things out as a community helps to codify expectations and build community. These type of discussions were a learning ground for new members. I wouldn't have known not to "hostess" a thread if I hadn't seen it dealt with in Metatalk. I wouldn't have known about stronger vs weaker post framing but for discussions in Metatalk. Hashing things out in Metatalk could be a tad rough and tumble, but was pivotal in shaping the culture.

I also strongly disagree that we should only be able to make positive comments in threads. Come on. Count me out the day this place turns all kumbaya, kitties and flowers. We should always strive to quality. Nothing depresses me more than going into a really thin, sucky post and seeing 100 people strewing flowers and rose petals. And then the fiamo doesn't work because by then, it has accumulated too many comments. I think people like thin posts because they area diving board for free-form chat. Back in "the gyob olden days" dozens of great blogs were spawned when mefites tried to keep post quality high.

People should feel free to take issue with post content in thread, it's insane to think we can only make positive comments. That's not to say I sanction thread shitting, but there's a big difference between threadshitting and thoughtful critique.

Flagging isn't the answer to all things. Things just disappear and no one learns anything. Members need a feedback loop for other members. If someone says "this post sucks, I hate this book" rather than just fiamo or calling them an asshole, it would be better to post "Look, comments that trash but shed no light don't fly here - if you are going to trash this, you owe us your reasons." Polite, productive, and gently shaping quality expectations.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:17 AM on September 16, 2011 [13 favorites]


Aw, I remember registering in 2005 and sending an email (in what was probably broken English admittedly) about my inability to pay using Paypal but no one ever replied.

That was possibly back at the end of the mathowie-only days, which were a little different.

And yeah, Miko, I saw that comment. And we're in a weird place with those sorts of comments. Personally, I don't know why anyone makes or participates in atheism/religion threads. I feel that they trod over the same tired ground with the same people every time and always wind up with not just prnuncements like that, but general bad behavior from both [all] sides of the argument. That said, they're rarely flagged and the people who participate in them seem to like that. And while that comment is a crotchety GOML type of statement, it's clearly doing so from a position of "I am making a joke" even if it is one that's poking people of faith. I mean, we'll delete "don't talk to me about your invisible sky monster" or religious people are idiots" comments right off the bat, but pointed jokes are a little less clear.

And yes, to joannemullen upthread, people shouldn't call each other assholes. This is one of those things I've talked to klangklangston about some and his ideal MetaTalk is somewhat different from mine. We're working on it. But generally speaking pointed directed namecalling is something that isn't okay on AskMe, only squeaks by on MeFi and is more oboderline-tolerated here in MeTa. I sometimes wonder if the looser moderation in MeTa means that people who actually enjoy the fightier version of MeFi stick around where they'd otherwise find a place that was a better fit for them.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:18 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


As long as we're discussing it, (yes, I fiamo'ed) this sort of crap is hurting Metafilter. It is a bad post, and the person who posted it should feel bad for posting it. I'll stop short of calling them a bad person, but ugh.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:27 AM on September 16, 2011


I have a 10-gallon hat but I don't have a horse, just a pony.

A pony is a horse. You'e in.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:28 AM on September 16, 2011


Well I'm late to the thread and it seems to have evolved several times over its course, but I just wanted to wish LH well and say it's a shame he's reducing his activity on the site. It's good to hear he'll still be around AskMe, because he has given many valuable contributions there.
Languagehat has always been one of the 'MeFi celebrities' to me, since I was already reading his blog before I found and started lurking on Metafilter. It was mostly due to him, and a handful of other language bloggers, that I decided to study Linguistics at university. So it always gave me a bit of a thrill to read his comments here.
posted by Gordafarin at 7:30 AM on September 16, 2011


Yeah, DR, I was wondering whether and how that would end up showing up and mostly hoping it wouldn't because I was having a hard time imagining it being presented in a way that would really work as a post. Drunk Guy Acts Out (With Bonus Ideological Payload) is not so great, as much as I love how much it feels like a Reno 911 outtake.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:31 AM on September 16, 2011


That thread feels like the definition of "Hey, look at this asshole."
posted by maryr at 7:32 AM on September 16, 2011


jessamyn: "And while that comment is a crotchety GOML type of statement, it's clearly doing so from a position of "I am making a joke" even if it is one that's poking people of faith."

Worth noting that the comment actually attacks both theists and atheists who preach their beliefs to others:
If you want to get all passionate and beat your breast while you tell me about a quasi-magical figure who looks kind of like Santa Clause from those old Coke adds only taller - get off my porch! If you want to get all passionate and beat your breast while you tell me that said quasi-magical figure who looks kind of like Santa Clause doesn't exist - get off my porch!

posted by zarq at 7:33 AM on September 16, 2011


I also strongly disagree that we should only be able to make positive comments in threads.

I wonder if anybody who has said "be positive" in a thread actually means "unless you have something nice to say, don't say anything at all?"

I interpret is as meaning: Don't contribute to a thread unless you are positively contributing to its conversations. There are a lot of ways to do that. A reasoned critique is one way. "Lame," or "meh," or "this guy sucks!" is not.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:36 AM on September 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I prefer klang's assholes, within limits, to joannemullen's Parlimentary nonsense. If widely adopted, it'd just lead to a glut of limp zingers from a gaggle of self-styled wits who were only half right. Then'd come the tone arguments and weaselly whining that nothing bad was actually said, why, there wasn't even any explicit namecalling or profanity in the comment, etc.

MetaFilter: I prefer klang's assholes, within limits...
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:37 AM on September 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


Is this a guy thing?


Yeah, let's do this again. Men suck amirite!!!!!???? Women never engage in anything reeking of drama.
posted by spitbull at 8:02 AM on September 16 [1 favorite +] [!]


Well, that's absolutely not the spirit in which I asked the question, and I said "noteworthy" not "dramatic" -- a big difference. I was looking at the list of great members who've left, including languagehat and wondering if there were women on the site whom I've "followed," now gone. Thanks for the spitball, spitbull.
posted by thinkpiece at 7:38 AM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Uh, did someone say... Posse?

The awesomeness of the voiceovered trailer is miniscule compared to the might that is... Posse. Starring Mario van Peebles. Watch it. Seriously.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:40 AM on September 16, 2011


Some things are best off ignoring. Flag occasionally, ignore lots. Don't add fuel to the cliche!
posted by h00py at 7:42 AM on September 16, 2011


languagehat's flameout peaceout did strike a chord with me. I don't think I "meh" much, but it's good for me to have reminder now and then that not ever pun I think up is clever or in good taste. I don't need to type everything I think. I've been trying (and sometimes failing) to practice that more lately.
posted by maryr at 7:46 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


every. Sigh, I even reread that comment before posting. (Something else I've been trying to practice.)
posted by maryr at 7:47 AM on September 16, 2011


I agree with davejay. I know I'm in a small minority on this, as in many other things, but I think the level of discourse would improve if people weren't allowed to call each other 'assholes'. People would then have to pause while frothing over their keyboards to think of a polite way to express an impolite thought and so, at best, give themselves a chance to think better of it or, at worst, come up with something witty or well argued and so a tad more entertaining for others.

I don't know if this hack necessarily works to stop people from being GRARy at one another. Before Rory Marinich left (and after, too, on G+), I had a few conversations with him about the many times we disagreed. For one member, at least, the desire to call someone an asshole coupled with site moderation seemed to lead to a tendency to produce walls of sometimes-condescending text that could feel very shouty, if you held the other viewpoint. Now, I know Rory was a beloved member here and is missed (and I like the guy, too), but when you disagreed with him, as I often did, there was really no mistaking the fact that he thought you were an asshole. Only with a lot of aggressive rhetorical padding around the sentiment.

I think it's really a human problem--passionate disagreement leads to a desire to shout the other side down. I do it sometimes, too--lose my temper here--and I'm always sorry when I do. Healthy discourse really necessitates people keeping their cool to a certain extent, if not about the topic at hand then with each other. Namecalling is just one of many ways that sort of frustration can manifest.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:48 AM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


caddis: Common courtesy provides that if you don't like a post, just don't say anything at all.

Brandon: There is nothing wrong with saying you don't like a post or its subject matter IMO. It's how it's done that matters. "This sucks" is lazy.... [emphasis added]

Caddis: No, you are not an art critic here.


Never claimed to be one, only that that are valid reasons and decent ways of articulating why one doesn't like a post.

You're gonna have to call me uncourteous and I'm going to have learn to live with that, somehow.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:52 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


For the record, I wasn't flagging that comment because I disagreed or anything. As you can see from my participation I don't object to disagreement. I was flagging it, experimentally and based on this discussion, because it didn't seem to represent a contribution to the discourse - it was a bit of a pointed joke, I suppose, but the point of the joke was a bit of 'you're all stupid for discussing this.'

I can appreciate that not everyone likes these threads but many people do, and I'm uncomfortable with them becoming an exception to any general site approach. I guess it's one of the subtleties of modding that different topics may get different treatment. It's interesting they don't raise a lot of flags; as I said I'm just not much of a flagger unless there's clearly an epithet in play.
posted by Miko at 8:01 AM on September 16, 2011


> No, you are not an art critic here.

Oh, come on. People can voice their opinions here and others are welcome to debunk them or help add clarity. Saying that because someone isn't an art critic then they shouldn't say anything about a post about art is kind of absurd. If everyone one the site were confined to their professional areas of expertise there wouldn't be much going on here. That's a double-edged sword, for sure, but best to err on the side of not stifling people who are otherwise being respectful.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:16 AM on September 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


On an average day I might find one to five posts I really like. I am not going into the others to say, "what were you thinking in posting this tripe?

The Jon Stewart post might not be a good example then, because a lot of people like Jon Stewart and after reading an article critical of him should not feel bad defending him. If you go into a knitting post to complain about how boring you find knitting, I'm with you, but pop culture and politics almost require a difference of opinion or a debate.
posted by Hoopo at 8:22 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I also strongly disagree that we should only be able to make positive comments in threads.

Well, yeah, and "only be positive/nice" is definitely not where we're coming from on the mod side either. More of a "try to contribute substantively" thing, which happens to rule out a lot of lazy or self-absorbed negativity that gets things nowhere.

I like a meaningful critique of the content of a post, even if I don't agree with it: people talking with nuance about what they dislike or disagree with in a piece of work is great, even if it's in some sense negative in its opposition to what's being shared. I don't know if anybody is seriously objecting to that, but certainly it seems that most people aren't.

I don't think we're even in the neighborhood of being in danger of all-bunnies-all-the-time here, so I don't worry too much about the ramifications of encouraging taking a positive approach to engaging topics here, but for all that I think of positive engagement as "trying to make good conversation happen" more than "trying to make everybody happy". Conversation can be challenging and difficult in very good ways, and I like it when that happens. There's just a lot of ways that conversation can be made sort of pointless challenging and difficult in bad ways too, and folks need to be able to make that distinction or you get a lot of ill will.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:25 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, shit.

Segundus: "getting a favourite from him always felt like the highest commendation Mefi could bestow. "

Yep.
posted by brundlefly at 8:32 AM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I also strongly disagree that we should only be able to make positive comments in threads.

Excellent, because no one is saying that. At some level comments in threads have a few different purposes and what we'd like is for one of those purposes to not be "fucks up the place" If you are someone who has a hard time figuring out what that means we can elaborate

- is wantonly negative or insulting and doesn't engage at all with the content of the post or the discussion already in progress [even if you think your insults are "correct" or somehow deserved they're often not a way to forward discussion and can sometimes stop a thread dead or send it in a bad direction]
- interjects your own opinion repeatedly in a way that doesn't really engage with the content of the post or the discussion already in progress [want to talk about something different? that's fine, but if people don't want to talk about it with you maybe take the hint and create your own post or wait for another time]
- early snark or threadshitting about the topic without reading any of the links
- starts interrogating or insulting one person about their beliefs [once that's more than a few back and forth comments, you should take it to MeMail]
- turns into a "me vs. everyone" thread about your own personal take on the topic and everyone's responses to it [this does not scale, is not a way to forward a discussion and is a community site not your own site]
- responds to or calls out troll in any of the above fashions [stated site policy is to let us take care of trolls and to generally not reply to them]
- at the point at which people might be calling you a troll, thinking about that and deciding to either step away or change your approach. You need to not only not BE a troll you need to not look like a troll because all we have is your behavior on the site.
- discussions about site policy and/or "this will wendell" and/or early dooming of threads. Take Meta commentary to MeTa or to email. This goes for "I flagged that so hard" sorts of statements. Flag and then move on, please.

So really we're talking about not doing maybe five or six things that are problematic and everything else is okay. We've seen too many instances where a thread got tanked with early snark that might have otherwise been okay or where pruning a bunch of early lazy snark and threadshitting resulted in decent threads that started badly. Give people's posts a chance to not go badly and let them do the same for you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:36 AM on September 16, 2011 [13 favorites]


I have no problem, apart from getting pissed off, with people who say things that are the polar opposite of what I believe. It just has to be worded thoughtfully. If it's just blaargh fuck you suck this sucks shit fart arsehole then really, who needs that? If, however, someone has a different outlook and is prepared to explain why then I'm mostly happy to listen. Part of the reason why I like favourites is because I get to press that little plus button in order to avoid a cascade of yeah cool I agree comments.
posted by h00py at 8:41 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: it's just blaargh fuck you suck this sucks shit fart arsehole.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:49 AM on September 16, 2011


Smile like you've got nothing to prove!
No matter what you might do
There's always someone out there
Cooler than you...

Life is wonderful! Life is beautiful!
We're all children of one big universe!
So you don't have to be
a chump

posted by subbes at 8:49 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kind of sad when the deletion reason says "as a mod, I enjoyed this video, but we can't do this on Metafilter".
posted by smackfu at 9:18 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


"And yes, to joannemullen upthread, people shouldn't call each other assholes. This is one of those things I've talked to klangklangston about some and his ideal MetaTalk is somewhat different from mine. We're working on it. But generally speaking pointed directed namecalling is something that isn't okay on AskMe, only squeaks by on MeFi and is more oboderline-tolerated here in MeTa. I sometimes wonder if the looser moderation in MeTa means that people who actually enjoy the fightier version of MeFi stick around where they'd otherwise find a place that was a better fit for them."

One of the first guidelines for MetaFilter is "Don't be an asshole." I think that implies that we should be able to say when someone is acting like an asshole, or discuss what acting like an asshole means in any given context.

I'll also say that Languagehat himself called me an asshole more than once (and was right). I find saying someone is acting like an asshole to be a lot less grarmachen than the pages of Opus Maledictorum brought to bear in throbbing purple pretensions of passive-aggression.
posted by klangklangston at 9:19 AM on September 16, 2011 [11 favorites]


As a dude who laughs at assertive drunk people, I thought that video was hilarious. As a mod on Metafilter, I thought it made for a lousy post. These ideas can exist in opposition without much effort; the front page of mefi would be a much less vibrant thing if it was just Shit That Cortex Likes. I have my own blog.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:22 AM on September 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


That video moderately funny but at its core was LOL drunk teabagger. That's it. Not a good post.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:35 AM on September 16, 2011


As a dude who has just poured hot grits down his pants, I am going to assert that Metafilter is dying.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:36 AM on September 16, 2011


> That video moderately funny but at its core was LOL drunk teabagger.

Actually, I caught a bit of local teabagger radio the other day and they were also LOLing at that one. It's really dumb, but the bit at end makes it.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:37 AM on September 16, 2011


I think that implies that we should be able to say when someone is acting like an asshole, or discuss what acting like an asshole means in any given context.

Sure, but it's a lot more helpful if you can make this discussion constructive and useful and not just seeming like you're spleen-venting on someone who annoys you. The way I see these discussions there's someone who is being prickly and maybe pushing some buttons and then someone else who comes out and is like "OH YEAH WELL YOU'RE AN ASSHOLE" They feel justified because the other person was being a prickly button-pusher, but to a lot of people it comes from way out of left field and ups the ante from "we are talking about things in a charged way" to "these people are fighting with each other"

You are frequently the person who is taking things from step one to step two here. You probably don't intend it to be read that way, but often there are touchy but okay conversations in MeTa and then you show up and basically rip someone a new asshole. And, as the folks on the teevee say "We get letters!" about that sort of thing and I think you have a good brain and vocabulary at your service and it would be cool if you could dial it back and get the same content across without so much of the "fuck you" packaging.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:39 AM on September 16, 2011 [12 favorites]


There's nothing hard about telling someone what you think sucks about their behavior in a straightforward fashion without going for "asshole", is the thing. It may be less satisfying but it's also less likely to sabotage whatever that kind of observation might accomplish.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:40 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just before sending a comment, one should be forced to pick one or several tags from the following list: Non sequitur / Bad pun / Ad hominem / Insightful reflection / Relevant but boring personal anecdote / GRAR / Insult / I did not read the links of the FPP but will comment anyway / It's a double / MeTa / Good pun / Irrelevant but wonderful personal anecdote / Me too / Who cares? / Haiku / SLYT / Pithy quip / what / It's a triple / Is X something you need Y to Z / Snark / Sigh / Troll / Valuable link / The post sucks / 5-page essay / Axe-grinding / I'm done with this place / Appeal to my authority / GRAR² / Movie or TV quote etc.
The list will be expanded to be as long as possible, updated periodically and randomly sorted.
posted by elgilito at 9:44 AM on September 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


cortex: "There's nothing hard about telling someone what you think sucks about their behavior in a straightforward fashion without going for "asshole", is the thing. It may be less satisfying but it's also less likely to sabotage whatever that kind of observation might accomplish."

I've always thought of name calling either and hyperbolic accusations as a bit of a deliberate silencing tactic, or a way people try to derail threads way beyond their original parameters to make a point then shut down reasonable discussion.

We see it a lot in I/P threads, where people storm into a thread to righteously declare that X side in the conflict is the root of all evil, and how anyone who disagrees with them is being deliberately malicious and evil. Frequently, the folks who espouse such views refuse to actually address any points raised, but simply pound their weary points into the ground and try to shout everyone else down. It happens on both sides, and is tiresome. There's plenty that can be discussed and learned about in most I/P threads, but some folks have agendas to promote.

Once people have started calling each other assholes in any given thread, the level of vitriol being displayed is going to derail the discussion into an argument. Because people get understandably defensive when they're being called names. It's totally avoidable. And it seems apparent that folks who have had this pointed out to them but continue to do it are probably not interested in convincing the person they're attacking of anything. They simply want to shout 'em down and tell 'em to shut up.
posted by zarq at 9:55 AM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


It'd also be kind of neat if people didn't nitpick over semantics of comments to a ludicrous length, either, because that derails things too.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:46 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


By the way, I found the (at least most recent) comment where I said Pla was acting like an asshole.

Pla had said, basically, that he didn't believe women were regularly aggressively solicited by men because only women saw it. That's incredibly dismissive of both the experiences of women in general, and specifically of the members in the thread who had repeatedly said that they had experienced this, and not only in that thread, but many others.

Similarly, the only time I can find that I said John Cohen was coming across as an asshole was here, in which he asserted that his anecdotal experience of not noticing sexism disproved a woman's assertion of experiencing sexism. I said he was coming across as a dismissive asshole — which, for all the pedantic quibbling so prized here, is different than saying someone is an asshole — and pointed out some flaws with his argument and reasoning. I don't feel bad about that one either, and don't think that it was a legitimate expression of skepticism, so much as an attempt at legalistic point scoring combined with a refusal to admit personal biases. But as he has also generally avoided responding to any comments that challenge him, saying he was coming across as an asshole was not an exception.
posted by klangklangston at 10:52 AM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


You were a part of that conversation, too, EmpressCallipygos. You can't blame others for carrying on a nitpicky conversation if you yourself were also right there doing it with them.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:53 AM on September 16, 2011 [10 favorites]


(Apologies, actually -- I didn't mean to single one user out for that kind of semanticy nit-pickiness, because I've seen more than just one person do it, that was just a very convenient "for instance here's a sample I've just now seen in the wild" exhibit A.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:54 AM on September 16, 2011


> I also strongly disagree that we should only be able to make positive comments in threads.

Excellent, because no one is saying that. At some level comments in threads have a few different purposes and what we'd like is for one of those purposes to not be "fucks up the place" If you are someone who has a hard time figuring out what that means we can elaborate


I think caddis might be, but I wasn't.. I do think the bar for negative comments has to be higher than for positive ones. To be negative one should really have to actually RTFA, for example. On the other hand, treating favourites as flags when they appear on one-liner comments applies equally to both positive and negative comments. 5 highly favourited "this is great" comments to start a thread are somewhat less offensive than "this sucks" comments, but honestly they are both just noise.
posted by Chuckles at 10:55 AM on September 16, 2011


You were a part of that conversation, too, EmpressCallipygos. You can't blame others for carrying on a nitpicky conversation if you yourself were also right there doing it with them.

Not necessarily: I'll grant you that this is my perspective, but what I was feeling like was happening was this:

(conversation is about the merits of Brach's jellybeans vs. Jelly Belly.)

USER a: And Jelly Belly does weird things like have popcorn flavor jellybeans. Who wants popcorn flavor jellybeans?

USER B: There is nothing wrong with popcorn. Popcorn is delicious. It is a noble and historic snack that has a long and wonderful history.

USER C: They didn't say there was anything wrong with POPCORN, just popcorn FLAVORED JELLYBEANS.

USER B: I have never had popcorn flavored jellybeans, but popcorn is wonderful. Why are you talking about popcorn flavor jellybeans to me, User c?

USER C: I'm not. I'm just explaining what User A meant. User A said that popcorn jellybeans were weird, and you seemed to take offense because you thought popcorn had been insulted or something.

USER B: I never felt insulted by what people said about popcorn. Please show me where I said that I had been "insulted."

USER C: (gives up and goes to Metatalk)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:02 AM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


And which user are you in that conversation?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:05 AM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Although, to be fair, tps, typing that out has shown me another bad habit I do have ("hey, I think I can resolve those other people's misunderstanding, let me butt in and do it"), so I'll definitely work on that, and so thanks.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:06 AM on September 16, 2011


Sometimes I wish we could have a limit of 5 comments in any given thread.

Whoa, I just noticed this, but I would be intensely in favor of this idea. I'd probably cap it at three-comments-per-user-per-thread, actually.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:09 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hmmm....here's another suggestion...how about removing that "note" on the bottom that says "Everyone needs a hug", whenever you comment?

My theory is that it doesn't do anything other than make snarky people more snarky, and weepy people more sensitive.

A condensed version of what you mods want to see happen would probably be more helpful. "Your first instinct may be to snark/derail/insult in this thread. Please reconsider."
posted by The ____ of Justice at 11:09 AM on September 16, 2011


cortex wrote...
By the same token that "everybody just needs to not respond to dumb stuff" is tricky because it's hard to get everybody instead of just mostly everybody to not do something.

The largest obstacle to this -- and one that is often overlooked in these discussions -- is that among the 23572 people who have commented on the main site, only 9381 have ever commented in MetaTalk.

While there are certainly some lurkers, it seems likely that over half the people who participate in the main site will never be exposed to these discussions.
posted by Meta Filter at 11:12 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it should just say "Note: Shut the fuck up"

It would add to that "everybody's angry at me" feeling that I already have!
posted by Think_Long at 11:13 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the
issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.


Seems pretty clear to me.
posted by ambient2 at 11:20 AM on September 16, 2011


So is the username "the issues, topics, and facts at hand" taken?
posted by Dumsnill at 11:27 AM on September 16, 2011


No, because the user would have to always focus on those and where's the fun in that?
posted by longsleeves at 11:44 AM on September 16, 2011


Greg Nog: " Whoa, I just noticed this, but I would be intensely in favor of this idea. I'd probably cap it at three-comments-per-user-per-thread, actually."

Ugh. No. It would kill interesting discussions and break MeFi's utility by forcing users to hold deeper conversations offsite.
posted by zarq at 11:55 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, but the username "Stuff I want to talk about, no matter the topic" has been taken. Or so I've heard.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:55 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


have a limit of 5 comments in any given thread

The Balloon Boy thread wouldn't have been as much fun. And any number of serious threads would have have suffered too.

Please, no.
posted by Trurl at 11:57 AM on September 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


I mean, Greg from what I've seen most of the time you make one or two comments in threads and then exit. Which is fine but some of us get into interesting, non-contentious back and forth conversations in threads that can extend for much longer than a couple of comments.

Comment limits would be overkill in response to a handful of misbehaving users, and also make MeFi a lot less fun and interesting, imo.
posted by zarq at 12:02 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos: "POPCORN FLAVORED JELLYBEANS."

Dammit, Empress. That sounds delicious.
posted by zarq at 12:09 PM on September 16, 2011


God no. They're buttered popcorn, not popcorn, and people who like them have some sort of genetic damage that afflicts both taste and smell.
posted by klangklangston at 12:11 PM on September 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


That thread that lanhuage hat didnt like is a really good thread in my opinion. I think we should ban opinions on mefi and that would fix all this grar, but that's just my opini... damn. Sorry
posted by fuq at 12:12 PM on September 16, 2011


I think my work here is done.

I had no idea he worked here.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 12:14 PM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


They're ok as a novelty, you can buy them here. But really, proper jelly beans are fruit flavored, none of that coffee or french vanilla crap.

However, mixing Raisinettes with movie popcorn is pretty good.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:16 PM on September 16, 2011


Also I miss the portal of evil forums because that had a specific forum called "I'm leaving forever because".
posted by fuq at 12:17 PM on September 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


God no. They're buttered popcorn, not popcorn, and people who like them have some sort of genetic damage that afflicts both taste and smell.

My kids recently bought a box of jelly belly jellybeans. I know I'm supposed to look out for them, but I made them eat the buttered popcorn and liquorice before they could eat anything else.

I do not regret it. That buttered popcorn shit is horrible...but they don't know.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:18 PM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]



Note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the
issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.

Seems pretty clear to me.


I dunno, I'm guessing when people are snarking they don't feel like they're making personal attacks at all, and that they ARE focusing on the issues, topics, and facts at hand.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 12:19 PM on September 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


But really, proper jelly beans are fruit flavored, none of that coffee or french vanilla crap.

Smuckers' brand Jelly Beans are surprisingly good, for the record. Only fruit flavors (because, well, duh), and really damn good.

However, mixing Raisinettes with movie popcorn is pretty good.

There was a guy at the movie theater I worked in as a teenager who did that ALL the time. He came every other week to the matinee or something and we all watched for him.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:20 PM on September 16, 2011


I'm guessing when people are snarking they don't feel like they're making personal attacks at all, and that they ARE focusing on the issues, topics, and facts at hand.

Sure, but some comments are directed at other members of the site.
posted by ambient2 at 12:26 PM on September 16, 2011


Thanks, EC, I appreciated that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:28 PM on September 16, 2011


Replace "raisinettes" with sour skittles.
Logic will say it is wrong. Taste will say it is right.
posted by infinite intimation at 12:35 PM on September 16, 2011


Comment limits would be overkill in response to a handful of misbehaving users, and also make MeFi a lot less fun and interesting, imo.

For whom? Commenters, or readers/lurkers?

Several of Jessamyn's complaints have directly to do with the fact that some threads get so big and move so fast. (For instance, failure to engage "the discussion already in progress," or the "me vs. everyone" phenomenon.) This is an architectural problem. One solution is to thread comments. That would organize the discussion somewhat and make it easier for two groups of people to engage in different, simultaneous back-and-forth discussions without making it nearly impossible for a third to begin. However, that suggestion has been ruled out.

So yeah, another suggestion might be to limit commenting. A fixed number per thread, or a fixed number per thread per hour, etc. This might help threads happen at a more manageable pace. It might encourage people to put more thought into each comment before posting. And if you have 40 comments of patient and thoughtful back-and-forth rather than 200 that came rapid-fire and scattershot, then maybe it would be more encouraging for the guy who discovers the thread hours later to join in and offer a new perspective.
posted by cribcage at 12:38 PM on September 16, 2011


My kids recently bought a box of jelly belly jellybeans. I know I'm supposed to look out for them, but I made them eat the buttered popcorn and liquorice before they could eat anything else.

WTF so wrong.

I like jelly bellies because they're like food pills taken in bad science fiction.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:38 PM on September 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


I know I'm supposed to look out for them, but I made them eat the buttered popcorn and liquorice before they could eat anything else.

WTF so wrong.


Did you make them eat all the buttered popcorn and licorice first? Amazing!
posted by grobstein at 12:43 PM on September 16, 2011


So yeah, another suggestion might be to limit commenting.

This will never ever hap
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:45 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


EC, I'm not sure what problem you really had with the first comment you linked there. An examination of what motivates Stewart and what he wants to achieve was on topic for the thread and Ironmouth had been asking for an explanation of Stewart's comment on the debt ceiling and what it means about his general philosophy. You started the semantics argument when you insisted the question was more about the motivations of folks on the blue than the subject of the post. I was honestly hoping for Ironmouth to comment on my interpretation of the segment he brought up, not to debate with you about imaginary magic wands.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:47 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


What do you think about popcorn flavor jellybeans, though?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:49 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Since we're on the topic of jelly beans, does anyone else plan out the sequence of eating them so that the flavors are sort of evenly spaced? I'm not talking about with Jelly Bellies but with the more common sort where there's only like eight flavors or something.
posted by overglow at 12:53 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Since we're on the topic of jelly beans, does anyone else plan out the sequence of eating them so that the flavors are sort of evenly spaced?

*blush*

I do that with the different colors of M&M's.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:59 PM on September 16, 2011


What do you think about popcorn flavor jellybeans, though?

EmpressCallipygos, you were the one that brought up some comments that you thought were undesirable in another thread. When other people also want to express their opinion on that or to ask you to articulate what exactly was wrong with a comment, I don't think it's respectful to respond with irrelevant non sequiturs.
posted by grouse at 1:00 PM on September 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ugh. No. It would kill interesting discussions and break MeFi's utility by forcing users to hold deeper conversations offsite.

Yeah, but the mods would make a killing in sockpuppets.
posted by griphus at 1:00 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


And if you look upthread, I also then realized that I was being a bit of a bitch in realizing that jumping in to "fix things" was a bad habit which I was going to try to curb.

Please allow me to curb it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:01 PM on September 16, 2011


"Since we're on the topic of jelly beans, does anyone else plan out the sequence of eating them so that the flavors are sort of evenly spaced?"

Of course. Also, skittles.
posted by klangklangston at 1:04 PM on September 16, 2011


Don't try to fix what isn't broken, at least.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:05 PM on September 16, 2011


(I don't think you were being a bitch)
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:06 PM on September 16, 2011


I think it is a sad day when one of the more respected and erudite members of this site calls it a day because a lot of yahoos are braying in the street.
Languagehat was one of the reasons I signed up. Some of you probably wish I hadn't.
It's a little bit worrying that I seem to be one of the old timers numerically when really I'm just a five dollar noob.
It would be interesting to know the age breakdown of users; I have a feeling that much of the problem may be shrill young college gits believing they are the only person ever to have held an opinion but have yet got beyond "You Suck" "No, you Suck" phase of discourse.
So languagehat my friend, if you will permit me to call you that, enjoy your self imposed time out and maybe we will hear your sabre wit and eloquent prose some more at a later date. At least you are still around on ask me to tell both the washed and unwashed what words actually mean. I think you gave me a bookmark favorite once. It was probably a mistake, but thank you anyway. Hasta la proxima.
posted by adamvasco at 1:10 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Language Hat is overrated. The true master of language being on hiatus is a bigger issue for me.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:13 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


clavdivs posted Sunday.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:15 PM on September 16, 2011


The true master of language being on hiatus is a bigger issue for me.

10 years membership and not a single FPP.

I don't understand people like that.
posted by Trurl at 1:15 PM on September 16, 2011


Maybe they don't value themselves through external means?
posted by Horselover Phattie at 1:19 PM on September 16, 2011


What the fuck? clav is on hiatus? People, we need to start a letter-writing campaign to his bong.
posted by griphus at 1:19 PM on September 16, 2011 [10 favorites]


Well, I haven't done a FPP for about 9 years. I'm here for the discussions.
posted by feckless at 1:20 PM on September 16, 2011


I've come to appreciate clavdivs. His comments frequently leave me thinking: "Fuck, this seems incoherent, but wait, maybe if I look a bit further, no, but... fuck. I'm stupid."

But, yeah, I'll miss languagehat on the blue. Awesome posts he had.
posted by Dumsnill at 1:22 PM on September 16, 2011


I'll never understand people who post more than 3,000 comments per year, wonder if, for better or worse, a relatively small number of people have a large impact on the overall tone.
posted by ambient2 at 1:53 PM on September 16, 2011


wonder if, for better or worse, a relatively small number of people have a large impact on the overall tone.

That is definately the case.

If you look at your average "big issue MeTa" there is a relatively small number of people contributing compared with total users.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 1:57 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've come to appreciate clavdivs. His comments frequently leave me thinking: "Fuck, this seems incoherent, but wait, maybe if I look a bit further, no, but... fuck. I'm stupid."

I can't place it right now, but he once made such a well-placed reference to the Jerk that I spat my drink out.
posted by Hoopo at 2:04 PM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Any infodump masters out there? I'd love to see numbers and percentages of people who comment on average once a day, twice a day, etc.
posted by ambient2 at 2:06 PM on September 16, 2011


I can predict at least one effect that limiting the number of comments per thread would have. Instead of typing the basic comment and hitting "post," certain users, when they have time on their hands like, hmm, maybe me, would leave the composition window open for quite some time as new comments were posted and do a lot of previewing, and instead of freely deciding when to jump and leaving 8 separate reasonable-length comments in a 150-comment thread with other people's comments falling naturally in between, would try to conserve their number of raw comments by compiling a ton of shit into one comment and end up leaving 5 (or whatever the limit) thesis-length comments that involve a ton of responding to what they saw in preview.

In other words, control must come from within.
posted by Miko at 2:26 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't remember if that particular statistic is in there, but this thread is pretty awesome:

And the infodump master is FishBike.
posted by Dumsnill at 2:28 PM on September 16, 2011


You're gonna have to call me uncourteous and I'm going to have learn to live with that, somehow.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:52 AM on September 16 [1 favorite +] [!]


I won't call you uncourteous. I don't think I have ever seen that kind of comment from you, but I am not one to keep score on this kind of stuff. Anyway, my comment was a little snotty so sorry for that.
posted by caddis at 3:06 PM on September 16, 2011


Sometimes I wish we could have a limit of 5 comments in any given thread. Well not really, that would be artificial. But in my perfect world, people would write just three or four comments that really counted rather than dozens and dozens in any one thread.


Yeah. I wish the Whelk would quit commenting so much as well.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:12 PM on September 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sometimes I wish we could have a limit of 5 comments in any given thread.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
posted by homunculus at 3:18 PM on September 16, 2011


Using mefi comment data starting 1/1/2011

224 users average 1 comment a day
80 users average 2 comments a day
24 users average 3 comments a day
11 users average 4 comments a day
12 users average 5 comments a day
3 users average 6 comments a day
2 users average 7 comments a day
3 users average 8 comments a day
1 user averages 10 comments a day
1 user averages 11 comments a day
1 user averages 12 comments a day
1 user averages 13 comments a day
posted by Meta Filter at 3:51 PM on September 16, 2011


It's really what you make it.

reddit was hilarious and awesome, mostly, and then there was this digg diaspora which was ok and then 4chan users grew up (hit 20 or something) and migrated over in a massive unfunny exodus. reddit now teeters between being a lightweight frontend for 4chan and manic postings of hyper-awake college freshman enamored with their amazing and enlightening contrarian viewpoints that were stale before no one cared.

I mean, was quonsar funny? Maybe. Was Ignatius Reilly spot on? Sometimes. homunculus is still around, and still my favorite poster. Jessamyn and chicken sex, scarabic's dead body disposal, jonmc's dedication to the Dictators. . . I'll leave the Jenni Diski thing to the server logs.

Anyway, a community is what you make it. Come back and change it, or don't. We'll like you the same.
posted by four panels at 4:17 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


My favorite was the thread on the Beach Boys' Good Vibrations, which was somehow filled with dismissive snark.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:28 PM on September 16, 2011


Do you mean this thread? That was not my read on how that thread went at all.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:40 PM on September 16, 2011


Enh, there's a lot of generic "Brian Wilson was overrated" and "Everyone except Brian Wilson was an idiot" and "the Beach Boys were a vanilla surf-rock group" in there. I'm pretty sure any thread on the internet about an iconic music group goes similarly, unless someone's just died.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:43 PM on September 16, 2011


I never really got the Beach Boys. I was really shocked about 10 years ago to learn that they were considered Serious. Had no idea--I'd grouped them with the Monkees, rather than with the Beatles or Stones.

This song in particular always sounds like a mess to me. So many different, unrelated things going on in there.


C'mon.
My point is that if a thread about Good Vibrations gets snark, there's pretty much no hope for lesser songs.

I've noticed that videogame threads are usually really positive though.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:15 PM on September 16, 2011


This post and its subsequent conversation is an interesting contrast, and I thought it was a great, light MeFi thread. Alas, the links no longer work.
posted by gladly at 5:18 PM on September 16, 2011


LiB, that's not really snark. Snark would be something like: "No wonder Wilson got so depressed, listening to the Beach Boys all day would make me pretty effing depressed."

or "Wilson should be glad half the band went deaf, spares them the suffering."

or "Wilson's such a whiner, more like Bitch Boys, right?"

That's someone just saying they don't really care for the Beach Boys, and why, seems reasonable enough to me.
posted by smoke at 5:19 PM on September 16, 2011


Lovecraft In Brooklyn: C'mon.
My point is that if a thread about Good Vibrations gets snark, there's pretty much no hope for lesser songs.

I've noticed that videogame threads are usually really positive though.


You c'mon. Dude, any time a post is made about anything to do with nature, you drop the most depressing comment known to man.
posted by gman at 5:28 PM on September 16, 2011 [10 favorites]


My point is that if a thread about Good Vibrations gets snark, there's pretty much no hope for lesser songs.

Music isn't a hierarchy with kings and queens or season playoff with winners or losers any more than what someone likes best for breakfast or what they find attractive in a lover.

Neither is the critique or discussion of music. Criticism or judgment isn't inherently negative, especially in music and art. Critique/criticism is actually a systemic and formal way of discovering, analyzing and discussing the creative work as well as judging it in and out of context, and in comparison and contrast.

Because there isn't actually some agreed or assumed hierarchy where Good Vibrations is the number one pop song of all time and everything else is lesser, and if there's no hope for it there's no hope for the rest. It's just one of many good pop songs from the era.
posted by loquacious at 5:31 PM on September 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Enh, there's a lot of generic "Brian Wilson was overrated" and "Everyone except Brian Wilson was an idiot" and "the Beach Boys were a vanilla surf-rock group" in there. I'm pretty sure any thread on the internet about an iconic music group goes similarly...

Perhaps the argument is "the fact that any thread on the internet about an iconic music group goes similarly is itself the problem"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:35 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because there isn't actually some agreed or assumed hierarchy where Good Vibrations is the number one pop song of all time and everything else is lesser, and if there's no hope for it there's no hope for the rest.

It's usually at least in the top 10, maybe even top 5. If that gets snarked on, why try and defend, say, a Monkees song?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:36 PM on September 16, 2011


Because "Porpoise Song" is great!

Obvs.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:38 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


You don't have to defend anything. Just enjoy the damn song if you like it and move on. Jesus.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:38 PM on September 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


Why do anything?
posted by h00py at 5:39 PM on September 16, 2011


That's insanity. People saying they dislike something and giving reasons why isn't snark by any definition, and no band or anything should be immune to criticism.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 5:41 PM on September 16, 2011


Everybody, I'm starting the Metafilter Lethargic Nihilists Club. Feel free to join if don't care and don't feel up to it. Our activity for the first week will be drawing up a charter for dissolution of the group.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:41 PM on September 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


No band, except, of course, you guessed it, Boomtown Rats.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:42 PM on September 16, 2011


The first rule of the Metafilter Lethargic… oh, fuck it.
posted by grouse at 5:42 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


why try and defend, say, a Monkees song?

You seem to be confusing MetaFilter for a site that is not MetaFilter. Have you spent any time over in the Music part of the site? There are a lot of people there who like to get geeky about music and it's a much smaller crowd generally. MeFi is a generalist site, tending towards the nerdy and it's not really made for or filled with people who really want to get into music and not talk about a bunch of other things at the same time. Sometimes that happens and it's great, but other times it doesn't.

If you dislike the back and forth that comes along with people talking about what they like and dislike, or if you're under the impression that there is some sort of "absolute good" that everyone will agree on musically, you're likely setting yourself up for unhappiness here. I'm only mentioning this because this seems ot be a pattern and maybe you don't recognize it as a pattern and I figured I'd point it out.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:42 PM on September 16, 2011


Yay, I can be a charter member!
posted by h00py at 5:42 PM on September 16, 2011


Why do anything?

Because ceiling cat wants to see you enjoy it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:43 PM on September 16, 2011


Damn, I think I just disqualified myself.
posted by h00py at 5:43 PM on September 16, 2011


That sounds so dirty. I think I'll go disqualify myself again. Somewhere dark.
posted by h00py at 5:44 PM on September 16, 2011


Meh, I don't feel like joining. Probably gonna suck anyways.

(Boom! Automatic appointment to treasurer.)
posted by villanelles at dawn at 5:45 PM on September 16, 2011


I'm starting the Metafilter Lethargic Nihilists Club. Feel free to join

I don't believe I will.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:46 PM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm disqualifying myself so hard right now.
posted by loquacious at 5:50 PM on September 16, 2011


I have a conflict with Knights of the Not-so-much-with-the-curious Intellects Rotary...
posted by victors at 5:51 PM on September 16, 2011


"If that gets snarked on, why try and defend, say, a Monkees song?"

Because Stepping Stone rules.

Also realize that you labor under an idiosyncratic (and I think outdated and mistaken) schema of music appreciation, and so you're always going to be unhappy with other people's music opinions until you modify or abandon it. This isn't a knock against you as a person — lots of my best friends have weird rules for the type of music they enjoy — but it is a pretty good opportunity for not taking yourself so fucking seriously. "Good Vibrations" is a goofy song. It's one I happen to like, but I'm not gonna front like theremin plus doo-wop surf isn't pretty inherently goofy or that there's anything wrong with goofy songs per se.
posted by klangklangston at 5:51 PM on September 16, 2011


I don't believe I will.

Hipster. I didn't join that club before it was cool.
posted by loquacious at 5:52 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hipster Groucho: I didn't join that club before they offered to have me.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 5:53 PM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I refuse to join any club that won't have me.
posted by The Whelk at 5:54 PM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I keep trying to join this S&M club and they keep rejecting my application. Fucking love it.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 5:56 PM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just ate spicy bacon caramel corn. languagehat would've like it.
posted by jonmc at 5:59 PM on September 16, 2011


Dude, you just ruined everything. villanelles at dawn's comment was the 700th of the thread and it was supposed to be the last one.
posted by gman at 6:00 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


languagehat would approve.
posted by jonmc at 6:01 PM on September 16, 2011


And you should have written "languagehat would of liked it" so someone could correct you and the Hat could come back and stomp them.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 6:03 PM on September 16, 2011


"Good Vibrations" is a goofy song.

It's a teenage symphony to God. Goofy is MeFi saint Gaga or Al.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:03 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


nah, languagehat dug my funky vibe and never gave me any grammar related gas.
posted by jonmc at 6:04 PM on September 16, 2011


Apparently.
posted by gman at 6:04 PM on September 16, 2011


klang, I saw Brian Wilson perform 'Good Vibrations' live, theremin and all. It rocked sans goofiness. It not the Beachboys best ("Don't Worry Baby" "California Girls" and "I Get Around" are) but it's damned good.
posted by jonmc at 6:06 PM on September 16, 2011


I don;t think we can properly honor languagehat unless we are wearing hats
posted by The Whelk at 6:08 PM on September 16, 2011


I'm not gonna front like theremin plus doo-wop surf isn't pretty inherently goofy or that there's anything wrong with goofy songs per se.

Theremin plus doo-wop surf is inherently goofy, but that's part of what makes it such a great piece of music. Appreciating how something can be goofy and great at the same time is the key to appreciating pop music. Until you can do that you will swing between "pop music sucks" and pop songs are "symphonies to God" forever.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:08 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whelkstah, have you ever seen me not wearing a hat?
posted by jonmc at 6:09 PM on September 16, 2011


I'm wearing my thinking cap.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 6:11 PM on September 16, 2011


Sorry, typo, drinking cap.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 6:13 PM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Should I wear my flatcap stained with GWAR blood, my fedora, or my various other wide-brimmed hats?

And jonmc: God Only Knows.

But ah well. I guess I Just Wasn't Made For These Times.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:16 PM on September 16, 2011


Maybe Rhonda can help you.
posted by jonmc at 6:20 PM on September 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


This sucks. I'll try to be less snarky, if I can.

I won't say, "If anyone has ever been upset by my comments" because I know they have, so I'll say: "For the comments I have made that upset others, I am deeply sorry and I intend to change."
posted by Deathalicious at 6:28 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


i am wearing my pants on my head as is my friday night custom
posted by elizardbits at 6:41 PM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't have a hat, but what if I take off my pants and put them on my head?

On Preview: great minds think alike.
posted by homunculus at 6:45 PM on September 16, 2011


I think mefi threads are just getting RIDICULOUSLY derail-able. I mean it happens even cause of a comment I might make. Just say something in the first comment and watch how many comments jump off of that

It has a lot to do with the gripping-onto-language-or-imagery-I-don't-like-and-bashing-it thing that is heavily accepted around here. Misses the forest for the trees etc.
posted by the mad poster! at 6:48 PM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


My uncle died in a train derailment, please try and be more sensitive about the type of language you use to describe sudden inappropriate topic shift. The evidence is very clear for anyone who is actually paying attention, trains aren't safe.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:57 PM on September 16, 2011 [8 favorites]


languagehat got a hell of a lot of mileage out of being able to use a CD or online version of the OED.

Some people are easily impressed.
posted by bardic at 6:59 PM on September 16, 2011


I've certainly reduced my participation on the site...but I'm not really sure why. I know that it hasn't really changed that much, but to me every thread seems that much more contentious.

I've reduced my contribution to occasional flash game posts and one or two comments on the blue.

I'll miss LH's contributions...one more in a growing list of the people that "made" this site for me when I joined that have moved on.
posted by schyler523 at 7:02 PM on September 16, 2011


I don't participate at all like I used to. There may be a natural burnout period? Most of the people I interacted with when I joined a few years ago have either quit or pretty much quit posting. I'm less interested in the posts and in the resulting conversations. I'm also very much aware that all of this is exactly the same stuff that people always say after they've been here a while. Leading me to think the problem is not the site, really.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:43 PM on September 16, 2011


languagehat got a hell of a lot of mileage out of being able to use a CD or online version of the OED. Some people are easily impressed

Way to prove his point.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 7:48 PM on September 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Did you make them eat all the buttered popcorn and licorice first? Amazing!
Yes. The toddlers' first ever jellybeans were buttered popcorn. Then came licorice. They loved that shit while I was chomping at the watermelon and tangerine.

Everybody wins!
posted by hal_c_on at 8:34 PM on September 16, 2011


I don't have a hat, but what if I take off my pants and put them on my head?

What are you doing with pants on?! This is a MeTa thread!
posted by Ghidorah at 8:56 PM on September 16, 2011


pants wrapped round my head!
hat stuck on my butt!
this must be metafilter!
if not, i don't know what!
my shirt's tied round my knees!
my shoes are on my ears!
the world's all topsy turvy!
as another mefier disappears!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:07 PM on September 16, 2011


I mean, Greg from what I've seen most of the time you make one or two comments in threads and then exit. Which is fine but some of us get into interesting, non-contentious back and forth conversations in threads that can extend for much longer than a couple of comments.

I guess where I'm coming from is that I don't know if individuals are so different that the exclusion of one would necessarily lead to the exclusion of their viewpoint; I'd like to see if my idle theory is correct: that if Person A was forced to drop out of the thread, Person B (someone who, under the current system, might feel compelled to be silent, as their opinion's already being represented by Person A) would be reasonably likely to run with the general viewpoint that Person A had been espousing. Person B would have their own idiosyncratic spin and tone on Person A's line of thought, of course, which would trade reiterative specificity for richness and diversity of voice. Which I think would be kind of cool, though:

- I certainy don't think everyone else would agree with me

and

- I'm not even sure if I'm right that that would actually happen.

Still, as mefi sitewide experiments go, I think it could be at least as interesting as the abolishment-of-favorites month.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:12 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I taught languagehat something about a word. He even made it into a post on his blog. How many mefites can say the same? :)

Recognise.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:23 PM on September 16, 2011


I taught languagehat something about a word. He even made it into a post on his blog.

I'd like to see a link.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:28 PM on September 16, 2011


The cap on comments idea reminds me of a course I took in college, Violence and Non-violence in Biblical Perspectives. I thought it would cover a religion requirement at my school, but it didn't, which kind of sucked. Of course, it was a pretty contentious class, since we were reading parts of the bible that were pretty horrendously violent, and trying to reconcile them with the popular image of a loving god. Worse, several members of the class were active in debate, many of us were philosophy majors, pre-disposed to be assholes about religion.

The teacher, though, was almost single-handedly responsible for the poisonous atmosphere, and the reason why several people dropped the class. She stated, on the first day, that she believed that debate was a form of violence, and that she wanted discussion, not debate. In practice, this meant that (usually) I or another philosophy major would try to point out a logical flaw in the argument being put forth. This would be followed by a bluntly personal attack from someone on the other side of the argument, basically calling us bad people for not accepting the completely contradictory comments of the bible 'on faith.' Any time I, or one of the other heathens tried to respond to any sort of these personal attacks, the teacher would tut-tut, and remind us that debate was not part of the class atmosphere. Stating an opinion was okay, attacking someone personally based on their opinion was okay, but no response. I clearly remember being yelled at by several members of the class, being told how bad I was, and constantly being blocked from speaking by the teacher.

There was no good faith discussion in that classroom. Putting a limit on discourse made the class poisonous, and caused several people to leave. Sure, I'd like to believe we're better than that, here, but then there's reality. Putting a cap on comments would only stilt conversation, and allow people to gang up on other members, knowing they wouldn't be able to defend themselves past a certain point.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:34 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


gman: " You c'mon. Dude, any time a post is made about anything to do with nature, you drop the most depressing comment known to man."

I hear a dingo ate his baby once.
posted by zarq at 9:50 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


>>I taught languagehat something about a word. He even made it into a post on his blog.

>I'd like to see a link.

Fark me, dude. You think I'm that dumb to make an easily-verifiable false statement on the interiments?

It was about how Aussies pronounce aluminium correctly. Americans do not. Our chat started here on Metafilter and morphed into a post on his blog.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:54 PM on September 16, 2011


~~ please show me the link when you find it I am too lazy ~~
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:55 PM on September 16, 2011


You can't say an Australian pronounces something correctly anymore than you can say a seahorse does; both are imaginary creatures invented by someone with a terrific and expansive sense of humor
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:58 PM on September 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


I thought this was about hats
posted by The Whelk at 10:02 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm tempted to put on a baseball cap cause I watched 127 Hours today and I wanna look like James Franco.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 10:05 PM on September 16, 2011


Fark me, dude. You think I'm that dumb to make an easily-verifiable false statement on the interiments?

No, I don't think you're that dumb, and I certainly didn't indicate any such thing. All I said was I'd like to see a link. Which is true. The comment in no way deserved the fuck (yeah, fark, whatever) off you answered it with. Such a knee-jerk defensive overreaction on your part.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:18 PM on September 16, 2011


Putting a limit on discourse made the class poisonous

It's difficult for me to argue against an anecdote that comes from your personal experience, but from your story, it doesn't sound like that's true. What poisoned the class was your teacher allowing "bluntly personal attack[s]." Moderators shouldn't allow those here. Neither should the community.

Greg Nog makes a point that I agree with, that's relevant here: Oftentimes if you hold your comment for an hour or two before posting, you'll see somebody else post something very similar. I wouldn't advocate a comment limit that would effectively 'disallow' debate as your teacher did—but if that did happen somehow, I'd like to think that any personal attacks leveled your way would either be deleted by moderators or condemned by fellow commenters.
posted by cribcage at 10:21 PM on September 16, 2011


Settle down, sizzlechest. I wuz smiling when I typed that.

It's all good.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:23 PM on September 16, 2011


Is sizzlechest a caramelized version of sugartits?
posted by villanelles at dawn at 10:26 PM on September 16, 2011


My point is that if a thread about Good Vibrations gets snark, there's pretty much no hope

Agreed. Good Vibrations brings nothing but joy into the world.
posted by homunculus at 10:30 PM on September 16, 2011


"Sizzlechest" is the unimaginative putdown by someone who's listened to far more Jerky Boys than was useful.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:40 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


uncanny hengeman: “Aussies pronounce aluminium correctly. Americans do not.”

Ah. And I'll bet you pronounce them "platinium" and "molybdenium" then, too, hrm?

I totally remember that conversation you're talking about, though.
posted by koeselitz at 10:44 PM on September 16, 2011


OK, OK you got me. Australians pronounce aluminium differently!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:47 PM on September 16, 2011


"Sizzlechest" is the unimaginative putdown

Fail. I use it as a term of endearment most of the time. Never a putdown. Er... you do realise you can disagree with someone and have a light hearted stab at them without it being a putdown? That's possible in your universe?

You gotta lighten up there, sizzlechest.

"Moron" or "idiot" are my unimaginative putdowns of choice. And even "idiot" is often a term of endearment in Oz culture. There was a MeTa about "idiot." The Americans won. "This is an American forum and we are too intolerant to allow it!"
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:55 PM on September 16, 2011


> That's possible in your universe?

You realize that kind of pointless abrasiveness is a putdown in itself, right?
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:56 PM on September 16, 2011


Languagehat once blogged about a book I wrote about. I was surprised to see myself show up on his site.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:57 PM on September 16, 2011


You realize that kind of pointless abrasiveness is a putdown in itself, right?

Woah. Deep.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:58 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aaaaand... the thread reaches a new low.

See what you're missing, languagehat?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:32 AM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Aaaaand... the thread reaches a new low.

See what you're missing, languagehat?


You are a veritible barrel full of monkeys. Fozzie bear wocka wocka.

You ask for a "please explain" I give you a please explain and then you're all "how dare you imply that I asked for a please explain!" and then you're all "and stop being so mean to me you big meanie!" and now you're all "see?! see?! see that, languagehat?!"

Have a listen to yerself.

Calm down, or take it to MeTa, tough guy.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 1:00 AM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I suppose we're waiting for exactly 1000 comments on this thread before closing it up?
posted by infini at 1:50 AM on September 17, 2011


The telephone's out of cigarettes.
posted by Dumsnill at 2:00 AM on September 17, 2011


The problem is that people today (especially on the Internet) have no respect for their elders.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 2:35 AM on September 17, 2011


No, the problem is that THE TELEPHONE'S OUT OF CIGARETTES!
posted by Dumsnill at 2:38 AM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


UH, I feel like the last few comments could have been avoided if you'd pointed out that you actually said "fark me", which in Australian English is completely different in tone from "fuck off". (It's basically just an expression of surprise or emphasis, and shouldn't be taken as an attack on the other person).
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:18 AM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fuckin' oath.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:28 AM on September 17, 2011


Come back, languagehat. You cranky bastard. You are my teenage symphony to God.
posted by rain at 5:18 AM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


UH, I feel like the last few comments could have been avoided if you'd pointed out that you actually said "fark me", which in Australian English is completely different in tone from "fuck off".

I would venture to guess that "fark (fuck) me" means the same in the US as it does in Australia and Canada, which is to say that it is nothing at all like "fuck you".
posted by 1000monkeys at 6:53 AM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


My point is that if a thread about Good Vibrations gets snark, there's pretty much no hope for lesser songs.

Again, I dunno.

The gloom in this thread weighed on my mind as I was readying my Tom Scholz post. I steeled myself for "Corporate Rock sux!" comments. But not only did I get one comment that fulfilled all my hopes for the post, everyone had something worthwhile to say - sometimes in directions I didn't anticipate. Even the comment most critical about the band's music was fairly observed and cleverly expressed.

So, yay, us.
posted by Trurl at 7:30 AM on September 17, 2011


If I never hear Good Vibrations again, I won't miss it. But I caught myself singing "Pleasant Valley Sunday" the other day in a funny mood (it was 9/11). So who is to say, but there's that.
posted by spitbull at 7:39 AM on September 17, 2011


I would venture to guess that "fark (fuck) me" means the same in the US as it does in Australia and Canada, which is to say that it is nothing at all like "fuck you".

Yeah on reflection you're most probably right.

If only there was someone here who could give an expert opinion on such things....
posted by Infinite Jest at 7:56 AM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


If only there was someone here who could give an expert opinion on such things....
posted by Infinite Jest


Heh. I was just thinking to myself the very same thing after I posted. Except LH would have probably told me I was wrong LOL.
posted by 1000monkeys at 8:09 AM on September 17, 2011


My teenage symphony to God would have been a mashup between the Offspring and Metallica.
posted by Think_Long at 8:13 AM on September 17, 2011


Thanks for the spitball, spitbull.
posted by thinkpiece


I missed this above. My sincere apologies thinkpiece. I was pre-emptively defensive.
posted by spitbull at 8:32 AM on September 17, 2011


You ask for a "please explain" I give you a please explain and then you're all "how dare you imply that I asked for a please explain!"

I didn't ask for a "please explain". I said I'd like to see a link.

Calm down...

Completely flummoxed as to that link you made there, but otherwise, um, don't tell me to calm down. I'm neither excited nor angry.

...or take it to MeTa, tough guy.

We're already on MeTa. And is "tough guy" the same as "sizzlechest"? Just for future reference, you understand.

(oh, and hengeman, to take a page out of your book... let me assure you I'm saying all this with a smile on my face)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:40 AM on September 17, 2011


This site has done wonders for the image of Australians.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:44 AM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sizzle chest: A condescending term used by the jerky boys. This is similar, but a little more extreme, to calling someone boss, chief, buddy, etc.

I dunno, I kind of like that one.
posted by Think_Long at 9:48 AM on September 17, 2011


Somewhere on the Internet there is a community full of experts on every conceivable subject. You have to apply by filling out a form with your qualifications and CV, which is judged by a panel of moderators. Only physicists comment on the physics threads, book threads are full of people who have read the book in question, and opinions are backed by pages of citations. Snarky jokes are nonexistent, unless they are really really funny.

I'm glad to know that languagehat didn't get in either.
posted by miyabo at 10:17 AM on September 17, 2011


Somewhere on the Internet there is a community full of experts on every conceivable subject.

www.expertsexchange.com
posted by Think_Long at 10:19 AM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's where I go for all my sex change questions!
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:32 AM on September 17, 2011 [7 favorites]



I think mefi threads are just getting RIDICULOUSLY derail-able. I mean it happens even cause of a comment I might make. Just say something in the first comment and watch how many comments jump off of that

It has a lot to do with the gripping-onto-language-or-imagery-I-don't-like-and-bashing-it thing that is heavily accepted around here. Misses the forest for the trees etc.


Actually, I'm guessing this is actually a side effect of the flat-style discussion view instead of the threaded discussions view.

In a large community, I don't think it's possible to avoid this when using the flat-style view, since everyone is forced to scroll through the same comments. It seems like it's almost a given that three or four people can derail a thread of a hundred or so comments. About a quarter of it is about the actual post, and the rest of it is usually two heated users getting gripey with one another, and what everybody thinks about their argument.

Though, I've found that the greasemonkey script that allows you to killfile is pretty helpful, since it purges any users that seem like drama whores or serial snarksters...
posted by The ____ of Justice at 10:38 AM on September 17, 2011


www.expertsexchange.com

amateursexchange.com is right out.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:42 AM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Now I'll never know how annoyed he'd be by a partial rehabilitation of prescriptivism I've been mulling over for a while now.

To wit, if we agree that some prescriptivism is baked into natural language-- and it does seem hard to imagine teaching language to an infant without explicit prescriptions and proscriptions-- and since linguistics still consists almost exclusively of language about language, mainly even language about that same language, doesn't that make linguistics itself essentially, ineluctably prescriptivist?

In that case, then, any movement within linguistics against prescription could only hope to set agreed upon limits to prescription, never to extirpate it altogether.

There's also an argument to be made that banning prescription from linguistics, since it can only be done using language, is in and of itself the kind of prescription it prohibits, and is therefore self-contradictory.
posted by jamjam at 10:45 AM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Now I'll never know how annoyed he'd be by a partial rehabilitation of prescriptivism I've been mulling over for a while now.

You can still MeMail him, you know.
posted by grouse at 10:57 AM on September 17, 2011


Grou-ouse, couldn't you see that I was attempting a bit of fly-casting there?
posted by jamjam at 11:07 AM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

it does seem hard to imagine teaching language to an infant without explicit prescriptions and proscriptions
I think maybe I don't understand what you're saying, because the exact opposite seems true to me.

You don't teach an infant language by citing rules to it. You teach an infant language by speaking while it observes you. That's the (applied) essence of descriptivism.

Of course there are rules built into it, but those rules are not "explicit prescriptions and proscriptions"; they're completely implicit.
posted by Flunkie at 11:11 AM on September 17, 2011


"If only there was someone here who could give an expert opinion on such things...."

I can't figure out if it would be awesome or horrible to be a less well known linguist on metafilter right now.
posted by Mitheral at 11:34 AM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Two linguists enter one linguist leaves.
posted by The Whelk at 11:36 AM on September 17, 2011


There's at least one other linguist that I know of.
posted by Miko at 11:48 AM on September 17, 2011


As usual, languagehat is correct on this one. My Metafilter usage has really plummeted lately, though I hadn't given it much thought. I mainly check the sidebar now.

I have been, however, going back to the post-9/11 Metafilter (I had joined right before it happened), using the 10 years ago function. Interesting to see how many posts stand that would have been either deleted or snarked off. Not necessarily saying that it is completely a bad thing, but this site, like all things, seems to go in cycles.
posted by geoff. at 12:01 PM on September 17, 2011


Two linguists enter one linguist leaves.

Yeah, but only because they were having sex and got stuck.

You don't teach an infant language by citing rules to it. You teach an infant language by speaking while it observes you. That's the (applied) essence of descriptivism.

You left out the feedback. They imitate you, and you say 'yes' and repeat it back to them, or 'no' and repeat it back to them-- that's the essence of prescriptivism.

There was even a study recently that showed infants do not gain language competence from a video of people speaking.
posted by jamjam at 12:04 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


iamkimiam is a linguist. So am I, of a sort. There are several different kinds of linguists. The spectrum is actually well represented on MeFi. One reason I was drawn here was the quality of the discussions of language and linguistics -- with which languagehat had much, but hardly everything, to do.
posted by spitbull at 12:06 PM on September 17, 2011


You always think you've gotten rid of all the linguists, but you forget about the eggs.
posted by The Whelk at 12:11 PM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Cancelling an account takes nothing.

Choosing not to use an account takes dedication.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:32 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


You left out the feedback. They imitate you, and you say 'yes' and repeat it back to them, or 'no' and repeat it back to them-- that's the essence of prescriptivism.

I do not do this to toddlers because they learn perfectly well on their own (and it's adorable when they mess up...)
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:53 PM on September 17, 2011


It was about how Aussies pronounce aluminium correctly. Americans do not. Our chat started here on Metafilter and morphed into a post on his blog.

Did you know "aluminium" gets underlined by spell-check in North America? It's ridiculous.
posted by Hoopo at 1:18 PM on September 17, 2011


Yeah, consensus is that explicit feedback is really not necessary for language learning. Some parents do correct their kids. Many don't. Either way, the kids end up fluent speakers of whatever language they're surrounded by.

If you're the sort of parent who corrects your kids' grammar, it's easy to feel like your corrections made a difference. "Well, when he was four he would say my foots, but I corrected him every time, and now he says my feet. So the corrections must have worked." But really, saying foots when your friends and parents say feet is just a developmental phase. Everyone grows out of it eventually, whether or not they get any sort of explicit correction.

You might as well say "Every day, I corrected my kid for being too short, and that's why he got taller." Sure, he got taller. But the 'corrections' had nothing to do with it.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:33 PM on September 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


And why would the details of child language acquisition determine what professional linguists (or the rest of us language users) can or should say about language?
posted by RogerB at 1:46 PM on September 17, 2011


Explicit feedback is of course unnecessary for a claim of prescription.

Only if (but not if) you can demonstrate an absence of feedback altogether can you avoid the implication of prescription, which need not even be conscious.
posted by jamjam at 1:50 PM on September 17, 2011


Would you people start talking sense?
posted by cjorgensen at 1:58 PM on September 17, 2011


If it isn't conscious, it isn't prescription, it's just convention. Which is how we managed to develop natural language long, long before we developed prescriptivism, and which is why languages in practice are both self-reinforcing (people acquire the language they encounter, carrying that language forward) and forever mutating (acquisition is an imperfect process of reproduction based on inherently incomplete exposure and ambiguous analysis and inference processes).

We can get incredibly loose with "prescription" and say that it's anything that involves asserting structure or correctness in language usage—even merely signaling a failure to understand what someone has said would be a "prescribing" action at that point, I guess—but it's certainly not what is in common practice meant by prescription or prescriptivism, which is rather the explicit formation and enforcement of static rules about acceptable vs. unacceptable usage and invariably involves declaring by fiat that one naturally occurring bit of language is "correct" while another is "incorrect".
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:13 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Linguistics derail?
posted by The Whelk at 2:15 PM on September 17, 2011


The World's Rudest Hand Gestures

This might make a good companion to languagehat's book.
posted by homunculus at 3:43 PM on September 17, 2011


On the fortunately side of a tragic rusted rustic Late-Era continental 25quarterAmirite-and-Talc quoin, this has forced me to reconsider reconsidering reviving an old new project; it is a dystopia, but it isn't the events, or internal elements which will primarily signal this to the reader, the reader is reading about exciting things, and mundane things alike (a right proper tell), but rather, the dystopic emotive push comes from the exchangement of words, forms and some grammar, from out-with the readers' understanding.

The Hat's Pride, 1177 New-Civil Era: A Factional Fiction of Language and Communication Data Retrieval From Human Signaling Volume 1.
Setting: Upper Microlaska, Pre-Cember 10, 1177 New-Civil Era.
There have been entire shits of Linguage, Removal of ties from Linguage to lineage, where pockets as small as 50 had to make new language homes, passing on rules along, with fragmentary exemplers to even process, and add interlocutorial polish. Polish in Rome, Mandarin in Old Berlin, some, even, were left with only fragmentary relics of Esperanto (a fuzzy 55 minute radio broadcast edition remake of Incubus, excluding all cast save Mr. Shatner, of those, and their bloody, vicious roving assassin ways, this tale will barely touch. OFtur the First-Last Third World War (people in Upper Microlaska even fought skirmishes and running battles about which of the full campaigns ought to be termed what [What does 'is last' mean] after the wars).

No1No's why, for certain;
BOt many moons of people and scores of murders of socrates'es theorize that it was the easily inpressable people of this intra-period time, only had TxtWriteT9En to help them Relearn (presumably most paper Yarns and other fictions were burned in the Pre-Early-Civil (compared to the DisEnlighytenment, a period of blissful peas), wars period. Warmth was as tough to come by as heat, as love).

But humanity never fell over for long. Txt was powerful, and only tooke an intergen to rebountify. SHKSPR. was one of 21111111111.1's favorite authrs, in the Lie-bary (LieBury in Lowe Microlaskan, and Oklabraska, Nevada [New Old Quebec, Ohio]).

Consider: the most powerful, some (ok, me) would say only, critique of consequence comes from the words of one who loves (respects, can appreciate the existence of [observers will call it apologia, I will call it seeing virtue in the valleys] the critiqued object (implicit in my understanding of a "critique" is the element of desiring to assist in the "perfecting" of that which is to be critiqued [it is perhaps the opposite of a "dominionist" interpretation of the concept of "critique", does one want to see the perfecting of the critiqued subject, or: to abolish and crush it from existance, no, this doesn't mean everyone must love everything equally, only that there is more "there" to a spirited defense, than in a vapid outright dismissal or hostility) the object of critique. If it isn't a critique of something high on your chain of engagement, if you truly 'hate' something... use non-(cu)te'sy (Spelled it with a QU) hateful words. But then move on, because 'we' come to hear spirited defenses of STUFF; this community is Contrarian, and that is awesome, people will defend ALL KINDS OF STUFF here, and that is awesome, and sometimes it feels like the same people who want to have their iconoclastic status recognized when they are defensive of certain ("less widely known") ideas (stuff) attack, pre-emptively (and quite likely, innocently, or inadvertently, because people are frequently not trying to be "mean" to defenders of other stuff) by dismissal, and suggestion that even "caring about" one set of "stuff" can "define" who a person is; while others making spirited defense of (perhaps more "mainstream" stuff. The thing is, an interesting DEFENSE (even of 'mainstream stuff' is NEAT, exciting, and more interesting than a "MEH, WHATEVER, PEOPLE WHO LIKE THIS ARE SMALL MINDED&quot (and such dismissals actively stifle people from explaining what they see in that popular stuff, where, if they hadn't been stifled by negativity, they might have spoken freely, and you could more clearly apprehend 'why' one would like that stuff, or maybe, the openness of people who appreciate, and identify with, and have invested much thought, and thinking to that stuff will cement your disdain, but also sharpen your critique; Explanation of what I mean by the idea of there being 'grades of critique'. A Platonic Chain of Critiques. A suggestion. Before you vehemently register your dislike of something that you honestly don't 'love'; go forth somewhere else, and register your APPROVAL of something else... another subject, or topic, idea, art, anything: then come back, and try to tell me that you still have that same disdain for the first initial subject.

Sort of why no one (even the iconoclast critic, or the auto-snarking critique cynic) would pay someone not only illiterate, but hostile to written words, any money, time or a penny to review A Tome, or Novels (we could talk later about the centuries long privileging of the written word over the equally valid spokens' [some say YouTubes, vlogs, podcasts and the myriad other New Oral Traditions are 'returning us' to a more balanced 'privilege of avenue' in communications mediums, or rather, human message-signal exchange systems]).

That isn't to say in the slightest that the illiterate person doesn't have access to the deepest intellectual ideas (I could chat about the virtues of societies without the tyranny of written words... but as is said, that's OT [an important OT, but irrelevant to the specific Written Words at hand), only that medium may matter to the message. Nor do I say that the person critiquing something they hated before they had the "new thing" placed before them, and started to think about how they thought about loving it or not, (pre-judging it [history tells us that humans are pretty decent at doing this in many arenas] not hard to see this happening with topics, subjects, arts, ideas).

Ex.
I think the 'mystyque' that punk 'lived on' in any manner other than brain memories, and the effects of the actions of people is overblown, no use. Any person's defense no matter how put, how expressed (even a pair of birds flipped) of "Punk" is of more meaning, of more consequence, than my ignorance, self imposed or not, to that which is "beautiful" in something (punk, Shoe-Laces, Auto-flushing Toilets, Haircuts).

Imagine this thesis: the world is all AWESOME (everything. [Supernovae are AWESOME; but when it is a beings home system getting blasted, suddenly, not so much, but yet, out of that systems demise, and utter destruction, will come the scattering of the seed materials for the next generation of systems], utter tragedy and vile destruction show us avenues to avoid, combat grows our collective aversion to violent conflict resolution, and on, the examples of this idea are legion.)

All that awaits the unfolding appreciation of reality, is someone seeing the value, barring value, or virtue, finding a 'place' in all of existence for each of those every-things. Some things will be repulsive, some revealing others attractive, enticing or glancingly extraneous, but there is virtue in that role of 'observers', and their inter-relationship with "Observed" "seeing virtue in the constituent elements of the totality of 'Reality'

Everything plays a role in the constantly reshaping web of causation hurtling us towards a grander appreciation, of truth -- half-truth and lies -- for even in lies, the truth is the core (the truth is the core in the sense that the lie is a Shell applied to coat the truth, to cover, to misdirect, diversion, distraction, avoidance of the truth is an implicit constituent element of a falsity. No one knows which what will affect that what which.

To find purpose in meaningless things, that is a trait of humans which I like, and others are free not to appreciate or even recognize at all. (UGH MOLDY BREAD WTF, WHO CARES! GROSS, BORING, THROW IT OUT ALREADY! I TASTED MOLDY BREAD IN A BREAD TASTING SCHOOL AND IT WAS TERRIBLE, THROW IT OUT! GET OVER YOURSELF BREAD SCIENTIST, WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? A FISHER OF MEN?)

Some will refuse to see the meaningfulness of that... to those who see why the ability to seek out subjective MEANING in even that which is objectively little, or, to one from a distance, or over a horizon; behind a wall of refusal and rejection is not an explication of a 'nothing' meaning.

Which reminds me; I need to work on that whole elevator pitch thing. Maybe I'll try a hat. Those seem to help people.
posted by infinite intimation at 3:46 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


jamjam: Well no. Descriptive linguistics is perfectly comfortable with the idea that there's right ways and wrong ways to express things within a given medium, context, mode, voice, etc.., etc. If you're writing for the NYT, you use NYT style or you don't get published. There's even an entire branch of linguistic theory devoted to looking at feedback and correction mechanisms.

What descriptivists disagree with is the notion that we can point to the grammar, orthography, or pronunciation of a single style or context, and declare it to be the intellectual ideal or the cornerstone of the gate that holds barbarism at bay. The abbreviated style used for text messaging is inappropriate for long-form documents, but it isn't linguistically inferior. In fact, text messaging has emotive and pragmatic techniques that are harder to convey in a Chicago-style paragraph.

Parent-child relationships are an important part of what makes language wonderful. But you can't use lingusitics to say that other parents are doing it wrong if they don't promote the culturally dominant dialects.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:27 PM on September 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Turn off favorites for a month, see if it helps.

I turned off favourites as soon as I was able but that doesn't keep others from fishing for them. It doesn't change the behaviour of others. As MrMoonPie said above Matt gave people a point system and now they are playing to win. If they are honestly a way to bookmark then hide them!

Favourites are the absolutely worst thing about this site. Let people's words stand on their own, not because 20+ other people liked their snark.

I know I sound like a broken record, but I love this community; however, I can barely stand to wade in and participate because of The Game.

My pony request is to kill the damn favourites.
posted by terrapin at 5:17 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


After the blowback last time when favorites were removed even temporarily, I thought the mods were pretty clear that favorites were here to stay.
posted by grouse at 5:20 PM on September 17, 2011


You're right grouse. The horse is dead and I need to realise I can't beat it any longer.
posted by terrapin at 5:37 PM on September 17, 2011


Woe unto me, for I have seen a vessel of great wisdom: infinite intimation is a projection of consciousness from a distant MetaFuture; a retro-prophet who speaks with the tongue of oracles. Hark, and be made wise! Do you not see your own doom before you, MeFites? Are you so proud and blind? Yea, I say unto thee, infinite intimation opens the way to salvation. For he hath spoken: GET OVER YOURSELF BREAD SCIENTIST, WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? A FISHER OF MEN?.
posted by troll at 6:21 PM on September 17, 2011


My pony request is to kill the damn favourite

My pony request is to kill the wabbit.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:38 PM on September 17, 2011


My pony request is to kill all the ponies. Chew on that one.
posted by 1000monkeys at 7:10 PM on September 17, 2011


Can we start with My Little Pony? Because that shit is seriously odd.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:11 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


My pony request is to make 'Hide Favorites' the default for new accounts.

Doesn't hurt to ask, right?
posted by box at 7:12 PM on September 17, 2011


HEY! You've got to hide your faves away!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:14 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


[I'll reiterate here my original and only serious pony request: change the name of favorites to reflect what they are meant to be. Decide if they are meant to be votes/likes/show of approval or if they are meant to be bookmarks, and then label them as such. I don't have a problem with favorites per sé, but even I'm confused by how I use them--sometimes (usually) as "likes" and sometimes as bookmarks or placeholders for future reference.]
posted by 1000monkeys at 7:17 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Decide if they are meant to be votes/likes/show of approval or if they are meant to be bookmarks, and then label them as such.

Since they are obviously serve both functions (it's not an either/or) for most users of the site, they'd have to be called "like/bookmark/show of approval" or some even longer, clunkier name with more slashes, which would be absurd. Or you'd have one button called LIKE and another called BOOKMARK, but again, it'd get clunky.

Also, who decides what they're "meant" to be? If three out of four mods say that's what they're *meant* to be? if some majority percentage of users define their *meaning*?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:25 PM on September 17, 2011


klangklangston : By the way, I found the (at least most recent) comment where I said Pla was acting like an asshole.

Oh, come on! Not even fucking involved in this thread, and you just had to put in a jab at me?

Whatever. Real class there, dude.
posted by pla at 7:29 PM on September 17, 2011


I have to say that calls for us users to flag derails etc is fair enough, but by the same token, I find it pretty frustrating that a thread like this one which could potentially be very interesting and certainly starts out that way is allowed to devolve into the general, derail that all Islam threads seem to end up (Islam - yea or nay?). This is happening over the course of >2 hours at what I would consider a pretty prime time for the site, despite multiple flags and a note in the contact form, when I see a mod active in other threads over the same time period. It's frustrating - I don't think many of those comments would make the thread feel very welcoming for any of our Muslim members - like Dee Xtrovert or Burhanistan, both of which are currently disabled, or Bardophile who currently seems to be restricting herself to askme (I wonder why??? [not really]).

I really truly do understand that mods can't be everywhere at once, and nor are you guys responsible for the behaviour of other users on the site, but I think even more aggression with regard to derails would be genuinely helpful; it takes two to tango, and the nature of derails requires a swiftish response.

When stuff like that happens (and it's happened to me on more than one occasion), it makes me feel that my noise or derail flags are both a) wasted/useless and b) rude, demanding, and unwanted by the mods. Faced with the prospect that not only am I not actually helping address a problem, but may additionally be pissing off the mods, it doesn't really inspire me to keep flagging noise/derails (as opposed to "offensive" comments).

As an aside, I think shitty posts generally engender especially shitty comments.
posted by smoke at 7:39 PM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, who decides what they're "meant" to be? If three out of four mods say that's what they're *meant* to be? if some majority percentage of users define their *meaning*?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:25 PM


I would imagine that the community as a whole would decide, more or less. But if you're arguing that the favorites function is meant to be ambiguous and should be ambiguous, then shouldn't it really be invisible to others what you favorite? If there is no accepted meaning or use of the favorites function, then why should we be able to see when others favorite our comments?
posted by 1000monkeys at 7:45 PM on September 17, 2011


That thread has been frustrating to mod. There's a lot of stuff flagged that is fine and substantive but maybe not specifically about this law - but the post is titled "Multiculturalism has failed," has a bunch of background links and a link to a related issue with a different culture. So the post was created with a really wide scope and "Let's talk about the negative ways Islam is intersecting with European culture" is totally within that scope. There isn't really a clear-cut way to prevent it going the way its going within our current mod guidelines - I've deleted some jokey or overly hostile crap but people will talk about what they want to talk about.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:49 PM on September 17, 2011


(Also I do not see a contact form email about this thread at all - maybe resend?)
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:50 PM on September 17, 2011


So, is this the drunk thread? No? I'll mosy on down the line. Whelk is on here somewhere, I'm sure of it.
posted by Think_Long at 7:55 PM on September 17, 2011


I'm totally actually 100% just a regular person troll. Believe me.

If people had to declare what their favorite meant, how would we make people nervously anxious that their latest favorite might actually be meant sarcastically, or snidely (I am seriously at a loss here, I do not know if troll's favorite was meant as a favorite, or, if troll deep down hates me...

But as long as troll is making Retro-profiteer jokes... The next Old Fad that shall become once more New are those little "Troll Dahls" (*Pun), with the spike hair... Trolls are now the new M.L.P.

Honestly, and seriously, all I can say is;
The reports on the Death of Multiculturalism are greatly exaggerated.


Let's talk about he negative ways Europeans are being racist, xenophobic, and are fully, blithely, and with grand malice abrogating the rule of law.

If we make super special laws that target a group... that means, actively, that we are not all equal under the law. Pretty tired of staying. Just like that straw man of the "weak liberal" who is destroying white people's super awesome society "trying to make special laws that let Religious people kill babies. Tired of wading through naked xeno's phobia (every thread bullshit is debunked, and every next thread the same must be done... repeat ad infinitum). Peace.
posted by infinite intimation at 8:03 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a lot of stuff flagged that is fine and substantive.

Come now, are these really substantive?

1
2
3
4
5

I agree that the broader tenor of the post is one that is going to encourage derails, but in that case maybe the solution is deleting the post and telling the user to try again tomorrow with a more narrow scope?

I don't mean to pick on that thread, nor its posters, nor you Restless Nomad or any of the mods, but that post has just popped up over the weekend and - for me - it captures a lot of what some people in this thread have been talking about.

A very broad post coupled with an unwillingness by mefites to read the links/understand the context, married with a generally high level of ignorance about the topic (Islam and to a lesser degree France) results in a messy thread, filled with fact-free generalisations, anecdotal impressions and frankly more than a few racist sentiments.

It pisses me off because I feel:
a) there's a good discussion to be had here and being hampered by post-first-think-later mentality and strong emotions

b) I cannot lie, I get a bit resentful when the mods ask me to step up and flag-more-think-more and little car crashes like that are allowed to happen

c) I wonder why the Islamic mefites I usually turn to for education and context around these issues no longer post on the blue or at all, and I think that the generally toxic and really very ignorant bile spewed out in these threads has probably helped chase them away.

d) It makes me pessimistic that as a community we actually have the ability to deal with this properly, when issues around chauvinism - despite the large number of female/feminist mefites and number of metalks etc seem to be fighting the same battle over and over.

I realise this may just be me, or one of those times there's a gap between how a person (me) views the community and how it actually is, or what some of us think the site should be and what the mods/Matt think is should be. But, you know, I just wanted to put it out there. I think more stringent editorial of both posts and comments could only enrich the site.
posted by smoke at 9:04 PM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Come now, are these really substantive?

I'm "guilty" of the first one that you linked. While I'll cop to tossing off some lazy snark, it does indeed encapsulate my feelings on the matter. I suppose I could've unpacked that instead of just squirting some bile there. But, if you're hoping to curtail those kinds of comments then the userbase at large would really have to undergo a radical shift since the vast majority of threads contain precisely those kinds of glib sentiments.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:52 PM on September 17, 2011


So, this isn't going to be a drunk thread? I'm all jazzed from a meetup, dang.
posted by The Whelk at 9:59 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can go on a billion other places to get your attention fix, you know.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:59 PM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


HP, I can totally understand the emotions that make a person toss out lines like that - and I would be lying if I said that I never do it myself. I would argue that you did, to your credit, stick around to unpack it a bit further in the thread. :)

I would also agree that I could most certainly be somewhat naive in my hopes for change amongst the userbase on this score.

I guess that thread hits somewhat of a raw nerve with me, and I'm super-frustrated that attempts to both engage in the actual issue at hand (over-crowded mosques) turns into a symposium on Islam when the vast, vast majority of the people commenting quite demonstrably do not have a clue what they're talking about, either about mosque crowding in France, or Islam more generally - and I'm not exactly Dr Islam myself here. Some of the ignorance and assumptions in that thread are quite breath-taking, racist, and I would think hurtful.

Those would be bad enough, but when they're tossed off as glib one-liners it raises my ire.
posted by smoke at 10:00 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


That thread was somewhat doomed. It was a hot button issue with a post that was somewhat sensationally framed, "The State of France has banned prayers in public."

You could go through the links and still not quite get a sense of what the heck was going on, I'm still not sure, but I'm pretty sure you can still pray outside in France.

People talk about posts in context of what the FPP says is going on, so it looked like a Holy War and people came ready to fight it.

Seriously though, I don't think it was all that bad a thread as far as these things go. It looked for the most part like everyone eventually took stock of the situation and talked in more realistic terms.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:09 PM on September 17, 2011


You can go on a billion other places to get your attention fix, you know.

So much for your Brand New Day.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:22 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I lived around the corner from la Goutte d'Or for nine months. The intersection shown blocked by outdoor prayers (was previously) as busy as hell on Friday afternoons. It's 2 steps from Boulevard Barbès, (which is a major artery of the city) and the extremely populous Barbès markets. It's the garment district of Paris, and delivery vans are whipping in and out of there 6 days a week, as well as the usual urban traffic load.

This may go some way to suggesting why some people are annoyed that this intersection is regularly blocked.
posted by Wolof at 10:26 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Islamic mefites

The term is "Muslim." Countries and cultures can be "Islamic."

I sometimes wonder at the hair-trigger sensitivity for anything that might be construed as even slightly less than progressive gender politics around here, while Muslim bashing (I guess because Islam has insufficiently progressive gender politics vis a vis the cultural biases of the average mefite?) goes on all the time.

That thread is appalling.
posted by spitbull at 3:21 AM on September 18, 2011


The term is "Muslim." Countries and cultures can be "Islamic."

Thank you, you're entirely correct, of course - the alliteration put me off.
posted by smoke at 5:32 AM on September 18, 2011


Ryan hasn't been around much lately, either.
posted by ryanrs at 5:37 AM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ryan hasn't been around much lately, either.

Good riddance, that guy sucked.
posted by ryanrs at 5:38 AM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


the alliteration put me off.

Whaa? No way! Alliteration is the writer's friend! :)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:38 AM on September 18, 2011


You mean an author's acquaintance? A correspondent's companion? A poet's pal?
posted by smoke at 5:49 AM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


A bard's buddy! A wordsmith's well-wisher! A columnist's companion! A ghost-writer's go-between! A penman's partner!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:00 AM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


A hack's helper.
posted by spitbull at 6:26 AM on September 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


And the typist's troublemaker
posted by infini at 6:37 AM on September 18, 2011


A scribbler's sympathizer? A reporter's right-hand man?
posted by Miko at 6:42 AM on September 18, 2011


The scrivener's sycophant.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:54 AM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's also worth nothing that the thread itself has been flagged only once. That's not a make-or-break detail, but it does suggest that people aren't finding the framing to be overly inflammatory or terrible on a first look.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:52 AM on September 18, 2011


Drifting even further off topic, but inspired by infinite intimation's mention of Incubus and "skirmishes and running battles about which of the full campaigns ought to be termed what [What does 'is last' mean]" and the earlier discussion of prescriptivism:

I've been poking around lurking on Esperanto websites lately. (Like they say, it is really easy to learn, and I am starting to understand it.) I've been hearing about a conflict between rival factions in the early twentieth century over what participle to use in passive past tense constructions like "she was born", referred to as the "Ita-Ata Wars". (Esperanto participles can inflect for tense separately from the verb constructions they're used in, so you can say estis naskita, estis naskata, naskitis or naskatis. The one- and two-word forms are just stylistic variants of each other, but the in the -ita/-itis forms the two tense markers are congruent, and in the -ata-based forms they're incongruent, though -ata proponents claim this is more logical.)

In self-defense, the majority of the user-base (parolantoj) started using constructions like naskiĝis instead, thus inventing the mediopassive or unaccusative voice (otherwise known as "fuck it, just stick -iĝis on the end of it").

I'd wondered about the -iĝis/-iĝas construction, though I understood what it meant, now I understand why they use it.

This conflict apparently still has reverberations within the Esperanto community. Despite having their printing office destroyed in Second World War (there was a real shooting and bombing war going on at the time, and the German government was convinced they were part of a world Jewish conspiracy), the itist faction rebuilt their publishing house in Holland and continued their campaign against the World Esperanto Association and it's toleration of pernicious and illogical tense mixing. They later merged with the Foiro publishing cooperative, which has recently been involved in an effort to set up a political structure within the Esperanto community called the Esperanto Polity in rivalry with the UEA.

Despite the obvious political character of this and the previous conflict, much criticism of Foiro and the Polity in the Esperanto press has centered on language. They are supposedly abusing language, constructing a dangerous variant of Esperanto, unflatteringly dubbed Civitparolo or "Polity-speak", and concocting malevolent neologisms which threaten to undermine the relationship between language and reality.

I am worried that I know what revpensado means. (It translates as "dream thought". This is a supposedly pernicious state promoted by use of "Polity-speak." I think it's a really pretty word. Does that mean I've been infected?)


This summary is facetious of course. I haven't made anything up, but, of course, I have only a really superficial understanding what the issues are or were, and I don't really claim to have presented the information fairly. I've played up the linguistic angles of these conflicts. There are obviously political and philosophical conflicts within the community I don't really understand; it's not all about the language itself.
posted by nangar at 8:21 AM on September 18, 2011


damn
posted by clavdivs at 10:18 AM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Privilege is a shitty and ineffective frame for changing anyone's mind.

I have found it absolutely essential for changing mine. And may I suggest to you that what you just offered, which is, in tone, a pissy comment that contained no analysis at all, but instead an abrupt dismissal, is precisely what can be so exhausting about these discussion.

People change their own mind. But i need to be able to use exacting language to discuss things, and privilege is the exact language in discussions where privilege is the problem.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:30 PM on September 15 [12 favorites +] [!]


There is the problem in a nutshell: posters assuming that their chosen worldview is the Truth, and dismissing any other worldview as wrong. Or the worst, dismissing them as ignorance. "I toiled under that unfortunate and ignorant assumption too, sweetie, until I took the time to educate myself."

This site could do with a heaping helping of "assuming good faith".
posted by gjc at 10:44 AM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're right grouse. The horse is dead and I need to realise I can't beat it any longer.

Aaaaand now terrapin's gone too.
posted by Hoopo at 10:53 AM on September 18, 2011


A tune beyond us as we are,
Yet nothing changed by the blue guitar;

Ourselves in the tune as if in space,
Yet nothing changed, except the place

Of things as they are and only the place
As you play them, on the blue guitar,

Placed, so, beyond the compass of change,
Perceived in a final atmosphere;

For a moment final, in the way
The thinking of art seems final when

The thinking of god is smoky dew.
The tune is space. The blue guitar...
posted by clavdivs at 10:53 AM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is the problem in a nutshell: posters assuming that their chosen worldview is the Truth, and dismissing any other worldview as wrong. Or the worst, dismissing them as ignorance. "I toiled under that unfortunate and ignorant assumption too, sweetie, until I took the time to educate myself."

Could I ask you to revisit my comment from something better than the least charitable reading of it? And may I suggest that what you just did is, in fact, also a problem with the site.

I have said that I am not out to educate anybody, but instead to express my own viewpoints as clearly as possible. I am curious why you chose to ignore that comment and instead insist what I meant was the opposite.

But, oh my goodness, because I have a viewpoint and I want to express it, by gum, I must be implying that the other posters who do not share it are benighted, and if only they were educated they would think the same as me.

I did not say that, I did not imply it, and I am not happy that you paraphrased my comment into something other than what I said. I would appreciate it if you would refrain from doing that in the future.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:49 AM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is the problem in a nutshell: posters assuming that their chosen worldview is the Truth, and dismissing any other worldview as wrong. Or the worst, dismissing them as ignorance. "I toiled under that unfortunate and ignorant assumption too, sweetie, until I took the time to educate myself."

That is absolutely not what was said, though. What was said was:

People change their own mind. But i need to be able to use exacting language to discuss things, and privilege is the exact language in discussions where privilege is the problem.

You'd have to be a ball of self-loathing to think that is saying "You are wrong and/or ignorant". It means "I think privilege is a concept worth discussing, and since I believe that it would not be sensible not to allow myself to use the word or concept of 'privilege'."

It's possible to disagree that privilege is a concept worth discussing - diablevert clearly does, although others in this thread have said it was useful for them. But it really doesn't seem like this is all about people calling you wrong or ignorant, gjc. One can respectfully disagree.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:51 AM on September 18, 2011


Aaaaand now terrapin's gone too.

We talked about this yesterday and have been talking about it ongoingly since we're real life friends too. Basically if people just can not deal with the fact that favorites are an unlikely-to-change part of the MeFi landscape and this fact makes them unhappy here at a constant level, they're going to have to seek their own solutions to that. terrapin is a wonderful man. Everyone had to make their own choices and their own peace with the world not being the way we'd all like it to be, in various directions.

You'd have to be a ball of self-loathing to think...

I can't help but think that this is not the best way to start an open conversation about people's differing perspectives on this topic.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:56 AM on September 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Just in general, I think if you feel the urge to paraphrase what somebody said into something else to say what you think they actually meant, you may be off on the wrong foot. I've been guilty of this in the past, and am trying to avoid doing so, tempting though it may be.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:58 AM on September 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Oh, come on! Not even fucking involved in this thread, and you just had to put in a jab at me?

Whatever. Real class there, dude.
"

Hey, you're right. I was searching around for the times I called people "asshole," in order to put a little more context into how it was being discussed here, and while I didn't mean it to be calling you out, I can see how you could take it that way.

I apologize.
posted by klangklangston at 12:25 PM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can't help but think that this is not the best way to start an open conversation about people's differing perspectives on this topic.

Fair point - although the issue is precisely that at the moment you push that button it stops being about the topic. The statement "you are calling me wrong and/or ignorant" (when that hasn't happened) is, at best, going to change the topic - in this case from the utility of privilege as an analytical or deliberative tool to a personal insult and its consequences.

If one assumes good faith - and thus assumes that in such a case the misreading and the derail are unintentional and sincere (the injured party thinks that they are responding to something the other party said, or meant) - then the only thing to do is to explain that it is a misreading and a derail, and why - to provide the tools to get back on topic. You're right that there are better and gentler ways of doing that, which is perhaps where the importance of assuming good faith comes in - that is, the assumption that most people genuinely don't know when they are starting a derail.

If we assume good faith both ways - that is, assuming that people are not putting coded insults into their innocent-looking statements - then the cause for that misreading and derail is presumably something outside the words of the exchange, and probably has to be recognized as such. So, maybe a better, if longer, version would be:

If one is reading x and replying as if one had read y, and these two propositions are totally unlike each other, there must be something going on outside the words contained in x that is driving that interpretation. In the absence of any other context, it's probable that that's something outside the text affecting the reader's relationship with the text. It might be best for the reader to go back and look again at x, rather than everyone having to stop and talk about y.
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:36 PM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's some lessons learnt about framing the FPPs better in order to minimize irrelevant derails - host links matter even if they have nothing to do with the topic in question. Links to places with registration and incomplete articles matter. Its not only a matter of pulling content together but ensuring that the remotest chance of context not being understood or irrelevant does not exist. Finally, nobody will ever be happy and they'll dig to find something wholly unrelated to bitch about.
posted by infini at 12:56 PM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


and probably has to be recognized as such.

Sure but I hope it's plainly apparent that accusing someone of being a ball of self-loathing is pretty much a shot over the bow of S. S. You Suck in the first place. So, I look at it this way

1. If it's an honest mistake on the part of the first person, taking things up a notch makes you look aggressive and jerkish and doesn't solve the problem of the misunderstanding and likely inhibits further discussion.
2. if the person is, themselves, trying to take it up a notch you can just let them be plain that that is what they are doing and not start some "oh YEAH...." pissing match. They'll make ti clear. Everyone here is decently sharp. You can't really get away with that sort of bullshit over time without us having a conversation with you about it.
3. Let's say you're 100% right and you've correctly ascertained that someone is a ball of self-loathing and that is exactly why they are acting like they are acting. How exactly does it advance discussion on a website to take someone else who is already facing significant challenges and calling them out on that in an aggressive fashion? It gives them no honest outlet. It likely puts them in a corner and makes them feel bad. It doesn't advance any sort of mutual understanding except that you've kicked someone when they are down and are thus someone who is maybe not to be trusted.

So while we can go back and forth about whether what someone did inadvertently is as bad or deserving of some sort of callout for that, I think we can maybe agree that failure to take a disagreement up a notch is almost never a bad first strategy, though it may not delivery in favorites, there are other things to be gained by such an approach.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:03 PM on September 18, 2011 [11 favorites]


I had bourbon flavored ice cream with peaches and pecans the other night, it was tasty. I bought spiy bacon caramel corn from the same truck. It was good too.
posted by jonmc at 1:09 PM on September 18, 2011


This thread has grown so large that I think we're losing sight of the important things, namely: "Good Vibrations" is not a symphony, no one involved in its production or performance was a teenager, and if its a hymn to anything, it's to the fleshly pleasures, not the spiritual.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:11 PM on September 18, 2011


Jessamyn: These are good points. I'm guessing that the bit about favorite-hunting at the end there was part of a pedagogic process? It feels like that and the raised temperature of the language - jerkish, bullshit - is intended to function as a kind of dry ski slope on which I can practise not rising?

With which in mind, thank you for your perspective. I will aim to add it to my understanding of how better to contribute.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:42 PM on September 18, 2011


is intended to function as a kind of dry ski slope on which I can practise not rising?

Not at all, no. Just using the second person because I feel like it's easier than getting all third person about such things. It's not about you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:10 PM on September 18, 2011


It's also worth nothing that the thread itself has been flagged only once. That's not a make-or-break detail, but it does suggest that people aren't finding the framing to be overly inflammatory or terrible on a first look.

That's understandable - the post itself is not inflammatory, it's just somewhat badly (though I have no doubt well-intentionedly) put together. But I would that the lack of flags is actually more of a comment on mefi's ignorance about both the issue in question and Islam in general than the merits or otherwise of the post.

The post *should* have had information about the City Council providing space for worshippers and both parties' pleasure with that solution. That most important context was immediately lacking and it coloured most of the subsequent comments - where people were even bothered reading the links that were supplied.

I dunno, I guess the three reasons I bought it up in this thread were:

1) Asking us to flag noise or derails is great, but here's a sitch that was pretty much hobbled straight out of the gate, and not much happened and it makes me feel my flags are annoying and/or wasted, so I'm not really inclined to keep up the flagging.

2) I think there's generally a lot of ignorance about Islam and Islamaphobia on mefi, and I felt like the mods - for whatever reason - don't care to really address it, at least not in the same way they address sexist stuff for example. Many of the comments in that thread were not just flat out wrong, but flat out, undeniably racist, pure and simple. If someone was writing bile-sodden shit like that about Jewish people, I feel the mods (totally rightfully) would be on that like white on rice. It didn't happen in that thread, and I feel like it rarely happens in threads on Islam.

3) I think there is a real problem that LH was the touchstone for, and I don't think it exists on Askme to anywhere near the same degree. I think that some of this is modding, and some of this is the nature of questions generating better and more specific responses, and questions being better framed. I know some mefites would be horrified at the prospect, but I would by no means be opposed to a little more qualities from the green in the blue. It would make mefi a more welcoming, diverse and genuinely informative place - and not at the expense of good discussion, jokes etc.
posted by smoke at 3:33 PM on September 18, 2011


Asking us to flag noise or derails is great, but here's a sitch that was pretty much hobbled straight out of the gate, and not much happened and it makes me feel my flags are annoying and/or wasted, so I'm not really inclined to keep up the flagging.

Flagging isn't and can't be expected to be a perfect system. Even setting aside the fundamental subjectivity of the whole thing (what one person thinks is problematic another may think is totally fine and another yet may think is a bit eh but not to the point of being an issue), it's a system that makes it a lot more possible for us to be responsive without guaranteeing that we'll always be able to be on top of it in a way that satisfies the flagger(s) involved.

Practically speaking, we look when we can, try and make a good call about how to respond (which can be very easy in some cases but is a lot trickier in many others), and in the long run it helps a lot with keeping the site being something members have a method for incremental feedback to the state of. It's a system that shines in aggregate, not necessarily at the individual case.

And that can be frustrating from an individual level because, yeah, you see a thing, you try and take action, and you don't get the result you were hoping for. I hear you. At the end of the day you're not required to flag anything at all and if you find the experience more frustrating than anything it's understandable if you prefer to just opt out of that particular path.

But we ask people to flag stuff with the understanding that they're giving us a hand (by pointing us to potential problems, by doing something less disruptive than perpetuating a bad argument/derail/snarkfest), not with the idea that flagging is a magic wand to make everything better. It may be a matter of mismatched expectations or just the flagging issue getting tangled up with what sounds like some topic-based frustration in this case, I don't know, but while I do totally dig you being bothered I feel like it's a little bit like "I tried this once and it didn't work so to heck with this" which is at odds with how the flagging process realistically works.

I think there's generally a lot of ignorance about Islam and Islamaphobia on mefi, and I felt like the mods - for whatever reason - don't care to really address it, at least not in the same way they address sexist stuff for example.

There's a couple things there:

- we all have different knowledge domains and areas of interest that make it easier for us to adjudicate some topics than others. I don't know that anyone on Team Mod really has a ton of knowledge about Islam; what may feel like "why don't you get this?" stuff may need to be accounted for as much as anything in terms of a mistaken assumption that we'll automatically be aware of and sensitive to some of the nuances in that stuff. Sometimes you may need to actually say "uh, that's a really weird thing go on in that thread and here's the context for why".

- "the way we address the sexist stuff" has largely been an extension of how the community has addressed it, and that was something that played out, not uncontroversially, over a period of years and is still in a lot of ways unsettled and playing out. "Please don't use 'cunt' recklessly" and "we remove 'I'd hit it' when we see it" is about the only concrete, this-is-not-a-discussion stuff there, and even that was largely driven by community feedback. It's not really realistic to expect us to just fix any problems with ignorance or Islamophobia by fiat, even setting aside the previous point.

So, it comes down to communicating with us and with your fellow users. It's fine to make a civil sort of "this is why that comment is problematic" response in a thread if something weird or kind of offensive comes up, just as with anything else; if it becomes a recurring issue or a distracting back-and-forth, it's fine to then go to Metatalk and try to talk about it there. In the mean time, flagging stuff that seems problematic and contacting us via the contact form with complicated or detailed stuff is totally fine.

All of this is incremental stuff, and I know (believe me, this is pretty much a description of our job) that it can be tiring to keep working on the same stuff incrementally again and again, but this is a very large ship and slow to turn and it takes time and effort and a lot of community discussion to change things.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:58 PM on September 18, 2011


I felt like the mods - for whatever reason - don't care to really address it, at least not in the same way they address sexist stuff for example

It's possible the mods have addressed sexism, but my impression has been that this is an area where the site polices itself. I don't think you're going to find a lot of examples on Metafilter where anyone's gotten away with a sexist comment without being called on it repeatedly.
posted by Hoopo at 3:58 PM on September 18, 2011


Thanks Cortex, I really appreciate the thoughtful response. :) I certainly didn't mean to imply that I'm angry or resentful my expectations around flagging aren't being meant, more just to initiate a kind of dialogue and at least put out that I certainly wouldn't shed too many tears to see a few more comments on the blue disappearing.

You're right, also, about the community maintaining a set of standards for chauvinism etc. It saddens me a bit because I feel for some topics - like Islam - that we'll probably never get that criticial mass here - I guess that's why I'd really welcome a more helping hand from the mods. At the same time it puzzles me a bit, because we don't have that many openly-declared intersex or transgender mefites, but I think conversations around those issues are generally characterised by a reasonable degree of generosity and respect. Perhaps I'm seeing it through rose-coloured glasses, however, and by the same token just because people aren't transgender or intersex doesn't mean a lot of mefites aren't informed about that topic.

You are entirely correct that repeated effort will be required, from everyone invested in it, in carrying the day.

I appreciate the willingness from all you guys to have a dialogue about this, thanks.
posted by smoke at 4:13 PM on September 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hoopo writes "It's possible the mods have addressed sexism, but my impression has been that this is an area where the site polices itself."

The site polices itself however what's acceptable changed thanks in part to some heavy lifting by the mods to establish a new bar.
posted by Mitheral at 5:11 PM on September 18, 2011


klangklangston : I apologize

Accepted, and on re-reading your post in the context of your explanation, largely unnecessary.

In fairness, I suppose I overreacted a tad while searching for one of my old comments, and came across that one from you. :)
posted by pla at 6:20 PM on September 18, 2011


Bunny Ultramod: "843Just in general, I think if you feel the urge to paraphrase what somebody said into something else to say what you think they actually meant, you may be off on the wrong foot. I've been guilty of this in the past, and am trying to avoid doing so, tempting though it may be."

One of the things I have been trying to do more often is ask people what the intent of a comment is before replying -- rather than jumping to conclusions. As in, "I'm having trouble parsing what you're saying. You seem to be saying "X." Is this the case? If not, could you please clarify?"

This has saved me a lot of blood pressure points. It also prevents me from sounding like an ass.
posted by zarq at 7:05 PM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


So what are you saying there?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:12 PM on September 18, 2011


Kidding.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:12 PM on September 18, 2011


Immortalized in cartoon form.

.
posted by buzzman at 8:22 PM on September 18, 2011


I have said that I am not out to educate anybody, but instead to express my own viewpoints as clearly as possible. I am curious why you chose to ignore that comment and instead insist what I meant was the opposite.

Not to criticise you specifically as i'm not sure if you do what I am about to point out but just to use this phrase as a jumping off point.

Everytime someone mentions "feminism 101" I personally can't help but read that as an assumption that the reason someone disagrees with the person mentioning "feminism 101" is that they merely haven't been educated enough and need to be taught, the phrase clearly indicates a classroom situation with one side as scholarly educaters and the other as being somehow in need of that education.

There seem to be a lot of people who want to have some high level discussion on feminism which assumes "101" as accepted truth. If so you are all free to ignore anyone who feels otherwise or there are a lot of places on the web that meets that criteria and allows discussion.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 4:20 AM on September 19, 2011


Reggie, I think this part of what you're saying:

I personally can't help but read that

Is a really useful and important thing to say, and to keep in mind. I think we often can't help but respond personally to phrases we read, especially when those phrases play to things we already have strong feelings about - like tutorial environments, or feeling patronized, or indeed feminism. Before you know it, there's the potential for hurt feelings all round.

To provide another perspective on the Feminism 101 example: funnily enough, I see the idea behind [Noun] 101 as almost the reverse of a classroom situation with one side as scholarly educators and the other as being somehow in need of that education. For me, 101 signifies a grounding in the basics that needs to exist before you can enter a full discussion without lowering the overall level of the discussion - 101 classes being classes where you primarily listen, rather than talk, so you can ask the right questions and get the right knowledge in the next class up.

"What's an Autobot?" is probably a Transformers 101 question. "How can Kup can possibly be a less efficient soldier as a result of advanced years, given that you can replace entire Transformer bodies, without some form of resource scarcity?" is a question the bases of which might be challenged (canonical accounts of complete body transference are relatively unusual and usually have consequences) but probably shouldn't get the response "That's Transformers 101".

I don't think it's about anyone wanting to teach a classroom - usually, it's denoting a desire not to be an educator, but rather to have a conversation where the basics (whether agreed with or not) are understood, if not agreed to, by all parties. The idea being that those resources are already on the Internet, often specifically labelled "[noun] 101", so it's possible to look over them, and to form and process responses, before seeking to enter a higher-level discussion.

The Socratic idea - that if one truly understands a subject one will agree with everyone else who truly understands it - is a different one, and I think would be a misuse of the idea of [noun] 101 - and I'm sure it is a misuse that takes place, since many people on the Internet haven't done Deliberative Rhetoric 101. However, the intent of the person using the concept and your reaction to it might be out of sync with each other in other cases.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:18 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


If so you are all free to ignore anyone who feels otherwise or there are a lot of places on the web that meets that criteria and allows discussion.

You're right, and lots of people are aware that there are a lot of places on the web to discuss feminist issues where the need for shared knowledge of '101' concepts doesn't get in the way or slow down or derail the discussion while one or two people engage in examining the background information others may already be operating with.

However, I think that on MeFi people are interested in moving past '101' content because we aren't here only to discuss feminist issues. We're here because it's a general-interest site with wide-ranging topics, yet at times it was fairly unfriendly and/or offensive to read the site, because casual sexism cropped up quite a bit in general discussion of topics in news, sports, music, etc. I do read feminist sites when I want to discuss topics that are specifically feminist in nature, but I read MeFi because I want to discuss a lot of other things too, and it's much better to participate here if, as a reader, you don't run into the casual lulzy sexist comment aimed to get laughs at the expense of half the readership, or into the offensively clumsy handling of an issue you sometimes get when people are entirely new to an atmosphere where the community's shared intent seems to be to maintain the assumption of egalitarianism.

So when people talk about the '101', it's not because they want to discuss just feminist topics, but because of the hope that the site stays both more readable to all and more on-topic to post content.
posted by Miko at 5:45 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


For me, 101 signifies a grounding in the basics that needs to exist before you can enter a full discussion without lowering the overall level of the discussion - 101 classes being classes where you primarily listen, rather than talk, so you can ask the right questions and get the right knowledge in the next class up.

Thanks for the thoughful reply.

The above passage is exactly the point I was hoping to make so I am genuinely confused that you seem to be making the opposite point.

just look at the words primarily listen. I'm not even sure that I can conceive of a way to read that which doesn't create a divide between one group assumed to be knowledgeable (and correct) and another that is assumed to be ignorant (and wrong).

I rarely even comment here but even when reading discussions it tends to create a really negative reaction when people take what appears to me to be a high handed and patronising position.

It might just be an issue of language to consider because I can't help but see it as an indication that I (or someone) is being assumed to be stupid and is about to be seriously talked down to.

Miko

With that last paragraph I was more thinking of discussions on the blue than on the grey. Where the issue isn't about how MeFites treat eachother and the language etc that is acceptable. Obviously if someone feels that the environment here is unwelcome MeTa is the place to take it.

But in MeFi threads where the topic may well be wide ranging and have a few sub threads happening not everyone has to be required to have a grounding in "feminism 101".

Again, and it may just be me, but once people start discussing amongst themselves that others don't have enough knowledge about a particular subject for their liking or that the discussion isn't at a high enough level for them I fell like I (or someone) else is being called stupid and talked down to.

I'm not exactly a ball of self loathing (yet), and this may well be my own insecurities but we all have such things and being mindful of ones that are fairly common might help with future discussions
posted by Reggie Knoble at 6:07 AM on September 19, 2011


Now that he's gone, I can reveal that languagehat stole all of his ideas from Edward De Bono. In particular, the idea of hats. De Bono, easily the most astute observer of human language that ever lived, postulated the existence of six hats, also known as The Six Thinking Hats. Each hat corresponds to a different form of "mental hat". For example, languagehat himself was a "blue hat", which involves "thinking about thinking".

I wish languagehat were here to rebut, but since he's left the building, I will once more reiterate that languagehat stole all of his ideas from Edward De Bono, easily the most astute observer of human language that ever lived.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:24 AM on September 19, 2011


I can agree with the spirit of what Reggie Knoble is saying, in that there is often this feeling that if you don't agree with concept/argument/opinion X (i.e. prevailing Feminist theory/child rearing/cat declawing/whatever) that your opinion is invalid because you're obviously too stupid to understand the topic, and now let me exasperatedly "school" you on it using the X 101 construction. It comes across as extremely condescending and off-putting and it assumes that the other person simply is too stupid or ignorant to understand the issue.

But perhaps the other person just doesn't agree with concept X. So, instead of having an interesting discourse and seeing how people have varying viewpoints (which is healthy for the site, I think, and, while it may not change your own viewpoint, at the very least it gives you an idea of what viewpoints are out there), you end up shutting down the conversation and possibly starting some kind of fighty GRARy feelings, which may later spill into other threads (for those people who are unable to compartmentalize things).

Anyway, it's just a thought to mull over on how we as a community deal with the whole "X 101" thing. I know I've had my own issues being spoken down to by a few Mefites because they felt they had to "put themselves out" and deign to explain to me how it all (supposedly) works, all the while complaining that they just don't have the time or patience to have that conversation AGAIN, which was extremely off-putting as a new member. Frankly, if you can't find the patience to explain your viewpoint politely (since you have done so sooo many times before), then you should refrain from commenting IMO.

But, regardless of whether or not you have the energy or patience to explain X 101 to the noobs, please keep in mind that someone not agreeing with X 101 does NOT mean that they don't understand it.
posted by 1000monkeys at 6:24 AM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'd like to have everyone know that twoleftfeet stole all of his ideas from Elaine Benes.
posted by gman at 6:58 AM on September 19, 2011


That might be true, 1000monkeys, but a lot of that 101 stuff is actually not didactic lecturing divorced from actual life experience but rather discussion of experiences from a minority position. Like, say, in the elevator thread. And often those who disagree with it are coming from a position of privilege--they don't have these experiences. Which means that, first of all, the stakes are low for them. This isn't something that impacts their life and their ability to deny that it's happening is great and all but the people who are trying to patiently explain are actually talking about quite painful real life stuff. The way the more passionate disagreements about these things often manifest is not in a removed logical analysis but an invalidation of actual, real-life experiences. When these things happen it doesn't just hurt the speaker, but it hurts the entire class of people who are told (once again) that their stories won't be taken at face value and trusted, for whatever reason.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:02 AM on September 19, 2011 [9 favorites]


just look at the words primarily listen. I'm not even sure that I can conceive of a way to read that which doesn't create a divide between one group assumed to be knowledgeable (and correct) and another that is assumed to be ignorant (and wrong).


Well, I think you have two things there which are affecting your conception, which I think can be addressed. One of those is that you are connecting "ignorant" and "wrong" - which as I mentioned needs to be unwound, on all sides. The other, and the one which is probably more relevant to how I used the phrase, is about timelines. If you're having a strong personal reaction to the phrase "primarily listen", that is again something to be respected, but my whole point was that the assumption is that by the time someone enters a discussion, they've already done that bit.

Take mathematics. By the time you enter a conversation about who owes what for lunch and what the tip ought to be, you've already come to understand what numbers are, how addition works and what a percentage is - because you learned them previously, in a different environment where it was appropriate for you primarily to listen while you were taught mathematics. You're going into that conversation with the 101 knowledge, which means you can enter the discussion about whether Steve should pay less or more because he had a starter instead of a main course but also had two beers, and indeed how good the service actually was. If someone who did not have in their wheelhouse the addition of numbers entered the conversation, it would not be unreasonable to suggest they seek out resources elsewhere rather than the discussion being halted while the basics of mathematics were explained to them.

There's a very proximate metaphor for this in MetaFilter, which is the idea of RTFA - which brings us sort of neatly back ontopic. Reading the First Article is often (although not universally) seen as the basic level of qualification to enter a conversation about it. If it is clear that someone has not R-ed TFA, they are often asked to RTFA, rather than have information from the FA provided to them piecemeal by those who have.

So, to dovetail with 1000monkeys, [noun] 101 shouldn't be being used to mean "you are wrong" (that is, as I said, deliberative rhetoric 101). However, it may be that as a result of not having previously acquired a particular datum or particular data a conclusion has been drawn that is wrong, or at least based on bad or lacking information - for example (to draw in a recent example), bad or lacking information about how many children Muslim families in France have.

That gets trickier when the subject matter is potentially a sort of conflict in itself. Basically, nobody cares that much about Kup, or at least nobody would see MetaFilter as a good place to call someone a monster for not having understood that the quintessence of Kup is his advanced age, whether or not individual parts of his body are as old as he is himself. People talking about issues of gender (and race, and religion, and which My Little Pony is best) are more likely to reach a heightened emotional level faster, I imagine, which doesn't help in assuming good faith when a concept like [noun] 101 pops up.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:04 AM on September 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


You also run into the problem of, where there is "[x] 101", many more people will have an opinion about [x] than will have taken the proverbial 101 course on it. The 101 remark is going to be perceived in an extremely condescending, insulting, devaluing way - "I know you've thought a lot about [x], my pet, but your opinions are below even the 101 level" - no matter what other points the 101-er is throwing out.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:19 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'd like to have everyone know that twoleftfeet stole all of his ideas from Elaine Benes.

I guess I'm better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:30 AM on September 19, 2011


Well, we also need to consider the fact that sometimes people come into threads, not with an informed alternative opinion, but with an recognizable lack of information. We're not addressing people who share the same information but have come to different conclusions -- we are addressing people who do not share the same information.

It's not condescending to recognize that some people are genuinely less informed than others. It's insulting to treat an informed opinion as uninformed simply because it does not agree with yours. But if somebody comes into a thread about math, as in the above example, and says "But two plus two equals five!", well, it's fair to say that person is not sharing the same information, and, unless they have conceived some radical new form of math, is probably not as educated about the subject as others.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:30 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Acronym trivia, and maybe I'm just defeating some conscious taboo avoidance on your part running order, but the F in RTFA is conventionally an intensifier, not an ordinal: it is the fucking article, not the first one. In the case of multiple articles, the A is presumably plural.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:30 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's my little joke, cortex.

Very little, as it turns out.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:40 AM on September 19, 2011


The way the more passionate disagreements about these things often manifest is not in a removed logical analysis but an invalidation of actual, real-life experiences

Would that not be the type of thing that could just be ignored? If someone is telling you flat out to your (figurative) face that something you are saying is not true without having any evidence then I’m not sure how they could be rationally convinced that it is true.

Someone is wrong on the internet, it happens.

their stories won't be taken at face value and trusted, for whatever reason.

I would guess, given most charitable reasons, it is based on observation. If I don’t experience something and I only rarely see it then it’s going to be hard for me to believe that it is widespread. That applies to everything, not just gender stuff.

If you want to argue it, passionately even, then fine. The only thing I really object to is using a really tired cliché “x 101” which comes off as condescending and like you are doing the person you are arguing with a favour in lifting them out of their ignorance, after which they will naturally agree with you.

(I am using you in a general sense as I don’t have any sort of list of who has done this and who hasn’t)


Running Order

I think using Math simplifies the situation a little bit too much as there are clear absolute right and absolute wrong answers there.

I see where you are coming from but I think that once someone enters into a conversation they have deemed themselves qualified, rightly or wrongly. So having someone pointing out to you that they don’t think you are puts you on the defensive and brings about a negative reaction. That they do it in a way that makes it clear that they have done so a hundred times and are sick of it and making you feel like you have just ruined the conversation that they wanted to have just feels shitty. Add in the fact that chances are the “offender” is also being piled on so may well be getting this (and worse) from multiple people and it is just a recipe for GRAR!

So to bring a couple of points together it might be worth just ignoring some people on some issues and if you do feel the need to educate (which isn’t bad in and of itself) then do so gently without making the other person feel like they are putting you out.

Ultimately no one is making (or can make) you rehash “x 101”, if you are going to do it try to be generous of spirit, it will probably take better that way anyway.

On preview

It's not condescending to recognize that some people are genuinely less informed than others.

I think that it can be, depending on how you do it.

As I mentioned above I don't think Math is a great analogue because it is is clearly balck or white, right or wrong. The real GRAR issues are things that are more about judgement, emotion and opinion that facts or figures.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 7:42 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's my little joke, cortex.

Very little, as it turns out.


I noticed and it actually made me edit out a completely unnecessary F word of my own so it has actually made me a slightly better person.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 7:45 AM on September 19, 2011


I think that it can be, depending on how you do it.

Well, that's true enough. Just about anything can be condescending.

I probably should have said that it's not inherenly condescending.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:53 AM on September 19, 2011


Ultimately no one is making (or can make) you rehash “x 101”, if you are going to do it try to be generous of spirit, it will probably take better that way anyway.

That's very true, and probably words to live by. Like you say, this is going to be more of a problem around certain topics - there are places on the Internet where not understanding that the nature of Kup is his advanced years, regardless of the age of any particular body part will get me called some pretty spicy things, but probably not here...

The problem being, it's hard to work out how to say to someone "I think you are unaware of/wrong about a basic point of fact" without it risking getting their backs up.

For reference, I thought craichead handled the Muslim fertility issue very well here... by identifying counterpoints, locating the source of the questionable datum and suggesting that the poster was misinformed rather than malicious.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:59 AM on September 19, 2011


I think using Math simplifies the situation a little bit too much as there are clear absolute right and absolute wrong answers there.

Perhaps, but in some of the threads I'm thinking of specifically, it's still an appropriate analogy. For instance, in a recent fpp about minority representation on television, several people said something along the lines of "Why does anyone care if they're stereotyped on TV or not?" And while there's no "correct" answer to that particular question, it's a question that hints at a lack of knowledge about the history and impact of various portrayals (and the lack) of racial/ethnic/other minorities on (American) television. People having a basic grounding in that history changes the tenor of the conversation.
posted by rtha at 8:03 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


like you are doing the person you are arguing with a favour in lifting them out of their ignorance, after which they will naturally agree with you.

I'm not sure there's an expectation that they'll naturally agree, because they don't always naturally agree, but by being sure they are no longer in ignorance about the foundations of the discussion of the topic at hand, they will be able to engage in the discussion by contributing something on target, new, or useful rather than something that shows a more naive level of understanding and becomes either a derail or a rapidly (and perhaps offputtingly) dismissed point.
posted by Miko at 8:06 AM on September 19, 2011


I'm reminded why I never hang out here in the Grey. The fucking funereal Grey. The endless obsessive self-convoluted mutual-masturbatory self-high-fiving narrow-minded back-slapping over-hyphenated self-congratulatory minutiae-headed back-alley boys-clubbish petite-twisted dumb-fuck low-brow small-minded self-absorbed numb-skullish thumb-twiddling half-witted piss-antish piss-poor dim-witted half-assed shit-can fuck-tardish weasel-ridden snot-nosed horse-buggery self-loathing bum-fucking Grey.

Languagehat was right.

I'm just glad he died for my sins, so I can go back to the Blue.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:10 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Educating people is important, and there are all sorts of ignorant assumptions have about all sorts of things, including race and gender. The problem is how to actually think through how you plan to educate people, if you decide to pick that battle. It's very delicate, because nobody likes being talked down to by some Random Person On The Internet, even if the talking-down isn't intentional and the talker-downer might actually be correct.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:12 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


The math question as given is a close to perfect analogy - we all share the basic facts of addition, I think -- in the same we share the basic facts that most humans are born with one of two sets of genitalia, develop differently through maturation and are differently socialized based on those genitalia.

But if the conversation is not about basic mathematical operations like addition itself - a topic about which there is near universal agreement - but about currency and tips and fairness and relationships, then we have to assume that to take part helpfully you can not only recognize facts and do operations like adding, dividing, and multiplying, but also understand the social construction of currency, the convention of tipping (which is culturally variable), how tipping can represent a reward or bonus for work well done or a potential critique, how tipping varies from person to person based on their own estimations of value, the sense of fairness in the division of the resource, etc.

If you don't understand some of these basic things about the cultural framework surrounding this conversation about tipping, restaurants, and the use of currency in them - maybe you have grown up in a culture in which there is no tipping, or in which you don't expect anything unless you tip in advance for everything - your contributions to the discussion will basically not parse well and might even end up close to gibberish, because of the lack of knowledge of the topic in the cultural context that provides its framework for discussion here. This would be true regardless of the fact that you can do math operations. Similarly, if you understand basic biological facts about gender but don't understand some of the accumulation of cultural context and ideas around gender, contributions may end up being the equivalent of gibberish.
posted by Miko at 8:14 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm reminded why I never hang out here in the Grey.

Well, we regret your absence, because you are a delight.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:17 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Reggie Knoble: "Would that not be the type of thing that could just be ignored? If someone is telling you flat out to your (figurative) face that something you are saying is not true without having any evidence then I’m not sure how they could be rationally convinced that it is true.

Someone is wrong on the internet, it happens.
"

Sometimes, yes I agree that it should be ignored. But other times, ignorance repeated can be problematic and should be nipped in the bud.
posted by zarq at 8:19 AM on September 19, 2011


I have hinted at this once or twice but I may
as well bite the bullet and use the words Tone
Argument. I just feel like providing additional
information would go over better without pointing
out how basic you think the information is that the
other person is missing and especially if it's done
without showing such exasperation about it because
that can make the person you are talking to feel
like an idiot and can appear condecending
and it can easily be cut out without lessening
the value of what you are doing.

Its just reducing snark realy.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 8:29 AM on September 19, 2011


I was disappointed that that wasn't actually going to be verse.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:31 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ideally it should be ignored. But when people are sharing painful personal experiences, it can be difficult to maintain that kind of distance, especially when there are multiple parties invalidating your experiences.

For what it's worth, I was schooled in trans issues 101 by ArmyOfKittens in my first year here and the conversation marked a huge degree of shift over my attitudes about transexuality. I'm thankful to her for having the patience with me to do that.

But it sounds like you're really objecting to the use of the term "whatever 101." That's kind of silly. I don't know that anyone's actually said, in thread, "Let's have a discussion of feminism 101," or whatever. Most of us are smart enough to realize how ineffective that would be.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:31 AM on September 19, 2011


It's not the term. I just use that as shorthand for the whole process involved where people seem to take a certain degree of satisfaction in pointing out that someone is so wrong they shouldn't have even contributed.

Then they will act put out, perhaps bemoan the "fact" that someone is making them go back over old ground and that this prevents some high level discussion that could be happening.

The term itself is sort of like a MeFi dog whistle to me.

I think the intentions can be great as can the results but in text only communication how you say something is at least as important as what is being said, maybe more sometimes.

Apologies for any wierd formatting, I am typing in an app on my phone and then copying it over and the original document seems to be narrower than the comment box. Its either this or a wall of text
posted by Reggie Knoble at 8:49 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've honestly never seen that sort of smug "degree of satisfaction" in the many conversations about feminism I've taken part in. I've seen that kind of attitude happen here, in meta-conversations, and a certain weariness about repeating oneself/well-trod topics within threads, but I generally think you're mischaracterizing the attitudes of people who talk about these things, honestly.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:08 AM on September 19, 2011


Tone Argument! I hear your statement, Reggie Knoble, that you don't want to feel put down for your earnest contributions, which is reasonable. Are you aware that 'tone argument' is usually a critique of the argument you're making, though, that statements should be phrased more palatably for the audience even when they're making a true, important, and valid point? That it implies one doesn't have to listen to others when their tone is offputting, or that one can devalue their point of view based on the way it's delivered? Just wanted to make sure you knew that the 'tone argument' is usually seen as a red herring, and not a good thing, in human-rights-type discussions.

Seems like it's the week of Tone Argument for me on MeFi. I am actually really divided about the whole 'tone argument' meme and want to devote a couple of hours to reading about the history of this fairly recent terminology for the concept.

I think that raising nasty tone as a direct accusation is often an attempt to devalue the content of a statement or position. But I also think sometimes the objection is really very fair, especially if we are starting out by saying 'here is where we have a good-faith discussion with different points of view in it, and we want to air many ideas.' Sometimes people get angry and vociferous, and sometimes they can be placating and gentle. I really think there's room for both tones, and I don't think that just because someone launches a 'tone argument' that they're automatically wrong or being oppressive. It should be okay to say "I'm sympathetic to your cause but put off by your rhetorical style, and losing interest in talking with you because of it." And, similarly, it should be okay to say "I feel passionately about this and I'm going to be a little edgy here, take it as you will, and I accept the consequences."
posted by Miko at 9:12 AM on September 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


I agree with PhoBWanKenobi - the exasperation complaints turn up more in meta-discussions than topic discussions.
posted by Miko at 9:13 AM on September 19, 2011


(...to continue) what I don't think "tone argument" should mean is "Because the tone of an argument doesn't affect its truth or value, that means I have license to act like a total asshole and you have to put up with whatever nasty way I want to talk to you."
posted by Miko at 9:25 AM on September 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


Are you aware that 'tone argument' is usually a critique of the argument you're making, though, that statements should be phrased more palatably for the audience even when they're making a true, important, and valid point? That it implies one doesn't have to listen to others when their tone is offputting, or that one can devalue their point of view based on the way it's delivered? Just wanted to make sure you knew that the 'tone argument' is usually seen as a red herring, and not a good thing, in human-rights-type discussions.

Yeah, that's why I danced around it for a couple of comments before outing myself on it.

I think I must have been thinking of this thread when discussing the blue but I'm sure there have been allusions to it here and there as well.

Yeah it certainly is more common on the grey though and seeing as the same group generally go around and around on this and several other issues I think that it one subsite effects the other.

"Because the tone of an argument doesn't affect its truth or value, that means I have license to act like a total asshole and you have to put up with whatever nasty way I want to talk to you."

I agree with this and it definately goes both ways.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 9:34 AM on September 19, 2011


The comment you linked seems pretty appropriate and polite to me, though.
posted by Miko at 9:39 AM on September 19, 2011


I think on this site, frequently "tone argument" gets confused with "it REALLY IS possible to express yourself passionately without calling people assholes or morons". Although, there is a gray area in between, I"ll grant...

(Wait, is that why MeTa is gray?)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:43 AM on September 19, 2011


Yeah, I read that as a pretty earnest attempt to give male participants in the conversation some background, rather than trying to push them out of the conversation.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:44 AM on September 19, 2011


I think on this site, frequently "tone argument" gets confused with "it REALLY IS possible to express yourself passionately without calling people assholes or morons". Although, there is a gray area in between, I"ll grant...

It's not just here. I can't tell you how many conversations I've seen on goodreads where people are like, "That person called me out on saying the author is a stupid moron bitch! That's a tone argument! Nyeh!"

Frustrating because tone arguments do happen. But so does rank assholedom, and the conflation of them doesn't help anyone.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:46 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


That thread was just where I remebered it coming up on the blue.

It is definately something that happens most on the grey.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 10:05 AM on September 19, 2011


Someone linked this comic in a thread on a particular video game, and I think it nicely sums up the Grar-inducing comments that languagehat was speaking of.
posted by kaibutsu at 10:32 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

Would that not be the type of thing that could just be ignored? If someone is telling you flat out to your (figurative) face that something you are saying is not true without having any evidence then I’m not sure how they could be rationally convinced that it is true.
Generally it's something that happens when (a) either a critical mass of people back up the experience by saying they, too, have experienced or witnessed such a phenomenon or (b) someone from a group that the dismisser respects repeats the comment.

I'm not sure I can agree that the right response to being told that you don't exist is to shut up and go away.
posted by Karmakaze at 10:45 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


" I am actually really divided about the whole 'tone argument' meme and want to devote a couple of hours to reading about the history of this fairly recent terminology for the concept. "

That would be an awesome article, just sayin'.
posted by klangklangston at 11:17 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why, what an interesting thought, klang...I'll put it in my 'free time' pile to work on.
posted by Miko at 11:48 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just for the record, I wasn't referring to the feminism discussion FWIW
posted by 1000monkeys at 3:15 PM on September 19, 2011


We missed 700 but we're letting languagehat down now if we don't get this bad boy to exactly 1000 comments.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 5:22 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


but only if the remainer is intense linguistic discussion
posted by The Whelk at 5:25 PM on September 19, 2011


I thought this was some damn fine languagehat bait but the bullpen handled it admirably.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 5:31 PM on September 19, 2011


I'm not sure I can agree that the right response to being told that you don't exist is to shut up and go away.

Especially since anyone who complains about sexism is told off for talking about it instead of doing something about it, when one of the few things that can be done is to educate the ignorant.

Can't win, don't try...
posted by harriet vane at 1:03 AM on September 20, 2011


spitbull: " That thread is appalling."

Appalling, Part Deux.
posted by zarq at 7:54 AM on September 20, 2011


Appalling, Part Deux.

it would be helpful to us as moderators if people would actually discuss problems they are having and not just point at something and say "this sucks" in some fashion. Are you upset that the post was allowed to stand [it got few flags, though I can't say the same about the comments] or of the tenor of the discussion [we've been giving it a close read] or specifica things said by specific people [who? please be specific] or is this just a "tut tutting" that the community didn't behqave the way you felt like a) they should or b) you expected them to.

I didn't like the post much but it was going to have to be deleted by mod fiat if we deleted it and the conversation ebbed and flowed from some pretty crappy comments to some more measured and reasonable ones. For the record, we didn't delete a single comment, though we checked out a few that received a flag or two.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:59 AM on September 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


OK. I'm currently writing a comment there. When I'm done I'll come back and expand upon the problems I'm seeing in the post.
posted by zarq at 8:04 AM on September 20, 2011


I flagged one comment, but it was more to help maybe help to calibrate for future reference than in the expectation of a deletion - it was posted on Sunday evening, and is pretty much embedded by now. That was the one about French Muslims' rate of childbirth being eight times that of French non-Muslims - a mathematical possibility, but a practical absurdity, and a kind of minaret-decorated version of claims we've seen in Europe before about other ethnic and cultural groups' plans for domination.

What the right answer to that is, I don't know. On one level, this is just someone repeating something which chimes with what they believe - without which dynamic you wouldn't have much discussion on the Internet. But the message underlying the math - that Muslim women are sort of like the queen in Aliens, and secular Europe is Colony LV-426 - is one which I think it would be best to discourage, for what I hope are obvious reasons. Whether the right approach would be to delete it, to have a word with the person who expounded it or just to let people respond to it, I have no idea.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:42 AM on September 20, 2011


And just to point out, this was contrasted with another cultural relativism post we axed early which was the Afghan dog fighting with the weird button-pushing title and the long quote about dog fighting and the fighty thread. Unless we take the position that we just can't talk about religion, cultural clashes and/or Islam, we're going to have to try to do the best with what we have and every single person who is aware that this is a touchy topic can make their best effort to not only not make things worse, but to try to be the sort of MeFi commenter that will help make these sorts of posts go better.

This means not just not being assholes, but also trying to have conversations that don't further assholism by engaging with it at its own level. There are ways to call out jerkish commenters without being a jerk yourself or posting with hyperbolic phrasing calling out people who aren't responding in ways that you think are okay or culturally appropriate. I think MetaFilter suffers from not only some jerkish commenters but people who, for whatever reason, can't abide the occasional jerks on certain topics and turn those people into the focal point of a thread when they should just be ignored and bypassed. Jerks who actively try to make the thread all about them are a mod problem that we can handle. People interrogating jerks just to get at the root of their jerkishness [whether it's ignorance, arrogance, trolling or whatever] don't usually make the place any better either.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:50 AM on September 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


jessamyn: " it would be helpful to us as moderators if people would actually discuss problems they are having and not just point at something and say "this sucks" in some fashion.

OK. That's fair. I object to people who clearly didn't read the linked article storming into the thread to assert that the burqa-hijab-niqab wearers are all oppressed and being forced to wear them, when even a cursory skim of the article shows that the people who were interviewed do not think of themselves that way and are apparently not being forced to do anything.

I object to comments like these from Poet_Lariat:
"You want to force your wife or daughter to wear that shit inside your own house. Do it. But preventing such men from oppressing women outside of the house I think gives women at least a fighting chance to experience life in the real world and maybe thinking about the merits of the idea a bit more."
and
"The burka is just one of many forms of oppression to women in just one of many cultures. It does not surprise me in the least that some women mentioned in the article continued the practice on their own without a husband. Religious socialization blinds you to the oppression of others and even the oppression that waged against you. Sometimes it takes something really radical to break you out of either pattern."

...which are basically a transparent excuse for her to dismiss what Muslim women themselves are saying so she can rant about something that as far as I can see has little to do with the actual content being presented in the article.

If a guy dismissed the value of women's opinions in a thread about abortion and mansplained why a woman's right to choose is wrong, he'd be rightfully attacked, and I'd be leading the charge. But it's somehow okay to dismiss religious Muslim women's opinions about their own lives because they're too oppressed to know better? Worse, to condemn all Muslim men as oppressive misogynists?

Sorry, no. That's appalling.

Note that the people in that thread who are decrying the practice are not religious Muslims women who wear any sort of head or body covering. And the one or two Muslims (or ex Muslims) who have weighed in have tried to insert some perspective.

Are you upset that the post was allowed to stand [it got few flags, though I can't say the same about the comments]

No. The post was fine. I would have flagged it otherwise.

There's little that I can ask you to do in a Modly capacity in that thread that wouldn't be outright censorship. People should be entitled to express their opinions. And from a practical point of view the comments are so deeply embedded in the thread that I know you wouldn't remove them anyway.

or of the tenor of the discussion [we've been giving it a close read] or specifica things said by specific people [who? please be specific] or is this just a "tut tutting" that the community didn't behqave the way you felt like a) they should or b) you expected them to.

So now we're back to the original topic of this post. I think it would be nice if people bothered to read the damned articles and stop making 'expert assertions' about a religion they don't belong to and the experiences of people living a particular religious life, if they don't do so themselves. There's nothing wrong with having and stating opinions. But there's no sense of perspective. No sense of nuanced understanding. No sense that the people who are most vehement bothered to read the article!
posted by zarq at 9:08 AM on September 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


People interrogating jerks just to get at the root of their jerkishness [whether it's ignorance, arrogance, trolling or whatever] don't usually make the place any better either.

This is so true I should frame it and stick it on top of my monitor. And it doesn't make you individually feel happier either. At the end of the day HA I DISCOVERED USERX IS ALWAYS A GENUINE, 100% THRU-AND-THRU JERK ON THIS TOPIC is useful information, but information you can usually arrive at a lot earlier and without all the angst.
posted by Miko at 9:13 AM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


But it's somehow okay to dismiss religious Muslim women's opinions about their own lives because they're too oppressed to know better?

It would be helpful to note that there is a chasm between "is totally okay" and "is deleteworthy" We left her comment and we usually leave the similar comments you describe in abortion threads. Neither are really okay. At the same time, neither are so horrible that the person making the comment suddenly no longer deserves civil discussion.

In my ideal MetaFilter, there is absolutely no "rightfully attacked" scenario. You tell people you disagree with them, you explain why, you give them a chance to have an exchange of ideas with you, and if you can't reach some sort of decent detente, you write them off and move on. If they start to dominate the thread, we'll handle it.

There is no rightful attacking. Period.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:28 AM on September 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


Unless we take the position that we just can't talk about religion, cultural clashes and/or Islam, we're going to have to try to do the best with what we have and every single person who is aware that this is a touchy topic can make their best effort to not only not make things worse, but to try to be the sort of MeFi commenter that will help make these sorts of posts go better.

It might be problematic that the way to find out about this community position is to read a separate sub-site. MeFi generically tells you to be nice, but maybe an early mod note on likely-to-implode posts to the above effect and that bad behavior won't be tolerated? I know you don't want to be the thread-nanny, but maybe people need a reminder that this touchy-subject thread is not a place to vent.

As a side note, I think what RN's doing there calling out the kevin-bacon-game of everything to contemporary American politics is nice.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 9:33 AM on September 20, 2011


jessamyn: "Unless we take the position that we just can't talk about religion, cultural clashes and/or Islam, we're going to have to try to do the best with what we have and every single person who is aware that this is a touchy topic can make their best effort to not only not make things worse, but to try to be the sort of MeFi commenter that will help make these sorts of posts go better.

For what it's worth, I tried to inject a little perspective into the thread (and ask for some) and will continue to do so. I did not attack anyone, and tried to further the conversation along without causing additional problems. I would like to think I didn't act like a jerk over there, either.

But ugh. The thread is frustrating.

People interrogating jerks just to get at the root of their jerkishness [whether it's ignorance, arrogance, trolling or whatever] don't usually make the place any better either."

I agree. At the same time, when ignorance is allowed to stand it is often reinforced in subsequent comments. Then when a person tries to counter them it can feel like they're channeling King Canute.
posted by zarq at 9:39 AM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


At the same time, when ignorance is allowed to stand it is often reinforced in subsequent comments.

I agree that this happens, and it feels like the ignorant are ganging up. Because they are. I'm trying to get better at recognizing that once this balance is tipped, there's no more "win-win" available in the situation. The best you can do is stay classy, get out and move on. The Against-All-Comers model is depleting and exhausting. It can help to remember their assholism is probably every bit as obvious to the other (silent) observers as it is to you.
posted by Miko at 9:56 AM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


jessamyn: " It would be helpful to note that there is a chasm between "is totally okay" and "is deleteworthy" We left her comment and we usually leave the similar comments you describe in abortion threads. Neither are really okay. At the same time, neither are so horrible that the person making the comment suddenly no longer deserves civil discussion.

I feel like we're coming at this situation from two different angles.

I'm not asking for mod action. Haven't even bothered to flag the comments that bother me in the thread, for the reasons I stated above. What would be the point now? Am glad you're monitoring the thread.

I think it's a frustrating thread, didn't like a number of comments, so am complaining about them. In a thread that started out by condemning and discussing other, similar comments.

In my ideal MetaFilter, there is absolutely no "rightfully attacked" scenario. You tell people you disagree with them, you explain why, you give them a chance to have an exchange of ideas with you, and if you can't reach some sort of decent detente, you write them off and move on. If they start to dominate the thread, we'll handle it.

There is no rightful attacking. Period.
"

OK. I understand what you're saying. And I agree.

But I also think there are times when it is appropriate for a comment to be aggressively responded to. If someone were to comment (as has happened before) that say, rape victims bear some measure of responsibility for what was done to them, then yes, I think it's okay to respond strongly. With a strong opinion. That's what I meant, not advocating someone be verbally attacked. I'm not advocating a pile on or personal attacks, either.
posted by zarq at 9:56 AM on September 20, 2011


jessamyn ★: “There is no rightful attacking. Period.”

And this is what I should frame and post on top of my monitor.
posted by koeselitz at 9:59 AM on September 20, 2011


Zarq - I'm not actually sure if the type of comments you are referring to are same as the ones that are the topic of this post. Like it or not, those remarks are on topic and are relevant to the thread. I gather that l-hat left over the immediate thread-shitting for favorites and all around snark-fest that this place can turn into.
posted by Think_Long at 10:00 AM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Think_Long: "Zarq - I'm not actually sure if the type of comments you are referring to are same as the ones that are the topic of this post. Like it or not, those remarks are on topic and are relevant to the thread. I gather that l-hat left over the immediate thread-shitting for favorites and all around snark-fest that this place can turn into."

Possibly. I am sort of conflating the discussion above about non-experts weighing in with expert opinions with LH's initial statement about thoughtful, well intentioned comments being drowned out by people who only care about putting things down.

I felt a number of comments in the other thread either totally ignored or handwaved the article away, in favor of stereotyped assumptions.
posted by zarq at 10:06 AM on September 20, 2011


I gather that l-hat left over the immediate thread-shitting for favorites and all around snark-fest that this place can turn into.

There was definitely lots of immediate thread-shitting long before we had favorites. I think it is odd how people use favorites to explain behaviors that existed in abundance before favorites.
posted by grouse at 10:07 AM on September 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, didn't mean to come down on either side of the favorites debate - they're all I've ever known!
posted by Think_Long at 10:10 AM on September 20, 2011


Miko: " I agree that this happens, and it feels like the ignorant are ganging up. Because they are. I'm trying to get better at recognizing that once this balance is tipped, there's no more "win-win" available in the situation.

It goes against the grain, although I know that's often the best solution. ;)

I don't like writing threads off. We've had a few with wonderful, in-depth discussions on a number of different topics that transcended a number of ignorant comments. It's great when they happen.

The best you can do is stay classy, get out and move on.

True. Very wise.

The Against-All-Comers model is depleting and exhausting.

Tell me about it.

It can help to remember their assholism is probably every bit as obvious to the other (silent) observers as it is to you."

Also very true.
posted by zarq at 12:45 PM on September 20, 2011


That thread is full of strident Islamophobia and idiotic illiteracy. I stayed out because, you know, I'm not trying to call everyone an asshole every time they act like one, despite what one might think.

I will note that I was emailing with Dee Xtrovert lately and she specifically cited Islamophobia in posts like that (e.g. the public prayer thread) as the reason she's no longer here.

I'm not a huge fan of religion in general, and I support a secular government for both France and the US, but in comments like Poet_Lariat's, it's clear that secularism and feminism are too easy excuses to engage in some really ugly attacks on people she blithely assumes aren't reading.
posted by klangklangston at 1:48 PM on September 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


Right: I have to admit, zarq, that I'm confused. First you say this:

I'm not asking for mod action. Haven't even bothered to flag the comments that bother me in the thread, for the reasons I stated above. What would be the point now? Am glad you're monitoring the thread.

But then you say this:

I think it's a frustrating thread, didn't like a number of comments, so am complaining about them.

And then you say this:

I also think there are times when it is appropriate for a comment to be aggressively responded to.

So...you DON'T want mod action, except when...you do? And you don't think it's worth flagging comments, except when...you complain about them?

MInd you, I'm not questioning your finding fault with comments (especially in that thread, because DAMN), I'm just honestly not getting your reaction. It's coming across as "I want to complain! But eh, don't do anything about it...."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:08 PM on September 20, 2011


Not to speak for Zarq, but what I think he's saying is that he's hoping that we as a community can handle those threads better and can try to avoid the derails and, ideally, handle the ignorance issues (where people are blatantly saying racist, sexist, whatever-ist things), instead of relying purely on the mods to step in and delete everything or declare a topic not fit for MeFi.

Is that right, Zarq?
posted by 1000monkeys at 3:00 PM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, looks like I'm back, sort of, since I felt compeled to make a post. I really do feel a lot of what Languagehat has said there though, and that some aspects Metafilter's culture encourages people to behave negatively, and god knows I'm susceptible to getting caught up in that sort of thing, so I'll probably not be diving in like I used to and will probably be trying to keep my contributions fairly light/neutral.
posted by Artw at 6:07 PM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jrypbzr onpx, Negj.
posted by gman at 6:09 PM on September 20, 2011


Yeah, well, TBH if people keep dragging up that business, even in jest, I'm less likely to bother sticking around for conversation. Sorry gman.
posted by Artw at 6:13 PM on September 20, 2011


That thread is full of strident Islamophobia and idiotic illiteracy.

It's the strangest thing. I can't tell if there is some weird European-style conservatism that's been going around, or if I just misread a lot of the zeitgeist on these types of issues. For instance: This comment seems to be the most xenophobic thing I've read in a long while, but it's possible I'm just misinterpreting it.
posted by Think_Long at 8:41 PM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh - and we missed you Artw, welcome back. I love that your urge to post about "The Thing" was so strong that you couldn't stay away.
posted by Think_Long at 8:42 PM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


That Public Prayer FPP is sort of brilliant in a POOR IMPULSE CONTROL forehead tattoo sort of way: 'Holy shit, that one's an idiot, and so's that one, and... shit, I'm gonna need more brain paper to jot these down for future reference.'
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:38 PM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


This comment seems to be the most xenophobic thing I've read in a long while, but it's possible I'm just misinterpreting it.

Bringing your US invisible backpack to Europe will have you filtering things very differently. What you see as "xenophobic" I see as worried about the threat to the social / democratic nation states of Europe. The idea of "tolerance of all, save intolerance" is something to come to grips with when looking at the European context. These are cosmopolitan places ready to welcome anyone who buys into the concept of the liberal and socialist ideas that modern Europe is based on.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:47 PM on September 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe, meatbomb, maybe. You can be as cosmopolitan as you like but its a very different experience traveling around Europe being brown and female. I've had French immigration guys make rude jokes at me (not knowing I understand enough to know what they're saying) while waiting for my passport to get stamped (that too, for a visit to the National Assembly)

some really ugly attacks on people she blithely assumes aren't reading.

This is the biggest difference that globalization of information and communication makes. This just isn't your own backyard anymore and what is the image you wish to present to the world becomes a valid question to answer as we continue writing stuff down for 'posterity'.
posted by infini at 11:21 PM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


See what I mean? ;p
posted by infini at 12:14 AM on September 21, 2011


Bringing your US invisible backpack to Europe will have you filtering things very differently.

I'm not sure that the crack team of scientists who invented the invisible backpack planned to see it used on Muslim women...

It's certainly very hard to handle this subject without Godwinning, but a modern European desire to preserve liberal democracy and a more oldschool dislike of minority populations with weird dress codes and customs are by no means mutually exclusive. The strain of "postmodern" right-wing politics espoused by Jorg Haider and Pim Fortuyn, among others, is hardly new - but the funny thing is, no matter how enlightened and committed to the preservation of the enlightenment these politicians are, they can't quite seem to distance themselves or their supporters from the traditional far right.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:15 AM on September 21, 2011


I'll go a step further: the use of "invisible backpack" in this instance is a misuse of the term. Americans are not expressing privilege when they decry islamophobia in Europe.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:52 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos: "So...you DON'T want mod action, except when...you do? And you don't think it's worth flagging comments, except when...you complain about them?

People voice concerns and complaints in MeTa all the time without demanding the mods do something about them. I complained to the community at large, in part to voice my frustration and in part to, as 1000Monkeys correctly said, in the hope "that we as a community can handle those threads better and can try to avoid the derails and, ideally, handle the ignorance issues (where people are blatantly saying racist, sexist, whatever-ist things), instead of relying purely on the mods to step in and delete everything or declare a topic not fit for MeFi."

Empress, I'm really not sure why you are interpreting any of my comments about that thread as a demand for mod action after I have clearly said to Jessamyn that I am not asking for mod action. I literally said, "I'm not asking for mod action." That shouldn't be ambiguous?

I then went on to say, "Haven't even bothered to flag the comments that bother me in the thread, for the reasons I stated above. What would be the point now? Am glad you're monitoring the thread."

The "reasons I stated above" were: "There's little that I can ask you to do in a Modly capacity in that thread that wouldn't be outright censorship. People should be entitled to express their opinions. And from a practical point of view the comments are so deeply embedded in the thread that I know you wouldn't remove them anyway."

We know how flagging works. It is a sign to the mods that we think they should take a look at whatever it is we're flagging.

If a comment is embedded in a thread, meaning that multiple people have responded to it, it is not going to be removed. I have requested mod action for embedded comments once or twice in the past on MeTa and been told that would require far more intervention and editing than Team Mod is comfortable with. Which I have accepted.

Therefore, the only real reason to flag those comments is to ask the mods to take a look at them, or at the thread. Which Jessamyn says she is already monitoring.

Flags have to be cleared by hand. Why should I waste anyone's time in adding one if the mods are already looking? For emphasis? Not necessary.

MInd you, I'm not questioning your finding fault with comments (especially in that thread, because DAMN), I'm just honestly not getting your reaction. It's coming across as "I want to complain! But eh, don't do anything about it....""

I would like the community at large to actually read linked articles before pulling out their soapboxes and speaking reflexively rather than thoughtfully. So I said as much both in that thread and this one.
posted by zarq at 5:25 AM on September 21, 2011


Bringing your US invisible backpack to Europe will have you filtering things very differently. What you see as "xenophobic" I see as worried about the threat to the social / democratic nation states of Europe.

I don't think that's an accurate use of the term as it's meant to refer to unseen privelage, not just a different cultural mileu.

But I don't really think that this is the place to argue these points, but from my perspective what you have described sounds exactly like a brand of xenophobia to me.
posted by Think_Long at 5:39 AM on September 21, 2011


My confusion, zarq, appears to come from the fact that you were apparently complaining to the community at large, but that when you were doing so, you appeared to be directly addressing a mod. I was just confused who you were complaining to, as that seemed contradictory. Thank you for clarifying.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:17 AM on September 21, 2011


Okay.
posted by zarq at 7:16 AM on September 21, 2011


I wonder what the etymology of "okay" is.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 11:45 PM on September 22, 2011


It's a borrowed word, from the Arabic "bekhair".

As with any borrowing, the pronunciation has mutated a bit, most obviously with the dropping of the subtle 'b' at the start.

It means "OK", or "fine", as in:

Q: Kaif halak? (how are you?)
A: Ana bekhair (I am fine)
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:59 PM on September 22, 2011


I'm just here for comment #948.
posted by troll at 12:20 AM on September 23, 2011


FOREVER ONWARD
posted by The Whelk at 12:47 AM on September 23, 2011


50 MOAR!

NEVAR FORGET LHAT!
posted by P.o.B. at 12:58 AM on September 23, 2011



It's a borrowed word, from the Arabic "bekhair".


Really? I had always believed it stood for Oll Korrect

It's like the new lulspeak in the twenties.
posted by smoke at 3:26 AM on September 23, 2011


i'm here to make post number nine fifty two
we will hit a thousand, you know that it's true
and then languagehat might come back to the blue!

cause it seems he likes those round numbers
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:37 AM on September 23, 2011


Even with avocado on it, a Chilean Big Mac is still a Big Mac.
posted by box at 5:51 AM on September 23, 2011


Yo, me and my amigos are just Chilean here at the crib.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:08 AM on September 23, 2011


It's a borrowed word, from the Arabic "bekhair".

Wonderful, and sobh bekheyr from America. You have inspired today's reading in this numero-etymological ceremony to bring back the Hat. Please open your hymnals to Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman.
At the breakfast table that morning, my father explained that the name for the fruit came from the Arabic, since the word -- in Italian, albicocca, abricot in French, aprikose in German, like the words "algebra," "alchemy," and "alcohol" -- was derived from an Arabic noun combined with the Arabic article al- before it. The origin of albicocca was al-birquq. My father, who couldn't resist not leaving well enough alone and needed to top his entire performance with a little fillip of more recent vintage, added that what was truly amazing was that, in Israel and in many Arab countries nowadays, the fruit is referred to by a totally different name: mishmish.

My mother was nonplussed. We all, including my two cousins who were visiting that week, had an impulse to clap.

On the matter of etymologies, however, Oliver begged to differ. "Ah?!" was my father's startled response.

"The world is actually not an Arabic word," he said.

"How so?"

My father was clearly mimicking Socratic irony, which would start with an innocent "You don't say," only then to lead his interlocutor onto turbulent shoals.

"It's a long story, so bear with me, Pro." Suddenly Oliver had become serious. "Many Latin words are derived from the Greek, In the case of 'apricot,' however, it's the other way around; the Greek takes over from Latin. The Latin word was praecoquum, from pre-coquere, pre-cook, to ripen early, as in 'precocious,' meaning premature.

"The Byzanties borrowed praecox, and it became prekokkia or berikokki, which is finally how the Arabs must have inherited it as al-birquq."

My mother, unable to resist his charm, reached out to to him and tousled his hair and said, "Che muvi star!"

"He is right, there is no denying it," said my father under his breath, as though mimicking the part of a cowered Galileo forced to mutter the truth to himself.

"Courtesy of Philology 101," said Oliver.

HAT QUONDAM HATQUE FUTURUS
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:47 AM on September 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Fuck, lets just all be Romans then..
posted by The Whelk at 8:49 AM on September 23, 2011


am I the Pater Familias in this relationship? Hmmm
posted by The Whelk at 9:06 AM on September 23, 2011


The Whelk: " am I the Pater Familias in this relationship? Hmmm "

But you ain't bona fide. Languagehat here's got a job. Languagehat's got prospects. He's bona fide. What are you?
posted by zarq at 9:11 AM on September 23, 2011


How 'OK' took over the world
posted by homunculus at 9:21 AM on September 23, 2011


I own all the land from here to the river, have conquered the facetii in open battle, slaughed a hectare to Jupiter and am the head of the most anicent family of the Whelii.


Plus I look really good in a toga.
posted by The Whelk at 9:25 AM on September 23, 2011


the fruit is referred to by a totally different name: mishmish.


Raisins are kishmish in Hindustani




btw, this thread is beginning to make my gaming desktop creak
posted by infini at 10:05 AM on September 23, 2011


PROJECT LETS BREAK INFINI'S COMPUTER
posted by The Whelk at 10:08 AM on September 23, 2011


Toga model?!

SOLD!
posted by P.o.B. at 10:19 AM on September 23, 2011


Why the fuck can't togas come back in fashion? Think of the sumptuous fabrics!
posted by The Whelk at 10:25 AM on September 23, 2011


The Whelk: "Why the fuck can't togas come back in fashion?"

You're in the wrong frat, bro.
posted by I am the Walrus at 10:34 AM on September 23, 2011


PROJECT LETS BREAK INFINI'S COMPUTER

No way... this is that computer
posted by infini at 10:37 AM on September 23, 2011


Looking back over the Aciman I realized it's practically impossible to tell what's meant by "My mother was nonplussed." It's such a useless word now that I propose it only refer to comments or posts you have not favorited.

"Did you see villanelles' little joke?"

"Ah yes, a meager effort. I nonplussed it."
posted by villanelles at dawn at 10:38 AM on September 23, 2011


what if you're totally plussed, possibly in a toga?
posted by The Whelk at 10:40 AM on September 23, 2011


That would have been plusperfect.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:41 AM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Verily, the bright lights shine only in the bottomless murk of the grey
posted by infini at 10:45 AM on September 23, 2011


Oh this murk has a bottom. About 29 leagues from here.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 10:48 AM on September 23, 2011


Underwater Romans From Beyond The Grave
posted by The Whelk at 10:48 AM on September 23, 2011


A level 9 barbarian walks into a tavern, publican says "why the long mace?"
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:49 AM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


mace
posted by The Whelk at 11:09 AM on September 23, 2011


Cicero: "Orator? I barely knew her?"
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:10 AM on September 23, 2011


*creak*

Great Gama

/craa
posted by infini at 11:14 AM on September 23, 2011


A rogue walks up to the bar.
Bartender says "Whaddaya say? Whaddaya know?"
Rogue says "Liquor in the front. Poke 'em in the back."

Sorry...
posted by P.o.B. at 11:18 AM on September 23, 2011


Well, this will be closed/past M by my morning so here's wishing languagehat well
posted by infini at 11:35 AM on September 23, 2011


I come not to bury Languagehat but to praise him
posted by The Whelk at 11:39 AM on September 23, 2011


Your night is 15 days long? Which pole do you live on?*

*now there's a setup
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:41 AM on September 23, 2011


Then why do I see a shovel sticking out of your toga?
posted by villanelles at dawn at 11:41 AM on September 23, 2011


Guess he digs you.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:42 AM on September 23, 2011


Speaking of setups.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 11:42 AM on September 23, 2011


How about this weather? It's colder than a Gaul's rage at your ceaseless expansion!
posted by The Whelk at 11:47 AM on September 23, 2011


Cut, cut!

What the hell people? You've deviating from the script, leaching all the humor from the lines and wasting this gorgeous light. Do I need to take away the the drug services table again?!

Let's try it again please, from infini's comment and let's put your heart into it, we're making art here, dammit!

Annnnd ACTION...!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:58 AM on September 23, 2011


For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground,
And tell sad stories of the death of kings.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 12:08 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ray Smuckles, a cat among men.
posted by The Whelk at 12:10 PM on September 23, 2011


Where one King dies
A prince will rise
Lest none forget
The hound dog's cries
Drowned in the roar
When pedal meets floor
Of the little red corvette
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:21 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I couldn't sleep, BB was shouting so!
posted by infini at 12:45 PM on September 23, 2011


Re: Togas. The Whelk someone needs to be the fashion leader. All you have to do is step up and set the trend though it would help if you could get a few celebrities to go along. I suggest He Whose Name Shall Not be Spoken Here Lest Lawyers Get Involved and Don Cherry. Both are likely to get on board; one because he's that out there and the other, well all you have to do is contemplate what he is already wearing.
posted by Mitheral at 1:02 PM on September 23, 2011


I've always wondered... does one wear underwear with a toga? Togawear? Undertoga?
posted by troll at 1:29 PM on September 23, 2011


you wear a tunic under a toga, anything more would, I think restrict movement.
posted by The Whelk at 1:36 PM on September 23, 2011


semper ubi sub ubi
posted by The Whelk at 1:36 PM on September 23, 2011


Wouldn't you also need something under the tunic to restrict sic transit?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:38 PM on September 23, 2011


my sic transit is glorious, on mondays.
posted by The Whelk at 1:40 PM on September 23, 2011


For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground,
And tell sad stories of the death of kings.


No, but I will sit on my throne and tell you slapstick tales about the death of gods, if you like.
posted by quin at 1:41 PM on September 23, 2011


We seem to have corralled the intelligence in there - hurry up two places left.
posted by infini at 2:04 PM on September 23, 2011


what do I win?
posted by The Whelk at 2:06 PM on September 23, 2011


almost
posted by The Whelk at 2:07 PM on September 23, 2011


my god it's beautiful
posted by The Whelk at 2:07 PM on September 23, 2011


Am I ruining anything by leaving this comment?
posted by maxwelton at 2:14 PM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


^flagged.
posted by troll at 3:12 PM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


ONWARD! TO 2000 COMMENTS!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:34 PM on September 23, 2011


we owe it to the hat
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:52 PM on September 23, 2011


anything less would be disrespectful
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:53 PM on September 23, 2011


did someone say longboat?
posted by rtha at 5:54 PM on September 23, 2011


Oh fer chrissakes. Actually it's probably gonna have to be 7000 comments. Thumbs up let's do this.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 6:20 PM on September 23, 2011


Hold up, is the post comment button different? Or has the rum taken effect?
posted by villanelles at dawn at 6:22 PM on September 23, 2011


Yeah - it's different. There was weirdness with the mail icon a while back, too. I think we have poltergeists.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:24 PM on September 23, 2011


For what it's worth, I see it too, but I've also been drinking rum, so it could just be that.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:25 PM on September 23, 2011


I hate it. But I hate all change. Except for the change in a glass of rum as it gets emptier. This is a conundrum.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 6:28 PM on September 23, 2011


The post button looks funny to everyone, but only when villanelles at dawn is drunk. As soon as he sobers up it'll look normal again.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:28 PM on September 23, 2011


This is a conund.*

*the rum is all gone
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:29 PM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm going to stay good and drunk for a week to spite you all.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 6:33 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm gonna stay good and drunk for your amusement, winners all round!
posted by The Whelk at 6:41 PM on September 23, 2011


*opens tequila*
posted by rtha at 6:44 PM on September 23, 2011


I just finished my G&T so I guess i don't have anything to do for a while
posted by subbes at 6:51 PM on September 23, 2011


wait

hang on


you're right



that Post Comment button has gone all web 2.0 in appearance







(SETS EVERYTHING ON FIRE.)
posted by subbes at 6:52 PM on September 23, 2011


Wait, stop everything. Since when does Horace Rumpole drink rum? All oout of Chateau Thames Embankment? Something fishy's going on.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 6:57 PM on September 23, 2011


Well, if we're settling in for the evening, I should put on some music.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:58 PM on September 23, 2011


Be sure to put it on repeat.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:59 PM on September 23, 2011


OH HOW THE WINE TALKS
posted by The Whelk at 7:00 PM on September 23, 2011


I'd make a comment, but the post button is just disgusting and I don't want to get it's yellow blockishness all over me -

OH GOD NO I'VE BEEN TAINTED
posted by troll at 7:00 PM on September 23, 2011


Since when does Horace Rumpole drink rum?

Yeah, mea culpa. I've never shared my namesake's fondness for red wine. Wordsworth either, for that matter.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:01 PM on September 23, 2011


Ooh, I could make my first ever metatalk post complaining about the buttons.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 7:01 PM on September 23, 2011


It's already under discussion.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:03 PM on September 23, 2011


It's already being talked about in the non-disappearing-deleted-posts meTa up there.
posted by rtha at 7:04 PM on September 23, 2011


Perhaps we can plot revolution against the new buttons in this thread -- they'll never think to look in here!
posted by villanelles at dawn at 7:13 PM on September 23, 2011


this is now the 4th time someone has said I should watch Black Books for a chilling vision of my future
posted by The Whelk at 7:14 PM on September 23, 2011


THE POST BUTTON IS ALL DIFFERENT AH! AHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHH!
posted by The Whelk at 7:14 PM on September 23, 2011


Are we talking Black Books now? I'm in!
posted by villanelles at dawn at 7:15 PM on September 23, 2011


I'm on my way to a benefit for a local AIDS nonprofit. There will be alcohol, so I'll do my best to keep up with you all here.
posted by rtha at 7:17 PM on September 23, 2011


I used to walk by the shop they use for exterior shots every day on my way to class. Not actually every day because I skipped kind of a lot, but often. It's like I practically know Dylan Moran and Bill Bailey.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 7:17 PM on September 23, 2011


I still have yet to really watch it just cause of how many people say I'll like it.
posted by The Whelk at 7:27 PM on September 23, 2011


and they always give me this link
posted by The Whelk at 7:28 PM on September 23, 2011


(I will admit some similarity with the hair)
posted by The Whelk at 7:28 PM on September 23, 2011


I still have yet to really watch it just cause of how many people say I'll like it.

If you like Withnail and I, or you've ever worked in a bookstore, then yes, you'll like it.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:32 PM on September 23, 2011


its more the "You'll like it, cause it's you at 35"
posted by The Whelk at 7:33 PM on September 23, 2011


If Black Books is genuinely an accurate prediction of the future that awaits you, no, you will not like it one bit.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:34 PM on September 23, 2011


as long as I keep the hair I'm pretty much down with anything.
posted by The Whelk at 7:36 PM on September 23, 2011


I HAVE PROGRAMMED THE WORLD'S WORST ARKANOID CLONE

I AM FEELING PRETTY FUCKING GOOD ABOUT THIS
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:36 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are you kidding? Wine popsicles in the summer, piano recitals, eating scrambled eggs out of a shoe with a comb for a fork. Good god if that doesn't make you happy then I don't know what will
posted by villanelles at dawn at 7:38 PM on September 23, 2011


CORTEX IS TYPING GIBBERISH

I AM FEELING PRETTY DHOOE* ABOUT THIS
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:39 PM on September 23, 2011


AND THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING CORTEX
posted by The Whelk at 7:42 PM on September 23, 2011


*Delighted Hornbuckle Occidental Orthography Expert
posted by troll at 7:43 PM on September 23, 2011


*Damned Hot Or Overly Excited
posted by h00py at 7:51 PM on September 23, 2011


I've played up the linguistic angles of these conflicts.

Please don't treat me like that, my angle
posted by homunculus at 7:52 PM on September 23, 2011


We'll never know, IRFH was just accordioned by a falling satellite.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 7:53 PM on September 23, 2011


So an Arkanoid clone would be... Arkanoidoid?
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:09 PM on September 23, 2011


Is Arkanoid that thing where when my brother and I bought a nintendo off of ebay because our mother had sold our old one and it came with that and a weird controller and you always wanted the special whatever thing that let you shoot at the lozenges while still bouncing the ball but really that was a fool's mission cause you should really just concentrate on the ball? Eh?
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:14 PM on September 23, 2011


oh wow there are horror-themed sex toys http://www.fleshlight.com/freaks/?links=612526 (NSFW)
posted by The Whelk at 9:12 PM on September 23, 2011


Are you trying to make me gay?
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:15 PM on September 23, 2011


cause it's working
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:17 PM on September 23, 2011


No, Arkanoid was the thing similar to that but shitloads better because you were playing it with a mouse on an Amiga. But in any case, yes, you really wanted the L-is-for-Laser capsule, except on some of the later levels where the game hid a lot of the breakable blocks behind impermeable and hence laser-proof blocks.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:20 PM on September 23, 2011


Cortex this isn't about zombie cock so I don't even
posted by The Whelk at 9:22 PM on September 23, 2011


Is an Amiga that thing where my Pixar cousin made me watch a live stream of some festival/competition in Europe where they use that and other primitive technologies to render quite impressive animations?
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:44 PM on September 23, 2011


Arkanoid

I see this and it makes me think of arachnids.

I'm not sure what I think of the new post and preview buttons.
posted by rtha at 9:49 PM on September 23, 2011


Demoscene, that's what I'm thinking of.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:55 PM on September 23, 2011


Old threads never die, they just slowly fade away

WTF is this post comment? pass me the rum
posted by infini at 10:18 PM on September 23, 2011


Old threads? Nah, maaan, these jeans and this shirt are brand new, man, they're just made to look old and worn-in, you know, as soon as you buy 'em.

Oh, wait. I forgot, the 60s are over. Carry on man! I mean, dude!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:04 PM on September 23, 2011


The Cardoso lounge is open.
posted by clavdivs at 12:16 AM on September 24, 2011


Longboating requires a certain discipline.
posted by cgc373 at 12:30 AM on September 24, 2011


And some uncertain discipline.
posted by cgc373 at 12:30 AM on September 24, 2011


Some rowdy rowing doughty showmanship.
posted by cgc373 at 12:30 AM on September 24, 2011


A plan.
posted by cgc373 at 12:30 AM on September 24, 2011


It does not require a canal.
posted by cgc373 at 12:31 AM on September 24, 2011


But a canal probably wouldn't hurt.
posted by cgc373 at 12:31 AM on September 24, 2011


Hurt the effort I mean.
posted by cgc373 at 12:31 AM on September 24, 2011


You can probably hurt something with a canal.
posted by cgc373 at 12:31 AM on September 24, 2011


Who knows what?
posted by cgc373 at 12:33 AM on September 24, 2011


I'd like an answer.
posted by cgc373 at 12:33 AM on September 24, 2011


I'll think about it, but MeTa denizens can help.
posted by cgc373 at 12:33 AM on September 24, 2011


Can help.
posted by cgc373 at 12:34 AM on September 24, 2011


Doesn't mean they will.
posted by cgc373 at 12:34 AM on September 24, 2011


Doesn't mean they should.
posted by cgc373 at 12:34 AM on September 24, 2011


It's open water.
posted by cgc373 at 12:34 AM on September 24, 2011


It's free rowing.
posted by cgc373 at 12:34 AM on September 24, 2011


Rowing comes naturally in waters like these.
posted by cgc373 at 1:43 AM on September 24, 2011


languagehat knows how rowing calls.
posted by cgc373 at 1:43 AM on September 24, 2011


It calls for more rowing.
posted by cgc373 at 1:43 AM on September 24, 2011


We row for markers on the horizon.
posted by cgc373 at 1:44 AM on September 24, 2011


We row to see how far rowing can take us.
posted by cgc373 at 1:44 AM on September 24, 2011


We row to discover our fortunes.
posted by cgc373 at 1:44 AM on September 24, 2011


Totally illegal.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:02 AM on September 24, 2011


This is the one law that was made to be broken
posted by Sailormom at 2:23 AM on September 24, 2011


Meatbomb, my friend, my brother, you must know this is not a question of law.
posted by cgc373 at 2:53 AM on September 24, 2011


It is a question of honor.
posted by cgc373 at 2:54 AM on September 24, 2011


We know languagehat loves the ZEROS.
posted by cgc373 at 2:54 AM on September 24, 2011


We know we love languagehat.
posted by cgc373 at 2:54 AM on September 24, 2011


We love him for he is our brother.
posted by cgc373 at 2:55 AM on September 24, 2011


Our love for him can be shown through rowing for ZEROS.
posted by cgc373 at 2:56 AM on September 24, 2011


For Valhalla.
posted by cgc373 at 2:56 AM on September 24, 2011


For honor.
posted by cgc373 at 2:56 AM on September 24, 2011


In this case, our love for languagehat can manifest in a lovely number.
posted by cgc373 at 2:58 AM on September 24, 2011


A cherished integer.
posted by cgc373 at 2:59 AM on September 24, 2011


A sweet doubled set of ones and zeros.
posted by cgc373 at 2:59 AM on September 24, 2011


languagehat will see this number and rejoice.
posted by cgc373 at 3:00 AM on September 24, 2011


How could he not?
posted by cgc373 at 3:00 AM on September 24, 2011


It is a number in his honor.
posted by cgc373 at 3:00 AM on September 24, 2011


ELEVEN HUNDRED IN HONOR OF LANGUAGEHAT
posted by cgc373 at 3:01 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some things just aren't as good when you do them by yourself.
posted by Dr Dracator at 6:04 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


1102 in honor of that old-timer who started fresh under a new name and didn't tell anybody.
posted by box at 6:42 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I declare a day of circuses and feasting for languagehat! With much ceremonial flogging and word looking up.
posted by The Whelk at 8:22 AM on September 24, 2011


I could do with a bit of feasting, I'm esurient as hell.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:32 AM on September 24, 2011


Elephants and dancing!
posted by The Whelk at 8:46 AM on September 24, 2011


Some things definitely aren't as good when you do them by yourself with a zombie-themed implement.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:02 AM on September 24, 2011


Which one of you cut me last night?
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:12 AM on September 24, 2011


I may or may not have stabbed you 32 times in the back.
posted by The Whelk at 9:37 AM on September 24, 2011


I think the ceremonial flogging is best done tomorrow, since it's the Folsom Street Fair.
posted by rtha at 9:39 AM on September 24, 2011


Et tu, Whelke? That toga business really went to your head.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:42 AM on September 24, 2011


Meatbomb: "Totally illegal"

Not only is it not illegal; it's official.

(WARNING: BOATS.)
posted by team lowkey at 10:55 AM on September 24, 2011



Last comment!
posted by languagehat at 3:18 PM on June 13, 2007 [+] [!] Other [100/100]: «≡·


« Older Paulsc loves America.... | I noticed that the meetup ment... Newer »

This thread is over 30 days old, and has been closed for archival purposes.



Bravo.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 11:26 AM on September 24, 2011


haaaaaaay
posted by subbes at 11:30 AM on September 24, 2011


Ponies like hay.

(No, I've got nothing.)
posted by rjs at 1:00 PM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey Nonny
posted by adamvasco at 1:07 PM on September 24, 2011


hay gurl
posted by The Whelk at 1:11 PM on September 24, 2011


Hey Nonny Nonny
posted by adamvasco at 1:44 PM on September 24, 2011


If this is a longboat, does that make me an oarsman?
posted by troll at 2:06 PM on September 24, 2011


We all go a viking, to find the land where the sun goes at night.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 2:15 PM on September 24, 2011


Pull
posted by adamvasco at 2:22 PM on September 24, 2011


meanwhile in NYC
posted by The Whelk at 2:28 PM on September 24, 2011


This is our longboat, we are the oarsmen, we forsake all the comforts of home to go with the old grey Widow-maker.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 2:44 PM on September 24, 2011


to the sea, the sea
posted by The Whelk at 2:54 PM on September 24, 2011


What did the Caspian Sea?
posted by villanelles at dawn at 3:12 PM on September 24, 2011


Can't row without grog. Who's got the grog?
posted by rtha at 3:35 PM on September 24, 2011


I feel the need -- the need for mead!
posted by villanelles at dawn at 3:44 PM on September 24, 2011


Can't row without song. Everybody sing!
posted by homunculus at 3:46 PM on September 24, 2011


All for me grog!
posted by The Whelk at 4:27 PM on September 24, 2011


I got this in Iceland
posted by The Whelk at 5:06 PM on September 24, 2011


What is that? A longboat for ants?
posted by villanelles at dawn at 6:38 PM on September 24, 2011


Let's blood eagle someone for good gæfa.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 6:41 PM on September 24, 2011


SONS OF DOGS COME AND I WILL GIVE YE FLESH
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:58 PM on September 24, 2011


Beware all, I'm feeling strong-drunk now, and ready to usher bloody slaughter in.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:14 PM on September 24, 2011


By Odin, man, what have you done? There are mutilated bodies strewn about the longboat and - what? You're drinking mead from The Whelk's dessicated skull? And what's that you say? You've replaced the ship's figurehead with his blood-eagled torso? Well that's really jus- and you've summoned the souls of the slaughtered to man the oars?!

Well I think I'll join you.

ONWARD, SOUL SLAVES, TO THE HORIZON AND BEYOND!
posted by troll at 9:31 PM on September 24, 2011


I had given them a chance. But they were fools not to comprehend that they were already in the grip of death. If they oppose us, they die in blood.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:46 PM on September 24, 2011


This is a zombie thread. The only thing its gonna close is my creaky Dell
posted by infini at 10:34 PM on September 24, 2011


I've just been at a Perverts Put Out reading at the Center for Sex and Culture, and now I'm drinking cocktails at a bar.
posted by rtha at 10:56 PM on September 24, 2011


Let's put them on a boat and colonize Greenland.
posted by The Whelk at 11:30 PM on September 24, 2011


Let's row a few more strokes so we're at 1142.
posted by cgc373 at 12:11 AM on September 25, 2011


May I have another?
posted by cgc373 at 12:12 AM on September 25, 2011


And just one more?
posted by cgc373 at 12:12 AM on September 25, 2011


Yes, please, thank you, eleven forty-two.
posted by cgc373 at 12:12 AM on September 25, 2011


Show me the way to go home
I'm tired and I want to go to bed
I had a litle drink about an hour ago
And it's gone right to my head
Wherever I may roam
Through land or sea or foam
You will always find me singing this song
Show me the way to go home.
posted by h00py at 5:54 AM on September 25, 2011


Home is where you language your hat.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:55 AM on September 25, 2011


Home. I'm coming home. Home is whenever I'm with you.
posted by h00py at 8:01 AM on September 25, 2011


my hat's full of language
it whispers and yells
it questions, it answers
it kisses and tells
it suggests and it threatens
it stutters and lies
it does all this, plus...
keeps the sun out my eyes
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:08 AM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


more like languagefat
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:21 AM on September 25, 2011


Anyone else's feet feel wet?
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:29 AM on September 25, 2011


Everybody row UPWARD
posted by The Whelk at 8:30 AM on September 25, 2011


BEGONE THREAD AND STOP CLOUDING MY RECENT ACTIVITY
posted by nathancaswell at 8:40 AM on September 25, 2011


*gets swallowed by a fish*
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:45 AM on September 25, 2011



BEGONE THREAD AND STOP CLOUDING MY RECENT ACTIVITY


holds tower closed with feet

I beg to differ, seems like we need this more than ever. Going back to the original topic, when MetaFilter began to set standards for FPP quality was it by 'interestingness', 'cool' or 'intellectually engaging' ?

crash
posted by infini at 8:48 AM on September 25, 2011


Last night I had a dream
And in that dream I did then see
Not one but two or three
Good people typing after me
Unless I was hallucinating?
Ah! Oh, pity me!
Good god, was it just words?
Eventually, we'll surely see

He's
Always
There.

And when the sun comes up and ushers forth a
Brand new day
I know that he will doff his hat and
Doubtless laugh and say that
Even though we think we're good it's all just simply posing
Since all our thoughts are mostly ifs and buts and just supposing.
posted by h00py at 8:51 AM on September 25, 2011


Lol butts
posted by The Whelk at 8:53 AM on September 25, 2011


The whole idea of FPP quality was rejected long ago in the philosophy of aesthetics.
posted by box at 8:53 AM on September 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm going to make an FPP with perfect aesthetics right now.
posted by The Whelk at 9:07 AM on September 25, 2011


I'm going to make up an offensive joke about your FPP.
posted by box at 9:09 AM on September 25, 2011


It is done.
posted by The Whelk at 9:14 AM on September 25, 2011


Pumpkins and bears were rejected by the philosophy of good taste some time ago.

they're too much like human heads and when they bite and it crunches it's like a skull and it's yucchhh
posted by Think_Long at 9:36 AM on September 25, 2011


Bears in bad taste ( NSFW)
posted by The Whelk at 9:40 AM on September 25, 2011


that just looks like Gasoline Alley porn.
posted by Think_Long at 9:43 AM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know! Isn;t it ADORABLE?
posted by The Whelk at 9:45 AM on September 25, 2011


17,300 results on Google for "Gasoline Alley porn." What the hell?
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:45 AM on September 25, 2011


. . . it occurs to me that the term "Gasoline Alley" could be used as a very specific euphemism. Nothing on Urban Dictionary though.
posted by Think_Long at 9:45 AM on September 25, 2011


17,300 results on Google for "Gasoline Alley porn." What the hell?

I know! I bet it's like 60% duplicates too. That's barely an afternoon of idle browsing at work.
posted by Think_Long at 9:46 AM on September 25, 2011


"Porn where actors age realistically over the course of decades."
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:46 AM on September 25, 2011


Sexy Winkerbean
posted by The Whelk at 12:41 PM on September 25, 2011


Sticherbeast: “17,300 results on Google for "Gasoline Alley porn." What the hell?”

"... immediately after the arrest, police searched his apartment and confiscated his computer, bringing it to a lab where it was discovered that the suspect had made recent Google searches for 'explosives,' 'poison,' and 'Gasoline alley porn.'"
posted by koeselitz at 12:48 PM on September 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have 1776 favorites. Please prime the fireworks and load the glitter cannons.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 12:55 PM on September 25, 2011


LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, PIXIE BUKKAKE AND THE GLITTER CANNONS
posted by The Whelk at 12:56 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Stars and stripes codpiece? Check.

Slathered in Elmer's glue? Check.

Roller skates? Check.

Swelling sense of national pride? Check.


Fire away.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 1:10 PM on September 25, 2011


bang
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:31 PM on September 25, 2011


and how
posted by The Whelk at 1:33 PM on September 25, 2011


I've been shot in the codpiece.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 1:43 PM on September 25, 2011


I've got codpieces in the shot.
posted by The Whelk at 1:56 PM on September 25, 2011


Then roll cameras. Come on people we're losing daylight!
posted by villanelles at dawn at 3:18 PM on September 25, 2011


Daylight can't be won or lost. Merely drunk into oblivion!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:20 PM on September 25, 2011


Last night, I too, like time, was merely drunk.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:26 PM on September 25, 2011


we've wasted the day and will never be another one.
posted by The Whelk at 9:28 PM on September 25, 2011


Dammit people we were at 1177.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:36 PM on September 25, 2011


not anymore
posted by The Whelk at 9:38 PM on September 25, 2011


I'm changing into my Nelson costume then. The Viking clothes are itchy.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:47 PM on September 25, 2011


Can I be the Naval commander who writes the Napoleonic code and makes sure there isn't any actual law in France about homosexuality until the Nazi invasion cause I am kind of in love with him.
posted by The Whelk at 9:48 PM on September 25, 2011


I'm currently disguised as a sexual dynamo. Or dinosour. One or the other. I forget.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:51 PM on September 25, 2011


A dinosour, in case you were wondering, is like a whiskey sour. With dinos.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:53 PM on September 25, 2011


whiskey sours are for people with eating disorders, son.
posted by The Whelk at 9:56 PM on September 25, 2011


Hardly. Whiskey sours are for people with cheap whiskey and lots of grapefruits.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:02 PM on September 25, 2011


The mothers and fathers of those grapefruits are after you, they will not rest, they will not relent, they will taste blood.
posted by The Whelk at 10:03 PM on September 25, 2011


It is a good day to die.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:05 PM on September 25, 2011


CITRUSALITY
posted by The Whelk at 10:05 PM on September 25, 2011


Although, to be honest, I haven't had to rely on cheap whiskey in many, many years. Just cheap laughs.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:07 PM on September 25, 2011


Citrucide.
posted by rtha at 10:13 PM on September 25, 2011


ET TU, CITRUS
posted by The Whelk at 10:13 PM on September 25, 2011


IN CITRU
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:15 PM on September 25, 2011


I CAME

I SAW

I JUICED
posted by The Whelk at 10:21 PM on September 25, 2011


ah, you're... goin' to the finest school, alright
miss lonely, but you know you only used to get...
JUICED in it!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:41 AM on September 26, 2011


Lucy ?
posted by adamvasco at 2:03 AM on September 26, 2011


Lucy Lucy ?

yup, that's my song. this version now dedicated to languagehat.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:10 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Post it in music so I can favorite it. Hard.
posted by adamvasco at 4:03 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


1200, BITCHES!

Also, this post is kind of just what languagehat might've been pissed about. One person shits, and the thread is kind of doomed even though it's a fine article.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:22 AM on September 26, 2011


Yeah, that was unpretty. A good example of one where if everyone had moved on rather than engaging it would have much easier to remove, though.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:42 AM on September 26, 2011


Yeah, I apologize for contributing to the derail. I blame inadequate caffeination.
posted by rtha at 7:50 AM on September 26, 2011


(can I keep my favorites from my deleted rejoinder?)
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:55 AM on September 26, 2011


You'll always be my Phavorite Phattie.
posted by cgc373 at 8:10 AM on September 26, 2011


This thread has somehow made me hungry for a jucy lucy
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:58 AM on September 26, 2011


G0 uP 70 7eh lAnD PhL0W1N' W17 m1Lk, H0NEy, AND jucY LUCy; 1337LANd. 8U7 1 w1lL n07 g0 W17 J00, 8EcaU2E J00 R a s71ff-NEcKED PE0Ple AND 1 M1gh7 des7r0y J00 0N 7Eh wAy. - The Lhat Exodus 33:3

So sayeth the lhat. Row, men, onward to the land of 1337!
posted by troll at 9:23 AM on September 26, 2011


So, on the boat, what's he percentage of rum, bum, and concertina?
posted by The Whelk at 9:44 AM on September 26, 2011


Horace Rumpole stole all the rum. That's why the rowing's been such hard going.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:48 AM on September 26, 2011


The truth is between the first and fortieth drink.
posted by EvaDestruction at 9:52 AM on September 26, 2011


If you drink the whole pole of rum, they'll put your name on a plaque.
posted by box at 9:59 AM on September 26, 2011


Whelk; you will have to ask George
posted by adamvasco at 10:27 AM on September 26, 2011


The Old Codger
posted by adamvasco at 10:31 AM on September 26, 2011


stranger video
posted by adamvasco at 10:32 AM on September 26, 2011


Tovey chaser.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:07 AM on September 26, 2011


Viking ghost ship.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 4:23 PM on September 26, 2011


Beset by sharp-toothed mermaids, rum pirates, and rabid beard lice.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 4:45 PM on September 26, 2011


Fable of the Mermaid and the Drunks





All those men were there inside,

when she came in totally naked.

They had been drinking: they began to spit.

Newly come from the river, she knew nothing.

She was a mermaid who had lost her way.

The insults flowed down her gleaming flesh.

Obscenities drowned her golden breasts.

Not knowing tears, she did not weep tears.

Not knowing clothes, she did not have clothes.

They blackened her with burnt corks and cigarette stubs,

and rolled around laughing on the tavern floor.

She did not speak because she had no speech.

Her eyes were the colour of distant love,

her twin arms were made of white topaz.

Her lips moved, silent, in a coral light,

and suddenly she went out by that door.

Entering the river she was cleaned,

shining like a white stone in the rain,

and without looking back she swam again

swam towards emptiness, swam towards death.
posted by The Whelk at 5:44 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


What the hell did we do that for? Guys, uncool. No more swearing at boobs, and cigarette stubs go in the ashtrays. We really need to do more for Brand Viking and stunts like this aren't doing us any favors.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 7:08 PM on September 26, 2011


Brand Viking? What happened to you, man? You sound like such a suit. Back in the day, man, we were just trying to get a free set of ultra high-end professional kitchen appliances.
posted by box at 8:31 PM on September 26, 2011


Mermaids be a sexy omens, arrr.
posted by maryr at 8:49 PM on September 26, 2011


Look, I'm suited up and I'm peeling the onion with both hands, I'm unzipping and giving it all I got to momentumize an unfucking of the group's image and if your sippy cup is all out of that flavor kool aid then you're just a price tag on a vcr. If you can't pro-actively onboard with us then you've got shoelace fingers in a velcro world and don't come crying to me when mama runs out of milk.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:15 PM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mama spilt the milk!
posted by cgc373 at 10:38 AM on September 27, 2011


I could go for some beer-battered onion rings.
posted by box at 10:56 AM on September 27, 2011


If you're gonna go, bring some for me as well.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:18 PM on September 27, 2011


in fact, just bring back the whole bar
posted by The Whelk at 12:39 PM on September 27, 2011


Slackers. You all need a bit of encouragement.
posted by adamvasco at 1:38 PM on September 27, 2011


Flogging only makes a bad man worse, Mr Vasco.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 2:06 PM on September 27, 2011


Motion: this boat recognizes no sandwich greater than the BLT.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 5:42 PM on September 27, 2011


Which I will second.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 5:46 PM on September 27, 2011


Because no one can stop me.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 5:48 PM on September 27, 2011


Because there's no one else here!
posted by villanelles at dawn at 5:48 PM on September 27, 2011


I'm going all Basil E. Frankweiler on this thread!
posted by villanelles at dawn at 5:49 PM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm gonna go play on the lit a la turque!
posted by villanelles at dawn at 5:51 PM on September 27, 2011


Bingo
posted by villanelles at dawn at 5:52 PM on September 27, 2011


MR PILLAGER TO THE WHITE COURTESY TELEPHONE PLEASE. MR PILLAGER, WHITE COURTESY TELEPHONE.
posted by flabdablet at 7:39 PM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Resolved: a Banh Mi is also a good sandwich.
posted by box at 8:01 PM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are vikings on the front page! (No word on what they're carrying in the sandwich lazarette)
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:38 PM on September 27, 2011


vinailles - It's obviously started you up!
and that Icelandic post is a thing of joy.
Have a snack
posted by adamvasco at 1:43 AM on September 28, 2011


where's Jim when you need him?
posted by adamvasco at 10:35 AM on September 28, 2011


I'm reading Kreider's political essays and being depressed again.
posted by The Whelk at 10:40 AM on September 28, 2011


Well, then stop doing that. There's a MeFi team that's going to need a name and costumes. Who better for the job?
posted by EvaDestruction at 11:02 AM on September 28, 2011


They have a name. They're the Jessa-MEN. Costumes are spandex. Jessamyn looks like Storm, with more books. Cortex has a massive frontal lobe. Vacapinta is some kind of Lovecraftian monstrosity.
posted by I am the Walrus at 2:02 PM on September 28, 2011


Instead of a costume, mathowie just wears his cycling clothes.
posted by box at 3:59 PM on September 28, 2011


Changing out of my Nelson costume into a vintage Bianchi jersey. Cutters 4 life!
posted by villanelles at dawn at 7:20 PM on September 28, 2011


Resolved: People must row in here every day until we're not allowed to row anymore.
posted by cgc373 at 7:46 PM on September 28, 2011


How's our budget for sacrificial virgins?
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:00 PM on September 28, 2011


$0 but that doesn't matter because where the hell are we going to find a virgin?
posted by Mitheral at 8:06 PM on September 28, 2011


We could raid a reedit meetup
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:07 PM on September 28, 2011


Damn these oar-hardened fingers!
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:09 PM on September 28, 2011


Did someone say virgin?
posted by Sailormom at 8:32 PM on September 28, 2011


We could raid a reedit meetup

teenagers have the worst loot
posted by The Whelk at 8:46 PM on September 28, 2011


And, paradoxically, the best booty.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:52 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been watching a lot of Archer.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:16 PM on September 28, 2011


I just watched the first two episodes of The Playboy Club. Um. I dunno about this retread Mad Men exercise. It could be something but right now it's kind of not something. Aside from a retread Mad Men exercise. Next up, Pan Am. I'll report back.
posted by cgc373 at 10:09 PM on September 28, 2011


That explains the smell
posted by The Whelk at 10:10 PM on September 28, 2011


But not ... The shoes.
posted by The Whelk at 10:29 PM on September 28, 2011


DRAMATIC CHORD
posted by flabdablet at 12:38 AM on September 29, 2011


Suddenly… bagpipes!
posted by villanelles at dawn at 3:30 AM on September 29, 2011


When the skirling stops, may I lick the spoon?
posted by flabdablet at 3:37 AM on September 29, 2011


You'll be kilt.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 3:46 AM on September 29, 2011


Am I bothered, though?
posted by flabdablet at 4:50 AM on September 29, 2011


Or bewitched and bewildered?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:28 AM on September 29, 2011


But am I bothered?
posted by flabdablet at 5:40 AM on September 29, 2011


I can't be bothered.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:52 AM on September 29, 2011


But am I bothered though?
posted by flabdablet at 5:59 AM on September 29, 2011


Can't really say. Obsessive, maybe...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:07 AM on September 29, 2011


Do I look bothered?
posted by flabdablet at 6:09 AM on September 29, 2011


No, but those jeans make your butt look bothered.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:42 AM on September 29, 2011


Sorry everyone, flabdablet signed up for Villanelles' All-Star Plank-Walking Academy, Buy One Lesson Get the Second Lesson FREE, but he didn't even make it back for Advanced Splinter Prevention this morning, so it's not looking good.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:11 AM on September 29, 2011


Look at my face - is it bothered?
posted by flabdablet at 11:03 AM on September 29, 2011


yes
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:20 AM on September 29, 2011


Does it look bothered though?
posted by flabdablet at 11:33 AM on September 29, 2011


Face?
posted by flabdablet at 11:33 AM on September 29, 2011


Asshats?
posted by flabdablet at 11:34 AM on September 29, 2011


Caravaggio?
posted by flabdablet at 11:35 AM on September 29, 2011


Vikings?
posted by flabdablet at 11:35 AM on September 29, 2011


Yammering?
posted by flabdablet at 11:36 AM on September 29, 2011


Bagpipes?
posted by flabdablet at 11:36 AM on September 29, 2011


Splinters?
posted by flabdablet at 11:36 AM on September 29, 2011


Barnacles?
posted by flabdablet at 11:37 AM on September 29, 2011


I ain't bothered.
posted by flabdablet at 11:37 AM on September 29, 2011


Pan Am was OK. Boy they had a lot of legroom on planes back then.
posted by GuyZero at 11:38 AM on September 29, 2011


I walked the plank once. Well, sort of anyway. There was a person laying on some stairs, and it looked like they were planking, so I walked on them.

They said "ow". I don't really see how this was much of a threat to pirates.
posted by quin at 11:49 AM on September 29, 2011


Peg legs sink deep into human flesh. Not much support there at all, if you're not paying attention when you're rushing about deck in a storm. This can cause pirates to lose their balance and fall down the stairs, usually landing hard on their scabbards. That shit hurts.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:58 AM on September 29, 2011


You should try my new vibram one finger peg leg covers. Guaranteed not to slip on any deck material in any of the seven seas. Act now and I'll throw in my patented parrot poop shield; strap one of those babies on your shoulder and I promise you'll cut your dry cleaning bill by 60%.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 12:04 PM on September 29, 2011


 @>
 L
pieces of @
pieces of @

posted by flabdablet at 12:22 PM on September 29, 2011


http://ask.metafilter.com/197267/How-do-I-take-the-first-step-towards-ending-my-marriage
http://ask.metafilter.com/197266/Am-I-just-being-a-selfish-prick

Back to back!
posted by Horselover Phattie at 3:41 PM on September 29, 2011


Front to back, and side to side!
posted by box at 3:58 PM on September 29, 2011


Front and back. Quote your Eazy-E properly or go home.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 4:00 PM on September 29, 2011


http://ask.metafilter.com/197268/How-do-I-tell-him-that-yes-he's-just-being-a-selfish-prick
http://ask.metafilter.com/197269/Seriously-she's-not-even-going-to-bother-logging-out-before-slagging-me-on-metafilter
http://metatalk.metafilter.com/20927/why-did-you-delete-my-askme-but-not-that-[redacted]
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:03 PM on September 29, 2011


Pan Am was OK. Boy they had a lot of legroom on planes back then.

I texted a friend a few months ago after seeing a poster for Pan Am in the subway.

Have you seen the poster for this new show Pan Am? Mad Men meets Sex and the City? Culturally repressed bachelorette products of the 40s and 50s sign up for Pan Am and experience jet setting sexual revolution amid the dawn of the counter culture. My prediction.

How'd I do?
posted by nathancaswell at 4:15 PM on September 29, 2011


I was going for UGK. Still wrong, though. Then again, I'm already home.
posted by box at 4:17 PM on September 29, 2011


Pretty close. There's also a cold-war spy angle to it too; unexpected.
posted by GuyZero at 4:19 PM on September 29, 2011


I think this thread has a mole.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:43 PM on September 29, 2011


Pan Am surprised me with not having more smokers. People even smoked on planes back then.

And I don't think beatnik girl would be so perfectly coiffed and made up.

But the spy sideline is a nice added twist.
posted by misha at 9:58 PM on September 29, 2011


misha's right. We need to smoke out the mole using the beatnik girl as a honeypot. gonna need all hands on deck to walk back this cat.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 10:02 PM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I tried out-smoking the beatniks but I just ended up naked and part of a art installation.
posted by The Whelk at 10:32 PM on September 29, 2011


We're on a razor's edge here, one small misstep and you'll find yourself Abramovićed. Soyez sage, comrades.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 10:37 PM on September 29, 2011


Oh goodie
posted by mrzarquon at 10:52 PM on September 29, 2011


Someone left these
posted by mrzarquon at 10:52 PM on September 29, 2011


Damnit, I miscounted the zeros.

It's been a while.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:53 PM on September 29, 2011


Hey, we're all in the same 'boat, mrzarquon. And now we have a new target.
posted by cgc373 at 10:55 PM on September 29, 2011


Once we get to the 1400s, cortex can't resist the Columbus jokes.
posted by cgc373 at 10:56 PM on September 29, 2011


What is he too good for Black Death jokes?
posted by villanelles at dawn at 11:54 PM on September 29, 2011


cortex doesn't care about black ... death.
posted by cgc373 at 2:50 AM on September 30, 2011


Cruisin' down The Blue in Firefox
Flaggin' the shittin'
Take it to 'Talk
Went to The Green to have a say
Don't eat that, DTMFA
Anon rolls up, who can it be?
Relationshipfilter's such a drag to me
I'm getting too tempted to drop some snark
I find a MeTa thread past the thousand comment mark
'Cause the boats on The Gray are always long
A viking in sleep and within this song
Playing alphabet game just to take the piss
Don't quote me back just to say "This."
posted by SpiffyRob at 6:27 AM on September 30, 2011


I just don't know any good rhyming poems about the black death.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:35 AM on September 30, 2011


Buboes spew forth stinking pus
Will this be the death of us?
Raargh gargle gargle maggot lung argh arrr
Ooorgh rah aah aah AAHH AAHH FUCK THIS PUS YARR
Then come the death carts
Full of fucking dead parts
*guitar solo*
posted by h00py at 6:43 AM on September 30, 2011


the Black death came
and it killed my brother
killed my father
killed my brother
killed my cousin and my landlord's son
killed 'bout damn near everyone
but i'll tell you one thing, yes siree
it won't kill me!
no it won't ki- AAARGH! - cough - ack! ~ gurrrrg - mwuu-uuuh - errrrg ...

*PLOP*
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:47 AM on September 30, 2011


uh... one of those brothers was supposed to be mother.

oh, well. So I had two dead brothers.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:49 AM on September 30, 2011


And we shall mourn the gruesome pureed-lung deaths of Cold Pizza for Breakfast and Nachos at the Bowling Alley. Shit was bubonic.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 7:51 AM on September 30, 2011


Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.
posted by box at 8:08 AM on September 30, 2011


Sashes, sashes, we all get crowned.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:16 AM on September 30, 2011


Slashes, gashes, surgical gown.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:19 AM on September 30, 2011


Bashes, bashes, I killed a clown.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:22 AM on September 30, 2011


Caches, stashes, I hid him downtown.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:23 AM on September 30, 2011


Dashes, dashes, now I can't be found!
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:25 AM on September 30, 2011


We need to chant all of those at various sports matches
posted by The Whelk at 9:16 AM on September 30, 2011


Matches matches?
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:30 AM on September 30, 2011


Hashes, hashes, our passwords are securely stored.
posted by Dr Dracator at 9:46 AM on September 30, 2011


I'M GONNA MURDER YOU WITH A SPORK MOTHERFUCKER
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:55 AM on September 30, 2011


<bickle>you talkin to me?</bickle>
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:40 AM on September 30, 2011


I'll mother you with a spork, murderfucker
posted by villanelles at dawn at 12:44 PM on September 30, 2011


My phone autocorrected murderfucker to MURDERFUCKER. I think Ive got a tear in my eye.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 12:46 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


There will also be a tear in your throat after it's torn up by my spork.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 1:13 PM on September 30, 2011


You are a fearsome one.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 1:24 PM on September 30, 2011


There's a tear in my beer/
Cause you're sporkin' my eye, dear
posted by box at 1:53 PM on September 30, 2011


Murderfucker, master of mars
posted by The Whelk at 2:25 PM on September 30, 2011


So Murderfucker, Kickpuncher, and Bullets McDeath walk into a bar…
posted by villanelles at dawn at 3:27 PM on September 30, 2011


AND THE BAR IS DEMOLISHED
posted by The Whelk at 3:38 PM on September 30, 2011


All that remains is a lone spork. Tragically the tremendous heat generated by the carnage has disfigured the spork, melting its stubby little tines and turning it into a spoon, a leaky spoon at that. Suffering devastating psychic trauma, and nearly paralyzed by survivors guilt, the spork returns to spork village only to be shunned and mocked by the fearful villagers. What was once a proud spork retreats to the outskirts of the village, scratches a note in the sand with the closest thing it now has to a tine, puts a shotgun to its malformed spoon face and pulls the trigger. A soft rain begins to fall, removing all trace of the message.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 3:59 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


i'm going to find you and make you swallow several ounces of liquid mercury
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:05 PM on September 30, 2011


Man, that's some heavy shit.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:08 PM on September 30, 2011


Did I say anything today?
posted by cgc373 at 3:31 AM on October 1, 2011


I did?
posted by cgc373 at 3:32 AM on October 1, 2011


Well that's a relief.
posted by cgc373 at 3:33 AM on October 1, 2011


1337
posted by troll at 6:12 AM on October 1, 2011


1337

Leet?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:16 AM on October 1, 2011


ಠ_ಠ
posted by troll at 6:44 AM on October 1, 2011


leeg.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:45 AM on October 1, 2011


d'oh. i meant lelo.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:45 AM on October 1, 2011


no, leeb. this leetspeak is difficult.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:47 AM on October 1, 2011


This thread has inspired me to spend all day on the couch.
posted by The Whelk at 8:59 AM on October 1, 2011


Yeah I think we could all do with some therapy.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 10:21 AM on October 1, 2011


So, when was the last time you impregnated your mother?
posted by The Whelk at 10:26 AM on October 1, 2011


Sometimes a penis is just a cigar.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 10:32 AM on October 1, 2011


then what did I just put in mouth?
posted by The Whelk at 10:32 AM on October 1, 2011


A Cuban.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 10:36 AM on October 1, 2011


it's certainly fiery.
posted by The Whelk at 10:48 AM on October 1, 2011


I'm going to feed your pets arsenic.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:48 AM on October 1, 2011


"And the Oscar for 'most comments between two comments in a Metafilter thread' goes to..."

*opens*

"Kwine!"
posted by Kwine at 5:35 PM on October 1, 2011


Aww, I had a big horn for Rory Marinich. He's gone?

Links would be appreciated as to why he left, but I'm about to search for his last posts.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:48 PM on October 1, 2011


Rory lives in the land of wind and ghosts aka google+
posted by The Whelk at 8:48 PM on October 1, 2011


Actually, I was under the impression they'd already renamed it Rory Marinich+
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:04 AM on October 2, 2011


The motion is still under debate.
posted by subbes at 7:30 AM on October 2, 2011


Yeah, sometimes Rory has a really hard time making these big decisions.
posted by koeselitz at 1:24 PM on October 2, 2011


I never really knew that guy. But I know languagehat, and I know this kind of twelve-hour gap in rowing would not appeal to him.
posted by cgc373 at 2:12 AM on October 3, 2011


We had to stop to pick all the biscuits out of our weevils.
posted by The Whelk at 5:55 AM on October 3, 2011


We had to sleep some time, anyway.
posted by koeselitz at 6:02 AM on October 3, 2011


We had to leave a little girl in Kingston town.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:16 AM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


We had to keep rowing is what we had to keep doing.
posted by cgc373 at 7:51 AM on October 3, 2011


Yeah I got Circe'd this weekend but I'm back in the boat now.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 10:09 AM on October 3, 2011


Was it fun being a goat?
posted by The Whelk at 10:11 AM on October 3, 2011


Not baaaaad.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 10:16 AM on October 3, 2011


which way to Hyperborea?
posted by The Whelk at 10:18 AM on October 3, 2011


flapjax - was she called Matilda?
posted by adamvasco at 10:19 AM on October 3, 2011


Was it fun being a goat?

How would a pig know?