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Pre-emptive moderation considered bad?
November 26, 2011 9:29 AM   Subscribe

Pre-emptive moderation considered bad?

It seems to me I see more and more pre-emptive moderation before anything overtly bad has happened. Today's example is this, where someone who mentioned without editorial comment that Citibank had sponsored this Peter Gabriel concert was slapped down.

I understand that some topics inevitably do not end well - but this doesn't seem to be one of them. More important, in 2011 surely a responsible consumer needs to know what corporate figure is behind events?

Of course personal insults and derails should be discouraged; but when a prominent figure like Peter Gabriel, someone has been active in the past in liberal and humanitarian causes, has a show sponsored by Citibank, any posting about this show is IMHO incomplete if this fact isn't mentioned.
posted by lupus_yonderboy to Etiquette/Policy at 9:29 AM (101 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

(...yes, I know the pattern is "considered harmful" but I was bored with that...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:31 AM on November 26, 2011


The comment indicating that fact wasn't deleted.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:32 AM on November 26, 2011


Yep, though it's a simple derail, and it's early in a thread. We have a higher bar for the first few comments on a thread because they so often dictate where a discussion leads and an early off-topic-ish derail can shitcan a discussion faster than anything else.

That said, it looks like taz restored the comments.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:33 AM on November 26, 2011


Completely ridiculous comment to begin with.

The show wasn't sponsored by Citibank. The webstream was sponsored by Citibank. Meaning there was one short commercial to be viewed before the stream started, no interruption during the full ~70 minutes of the show, and no commercial after the fact. Peter never mentions Citibank from the stage; there are no Citibank logos to be seen during the performance.

It was an obvious trolling comment and I'm surprised it wasn't deleted from the get-go.
posted by hippybear at 9:33 AM on November 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I think I get Taz's reasoning/concern, but the sponsorship seems like a perfectly legitimate side conversation to have in the thread.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:33 AM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


(also, it looks like they were deleted for all of 30 seconds before she re-considered, so I'm not sure this thread is really necessary)
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:34 AM on November 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


More important, in 2011 surely a responsible consumer needs to know what corporate figure is behind events?

I kind of feel like the obvious response is, "why?" Not as in why should anyone ever care where sponsorship cash is coming from, but why is that not something worth saying anything actually substantial about if it's worth dropping into a thread to bring it up by implication.

As it is, one comment was ultimately removed from later in the thread, which was in fact someone getting grumpy about the Citi Bank comment in a derailing sort of way, and other than that the thread is what it is. One thing that it would not be particularly interesting for it to be is an argument for no good reason about corporate sponsorship, and the initial comment did nothing to suggest a good reason to be talking about it.

Folks derailing threads by basically doing a "oh well I'll just leave this here" thing instead of substantially engaging some sidebar is not really great in general. We'll sometimes leave a note saying "hey, maybe not so much" for that sort of stuff to head it off at the pass if we're around and see it starting to happen.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:34 AM on November 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Banks are total evil and we must oppose them with all of our might by insisting on our right to discuss them in a totally unrelated subject thread.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:35 AM on November 26, 2011


I'm glad that the post got put back!

> It was an obvious trolling comment and I'm surprised it wasn't deleted from the get-go.

This is the part I don't get. Why is a bare statement of fact "obvious trolling"? If I were sending this to a friend, or posting it to MeFi, I would mention the Citibank sponsorship in advance - and if I didn't, I'd expect a comment back to that effect.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:39 AM on November 26, 2011


Yeah that would be much closer to a normal conversational segue and not a derail if it were presented with a little more nuance. One-liners are seldom a good way to introduce a topic.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:39 AM on November 26, 2011


I'm glad that the post got put back!

To be super clear, the citi bank comment and the first reply to it disappeared for all of thirty seconds last night. Maybe one or two really eagle-eyed people would have even seen it blip out of existence momentarily; it was back before taz left her comment in the thread.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:41 AM on November 26, 2011


surely a responsible consumer needs to know what corporate figure is behind events?

Surely MetaFilter is not intended as a guide to responsible consumption.
posted by Trurl at 9:42 AM on November 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Speaking of derails, I am very happy with this new Holiday policy which should be affording the mods some time away from squabbles on Metafilter this weekend, but I am missing the ROFL sessions we often had when drunk-posting in Metatalk was the norm. Ah well, progress, I guess.
posted by Hobgoblin at 9:42 AM on November 26, 2011


> Not as in why should anyone ever care where sponsorship cash is coming from, but why is that not something worth saying anything actually substantial about if it's worth dropping into a thread to bring it up by implication.

I really don't understand the second half of that sentence at all...?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:42 AM on November 26, 2011


More important, in 2011 surely a responsible consumer needs to know what corporate figure is behind events?

And if you click the link (like you're supposed to!) you see who the corporate sponsor is for that, which makes the undeleted comment redundant. And since the undeleted comment doesn't actually say anything that's not totally obvious (if you click the link), it comes off as fighty/snarky.

We've had umpteen meTas where people complain about threads going off the rails early on because of threadshitty comments, and early modding seems to help this not happen.
posted by rtha at 9:43 AM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, shouldn't we then be talking about the Peter Gabriel's label deal with the EVIL EMI (since merged into Universal Music to make an EVEN MORE EVIL label?)
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:44 AM on November 26, 2011


Brought to you by Carl's Jr.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:45 AM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I were sending this to a friend, or posting it to MeFi, I would mention the Citibank sponsorship in advance - and if I didn't, I'd expect a comment back to that effect.

This seems like basically something specific to you and your friends and maybe a small subset of very corporate-money-focused mefites, not a general people-sharing-a-link-to-famous-musician's-performance thing. Which is fine if it's something that really personally matters to you, but I don't think "yes, but who funded it" is the primary or even a particularly inevitable aspect of a music discussion. People discuss recordings and performances and such all the time without getting into some sort of "yes but let's discuss the financial underwriting" thing about it.

So going into a thread about Peter Gabriel doing some music, I think most people are expecting a discussion of Peter Gabriel's performance here or his recording career or the aesthetics of revisiting old material in a new context, that sort of thing. Post about music, people discuss music. If there's something really specifically notable about Citi Bank's involvement in financing it, bringing that up in away that makes it clear why it's notable and discussion-worthy is fine; without any of that context, dropping that right into the beginning of a thread comes across as "hey, don't talk about music, there's corporate money involved here!"
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:46 AM on November 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


> Well, shouldn't we then be talking about...

As long as there is evil in the world, we should only be talking about evil. I'm disappointed in anyone who would rather talk about anything else.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:46 AM on November 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


I really don't understand the second half of that sentence at all...?

Sorry, that sentence tied itself in knots. See above.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:47 AM on November 26, 2011


Man am I sick of all the "silenced all my life" posts.
posted by desjardins at 9:47 AM on November 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


> Surely MetaFilter is not intended as a guide to responsible consumption.

Peter Gabriel has worked extremely hard to present himself as a humanitarian, liberal figure in the past. It is a matter worthy of note and comment that he's now allowing himself to be sponsored by Citibank. Metafilter isn't required to discuss it but people should also not be discouraged from doing so.

> One-liners are seldom a good way to introduce a topic.

How should that comment have been phrased, then? Wouldn't it be "editorializing" if someone had noted that Citibank were sponsoring the show, and then gone on about it?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:47 AM on November 26, 2011


I mean, the real "evil corporation" conversation to be had about this webstream would be about CBS and Sumner Redstone and how horrible they are. This is their programming, not Citibank's. Hell, they even own the theater in which it was taped!
posted by hippybear at 9:48 AM on November 26, 2011


Wouldn't it be "editorializing" if someone had noted that Citibank were sponsoring the show, and then gone on about it?

"Editorializing" as a criticized behavior applies pretty much only to the text of posts, not to comments. Opinions in comments are fine. If someone went on a crazy rant about it, that might get criticized, but just actually saying something about why they're bringing up financing out of the blue would be basic substantiation of their point and would definitely be better than dropping an unadorned "here is a thing" swerve into a thread like happened here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:50 AM on November 26, 2011


It's not editorializing if it's a comment, especially a comment by someone who's not the OP.

A better comment would have been something like "Peter Gabriel has worked extremely hard to present himself as a humanitarian, liberal figure in the past. It is a matter worthy of note and comment that he's now allowing himself to be sponsored by Citibank."

It's got content. And it doesn't seem like one-liner threadshitting.
posted by rtha at 9:50 AM on November 26, 2011


In fact -- the Live On Letterman radio webpage is presented by Sears! Including the radio version of this exact same performance! So obviously Citibank had SO much to do with this actual performance.
posted by hippybear at 9:53 AM on November 26, 2011


Well, heck. Just think of how much outrage there would be if you put up a link behind a paywall since the artist was too noble to work with any entity that used corporate sponsorship to underwrite broadcasting costs.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:57 AM on November 26, 2011


Not as in why should anyone ever care where sponsorship cash is coming from, but why is that not something worth saying anything actually substantial about if it's worth dropping into a thread to bring it up by implication.

posted by cortex (staff) at 5:34 PM on November 26


I swear, I've read this sentence three times and I'm starting to conclude I'm unlikely to make any headway with it unless I break open the scotch.
posted by Decani at 10:02 AM on November 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


> This seems like basically something specific to you and your friends and maybe a small subset of very corporate-money-focused mefites, not a general people-sharing-a-link-to-famous-musician's-performance thing.

It seems to me that the big banks are a topic that are on everyone's lips these days, including on Metafilter - but even if this is not so, to be told that, essentially, "No one else cares, so it's a derail," makes me sad.

However, I don't think further discussions here will change anything. Thanks for replying!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:02 AM on November 26, 2011


It seems to me that the big banks are a topic that are on everyone's lips these days, including on Metafilter - but even if this is not so, to be told that, essentially, "No one else cares, so it's a derail," makes me sad.

The important distinction here is between "this is an important discussion topic" and "this should be the topic of every discussion". Bringing up corporate banking funding in a thread about banks or corporate money or sponsorship/patronage would make a lot of sense generally speaking; bringing it up in a thread that's not about any of those things makes a lot less sense. It's not that no one cares, it's that context matters. If you're going to bring something up out of context, it's important to make the effort to be clear why you're doing that and why it's worth going off on a tangent like that. The comment in question here did none of that.

The thing is that Metafilter is not a corporate money watchdog site; it's a generalist site. Most threads aren't about bank money. There are threads where that's right on target, and talking about this stuff there is fine and not a derail at all necessarily, but either choosing the right place to bring something up or making the effort to really clarify why something that seems unrelated is worth discussing is a really important basic thing for commenters to do here. That's basically the derail concept in a nutshell.

I swear, I've read this sentence three times and I'm starting to conclude I'm unlikely to make any headway with it unless I break open the scotch.

This comment brought to you by The Glenrothes Whiskey. An exceptional Speyside, for an exceptional syntax.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:13 AM on November 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Peter Gabriel has worked extremely hard to present himself as a humanitarian, liberal figure in the past. It is a matter worthy of note and comment that he's now allowing himself to be sponsored by Citibank.

WOMAD New Zealand is sponsored by a bank and a couple of oil companies. It feels like there's a lot of open space between "I do a lot of work for Amnesty International" and "I am the implacable enemy of big business". Which is a conversation that could presumably have happened in the thread...

Having said which, this:
[Issues with what companies sponsor content is a conversation best had elsewhere, so let's not continue with it in this thread, please. Thanks.]
Is confusing to me. If the issue is whether content sponsored by Citi should be banned from MetaFilter, that feels like a MetaTalk discussion - although not one that would get very much traction. Discussion of the relationship between Peter Gabriel and Citi feels like it fits into a MetaFilter thread, if it was phrased somewhat like rtha's gloss. Is the argument being made that one can never discuss the sponsorship of a program or performance in a thread about that program or performance?
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:15 AM on November 26, 2011


"No one else cares, so it's a derail,"

I don't think this is that no one else cares, but I think there's a point at which if you want to talk about that, you need to sort of make it clear that you've engaged with the post and the content and this is the part that is useful to you and/or other people. Like the comment you made here, which was fine.

Put another way, while we do say that the post sort of doesn't belong to the OP after they make it, there is a sense in which if a post that is "hey here's a long concert of someone's music" turns into a "fuck fucking CitiBank, let's talk about those fuckers" it's sort of derailing the post which was about music. At some level if you want to dig into who is sponsoring every single thing that is posted to MeFi, this is going to be a constant and recurring problem. So as we say with the vegans and the BBQ threads, the car/bike threads, the adoption advocates and the abortion threads, you sort of need to know when to say when, otherwise every thread turns into just a discussion of the way activists and advocates want to discuss the topic at the expense of everyone else. I know it's a tricky line and as an activist myself I think about this a lot, but context is important and that's really the derail/not a derail line.

Is the argument being made that one can never discuss the sponsorship of a program or performance in a thread about that program or performance?

No, but if you become that guy who always wants to discuss who sponsored whatever art/music piece at the expense of talking about the piece, that's suboptimal. I think it's true that not everyone will find a side discussion about CitiBank appropriate in a thread about Peter Gabriel. SO talking abotu CitiBank's relationship to Peter Gabriel, maybe? Talking about CitiBank and what fuckers they are, not really.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:18 AM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nah, not never, just not out of the blue for no substantiated reason. It's more a general derail issue than something specifically about corporate sponsorship, I think taz was just mentioning the specific context to be clear what she was talking about.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:19 AM on November 26, 2011


At some level if you want to dig into who is sponsoring every single thing that is posted to MeFi, this is going to be a constant and recurring problem.

So we can all agree that the "thank you for posting this ad - I would not have known about this commercially available consumer product otherwise" comments are stinky farty smelly?
posted by mintcake! at 10:22 AM on November 26, 2011


This comment brought to you by The Glenrothes Whiskey. An exceptional Speyside, for an exceptional syntax.

And maybe you should put that down, because I just went and looked at our bottle of The Glenrothes, to make sure, and hey yeah - it's whisky-with-no-e-because-we're-Scottish-please whisky, not whiskey. Jeez, get it right.
posted by rtha at 10:26 AM on November 26, 2011


The extra e is for "extra e".
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:27 AM on November 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


The thing is that Metafilter is not a corporate money watchdog site; it's a generalist site.

Personally, I feel like sometimes it leans more toward the former (although I'd rephrase as "left-wing politics") than the latter, so I appreciate early moderation like this. I might agree that ideally, the thread could have sustained parallel conversations about politics and music. But realistically, I think a few comments about politics are far more likely to derail or kill a good music conversation than vice versa. So I agree with the moderation and would have agreed with the deletions.
posted by cribcage at 10:27 AM on November 26, 2011


Ok, we've finally seen Taz make a mistake. Are we happy now? Can we please move on and stop all these Taz callouts?
posted by Melismata at 10:45 AM on November 26, 2011 [12 favorites]


Rarely is the question asked: is these seemingly-endless taz call-outs considered bad?

Sorry for the somewhat mixed metaphor, but I believe the answer is "yes."
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:49 AM on November 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


So if I watch it, and never switch to citibank, citibank just wasted a very small percentage of the money it spent. I get to think "trolololol citibank you suckers, I watched your link and never even switched to your stupid bank, I still got all my money in a coffee can in my freezer. Keep the sponsoring dollars coming suckers!"
posted by Ad hominem at 10:56 AM on November 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


So I agree with the moderation and would have agreed with the deletions.

WITNESS THE POWER THAT IS PETER GABRIEL
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:10 AM on November 26, 2011


So there's a derail about sponsorship, or... What exactly? "I like Peter Gabriel"/"I do not like Peter Gabriel"/"I guess I kind of liked 'Sledgehammer' but the rest is mostly boring"?
posted by Sys Rq at 11:10 AM on November 26, 2011


Occupy Peter Gabriel
posted by philip-random at 11:18 AM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you can't think of anything to say, it's okay to say nothing.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:18 AM on November 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


I guess I kind of liked 'Sledgehammer'...

In 1986 I was speaking on the phone with my best friend. We were trying to finalize the travel plans for taking a bus to Vermont to spend the weekend with his friend from art camp. I had developed a crush on her via snail mail exchanges, so the trip was very important to me.

On the other end of the call, he and other friends I didn't know were watching TV and smoking pot. I asked, "So will we be able to make the 3:45 bus?"

"Have you seen this new Peter Gabriel video?"

I had not heard anything about a new Peter Gabriel video. "We're talking about the bus now."

"Whoa, his face just turned into whirling vegetables."

"You're stoned out of your mind," I told him, trying to keep calm. "Focus."

"Now there are these chickens dancing on stage!"

I felt like Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, futilely trying to communicate with his whacked-out attorney. "I'll cripple your ass for this!" I blustered, quoting the book. "What kind of shit are you smoking there?"
posted by Trurl at 11:46 AM on November 26, 2011 [21 favorites]


So... here's what happened: I deleted two comments:
Presented by Citi Bank.
and
>Presented by Citi Bank.

At least it's viewable in Canada.

Thanks for the link, hippybear.

and then immediately undeleted them, because I figured, yeah, some people would like to know about the sponsorship...

but on the other hand, there are many, many complaints about early derailing comments, and this could easily become a thing that takes over the entire thread, so if the point of that comment was that posts featuring content sponsored by corporations like Citibank should be called out in threads in the same way that any ad-related post gets "pepsi-blue" comments, then a conversation about whether content sponsored by Citibank/Other banks should be posted at Metafilter is a conversation that needs to happen in Metatalk.

and like Sys Rq just said:

So there's a derail about sponsorship, or... What exactly? "I like Peter Gabriel"/"I do not like Peter Gabriel"/"I guess I kind of liked 'Sledgehammer' but the rest is mostly boring"?

Some people don't care about Peter Gabriel, and aren't interested in talking about him. But they might like to talk about Citibank, OWS, etc. But the people who would really like to talk about Peter Gabriel in a Peter Gabriel thread should be able to do that. Nobody would be happy if posters kept jumping into a OWS thread to post Peter Gabriel videos, right?

So there are several aspects:

a) Corporate sponsorship of content, and how Metafilter feels about that (do we collectively mostly feel that these should be avoided?), which is a Metatalk discussion.

b) Peter Gabriel, specifically, and corporate sponsorship. Was the Citibank sponsorship okayed by him, etc.? What is his position on that? This could go in the thread, but that comment wasn't doing that.

c) The general question of corporate sponsorship of artistic works in the current climate with OWS, etc. This seems like possibly a really good FPP, but less good as a derail of a post about something else.

So, I tried to head off a derail, but leave the info that people might find useful... and also suggest that if people feel like links to anything with certain sponsors shouldn't be posted, then that would need to be discussed here in Metatalk.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:06 PM on November 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


Nobody would be happy if posters kept jumping into a OWS thread to post Peter Gabriel videos, right?

We won't know until we try.

(Another vote from me for "You're doing just fine." I'd like to tell you it will get better. But, you know...)
posted by Trurl at 12:13 PM on November 26, 2011


Nobody would be happy if posters kept jumping into a OWS thread to post Peter Gabriel videos, right?


I'm just going to start saying "Free Mumia" everywhere and maybe everybody will make the connection that always talking about OWS is just as annoying?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:18 PM on November 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


But the people who would really like to talk about Peter Gabriel in a Peter Gabriel thread should be able to do that.

Well, yeah. And there was absolutely nothing stopping them from continuing to do so, even with a slight side discussion about some other aspect of the link's contents.

It's not a derail until the train actually goes off the tracks. Jumping to the conclusion that a slight deviation from the main discussion will turn into a total shitstorm kinda makes it look like you don't have a whole lot of faith in the users of this site.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:28 PM on November 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


It has got to be tough to make the call between "This is a derail" and "this will shortly become a derail". I think I might have erred in the other direction here.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:28 PM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


if people feel like links to anything with certain sponsors shouldn't be posted

No one was doing that, by the way.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:30 PM on November 26, 2011


It's not a derail until the train actually goes off the tracks.

Well, sure, but once it does, it's usually too late to fix. We've gotten rather a lot of community feedback that people would rather those early derails not happen, and that requires some preemptive work on our part. It's possible that the topic could have gone well, or just died on its own, but the outlook was unfavorable.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:43 PM on November 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Like Mr. Frost said:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference


When that "derail" diverges, perhaps it's not always a bad thing...
posted by tomswift at 12:54 PM on November 26, 2011


Trurl:(Another vote from me for "You're doing just fine." I'd like to tell you it will get better. But, you know...)"

Same here. And I suggest a pint of bourbon in the bottom desk drawer. Maybe some wacky tobacky.
posted by Splunge at 12:56 PM on November 26, 2011


It has got to be tough to make the call between "This is a derail" and "this will shortly become a derail"

It very, very much is. And what really sucks (because deleting stuff just always massively sucks in every way) is having to go in a delete a whole pile of comments because there's been a huge derail and everybody's angry. So, as moderators, I think we pretty much feel that if we can just make a comment to guide things away from a derail, that's by far the preferred option.

Maybe in this case, the Citibank comment wouldn't have derailed the discussion, but even after I left the [little note], there was another comment pursuing that issue, and if people think it was deleted because it was about Citibank and fight the power, etc., it wasn't. It was a complaint about the comment about Citibank derailing the thread, and if that had stayed, there would be more conversation/yelling back and forth about that.

So, there's no perfect action or even inaction. Some feel the initial comment should have been deleted, some feel that even suggesting that the issue be followed up in Metatalk instead of in the thread was overbearing... and if nothing had been done and it had gone badly, some would be very upset that we we didn't head it off immediately.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:58 PM on November 26, 2011


Taz, you're fine.

Also, do not underestimate the advantage of an EMERGENCY BOTTLE OF GIN or EMERGENCY BOTTLE OF RUM.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:01 PM on November 26, 2011


It's not a derail until the train actually goes off the tracks.

Well, sure, but once it does, it's usually too late to fix.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:43 PM on November 26


Yes. Best to nip that stuff in the bud before it happens. Pre-empt all nastiness. Whenever a post looks at us in a funny way we should punch its lights out just in case. You can't be too careful. Someone might get offended. Oh, calamity.
posted by Decani at 1:33 PM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


When that "derail" diverges, perhaps it's not always a bad thing...

From what I've observed (on different forums), most derails tend to follow a set pattern, and it's always the road more travelled. Someone makes a post about x, someone else responds with y - something only tangentially related to x but a hot topic and something most people are familiar with, and before you know it, everyone's discussing y because it's so much easier to be opinionated about it while x, the original topic of the post, is almost completely ignored. It may be interesting the first couple of times (because wow, I had no idea x was related to y, so let's just discuss y instead), but then it becomes tedious because everything is sort of related to y. y might be an interesting topic in itself, but it should definitely not be allowed to drown out all other topics.

Re: the topic of this post, I'm quite happy with people discussing the ways different corporations are linked to all sorts of events, but it really doesn't need to take place in a thread discussing music, especially when creating a new thread on that topic (and linking to it in the other thread) is so easy.
posted by daniel_charms at 1:39 PM on November 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


In your view, Decani, how should moderation be carried out? I'm actually curious, because you spend quite a lot of time on this site. I'd like to know what you think is bad in terms of moderation, and what you think is good (if anything). I'd like to know how you would do it, or how you would have other people do it, if you were king/master of this domain.

Not even joking, no sarcasm. Seriously.

(But I'm going to bed now, so if you do answer, I'll see it a bit later.)
posted by taz (staff) at 1:55 PM on November 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Someone might get offended. Oh, calamity.

It's more "several someones might get into a crappy argument that derails what could otherwise be a perfectly fine thread", and, yes, systemically speaking, that becoming the norm in threads and driving out anybody who comes here for something other than angry people yelling at each other all the time would be a calamity for the site.

There's a big gap between "protect people's feelings at all costs" and "grant shitty derails free rein". We're aiming for a place more in the middle, where folks will certainly end up offended sometimes but preserving the glorious freedom of bottom-of-the-barrel internet hollering matches isn't our top priority.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:08 PM on November 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


It very, very much is. And what really sucks (because deleting stuff just always massively sucks in every way) is having to go in a delete a whole pile of comments because there's been a huge derail and everybody's angry. So, as moderators, I think we pretty much feel that if we can just make a comment to guide things away from a derail, that's by far the preferred option.

I think if we just got into a culture where users are expected to hold it in for a while to give a thread a chance, it would work fine to delete stuff like the citibank comment. Maybe the mod comment could have been something more like "The sponsorship comment feels like a derail waiting to happen, try bringing it up again in an hour."

I admit that 12 years old is a bit late for toilet training, but better late than never.
posted by Chuckles at 2:18 PM on November 26, 2011


The important question is: is it supposed to be "free rein" or "free reign"? Either makes sense.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:58 PM on November 26, 2011


Free rein
posted by Copronymus at 3:01 PM on November 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Free Range
posted by Burhanistan at 3:08 PM on November 26, 2011


Happy holidays everyone!
posted by joe lisboa at 3:11 PM on November 26, 2011


Your favorite bank sucks!
posted by morganw at 3:18 PM on November 26, 2011


Has there ever been a complaint about Metafilter modding by someone who has actually been a mod somewhere?
posted by Mr. Yuck at 3:22 PM on November 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure, at all, if there is more comment deletion happening these days or just more complaining about comment deletion.

Neither possibility makes me very happy.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:42 PM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Free Mumia.
posted by ambient2 at 3:44 PM on November 26, 2011


OCCUPY MUMIA
posted by Trurl at 3:47 PM on November 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


It seems to me I see more and more pre-emptive moderation before anything overtly bad has happened.

MATHOWIE HAD COVERTLY UPGRADED THE MODS TO PRECOGS!
posted by rain at 4:14 PM on November 26, 2011


Tom Cruise . . . In . . . Moderator Report.
posted by Think_Long at 4:17 PM on November 26, 2011


uhm...that should be "HAS" COVERTLY...carry on then...
posted by rain at 4:17 PM on November 26, 2011


Has there ever been a complaint about Metafilter modding by someone who has actually been a mod somewhere?

Yes, tones and tones actually. See MetaChat, for just one example.
posted by Chuckles at 4:30 PM on November 26, 2011


When going gets tough from the getgo,
Oh No Brother,
Not another motherfucker
We gotta go now.
posted by Elmore at 4:35 PM on November 26, 2011


Thanks for the unwinding, cortex, taz + Jessamyn - I think I was having a bit of trouble parsing the wording, because it seemed that a CitiBank thread in MeTa would have been as odd as a CitiBank derail in the thread. But that all makes sense.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:09 PM on November 26, 2011


There is a good reason why corporate sponsorship discussions should be considered on-topic unless people really start derailing into discussing the company itself, namely companies often sponsor high brow activities to buy good will for upcoming criminal investigations or whatever.

Is CitiBank trying this with Peter Gabriel? Yes. Is that worth bringing up? Yes. Is it worth discussing CitiBank extensively? No, obviously not.

You should obviously name the sponsors immoral/illegal activities if you believe (a) you know it and (b) nobody else does. Or, if you remember, note the date when you noticed an uptick in their sponsorship activities.

In this case, I think "Presented by Citi Bank" pretty much covers it, given we know exactly why their PR has been running full tilt for a couple years now.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:12 PM on November 26, 2011


Jesus Christ, another one of these? I'm starting to think maybe Gator has a point. Either way, taz clearly has the patience of a Metafilter mod, that's for sure.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:14 PM on November 26, 2011


I like taz's mod presence, she's a steady hand on the Meta-tiller.
posted by arcticseal at 5:56 AM on November 27, 2011


Metafilter: Why is that not something worth saying anything actually substantial about if it's worth dropping into a thread to bring it up by implication?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:42 AM on November 27, 2011


Think we might have a contender against "Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:56 AM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


In my defense, my sentence is in fact grammatical. It is also just really terrible.

It is like a very badly-built custom bike. It will get you where you're supposed to go, if only you can figure out how to even get your feet onto the roughly machined pedals and give it a proper push somehow without it falling over, and if you can figure out the wobly off-axis handlebar for steering. And by that point you might as well have walked for all the time and effort it saved you, yes, but it works! For some strict sense of "works".

I would supplement this doomed defense with a sentence diagram but I never learned how to make sentence diagrams because I spent that unit of English class drawing pictures of bikes in my Trapper Keeper.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:31 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


What with the increased staff numbers, and their new ID tags on display so they are easy to spot, this thread seems swamped with mods.

Yo, my dawgs, stop bogarting eh?
posted by Meatbomb at 7:50 AM on November 27, 2011


I would just like to step in and say how proud I am that this is my first almost-call-out on the Grey. I've waited a long time for this, and there were certainly plenty of other opportunities.

It's just such a milestone. *sniff* I'll never be able to go back to those sunny days of youth before a thread of mine was called out.

Thank you all SO much!

Okay, all that aside... when do we start discussing the evils of CBS and Sumner Redstone? Because they're really the ones who created this frankenstein monster we call a Peter Gabriel concert, and we've barely mentioned them at all so far.
posted by hippybear at 10:19 AM on November 27, 2011


I would just like to step in and say how proud I am that this is my first almost-call-out on the Grey. I've waited a long time for this, and there were certainly plenty of other opportunities.

You were called out by proxy of this thread, although that's not the same as being the subject of the OP. And I think the one being called out here is taz.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:56 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


cortex: "In my defense, my sentence is in fact grammatical. It is also just really terrible."

I think you meant to say 'my sentence is in fact gramatically correct'. 'My sentence was, in fact, constructed in accordance with traditional rules of grammar, although it failed to convey the intended meaning' would be an acceptable alternative.
posted by dg at 2:31 PM on November 27, 2011


"In my defense, my sentence is in fact grammatical. It is also just really terrible."

I'm resisting the temptation to send it to Language Log for (most likely) Mark Liberman's analysis.

But I do have to say that being "in fact grammatical" is rather weak tea. This is why I'm tempted to send it to LL. I mean, a point that's not often clearly understood by prescriptivists who complain about descriptivism is that yes, there is such a thing as incorrect language usage. But that being clearly ungrammatical in one's dialect is incorrect doesn't mean that being grammatical in one's dialect is necessarily correct.

Because the ambiguous boundary condition involved in both cases has everything to do with whether the sentence is meaningful in the speaker's native language. Being clearly ungrammatical puts it pretty much on the side of not being meaningful; while, in contrast, being clearly grammatical doesn't necessarily put it on the side of being meaningful. Not just for trivial reasons, but because—as in this case—the sentence may be too difficult for most native speakers to parse.

Now, that begs the question of what determines "too difficult to parse". (Interesting how this usage of "begs the question" works equally well in both its technical, philosophy sense and its common usage sense.) If one diagrams the sentence and puzzles out its meaning after ten minutes of careful analysis, is that or is that not "too difficult to parse"?

In short, I'd argue that your sentence's grammatical validity is insufficient evidence that the sentence is functional in the real-world and, therefore, it's not entirely well-formed. I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's "incorrect" because you're a native speaker and it was meaningful to you when you wrote it. But surely it's right there at the edge of being meaningful even for you. When you read it again a week from now, I bet you'll have just as much trouble with it as any of the rest of us.

What's especially interesting to me about your sentence is that it simultaneously provokes a prescriptivism or descriptivism while also undermining both. Your defense that the sentence is acceptable in some fundamental way because it is grammatical and can be diagrammed strikes me as a prescriptive point-of-view that (in my view) privileges some vague notion of Platonic language grammatical correctness over comprehensibility and common native-speaker's usage. And yet, no prescriptivist would be inclined to defend that sentence. On the other hand, I'm inclined to argue against it on a descriptive basis as being arguably incomprehensible even to yourself. And yet, because it is well-formed and because it can be parsed meaningfully with some effort, and you wrote it and it was meaningful to you when you did, then I can't really object to it, either.

So, it's an edge case.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:07 PM on November 27, 2011


I think you meant to say 'my sentence is in fact gramatically correct'.

Unmodified "grammatical" for "conforming to the rules of grammar" goes back to at least the mid 18th Century, according to the OED. If you really want to dig in there, it looks at a glance like there's some interesting language evolution history in the -ic and -ical suffix forms' production of derived adjectives in English, way back in the day.

I'm resisting the temptation to send it to Language Log for (most likely) Mark Liberman's analysis.

One of the mixed pleasures and dangers of him having an account here is the ever looming possibility that he will notice on his own.

What's especially interesting to me about your sentence is that it simultaneously provokes a prescriptivism or descriptivism while also undermining both. Your defense that the sentence is acceptable in some fundamental way because it is grammatical and can be diagrammed strikes me as a prescriptive point-of-view that (in my view) privileges some vague notion of Platonic language grammatical correctness over comprehensibility and common native-speaker's usage.

In practice, it's actually just my programmer side showing through. It's one thing for a block of code to be messy; it's another for it to be malformed such that it generates a syntax error at compile time.

The sentence, as written, will parse. I make no claim that it is beautiful (the opposite, in fact), but in that sense it's not quite the same sort of bad as that meme wreck that Marisa mentioned. I'd say my sentence is more of a well-formed clusterfuck.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:21 PM on November 27, 2011


I keep trying, but the languagehat signal just won't light :-(
posted by dg at 3:22 PM on November 27, 2011


Ok, we've finally seen Taz make a mistake. Are we happy now? Can we please move on and stop all these Taz callouts?

Agreed. We saw the same thing with restless_nomad, and now with taz. It's like some sort of ritual: haze the new mod, and it stinks.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:28 PM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]




We can do this. We can live in a world without conflict, if we only have the courage to let other people control what we talk about and when. What better place than here, and now. We're smarter than other sites because we submit to this purely voluntary policing (bad choice of words I'm sure) other web sites are like the wild west and full of surly children. Not here. Here we are free to say whatever we like provided it causes no trouble in the form of making any waves that may not be politically normative. Enjoy your Metafilter. It is wonderful.
posted by a shrill fucking shitstripe at 9:09 PM on November 27, 2011


I thought the sentence made perfect sense, but it is perfectly possible that my attempt to win NaNo despite having started 3 weeks in has fried the language part of my brain completely.
posted by lwb at 10:16 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would like to volunteer to be the newest mod. I will do nothing except for, every now and then, allow my name to be applied to some other mod's decision, and then accept the waves of criticism thrown my way for being newest. It'll be fun!
posted by Karmakaze at 10:35 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


> nd then accept the waves of criticism thrown my way

eponysterical
posted by Burhanistan at 10:39 AM on November 28, 2011


Agreed. We saw the same thing with restless_nomad, and now with taz. It's like some sort of ritual: haze the new mod, and it stinks.

I agree. Not cool to pick on the new guy like this. Just rickroll her or something, but then lets let that be the end of it.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:46 PM on November 28, 2011


Not here. Here we are free to say whatever we like provided it causes no trouble in the form of making any waves that may not be politically normative. Enjoy your Metafilter. It is wonderful.
posted by a shrill fucking shitstripe

Way more eponysterical.
posted by spitbull at 7:04 PM on November 28, 2011


We need a sacrificial mod.

We could feed them doughnuts, plates of beans and they'd be on everyone's secret quonsar list. After a year, we could sacrifice them on a very small hill (or just rotate the position out, whichever is easiest).
posted by arcticseal at 7:16 PM on November 28, 2011


nthing that the Taz pile-ons are getting old. Forget the emergency bottle of gin, I'm starting to think all the mods are issued iv drips of pure patience.
posted by bitmage at 9:31 AM on November 29, 2011


It's the filtered tears of the Dalai Lama.
posted by desjardins at 9:45 AM on November 29, 2011


I think the vast majority of the time it's not any sort of hazing or personal animosity thing, it's just people's pattern-recognition wiring doing what it does. If something is bad, and it wasn't bad before, what's changed? Oh, there's a new mod! That must be it. (Regardless of whether the bad thing is actually new, or actually bad.) I know a couple of times people called me out on stuff that I had nothing to do with, and they got visibly confused when jessamyn or cortex claimed responsibility.

My work history, being in the game industry, meant I got to be "the new mod" every nine to eighteen months, so I've been through this quite a few times. It's not a big deal, it's just a rough patch to get over, and I think I can safely say that neither I nor taz take any of this personally.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:34 AM on November 29, 2011


I think I can safely say that neither I nor taz take any of this personally.

This is the upside and the downside to having a community-based job really. I think what makes us good at being mods generally is being able to be more or less unflappable when other people are being irritable, prickly or downright assholish. And yet at the same time this dispassionate approach can make it seem like we don't care or aren't as invested in the place or the people as others who are a lot more visibly emotional about things. I think one of the large benefits to us all interacting on the rest of the site is that you get a sense of us as humans and not just the slightly low affect versions that you get in MetaTalk.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:49 AM on November 29, 2011


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