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October 20, 2011 8:47 AM   Subscribe

I've been noticing more and more lately that many people who comment in a thread are not reading the thread very closely, and as a result they end up repeating things that other people have already said. This was especially apparent in this thread about the animal escape in Ohio, but it's by no means the only example. Can we do a better job?

The conversation unfolded like this:

First, Civil_Disobedient made this comment, arguing that the cops should have used tranquilizer guns instead of killing all the animals.

Horselover Phattie replied that they had tried that once and it didn't work out well.

Civil_Disobedient replied that they should have tried harder and used more than one dart. (I'm paraphrasing a lot--the substance of the argument is secondary.)

So far, so good: the comments were direct replies to what the other person had said.

However, what followed were six comments all essentially saying the same thing, that tranquilizing these animals under these conditions would have been prohibitively difficult: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Note that these were all separated by at least half an hour, so there should have been plenty of time to read the previous comment and avoid repeating it. It seems to me that these commenters did not do that. I don't mean to call them out specifically, though. This is just one instance of what I think is an all-too-common pattern: someone makes a fairly controversial argument, and a crowd of people jump to pile on with essentially the same reply. It's the opposite of reasonable debate.

So my question is: How can we do better? (For instance, is this an appropriate way to use the "double comment" flag? My understanding was that that flag was for technical glitches, where an identical comment gets posted twice in rapid succession, but maybe we could broaden its usage? We flag FPPs as double when they cover the same territory as a previous post. Should we do the same for comments?) Or am I in the minority in thinking this is a problem?
posted by albrecht to Etiquette/Policy at 8:47 AM (154 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

...and we often repeat the same thing that's already been said, too.
posted by Hoopo at 8:50 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is something I've noticed too. This leads to some obvious questions... How can we do better? Should we maybe start flagging these comments that are just repeating things as a "double" of sorts?
posted by Meatbomb at 8:51 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


The six comments "all essentially saying the same thing" brought up different points to support their main argument (which was, granted, the same). I would never flag a comment as a double unless it said exactly the same thing, and possibly not even then. It would create way too much work for the mods and it's not some kind of epidemic.
posted by desjardins at 8:54 AM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


...and we often repeat the same thing that's already been said, too.

I'm not sure if you mean that we've already discussed this too much. If so, I'm sorry for bringing it up again (I tried searching but didn't find anything), but whatever measures we've taken don't seem to be working, so maybe it's worth bringing up again anyway.
posted by albrecht at 8:54 AM on October 20, 2011


I've also often repeated the same thing that I've noticed too.
posted by box at 8:54 AM on October 20, 2011


Should we maybe start flagging these comments that are just repeating things as a "double" of sorts?

In a fast-moving thread, there's a possibility of "false-positive", for lack of a better word. This happens to me a lot -- where I see something and start typing a response, but the thread is moving so fast and is so popular that I don't know that 7 other people are ALSO typing essentially similar responses. And then we all hit "post comment" at about the same time, and presto, seven comments that all pretty much say the same thing. And the thread's moving so fast we didn't even get the "x new comments" box pop up on us yet.

I don't think we can count these as "doubles" because we all acted in good faith that we were a lone responder up until the point we hit "post".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:00 AM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


1 random people on the internet arguing something usually counts for less than 6 random people on the internet arguing for that same thing.

On the other hand, we can always do better. Harder, better, faster, stronger, that sort of thing. If everyone tries we could be so good.
posted by dosterm at 9:02 AM on October 20, 2011


I'm not sure if you mean that we've already discussed this too much.

No idea, I was just messing with you a bit.
posted by Hoopo at 9:07 AM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I guess it bears repeating that things get repeated in a repetitious thread about retreating bears.
posted by Floydd at 9:09 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Come on. People come to the site as entertainment. So what if they end up repeating things others have said. This isn't a science experiment -- or if it is, consider the repetition as a data point.
posted by crunchland at 9:10 AM on October 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


probably not
posted by nathancaswell at 9:12 AM on October 20, 2011


I don't see the problem. Any sort of conversation that has a people coming into it at different times will have repeated information. There's no real way to correct it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:13 AM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's a story that inspires swift gut reactions. Such is life.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:13 AM on October 20, 2011


(For instance, is this an appropriate way to use the "double comment" flag? My understanding was that that flag was for technical glitches, where an identical comment gets posted twice in rapid succession, but maybe we could broaden its usage? We flag FPPs as double when they cover the same territory as a previous post. Should we do the same for comments?)

Please do not do this. I share your frustration to some extent with people sort of repeating each other, but the double flag is very specifically for glitchy/twitchy mistakes and that only. People repeating one another in substance is a social issue, and the flag is for a technical issue.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:14 AM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


For more pay I will.
posted by telstar at 9:15 AM on October 20, 2011


A checkbox before you post confirming you have read the thread and will abide by its terms and conventions. Unless you're the quidnunc kid.
posted by Abiezer at 9:15 AM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


the double flag is very specifically for glitchy/twitchy mistakes and that only. People repeating one another in substance is a social issue, and the flag is for a technical issue.

OK, that's kind of what I figured. Would it make sense to introduce a separate flag, then (or does this fall under "noise?") Is it too much work for the mods to be policing this sort of thing to begin with?
posted by albrecht at 9:20 AM on October 20, 2011


Commenting is horribly inefficient. We need to set up a database of all possible comments. Then when there is a new post, comments can be added automatically. This will save us and the mods a lot of time and effort.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:20 AM on October 20, 2011 [10 favorites]


What metafilter needs is more prescriptivism.
posted by crunchland at 9:25 AM on October 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


OK, that's kind of what I figured. Would it make sense to introduce a separate flag, then (or does this fall under "noise?") Is it too much work for the mods to be policing this sort of thing to begin with?

I understand your irritation, but I cannot imagine the shitstorm that would ensue if people starting getting comments deleted because they were similar to an earlier comment.
posted by rtha at 9:29 AM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


1 new comment, show (based on keywords, this comment probably already made your point. Please think of something else to say.)
posted by cashman at 9:29 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


ROBOT9000 would be a good start here. We've just got add regular expressions...
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:30 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Something else I've noticed is that many people who comment in a thread are not reading the thread very closely, and as a result they end up repeating things that other people have already said.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:31 AM on October 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


You're assuming that people who don't read threads before posting will somehow read this MetaFilter thread, and will change their behaviour.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:31 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Let's start by convincing people to read the articles before they comment, and worry about reading other comments later.

Once we've got that down we can teach the rest of the internet how to do it, and we'll be famous and revered.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:32 AM on October 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


Commenting is horribly inefficient. We need to set up a database of all possible comments. Then when there is a new post, comments can be added automatically. This will save us and the mods a lot of time and effort.

This is actually already happening. There must be a glitch in the code. This was especially apparent in this thread about the animal escape in Ohio, but it's by no means the only example.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:35 AM on October 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


Now we're talking about removing comments because they are not original enough? Just no.
posted by Justinian at 9:38 AM on October 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


You don't. People respond to the idea viscerally from the FPP alone first, then they'll sometimes go back and read the thread. I think both are valid commenting strategies.

That said, I'm sure this topic has come up on MeTa before....any chance we can reduce the number of MeTa topics on similar ideas?
posted by inturnaround at 9:38 AM on October 20, 2011


This is actually already happening.

Holy crap. That means I may be an Eliza bot running on a server somewhere. All of my "experiences" may have been faked, culled from usenet, just for grist for the comment algorithm. We are through the looking glass people.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:38 AM on October 20, 2011


Let's have a vetting process for new members and implement a peer reviewed comment system.

Apologies if that's already been suggested. I haven't been reading this thread.
posted by mazola at 9:41 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, for pete's sake. If you want your internet so neat and tidy...wait a few months, then read the book about it.
posted by Kokopuff at 9:41 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Holy crap. That means I may be an Eliza bot running on a server somewhere.

How does that make you feel?
posted by caddis at 9:42 AM on October 20, 2011 [12 favorites]


People often don't read the links in a post before commenting.

Now you want them to read the thread before commenting, too?
posted by zarq at 9:44 AM on October 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


How does that make you feel?

I am not a robot. I am a unicorn.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:45 AM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Please go on.
posted by caddis at 9:48 AM on October 20, 2011


Exactly. Why do we need more dinosaurs on Metafilter? I hate it when people post so many threads about dinosaurs. Dinosaur, dear? Not today, mother!
posted by Jehan at 9:50 AM on October 20, 2011


ITT: We repeat things that other people said earlier in the thread for lulz.
posted by empath at 9:51 AM on October 20, 2011


Remember when you were six? You and your brother snuck into an empty building through a basement window. You were going to play doctor. He showed you his, but when it got to be your turn you chickened and ran; you remember that? You ever tell anybody that?
posted by eyeballkid at 9:51 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


and a hundred baby spiders came out... and they ate her.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:52 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


As cortex said the double comment flag is for a specific thing that is not this. There is literally nothing we could do short of overhauling the system of commenting that would force people to read and comprehend previous comments to everyone's tastes. This is one of those intractable human problems.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:53 AM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've been noticing more and more that MeTas are starting with "I've been noticing more and more" and I'd like to see some change. Specifically, charts and graphs. Hard data. Proof, that your pet peeve is a) on the rise and b) a bad thing.
posted by DU at 9:58 AM on October 20, 2011 [9 favorites]


Cortex already said that, Jess.
posted by crunchland at 9:59 AM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: This is one of those intractable human problems.

There is in fact already vastly less of this on Metafilter than on any other large internet forum, and to my mind, there is no solution that would not be markedly worse than the problem.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:02 AM on October 20, 2011


Every time you make a MeTa, God touches the doll, but in a good way.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:03 AM on October 20, 2011


I can sympathize in a way, but what would bug me even more is giving people an excuse to be the double-comment police.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:06 AM on October 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


ITT: We repeat things that other people said earlier in the thread for lulz.
posted by nooneyouknow at 10:06 AM on October 20, 2011


Well, albrecht, typing a detailed comment on my phone whilst lying in bed is much slower than typing on my laptop whilst sitting at my desk, but I didn't take into account your sensibilities when I opted not to get out of bed just yet.

I'm sure you'll understand why I'm not apologizing for being "repetitive". Thanks ever so.
posted by MissySedai at 10:08 AM on October 20, 2011


If the thread is really long, you have my permission not to read it.
posted by mattbucher at 10:08 AM on October 20, 2011


Whatever the system, it should have a "I'm typing this while in bed" exemption.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:15 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


How about this. We just cull any comments with do favs, obviously nobody liked those anyway.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:17 AM on October 20, 2011


Slate recently tackled this very issue in a recent Manners for the Digital Age podcast.
posted by mkultra at 10:20 AM on October 20, 2011


This is pretty internet-common. Folk want to share their opinions and thoughts, irrespective of what has already been said; "Oh, that person covered it, I don't need to say anything," is nearly unheard of. You'd need much more heavy moderating plus some kind of "I agree" tag (like how favorites are handled) to allow for that "me too!" reaction and to not only change the current culture of a site, but to deal with the influx of new users who are all coming from that internet-common style.

I completely read none of the links and am only responding to the general sentiment in albrecht's post.
posted by curious nu at 10:21 AM on October 20, 2011


TL;DR

Here's a good solution- go outside and turn the computer off.
posted by TheBones at 10:22 AM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why would the switch be out there?
posted by crunchland at 10:26 AM on October 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


I've been noticing more and more that MeTas are starting with "I've been noticing more and more" and I'd like to see some change. Specifically, charts and graphs. Hard data. Proof, that your pet peeve is a) on the rise and b) a bad thing.

...and many of these MeTas amount to "Wah! People don't post in the fashion that's most acceptable to meeee!"

This is a common forum phenomenon - I must handle half a dozen such complaints every day in the legal information forum I moderate. Boss' policy on such whines is "The log out button is in the same place as the log in button. Use it." Because seriously? When you've got 55,000 registered users? No way in hell you're going to be able to take everyone's precious fee-fees into account, so it's best to tell 'em to hitch up their britches and get over themselves. Boss is a sensible guy.
posted by MissySedai at 10:30 AM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, have you noticed how often people don't seem to read what other people have posted before they comment? Drives me crazy, that.
posted by Decani at 10:33 AM on October 20, 2011


So what I'm hearing so far:

-This isn't a problem/comments aren't meant to work the way I think they should. That is, comments are more like votes in a tally than voices in a conversation.
-Even if it is a problem, it's inevitable, human nature being what it is, and there's nothing the mods or anyone can do about it.
-Shut up and stop expecting so much of MeFi.

I guess if that's the consensus then so be it, but I find especially the second/third viewpoint pretty depressing. I agree that most of the internet consists of people shouting opinions past each other into the void, but does MeFi necessarily have to follow the same rules? Is there really no way to cultivate a community norm of actually reading what we all have to say to each other?

typing a detailed comment on my phone whilst lying in bed is much slower than typing on my laptop whilst sitting at my desk

I can totally understand that, and definitely once I've put in the effort to type something, I'd be loathe to discard it. Honest question, though: Did you preview before posting? If you had, and you saw someone make almost word-for-word the same point, would you post it anyway? We make previewing mandatory before posting FPPs; I wonder what effect it would have if the same were true of comments.
posted by albrecht at 10:34 AM on October 20, 2011


Perhaps some people are applying the Wadsworth Constant to threads and skip the first 30% of comments assuming that the good stuff doesn't start until there.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:35 AM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


So would it be for comments that were exactly the same, or sort of the same, or kind of similar, or the same idea? And who gets to decide which it is?
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 10:35 AM on October 20, 2011


I'd like to see some change. Specifically, charts and graphs.

Done.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:37 AM on October 20, 2011 [16 favorites]


Is there really no way to cultivate a community norm of actually reading what we all have to say to each other? --- Here's the way. You do it. That's the way.
posted by crunchland at 10:37 AM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Get him a kilt.
posted by pracowity at 10:41 AM on October 20, 2011


I see this behavior quite a bit in obituary threads. One person posts just a period and I'll be damned if almost every time at least a few more people post the exact same thing. Quite often a few people will do it in a row. It's not that hard to spot a post with just a single period on even the quickest scan of the comments. That's just lazy.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:44 AM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wait, there are other people commenting on here?
posted by cmoj at 10:45 AM on October 20, 2011


When you've got 55,000 registered users? No way in hell you're going to be able to take everyone's precious fee-fees into account, so it's best to tell 'em to hitch up their britches and get over themselves.

This is why I asked for hard data. Because otherwise it's all too easy to say "we have a lot of people and you can't please everyone, therefore no complaints are legitimate".
posted by DU at 10:48 AM on October 20, 2011


Does anyone read the posts down here?
posted by kaibutsu at 10:48 AM on October 20, 2011


...and we often repeat the same thing that's already been said, too.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:48 AM on October 20, 2011


Get him a kilt.
Kilt him? Darn near... um, hm.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:50 AM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Honest question, though: Did you preview before posting?

Nope. Crashes my phone more often than not.

If you had, and you saw someone make almost word-for-word the same point, would you post it anyway?

Care to point out who else detailed Hanna's creds or our governor's responsibility in this mess?
posted by MissySedai at 10:53 AM on October 20, 2011


Just dropped in to say that using the "double comment" flag seems like a smart idea to me. Why don't we just do that? Problem solved!
posted by mkultra at 10:53 AM on October 20, 2011


I was on a forum the other day where one user called out another for repeating or misunderstanding something that had been said in a 200+ page comment thread, because the second user had apparently not read through all 200 pages (For which he was called an "illiterate retard")

I like Metafilter, because we tend to not do things like that. A little redundancy is a whole lot better than a lot of screaming and intimidation.

Besides, it's nice to have a few "What were we talking about again?" comments on long threads to help re-rail the conversation.

I'd also kind of like to see us lock threads with several hundred comments once they become 5-7 days old, to prevent them from becoming unmanagably long, and potentially allow the discussion to be sharded out into several topics that are discrete, and a more manageable size. If something's important enough that the story's received 500+ comments, and we're still talking about it a week later, I'm sure there's plenty of new FPP-worthy material to update the discussion. I am decidedly not a fan of mega-threads.
posted by schmod at 10:55 AM on October 20, 2011


WHAT ARE THESE ARROWS
posted by villanelles at dawn at 11:00 AM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


So long as the "My Favorites" page doesn't show how many comments have been made since your last visit, but the "My Comments" page does, you're gonna see people commenting just to make it easier to follow a thread.
posted by kafziel at 11:01 AM on October 20, 2011


I guess if that's the consensus then so be it, but I find especially the second/third viewpoint pretty depressing. I agree that most of the internet consists of people shouting opinions past each other into the void, but does MeFi necessarily have to follow the same rules? Is there really no way to cultivate a community norm of actually reading what we all have to say to each other?

Let's say you are having a conversation in a room with a bunch of people. One person makes a statement on a subject. Person 2 (and 3 and 4, etc) happens to agree. Person 2 has a few options. Say nothing, because why bother, it's already been said; nod sagely and say "I agree;" or use their own words to state their opinion, even if that opinion seems identical to the one stated just before.

It's perfectly natural in real life for someone to do the third thing. It doesn't (necessarily) mean they missed part of the conversation. It just means they are a person who either feels they have something to contribute, wants to be heard, or both.

I really don't see this as being different. I am speaking as someone who, 99 times out of a hundred, does not post anything because I am self-conscious about being redundant, or doubt that I have anything to contribute. I am glad there are bolder people who don't worry so much about these things.
posted by acanthous at 11:03 AM on October 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


Not only would I like to require all users read every single comment before adding their own, I'd also like for them to have perfect comprehension of the meaning and intent of the comments they've read, within the context of that particular discussion, the link(s) at hand, and also the greater consideration of human conversation/communication.

pb, I have faith in technology. ... only because I have no faith in humanity.
posted by carsonb at 11:03 AM on October 20, 2011


*goes back up to read the rest of the thread*
*hopes someone already made my point before me, FTI*
posted by carsonb at 11:04 AM on October 20, 2011


I like to eat paste.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 11:04 AM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


There are times when this happens to me, and I do actually delete my comment on preview rather than clutter up the thread with repeated comments. Then there are other times when I spend so much time crafting my comments that I fall in love with them and so when I go to post them and discover that someone else has said the same thing I decide that my words are still superior and will certainly make the point better and really connect with people, so I do an ego post anyway, but I'm wrong to do so. Then there are other times when my comments are so perfect that the mods inevitably close the thread just as I was going to post it, and my screams can be heard to the heavens, so I e-mail the comment to the mods just so they can see how perfect a comment they have killed and then when I reread the sent e-mail I'm all like, "Meh. Why did I think that was so special?" Then there are other times when I drop a turd in the punchbowl just for the LULZ. So I guess my point is that I'm kind of an asshole and should probably close my account because even I'm starting to get tired of my schtick.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:04 AM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Despite the pile-on of defensiveness and lulz, I do agree with the concerns brought up by the OP. The problem, as I see it, is that when you're doing the "right thing" - previewing to make sure someone else didn't already say what you're going to say & canceling your comment if they did; checking to see if someone already made the point you wanted to make in a thread and walking away without commenting if you don't have anything new to add - it's invisible. None of the other members out there know that you're doing that, and trying to be a good citizen, so you get no cookie. (This is one thing I've found I like about favorites that I didn't expect - I get to contribute if someone's already said what I'm going to say; then I don't feel left out of the conversation, but neither do I feel like I'm cluttering up the thread just to say "me too" or "thing someone else already said FUCK YEAH") But it's easy to weigh in with your outrage or your clever joke or whatever and it's satisfying.

So I don't think the standard is going to change unless most denizens of MeFi agree to adopt it. I would love to see it become a community effort of each person doing their part to bring their best participation to threads and so forth, but that kind of spirit is hard to get traction with online, since you know, none of us are real or anything, and it takes more effort with less immediate payoff.

I would love a MeFi Good Citizen Posse though. Be the change you want to see! and all that. Then you'd get the warm fuzzies from being part of a group effort to raise the standard. I think it would rock, so feel free to throw some cynical tomatoes now, heh.
posted by flex at 11:07 AM on October 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: "Done."

Honey Badger don't play duck duck goose?
posted by zarq at 11:08 AM on October 20, 2011


I'm going to guess that this bothers people more who see a thread as one conversation, versus those who see a thread as a room in which multiple but interweaving discussions may be taking place. Even if the first is the ideal, when a thread gets too long, it's not always practical to say, this is one conversation. You'll get some repetition of things.

What helps me is envisioning a longer thread as discussions going on at a party. I don't need to be actively connected to everything happening, or make sure that everyone knows what's already been said everywhere. In this way, I can see repetition as likely (like different groups discussing the news of the day), but not something that I always need to feel personally responsible for engaging, and can thus ignore at-will.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:10 AM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thing flex already said FUCK YEAH me too.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 11:11 AM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I kid you not, I just deleted a comment that was basically saying exactly what IRFH said in the first few sentences of this comment (re: falling in love with my own comment even though others have covered it before I finished it)

So -- change, it can happen!
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:11 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I decide that my words are still superior and will certainly make the point better and really connect with people, so I do an ego post anyway, but I'm wrong to do so.

WHAT I HAVE TO SAY IS USUALLY SO FUCKING ELOQUENT THAT EVEN IF SOMEONE DISCERNED AND PASSED ALONG MY POINT ALREADY THEY PROBABLY BUMBLED IT SOMEWHERE ALONG THE LINE LIKE A STONED 8 YEAR-OLD PLAYING TELEPHONE AND YOU DESERVE NAY, ABSOLUTELY MUST BECOME WITNESS TO THE ULTIMATE RENDITION OF MY ORIGINAL BRILLIANCE THROUGH THEIR SCREEN AND EYEBALLS AND BRAIN STEMS.

(THE TRICK IS TO DO IT LOUDER.)
posted by carsonb at 11:13 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


acanthous, I really didn't see your comment before making a similar analogy (look, now I'm all paranoid). Totally agree though. Sometimes repetition is a fill-in for nonverbals that are natural in larger groups.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:13 AM on October 20, 2011


Metafilter: unless you're the quidnunc kid.
posted by idiopath at 11:18 AM on October 20, 2011


I'd like to see some change. Specifically, charts and graphs.

Done.


How is it possible that a venn diagram bring so much joy?
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:20 AM on October 20, 2011


You need more proof?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:22 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


So a horse and a whale walk into a sex shop...
posted by villanelles at dawn at 11:24 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


One person makes a statement on a subject. Person 2 (and 3 and 4, etc) happens to agree. Person 2 has a few options. Say nothing, because why bother, it's already been said; nod sagely and say "I agree;"use their own words to state their opinion, even if that opinion seems identical to the one stated just before.

It's perfectly natural in real life for someone to do the third thing. It doesn't (necessarily) mean they missed part of the conversation. It just means they are a person who either feels they have something to contribute, wants to be heard, or both.


That's interesting, because I would honestly be very surprised if a real-life conversation went this way. After one person says, "They should have tranq'd those poor animals!", you wouldn't think it was weird if 6 other people in the room said, in order and without acknowledging each other:

-"tranquilizing wild animals is not as easy as many people believe"
-"Tranquilizing 300lb animals doesn't always go predictably--add to that unpredictability when you're a cop, not an exotic animal vet"
-"Tranquilizer guns do not work like in video games, tranqing a single large mammal with a rifle in full daylight is difficult and potentially dangerous"
-"a tranq gun has to be handled by an expert. And it was in the dark and rain."
-"Tranqing all the animals would have been an essentially impossible task, with a very likely chance of human casualties"
-"Tranqing an already pissed off 300 - 400 pound carnivore in broad daylight is NOT easy, even when you've got a full and experienced team to help"

It just seems so apparent to me that these weren't part of the same conversation, but rather people independently voicing their opinion to satisfy their own desire to be heard. Which, if that's the way it's meant to work, is OK. But I guess I'm casting my vote for paying attention to what other people have said in the hopes they'll do the same for me.

Care to point out who else detailed Hanna's creds or our governor's responsibility in this mess?

Nobody did, but that's beside the point. If someone says "Thing X!" and then someone else says "Thing X! And also thing Y!" it still seems to me like something's missing that would acknowledge the existence of the first person, even if Thing Y is an important and valuable contribution. Something like "Yes, that other person is right about thing X! Also thing Y!" But this isn't about a Metafilter style guide--it's about how people use the site.
posted by albrecht at 11:26 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

There is in fact already vastly less of this on Metafilter than on any other large internet forum, and to my mind, there is no solution that would not be markedly worse than the problem.Horace Rumpole
I like Metafilter, because we tend to not do things like that. A little redundancy is a whole lot better than a lot of screaming and intimidation.schmod
Okay, I guess I'm in the minority here, but I think that not reading the thread before commenting in it is a very serious breech of etiquette and I think we can do something about it—which is just to include it among our community standards of behavior.

One thing that makes MetaFilter so attractive to most of its members is that it has a very active and robust ethos of behavior. We do things a certain way here and we expect new users to learn how to behave or to leave. Things like writing in complete sentences, using capitalization and punctuation and generally not IM-speak are actually pretty high barriers to entry for many people. I can easily imagine a discussion on a site where this isn't the convention that is just like the one we're having here: that expecting people to write more formally is unrealistic and there's no way that they could get people to do it. And yet we do it here.

I think we should intimidate people who clearly aren't reading threads before posting.

Note, however, that I don't think that merely repeating something that's already been said is prima facie evidence that someone's not read the thread.
I'm going to guess that this bothers people more who see a thread as one conversation, versus those who see a thread as a room in which multiple but interweaving discussions may be taking place.SpacemanStix
Well, obviously threads have "multiple, interweaving conversations". The issue you've raised is whether the thread itself is seen as the larger conversation in which the others take place, or whether the multiple conversations are independent of each other. Specifically, the issue is whether people are expected to read all the comments.

And, well, the thing is, they are expected to do this. There's a reason why we don't have threaded comments. It's not some random thing about MeFi. It's not because it would require a prohibitive technological change. It's because the site was deliberately designed this way so that each thread would be one large conversation in which people would participate. Matt deliberately wanted to avoid fractured, independent conversations. (I'm not putting words in his mouth—he's discussed his design decisions in detail.) And this is the ethos that the members of the site came to embrace, as well. That's why most people don't want threaded comments.

So, you know, this isn't a to-may-to/to-mah-to thing. The people who aren't reading the whole thread and who think that their comments in the thread are independent of what everyone else has said are doing it wrong.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:28 AM on October 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


While I agree that there are times repetitiveness is good (like in AskMeFi questions where people kinda need to hear OH HELL NAWZ DON'T BE PUTTIN UP WITH THAT from 20 different people) and yes, if there's multiple overlapping conversations it's inevitable, I'm more thinking about the times where it makes a thread 1) discouraging (a bunch of initial lulzy/snarky comments about the post means people don't bother with the post or they don't bother to have a better discussion) or 2) gets everyone worked up and then it's hard to get a good discussion going at all.

I'm thinking particularly of a recent-ish thread that blew up at the beginning when someone made a crappy comment, and a bunch of people all yelled at the crappy comment, and they were all saying the same thing; this makes it harder for the mods to get rid of a derail or crap comment (they've told us plenty of times to not feed the trolls to make this easier); and it also makes the thread seem loud and fighty. People click in to read the comments, see the yelling, and get annoyed ("not this same crap again") or intimidated ("wow, I had X comment to make on this subject but now I don't want to, because I don't want to get yelled at") or discouraged ("I wish threads wouldn't be like this on MeFi"), and then we end up with "MeFi doesn't do X well" and everyone accepts that like it's inevitable. That bites, I think.

This is supposed to be a self-policing site. I think too often that becomes "I'm going to call out this shit!" or "I'm going to call out that person on their shit!" instead of "I'm going to police myself to behave better, for the benefit of this community that I enjoy being a part of".
posted by flex at 11:34 AM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think we should intimidate people who clearly aren't reading threads before posting.

I do not like the tone of this and suggest you reframe it unless it is a joke I am not understanding.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:35 AM on October 20, 2011

I do not like the tone of this and suggest you reframe it unless it is a joke I am not understanding.jessamyn
It's not a joke. I used the word intimidate because schmod did. It's not the word I would have chosen otherwise.

I just mean peer-pressure.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:39 AM on October 20, 2011


My dad's comment can beat up your dad's comment.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:39 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a reason why we don't have threaded comments.

Everytime I see someone bring this up, I want to have a "yay no threaded comments" party. With cake and hats and, some posters of threaded comments with a big NO in a red circle with a slash through it.I don't like them and don't want them here, is what I'm saying.
posted by sweetkid at 11:40 AM on October 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Remember, there's one thing stronger than a dog's mefite's sense of smell. His sense of irony."
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:42 AM on October 20, 2011


I take irony supplements.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:43 AM on October 20, 2011


There is literally nothing we could do short of overhauling the system of commenting that would force people to read and comprehend previous comments to everyone's tastes. T

Ha! Under this system I could single-handedly break Metafilter; because not even I know what the hell I'm talking about most of the time.

Comprehension is not an option!
posted by quin at 11:44 AM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think we can do something about it—which is just to include it among our community standards of behavior.

I am totally fine with the notion that it makes you a better MeFite to read threads before commenting and to make an effort not to add redundant comments to the thread. I just don't think that it's something that can or should be enforced, either by mods or by community pressure (relieved to hear you weren't serious about "intimidation") without that becoming a bigger source of noise and grar than the relatively mild and easily ignored irritation of redundant comment.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 11:45 AM on October 20, 2011


This isn't a problem/comments aren't meant to work the way I think they should. That is, comments are more like votes in a tally than voices in a conversation.

It's not so much as that, as folks have noted, in a large crowd dynamic you don't get a completely coherent single line of conversation. Comments are voices in an overlapping set of conversations, and some people are attending more carefully to one or all of those threads of conversation than others are.

In my perfect world, everybody reads every comment in a thread before commenting themselves, adjusting what they have to say in context of what's come before and avoiding just blindly reiterating ground already covered in favor of amplifying or supplementing what's been said with their own nuances or additions.

We don't live in my perfect world, and realistically some folks are going to be in more of a hurry to have their say than to read exhaustively. That's especially likely to happen in long or fast-moving threads or in threads with a provocative lede.

And I'm all for people being better about this stuff and I think gently encouraging that is fine, but it's not something that deleting comments is a good answer to. I'm not sure if there is a suitably subtle systemic mechanism that can help with this aside from just modeling good behavior as much as possible.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:52 AM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's not a joke. I used the word intimidate because schmod did. It's not the word I would have chosen otherwise.

I'd rank that right up there with people who see it as their job to tell people that they should have Googled harder before asking a question.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:56 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am totally fine with the notion that it makes you a better MeFite to read threads before commenting and to make an effort not to add redundant comments to the thread.Horace Rumpole
I'm not really up with worrying so much about "repeated comments". My impression is that albrecht mentioned that merely as an example of something which indicates that someone hasn't read the thread, not that he had a strong objection to that specifically.

There's a lot of reasons why people might repeat things that have already been said. I guess you might argue that albrecht is therefore wrong to conclude that this could ever reliably indicate that someone hasn't read the thread; but it seems to me that there's a certain way in which someone can repeat something, and in a certain context, that makes it pretty obvious they've not read what's come before their comment.

Anyway, thinking that it's okay to comment without reading the thread seems to me to be a really bad thing to do. Worse, I think, even than not reading the post's linked article. Not RTFA is pretty darn bad, of course. But commenting without reading what others have said is really an antisocial behavior. It expects other people to value what you've written while demonstrating that you don't value what other people have written.

"(relieved to hear you weren't serious about 'intimidation')"

Yeah, I thought that it would be obvious that I was responding directly to schmod's comment when I used that word (and in his comment, I don't think he meant "intimidation" in the more sinister sense, either) and I think I meant to italicize "should", but failed to. Again, I meant it in the peer-pressuring sense. Which some people find pretty sinister enough, but, well, sometimes it's a force for good.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:59 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can always reply to people, noting that what they wrote was already covered by previous comments. Ideally, that would be a lightbulb for "Maybe I should read the replies in the future."
posted by klangklangston at 12:10 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think that not reading the thread before commenting in it is a very serious breech of etiquette and I think we can do something about it—which is just to include it among our community standards of behavior.

It would be easier to just insert a fish in those breeches.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:26 PM on October 20, 2011


I agree that people are WAY lazier about checking out the links or reading the other comments than they used to be.

I'd like to be able to say that it's all newer users that do this, but honestly lots of the time it's older users who feel totally complacent in their ability to read the room and just jump in with their opinion.
posted by hermitosis at 12:40 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ha, I just caught one here. Thanks, only five other people so far had showed up to speculate about that!
posted by hermitosis at 12:46 PM on October 20, 2011


Same thing happened in a thread about Margaret Atwood. (Actually, this happens any time Atwood is mentioned, and it is usually the same people who jump in with an opinion about her, without reading what she says.)

Perhaps the best thing to do is just skip over those types of comments. For flagging to work, the moderators would have to have a photographic memory about every thread subject and the behavior of commenters in it. It doesn't seem realistic to expect moderation to fix this.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:14 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's worse than just single threads. I've been basically making the same comment for six years, regardless of the link on the blue or the topic here. Saves endless calories of brain power.
posted by Abiezer at 1:16 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've got it. Before you can comment, you have to take a reading comprehension test like they have on the SAT.
posted by desjardins at 1:27 PM on October 20, 2011


I have another view of this repetitiveness. I think that people are doing what they were taught in school and beginning their response with their basic premise which is then followed up by particulars that support their point of view.

So, the examples above would be:
-"tranquilizing wild animals is not as easy as many people believe" - this was followed by a quotation from Hanna illustrating why he thought this was true

-"Tranquilizer guns do not work like in video games, tranqing a single large mammal with a rifle in full daylight is difficult and potentially dangerous" - this was followed by how traquilizing an animal can go not ideally

-"a tranq gun has to be handled by an expert. And it was in the dark and rain." - this was in a comment about how many tranq guns the police had

Anyway, etc. etc.

I mean, sure those exact quotes are pretty similar but the context of each reply is very different - and not repetitive actually. I'm not sure that the replies would work as a whole without that wording.
posted by hydrobatidae at 1:37 PM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's interesting, because I would honestly be very surprised if a real-life conversation went this way. After one person says, "They should have tranq'd those poor animals!", you wouldn't think it was weird if 6 other people in the room said, in order and without acknowledging each other:

-"tranquilizing wild animals is not as easy as many people believe"
-"Tranquilizing 300lb animals doesn't always go predictably--add to that unpredictability when you're a cop, not an exotic animal vet"
-"Tranquilizer guns do not work like in video games, tranqing a single large mammal with a rifle in full daylight is difficult and potentially dangerous"
-"a tranq gun has to be handled by an expert. And it was in the dark and rain."
-"Tranqing all the animals would have been an essentially impossible task, with a very likely chance of human casualties"
-"Tranqing an already pissed off 300 - 400 pound carnivore in broad daylight is NOT easy, even when you've got a full and experienced team to help"


This totally happens in real life. Exactly like this. About tranquilizer guns and tranquilizing/anesthetizing agents, for real. As if no similar point was raised by anyone else. I have been to this party. I have seen it. This is the MetaTalk equivalent of someone posting a mystery mammal skeleton on AskMe. I'm almost excited that I can confirm this phenomenon--you all have no idea.

In the real life examples I'm citing, when someone comments with statement that displays a level of basic misunderstanding of the parameters of the problem and the tools at hand--and as we are all now well aware, tranquilizing guns and their limitations are often misunderstood--it's nearly a reflex to volley back the comment/explanation you're used to using to clarify/refute the statement at hand. It barely hits the register of consciousness to pay attention to if anyone else has addressed the issue, or addressed it in nearly the same way. Especially if you're accustomed to environments where you are often one of the few people with experience/training/knowledge related to the matter at hand.

In this scenario, sure, sometimes it's the "pile-on" or "I must be heard" phenomena, but to some extent, when I've seen it, I believe it is a bit of the inattentive blindness/deafness problem. You don't expect it, so you don't see or hear it, even if it's there. And by "there" I mean "eight other veterinary health professionals with whom you are personally acquainted just said the same thing in turn." The collective effect isn't pretty, but it's not meant the way it comes across.

Obviously, MetaFilter is not a conference mixer, but I think there is also some selective inattention involved. And selective inattention is really difficult to fight--more so than a pile-on or "must-be-heard" feeling. Or timing of comments. Or in whether or not it's acceptable to develop another comment's set of statements, and to what extent. Selective filtering is a different skillset from all of these. I'm worried that this comment will itself be an example, though I've read and re-read multiple times already, and the RL observation part is at least different.

(I wouldn't underestimate the impact of beer on the real-life version, though.)
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 2:15 PM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


What's interesting to me about MeFi is how it acts as a model of neural processing. It's basically a model of a brain. Thoughts and patterns are recognized by individual users, who function like neurons or ganglia. Sometimes disparate areas of the brain fire based on the same stimuli. Because they're not in closer contact, neither knows the other has arrived at the same impulse or conclusion. The more deeply ingrained a pattern (the better it has been learned), the more neurons fire. And so the group picture (think of it as conscious thought) reflects these patterns most strongly.

Additionally, some impulses are inhibitory. There are some thoughts that come to mind that we'd really rather not, so there are chastising comments and flags. Sometimes strange attractors fire that draw the conversation off in unexpected directions, not unlike your imagination running away. Odd lateral connections are made, unbidden. The turmoil that you see in an average comment thread is not unlike all the sub-conscious-level processes going on beneath our daily thoughts on a variety of subjects.

Take, for example, the thread about the elderly couple dying together. As you read the full story, you might start going "aww," but then as the details of the accident (what, they were at fault?) are made clear further down the page, you have a different line of thought. There's conflicting feelings and emotions, not unlike the comment activity in the thread. The overall picture of the thread, a very high-level overview of the community reaction, would probably look a lot like the emotional picture in a human brain.

MetaFilter is the macrocosm. Interesting, no?
posted by Eideteker at 2:44 PM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


And, I mean, this is how I view most threads on the site. I rarely engage in dogfights or grudges because, well, we're all the same superorganism. Though if you're about to put our collective hand on a stove, I'm going to say something.
posted by Eideteker at 2:46 PM on October 20, 2011


Interestingly enough, my first comment there could be considered a metacognitive impulse. Whether or not it gets picked up by the rest of the brain (that's you guys) determines whether or not it reaches the level of consciousness. If so, then we can possibly argue that MetaFilter has had an actual metacognitive thought, indeed, thought about its own thinking. And, perhaps in that moment, achieved for a brief instant what you and I take for granted every day as "consciousness." I mean, it sounds ludicrous, but so is that tenuous web we call "consciousness," "rational thought," "self-direction," etc. It's all just a creamy layer of ephemera on top of a large volume of lower-level processes that make up the bulk of our everyday interactions.

Or, you know, we could just make SKYNET jokes.
posted by Eideteker at 2:55 PM on October 20, 2011


First
posted by nathancaswell at 2:56 PM on October 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


^ this may be the most clever comment i've ever posted
posted by nathancaswell at 3:02 PM on October 20, 2011


I hate those threads that are just a bunch of .'s. It's like, come up with something on your own, ffs!
posted by tumid dahlia at 3:21 PM on October 20, 2011


tumid dahlia: I hate those threads that are just a bunch of .'s. It's like, come up with something on your own, ffs!

I know, right?
posted by gman at 3:23 PM on October 20, 2011


Purple monkey dishwasher Mussolini.

Bet no one said that already.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:31 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


The redundancy will be helpful in reconstructing the site as it decays.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:49 PM on October 20, 2011


Metafilter: all your brain are belong to us
posted by Chairboy at 3:51 PM on October 20, 2011


I read the whole thread, as instructed. Every word. Now I have a headache and I've forgotten what we were talking about.
posted by dg at 3:59 PM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


We were talking about the fact that the next generation hasn't taken to touch typing much, and hence are perfectly comfortable composing long tracts on devices like iPads.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:51 PM on October 20, 2011


You can always reply to people, noting that what they wrote was already covered by previous comments.

I've thought about doing that before, but I decided that was too much talking-about-the-discussion rather than actually participating in it. Mods, would that have been OK, or should that kind of metacommentary belong exclusively in MeTa (if anywhere)?
posted by albrecht at 5:20 PM on October 20, 2011


I smoked up a bag of elephant tranquilizers because I had to deal with the money grubby miser.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 5:33 PM on October 20, 2011


You can always reply to people, noting that what they wrote was already covered by previous comments.

> I've thought about doing that before ...


I doubt if that's going to accomplish much. People who do this probably aren't going to read your response to their comment any more than they read previous comments.


I'm in the 'this is a minor problem' camp. It's a nuisance, but there isn't really a good way to fix it. A lot comments early in the thread by people who didn't bother to read or look at whatever was linked to can kill whatever discussion might otherwise have happened or irreversibly derail it. This sort of thing, when it happens in an already ongoing discussion, can easily be talked over and ignored.
posted by nangar at 5:57 PM on October 20, 2011


I'm not reading this thread.

Seriously.
posted by spitbull at 6:01 PM on October 20, 2011


Mods, would that have been OK, or should that kind of metacommentary belong exclusively in MeTa (if anywhere)?

A small reminder that people are restating each other is fine. A grouchy "you are all saying the same thing" when people are, in fact, not saying the same thing is probably not a great idea. I guess we'd ask you to do some sort of reality check about whether conversation was really getting seriously impeded because people were failing to read the thread, or if it's more of a personal inconvenience. I don't mean in general, but evaluating stuff on a case by case basis. In AskMe we see people do polite versions of this all the time "Hey the OP said they're already in therapy so please stop suggesting therapy..." but more grouchy "STFU they already said they're in therapy dumbass" is worse than just letting the redundant comment stand.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:11 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Exactly, yeah. There's a sensible in-thread redirect sort of thing, which can be fine-to-great in the right context with a bit of care, and then there's ending up being That Guy about constantly grousing at people about some given thing. Helpful contributor to the health of a given discussion good, developing a rep as Repeated-Thought Cop not so good.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:26 PM on October 20, 2011


All I can say is the idea that there was a time when people didn't repeat previous comments, even previous links, made me laugh in a very snorty way. When was this magical time, exactly? It must have been in the first year or two of the site-- back when there were only 5 comments per post.

Note to It's Raining Florence Henderson: I was going to favorite this comment but then you added "So I guess my point is that I'm kind of an asshole and should probably close my account because even I'm starting to get tired of my schtick" and if I favorited the comment it would seem as if I was endorsing that view. So I had to favorite your next comment instead and it wasn't very funny.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:26 PM on October 20, 2011


Yeah, I don't endorse that view either. Come back, IRFH.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:08 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Flat thread model + critical mass of users + 1 per controversial topic = crap thread. This, from a resident of the city that voluntarily, on the profit motive, hosts the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, annually, to occur again this week.

And yet, regardless of previous advice, discussion, and counter-example, here, the flat thread model remains sacrosanct. Opinions are.

Heh. Here's to ya.
posted by paulsc at 8:17 PM on October 20, 2011


NO
posted by not_on_display at 8:19 PM on October 20, 2011


paulsc: "the flat thread model remains sacrosanct."

I agree ;-)
posted by dg at 8:51 PM on October 20, 2011


If people weren't allowed to simply repeat what someone else had already said a lot of threads on religion, republicans and the Star Wars prequels would only be one comment long.
posted by joannemullen at 9:07 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


And yet, regardless of previous advice, discussion, and counter-example, here, the flat thread model remains sacrosanct.

Oh blow it out your collapse button why don't ya.
posted by fleacircus at 9:24 PM on October 20, 2011


"Oh blow it out your collapse button why don't ya."
posted by fleacircus at 12:24 AM on October 21

Collapse button? Collapse Button?

WHAT COLLAPSE BUTTON????
posted by paulsc at 9:51 PM on October 20, 2011


Hmmm...do y'all think "so anyway, you were saying?" would work on threads? That's how one generally addresses this problem in real life --- acknowledge existing consensus and re-direct. So in the example thread, interjecting something like "seems pretty clear traquing them would have been pretty tough. Does anyone know why Ohio in particular has such loose guidelines on exotic pets?"

If people are riled up and engaged in am argument, they'd probably bulldoze any such attempt. But for a drip-drab thread like the Ohio, seems to me it might have a chance at success. Has anyone attempted it?
posted by Diablevert at 10:22 PM on October 20, 2011


I've just gone to AskMe and provided the same answer someone else gave two hours previously, to my shame, so obviously this heads-up has passed me by.
posted by Abiezer at 10:31 PM on October 20, 2011


I'd be happy if we could get people to read the "below the fold" part of AskMe questions before responding. Including me.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:34 PM on October 20, 2011

And yet, regardless of previous advice, discussion, and counter-example, here, the flat thread model remains sacrosanct. Opinions are.paulsc
Damn straight.

*looks around intimidatingly*

Right?

*adjusts pocket-protector to call attention to no-nonsense writing implements*

We don't need no stinkin' threaded comments around here, now do we?

*ostentatiously cracks knuckles, then pulls asthma inhaler from fanny pack*

We're hard core at MetaFilter, and none of y'all ever forget it...what are you laughing at, Brit Boy? Ain't you never seen a fanny pack before?

*takes a long pull from inhaler, crosses arms against chest, looks around in satisfaction*
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:43 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


*takes a long pull from inhaler, crosses arms against chest, looks around in satisfaction*
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:43 AM on October 21

Cocks and hand releases both hammers on 10 gauge double barrel 3 trigger piece, with heavy hand loaded shells.

Swivels head, occasionally, under camo ball cap, while slurping Sea Breeze, and looking around in, not exactly, dissatisfaction.

Scratches belly under camo colored Kevlar vest with lots more hand loaded shells. Burps.

Checks the Weather Channel.

Too cold for fishin', and too wet for killin' pigs.
posted by paulsc at 11:39 PM on October 20, 2011


Well, I haven't read all of the comments, so apologies if this has already been suggested, but how about this:

Each comment in a thread already has the little plus sign (for favouriting I think). Just put a single digit number next to it. Then, next to the comment box at the bottom of the page, have a little text box where the commenter puts the sum of all those digits for the thread. The 'Post Comment' button is only enabled when the correct sum is put into the box. Simple.
posted by veedubya at 3:05 AM on October 21, 2011


I totally didn't expect this thread to be the one that lead to IRFH walking away from MetaFilter.
posted by RichardP at 6:20 AM on October 21, 2011


I think IRFH will be back soon with a new handle.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:48 AM on October 21, 2011


Flo's just taking a break, most likely. He does that now and then, real life tends to be involved.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:26 AM on October 21, 2011


I've been noticing more and more lately that many people who comment in a thread are not reading the thread very closely, and as a result they end up repeating things that other people have already said.
posted by stormpooper at 10:05 AM on October 21, 2011


paulsc, I think you are supposed to use tranquilizers on those pigs, not just shoot them. I read it in a thread somewhere.

IRFH, please do come back! I've always enjoyed your contributions to the site. I hope you are just taking a break.

As far as the problem of repetitive comments and the flat vs threading debate, I think this is a rather eloquent solution.
posted by misha at 5:26 PM on October 21, 2011


argh.
posted by crunchland at 7:41 PM on October 21, 2011


See, now I know that crunchland actually reads the comments! (I've never done that before, btw)
posted by misha at 12:07 AM on October 22, 2011


Ivan Fyodorovich: "Yeah, I thought that it would be obvious that I was responding directly to schmod's comment when I used that word (and in his comment, I don't think he meant "intimidation" in the more sinister sense, either)"

Um. I provided a direct quote, in which a forum member called a new forum member an "illiterate retard."

Seems like a pretty sinister form of intimidation to me.
posted by schmod at 8:05 AM on October 31, 2011


That's just being a dick. I'm not entirely sure what jessamyn had in mind from my "intimidation", but by her reaction I'm pretty sure that she had something a lot closer to genuinely "sinister" in mind. What I had in mind was not being a dick nor sinister—but peer pressure, not necessarily gentle and kind (though not excessively ungentle and unkind; i.e., being a dick).

Healthy communities enforce standards of behavior and in doing so it's not always hugs and puppies. It also involves making those who don't conform feel unwelcome.

I'm not a conformist (though I'm also not rebellious for rebellion's sake) and I'm no more comfortable with this sort of thing than you probably are. But I recognize that there will always be social norms and limits on noncomformity, that all examples of noncomformity aren't healthy and useful, that certain kinds of noncomformity are especially destructive to the community's cohesion. I like diversity and I like dissent. In my time on MeFi, I've quite often spoken up in defense of some people with whom I don't agree who are dissenters from MeFi's politics and similar views. Nevertheless, I support standards of behavior that I think are healthy and useful for MetaFilter. This particularly involves behaviors that make MeFi a "community" in the first place. Nothing matters more for that than reading what other people have to say.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:47 AM on November 1, 2011


"Let's actively favor an environment in which people rightly expect to be treated dickishly" is pretty much bad enough as a notion of intimidation-as-cultural-norm to be a problem in our eyes. It doesn't need to be psycho or sinister to be a problem; as an attitude, "people should expect to be made to feel bad in some respect" is kind of a crappy one, in no small part because different people have different ideas of what execution on that front means and when that's the stated norm they can use it as an aegis when called on crappy behavior of their own.

Thoughtful peer guidance is fine. Letting someone know in as decent a way as possible that something's going wrong with their attempts to interact here: great. There's a natural pressure of community norms and expectations against outlier behavior in a community context like this, one that is unavoidable and usually not a problem in its own right. But people being dicks to each other or creating a sense of small-i intimidation about trying to interact with the site is not so good, and there's been a lot of not so great history of that happening on the site and I'd sure like there to continue to be less of it as time goes by.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:08 AM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


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