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Diversity on Mefi
March 6, 2012 7:09 AM   Subscribe

After this comment by an 82 year old in Ask, it got me thinking about the diversity of the site. I'm interested in people who do not fit the common demographic of white, 20-50 years old, Western, IT/humanities/sciences, more likely to be male. Do these people feel comfortable here? How can we encourage more diverse people to post? Or am I off-base and things are just fine?
posted by desjardins to MetaFilter-Related at 7:09 AM (655 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

"these people"?

I kid. Other than self-disclosure, do we (by which I mean the mods) really know what the demographics of the users are?
posted by jquinby at 7:12 AM on March 6, 2012


I'm white, 31 (today!), Western, male but NOT in IT/humanities/sciences, so take your stereotype and shove it!

Oh wait, economics/finance counts as sciences these days? Damnit!
posted by Grither at 7:16 AM on March 6, 2012


So long as people who are not outside the "common demographic" do not feel unwelcome here (that is, we avoid an offensive/sexist/racist/ageist environment), I don't think we need to shift things to encourage a different population to post. This site is great now, and it can't and shouldn't be all things to all people.
posted by grouse at 7:17 AM on March 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


20-50 years old, Western, IT/humanities/sciences, more likely to be male.

I am so utterly and completely... average.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:19 AM on March 6, 2012 [12 favorites]


I think that there was a demographic survey a while ago - that's where then gender split numbers came from (something like 60-40 male-female, I think).
posted by jb at 7:20 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


grouse: I don't know if it's "great" for other people, or if people feel unwelcome (we've had lots and lots of threads about mefi being a boyzone, so obviously many women felt unwelcome). That's why I asked! I'm white, in my 30s, American, sort of in IT/sciences. I can't know how other people feel unless they tell me. So I sked.

I forgot to include "left-leaning," but frankly I'm not sure I want a lot of conservatives here.
posted by desjardins at 7:21 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Other than the male and western thing, I do not fit the demographic you listed. I am comfortable here. I do avoid certain threads and questions or at least avoid posting a comment or answer. Especially politics. And some relationship filter questions. But other than that, a good link is a good link.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:23 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I forgot to include "left-leaning," but frankly I'm not sure I want a lot of conservatives here.

Oops. I am outta here.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:24 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


"...but frankly I'm not sure I want a lot of conservatives here."

ಠ_ಠ

It's a big tent.
posted by jquinby at 7:25 AM on March 6, 2012 [18 favorites]


desjardins: I forgot to include "left-leaning," but frankly I'm not sure I want a lot of conservatives here.

Oh, that would make some threads here very boring to read. I welcome people with any political views, so long as they make a good coherent argument.
posted by gman at 7:25 AM on March 6, 2012 [39 favorites]


I am not Western! EAST COAST!
posted by mkb at 7:27 AM on March 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


I certainly don't think MetaFilter is a discouraging environment for people outside of the "norm" here, as really even the norm is at best a plurality. We've had lots of discussions about inclusiveness, and certainly I've almost never detected anything age-ist directed at a particular user. I think we skew older than a lot of websites, even on average, so that in itself should make it more welcoming than say, Fark or somewhere where the lol-kidz predominate.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:27 AM on March 6, 2012


Hrm, forget I said that part.
posted by desjardins at 7:27 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


desjardins: "I forgot to include "left-leaning," but frankly I'm not sure I want a lot of conservatives here."

Was this a joke? Or did you really just post a metatalk thread about how you want to be more inclusive, and then follow it up with how you actually don't want to be more inclusive?
posted by Grither at 7:28 AM on March 6, 2012 [28 favorites]


Happy birthday, Grither!
posted by lilac girl at 7:28 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Grither: "I'm white, 31 (today!), "

Happy birthday Grither! :)
posted by zarq at 7:29 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am so utterly and completely... average.

Cheer up! You may be exceptionally average!
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:29 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it was a joke, Grither. Wish I had an edit button, because I'd rather the thread not be about that offhand statement. Oh and happy birthday.
posted by desjardins at 7:31 AM on March 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


Oh wait, economics/finance counts as sciences these days?

Geeze, I hope not. I kid, mostly?

I know there have been some third-party surveys done through Metatalk (or maybe an official survey I barely remember?) Can't find what I'm thinking of after a quick 5 minute search though. Salvor Hardin's MetaTalk post about political leanings has the age grouping of the people who took it and submitted their results. Which says, yes, we're 23-60.
posted by skynxnex at 7:32 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


There are some high school kids, which I find interesting. I would have loved this place in high school.
posted by desjardins at 7:33 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


[W]hite, 20-50 years old, Western, IT/humanities/sciences, more likely to be male.

Are you... spying on me?

I've always felt that MeFi is more the home of relatively affluent Americans/British/Canadians, and as such is relatively enriched in LBGT and left-leaning voices.

There certainly are people from other countries/backgrounds, but I'm not really sure how we'd go 'encouraging' the few retired Indian farmers named Navneet to post.
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 7:33 AM on March 6, 2012


desjardins: "Yeah, it was a joke, Grither."

Livin' on the edge, eh? :)

desjardins: "How can we encourage more diverse people to post?"

In all seriousness, I think that one possible way to begin is by creating posts that are less USA/Canada/UK centric, and more likely to appeal to the demographics you're interested in increasing. After all, many users have commented over the years that a specific post was the impetus they needed to plonk down $5, become a member and comment.
posted by zarq at 7:39 AM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh and speaking of birthdays, does anyone else think it would be fun if you got an automated message from Metafilter wishing you a happy birthday for those of us who have them in their profiles? Who doesn't like more mefimail?? Fark.com wished me a happy birthday, and surely we're better than them!
posted by Grither at 7:41 AM on March 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


I would love it if my grandmother posted on metafilter. The internet could really use the wisdom of the older set, in general. Uh, maybe not my parents though. Let's skip that demographic.
posted by stockpuppet at 7:44 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that's me to a T.

Isn't 30 years a pretty big spread? I mean, it's still probably me to a T as I am near the middle of that spread but I know at 20 I had (or supposed I had) not all that many clear social overlaps with 50 year old versions of me. Also, isn't the spread between 'humanities' and 'sciences' pretty large? Although maybe the white western male part is enough. I suppose to a prairie dog every other prairie dog seems unique.

Which is not to say that this is necessarily an unfair assessment.

Hey Grither, it's your birthday. I tried to send you the Captain Zoom song but it doesn't have Grither.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:45 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I DID have this place in high school, and I attribute a pretty sizeable portion of my wisdom wrt human relations to the hours I spent every day after school trawling through AskMe questions and marvelling at how misconceived my previous thoughts regarding relationships had been. Of course, AskMe also made me feel utterly provincial about some of the concerns I'd had at that age and one even ended up in MetaTalk, but I know it meant well and just wanted me to be happy. And no, I won't tell you which one got called out.
posted by Phire at 7:46 AM on March 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Grither: "Who doesn't like more mefimail??"

*cough*

I try, but I have found that I just can't keep up with it. Also, I uh... tend to forget it exists in the first place.
posted by zarq at 7:47 AM on March 6, 2012


Now I understand why zarq never responded to my proposal.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:49 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


zarq: *cough*

You ain't got shit on mathowie.
posted by gman at 7:51 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


gman: " You ain't got shit on mathowie."

I feel better. :D
posted by zarq at 7:52 AM on March 6, 2012


Those are all IRL announcements.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:59 AM on March 6, 2012


Yeah, I'm not sure what we would specifically do to increase diversity other than be welcoming of different viewpoints when they present. Although a lower level of snark and righteous anger might attract more different kinds of people.

(I wonder how different the demographics are here compared to the English speaking web as a whole?)
posted by OmieWise at 8:03 AM on March 6, 2012


One of the things we've tried to do on Team Mod besides trying to tamp down some of the more aggressive hostility here is to work towards diversity on our moderating team. While we can do better on having more international representation, for a small team we're doing pretty good in terms of age, gender, regional, religious and LGBT-ness. We did some active work on the boyzoneness and the casual racist and sexist comments that sort of plague the larger Internet. We could certainly do better but we do work actively to try to support a diverse atmosphere here to the best of our ability given some of the homogeneity of the online population generally.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:05 AM on March 6, 2012 [35 favorites]


How can we encourage more diverse people to post?

The community, in general, could stop taking differing opinions as personal attacks. Several conservatives have noted, over the years, that it's just not worth bringing up their views, because they wind up getting attacked. Now, it's unknown what their exact views were, maybe they thought Limbaugh is too left wing or maybe they thought Wyoming was right to only charge $5 for speeding tickets since their state has a sparse population. We don't know and never will, because Metafilter, in general, is hostile to certain viewpoints.

Because less hostile overall and people will feel ok bringing up individual points. This applies to a lot of things besides race or sex. If a post is something you find weird or strange, you don't have to attack it or the poster or sit in the thread demanding to know "why is this important". Sometimes it's better to just sit back and listen/read and then ask a question that recognizes that people are different from you and that's alright.

Speaking as an older black guy, at times I'm keenly reminded that the majority here is white. That's not a bad thing per se, it's just a fact that whites here are the largest group here, by far. Any dominant group will tend to act like common culture is the normal or default culture.

The best offhand example I can think of is a music thread, where the post about music from the '90s. The music talked about or linked to will be by white artists, with few, if any mentions of artists that tend to be on the R&B charts. Not a big deal, but upon reading something like that, I think "There's this whole other culture you're not mentioning". But the same could be said of artists from the bluegrass or country to, so it's not a racial thing.

I have to get a drink of water now.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:12 AM on March 6, 2012 [78 favorites]


Grither - Oh wait, economics/finance counts as sciences these days?

Pffft, no. But your enthusiasm is simply adorable.
...but, I swear, some of my best friends are in finance.

Devil's Rancher - I am so utterly and completely... average.

Nonsense. You're the platonic ideal.
posted by metaBugs at 8:15 AM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Cheer up! You may be exceptionally average!

All my T-shirts are Extra-Mediums.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:21 AM on March 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


I'm always mildly surprised when I realize my mental images of people I read here on Metafilter and elsewhere on the net are completely wrong. Kind of like when I've listened to a radio personality for years and then finally see a picture of them, and can't resolve the conflict of how reality compares to my assumptions.
posted by crunchland at 8:23 AM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Isn't 30 years a pretty big spread? I mean, it's still probably me to a T as I am near the middle of that spread but I know at 20 I had...

Well, I for one didn't have any spread at 20 whatsoever, but as I near 50, is becoming a pretty big spread, indeed.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:25 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh wait, economics/finance counts as sciences these days?

Not remotely, in my experience.
posted by DU at 8:26 AM on March 6, 2012


I'm always mildly surprised when I realize my mental images of people I read here on Metafilter and elsewhere on the net are completely wrong.

Yeah, a prolific commenter recently* self-identified as black, and I was surprised, and then felt weird and guilty for being surprised.

* It's possible he did before and I just didn't notice.
posted by desjardins at 8:26 AM on March 6, 2012


* It's possible he did before and I just didn't notice.

Just FYI, we have an RSS feed for updates.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:31 AM on March 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think the easiest way to increase diversity is to increase the number of categories measured. For example, my family size for my age makes me part of a very tiny minority on the Internet and causes my life to be rather different even though I am a Western male who works with computers and is in his 20s.

Limiting the categories by which diversity is measured is a good way to make the site feel homogenous.
posted by michaelh at 8:32 AM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


surely we're better than them!

Yes, because we don't send out birthday emails.

posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:34 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm white, but I like Bonsai trees.
posted by found missing at 8:35 AM on March 6, 2012


frankly I'm not sure I want a lot of conservatives here.

They're acceptable, but I think they should be made to abjure adultery, porn, and premarital sex in order to join.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:36 AM on March 6, 2012


There is always going to be a creative tension between a community that is like-minded enough that it shares a lot of tastes and interests and wants to talk about the same topics, and being diverse enough to not be off-putting to people that don't fall within the set of people that typically are into the very things the community is interested in.

For example, I would guess Mefi is rather intimidating to anyone that didn't go to college. Esp if they have self-doubts about their abilities. Heck, it was quite intimidating to me when I first joined.

But there is a limit to far how you can go in making people that didn't get to go to college feel at home while also having posts about the the pricing of academic journals for example.

In general I think we could do with raising the overall level of civility and tolerance here.

I think Mefi is actually more civil and tolerant than say America at large. But it has the same hot buttons as the wider populations the members come from, so things that get very very nasty in the wider population still get very nasty here.

There are far too many things that "Mefi doesn't do well", and a lot of it is because people get away with being pretty nasty when they are on the same side of the debate as the majority of Mefites.
posted by philipy at 8:40 AM on March 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


For example, I would guess Mefi is rather intimidating to anyone that didn't go to college. Esp if they have self-doubts about their abilities

yepppppppp...........
posted by KogeLiz at 8:49 AM on March 6, 2012


Yeah, I mean, if there's a thread about particle physics, I'm not even going to bother because I won't know what they're talking about. I am not a hard science kind of person. I have no viewpoint to offer on that subject. Same thing with say, Australian politics. If the entire site was about those things, I'd leave, but that's not a diversity issue. I'm talking about people who do have viewpoints to offer, who are equipped to comment on the subject at hand, but hesitate or choose not to do so because they belong to an underrepresented group.
posted by desjardins at 8:49 AM on March 6, 2012


OK, I'll take a stab at this - as an over-50, female, ethnic non-scientist, I definitely avoid a lot of threads because it's just not worth the aggravation. I mostly avoid commenting on the front page entirely, and skip a lot of the AskMe posts as well. I know I've personally flagged quite a few comments as being ageist, and there have been others that I should have flagged but they were only sort of vaguely ageist.

And there have been many, many AskMe's about relationships and/or depression, self-esteem, etc., where I've felt that the solution was to "Stop Fucking All The Things", but to say that is to be accused of being old, out of touch, sex-negative (HA!), and narrow-minded. When in reality, as someone who lived through the "sexual revolution" of the 60's & 70's, I'm speaking from experience and from observing other's experiences. There's nothing sexual being talked about on Metafilter that I didn't know about in the 70's. Yes, believe it or not, we knew about blow jobs in the 70's! And anal sex! And transgender people! And polyamory, although we didn't know what it was called.

There are also a lot of comments here that strike me as "I just got a degree, motherfuckers! And as a new college graduate, I know EVERYTHING! And everything they taught me in college was 100% the truth, and your life experiences to the contrary are shit!" To be honest, this is the thing that bothers me the most - because in my experience, a lot of what you learn in college tends to be incorrect, or overly-simplified. So many people here scream "Because SCIENCE!", but they don't take into account that so much of SCIENCE! is later proven incorrect. Or that studies can frequently be skewed to obtain whatever results the researcher wants.

Then there's the whole feminism issue. Oy, vey! Again, as someone who lived through the 60's and 70's, I can look back at the history of the whole thing and see how some things have improved, some have not changed, and some have improved and then cycled backwards to become worse than what they were when I was a kid. Personally, I think this is a valuable perspective, but discussions of feminist issues are so full of defiant ignorance that I tend to step away. I've been fighting those battles for nearly 40 years, and I'm just tired of it. Problem is, a lot of the people who have taken up the battle don't have the perspective, and they let a lot of things slide by because they don't realize the relationship between, say, calling your female friends "girls" or "chicks", and women not being taken seriously at work.

And on preview, Brandon Blatcher's comment about music makes a good point. Music posts here tend to skew heavily indie, with a side order of classic rock. This is fine, but attempts to bring up other genres tend to be derided or ignored. The "cooler than thou" attitude here is far worse than anything I experienced in junior high.
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:50 AM on March 6, 2012 [151 favorites]


desjardins: "I'm talking about people who do have viewpoints to offer, who are equipped to comment on the subject at hand, but hesitate or choose not to do so because they belong to an underrepresented group."

I would be willing to bet that a number of old-timers, including myself, don't bother participating in threads on certain topics (or posting about them) anymore because it's just not worth the uphill battle.

On preview, as MexicanYenta points out, life experience can also make a big difference when considering if a conversation is worth jumping into.
posted by zarq at 9:02 AM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


And there have been many, many AskMe's about relationships and/or depression, self-esteem, etc., where I've felt that the solution was to "Stop Fucking All The Things", but to say that is to be accused of being old, out of touch, sex-negative (HA!), and narrow-minded.

QFT. Sometimes the rightest answer really is Stop Fucking All The Things, but it's quaint and/or closed-minded to say so.
posted by headnsouth at 9:10 AM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Or, you could just be crusty and say what you think and fuck everyone else.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:12 AM on March 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


[...] and fuck everyone else.

Stop Fucking All The Things.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:15 AM on March 6, 2012 [48 favorites]


I have to call bullshit on the idea that MeFi as a whole is blindly hostile to minority viewpoints. I see the "liberal hivemind" here engaging civilly and in good faith with conservatives all the time—when those conservatives are themselves civil and engaging in good faith. People around here don't get piled on for failing to toe an imaginary party line; they get piled on because they're being dickheads.

If MeFi is monolithically hostile to anything, it's shallow rhetoric, logical fallacies, and general douchebaggery, and—Fox News notwithstanding—conservatives don't have a monopoly on that.

"Obama's a dirty baby-killing Muslim who wants to take your guns away" is as unwelcome here as "Obama's a fascist torture-loving corporate stooge." We don't need more of either, and we don't need to court the former for some platonic ideal of "balance."

(I don't disagree that MeFi trends towards a monoculture, as mentioned above, and I'd love to see people who feel under-represented make FPPs to try to shift the tide. But the only ideological outliers I see "persecuted" are the ones who act like total assholes.)

On preview, here's my case in point: "Stop Fucking All The Things" is a terrible AskMe answer, and would get rightly flagged into oblivion—not because it's "out of touch" or "sex negative," but because it's glib, disrespectful, and unless the question was "Why am I chafing so much?," not actually helpful.

Contrast with "I think you should take a break from dating until you sort this out," or "Casual sex doesn't seem to be working for you, maybe you should examine why you keep hooking up with people if it makes you so unhappy." Both of which mean Stop Fucking All The Things, but making the effort to sound compassionate and non-judgemental neither picks your pocket nor breaks your leg. Give it a try.
posted by Zozo at 9:21 AM on March 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


you don't have to attack it or the poster or sit in the thread demanding to know "why is this important".

I wouldn't object to this replacing the "Everyone needs a hug" note. Because fuck yeah.

Music posts here tend to skew heavily indie, with a side order of classic rock.


Yes and no. There's a lot of pop-associated posts. How many Gaga-related posts and comments have there been? And then there's guys like Flapjax at Midnight. How many awesome music posts has Flapjax alone put up? There's not a bad mix here. It's just the indie/classic rock ones are probably somewhat more familiar to the larger Metafilter demographic and get a larger response.
posted by Hoopo at 9:24 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


For example, I would guess Mefi is rather intimidating to anyone that didn't go to college. Esp if they have self-doubts about their abilities. Heck, it was quite intimidating to me when I first joined....

I started reading MeFi about eight years ago, at age 19, on the cusp of dropping out of college. And, yeah, holy hell did MeFi feel intimidating. It felt like everyone knew more about everything than I did (and, well, being 19, they did.) But I stuck around; there was about three years of lurking before I even signed up. And you know what I saw? Knowledgeable people of all shapes and sizes, including many academics, being constantly and consistently dead-wrong about stuff. There's scientists giving shitty relationship advice, engineers with uninformed opinions about art, historians who wouldn't know social policy from a hole in the ground. And they all chime in with their wrongness and, for the most egregious errors, schooled in broad public view.

Now, I don't mean to pick on anyone, I just chose at random a bunch of Expert Professions and topics of discussion. But if there's one thing paying attention in MeFi really taught me is that everyone says something stupid, eventually, and no one has Perfect Knowledge about anything. In fact, there are many people with a Ph. D.-worth of knowledge some subject are barely functional in discussions about practically anything else. Of course, those are extreme cases, but if there's one thing that's really bolstered my self-esteem, it's watching a bunch of very smart people unabashedly state very stupid things on this website. It turns out they didn't immediately become pariahs. No, they were just wrong, corrected, and the world kept turning and they would, in fact, return to be wrong again and again. So now when I step out of my depth and make a hilariously obvious mistake, I don't feel bad at all. A little embarrassed, sure, but the walls didn't come down and tomorrow I'll show up in an FPP about video games and tell a Medieval History Ph.D. that what they said was profoundly wrong. And then I'll go to a contemporary politics thread and demonstrate my own ignorance in turn.
posted by griphus at 9:25 AM on March 6, 2012 [33 favorites]


On preview, here's my case in point: "Stop Fucking All The Things" is a terrible AskMe answer

And here we go. No one was suggesting that anyone use those exact words, or only those words. That was a short hand for a point of view, but here we are a few comments later, and I'm being jumped on for saying it. There's no allowance being made for any viewpoint other than I AM RIGHT AND YOU ARE WRONG.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:27 AM on March 6, 2012 [47 favorites]


engineers with uninformed opinions about art

Yeah this was actually intimidating for me. I have uninformed opinions about art, too, but I thought no one would take them seriously because I don't have an engineering background.
posted by Hoopo at 9:32 AM on March 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


Another well-north of 50 female and I feel pretty comfortable here. Although I am occasionally annoyed by an ageist comment and there's a fair amount of boomer hatred.

I've never much wanted to make a thing about my age or anyone else's. I like that we are defined by our words and contributions rather than by visual cues, age cues, race cues, etc. I sort of picture floating world of ethereal beings with better-than-average-brains and a great command of language and humor. I don't want people compartmentalizing me as in the same box as their mom, aunty, or (gulp) grammy. And I can be prone to the same sloppy generalizations so I am glad that age is not a defining characteristic here - makes me listen rather than dismiss as "she's younger than my niece" or "he's just a baby!"

Whatever differences there may be, I feel more with y'all than agin ya. Y'all are my peeps.

Plus I think the over 50 crowd is more plentiful than many might assume - or maybe my radar is just attuned for it.

The climate for women has gotten so much better, which I am happy about because even though I would likely have weathered things through regardless (having cut my teeth on corporate sexism) it means that we are more diverse now and woman are more active in participation, which I see as a plus.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:32 AM on March 6, 2012 [27 favorites]


For example, I would guess Mefi is rather intimidating to anyone that didn't go to college.

I don't find it so!

(But then, I have come to realize that my high-school education (in a very well-funded district) competes pretty well with any given mediocre liberal-arts bachelor's. So I strongly suspect I'm not a great example.)
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:34 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


> That was a short hand for a point of view, but here we are a few comments later, and I'm being jumped on for saying it.

I "jumped on" you for your phrasing, not your point of view, which I said could be valid advice if phrased differently.

I don't know where "we're" supposed to be going, but I'd rather sit this one out. You have fun yelling about arguments nobody made, though.
posted by Zozo at 9:36 AM on March 6, 2012


Music posts here tend to skew heavily indie, with a side order of classic rock.

Yes and no. There's a lot of pop-associated posts. How many Gaga-related posts and comments have there been?


Well, yes, but I wasn't talking about pop. I meant things like Delta blues, bluegrass, Armenian folk music, klezmer, Renaissance music, Americana, garage, punk, swing, reggaeton, etc.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:37 AM on March 6, 2012


Broadly speaking, I like the changes I have seen here so far. It will never be all things to all people, and that is good. And I love those moments where you realize that your mental image of someone is completely, totally wrong.
posted by Forktine at 9:37 AM on March 6, 2012


I "jumped on" you for your phrasing, not your point of view, which I said could be valid advice if phrased differently.

Of course! There always has to be at least one person in the thread translating what everybody else says, because no one here can speak for him/herself and also, no one here can read.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:38 AM on March 6, 2012 [25 favorites]


> I meant things like Delta blues, bluegrass, Armenian folk music, klezmer, Renaissance music, Americana, garage, punk, swing, reggaeton, etc.

The thing with that is people like to poop on all kinds of musical posts. And yeah, some of threads featuring relatively obscure music often don't get many comments, but I don't think that should be lumped in the same category as "this sucks".
posted by Burhanistan at 9:40 AM on March 6, 2012


I "jumped on" you for your phrasing, not your point of view, which I said could be valid advice if phrased differently.

William Safire? I thought you were dead!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:41 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've always noticed that, of the MeFites I think are young-ish and have recently left college (i.e. in the previous four years), they seem to have been primarily at private, Northern colleges.

Like, I don't think I see folks from, say, giant-mega Southern institutions (e.g. Universities of Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina, etc).

Is there a YeeHawMeFi out there?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:41 AM on March 6, 2012


> no one here can read.

If that's what you honestly think I was doing there, then I guess you're right.
posted by Zozo at 9:42 AM on March 6, 2012


There's actually pretty decent representation of punk on MeFi. And I'd love a good contemporary klezmer post.
posted by griphus at 9:43 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would be willing to bet that a number of old-timers, including myself, don't bother participating in threads on certain topics (or posting about them) anymore because it's just not worth the uphill battle.

Anything having to do with race or gender. This 50 year old generally avoids these topics. It's fun watching 1970s re-runs though.

And here we go. No one was suggesting that anyone use those exact words, or only those words. That was a short hand for a point of view, but here we are a few comments later, and I'm being jumped on for saying it. There's no allowance being made for any viewpoint other than I AM RIGHT AND YOU ARE WRONG.

Shazam MexicanYenta.

And I love those moments where you realize that your mental image of someone is completely, totally wrong.

Another well-north of 50 female and I feel pretty comfortable here.

*blinks at madamjujujive*

I don't know if I had a mental image of you, but "well-north of 50" is a gobsmack. I hope to be as cool as you are when I grow up.
posted by three blind mice at 9:43 AM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's not just that holding different political beliefs gets you attacked on mefi; simply being publicly unsure about the progressive orthodoxy usually nets folks a heaping helping of well-favorited snark.

As my beliefs have transitioned and become more skeptical over the years, I really do get why non-liberals find Mefi a hostile space.
posted by downing street memo at 9:43 AM on March 6, 2012 [21 favorites]


Metafilter needs more Amish moderators.
posted by crunchland at 9:44 AM on March 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


engineers with uninformed opinions about art

*grits teeth*
posted by shakespeherian at 9:44 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


*Teeth grit*
posted by The Whelk at 9:45 AM on March 6, 2012


I have to call bullshit on the idea that MeFi as a whole is blindly hostile to minority viewpoints. I see the "liberal hivemind" here engaging civilly and in good faith with conservatives all the time—when those conservatives are themselves civil and engaging in good faith.
...
"Obama's a dirty baby-killing Muslim who wants to take your guns away" is as unwelcome here as "Obama's a fascist torture-loving corporate stooge." We don't need more of either, and we don't need to court the former for some platonic ideal of "balance."


But those are both insults against the liberal President Obama.

Take a look at the recent thread "The End of the Christian Right?"

They're in short order compared to the wicked witch, called "dangerous animals," then it's suggested that their political views are a mental disorder and metaphorically vampiric, then called theocrats (a view I've never heard espoused publicly by Christian conservatives), and "gullible idiots."

So, yes, after hearing those descriptions of themselves, I'm sure lots of folks are immediately ready to identify themselves with that group and jump into the conversation!
posted by Jahaza at 9:47 AM on March 6, 2012 [14 favorites]


I'm talking about people who do have viewpoints to offer, who are equipped to comment on the subject at hand, but hesitate or choose not to do so because they belong to an underrepresented group.

It's pretty simple, honestly. The outright hostility that non-mainstream participants are met with on MeFi means that the only people with minority views who actually participate tend to be the worst possible representatives of an underrepresented group.

Conservative politics is the perfect example of this. The majority of people who hold conservative views and are capable of thoughtful debate on politics are also people who very quickly realize that it is completely and undeniably not worth it on MeFi. Lazy leftist drive-by one-liners get favorites and acclaim (or at the very least are glossed over without any argument), while making any right-leaning argument, no matter how well considered or argued, is basically signing up to have to take all comers as dozens of people team up on you to pick apart everything you've said under a microscope.

The end result is, the only people willing to actually slog through the shitstorm that is conservative political debate on MeFi tend to be the fringiest-of-fringe, the most hardcore, and the most unwilling to have a good faith discussion. And unsurprisingly, this creates a feedback loop. Everyone thinks it's OK to be colossal douchebags to conservatives, because they're all so stupid and terrible! Except, guess why so few non-stupid, non-terrible conservatives want to join the discussion?

I was reading MeFi for years before I joined. I've always generally enjoyed not only the links, but also the conversation. But, even before I joined, I knew it was unlikely I'd ever try to frequently get into political discussions. I've seen what happens, and it's just not worth the angst and effort. (And while I'm making the example of politics, it applies to all manner of topics).

If you want diverse views, step one would to be to stop reacting to diversity with pitchforks.

(And I know your comment about conservatives was a joke, but all you have to do is look at Grither's response to see the problem in action here. Your statement did not read as a joke, because it is unfortunately a 100% believable statement from a mefite -- even one who has just posted a meta thread about increasing diversity.)
posted by tocts at 9:48 AM on March 6, 2012 [68 favorites]


I'm not actually sure I'd want to see a higher standard of civility enforced than what happens in that thread, but I think it's silly to suggest that it's not hostile to the minority viewpoint.
posted by Jahaza at 9:49 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Although I am occasionally annoyed by an ageist comment and there's a fair amount of boomer hatred.

The nasty hate on boomers thing always annoys me. I've thought about bringing to meta occasionally but figured I'd get shouted down.
posted by octothorpe at 9:49 AM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Actually, I find that it's only a very loud few who generate much of the "hostility" around certain topics: meaning, rather than "Mefi doesn't do [foo] well", it's more like "this guy, that guy, and the other guy don't do [baz] well."

But sometimes I still don't have patience for it, and I'm sure others don't either.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:53 AM on March 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


I forgot to include "left-leaning," but frankly I'm not sure I want a lot of conservatives here.

Let's make the site more diverse and welcoming, just as long as everyone agrees with me about everything!
posted by John Cohen at 9:56 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Happy Birthday, Girther!
posted by Navelgazer at 9:57 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


As my beliefs have transitioned and become more skeptical over the years, I really do get why non-liberals find Mefi a hostile space.

QFT. I also get why it's like that. The ethos here is decidedly liberal. People come here to hang out and mostly chat with like-minded souls. Validation makes people feel warm and cosy and when it comes to taking a break from work, most people seek validation, not confrontation. Having your orthodoxy challenged, or worse, mocked is like a bad cup of coffee and no one wants to pay five bucks for that.

I am liberal about some things, conservative about some things, and completely indifferent about other things. Sometimes I score favorites, somethings I score flags, and sometimes I wonder what the hell I'm doing here.

But I like some of the people here very much and that always, always brings me back. Some of you people really make me smile with the stuff that you say and it's very easy to ignore the rest.
posted by three blind mice at 9:58 AM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I meant things like Delta blues, bluegrass, Armenian folk music, klezmer, Renaissance music, Americana, garage, punk, swing, reggaeton, etc.

I dunno, I feel like I get a lot of these posts here and have made some myself, and would absolutely welcome more. The thing is that most people listen to mainstream music, and mainstream stuff is what people have to talk about. That might be pop, that might be indie, that might even be metal or something, but if 80% of people recognize it, it's mainstream. It's not that people aren't interested in other forms of music, it's just that on the whole these other genres are not as well known as mainstream music. This is a great place to change the knowledge level, so please post away. Music posts on topics like these are my absolute favorite.
posted by Miko at 9:59 AM on March 6, 2012


The nasty hate on boomers thing always annoys me.

it's the "blame your parents" effect, don't worry about it.
posted by Hoopo at 10:00 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, I think snark is usually predictable and kind of boring in general. "Non-snarkers" is probably not a recognizable human group, though, so I digress.
posted by downing street memo at 10:00 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: "Actually, I find that it's only a very loud few who generate much of the "hostility" around certain topics: meaning, rather than "Mefi doesn't do [foo] well", it's more like "this guy, that guy, and the other guy don't do [baz] well.""

Maybe on some topics. But that has not been my experience on several topics. Try being on the wrong side of a circumcision thread. Folks tend to get really snippy.
posted by zarq at 10:05 AM on March 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


20-50 years old, Western, IT/humanities/sciences, more likely to be male.

Yep, that's me, but I am NOT comfortable here. In fact, I feel like I am an old fart, but near the bottom of that demographic...I always assumed it was mostly 16-24 year old/humanities/female here, actually...
posted by TinWhistle at 10:05 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I'm not sure I want a lot of conservatives here.'"

Haters hating haters.

Why compose a well-reasoned non-liberal comment that will be jumped all over regardless of its content? Strip it down to its essence, phrase it with a side order of snark, and toss it out for mass consumption. Those who would have understood it, still will, and the haters will provide an hour's worth of popcorn-munching entertainment.
posted by Ardiril at 10:06 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Try being on the wrong side of a circumcision thread. Folks tend to get really snippy.

*rimshot*
posted by downing street memo at 10:06 AM on March 6, 2012 [11 favorites]


I do not fit two of your five categories. I am a slightly special snowflake.
posted by Decani at 10:09 AM on March 6, 2012


But sometimes I still don't have patience for it, and I'm sure others don't either.

I pretty much avoid anything on an remotely hot-button issue.

And it's not even that I'm of a different persuasion to the Mefi majority, it's that those threads are lacking in the kind of respectfulness, friendliness, attempt-to-understand-the-other-ness, and general thoughtfulness that I like to see.
posted by philipy at 10:11 AM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Try being on the wrong side of a circumcision thread. Folks tend to get really snippy.

I see what you did there.
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:11 AM on March 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


"Casual sex doesn't seem to be working for you, maybe you should examine why you keep hooking up with people if it makes you so unhappy." Both of which mean Stop Fucking All The Things, but making the effort to sound compassionate and non-judgemental neither picks your pocket nor breaks your leg. are far less funny.
posted by Zozo at 5:21 PM on March 6

FTetc.
posted by Decani at 10:12 AM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm outside of your stated demographic age-wise and I don't feel all that uncomfortable here, at least most of the time. When I do, I just sit back and watch, not being the confrontational type.

I don't think there's anything anyone could do to get me to post more often, but that's more to do with my basic personality than anything. Not everyone wants to talk, some are content to listen.
posted by tommasz at 10:14 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Wisecracks don't help people find answers."
posted by Zozo at 10:14 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why compose a well-reasoned non-liberal comment that will be jumped all over regardless of its content?

See, maybe it's my liberal blinders, but I don't see this happening very often. What I do see is ill-informed opinions getting the business because they're espousing the inherent sexism, racism et. al. in a lot of (if not most) high-profile conservative social policy. Can someone link to a few instances where a well-reasoned comment was jumped upon for being conservative alone?
posted by griphus at 10:14 AM on March 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


I know it's been said enough here already but-
I forgot to include "left-leaning," but frankly I'm not sure I want a lot of conservatives here.
does not read as a joke. I'll take you at your word that it was meant that way, but I've seen similar said very seriously many times here.

I think the far right are as out of touch as I think the far left are. I comment and post very little but read most everything on the blue and grey. I read very few political threads though because no matter the specific topic I can guess how the thread will go which I will not enjoy. I fall right of center, but not by much and I still feel that it's very far from the site's center.

That said, I never feel like I am unwelcome or uncomfortable here because I stick to science, pop culture, and music threads where there is much less divisiveness - and when there is it is handled much better. I would guess there are others like me who would like to have reasonable discussions in political threads if it were possible, but as it is just sit them out.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 10:24 AM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I always assumed it was mostly 16-24 year old/humanities/female here, actually...

I find that kind of amazing. What is it that gave you that impression?
posted by rtha at 10:27 AM on March 6, 2012 [18 favorites]


Coming in late here, haven't read everything, but as a 50-something, let me just say that a key reason I hang out here is precisely because it's NOT generally a community of my peers. It skews younger, brasher, less formal, more provocative, more FUN.

I can drink cocktails and talk real estate, tax concerns, pain remedies with my peers any time I want. Please don't go clogging up the FILTER with it.
posted by philip-random at 10:28 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Opinions need not be conservative, even moderate opinions get treated as troll comments. Hell, even questioning the veracity of the facts underlying a liberal subject is enough to get a mod refereeing it as a derail.

griphus, if you haven't seen it in the four years you have been here, then you are right, your blinders are too tight.
posted by Ardiril at 10:30 AM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I can drink cocktails and talk real estate, tax concerns, pain remedies with my peers any time I want.

New Motrin pills sure are in early this year, huh? You need a refill?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:32 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you seriously doubt the hostility to non-liberals here, watch this thread on the Cato thing.

It's already getting ugly.
posted by downing street memo at 10:33 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I always assumed it was mostly 16-24 year old/humanities/female here, actually...

I find that kind of amazing. What is it that gave you that impression?


There is definitely a strong feminist current on Metafilter and a lot of members that have clearly studied humanities. It's hard to miss; I would say a good number of the site's great big mega-threads on the blue or grey have contained a discussion about gender.
posted by Hoopo at 10:35 AM on March 6, 2012


griphus, if you haven't seen it in the four years you have been here, then you are right, your blinders are too tight.

Again, link away. It doesn't look like anyone's stepping up for the defense in the Cato thread. I'll agree that MeFi skews liberal, but I'm still calling bullshit on the idea that conservatives are scared off from commenting because all their well-reasoned opinions have been yelled at.
posted by griphus at 10:40 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah actually I was reading the Cato thread earlier and definitely got uncomfortable with how angry many of the responses are. I'm right of center but think of myself as being pretty moderate and I never comment in anything even vaguely political because I feel like I would be sliced to ribbons.
posted by brilliantine at 10:42 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay, griphus, I would like to comment in that thread in defense of Cato but I won't because I would like to keep my blood pressure at a reasonable level, and avoid the predictable, boring snark, the conflation of libertarianism with Somalia, etc.
posted by downing street memo at 10:45 AM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


See, maybe it's my liberal blinders, but I don't see this happening very often. What I do see is ill-informed opinions getting the business because they're espousing the inherent sexism, racism et. al. in a lot of (if not most) high-profile conservative social policy. Can someone link to a few instances where a well-reasoned comment was jumped upon for being conservative alone?

It's also about proportion. In this thread, I posted about the anti-bullying law and where to draw the line in anti-bullying legislation.

Sotonhito in reply accused me of "think[ing] it is very important that school employees be granted specific license to drive gay children to suicide ".
posted by Jahaza at 10:45 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fine, griphus, examine my history as mischief and how my tenor changed through the years.
posted by Ardiril at 10:45 AM on March 6, 2012


> Fine, griphus, examine my history as mischief and how my tenor changed through the years.

I'm neither here nor there about the environment being hostile to conservatives, but I think if you're going to make a claim and then someone asks you for specific links to back that up, you should do better than just link to a profile to expect others to trawl through to prove your point.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:47 AM on March 6, 2012


As an over-50 white liberal scientist, I think "I call bullshit on" is a fighty way to say "I disagree".
posted by lukemeister at 10:49 AM on March 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


white, 20-50 years old, Western, IT/humanities/sciences, more likely to be male

White: yes, unless tanned, of the Jewish sometimes subdivision (as not all Jews are "white" )

20-50. Nope. North of that.

Western: yes, U.S. style

IT: no humanities: not exactly. IANYL. sciences: no

more likely to be male: no, female feminist here.

In short, I too am a slightly special snowflake. (But different from all the other snowflakes, of course!) I hope this helps this random survey.
posted by bearwife at 10:51 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]



If you seriously doubt the hostility to non-liberals here, watch this thread on the Cato thing.


I admit I'm speaking only for myself, but my own hostility is confined to the Koch brothers exclusively. And, admittedly, is also only evidenced by metaphoric popcorn-eating.

(It's really angry popcorn, though.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:55 AM on March 6, 2012


I was in a frat.
posted by mullacc at 10:56 AM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


For example, I would guess Mefi is rather intimidating to anyone that didn't go to college. Esp if they have self-doubts about their abilities.

It can be. The great thing about MeFi, which a surprising number of very educated people don't seem to understand, is that it's easy to skip over the things that are intimidating or uninteresting. It can actually be less intimidating than real life because here it's easier to just sit back and learn while in the real world it can often feel like everyone in the room knows you're the least educated person there. Self-doubts? What self-doubts?
posted by bondcliff at 10:56 AM on March 6, 2012


My old profile proves my point, Burhanistan, and pretty much anyone who has been here for over ten years could vouch for that.
posted by Ardiril at 10:56 AM on March 6, 2012


I am seriously flabbergasted that anyone, even a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, would think this place is even remotely fair to non-liberals. I'm not dying on a cross here, I have a good job, a roof over my head, etc. and an internet forum hostile to a few of my beliefs is not the worst thing in the world.

But honestly, scroll through a politics thread, any politics thread, and look for the occasional non-progressive comment. It will be answered with bad Jon Stewart-esque snark, personal insults (I've been called a "whore" before, by a well-known and prolific participant in such threads) and worse.

Griphus your reaction alone should clue you into how hostile this space can be. People are telling you that it's a hostile space, and you're reacting with...more hostility.
posted by downing street memo at 10:58 AM on March 6, 2012 [21 favorites]


I'm mildly conservative (read: more conservative than MeFi) female, 39, and a Christian. Even though there are many MeFi instances where I say "Oh, really? Really!??" I stay quiet on threads about one or the other (or lately, both.)

Why? Because I'm not an expert debater and I have a mere non-PoliSci BA (so much grad school here!) and I also don't have the tenacity or time to spend hours refreshing one thread just so I can fail at changing someone's pre-existing bias.

But there are hundreds of other ways I participate that doesn't result in my bashing my head on my keyboard. So I'm not too put out about it.
posted by ladygypsy at 10:59 AM on March 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


I've been reading MetaFilter since around 2000 or so and one of the reasons why I stopped spending much time on the blue was the utter contempt shown to non-atheists. There are definitely members who are spiritual/religious, but the threads about the topic I dared to read were condescending, smug, and insulting. There is very much of a YOU CANNOT POSSIBLY BE RIGHT culture about metaphysical things around here.

Likewise, I don't really feel like there is a place for a spiritual point of view in Ask MeFi unless an answer that leans in that direction is very carefully and neutrally worded lest it draws critical fire rather than gets treated merely as an alternative point of view. That bums me out a little because my spirituality is a huge part of my life and worldview as well as a real comfort to me during hard times. I'm not talking about a "God wants it this way." kind of answer either. I'm talking about a belief that maybe things happen for a reason, maybe shitty thing is actually happening to lead a person to a better place or understanding etc.

Anyway, the good news is with any hot topic like that, they usually make up a fraction of the posts and are relatively easy to skip. I appreciate that people are thoughtful about these kinds of issues even though sometimes it gets really hard to speak in generalities. I give a lot of the core group of regular users a lot of the benefit of the doubt and being a member of this community has actually helped to teach me to give most people the benefit of the doubt because you just do not know what kind of life experiences people have had.
posted by Kimberly at 11:05 AM on March 6, 2012 [18 favorites]


Honestly, griphus, I thought about writing that Cato post - I've done some research on the libertarian movement for work that I could probably have shared and made into a much more exhaustive post than the one that's on the blue now. Again, I didn't, because the reception would have been universally hostile, as is being proven now.
posted by downing street memo at 11:05 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


White, US, 35, more likely to be male, uneducated, unskilled manual laborer.

Conservatism is not a background, it is a set of opinions about subjects where reasonable people can disagree. I relish the irony of affirmative action to make room for conservative viewpoints (which is something I just invented, but it's only a step or two away from the conversation so far).
posted by idiopath at 11:06 AM on March 6, 2012


Over 50, female, here since 2004. I still love it and I still learn, although the boomer-hate and ageism has gotten worse. I feel like a canary in a coalmine, less like a member as the atmosphere gets harder to navigate.

Sadly, there are many many threads that would benefit from a little tribal elder wisdom (along with what we used to quaintly think of as "common sense" but even the use of the word "common" would get a right-quick stomping) but the vibe is often dismissive and sometimes vicious.

I know y'all have helped me be more open-minded. It would be nice if the converse were possible.
posted by thinkpiece at 11:07 AM on March 6, 2012 [13 favorites]


There is definitely a strong feminist current on Metafilter and a lot of members that have clearly studied humanities. It's hard to miss; I would say a good number of the site's great big mega-threads on the blue or grey have contained a discussion about gender.

Still amazed, really, because in my experience, 16-24-year old female humanities majors are far from the only cohort to discuss gender issues.
posted by rtha at 11:18 AM on March 6, 2012 [17 favorites]



Griphus your reaction alone should clue you into how hostile this space can be. People are telling you that it's a hostile space, and you're reacting with...more hostility.

That's the thing I was typing up a comment to say. You could argue that the people who express conservative views do so in bad faith, but you can't argue that the people who DON'T and are telling you why they don't are trolling by not expressing views.

I've been reading MetaFilter since around 2000 or so and one of the reasons why I stopped spending much time on the blue was the utter contempt shown to non-atheists.

Not that it excuses bad behavior, but I think a large part of this is because the internet is the one place where it's socially o.k. to be an atheist. There's pent up aggravation of having the vast majority of the culture starting from a theist point of view, and a smaller but noticeable subset of that having an implicate message that you can't be "good" or have a fulfilling life if you're an atheist. This is where it can be safely expressed. Unfortunately, it often gets expressed as contempt.
posted by Gygesringtone at 11:22 AM on March 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


relatively affluent

Oh yes. I just learned today that my nice new super comfortable $100 office chair, the most crazily oh-shit-I-really-can't-afford-this-but-I-need-it expensive piece of furniture I ever bought, the first office chair I've ever had that didn't fold up flat, is "by definition a piece of junk." I read a lot of threads and just know I'm too poor to reply to them. This goes along with a general anti-freelance, anti-creative work (unless it's just a hobby), anti-travel (unless it's your allotted 2 weeks that you've earned, damn it! by working 70 hours a week for 3 years straight and owning own house), anti-dating people who don't earn a lot of money, bias I see here a lot. But that's not really specific to MetaFilter. That's America. (And a lot of other 1st world countries, to various extents, though I'll leave that accusation to someone else who's actually from them.) I'm sort of used to being invisible already in that sense, so it doesn't really bother me. Like I said, I just ignore the threads for the most part.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 11:27 AM on March 6, 2012 [14 favorites]


Yeah, I'm the most stridently left of almost all of my offline friends and I constantly find myself explaining basic Social Justice 101 concepts (no, the death penalty isn't socially expedient; no, not wearing short-shorts won't be a stop-gap to prevent rape; no, just because you've had a shitty female boss doesn't mean that women are less adept leaders as a whole) but some of the politically oriented threads on MetaFilter make me really uncomfortable.

I find that the tone in the most controversial threads tends to trend towards "not only are you wrong, but you are a bad person for thinking so". Nothing wrong with pointing out the flaws in someone's thinking and backing that up with facts if necessary, but there's a real moral superiority here of "I can't believe you were dumb enough to be brainwashed by the establishment, you sheeple" that can be really off-putting.

Having waded into more than one feminism/LGBTQ-rights-related thread in the past, I can also definitely relate to the exasperation of feeling like you're explaining the same thing over and over again with little apparent progress. That's not a license to be a dick, mind you, but I can get why it would be frustrating.
posted by Phire at 11:28 AM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


> because in my experience, 16-24-year old female humanities majors are far from the only cohort to discuss gender issues.

The only real thing about that group (and I'd include males there) is that they tend to talk about the evils of religion as if no one had ever dared to discuss such a thing on the internet before.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:30 AM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I know I've personally flagged quite a few comments as being ageist, and there have been others that I should have flagged but they were only sort of vaguely ageist.

[...]

There are also a lot of comments here that strike me as "I just got a degree, motherfuckers! And as a new college graduate, I know EVERYTHING!"


Flagged as vaguely ageist.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:31 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not that it excuses bad behavior, but I think a large part of this is because the internet is the one place where it's socially o.k. to be an atheist.

Yeah, I see that. The irony is that as someone who is not traditionally religious and not all that fond of organized religions, there aren't many places where having my views are ok either. What this does for me, however, is make me more sympathetic to alternative perspectives rather than trying to marginalize or discount the views of others. I'm definitely not perfect at this, but I try.
posted by Kimberly at 11:32 AM on March 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


This goes along with a general anti-freelance, anti-creative work (unless it's just a hobby), anti-travel (unless it's your allotted 2 weeks that you've earned, damn it! by working 70 hours a week for 3 years straight and owning own house

Wow. It's like we read different sites. From where I sit, there's a ton of good advice given on the green about freelancing and especially freelancing in creative work (mostly web/graphic design, yeah), and practically every question that's about "I want to travel but how?" is answered in a chorus of "Get as much money together as you feel you need, stop dithering and GO NOW!"
posted by rtha at 11:34 AM on March 6, 2012 [21 favorites]


People are telling you that it's a hostile space, and you're reacting with...more hostility.

...but you can't argue that the people who DON'T and are telling you why they don't are trolling by not expressing views.

People are claiming to be victims of behavior -- that is, being personally attacked for reasonable opinions that defend policy that isn't inherently misanthropic in some way -- they can't demonstrate. Again, this place can certainly seem hostile to conservatives, and that keeps them from participating. I have no problem accepting that as an objective truth. However, what I'm arguing is that there seems to be little evidence to support that conservative opinion is being yelled down even when it's "well-reasoned." There's a lot of people saying "oh I don't comment because I know they'll yell at me," and vague allusions to prior events, but so far a single link has been provided. Which is funny, because I bet every third MeFite could drop a metric ton of links demonstrating how MetaFilter has been openly hostile to the rational opinions of women, minorities, LGBT folk and so on.
posted by griphus at 11:34 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


affirmative action to make room for conservative viewpoints

I don't want affirmitive action for conservative viewpoints.

What I want is common courtesy towards all human beings.

Plus, ideally, a degree of humility and openness in being willing to listen to others as if what they say might be of some value and what you already think might possibly be something that could in theory be revised based on what other people have to say.

I'm not remotely a conservative myself.

My viewpoint as expressed above is actually based on the far-from-conservative premise that none of us have got access to any absolute truth, that therefore all beliefs should be subject to revision and debate, and that all people should be cut a lot of slack because they can't help what culture or subculture they were born into and what ideas or values they've encountered or not encountered in their life.
posted by philipy at 11:34 AM on March 6, 2012 [23 favorites]


they tend to talk about the evils of religion as if no one had ever dared to discuss such a thing on the internet before.

Reminds me of an old high school teacher. "You idiots act like you think you invented sex."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:36 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Griphus, this is absurd. I linked you to the Cato thread, going on right now, where you can find gems like these:

"This won't change the fact that an argument that cites Cato "research" is self-invalidating."

"So the football player who used to beat me up got dumped by his girlfriend and kicked off the team. That's too bad. Just a shame." (Jesus, the issues on this one)

"What a disingenuous gaggle of sniveling hypocrites and frauds these people are."

"It's hypocritical because they already made that choice [to be prostitutes]. A long time ago."

Imagine you were a libertarian, with beliefs in line with that of Cato. Would you feel comfortable posting in such a thread?
posted by downing street memo at 11:43 AM on March 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


I am seriously flabbergasted that anyone, even a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, would think this place is even remotely fair to non-liberals.

It isn't real clear to me what work "non-liberal" is doing in this sentence. If Metafilter "isn't fair" (and it isn't perfectly obvious to me what that means in this context) to "non-liberals," then it frequently isn't fair to socialists, anarchists, Greens, either. As a Democratic-voting, American Prospect/Nation/even-the-liberal-New Republic-style center-left/liberal, I can say from experience that sometimes it isn't fair to Democratic-voting, American Prospect/Nation/even-the-liberal-New Republic-style center-left/liberals.

So, yeah, I don't know what "being more fair to non-liberals" (as opposed to simply not being the internet) would look like in practice, precisely.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:45 AM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


People are claiming to be victims of behavior -- that is, being personally attacked for reasonable opinions that defend policy that isn't inherently misanthropic in some way -- they can't demonstrate. ... so far a single link has been provided.

Uh... so, how many examples will I need to provide?
posted by Jahaza at 11:46 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


rtha: there's a ton of good advice given on the green about freelancing and especially freelancing in creative work (mostly web/graphic design, yeah)

Yeah, that should have said something like "freelance writing/performing/artsy stuff." (There's good advice on that on the green too, from people who actually do it. It's just that very often there's also "NO don't even think of doing that, get a corporate job and maybe you'll grow out of it."
posted by DestinationUnknown at 11:46 AM on March 6, 2012


There are also a lot of comments here that strike me as "I just got a degree, motherfuckers! And as a new college graduate, I know EVERYTHING!"

Flagged as vaguely ageist


Well, seeing as how my 50 y.o. boyfriend has gone back to school this semester and has been occasionally exhibiting this same annoying tendency, I'll have to disagree with you about that. :)

(Although I *am* a few months older than him.)
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:46 AM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


And the kinds of links that you're looking for are just one kind of evidence of hostility to ideological diversity as has been pointed out to you.
posted by Jahaza at 11:49 AM on March 6, 2012


It's just that very often there's also "NO don't even think of doing that, get a corporate job and maybe you'll grow out of it."

Yeah, I can see that. Have seen it. Will probably see it again.
posted by rtha at 11:53 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


This thread is one giant clusterfuck of hostility to any ideas that don't match up with very left-of-center ones, featuring this illustrious comment:

"The only basic difference between prostitution and think-tank work is the kind of service being performed. Basically, think tanks are like brothels for plausibly intellectual-seeming people who are willing to engage in being "intellectual" for money. So intellectual honesty and integrity probably factor into that kind of work about as much as faithfulness and sincerity factor into the sex trade (which is of course to say they are liabilities)."

@octobersurprise, totally fair. I think what folks are asking for is basic decency and respect.
posted by downing street memo at 11:54 AM on March 6, 2012


People are claiming to be victims of behavior -- that is, being personally attacked for reasonable opinions that defend policy that isn't inherently misanthropic in some way -- they can't demonstrate.

In the context of "Do these people feel comfortable here? How can we encourage more diverse people to post? ?" We have people saying "as a member of X group, I feel uncomfortable." They don't have to prove that we treat them badly, it's enough that they feel unwelcome. That answers the question that this MeTa asks.
posted by Gygesringtone at 11:54 AM on March 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


rtha: "16-24-year old female humanities majors are far from the only cohort to discuss gender issues."

Begs the question, tho... just how exactly are those of us who participate in boyzone discussions being perceived by other mefites? Yeesh.
posted by zarq at 11:55 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


People post a lot of illogical, misinformed stuff on politics threads. They also post a lot of illogical, misinformed stuff on science threads. In neither case do they add much to the conversation, but the thread of the conversation typically (thanks in huge part to the mods here) doesn't revolve around such comments. As has been said upthread, I've rarely seen a well-reasoned, well-written comment from any point of view attract other well-reasoned, well-written comments from others. Personally, I read a lot (here and elsewhere) of what strikes me as thoughtful left-ish writing, but I honestly don't know how to find empirical, intelligent analysis from a conservative point of view. If you can provide this here, please, please do.
posted by Schismatic at 11:57 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


just how exactly are those of us who participate in boyzone discussions being perceived by other mefites?

Sometimes with extreme gratitude by those of us too damned tired to do the heavy lifting one more time. Also, a lot of what MexicanYenta said rings really true to me, although I'm still young enough to be at the upper end of the target demographic and I think we're a bit more open to music threads than she does, possibly because I look for them.
posted by immlass at 11:59 AM on March 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


There is definitely a strong feminist current on Metafilter and a lot of members that have clearly studied humanities. It's hard to miss; I would say a good number of the site's great big mega-threads on the blue or grey have contained a discussion about gender.

I think it might also depend on when you started reading the site. Just after I started reading the site, but wasn't a member yet, there were a lot of struggles on the grey about sexism. If you started reading Metafilter well after those, say after the Whatcha Reading threads, MeFi might seem like a different place.
posted by gladly at 12:00 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I fit the demographic except that I'm female and not a scientist. I do hit the upper age there - not fifty yet although the line is visible. I think that Mefi has gotten far more welcoming to women over the years and there are many, many more women here. As a case in point I remember reading an AskMe post (back in the very early Ask days) about bra shopping and thinking to myself, is she crazy? Who would post a bra question here? How could she expect anything but this long string of bad jokes and men saying bow chicka brown cow? Which is what it was, more or less. Nowadays, I wouldn't think like that and that wouldn't happen. So, that's good. Tedious as some of the endless rehashing gets, I think all in all the results have mostly been worth the pain. As far as politics and religion go, I'm probably one of the echo chamber and I have to say, I don't have a problem with it. Metafilter has always been politically liberal/progressive and that is one of the reasons I came here and one of the reasons I stay. I can be as honestly left wing as I am here and not be drowned out. Even in my little blue enclave in the real world, I get plenty of the conservative viewpoint and since my own views are rather firmly far, far to the left of what passes for the progressive left in the US these days, it's a huge relief to have somewhere I don't have to bite my tongue.

On the other hand, I do get the ageist thing. Sometimes I feel like everyone else on metafilter has stayed the same age since 2002 while I have grimly aged onwards, alone. Either that or everyone over 40 has left. I sometimes feel that way about the world, though, and I've felt it for years about the so called generation X, which I was firmly a part of in the 80s but which I am apparently too old for now. And sometimes I too get irritated by the Youth of Today who not only tromp across my lawn, but act as if they know all.* But I also find that I have shut up a lot more as I get older and I don't think I'm alone. I have less to say than I did ten years ago and I think that's natural as well, so I sort of assume that one of the main reasons the Voice of Metafilter, such as it is, skews young is because younger people just talk more.

* I believe that is a perk of aging that I'm entitled to, though, and I get solace from knowing that my 20 something angst was not, thank all the gods, stored forever on the internet whereas theirs is right there, which is going to make for some serious cringing times in twenty years, kids, oh believe me. There's a lot to be said for the relative frailty of paper journals and polaroids.
posted by mygothlaundry at 12:01 PM on March 6, 2012 [33 favorites]


Sys Rq: "There are also a lot of comments here that strike me as "I just got a degree, motherfuckers! And as a new college graduate, I know EVERYTHING!"

Flagged as vaguely ageist.
"

Would be funnier if it weren't true.

A while back we had an entire Meta callout for one user who isn't here anymore, who used to say stuff like this:
I actively detest and have contempt for people past a certain age who don't have or aren't working on at least a four-year degree. Really. Because if you don't have one, it shows that you're at the least incredibly immature and don't value education very much, and at worst a complete dumbass who frankly doesn't have the skills or the knowledge to compete with the rest of the world.

posted by zarq at 12:03 PM on March 6, 2012


I think it's possible that growing diversity might be simply a matter of time: "the greying of the Grey", if you will.

When I show Metafilter to my students (predominantly 18 - 22 years old), the primary response is bewilderment. "It's just text? No pictures? Where are the memes?" That's not to say that we won't continue to have gain users in the 18 - 25 bracket, just that I think that, over time, the Metafilter Way will be more and more like Usenet to people on the internet now: intimidating and faintly archaic.

In another decade the average Mefite will, I suspect, be significantly older. I'd expect a small shift towards conservatism as the demographics change, and "Get off my lawn" starts to become more literal. Progressing another ten years, older male Mefites will start inevitably dying sooner, and in greater numbers, than female members.

Ten years after that, I can totally see Metafilter being lead by a matriarchy... or at least a core of Mefites who are older, (hopefully) wiser, and more gender-balanced. The cabal will have formed itself.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 12:03 PM on March 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


One of the worst aspects is the common assumption of bad faith (or corruption or greed or stupidity or whatever) in an opposite point of view. This happens in religious, political and even computer gadget threads. It's as bad a tactic, and as harmful to discussion in a politics post as it is for the Apple/Google nonsense.

Calling someone a troll for having a different viewpoint from one's own is lazy and even dishonest in almost all cases. I wish it could stop.
posted by bonehead at 12:04 PM on March 6, 2012 [21 favorites]


i'm white, western (southern american), 30ish, a woman, feminist, married, a housewife, childless, a high school drop out (with honors). i've done some work in IT, but i spent the bulk of my time in retail management. i've been reading for 12 years, a member for 10.

i feel like it has gotten exceptionally better towards women in the years i've been here. i think some members might tire of the "boyzone" threads and the constant banging on about gender, but i think either those people are newish or don't really remember how it used to be. i'm really glad the community has moved some in that regard and it makes metafilter one of the very few non-feminist focused places that i feel comfortable. sometimes i hang out at reddit for the lulz and accidentally click on anything to do with race or gender or relationships and i'm reminded how wonderful it is here.

I would guess Mefi is rather intimidating to anyone that didn't go to college.

i don't find that to be true - maybe it's because i was really academically focused right up until i dropped out of high school or maybe it's because i have quite a few college graduated friends and lived in one college town or another basically my entire life - if i stay out of advanced computing threads, i feel pretty on par with everyone.
posted by nadawi at 12:07 PM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


> A while back we had an entire Meta callout for one user who isn't here anymore, who used to say stuff like this

Heh. I wonder if she ever got her undergrad degree.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:08 PM on March 6, 2012


It's kind of weird that in a thread about diversity there have only been two people who have self-identified as non-white. I don't know what that means.
posted by desjardins at 12:12 PM on March 6, 2012


Metafilter: intimidating and faintly archaic
posted by desjardins at 12:13 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Burhanistan: " Heh. I wonder if she ever got her undergrad degree."

Hope so.

I've always wondered if she quietly BND reincarnated.
posted by zarq at 12:14 PM on March 6, 2012


It's kind of weird that in a thread about diversity there have only been two people who have self-identified as non-white. I don't know what that means.

It means some of us self identify to hide those who don't. It's in one of our rule books.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:14 PM on March 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


it's called taking one for the team.
posted by elizardbits at 12:15 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


You guys get rule books? Man, all we got are these stupid Protocols.
posted by griphus at 12:19 PM on March 6, 2012 [22 favorites]


Admittedly I have an issue with those that place what I think is too much store in academia. I have no degree myself, backdoored my way in to a profession after a sketchy, misspent youth. I have met many people over the years who have done the alotted time in places of higher learning that couldn't find their ass with both hands (a figure of speech which betrays me as 50+).

So I think the answer is, never assume. And be kind.
posted by readery at 12:19 PM on March 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


Well, it was worth a try.

All I meant was that Being a Jerk transcends ideology, Being a Jerk about anything is going to provoke other people to Be a Jerk right back at you, and maybe we should all try not to Be Jerks to each other and see what happens.

That's clearly not what came across, and if anyone thought I was saying something else, and was hurt by that something else, I truly regret it.

Peace out, y'all.
posted by Zozo at 12:23 PM on March 6, 2012


A while back we had an entire Meta callout for one user who isn't here anymore, who used to say stuff like this

That's your example of the overall tone of the site? A troll who was universally loathed until finally being banned?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:26 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually, I think she left under duress rather than bannination.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:29 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


A while back we had an entire Meta callout for one user who isn't here anymore, who used to say stuff like this:

Wow, boy, I don't miss that shit. Still, as a community, that person was pretty well scorned for it, I felt like.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:30 PM on March 6, 2012


Yeah, also: I never attended even a full day of college, and none of y'all intimidate me one bit.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:32 PM on March 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


They don't have to prove that we treat them badly, it's enough that they feel unwelcome. That answers the question that this MeTa asks.

And just to be a bit of a devil's advocate here too... One of the other things we have in droves here on MeFi is socially awkward folks. This is neither here nor there except when we're dealing with things like self-reporting of feeling unwelcome and/or feeling that the site is not for you, etc. I often ask people if I'm having a personal email exchange with them, if they feel this way about the rest of the world too, or if it's MeFi specific. Because at some level if you're an awkward person and you feel like you don't fit in generally [and I count myself in this group a lot of the times, though I like it here] you may also feel that you don't fit in here and that has almost nothing to do with MetaFilter.

However, this is also a reasoning pattern that is used societally to continue to exclude people who have insititutionally been excluded [racial and gender minorities as well as people affected by classism, ageism, aggressive heteronormativity, whatever] and so we're really sensitive when trying to untangle an individual's hurt feelings, trying to set expectations properly and then live up to them in how we moderate the site and how we expect other people to treat each other here. We do draw a line somewhat between choice-based traits [religious and political preference] and non-choice based traits [gender, sexual preference, racial, nationality] because where the former is generally open to more scrutiny and the "help me understand this..." sorts of questions that are less okay if it's just "Please give me a 101 explanation to your type of people" I know it's a little arbitrary, but this does mean no free pass for "I believe it because my religion says so" but also no free pass for "fuck your invisible man in the sky" statements either.

I know folks are mostly just talking about their own personal feelings with this sort of thing, but I think it's worth paying attention to whether one or two people's comments have made you feel unwelcome or whether you feel that the site as a whole is making you feel unwelcome. There's a certain extent to which we feel that people have to be able to deal with a few shitty comments in order to be here, since we after-the-fact moderate and can't be anyplace at once, but we're really concerned if people feel that the site is actively hostile to certain sorts of people and the mod team sits by and does nothing.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:34 PM on March 6, 2012 [14 favorites]


All I meant was that Being a Jerk transcends ideology, Being a Jerk about anything is going to provoke other people to Be a Jerk right back at you, and maybe we should all try not to Be Jerks to each other and see what happens.

By that same token, I'd like to add "make sure someone IS being a jerk at you, rather than you maybe misunderstanding what they're saying."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:37 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sys Rq: "That's your example of the overall tone of the site?"

No, it's a single person sample of someone who made at least some of us without a college degree feel highly unwelcome and defensive. It had a lasting effect, at least on me. I pretty much don't talk about my lack of degree on MeFi at all.
posted by zarq at 12:38 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm 44 physically, about 13 mentally, socialist, and a college dropout. I'm white, live on possibly the whitest island in a white state and have white, male hobbies. Metafilter is one of the few bits of diversity I get, as sad as that is. I hope it keeps getting more diverse.

With the site being largely US-centric, what we define as "conservative" and "liberal" would be viewed by, Europeans, say, as "radically conservative" and "moderate." Perspective and all that.
posted by maxwelton at 12:41 PM on March 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


Even something as simple as the red:conservative, blue:"progressive" assumption is reversed in other countries.
posted by bonehead at 12:44 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


zarq: I pretty much don't talk about my lack of degree on MeFi at all.

I'll take the advice and listen to the views of people with real life experience, over those with a dozen degrees, any day of the week.
posted by gman at 12:45 PM on March 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


...but we're really concerned if people feel that the site is actively hostile to certain sorts of people and the mod team sits by and does nothing.

For the record, I don't think any of the things I mentioned in my longish comment above are the mod's responsibility to change. Mods can only moderate comments; they can't moderate people, or beliefs, or attitudes. But maybe this thread will encourage people who have felt unwelcome to start speaking up more often.
posted by MexicanYenta at 12:46 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


For my observation, the issue that I see play out here quite often (and Mefi is certainly not the only place where this occurs) is that there are certain political viewpoints accepted here as objectively correct and reasonable and viewpoints that differ from that assumption are viewed as obviously and clearly wrong and probably somebody being a troll.

So "Mefi Accepted Viewpoints" generally go unchallenged (not only that, but as an added bonus if they are expressed loudly and with an "Oh, SNAP!" vibe you can count on having your Favorite totals run up too) while anyone expressing a viewpoint that differs from the majority is sure to be challenged to come up with an endless number of citations, facts and evidence supporting their argument (all of which will be immediately rejected as bullshit if they do go through the motions of providing that backup) with a side dish of condescension and hostility.
posted by The Gooch at 12:49 PM on March 6, 2012 [19 favorites]


No, it's a single person sample of someone who made at least some of us without a college degree feel highly unwelcome and defensive. It had a lasting effect, at least on me. I pretty much don't talk about my lack of degree on MeFi at all.

Well, she was a jerk, and we all agreed on that, and she's gone now. She and her ilk are FAR more unwelcome than Johnny no-degree.

Me, I just have a BFA. Four year degree. Took me seven. Didn't even declare a major. Graduated with a 2.0 GPA. Has yet to ever come in handy. A smarter person wouldn't have bothered at all.

You are that smarter person.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:54 PM on March 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's kind of weird that in a thread about diversity there have only been two people who have self-identified as non-white. I don't know what that means.

I don't identify as white (I look white and was mostly raised by a white mother, though). Metafilter could deal with race better.

There was one horrible thread about OKCupid where dudes went on and on about not finding women of a certain race attractive. Someone commented about how horrible that made her feel and I imagine she didn't stick around mefi. I would say that things like this (but smaller and maybe less noticeable to white people) happen a lot. Not blatant X RACE = BAD but just people saying things that they don't realize are rude, or just assuming that everyone here is white. The recent thread about Chinese weightlifters was full of subtle (but very off-putting) stuff.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:55 PM on March 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


I don't talk about a lot of things which are important to me here, and there's a lot more I talk about knowing that I'll probably be insulted or piled-on for it. So it goes; it's pretty much the same anywhere (online or otherwise), and in a lot of places it's worse. That said, I think the site could benefit from more exposure to other points of view... which is not to say that everyone needs to agree with them, simply that everyone ought to be able to comment without getting slammed by the Hammer of Community Justice.

In particular, a lot of people could stand to be reminded that the F in FIAMO stands for more than just "flag". If people could just manage not to post things which amount to content-free smackdowns or exclamations of yeah! I agree with everyone else that you are right/wrong! the site would be a lot better off. And before you check, I'm sure I do this from time to time, too... but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be deleted, especially in AskMe.

I also agree with others that things have gotten better for women, but somehow worse for people who don't toe the party line. Community standards seem to have gone from "argue in good faith and don't insult other members, no matter the topic or opinion" to "don't cause 'trouble'", complete with the attitude that certain opinions/topics are trouble and that people being piled-on and insulted must not be arguing in good faith. The echo-chamber effect is really frustrating, especially since great discussions are still to be had here and there.
posted by vorfeed at 12:57 PM on March 6, 2012 [14 favorites]


Sys Rq: " You are that smarter person."

Thanks. That's kind of you.

There are days I really wish I had gone back and finished, just to get the damned thing. Currently looking to switch jobs and the market is far harder to break into without it. Without the degree, I don't meet the initial requirements for positions I'm otherwise qualified (or overqualified) for. I know I'll find something eventually, but in the meantime, it's an odd situation.
posted by zarq at 1:03 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


it's called taking one for the team.

Why do you think all non-white people play sports?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:09 PM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


the young rope-rider: "There was one horrible thread about OKCupid where dudes went on and on about not finding women of a certain race attractive."

This meta, this comment, I assume?
posted by zarq at 1:15 PM on March 6, 2012


I can totally see Metafilter being lead by a matriarchy

Well we're almost there being currently lead by a Mattriarchy.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 1:16 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


One of the other things we have in droves here on MeFi is socially awkward folks.

Hey, I can look people in the eye any time I want to!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:17 PM on March 6, 2012 [11 favorites]


I think the site could benefit from more exposure to other points of view ... The echo-chamber effect is really frustrating

I dunno. You can believe that a lot of nonsense gets written here (which I do) and you can even believe that some specific comment(s) is pointlessly snarky, or too yay!-team-ish, or worse of all, IMO, just not a sparkling display of wit (all of which I have, at some time or another), without thinking that the whole place is an "echo-chamber." Which is why I'm curious: what other points of view? And what does "more exposure" mean: that some topic can be raised, or that some topic can be raised without general assent or disapproval?
posted by octobersurprise at 1:25 PM on March 6, 2012


I dunno, Brandon - can you be socially awkward and be spoused to as many people as you are spoused to?
posted by rtha at 1:25 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I would say that things like this (but smaller and maybe less noticeable to white people) happen a lot. Not blatant X RACE = BAD but just people saying things that they don't realize are rude, or just assuming that everyone here is white.

This is what I'm really interested in, because I'm sure from time to time I'm clueless (Brandon can attest to that).
posted by desjardins at 1:30 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


People are telling you that it's a hostile space, and you're reacting with...more hostility.

Asking for evidence of an assertion isn't hostility. It's responsibility.

If MeFi is left-leaning, I think that part of the problem is the famous liberal bias of reality.

I don't mean this to say that all conservative views are wrong; even I have some conservative views. But MeFi is, more than anything else that it is, an evidence-based culture. As a whole, members tend to revere facts and reason, and tend to dismantle rhetorical strategies that seem incomplete or superficial or imperfectly supported.

In practical terms, this means it becomes somewhat left-leaning on many issues because there's a lot of easily produced evidence that, say, there is no non-arbitrary basis to deny gays the right to marry, for instance; or that a privately-funded healthcare system is less wasteful than a public one.

It also means that yes, it is hostile to people who want to assert the objective truth of something that can't be objectively proven, like the existence of something outside material reality.

I'd basically like it to be OK for people to espouse any opinion, in good faith. Not as an asshole or provocateur, but in good faith. It happens all the time, and there are plenty of people here who can do it, despite the protestations of some people who are actually more provocative than they may realize in their commenting practice. There's nothing wrong with challenging assumptions on either side, and I've certainly been called to account to do it here.

And where people are not making assertions of truth, but just saying "Personally I believe in ghosts/I believe things happen for a reason/etc"), I think it's fair to let them express that as a personal belief without leaping all over them with a bucket of snark.

It's also fair to note that some people hold opinions lightly. They don't want to go to the mat all the time, and often that's because they can't go to the mat - they don't have enough information or evidence to support their argument. Maybe they're not all that passionate about the issue at hand; maybe their orientation to the issue is one of emotion, identity, or simple inclination and doesn't have very deep intellectual roots. If that means they recognize certain threads as good places to keep quiet - because they can't contribute much to that discussion and will quickly find that they are out of their depth - then I think that's probably a good thing. I've tried to get better at recognizing situations in which I really mean it and am ready and willing to dig, and situations where, yeah, you're right, I haven't examined this idea all that deeply, I'm just telling you how I feel without having done a lot of looking into it.

Political viewpoint diversity is a great thing in a broad citizenry. But I don't think every internet discussion board needs to reflect a parliamentary representation of every political viewpoint. If MeFi is the one place in my daily media rounds where conservative talking points and worldview elements are consistently examined rather than granted as basic premises, I'm fine with that too.
posted by Miko at 1:37 PM on March 6, 2012 [18 favorites]


-Brandon Blatcher-

Interesting comments about race. As a white guy, I never really think about the race of people posting, but I see that there’s more to it than that.

I was going to post about the ageism thing, which gets really tiring, except mygothlaundry said most of it better than I would.
I do sometimes feel like I’m listening to the "What's he know about fun? I'm young. I know about fun. An old man. He don't know nothin' about fun" scene from Bull Durham.
posted by bongo_x at 1:41 PM on March 6, 2012


I think the site could benefit from more exposure to other points of view ... The echo-chamber effect is really frustrating

If we set aside the whole political talk thing for a minute, what I would love on MeFi in terms of "more points of view" is more international participation.

And also a greater diversity of areas of work or amateur expertise. I mean, that's pretty good already, but I just find it fascinating when somebody downloads some stuff about their profession or avocation that just gives a new view into some aspect of human knowledge. We have lots of computery people, media-library-information people, and certain kinds of material sciences people and some biologists, though not a ton of field scientists. And a good supply of educators, and a handful of artists and musicians. But it'd be great to see even more different types of knowledge represented here.

One major constraining factor about "who plays" at MeFi is really about the infrastructure of your life. I'd imagine that more MeFites than not have a job that involves sitting at a desk in front of a computer for part of every day. When I've been doing more public-facing work away from workstations, or on vacation or traveling, I'm online way less in general and MetaFilter sort of recedes in importance. When it's my main recreational distraction, though, I'm here all the time.
posted by Miko at 1:43 PM on March 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


This is what I'm really interested in, because I'm sure from time to time I'm clueless (Brandon can attest to that).

Yeah, but here's the thing, I know you and 99% of Metafilter means well or at least doesn't intend to be nasty, disparaging or disrespectful. Like most other human beings, you see the world through your own filter so much, you don't even recognize it.

So you (the general you) get a pass. If the situation is right, I'll say something to point it out, but mostly just let it go because it's not a big deal and I don't think it's healthy to go around getting offended by everything. You have to learn to live with people's imperfections, whether you're married, hanging out or just coming across each other in some random thread on the web.

You got to be kind, babies and sometimes you have to do even when you don't want to.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:46 PM on March 6, 2012 [11 favorites]


Sorry miko, "calling bullshit" is hostility. Plain and simple. It is an accusation of bad faith, just like those that crop up any time someone espouses a political viewpoint at odds with the rest of the community.

As to the rest of the post:

"...that a privately-funded healthcare system is less wasteful than a public one"

What's "reality-based" about this, and why is "wasteful" the metric we're calling most important? Evidence suggests that other countries have implemented publicly-funded, socialized-to-various-degrees healthcare systems and have saved money in that sector, yes. But there's also evidence that the money they save is at the expense of treatment of chronic and acute diseases, something that Americans (with insurance) are used to having treated aggressively; those other countries also don't have the unique political economy we do and there's no guarantee that if we put such a system together, that it would achieve the same results. My point isn't to argue about healthcare, though; it's to attack the pervasive, and false, atmosphere of certainty folks around here have about progressive political proposals.

You have an opinion - a well supported one, even! But it isn't fact, and people can reasonably disagree.
posted by downing street memo at 1:49 PM on March 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


I don't mean this to say that all conservative views are wrong; even I have some conservative views. But MeFi is, more than anything else that it is, an evidence-based culture.

With all the respect I can muster, this is completely absurd. I think of myself as pretty informed in economics--it's my degree, I have TA'd it, I have tutored it at the graduate level. And it it absolutely, positively the case that liberal economic positions here are touted without any evidence whatsoever, and often in flagrant contradiction to the underlying facts. Take this thread about analogies to the Great Depression and today's economy. See how many people made just flat-out false statements about what's happened to American manufacturing that people like myself and delmoi tried to counter with ACTUAL GODDAMN DATA! Just look at this craziness:

I mean, look at this shit: "Re-examining the cause of the Great Depression—the revolution in agriculture that threw millions out of work" Look at that! Who but a person looking to provide excuses for the shitscum finance bankers who caused both the Great Depression and the shit we're wading through now would say such a thing? And why would you listen to such a person?
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:54 PM on February 19 [46 favorites +] [!]


Now, I have actually tried to get someone I am very close to to join Metafilter. He is an actual economic historian who has written papers about the Great Depression! But, holy shit, when the site is totally dominated by people who think Joseph Stiglitz--JOSEPH FUCKING STIGLITZ, PEOPLE!!!--is an apologist for bankers, well, why in God's name would he put up with that crap? So instead of actual diversity of opinion, you get mostly snark and evidenceless claims. If you think this is because political threads are "evidence-based," you are seriously, seriously delusional about the dynamics here. It is definitely, 100% certainly the case that the site loses voices of people who know a hell of a lot more about the subject than the favorite-gobbling snarkers.
posted by dsfan at 1:52 PM on March 6, 2012 [37 favorites]


One of the other things we have in droves here on MeFi is socially awkward folks.

I went to a meetup once, and honestly, it felt like me not being socially awkward did me no favors. I had to dial down the happy.
posted by thinkpiece at 1:52 PM on March 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


The ageism thing is a little tricky, I find, because it works both ways, and because it interacts in a funny way again, with empirical reality. Certain things actually, truly correlate with being younger and being older. I got accused of being ageist recently for suggesting that people who are in their early 20s and just recently out of college have less work experience than the broader population of people seeking work. Well...in general they do have less work experience, are less seasoned, and less differentiated from one another. Not everyone, but as a generalism, it holds.

And having lived longer means having had the opportunity to accumulate a lot more data about how people develop longitudinally and perceiving more patterns.

The problem that makes it tricky is that some correlations of specific qualities with youth or age are actual, while others are unfounded or uninformed stereotypes - old people don't have a sex drive and don't know how to have fun, young people aren't as well educated as we were, etc.

I'm not sure whether/how this is different from other forms of prejudice, as I'm new to thinking about ageism (and honestly, it's really interesting to me that it's just starting to pop up here as a voiced concern - on both sides of the age divide - within the last few months). It's interesting that an "age consciousness" has developed.
posted by Miko at 1:53 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


But, holy shit, when the site is totally dominated by people who think Joseph Stiglitz--JOSEPH FUCKING STIGLITZ, PEOPLE!!!--is an apologist for bankers, well, why in God's name would he put up with that crap?

*quietly raises hand*

I know I'm one of the unwashed here, but -- I'm trying to see, in your comment, where there's an explanation for who Joseph Stiglitz is and why it's wrong to think he's an apologist for bankers. Or who he is in general. And I'm not seeing it.

So, I'm....not sure that the site losing voices of people who know about the subject is entirely the fault of the great unwashed here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:55 PM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Some of you people are expecting magic enlightenment to happen when conservatives are "fully represented" on Metafilter to have a wide-ranging conversation where all viewpoints are welcomed, or some shit. That's not going to happen. What would happen is endless arguing of first principles, and it'd get older quicker than any echo chamber, because there'd be no basis to start a conversation and no basis for community. So I'm quite fine with a certain level of ambient intolerance. Perhaps less, and along some less arbitrary axes would be better, but yeah.
posted by furiousthought at 1:56 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Asking for evidence of an assertion isn't hostility. It's responsibility.

It's not that Griphus asked for evidence, that I view as hostile, it's the claim that the reason that people were only made to feel unwelcome because they hold views that are "racist, sexist, et. al," then telling them they have to prove otherwise. That's not doubting their word that they're unwelcome, that's making them prove that they're worth welcoming.
posted by Gygesringtone at 1:56 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you think this is because political threads are "evidence-based," you are seriously, seriously delusional about the dynamics here. It is definitely, 100% certainly the case that the site loses voices of people who know a hell of a lot more about the subject than the favorite-gobbling snarkers.

I see delmoi asserting some points, people questioning some of them, and delmoi not coming back to answer the questions.
posted by Miko at 1:58 PM on March 6, 2012


Miko: I see delmoi asserting some points, people questioning some of them, and delmoi not coming back to answer the questions.

Isn't that true for many people? I'd like to know how many people actually come back to a thread, read the replies to their comments, and elaborate upon their earlier thoughts.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:01 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Miko: "Asking for evidence of an assertion isn't hostility. It's responsibility."

Hostility is not inherent in a request for evidence, I agree. However, how that request is made certainly matters.
posted by zarq at 2:02 PM on March 6, 2012


... I know I'm guilty of that. I only learned about the magic of Recent Activity within the last 6 months, and I often ignore it, because I don't care to keep up with all the threads in which I've commented.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:02 PM on March 6, 2012


I see delmoi asserting some points, people questioning some of them, and delmoi not coming back to answer the questions.

Some users seem to think good-faith participation requires taking on all comers and not shutting up until you get the last word with every single one of them, but I disagree. In fact, I wish some of those people would be willing to let go every now and then.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:04 PM on March 6, 2012 [13 favorites]


On second scan, that thread is a really terrible example what you're trying to prove, dsfan. I think there's a huge, screaming absence of evidence for a lot of the assertions you made in the thread, and a refusal to acknowledge how much these assertions are really comprised of interpretations of data, not data itself.

People in that thread, again, are asking serious questions about the measurement systems for relative working hours, ethical issues about production and the free market, and the other possible analyses of the information presented.

They aren't professional economists, but their questions are real and worth exploring. In other words...they are asking for the evidence needed to make decisions about them. They're pointing out areas which had not yet been discussed and aren't well accounted for in the interpretations. This is what I mean by the culture here: expect things to be examined. By nonprofessionals who have not been habituated to setting certain kinds of questions aside.
posted by Miko at 2:07 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


41/m/retail drudge/white (but 1st generation American on one side). Best advice I can give those who fall outside the typical MeFi demo is to just start talking (and that includes conservatives). I'm lucky to live in the most diverse county is the US with lots of economic differences as well, so I quite frankly am used to it.
posted by jonmc at 2:08 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


And like it that way
posted by jonmc at 2:09 PM on March 6, 2012


I think of myself as pretty informed in economics--it's my degree, I have TA'd it, I have tutored it at the graduate level.

This brings me to another, consistent, pervasive and apparently unaddressed-by-moderators form of hostility against certain kinds of people: those with occupations mefi members believe to be evil. You see economists being threatened with being "lined up against the wall". Suggestions, to loud favorite-applause, that a "Killing" of marketers begin immediately. Invocations of Robespierre at the mention of finance professionals. Accusations of prostitution against think-tankers and PR people.

The weak form of this is that any economic argument is automatically suspect, because some poster heard once that all economics relies on rational actors; analogies between business and government are invalid because "business is not government", etc. Obnoxious either way; it's a huge sign saying "your expertise/skills not welcome here".
posted by downing street memo at 2:10 PM on March 6, 2012 [13 favorites]


I find it frustrating when the conversation doesn't continue to a resolution of some kind. To me, this is the point and pleasure of discussion: to get somewhere, to leave the discussion understanding that some points of view have relative strength and pass many tests of reasoning, while others are weak or incomplete. I definitely respect people who are willing to stay involved with a conversation to which they've contributed, explain their assertions when questioned, and make it an actual discussion with responses that build on one another, rather than the drop-and-run style of participation you find on news outlet sites and the like. That's not to say people shouldn't be willing to let go (obviously they do, all threads end, and I've never seen one that stayed hot until the day it was archived), but that I value actual participation rather than a model of "conversation" in which people essentially ignore each other.
posted by Miko at 2:11 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


They don't have to prove that we treat them badly, it's enough that they feel unwelcome.

When you have a diverse group of people, that includes gays, feminists, intellectuals, and the like, those who have views that are anti-gay, hostile to feminism, and openly dispute scientific and intellectual understandings are going to feel unwelcome.

The reason conservatives created a parallel media and social environment is because one cannot dispute the reality of global climate change and mock gays without facing social opprobrium in polite company and open arenas. That's just reality-- this kind of conservatism isn't going to be "tolerated" in places that cater to a large cross section of people. Once you try to create an open forum in a place where all sorts of viewpoints are tolerated, the viewpoints that are specifically opposed to fostering those sorts of voices are going to feel alienated.

Do I expect the NYT wedding pages to both feature gay weddings and provide and open forum for people who oppose gay marriage to have their ideas featured as "mainstream"? Of course not!

I might also not that anti-vaccine ideas and other sorts of things that are placed in the category of "woo" get short thrift here on MeFi, as well. Mostly this site tends towards evidence-based ideas, as Miko says, and assertions made outside of that realm, particularly when they interfere with the other goal of the site, which is to create an environment for people from diverse backgrounds/lifestyles/belief systems, are going to face a lot of pushback.
posted by deanc at 2:12 PM on March 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


they are asking for the evidence needed to make decisions about them.

I think this is one of those dynamics that never works out to anyone's total satisfaction. It's more prominent - or just better-discussed - when talking about threads on gender issues, racism, etc, but it's the same thing - some people have more advanced knowledge on a given topic, and they don't really want to, nor are they obligated to, teach an introductory course on the subject.

This is frustrating for everybody - for the expert, who sees a bunch of non-experts making what, from that perspective, are obvious errors, and for the non-experts, who see somebody come in and go "Arrgh you are all so wrong!" and then disappear. Whether they disappear immediately or after a few attempts at education, it's never enough for everyone, and people end up annoyed and frustrated.

I have no idea how to solve this dynamic overall - it may be an unavoidable part of having mixed-knowledge-level conversations. On more emotionally charged topics, we handle it from the mod side by trying to remind the less-educated people that the topic is not necessarily the right place for them to get ground-floor information, and that people aren't obligated to stop the higher-level conversation in order to bring them in. This is probably the only way to deal with it on any topic, it just tends not to be as clear nor as heated in more technical and less sociopolitical threads.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:16 PM on March 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: The best offhand example I can think of is a music thread, where the post about music from the '90s. The music talked about or linked to will be by white artists, with few, if any mentions of artists that tend to be on the R&B charts. Not a big deal, but upon reading something like that, I think "There's this whole other culture you're not mentioning". But the same could be said of artists from the bluegrass or country to, so it's not a racial thing.

Challenge accepted.

But I think Brandon's comment speaks to the issue of the site in general: the most prominent and visible topics/ themes/ genres/ viewpoints/ whatnot are (in broad, fuzzy terms) part of the MetaFilter community so much that they're self-propagating. If more people know about a particular musical genre, or associate themselves with a particular [political/moral/etc] point of view, there are more posts, and more comments, that support those views and preferences, which attract more like-minded people to join. There's enough diversity on the site to still attract new users who of a wide variety that the site isn't homogenous, but the most active discussions happen when more people associate with the topic at hand.

It's easy to chime in on a topic you're familiar with, and you only have to skim the content of the post, or make a wild guess based on the text in the post and skip visiting the linked material. But if it's something new to you, you'll have to spend time and read, watch, or hear more before you can say more than "thanks for the post" or "this is an interesting topic, and I look forward to learning more."

If you want to make the site more diverse, beyond decreasing the hostility or negativity in tense threads, people can get involved in topics that interest you and make new discussions.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:17 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know I'm one of the unwashed here, but -- I'm trying to see, in your comment, where there's an explanation for who Joseph Stiglitz is and why it's wrong to think he's an apologist for bankers.

This is sort of my point though. The comment I cited made a statement that is just totally and absolutely ridiculous, and I am completely certain virtually any economist would agree (Stiglitz, for the record, is a pretty lefty guy, though his academic work is generally respected by a wide range of people). So why does it exist at all? Why would somebody who seriously studies the Great Depression want to send his time arguing at that level? Answer: He wouldn't. So that voice is just not going to be heard here. Personally, I think that's a loss, but even if someone disagrees with that and prefers "community" over "diversity," it's for damn sure that it's not the case that more conservative views are driven off just because Metafilter is just so data-happy.

I think there's a huge, screaming absence of evidence for a lot of the assertions you made in the thread, and a refusal to acknowledge how much these assertions are really comprised of interpretations of data, not data itself.

Come on! Look, I don't want to rehash that argument again, but it's an excellent example of just what I am talking about. Claim the first I respond to: US manufacturing has declined. Actual data supporting the position--bupkus (not surprisingly, because it's not true). I posted evidence that it hasn't. Next claim was that people who work more tend to have lower income. This is also untrue to the best of the (as you say, somewhat sketchily available data) and I posted the best stuff I know of. The person I was arguing with here (saulgoodman) posted anecdotes about CEOs going on cocktail hours. The idea that the conservative side of that argument is the one that's driven off by data is just not in accordance with the actual behavior of the participants. And this is a very, very common trend.
posted by dsfan at 2:17 PM on March 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


The reason conservatives created a parallel media and social environment is because one cannot dispute the reality of global climate change and mock gays without facing social opprobrium in polite company and open arenas.

This right here is a an example of the hostility we're talking about. Nobody is asking for permission to "mock gays". To suggest that that's the kind of conservative opinion we're looking to see not reacted to with hostility is itself hostility towards people with conservative opinions.
posted by Jahaza at 2:18 PM on March 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


Some users seem to think good-faith participation requires taking on all comers and not shutting up until you get the last word with every single one of them, but I disagree.

Yes, but you're wrong.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:19 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


"I'm not sure whether/how this is different from other forms of prejudice, as I'm new to thinking about ageism (and honestly, it's really interesting to me that it's just starting to pop up here as a voiced concern - on both sides of the age divide - within the last few months). It's interesting that an 'age consciousness' has developed."

It is. I'm not sure what I think about this, either. I can say that as an almost-50-year-old, I've not personally experienced a sense of ageism on MeFi.

However, I'm not sure how to think about the issue because, all other things being equal, I don't really have that much in common with people my age. I've sort of felt that MeFi was the exception in this—that the older crowd here skews away from the demographic that I tend to think of as my age cohort.

But, on the other hand, there were at least a couple of comments earlier in this thread that were, it seems to me, dismissive of the heightened consciousness here about sexism/gender/orientation stuff as if it's just an uninformed recapitulation of similar discussions in the 60s-80s. And, well, I can only speak to the 70s-80s portion of that range, but I couldn't disagree more. Almost everything about these discussions are different now than they were then: the context, the content. I think the discussion has advanced quite a bit.

Being less ageist and more inclusive doesn't mean having to listen to more opinions that take on the mantle of authority by mere virtue of age and supposed experience. That is, we don't need ageism of the old against the young, either.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:20 PM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


41/m/retail drudge/white -- I wish you weren't so one sided on your website, Matt.
posted by crunchland at 2:21 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


> To suggest that that's the kind of conservative opinion we're looking to see not reacted to with hostility is itself hostility towards people with conservative opinions.

Well, then we really need to tighten up the terms of what we're discussing here, then. There are plenty of ideologically conservative views expressed here all the time. But the usual connotation of "conservative" in today's parlance usually is skewed towards the Fox News end of the spectrum, for better or worse.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:21 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


In the West, conservatives are those people who get to enjoy fun, science, art, family, charity and neighborliness all rolled into one sweet life, with Heaven awaiting. Obviously many members of this site are going to be enraged with jealousy by that. It's validating. Carry on.
posted by michaelh at 2:21 PM on March 6, 2012


When you have a diverse group of people, that includes gays, feminists, intellectuals, and the like, those who have views that are anti-gay, hostile to feminism, and openly dispute scientific and intellectual understandings are going to feel unwelcome.

UK conservative opinions, which are considerably milder than their US counterparts and don't fit much of what you outline above, are equally unwelcome from what I see.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:22 PM on March 6, 2012


> I'm lucky to live in the most diverse county is the US

I didn't know you lived in Houston!
posted by Burhanistan at 2:22 PM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Accusations of prostitution against think-tankers and PR people.

It is unfortunate how many people on here seem to think poorly of prostitutes.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:23 PM on March 6, 2012 [12 favorites]


Houston's more diverse than Queens? Color me stunned and impressed.
posted by jonmc at 2:25 PM on March 6, 2012


A shame that this thread, like many threads, has turned into a political argument.
posted by Think_Long at 2:26 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also that article is about a multiple county area. I think Queens still wins county-wise.
posted by jonmc at 2:28 PM on March 6, 2012


Greg Nog: " It is unfortunate how many people on here seem to think poorly of prostitutes."

*sigh*
posted by zarq at 2:29 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Another good thread re: mefi and race is the Awkward Black Girl thread.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:29 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


This brings me to another, consistent, pervasive and apparently unaddressed-by-moderators form of hostility against certain kinds of people: those with occupations mefi members believe to be evil.

I'm not really sure what you think is wrong with this or what you would have the moderators do about it. I think most people could name at least a few occupations that they believe to be evil. Are we supposed to let people off the hook for doing evil things just because they are paid to do them? Or are we not supposed to criticize people for doing evil things at all? Or don't you think that it is meaningful to talk about evil actions?
posted by enn at 2:31 PM on March 6, 2012


Yeah, you won't really find extremes like Little Armenia here like in NYC. But, yeah, oil brings 'em in from all over.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:31 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Still amazed, really, because in my experience, 16-24-year old female humanities majors are far from the only cohort to discuss gender issues.

16 is on the young end, but late teens and early 20s (university years) was when I heard most of these discussion IRL discussed in the terms they frequently are here.
posted by Hoopo at 2:34 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Asking for evidence of an assertion isn't hostility. It's responsibility."

It's also a classic tactic for abstracting, recontextualizing, and deprecating, particularly the way griphus was handling it. This technique stretches back to the days of Fido-net. Old dogs know all the old tricks.

I offered up a body of evidence. I am not going to spoon-feed it as well.
posted by Ardiril at 2:35 PM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Why would somebody who seriously studies the Great Depression want to send his time arguing at that level? Answer: He wouldn't. So that voice is just not going to be heard here. Personally, I think that's a loss, but even if someone disagrees with that and prefers 'community' over 'diversity,' it's for damn sure that it's not the case that more conservative views are driven off just because Metafilter is just so data-happy."

I feel your pain on this. However, I think that a certain amount of pragmatic realism is necessary, here.

An example that comes to mind is the academic group blog, Crooked Timber. There's at least one prominent lefty economist among and one prominent lefty finance guy among the bloggers. Despite this, because the audience is pretty far to the left, discussion in comments on posts concerning economics always include a great deal of combined hostility/ignorance against economics as a discipline.

You're an economist...you have to know by now just how much it's the case that economics is within that realm that basically almost no one is willing to truly be empirical about. People have economic intuitions and inculcated political beliefs that they are absolutely certain about, damn anyone's appeal to any sort of evidence. This is true within the discipline! (Which, you know, doesn't help the credibility of economists as a group.)

I long ago gave up any expectation that people would give up their notions about, for instance, manufacturing is the only "real" economic activity, or whatever. You have to come into a left-of-center oriented conversation about economics with the same perspective you'd go into a libertarian oriented conversation about economics, or a marxist oriented conversation about economics, or whatever. Don't expect people to be as reasonable and empirical as you wish them to be because they won't be.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:36 PM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Are we supposed to let people off the hook for doing evil things just because they are paid to do them? Or are we not supposed to criticize people for doing evil things at all? Or don't you think that it is meaningful to talk about evil actions?

I reject the premise that people with the occupations I mentioned are "evil", remind the community that people who hold those occupations are among us (and who wants to be called evil?), and, perhaps most importantly, think at that the very-regular violent rhetoric against those who hold those occupations ought to be at the very least a target of moderation.

I suppose its too much to ask for folks to recognize that people who hold those jobs also have valuable things to say about the world and perspectives that we should respect.
posted by downing street memo at 2:39 PM on March 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


> "I am seriously flabbergasted that anyone, even a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, would think this place is even remotely fair to non-liberals."

It isn't real clear to me what work "non-liberal" is doing in this sentence. If Metafilter "isn't fair" (and it isn't perfectly obvious to me what that means in this context) to "non-liberals," then it frequently isn't fair to socialists, anarchists, Greens, either. As a Democratic-voting, American Prospect/Nation/even-the-liberal-New Republic-style center-left/liberal, I can say from experience that sometimes it isn't fair to Democratic-voting, American Prospect/Nation/even-the-liberal-New Republic-style center-left/liberals.

So, yeah, I don't know what "being more fair to non-liberals" (as opposed to simply not being the internet) would look like in practice, precisely.


I'm sorry, and this isn't intended as any kind of personal attack, but this sounds to me exactly like a guy going into a sexism thread and saying "I don't see what you women are complaining about, men have it bad too!" I find it hard to believe that anyone can fail to realize that conservative views are consistently mocked here in a way that "socialists, anarchists, Greens" are not, but blinders are powerful things. This is an issue I used to complain about regularly (along with the related issue of bias against religion, mentioned by Kimberly above), but I've pretty much given up because what's the point? MeFi has made giant strides on the sexism front, but that's because there is a large and vocal contingent of women able and willing to present their views cogently enough to change the minds of people who had been resistant (though obviously not all of them). That is not true of conservatives, and it's unlikely to be thanks to the dynamics explained by several people above, and that's a sad thing.

Which reminds me:

> If MeFi is left-leaning, I think that part of the problem is the famous liberal bias of reality.

I'm sorry, Miko, but that's bullshit, and every time I see that smug line about the "liberal bias of reality" on MeFi it makes me want to back out of the site and go do something else. And "If MeFi is the one place in my daily media rounds where conservative talking points and worldview elements are consistently examined rather than granted as basic premises, I'm fine with that too": well, of course you are, you're a liberal, and thus when conservative views are shouted down you call it "conservative talking points and worldview elements" being "consistently examined rather than granted as basic premises," and you sigh and wonder why we have to go through all that trouble when those views are so obviously Bad and Wrong. Which is exactly the problem under discussion.

Me, I'm a sixty-year-old male freelance editor who's lived all over the place and had friends and relatives of more different political views than you can possibly imagine, and in general I care a lot more about whether people are kind and interesting than how they feel about President Obama or the latest hot-button issue.
posted by languagehat at 2:41 PM on March 6, 2012 [52 favorites]


in general I care a lot more about whether people are kind and interesting than how they feel about President Obama or the latest hot-button issue.

I would argue that MeFi does, as well. There are plenty of conservatives here who are regarded well for their interesting comments on various matters and aren't going to get much pushback at all until they start claiming that human-caused climate change is a fraudulent conspiracy and that gay marriage will destroy America.
posted by deanc at 2:47 PM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


downing street memo: "I reject the premise that people with the occupations I mentioned are "evil", remind the community that people who hold those occupations are among us (and who wants to be called evil?), and, perhaps most importantly, think at that the very-regular violent rhetoric against those who hold those occupations ought to be at the very least a target of moderation.

I suppose its too much to ask for folks to recognize that people who hold those jobs also have valuable things to say about the world and perspectives that we should respect.
"

*applauds*

Thanks. Well said.

Also, if I'm gonna be called evil I demand superpowers. And a massive impenetrable fortress/lair. And a fun sidekick! And an archnemesis contacts tag... and...
posted by zarq at 2:48 PM on March 6, 2012


> I would argue that MeFi does, as well. There are plenty of conservatives here who are regarded well for their interesting comments on various matters and aren't going to get much pushback at all until they start claiming that human-caused climate change is a fraudulent conspiracy and that gay marriage will destroy America.

I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree, but I will point out that your automatic response to the idea of conservatives is "claiming that human-caused climate change is a fraudulent conspiracy and that gay marriage will destroy America." The current crop of Republican presidential wannabes do not define conservatism.
posted by languagehat at 2:53 PM on March 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


think at that the very-regular violent rhetoric against those who hold those occupations ought to be at the very least a target of moderation

Suggesting someone be shot/beaten up/raped in prison/otherwise have violence done to them is absolutely something we will moderate. We have to see it, though - by all means flag it and/or drop us a line about it. (Particularly on the blue, comments with only one flag may not get looked at immediately, so sending us a direct message about it via the contact form is really helpful.

This is one of those things where low-staff, community-driven moderation is at sort of a disadvantage - if the community as a whole thinks it's just fine to make jokes about killing all the lawyers, or whatever, it may never come to a moderator's attention. We can't read every comment in every thread, or even a majority of them. But if there's a will to change - even if it's a tiny minority - we can start to turn the ship.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:53 PM on March 6, 2012


"until they start claiming that human-caused climate change is a fraudulent conspiracy"

Human-caused climate change is a theory, as is the theory of evolution. Except that many here forget that these are theories, instead they preach them with religious fervor with no real knowledge whatsoever of the underlying respective sciences. That is why I call them 'fundamentalist liberals'.
posted by Ardiril at 2:57 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've refrained from making comments and posts because I'm pretty sure they'll get dogpiled or shouted down - because of the people who make up the site, and the way threads usually go.

Specifically, I love my job. I think it is a great job, and we do great things. I'd like to make a big fat post about all the things we've done (or even one little post about one little thing) but there's a problem:

I get the feeling that people here don't like people in my profession (even less than i-bankers and think-tank writers!), and it'll get flagged to hell, I'll be mocked and derided, and the thread will be generally shat.

It's hard to show evidence of posts not made, because they can't be linked to, or counted, but I have at least two.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:57 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


20-50 years old, Western, IT/humanities/sciences, more likely to be male.

32/Western but lived all over the world/none of the above fields/female.

Oddly never noticed that it skewed male.
posted by TravellingCari at 2:58 PM on March 6, 2012


> offered up a body of evidence. I am not going to spoon-feed it as well.

Again, I don't mean to pick a fight because I might not disagree with you, but you originally made the claim, then griphus asked (more or less respectably, since tone is often hard to accurately gauge here) for some specific examples. Just linking to your old profile is not "offering up a body of evidence" since it requires others to sort through and guess at what you meant. The burden is on you to back up the claim you made.

Again, I'm not saying I disagree with you, but I disagree with the way you presented that.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:59 PM on March 6, 2012


This brings me to another, consistent, pervasive and apparently unaddressed-by-moderators form of hostility against certain kinds of people: those with occupations mefi members believe to be evil. You see economists being threatened with being "lined up against the wall". Suggestions, to loud favorite-applause, that a "Killing" of marketers begin immediately. Invocations of Robespierre at the mention of finance professionals. Accusations of prostitution against think-tankers and PR people.

I'm not going to say this stuff is a non-issue, because I've definitely seen (and deleted) obnoxious examples of that sort of thing, and I do think it sucks when people substitute some lazy aggro rhetoric against a vocation or discipline for an actual nuanced point about what they're bothered by. (And people need to get the fuck over Bill Hicks already, re: the marketing riffs.)

But at the same time, we've been pretty consistent about seeing violent rhetoric as bad, shitty rhetoric on the site pretty much in general. And maybe there's bizarre systemic lack of flagging and heads-ups about such stuff in some threads that I'm already disinclined to read on my own time, but this is not stuff that I see come up frequently. I see lazy snark about apparently skunked jobs more often, and that's not great either, but the distinction between that and "very-regular violent rhetoric" is a pretty important one if we're gonna have a useful discussion about that stuff.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:01 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


"This is an issue I used to complain about regularly (along with the related issue of bias against religion, mentioned by Kimberly above), but I've pretty much given up because what's the point?"

Well, me, too. But maybe for a different reason.

I agree that MeFi is biased against both conservatives and theists. What I don't agree with (not that you're necessarily claiming this) is the idea that it's unusually biased or egregiously biased.

There's two problems in this. The first and more obvious one is that communities have biases. There's no avoiding this. The only way in which MeFi could not have a bias in these two areas would be if what makes it a community was irrelevant to those two areas. But I don't think that's possible without MeFi being something much different than it is, and not just with regard to those two issues.

That is to say, putting aside the fact that a lot of people probably want to be part of this community because it's left-of-center and less-theist, I think that the other kinds of things that people like about this community appeal to a demographic that is left-of-center and less-theist. It's like the liberal bias in academica—it's not, I think, so much that academia is self-selecting specifically for liberals; it's that it's self-selecting for a cluster of other things which collectively have a strong correlation with liberalism, for better and worse. The same is true for MeFi. I just don't think that much could be done to eliminate these two biases without fundamentally altering the demographics of the membership. We could do mildly better, sure. But not that much better and we certainly couldn't eliminate it.

The second problem is the effect that confirmation bias has on those who are expecting bias. People generalize about the site as a whole, the entire membership, based upon a minority of outspoken people on specific topics. There is a long-tail effect going on in this; as long as MeFi has even a mild left-of-center bias, then it's going to have a disproportionate representation of more extreme leftist views, and those who hold those views are going to speak up more easily and often than their opposites on the other side of the distribution. Which will give everyone an impression that MeFi is more like those people than it really is.

And there's not much you can do about that, either.

My concern these days isn't so much whether MeFi fails to live up to my ideal, as much as it is how well it compares to its peers. And I think it compares very well. Could we do better being tolerant and welcoming to conservative and theist opinions and members? Of course. And we should try to do so. But, all things considered, I think that MeFi has a lot to be proud of on this score.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:03 PM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


16 is on the young end, but late teens and early 20s (university years) was when I heard most of these discussion IRL discussed in the terms they frequently are here.

Sure, that's around when I started learning about gender/sexism stuff. 25 years later and I find the knowledge and terms still, sadly, come in handy.
posted by rtha at 3:03 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


it requires others to sort through and guess at what you meant.

Exactly. I expect people to think for themselves and learn.
posted by Ardiril at 3:03 PM on March 6, 2012


> Exactly. I expect people to think for themselves and learn.

No, you're really kind of being disingenuous there, but whatever.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:06 PM on March 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


restless_nomad: "We can't read every comment in every thread, or even a majority of them. But if there's a will to change - even if it's a tiny minority - we can start to turn the ship."

There's a will to change. Several of us have mentioned before that we'd like to see less of the "kill yourself" Hicks meme. But the last time placing any sort of restriction on it was suggested in Meta, it was a non-starter with Team Mod, except when dropped in a thread that has nothing to do with advertising, marketing or PR.

I assume you're not suggesting that this has changed in any way?
posted by zarq at 3:07 PM on March 6, 2012


Cortex, I don't mean to be an ass, but search the site for "up against the wall". There's a good starting point. Maybe you guys are deleting stuff after I read it (totally possible, I usually follow political and economics threads very closely if I'm on the site), but I tend to notice something like that every few weeks.

Here's the specific comment I was thinking of re: marketers.
posted by downing street memo at 3:09 PM on March 6, 2012


Human-caused climate change is a theory, as is the theory of evolution. Except that many here forget that these are theories, instead they preach them with religious fervor with no real knowledge whatsoever of the underlying respective sciences. That is why I call them 'fundamentalist liberals'.


Your understanding of what scientists mean when they use the word "theory" is completely wrong.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:09 PM on March 6, 2012 [28 favorites]


> I think that the other kinds of things that people like about this community appeal to a demographic that is left-of-center and less-theist. It's like the liberal bias in academica—it's not, I think, so much that academia is self-selecting specifically for liberals; it's that it's self-selecting for a cluster of other things which collectively have a strong correlation with liberalism, for better and worse. The same is true for MeFi.

Yes, I think that's right.

> Could we do better being tolerant and welcoming to conservative and theist opinions and members? Of course. And we should try to do so. But, all things considered, I think that MeFi has a lot to be proud of on this score.

Oh, I agree. I just wish people wouldn't be quite so smug about denying there's a problem.
posted by languagehat at 3:09 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, did not know there was a history on the Bill Hicks routine. Good to know.
posted by downing street memo at 3:10 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree that MeFi is biased against both conservatives and theists.

I'm as theistic as the come, have given answers on AskMeFi that were explicitly Christian in nature (albeit to another Christian-- we were "speaking the same language"), chimed in on what I thought of Richard Dawkins, told an atheist asking how to "deconvert" Christians that he didn't understand religion at all, and generally don't hold back in talking about a religious issue if I can speak to it intelligently. I don't see MeFi as hostile to theists as much as I see it as an open forum in which atheists or other non-theists openly discuss and feature their own ideas and proceed with their assumptions without having to justify them as they would elsewhere. I think any theists who feel "biased against" are saying more about their own feelings and ways of dealing with the world and its expectations than about MeFi itself.
posted by deanc at 3:10 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Suggesting someone be shot/beaten up/raped in prison/otherwise have violence done to them is absolutely something we will moderate.

People don't really tend to mention (say) Vikram Pandit by name, but there was, for instance, this.
posted by malocchio at 3:10 PM on March 6, 2012


Not white. Not American. Grew up in Asia. I've always felt comfortable here.

I will note that there is sometimes a tendency to assume that all readers are American, but that's just an artifact of a large proportion of MeFite being American. It usually gets called out gently. No big whoop.

I agree that MeFi is biased against both conservatives and theists.

I disagree. I think MeFi is biased against people who are unable to support their arguments with rationality and evidence. That is, coincidentially, often anathema to religious or (what sometimes passes for) conservative views. I, personally, am cool with that.

I like it when my views, opinions or understandings are challenged. Because I may be wrong - if I get called out on that, I learn something new. That's a win for me.

It seems to me that the problems arise when people aren't willing to admit that they might be wrong, or that others may have views that different to their own, yet equally valid.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:11 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think one of our biggest barriers to entry (beyond charging $5, which the internet has clearly stated as ludicrous given all the other freely open communities) is the skew towards technical knowledge just by having a site be a wall of text. It's time-consuming, sometimes intimidating, and definitely filters out the casual commenter because it's just so much work to read and follow things here. That said, most everyone I meet simply reads the front page of MetaFilter or Ask MetaFilter once or twice a day, and then moves on (they never comment, most don't have accounts at all).

Whenever I'm in community manager circles, I almost always hear lots of praise for MetaFilter as being an inclusive place (if you can get past the $5 and wall of text UI). Other people that run general communities are always amazed at our diversity since most forums skew one way or the other.

I agree we can always do better, and as Brandon mentioned, you see this "typical user" stuff come out in weird ways like anyone talking about early 90s music would mention Nirvana and not Bell Biv Devoe automatically. I'm not sure what we can do to alleviate any ageist tendencies off the top of my head.

I know a lot of the biggest problems in tone here come from a surprisingly small set of users. As moderators, we constantly see a stream of the worst content on the site, day in and day out. We delete some of it, have to read most all of it, and internally we all have a list of people we get tired of seeing get into back-and-forth fights with other users. We also have a list of the most-flagged users and they line up pretty closely. The thing is, whenever one of those top jerks leaves the site, the whole site gets better, at least from a moderation perspective. There is less mod time required to police everything because someone that posts mostly noise and fights goes away. I have a hunch if we just tossed the five most fighty problematic users to the curb tomorrow, we'd have a good six months of mostly better discussions, but the problem is that it's a pretty drastic measure to boot someone from a community especially when there's no single infraction you can point to as being the most problematic.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:12 PM on March 6, 2012 [21 favorites]


Human-caused climate change is a theory, as is the theory of evolution. Except that many here forget that these are theories

You should do an FPP about creationism!
posted by Greg Nog at 3:12 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


You're an economist...you have to know by now just how much it's the case that economics is within that realm that basically almost no one is willing to truly be empirical about. People have economic intuitions and inculcated political beliefs that they are absolutely certain about, damn anyone's appeal to any sort of evidence. This is true within the discipline! (Which, you know, doesn't help the credibility of economists as a group.)

For the record, I'm not a professional economist, though it is my undergraduate degree and I've done some work past that, and I somewhat agree with your critique of the field. And I really do apologize to everyone if I helped contribute to making this a thread about a particular political issue, as Think_Long mentioned. But, the claim was made that "I'm still calling bullshit on the idea that conservatives are scared off from commenting because all their well-reasoned opinions have been yelled at." And I'm telling you, from an actual person I know extremely well (I value privacy enough to not be more specific, but think one of spouse/sibling/best friend), a Ph.D. in economics from a top-10 department, that you do lose people who just plain know more about the field than almost everyone commenting about it. And I'm not talking about a particularly conservative person (probably left of American center, right of European center).

It's not, by the way, entirely from not wanting to be "yelled at." Probably more important is, people have a limited amount of time, and if your comment is just going to be dumped in the middle of liberal talking points, well, that's just not worth it. The problem in political threads, in other words, isn't that it's too liberal. It's that there are just a huge proportion of comments which have very little reason to exist beyond venting an opinion, and this just isn't usually the case except in some other contentious areas (like an Apple thread). I'm quite certain, based on a total lack of understanding about what he was arguing, that a number of people in the thread I linked above about Stiglitz did not read the article, they simply jumped off into a political argument. Just go to the Cato thread and see what proportion of comments add any value at all beyond just an expression of contempt for another viewpoint. Now, as it happens, I have nothing at all to do with Cato. But if I did, would I really want to go in and deal with that? Not really--opposing viewpoints backed up by data and arguments are one thing, being called "sniveling hypocrites and frauds" etc.--that's something quite different.
posted by dsfan at 3:12 PM on March 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Here's the specific comment I was thinking of re: marketers.

Yup, that's pretty egregious - and not flagged at all. By all means flag that stuff and/or let us know.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:18 PM on March 6, 2012


but the problem is that it's a pretty drastic measure to boot someone from a community especially when there's no single infraction you can point to as being the most problematic.

You want me to gather up some links? No problem, just send me the list.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:20 PM on March 6, 2012


There are plenty of conservatives here who are regarded well for their interesting comments on various matters

Can you name some of the "plenty" who are recognizably conservative.

I've asked this question before and didn't get much of a response. I'm still curious, especially if they are both fiscally and socially conservative.
posted by BigSky at 3:21 PM on March 6, 2012


"Just you"?

What the hell does that mean, Matt?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:22 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cortex, I don't mean to be an ass, but search the site for "up against the wall".

This is where it gets messy, though; like with the Bill Hicks thing, there's the problem of separating out people engaging in ad hoc violent rhetoric and people repeating cliches and memes. "X will be first up against the wall" and variations on it are tropes, with a long history of being trotted out as such in ways that people would be unlikely to actually just on the nonce say "I wish that x were all violently executed" or whatever.

It doesn't make it not obnoxious, it doesn't make it not still problematic, but at that point it partly becomes a discussion about the way that violent imagery can get subsumed into and recycled as cliches and fixed phrases and such with a distanced and allusive intent rather than a literal, visceral one.

I'm all for discouraging violent rhetoric on the site. I unambiguously think that would be a good thing, whether in terms of the rarer kind of overt and scary "here's my personal violent fantasy about something bad happening to person/group x" stuff or the more common just kind of lazy "here's my restatement of some cliche that has violence in it" (kick 'em in the nuts, first against the wall, marketers go kill yourself, etc). I don't think any of that improves this place and it could basically always be replace with something more thoughtful. But, again, I think the distinction in kind is important to look at.

Because we can explain and enforce "don't say crazy violent shit on the site" relatively easily and in fact more or less try to do just that, to the point that we sometimes get complaints from folks who have had things they intended to be allusive rather than literal get deleted. But explaining and enforcing a regime under which everybody needs to extract the violent rhetoric embedded in language and culture more generally is a much taller order, and something that in practice we pretty much have to deal with more on a case-by-case basis of evaluation.

Some stuff is practically going to fall more into "that is obnoxious" territory than "that is going to get deleted, period", but it's definitely stuff we want to see and be aware of, so definitely it's good if folks flag it or drop us a line about anything particularly complicated or notable.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:24 PM on March 6, 2012


It makes me sad that a thread asking about whether MeFi was welcoming enough to users who are not white, 20-50 years old, Western, IT/humanities/sciences, more likely to be male has developed into a thread about whether MeFi is welcoming enough to conservatives who believe in God.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:26 PM on March 6, 2012 [17 favorites]


BigSky: "Can you name some of the "plenty" who are recognizably conservative.."

amberglow, evanizer to start with. Oh wait, they both got driven away from here.
posted by dg at 3:27 PM on March 6, 2012


Can you name some of the "plenty" who are recognizably conservative.

People can be 'conservative' on certain issues, and progressive on others.

Further, conservatism as a political movement differs significantly in different countries. What you consider to be 'conservative' might not be perceived to be so by others. For example, the US Democratic party is arguably to the right of the conservative party in Australian politics.

Accordingly, someone's posting history may not necessarily reveal their political leanings - it would, IMO, be quite difficult to identify many 'conservative' posters.

What you are asking for is hardly a simple proposition. I suspect you would need to conduct a poll in which people self-identified to get any meaningful responses.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:28 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Human-caused climate change is a theory, as is the theory of evolution. Except that many here forget that these are theories...

Okay, languagehat: how should statements like the above be responded to here? Calling evolution a "theory" in the common-language sense is a perfect example of a common conservative opinion that is simply wrong. It's false. It's not ambiguous, it's not merely a matter of opinion.

It's no more an example of a liberal bias to reject that as false than it would be to reject an assertion that the invariance of c in a vacuum is a "theory". The difference between the two is that the majority of self-identified conservatives don't assert the latter, but they do assert the former. Ardiril would almost certainly assert that my flat denial of his claim is an example of liberal bias. How can that be responded to?

Maybe this is an extreme example that shouldn't be used to validate Miko's argument. Indeed, I'm likely to think so. Usually, it is possible for informed people to reasonably disagree.

Still, again, Ardiril almost certainly sees a hostility to viewpoints which question evolution to be "liberal bias". How can claims such as his be answered?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:30 PM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


It makes me sad that a thread asking about whether MeFi was welcoming enough to users who are not white, 20-50 years old, Western, IT/humanities/sciences, more likely to be male has developed into a thread about whether MeFi is welcoming enough to conservatives who believe in God.

You say that as though there's little crossover between the sets of [not white, not 20-50 years old, not Western, not IT/humanities/sciences, preferably not male] and [conservative, believer in God].

Given some of the working class and lower class blacks and Mexicans I've met, I'm skeptical that that is actually the case.
posted by BigSky at 3:36 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


How can claims such as his be answered?

Sometimes, you (the general you) should let things go. Just because something stupid was said on the web doesn't mean it has to defeated to the last breath.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:38 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


What will it take to get evolution bumped up to a law, we should get on that.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:40 PM on March 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


"Your understanding of what scientists mean when they use the word "theory" is completely wrong."

'Theory' is a polyseme. Your definition and my definition can be almost direct opposites. I use it to mean a hypothetical framework.

"creationism" - Why would I, a born atheist who never drank the grape kool-aid even as a child, write an FPP on creationism?
posted by Ardiril at 3:41 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


cortex: " This is where it gets messy, though; like with the Bill Hicks thing, there's the problem of separating out people engaging in ad hoc violent rhetoric and people repeating cliches and memes. "X will be first up against the wall" and variations on it are tropes, with a long history of being trotted out as such in ways that people would be unlikely to actually just on the nonce say "I wish that x were all violently executed" or whatever.

I would appreciate it if you would clarify this, since restless_nomad has not yet replied to my question upthread. In other words, Team Mod will not delete Hicks "kill yourself" quotes like this one in a thread about advertising, marketing, pr or a related subject, because it's a meme that quotes someone, makes an allusion and therefore shouldn't be taken seriously?

It doesn't make it not obnoxious, it doesn't make it not still problematic, but at that point it partly becomes a discussion about the way that violent imagery can get subsumed into and recycled as cliches and fixed phrases and such with a distanced and allusive intent rather than a literal, visceral one.

Here's a snippet of a comment from the meta post I linked upthread:
Advertisers disguise themselves are real humans...


It would seem that at least one person quite easily made the leap from "you advertisers should kill yourselves" to completely dehumanizing them.

cortex, the problem is not that people are being lazy and obnoxious by quoting Hicks. It's that they're promoting Hicks' monologue as a good idea. Which frankly isn't particularly pleasant when you're the target of their ire.
posted by zarq at 3:43 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Gravity is a theory too.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:46 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


So is life.
posted by Ardiril at 3:47 PM on March 6, 2012


'Theory' is a polyseme. Your definition and my definition can be almost direct opposites. I use it to mean a hypothetical framework.

If one is going to talk about scientific theories, one should use the scientific definition of theory.
posted by rtha at 3:48 PM on March 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


Not all scientists agree on the definition of theory.
posted by Ardiril at 3:50 PM on March 6, 2012


So is life.

Duuuuude, that is deep. Did you know that Origin of the Species and Wish You Were Here totally sync up?
posted by griphus at 3:52 PM on March 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


Fuck it, I'm buying everyone some Salvia.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:59 PM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


mathowie: The thing is, whenever one of those top jerks leaves the site, the whole site gets better, at least from a moderation perspective. There is less mod time required to police everything because someone that posts mostly noise and fights goes away. I have a hunch if we just tossed the five most fighty problematic users to the curb tomorrow, we'd have a good six months of mostly better discussions, but the problem is that it's a pretty drastic measure to boot someone from a community especially when there's no single infraction you can point to as being the most problematic.

This is something that baffles me about MeFi moderation policy. Why isn't 'this user continuously harasses and engages in personal attacks on other users, has been doing it for a long time and seems completely unwilling to stop' ever a sufficient reason banning them?
posted by nangar at 4:00 PM on March 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


"I use it to mean a hypothetical framework."

If you mean to say that something is a hypothesis and not a fact, then why don't you simply say that? I suspect that you were aware before today about the error of equivocating the two different meanings of theory; but regardless, you certainly know better now.

"Not all scientists agree on the definition of theory."

Not all scientists are sane, either. But if you mean that there's not an authoritative scientific consensus on the technical use of the word theory, then you're wrong. Wrong.

I don't understand what you're doing. You're inadvertently providing evidence against your critique of the bias you perceive here. And I agree that there's some bias here, and that it's not the case that liberals are just inherently more likely to be right. But, man, you're not doing yourself any favors.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:01 PM on March 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


BigSky: "Can you name some of the "plenty" who are recognizably conservative.."

amberglow, evanizer to start with. Oh wait, they both got driven away from here.
posted by dg at 6:27 PM on March 6 [+] [!]


amberglow was recognizably conservative? That isn't how I remember him at all. I remember him as very much a Democrat, although a bit centrist.
posted by OmieWise at 4:01 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


zarq, you're linking to old comments as proof of something, I don't what. Maybe let it go, realizing that some people just don't like advertisers in general, and that's ok? Some people don't like handsome black men, but I've been letting that go..

Come, let's move on together and leave the past where it belongs, out back in the alley with that cheap liquor it was trying to pass off as the good stuff.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:01 PM on March 6, 2012


Not all scientists agree on the definition of theory.

Really? I had no idea.

Like...who? I'm wondering because, to be blunt, as we have seen in the creationism "debate," just because some people disagree with something doesn't mean it's A) wrong or B) actually a debate.

Also, if you're going to be using a non-standard definition of a common term in a discussion with people, it's polite to note that you all may not be working from the same definition, and present the definition you're working from. That keeps a lot of talking-past-each-other from happening.
posted by rtha at 4:02 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


In other words, Team Mod will not delete Hicks "kill yourself" quotes like this one in a thread about advertising, marketing, pr or a related subject, because it's a meme that quotes someone, makes an allusion and therefore shouldn't be taken seriously?

I'd be strongly inclined to delete a comment like that, yeah. (The one you linked to is three years old, so no one consulted me at the time.) I don't recall seeing the Hicks rant much at all recently, though - probably since that MeTa - so either it's there but not getting flagged, or people really are not using it as much (or I have a selective memory, which I suppose is just as likely.)

I think stuff that's a little less direct - like, for example, someone saying "Bill Hicks was right" in a thread about marketing is much less likely to be brought to our attention in the first place, since it's oblique enough that only a fraction of people are going to be aware of the implications, and therefore a little harder to delete offhand. And more culturally-embedded stuff - like "first against the wall when the revolution comes" or Shakespeare's "First, kill all the lawyers" are more in line with what cortex is talking about in re: cultural allusions that use violent imagery but aren't necessarily being used to advocate actual violence. This doesn't make them great, but I'm a little less likely to propose a blanket ban on violent imagery in general than, say, violent imagery against a historically oppressed class (of which I think marketers and lawyers are not.)
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:02 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


"amberglow was recognizably conservative? That isn't how I remember him at all. I remember him as very much a Democrat, although a bit centrist."

You're right. He wasn't even remotely conservative. I can't recall him being centrist, much, either, though I'll take your word for it that he was in some respect. But conservative? Nope, not at all.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:03 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


He was liberal.
posted by mlis at 4:05 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


It would seem that at least one person quite easily made the leap from "you advertisers should kill yourselves" to completely dehumanizing them. -- Clearly I'm not an expert on hu-mor, but I strongly suspect that DU was exaggerating for comedic effect.
posted by crunchland at 4:05 PM on March 6, 2012


I would appreciate it if you would clarify this, since restless_nomad has not yet replied to my question upthread. In other words, Team Mod will not delete Hicks "kill yourself" quotes like this one in a thread about advertising, marketing, pr or a related subject, because it's a meme that quotes someone, makes an allusion and therefore shouldn't be taken seriously?

I feel like you are kind of rules-lawyering this. Jess' acknowledgement in that older Metatalk thread that dropping that Hicks riff into random threads would stand a chance of getting deleted was not a blanket endorsement of Hicks riffing in marketing/PR/etc threads. It strikes me as kind of silly in actual context to think we'd hold that policy position.

About as far as it goes is that memes and cliches and pop culture references are more difficult to deal with decisively than some non-referential utterance because intent and context is more complicated. As much as anything it makes me find the referential "it's not really offensive, I'm just riffing on x" stuff more annoying in a lot of ways than someone just speaking their mind in their own words, but that's just me.

It would seem that at least one person quite easily made the leap from "you advertisers should kill yourselves" to completely dehumanizing them.

I am not going to try and speak for DU on whether he's literally conceptually dehumanizes advertising folks or if that was just more him being figuratively GRAR about advertising, you'd have to ask him I guess. I think he's an example of someone who is needlessly and obnoxiously axe-grindy about ad stuff on the site, for the record, but that's, again, different from the issue of legitimately violent rhetoric of the sort that we do in fact consider totally actionable, and that I was responding to the mention of in the first place in this exchange.

A lot of people have negative attitudes about advertising and marketing. There's a lot of cultural-level baggage and momentum there. I would like people not to be obnoxious about expressing those negative attitudes; I don't really have word one to say about whether or not people have or should have those negative attitudes, because "is advertising/marketing good/bad/problematic/compromised" is a huge question that it is not in the scope of this site or us as mods to try and answer. Mostly we'd just like people not to be jerks about it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:06 PM on March 6, 2012


If marketing professionals are engaged in an activity that is harmful to society, and they themselves gain by this, then how can it not be relevant to point this out in a discussion of advertising?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:07 PM on March 6, 2012


Rather than quoting what I thought was awesome about what deanc just said, I'm gonna link to the whole thing.

And I wanna buy him coffee now or something.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:07 PM on March 6, 2012


I can't recall him being centrist, much, either, though I'll take your word for it that he was in some respect.

I recall him being very much mainstream Dem (although socially liberal), which I would class as centrist, but I know that that classing is sometimes contested.
posted by OmieWise at 4:09 PM on March 6, 2012


I miss amberglow.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:09 PM on March 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


restless_nomad: " I'd be strongly inclined to delete a comment like that, yeah. (The one you linked to is three years old, so no one consulted me at the time.) I don't recall seeing the Hicks rant much at all recently, though - probably since that MeTa - so either it's there but not getting flagged, or people really are not using it as much (or I have a selective memory, which I suppose is just as likely.)

Okay, that's really good to know. Thank you! I really appreciate your clarifying.

I've seen a link to the video pop up with a quote occasionally in threads about advertising and have not bothered to flag because I figured doing so would be a futile effort -- it wouldn't be deleted. But that particular monologue bugs me. Perhaps it just seems too personal? Perhaps my reaction to it is unreasonable or irrational, I don't know.

I think stuff that's a little less direct - like, for example, someone saying "Bill Hicks was right" in a thread about marketing is much less likely to be brought to our attention in the first place, since it's oblique enough that only a fraction of people are going to be aware of the implications, and therefore a little harder to delete offhand.

And for the record, I'd probably not bother to flag that either. It's only when people are coming out and saying "kill yourself" that I think it becomes an issue.

And more culturally-embedded stuff - like "first against the wall when the revolution comes" or Shakespeare's "First, kill all the lawyers" are more in line with what cortex is talking about in re: cultural allusions that use violent imagery but aren't necessarily being used to advocate actual violence. This doesn't make them great, but I'm a little less likely to propose a blanket ban on violent imagery in general than, say, violent imagery against a historically oppressed class (of which I think marketers and lawyers are not.)"

That makes sense. Okay. Agreed. Thank you!
posted by zarq at 4:09 PM on March 6, 2012


I have an answer, Ivan, but it only works for spherical advertisers on a vacuum.
posted by griphus at 4:10 PM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Mostly we'd just like people not to be jerks about it.

This is good advice for just about anything, frankly. (Male, 41, cafe con leche, orthodox Catholic, etc)
posted by jquinby at 4:11 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I think any theists who feel 'biased against' are saying more about their own feelings and ways of dealing with the world and its expectations than about MeFi itself."

Okay. But I'm an atheist, like you, and I disagree with you. Are you going to impugn my motives, too? Is that really a fair way to answer a theist's claim of feeling that they've been treated badly here? Would you accept the same kind of critique about women who complain about sexism here?

It's perfectly fine to differ on whether you perceive there to be a bias. It's not so fine to impugn the motives/perspective of a theist who disagrees with you.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:13 PM on March 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


restless_nomad:
Yup, that's pretty egregious - and not flagged at all.

zarq:
have not bothered to flag because I figured doing so would be a futile effort

I think I found the problem.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:17 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oops, sorry: deanc, you're a theist.

I'm not sure how that changes anything. I used sexism as an example...when discussions of sexism on MeFi have come up in the past, there have been women who challenged other women's assertions that there's been sexist behavior. It's not really that helpful to privilege a particular individual's viewpoint merely because they're a member of a class because all members of that class almost certainly don't all agree.

We see here that both theists and atheists disagree about whether there's bias here on MeFi against theists. So it probably isn't helpful to privilege or discredit someone's opinion on this matter on the basis of which group they belong to.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:21 PM on March 6, 2012


cortex: " I feel like you are kind of rules-lawyering this. Jess' acknowledgement in that older Metatalk thread that dropping that Hicks riff into random threads would stand a chance of getting deleted was not a blanket endorsement of Hicks riffing in marketing/PR/etc threads.

Well, let me put it a different way: I wanted to know if I flagged an appearance of the Hicks meme whether there was a possibility it might actually be deleted or if I'd be wasting my time. Jessamyn's answer in that meta indicated the latter. Totally not trying to pin you down to a firm "it's like this every single time!" hardline policy position. I know you take these things on a case by case basis. That's why I gave a specific example -- in the hopes that I might be able to give you one and not have turn into a hypothetical conversation. I know you don't like to speculate.

restless_nomad's answer was helpful.

About as far as it goes is that memes and cliches and pop culture references are more difficult to deal with decisively than some non-referential utterance because intent and context is more complicated. As much as anything it makes me find the referential "it's not really offensive, I'm just riffing on x" stuff more annoying in a lot of ways than someone just speaking their mind in their own words, but that's just me.

I understand.

I am not going to try and speak for DU on whether he's literally conceptually dehumanizes advertising folks or if that was just more him being figuratively GRAR about advertising, you'd have to ask him I guess. I think he's an example of someone who is needlessly and obnoxiously axe-grindy about ad stuff on the site, for the record,

I've noticed.

but that's, again, different from the issue of legitimately violent rhetoric of the sort that we do in fact consider totally actionable, and that I was responding to the mention of in the first place in this exchange.

A lot of people have negative attitudes about advertising and marketing. There's a lot of cultural-level baggage and momentum there. I would like people not to be obnoxious about expressing those negative attitudes; I don't really have word one to say about whether or not people have or should have those negative attitudes, because "is advertising/marketing good/bad/problematic/compromised" is a huge question that it is not in the scope of this site or us as mods to try and answer.


Okay. I've tried to address stereotypes of people in my profession over the years by giving an alternate, insiders perspective. I'd like to think that's the most helpful and non-combative method. Even if I suspect it's not necessarily productive. Of course, it doesn't help that there are a lot of dishonest, asshole scumbag publicists out there. And that most of the worst have been high profile.

Mostly we'd just like people not to be jerks about it."

Words to live by.

Thanks for clarifying. It's appreciated.
posted by zarq at 4:24 PM on March 6, 2012


> I think any theists who feel "biased against" are saying more about their own feelings and ways of dealing with the world and its expectations than about MeFi itself.

What I.F. said. Your presumptions are faulty and your attitude dismissive. I'm a stone atheist and I have long seen and objected to a consistent anti-religous bias here. If you haven't felt it, that's great, you've been lucky. Others have not been so lucky and (as this thread evidences) are not happy about it.
posted by languagehat at 4:24 PM on March 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


"I'm a stone atheist and I have long seen and objected to a consistent anti-religous bias here. If you haven't felt it, that's great, you've been lucky. Others have not been so lucky and (as this thread evidences) are not happy about it."

To say a bit more about this mind-reading thing...what's interesting to me is that I can pretty easily come up with a good explanation for why "stone atheists" like LH and myself would be hypersensitive to anti-religious bias here. The funny thing is, though, is that such an explanation closely mirrors an equivalent one that explains why theists might be insensitive to anti-religious bias here. So, live by the sword, die by the sword. In which case, maybe it's not that helpful to attempt this sort of mind-reading as a means of evaluating someone else's claims about their own experience.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:32 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is that really a fair way to answer a theist's claim of feeling that they've been treated badly here? Would you accept the same kind of critique about women who complain about sexism here?

This is a fair point, but in my experience, the only "bias" I can see against theists is simply the open discussion and assumption that one can espouse atheistic/non-theistic beliefs without having to justify them ahead of time. It could seem biased against theists if you had the assumption that the way the world operated was to privilege the assumption of theism and (Christian) religious belief as the starting point. And in that context, I stand by what I said.


I'm a stone atheist and I have long seen and objected to a consistent anti-religous bias here.

Only in that religious belief is not assumed to be normative. If I saw people in AskMeFi being told on a regular basis that their religious beliefs were the source of their problems, I'd feel differently, but I don't see that happening. I think people feel free to express non-religious or anti-religious sentiments in ways that aren't normally expressed in public. I think people on MeFi have some anti-religious bias, but I don't think that MeFi as a whole is. I could say that MeFi has a non-religious bias in the same way that it has a liberal bias, sure.

That said, I've spent less time in the blue than normal, these days.
posted by deanc at 4:37 PM on March 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'd like to say that languagehat's comments in this thread are a perfect illustration of why he is missed. And if he's ever back in NYC he needs to come to my monday afternoon Old White Guy music show that I DJ on my iPod at my local bar.
posted by jonmc at 4:38 PM on March 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


I will preface this comment by admitting that I know nothing about the Cato Institute and have not read anything but the text of the FPP itself. I'm even confused about what the word "liberal" means in the context of the post.

That said, look at the phrasing of the FPP. No wonder it's a clustercuss. It reads like someone trying to start an argument. Niskanen/Crane good, Koch bad. Below the fold there is an attempt to link to both sides of the "media fracas", but any one coming in with an opinion is already angry or gloating by the time they get to it. (And Chicago Daily vs. a Typepad blog doesn't seem a fair comparison, but I don't follow political blogs in the slightest, so I wouldn't know a significant one if I tripped on it.)

It just doesn't seem like perhaps the best example of bias since there's so much to begin with. If I could flag as fighty/grar-y/bad-idea/wendell, I would flag that post hard.
posted by maryr at 4:38 PM on March 6, 2012


I'm a stone atheist...

Dude, stones exist whether you believe in them or not.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:39 PM on March 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


If I could flag as fighty/grar-y/bad-idea/wendell, I would flag that post hard.

.....Isn't this what the "other" flag is for?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:40 PM on March 6, 2012


I should at that yesterday's Old White Guy show featured Parliament's "Do That Stuff" which had us old farts of all races rockin'.
posted by jonmc at 4:42 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


clustercuss

Awesome word.

If I had to come up with MeFi biases, it would be liberal non-theists with social anxiety who are alienated from their families.

Does this mean that I think that MeFi is an unfriendly place for people who believe in God, have social skills and are close to their families? No, and if you have a problem dealing with an environment that has a lot of the types that MeFi tends to attract, then I think the problem is you.
posted by deanc at 5:01 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I think people on MeFi have some anti-religious bias, but I don't think that MeFi as a whole is. I could say that MeFi has a non-religious bias in the same way that it has a liberal bias, sure."

Yeah, I'm not thinking of that or the kinds of things you mentioned, really. What I have in mind are a small amount but persistent type of comment that are explicitly ridiculing of theism and theists. Along with tarring-by-association claims and such. There's not a lot of push-back on this kind of comment. I do suspect that there's more now than there used to be, as my intuition is that moderation is a bit more active in general.

Personally, I'm ambivalent. Aggressive, caustic new-atheism tends to be exactly the sort of thing that I don't want to have any association with. But, on the other hand, in the larger context of American society, the bias against atheists is very deep, very widespread, and more virulent than most people think. In that context, I can understand why some atheists are aggressive and caustic.

What bothers me, I suppose, is that there's a dynamic going on (and only with a minority, but that's enough) that's like all sorts of other examples of bigotry. Which is that an ostensible rational and possibly indisputable negative/objectionable characteristic associated with a group is utilized as justification for some pretty hateful and indiscriminate speech aimed at that group. With this anchor of self-righteousness, then people excuse all sorts of really hateful speech especially in themselves, but in others, too.

A good example is evangelicals. Back in my former incarnation here, I used to frequently point out that there is a leftist evangelical tradition in the US. (As a matter of fact, amberglow and I were frequently at loggerheads on this very issue.) On the secular left, there is approximately zero awareness of a leftist evangelical tradition and so to liberals evangelicals are synonymous with fairly extreme conservatism. And because of that, a lot of abuse can be aimed against evangelicals with an accompanying sense of "they deserve it", even though a small minority of evangelicals are allies with the secular left about a lot of things.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:05 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


.....Isn't this what the "other" flag is for?

Is it? I can never figure out what to categorize what. (Also, I didn't even see that thread 'til this MeTa. I can go back and flag it now, though it seems a little late, alas.)
posted by maryr at 5:05 PM on March 6, 2012


After-the-fact flagging doesn't have a lot of utility, yeah. But for the record, it's fine to use "other" when your primary thought is "boy oh boy that needs some flagging". Don't overthink it, the main point is just to get it on our radar so we can take a look.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:11 PM on March 6, 2012


White over 60; British by birth and education, did not attend university, have lived in non English speaking country for over 30 years and currently posting from another. Yes definitely ourside the median. Story of my life.
I ignore threads that don´t interest me and get pissed off with people who think that everyone is or should be an American. Get a passport, get a life. The best comments in this thread are by brandon blatcher and Mexican Yenta
posted by adamvasco at 5:15 PM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm a sixty-year-old male freelance editor who's lived all over the place and had friends and relatives of more different political views than you can possibly imagine

Now, languagehat, I really admire you, but you're not giving me enough credit here.

Furries who want to govern by yiffing?
Declared rapists for transcendental oligarchy?

I can imagine a lot of different political views.
posted by GuyZero at 5:23 PM on March 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


> Furries who want to govern by yiffing?
Declared rapists for transcendental oligarchy?


That was not my family gathering! I happened to be there by accident! I didn't know those people, somebody just happened to take my picture with them, dammit!
posted by languagehat at 5:33 PM on March 6, 2012 [12 favorites]


I am not conservative or right at ALL (I am pretty radically left in just about all ways) but I actually agree with some of what downing street memo and a few others are geting at. Mefi often feels like it's decided certain subjects or jobs or whatever are terrible and cannot be redeemed and at best can only be derided and snarked about dismissively--economics is a good example, and I don't really love admitting this here because I know some might make assumptions about me but I got my degree in Econ and don't regret it at all. People in that recent opportunity cost post loved braying about how the whole thing was so stupid while also making it clear they never bothered to learn anything about the fundamentals of the subject, because they think the subject is so stupid there's no point. It would be a bit like a linguistics post where almost every comment was someone bragging they have no idea what descriptivism is, but it must be stupid because everyone knows some words or accents or languages really are better than others or sound nicer or are more complex or intellectual or whatever. And there's this notion economists are always Bad, Greedy, Stupid People who are apologists to Wall Street bankers who ruined the economy or whatever. I don't claim for a second many, maybe even most, are like this (I even had to take a couple classes for my degree from people like this, and indeed it made my skin crawl) but there's also people like Nancy Folbre, Marianne Ferber, Margery Wolf, Thomas Rawski (who I took a few classes from), Amartya Sen...folks who find something redeeming and useful about the premise of econ and want to make the world a better place/are committed to social justice, and realize Economics is a methodology, not a specific inflexible subject that can only focus on what goes on on Wall Street.

I feel like I could say more but it's weird even saying this much. It makes me feel tired to consider trying to go step by step through all the things people are assuming about econ this or that, or other subjects too, and one of the big reasons I lurk way more than I post is I'm lazy and don't have the patience or eloquence for that here, this place that to me feels more for casual fun. But since someone already mentioned it I just wanted to say I agree about that.

Oh, and I'm (barely; this is my last year to be) in my 20s, adopted Korean-American (oh god, and adoption, gadzooks, but to be fair that landmine's everywhere, not just Mefi), and yeah, tend to feel Mefi can be somewhat insular without realizing it sometimes...but I think the ways I notice it most, having to do with a specific type of sense of humor and popularity for things like video games, nerdy shows and books, proving you eat the best and fanciest food (I didn't agree with that earlier comment about travel and art but did with the mention of money...people here have a lot of disposable income it feels, whether that's true or not, I guess probably because people would mention nice things but not what they're not able to buy, if that makes sense), expensive photography/design skills, etc., are inevitable and not necessarily in a bad way. All communities are to some extent. And I know the things I feel left out about are my own fault really--if I wanted more on topic X or whatever, I could just post myself, but I don't. So I'm not complaining. Just describing my impressions, since I guess that was the point.

I do totally agree Mefi is waaaaaay more feminist than it used to be, which is awesome. Mefi's one of the only non-explicitly-feminist-themed places on the web I feel comfortable knowing my views about that stuff won't be considered radical and nuts or overreacting, etc. I'm really happy about that.
posted by ifjuly at 5:36 PM on March 6, 2012 [31 favorites]


> And if he's ever back in NYC he needs to come to my monday afternoon Old White Guy music show that I DJ on my iPod at my local bar.

I look forward to it, compadre.
posted by languagehat at 5:36 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


When you have a diverse group of people, that includes gays, feminists, intellectuals, and the like...

I know I'm not really following where this conversation has ended up but I would like to say that it's this type of thinking that can make ethnic and racial minorities feel out of place here. Like the young rope-rider says, metafilter really never has done race well. It's not that I don't mind being lumped in with those groups, it's just that my ethnicity doesn't seem to register as a member of "our diversity" here at the big blue website in the sky. My/our/etc voice isn't even on the radar.

Maybe its because all the text is white. NOT WHITE-TEXT-IST
posted by Stynxno at 5:45 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


People in that recent opportunity cost post loved braying about how the whole thing was so stupid while also making it clear they never bothered to learn anything about the fundamentals of the subject, because they think the subject is so stupid there's no point

that was a bizarre thread. It was like trying to discuss something with Dwight Schrute. I was wondering if when faced with "a train goes 50 miles an hour, how many miles does it go in 2.5 hours" did they say "impossible! a train does not go 50 miles per hour"
posted by Ad hominem at 5:47 PM on March 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


125 miles, unless it hits another train first.
posted by maryr at 5:50 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


"creationism" - Why would I, a born atheist who never drank the grape kool-aid even as a child, write an FPP on creationism?

Okay, you should do one about grape kool-aid then!
posted by Greg Nog at 5:52 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, yeah.
posted by box at 5:53 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


People in that recent opportunity cost post loved braying about how the whole thing was so stupid while also making it clear they never bothered to learn anything about the fundamentals of the subject, because they think the subject is so stupid there's no point.

Agree entirely. I'm an economist and comments like this and this in threads, plus the whole opportunity cost thread (which I didn't wade into because the vitriol was thick early) make you feel entirely unwanted around here. The same thing seems to happen to advertisers; people see examples in the media and assume that they understand the whole profession.

While it's not "up against the wall", being told that you're a pseudo-intellectual and should be thrown out of universities is a pretty good way to make someone feel like they don't belong.

Not everyone is making $200k and working for the Cato Institute; I, for one, chose to make $45k working in community economic development, where the projects are about building sustainable communities, helping businesses reach their goals and helping immigrants and minorities get the training and networking they need to succeed in our community.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 5:55 PM on March 6, 2012 [19 favorites]


Human-caused climate change is a theory, as is the theory of evolution

Scientists use the word hypothesis for an idea or concept in the non-proven status. When a scientist uses the word theory he or she has concluded that one particular idea or concept is the unifying explanation of all the facts or experimental data known at that time. Hence the theory of relativity, string theory, theory of evolution have a different meaning to a scientist than to a non-scientist.
posted by francesca too at 6:06 PM on March 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


I wanted to know if I flagged an appearance of the Hicks meme whether there was a possibility it might actually be deleted or if I'd be wasting my time.

It's always a good idea to flag stuff if it's bothering you. If you think it's a waste of your time to flag stuff that might not get deleted, then feel free not to. However, as we've said above we can't take action on what we don't see, and in some of these threads the only way any of us is going to poke our heads in is if people are flagging stuff because the topics don't interest us and the site is full of more interesting things elsewhere.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:15 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Certain questions and responses tend to skew, but often that's probably accidental. E.g. the first responses to the Worst Movie FPP on AskMe today. Almost all SF and horror films (e.g. Birdemic, Human Centipede). I felt the worst movie I've ever seen was Sex & The City: The Movie, but that might have skewed the comments in another direction.

But I like it that on MeFi you don't automatically know what sex/gender people are from their handles (or sexed/gendered interpretation of avatar pictures). It may be in their profiles, but many members don't. If you hang around long enough, you may find out from what they say. But not knowing in the beginning takes a certain pressure off.

The concept would probably not work for a dating site or dating reality show, only if everyone was bisexual.
posted by bad grammar at 6:27 PM on March 6, 2012


. It's like the liberal bias in academica—it's not, I think, so much that academia is self-selecting specifically for liberals; it's that it's self-selecting for a cluster of other things which collectively have a strong correlation with liberalism, for better and worse. The same is true for MeFi.

Curious, what would be in that "cluster of other things" that attracts MeFites?

Claim the first I respond to: US manufacturing has declined. Actual data supporting the position--bupkus (not surprisingly, because it's not true). I posted evidence that it hasn't.

I know you don't want to rehash the argument itself, but since you offered it as an example I think it's fair to analyze. Here's the thing: people then asked you some more questions about this evidence that didn't get answered. This isn't proof that they aren't listening and aren't interested. They didn't get answered. Someone asked about how this data was measuring manufacturing, and their point was that in terms of output it is higher, but as percent of GDP it is lower, and as a source of jobs it has been drastically gutted due to automation efficiencies. This is the problem people are concerned about - not a decline in manufacturing, but a decline in manufacturing jobs and wages. And when people pointed out that being specific about what was actually measured as the growth here sets aside the significant connections between manufacturing revenues and where those revenues go - no longer into a working class who supply the factory labor, but into the ownership and management class who own the increasingly automated systems. People aren't wrong to critique your data - they actually identified where the data was insufficient to address the larger question.

I understand as well as anyone that MeFi threads are often not the place to "give lessons" and provide the 101 on a topic. The more we all are aware of that, the better. There are times when some of us are highly motivated to give the 101 - as was true of me during some of the major sexism threads. But even where that stuff is concerned, my energy has waned. It's not that I believe my perspective to be less true, it's just that many others have risen or stepped in to take their turn at that topic, allowing me to look at other things, and at times also that I just want to give the topic a rest. If you know a lot about something, and it drives you nuts that it's misrepresented in the popular mind and the popular press, you can do something to change it. But saying "people are facile and lazy, which is why they don't agree with me" isn't actually true if you're unwilling to engage them.

I agree that the PhD economist friend, or his or her equivalent in any field, honestly may not see any value whatever to spending their time giving lessons to neophytes on the internet. There's not going to be a lot of point for them in engaging with people who don't share the foundations of their field, if their goal is to have rewarding-for-them conversations on topics in that field.

However, they may have a great time in unrelated threads. The trick is that when you do know a whole lot about something - whether it's evolution, medicine, language, physics, or anything - that any general conversation you get in, online or IRL, is probably going to wander into areas which will frustrate the hell out of you, because popular understandings are not the same as academic understandings. You can cultivate patience and try to be an ambassador for the field, you can help enlighten where you have knowledge and be philosophical about the outcome, or you can just make the choice, as many have, to avoid the topic entirely in this forum because you don't want to play educator. All those choices are absolutely valid and sane-making. But blaming the public, who hail from many disciplines, for not immediately recognizing what you see as the incontrovertible truth is not likely to produce good discussions that bring people to new understandings. It's hard, but I think that once a person has a lot of knowledge on a topic, he or she has to develop a sense of where and when that's best shared. If you're not open to elaborating, I guess it's fine to drop your wisdom and disappear; but to then blame people who want to follow up, but can't because you don't allow them the chance, for their own ignorance seems unfair.
posted by Miko at 6:28 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


People seem to have some anxiety about flagging - like a grievous error has been committed if the flag doesn't go into the right category bin, or you only get so many clicks in your life and if you fritter them away on pointless flags you'll soon be unable to use a computer without dragon dictate.

It's not really like that! There's no reason not to flag a thing, really. Or at least that's the impression I've gotten from reading mod comments.

Re: conservatives and the religious, I mean, yeah, there's some hostility. I'm surprised that Alia still posts ever, for example. But on the other hand, I really do feel that she makes poor arguments in some places, and further (as far as I can tell) all arguments that she could make are poor. So... what to do?

Or Jahaza's example from earlier in the thread - I feel like many people in the thread gave some really good answers explaining why a certain provision in a law looked really problematic. Jahaza never really seemed to pick up on those answers or tried to engage with them.

I personally have deep misgivings about any and all religious belief (regardless of how liberal), but I do try to avoid lazy snark.

As far as racial diversity goes, man, I dunno. I do try to be aware of my own unconscious filters, but it's hard to say how successful I am. =/
posted by kavasa at 6:35 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wanted to know if I flagged an appearance of the Hicks meme whether there was a possibility it might actually be deleted or if I'd be wasting my time.

It strikes me that at the very least, there's more of a possibility of it getting deleted than there would be if you DIDN'T flag it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:51 PM on March 6, 2012


I'm an economist and comments like this

Thank you for that excellent example of what I tried, I think inadequately and almost certainly intemperately, to show above. It's not only or even primarily that the position is aggressively leftist in that it's attacking the economics profession. It's that it's a totally unsupported (and as it turns out false) statement about economists--and in fact, it is still somewhat an open question what the impact of the minimum wage on employment is. It's a really tough question. But I just cannot imagine anyone familiar with the debate, regardless of what side they ultimately come down on, would say that it's so obvious that anyone on the other side must be a "liar" (not merely wrong, mind, but a "liar"). Now if you're someone well-informed with the views of, say, David Neumark, who is more skeptical of the minimum wage, and you see this statement calling you a "liar" picking up favorites, are you really going to want to deal with this? Most likely, no. And it's not because you're scared of how awesomely evidence-based Metafilter is.

I apologize if I come across negatively toward the site. I have read it for years, even though I've only posted for less than one. I enjoy it immensely. But, just take a look at political threads and count up how many comments have both of the following qualities: clear evidence that the linked material--at least some of it--was looked at, and a new and interesting point, question or piece of data (or even an original joke). A content-free comment doesn't matter if you're talking about Legend of Zelda. If it calls you a liar, or evil, then it's probably harmful.

On preview--Miko, I see your post. Look, the specific claim you made was that conservative viewpoints are not widespread on this website because of the fact they can't handle its "evidence-based culture." But the actual dynamic is very much what The Gooch described above: people make at-best tendentious and often plain incorrect claims on the left side, a moderate or conservative questions that, and are rewarded with a barrage of demands and critiques of their data (but without any data of their own--it's a lot easier to criticize).

Whatever, I'm bored and have free time. I'm looking at the thread. The exact literal statement I was replying to was:

...we've managed to get the rest of the world to do our manufacturing for us. But you've got to have a source of wealth somewhere, and the instant the rest of the world decides they'd rather keep their wealth than give it to us, our fantasies of shitty service industry jobs for all go bye-bye.
We have got to make things.


By any rational reading of this, that statement refers to not producing enough stuff, and not to a lack of jobs. And it is just flat out, 100% wrong to day that the US has "got the rest of the world to do our manufacturing for us"--as you yourself acknowledge, it's much more that manufacturing efficiency has increased (as an aside, it's somewhat silly to worry about manufacturing as a percent of GDP declining over the long-term--such was true with agriculture. There's a limit to how many TVs and cars people can consume). And what addresses the "larger question" you refer to...the article in the post itself! That is why I blew a gasket, because it was abundantly clear from the statements people were making that they hadn't read it, and frankly didn't care--it was a political post, so let's use it as a launching pad for grievances.

What I'm trying to say, probably poorly, is that when you actually read political threads, it's very easy to fall into the trap of "the comments on my side are well-informed critiques, the comments on your side are probably trolling but in any case their data sucks." Heck, I admit that some of the data is ambiguous. But do you honestly read that thread and say that my side is the one scared of "evidence-based" arguments? Why does my self-admitted imperfect data get this critique but completely unsupported statements, like the one I was responding to ("the ones who do the most work, get paid absolutely the least") get a total free pass? Well, because, that's the proper liberal position. It's not that I see my more moderate/right position as "the incontrovertible truth." It's that I actually like to see data beyond arguments, and it's very apparent to me, that if you have the "correct" Metafilter position, you can say even flat-out false statements of fact and that's great, but post some actual fact that disputes this and be prepared to defend every last footnote. It's just really odd to me that you would say conservatives are driven off because their arguments are "incomplete or superficial or imperfectly supported" vs. the Metafilter norm. Look at the Cato thread. This ("If you like your evil pure and unadulterated, the Koch Brothers are for you.") cannot your idea of a complete, non-superficial, and well-supported claim. And that, in my view, is why political threads tend to be incredibly one-sided.
posted by dsfan at 7:09 PM on March 6, 2012 [15 favorites]

proving you eat the best and fanciest food (I didn't agree with that earlier comment about travel and art but did with the mention of money...people here have a lot of disposable income it feels, whether that's true or not...
Yeah. I think that because the gender stuff has gotten a lot better and because I'm otherwise kind of a typical mefite type, the stuff I notice the most here has to do with money. I feel like I frequently encounter the assumption that everyone here has lots of it, or at least a fair amount of it. I hear a lot of "nobody could possibly live on $30,000 a year!" type comments, which is weird to me, because I do, and I don't even feel particularly deprived. My income is pretty average for the community in which I live, but I feel like the average mefite would be shocked to know that they were conversing with someone whom they would consider poor and therefore in all likelihood an idiot.

I probably notice it most on food threads, but it's kind of all over the place.
posted by craichead at 7:17 PM on March 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh my god, it's the Mefi collaborative novel!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:20 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is the problem people are concerned about - not a decline in manufacturing, but a decline in manufacturing jobs and wages.

FWIW, I was one of the people who agreed with the article, that due to increased efficiencies we, as a nation, make tons of stuff but employ fewer people to do it. I don't think that is particularly conservative. The article said, at least to me, that we are in transiton, as we were 80 years ago. We can't send people back to the plant the same way we couldn't send people back to the farm. We need to figure something else out besides racing China to the bottom.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:27 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why does my self-admitted imperfect data get this critique but completely unsupported statements, like the one I was responding to ("the ones who do the most work, get paid absolutely the least") get a total free pass?

Because you stopped contributing to the thread.

As an outside observer, I have no idea of what your motivations might have been for ending your contributions. It seems reasonable enough to conclude that you had no good responses.

Don't blame others for your own unwillingness to engage with them. No one drove you off. You yourself got impatient and left.
posted by Miko at 7:31 PM on March 6, 2012


I don't mean this to say that all conservative views are wrong; even I have some conservative views. But MeFi is, more than anything else that it is, an evidence-based culture.

Here's the deal, though. Even if this is true 95% of the time (which I would grant), that 5% of the time that you get hostility for having a minority view can be enough to keep you from participating; or to say, "this probably isn't a safe place to talk honestly about this." I'm more towards the conservative spectrum than most people here, I would imagine. I've had threads that I've contributed to where most of the response was pretty awesome and evidence-based, and it was a pretty excellent place to have a conversation. But it can be hard to continue at times (or to chip in in the first place), when there is enough unreasonable backlash, such that it just isn't worth it. Instead of talking about the issue, it becomes trying to negotiate emotionally whatever is going on under the surface in order to get to the good conversation. So, the minority can poison the well at times. Not that it's impossible to wade through, but it's emotionally tiring to try, and in the end, you're like, eh, whatever. I love it here and I'll be a lifelong member, and I consider it "my place" as much as anyone. But there are some places that I simply won't go in terms of discussion because of the vitriol expressed towards some conservative viewpoints, which you know is just waiting to pop up if you ship in. Sometimes it's earned; but sometimes it stems not from a rational starting point, but because (funny enough) people come with their own preconceptions against other points of view that sort of prevent civility, or create too much to wade through to get to the good stuff. That being said, I'm not sure if anything can be done against this when the "room full of people" gets big enough, so it's not an appeal for a solution. It's probably just the sad state of affairs when you have enough majority representation in one place.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:33 PM on March 6, 2012


ship in

chip in. Sorry, not normally that anal about my corrections, but that's just downright ridiculous.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:35 PM on March 6, 2012


We need to figure something else out besides racing China to the bottom.

Hello, space program! How youse doin'?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:35 PM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I just wanted to break my silence and say that I agree with Hat, downing street memo, and all the rest about the hostility towards conservative viewpoints.

That's neither here nor there, though. The real problem is not that conservatives aren't well-represented here; it's that political discussions in the absence of genuine debate devolve into backpatting and mutual congratulation. These things are a lot more satisfying than appearing to be confused or uncertain about things, or seriously (rather than facetiously) trying to puzzle out the arguments of a link. As a result, discussions of anything even slightly political become contests to see who can demonstrate the loudest and most dismissive attitude towards anyone trying to teach them something new.

Money, I think, reveals another aspect of this. I can't even count the number of comments here that assume everyone has the ability to leave a job they dislike or go to the doctor when they think something might be wrong. To those people, just like the very political people on the site, the presence of a viewpoint that doesn't fit in with their experience seems to be actively threatening and needs to be shut down as soon as possible. I've seen this attitude again and again--not just in the context of politics or class but also trivial issues like which online community or large corporations we like or dislike. That's why I think MeFi is actually intolerant of diversity in any sense other than the 1990s-elementary-school-textbook-cover demographic one demonstrated by the framing of this question.

The theism/atheism debate is actually a pretty interesting case in point. At one point in the past, it was totally obvious that any combination of views other than nakedly scientistic atheism was going to be greeted with jeers and dismissal. Now, the consensus position seems to be a kind of salad-bar latitudinarianism in which having any kind of well-defined religious or irreligious belief at all is considered ipso facto exclusionary or "arrogant."

Obviously, MeFi is not monolithic, and it really is great that there are so many older/female/non-white/non-straight people here. But the climate of mutual congratulation has really had a chilling effect on discussion here, even if that does make it easier to moderate.
posted by nasreddin at 7:36 PM on March 6, 2012 [26 favorites]


Sure, sometimes it's hard to have a discussion when you're on the minority side and your assumptions get challenged more than majority assumptions.

It's up to each individual whether this is something they have a tolerance for.

Still, in general, no matter your orientation, I would say if you don't want your assumptions challenged, you don't want to be on MeFi.
posted by Miko at 7:37 PM on March 6, 2012


Hello, space program! How youse doin'?

Absolutely, that is one thing we should focus on besides who can make the cheapest socks.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:38 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Still, in general, no matter your orientation, I would say if you don't want your assumptions challenged, you don't want to be on MeFi.

For me, it's not about having assumptions challenged. At all, actually. It's about tone. That's pretty important, I think, and that's what decides if people feel welcome or not.

And my observation was not meant to be a normative statement about the site. It's descriptive, actually. If tone is not good, people won't converse. That's pretty much all there is to it.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:39 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah, TONE.
posted by Miko at 7:40 PM on March 6, 2012


Yes, I love a good debate, even if I end up being wrong. :)
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:41 PM on March 6, 2012


There's been a lot of agreement that good-faith expression is pretty much always taken seriously and entertained.

I really need to write that article about the history of "tone" as an internet bargaining chip.

I'm also vexed, when it comes right down to it, that the discussion of diversity has ended up being about conservatives.
posted by Miko at 7:43 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ah, TONE.

This is a pretty good example of what I'm talking about, actually. Every time I see someone make an eye-rolling comment about teaching Sexism 101 or whatever, its effect is to close down debate and widen the scope of topics that are now assumed to be community standards. (There's been some inflation of this over the years.) But that I can understand, in many cases. The position that "any discussion of tone is implicitly an attempt to SHUT ME DOWN" is much worse, because it destroys whatever remaining willingness people have to pretend to be reasonable. There's a willful refusal to acknowledge that discussion on a website like MeFi and discussion in the big, hostile, sexist world might be two different things and tone might have very different parts to play in each of these contexts.
posted by nasreddin at 7:45 PM on March 6, 2012 [13 favorites]


Yes, everyone sees it differently, which is what makes it fascinating. I appreciate having your reading and may contact you for a quote in future.
posted by Miko at 7:47 PM on March 6, 2012


Still, in general, no matter your orientation, I would say if you don't want your assumptions challenged, you don't want to be on MeFi.

This is a very smart observation.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:52 PM on March 6, 2012


Ah, TONE.

I really need to write that article about the history of "tone" as an internet bargaining chip.


I guess I don't get the eye-rolling, either.

It doesn't mean that it always has been used as a bargaining chip, or that there is never a case of tone gone bad. Or, that there isn't a type of tone that can be destructive to healthy community discussion.

Just assume I was referring to that kind of thing.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:56 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Because you stopped contributing to the thread.

As an outside observer, I have no idea of what your motivations might have been for ending your contributions. It seems reasonable enough to conclude that you had no good responses.


You cannot be serious! I quickly tabulated the most-contributing posters to the thread (by hand, so I probably made a mistake, but it's close enough for this work):

saulgoodman 15
Hippybear 10
dsfan 8
trochanter 6

I mean, I've seen the grief some posters get for monopolizing a thread. Just eyeballing it, I might well have had the most words posted on the thread, was almost certainly top 3. OK, I took a break from 12:46 am to 9:13 am--sorry I went to sleep, I guess? You're right I choose not to respond to every line of questioning--is this a problem?

No one drove you off. You yourself got impatient and left.

Incorrect, I remained in the thread almost to the end. Another factless claim, I see. When I choose not to respond to your next groundless assertion here, I assure you, it is not because I cannot deal with your invisible evidence.
posted by dsfan at 8:00 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think anyone disagrees with you. It's just that this tone thing is a complicated topic to raise, as it has been both used well and misused miserably.

If you're saying that people should do their best to be respectful to one another, you have no argument from me. People on MeFi who practice that usually have very few problems being heard or engaging other users, regardless of their ideology.
posted by Miko at 8:02 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah, TONE.

Stretch out the 'ah,' and this sounds kind of like a singing lesson.
posted by jonmc at 8:03 PM on March 6, 2012


If people here were all about the evidence and data, the transvaginal ultrasound thread wouldn't have had so many people having a fit because someone asked for evidence/clarification of the need for transvaginal ultrasounds.
posted by jacalata at 8:04 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you're saying that people should do their best to be respectful to one another, you have no argument from me.

Did you seriously read his statement any other way? Or are we just playing "Gotcha BINGO"?
posted by malocchio at 8:06 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you're saying that people should do their best to be respectful to one another, you have no argument from me.

The problem is that in the heat of discussion, very few people make the effort to distinguish between the two. Anything that smacks of a tone argument immediately gets used as a gotcha. And that has the effect of shutting down anyone who's uncomfortable with arguments held at anything but the very highest pitch of high dudgeon.
posted by nasreddin at 8:07 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


...the presence of a viewpoint that doesn't fit in with their experience seems to be actively threatening and needs to be shut down as soon as possible.

This, a thousand times. So many arguments here spring from "If I, personally, haven't experienced [X], it can't possibly be true."
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:09 PM on March 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


"The position that 'any discussion of tone is implicitly an attempt to SHUT ME DOWN' is much worse, because it destroys whatever remaining willingness people have to pretend to be reasonable."

I find this very regrettable and unfortunate, but I have to agree that, on balance, the rise of the tone argument is a tactic to suppress speech bludgeon has been a bad thing. It's unfortunate because it really is true that the tone argument is used to stifle speech and to reinforce privilege. But it's regrettable in that, at this point, even when it isn't used this way, and especially when the power relationship is reversed, its invocation as a counter-claim is used to stifle speech. It's a sad irony.

The thing is, in the context of the discussion we're having here, tone is absolutely relevant. The context isn't "if you want anyone to understand why it's not a good thing to say 'I'd hit that' all the time, you shouldn't be so harsh and off-putting". Rather, the context is, "this is a large web community in which we discuss many different things and those of us with minority viewpoints are made to feel unwelcome by the way in which the majority discusses some things". That is to say, when the context is a discussion about inclusiveness and people's comfort levels, tone has everything to do with everything.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:09 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


remained in the thread almost to the end

Ideas and questions raised after your departure:
How do you measure manufacturing output?

What about jobs? Isn't this the real issue when we discuss manufacturing?

Are large segments of the American workforce — millions of people — at a structural disadvantage in the face of global competition, technological advance and ever more sophisticated forms of automation? Is this situation permanent?

Will the share of profits from improving corporate productivity flowing to capital and to high-earning C.E.O.s continue to grow, while the income of wage earners stagnates and their share of profits declines?

Has the surging wealth and income of the top one percent and of the top 0.1 percent reached a tipping point at which the political leverage of the very affluent decisively outweighs the influence of the electorate at large?

Is it possible that in the United States and Europe, democratic free market capitalism is no longer capable of providing broadly shared benefits to a solid majority of workers?
This isn't adding up to a picture of a community of people unwilling and unable to discuss economics with you.
posted by Miko at 8:10 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you're saying that people should do their best to be respectful to one another, you have no argument from me. People on MeFi who practice that usually have very few problems being heard or engaging other users, regardless of their ideology.

Yep, we agree. And not to drag this out any further than it has to, but the point being, then, is not being heard by or engaging other users, but one of getting sort of weary of having to "watch your back" to have a good conversation at times, because a vocal minority of the majority is predictably disrespectful (or has a non-fallacious tone problem conjoined with a set of illogical or prejudiced assumptions that they bring to the table) towards a particular minority viewpoint. So, not a huge thing, but a reality of life. You can hit it head on, and claim it's a great virtue, but, you know, it's tiring to worry about, and you might just prefer not to. In terms of a welcoming vibe, though, it is a thing.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:12 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


This isn't adding up to a picture of a community of people unwilling and unable to discuss economics with you.

To be fair, most of those questions are contained in a quote in a comment by kliuless, who never sticks around to discuss any of his linkbombs.
posted by nasreddin at 8:14 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


"This, a thousand times. So many arguments here spring from 'If I, personally, haven't experienced [X], it can't possibly be true.'"

Well, yeah, but...that's true everywhere. And limiting it to just here, I don't see this exclusive to any one group, or excluding any one group. Everyone does it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:17 PM on March 6, 2012


Perhaps not, but he linked the article presumably to influence the discussion. I don't know anything about him/her, just noting the questions were introduced.
posted by Miko at 8:17 PM on March 6, 2012


I think people should be aware not just of tone, but of Tony! Toni! Toné! as well, thus making a dent in the 90s r&b discussion deficit.
posted by neroli at 8:23 PM on March 6, 2012 [15 favorites]


"This, a thousand times. So many arguments here spring from 'If I, personally, haven't experienced [X], it can't possibly be true.'"

And from an educator's point of view, this is not an ending point but a starting point: it translates to "I need to be shown."

It's just true that we don't all encounter all life experiences, and also true that it is generally a smart strategy to skeptically evaluate what you haven't experienced firsthand. So when people say "What you're referring to isn't in my experience, and I don't immediatly accept it as true," they need to be shown. Maybe not by you, but they are in need of being shown. No one should have to accept statements about any experience on pure faith alone, especially with sketchy outlines of that experience. This is the online-community version of the classic relationship roadblock "I'm not a mindreader, you know." It's not reasonable to expect everyone to accept or apprehend your own point of view before you share it.

Some of the most outstanding moments on MeFi happen when someone does the showing. These are the comments that get sidebarred, the posts that get widely linked and chronicled. To advance understanding, it can be really helpful to demonstrate and describe what has been true for you. Some may still be skeptical, but others will at least arrive at the point of recognizing that they now know someone who has a different perspective to describe, which was not true for them before.
posted by Miko at 8:24 PM on March 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Neroli, you made me snort with laughter. I rarely snort. Thank you.

That's all from me, except for the fact that I pretty much like all of you folks, regardless of what demographic you fit, because overall, at least you are willing to have a conversation about some pretty interesting topics. That's rarer than it should be these days.

*and I learned where Clinton, WA is. Thanks Maxwelton!
posted by anitanita at 8:33 PM on March 6, 2012


Oh dang it. I see I still don't know how to link to another person's comment in the thread.

Curse you, evasive basic skill that I still have not mastered! *shakes fist at sky*
posted by anitanita at 8:35 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


There isn't much to be gained from haranguing particular members about whether they stick around to educate people. We have already established it isn't anyone's responsibility to educate anyone else.

This is as it should be. If I sit in this thead posing question after question should you be obligated to play last man standing until I win by default?

of Tony! Toni! Toné!

Damnit! you made me pull up It Feels Good on youtube!
posted by Ad hominem at 8:36 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I sit in this thead posing question after question should you be obligated to play last man standing until I win by default?

Definitely not. But I shouldn't be supported later on when I try to claim that you weren't willing to engage in discussion with me.
posted by Miko at 8:38 PM on March 6, 2012


As an aside, I'll mention that I find the, um, "wealthism" thing a little surprising in the way I found the ageism thing a little surprising. Back in November or whenever, there was some thread about income levels or something and I described my own situation, that I live on about 11K a year, and I was quite surprised that in that thread there were quite a few people who mentioned they live on even less. (Of course, I think, wow, how the hell do they manage that??).

I wonder how much of some of the differences in perception have to do with different parts of the site. Specifically, AskMe. Advice discussion is an unusual beast, isn't it? It's inherently more personal and more specific to one's own experience than the rest of the site. I don't read AskMe. But, thinking about it now, it seems to me that a lot of questions and answers would presume a context quite a bit different from my own. Like wealth.

And relationship stuff is not unlike this, too. We talk about the DTMFA thing every now and then and surely one's perspective on that will vary pretty widely according to several different things?

And yet, in both those cases and numerous others, people have a tendency to universalize from their own experience. (Weren't we just talking about this here recently in some other context?) This can be especially true when people have a lot of their own self-identity wrapped up in a certain experience, particularly when it's formative or traumatic. And this universalizing can be a bad thing because people can, without conscious awareness or intent, sort of place themselves in the role of spokesperson for [whatever] and not realize that with this universalizing they're invalidating differing viewpoints.

I'm middle-aged, poor, and disabled and yet I've not really noticed ageism or classism or ableism on MeFi. But that doesn't mean it's not here! And it certainly doesn't mean that others here haven't experienced what I say I have not!
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:45 PM on March 6, 2012


But I shouldn't be supported later on when I try to claim that you weren't willing to engage in discussion with me.


We have already established that nobody is under any obligation to educate anyone. "how can I learn if you don't teach me" is just as bad as the tone argument in online discussion. Anyone can pose any bad faith question at all and demand an answer.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:49 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


We have already established that nobody is under any obligation to educate anyone

Yep. Notice I'm not contesting that.

What I've been saying is that when you choose not to educate someone, you aren't entitled to fault them for their unwillingness to be educated. They may have proven quite willing, but you chose not to try.

And that's all fine until you start claiming that something they did made it impossible for you to be heard.
posted by Miko at 8:56 PM on March 6, 2012


Nah, we have had dozens of metas about how nobody wants to rehash feminism 101 every couple days.I'm more than willing but nobody will teach me how not to be a sexist! Guess it is cool to just stick to my ways.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:02 PM on March 6, 2012


FWIW, I am 24/F/White/Hindu/M.Ed/Film. I do both science/tech and humanities.

One thing that I find slightly alienating about the Blue and the Green is the degree to which people like to get into pissing contests over who is the most qualified to answer and weigh in on science/economic/politics questions or FPPs. Those comments that suddenly unleash a deluge of citations as a way to force a hand in an argument are really tiresome. We get it. You do research. How nice. Sure, I want expert input as much as the next person, but layperson input is valuable, and the very aggressive hawking of credentials that sometimes crops up doesn't lend itself to a diverse discussion at all.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:14 PM on March 6, 2012


Guess it is cool to just stick to my ways.

It's not cool in the least, but it's reasonable of others to conclude that hashing things out with a discussant who professes willingness but is insincere wastes their time and annoys the pig.
posted by Miko at 9:18 PM on March 6, 2012


And that's all fine until you start claiming that something they did made it impossible for you to be heard.

You seem to be asserting I said something that I didn't (maybe my comments were unclear?). There are two distinct claims that I was addressing. First: "I'm still calling bullshit on the idea that conservatives are scared off from commenting because all their well-reasoned opinions have been yelled at." I am saying, I know someone personally who reads Metafilter, knows a crapload about the topic that was being discussed (and isn't even particularly conservative), but absolutely will not comment, and I tried to explain why that person feels that way. Whether you think that's a valid reason for someone not to join, or whether you care, I have no idea, but it is real. It's not that it's "impossible to be heard," and I never said as much, it's that it's not worth the trouble of being called a "whore," etc., as downing street memo and others discussed.

Second, your made the claim that Metafilter is a particularly "evidence-based culture" that accounts for the political leanings it has. For some reason that escapes me, you seem to believe the argument "side A makes factually dubious statement, person B cites evidence to the contrary, side A responds with questions that person B didn't respond to because, hey, person B has to work" implies that person B is scared off because of the "evidence-based culture"--despite the fact people seem unwilling to actually present their own evidence. I'm not saying it's wrong to critique my data. I'm saying, if someone says "the ones who work the most get paid the least," someone else responds with a cite that says, no, in fact, poor people tend to work fewer hours (not generally by choice, by the way), and the first person comes back with stuff about a CEO he knows, it's bonkers to claim that if the second person says "this is a waste of my time" that it's because he can't deal with the "evidence-based culture." The reality here is, lack of evidence here presents no problems at all as long as you are on the "correct" side of an issue.

Let's ignore my own posts for a second. Look at the Cato thread:

Comment 1 - No evidence, snark
Comment 2 - No evidence, snark
Comment 3 - No evidence
Comment 4 - An actual quote from an employee...and snark
Comment 5 - An opinion, no evidence
Comment 6 - A cite! Also calling people "whores"

It gets slightly better from here. I just cannot see how any objective person would look at that and say "Members tend to revere facts and reason, and tend to dismantle rhetorical strategies that seem incomplete or superficial or imperfectly supported." That's a flattering self-image. It's also bullshit.
posted by dsfan at 9:28 PM on March 6, 2012 [14 favorites]


I'm more than willing but nobody will teach me how not to be a sexist!

I will! We can start our email correspondence course immediately. You know how to find me.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:28 PM on March 6, 2012 [23 favorites]


What I've been saying is that when you choose not to educate someone, you aren't entitled to fault them for their unwillingness to be educated. They may have proven quite willing, but you chose not to try.

I see what you're saying, Miko. But I think it's just like ... You walk into a room with 100 people, all going "White white white white white white."
"Ivory."
"Cream."
"And Eggshell. Oooh, eggshell."
"Ahem. Soot, actually. Yes. Soot."
"What!? WTF?! Steel, maybe possibly, if you're going to be a dick about it. Battleship, maybe gunmetal. But Soot? For realsies? Soot?"
"Well, yes. Soot."
"Dove's possible, periwinkle's a stretch. Soot? Lies and foolishness."
"Nevertheless, soot."

And on and on like that for 10,000 words, until you either end up going, "Yes, but I --- look, just soot, okay? Trust me, just soot. Soot. " Or alternatively, "Oh yeah? Yeah, well, soot! Coal! Midnight! CARBON NANOTUBES!!!!!!!!"

It's just exhausting, and you have to be a saint not to lose your temper, and if you know yourself well enough to know that's even a possibility you know well enough to not play, because if you do snap you've lost. it's one thing to bring your experience in on something where most people may have an opinion but not a strong one, where people accept that there may be more to X than they're currently aware of and thus open to persuasion. But in areas like politics where people have strong opinions, and shape their identity around those opinions, esp. when you can see from the get go it's going to be you vs. the horde -- that's a very different thing.
posted by Diablevert at 9:45 PM on March 6, 2012 [17 favorites]


MetaFilter: Notice I'm not contesting that.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:11 PM on March 6, 2012


Given much of the discussion in this thread, I personally would have gone for:

'MetaFilter: you vs. the horde'
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:13 PM on March 6, 2012


Although Metafilter is consistently interesting and educational, I don't think we handle race particularly well. I found the tiger mother thread spectacularly disappointing, because I have a great deal of respect for the members of the Metafilter community, and it was difficult to see so many bright people saying so many horrible things.
posted by superquail at 10:17 PM on March 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


One thing that I find slightly alienating about the Blue and the Green is the degree to which people like to get into pissing contests over who is the most qualified to answer and weigh in on science/economic/politics questions or FPPs. Those comments that suddenly unleash a deluge of citations as a way to force a hand in an argument are really tiresome. We get it. You do research. How nice. Sure, I want expert input as much as the next person, but layperson input is valuable, and the very aggressive hawking of credentials that sometimes crops up doesn't lend itself to a diverse discussion at all.

As a science person (not to flaunt my credentials), I often find those additional references are one of the best things about MeFi. It adds depth to the post. Obviously no one wants to be in the middle of a pissing contest (ohgodmentalimage), but when someone is really an expert (or even an intermediate) on a subject, I would like to hear their take. I'm probably being a hypocrite, heaven knows I don't always know what I'm talking about, but I'd rather be corrected than to go on saying the wrong thing. I don't mean to be harsh, but how is ignorance going to add to the discussion?

Is the problem that the "experts" can be dismissive? Or killjoys? I am being sincere here. I know that sometimes stuff comes up in science threads where the news is not necessarily new news to folks in the scientific community. But sometimes that's because it is bad science reporting. Or bad science! And sometimes that means they have EVEN MORE photos of glow-in-the-dark cats! I'm sure the same happens in threads about law or economics or even literature and that I am oblivious to it.

In conclusion, God bless you, physicsmatt.
posted by maryr at 10:19 PM on March 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


the very aggressive hawking of credentials that sometimes crops up doesn't lend itself to a diverse discussion at all.

Look, I actually know far more about this subject than I think you can imagine.
posted by grouse at 10:23 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just cannot see how any objective person would look at that and say "Members tend to revere facts and reason, and tend to dismantle rhetorical strategies that seem incomplete or superficial or imperfectly supported." That's a flattering self-image. It's also bullshit.

Yes. This portrayal of the liberal bias of MetaFilter as being the result of long and careful consideration of the evidence, is just self validation and nothing more.

-----

On a different note, the liberal bias also shines through in the editorializing that is allowed in some front page posts. When a post pushing a political agenda is published, with the site FAQ claiming to reject editorializing, there is an implicit endorsement of that position. This post is a good example. Does anyone think a similar post with a comparable collection of links and text would have been allowed to stay if its aim had been reframing/mocking a name like 'Pro-Choice' or even the 'Right to Healthcare'?

But that all said, I certainly don't want any overt change towards a totally neutral site. I could give a damn if there's a proportional ratio of conservatives on this site as in the U.S. or amongst English-speakers or whatever. There's no problem to fix. It's a self selecting community where a consensus has emerged on a variety of positions. Good enough. There's no profit in trying to be everything to everyone. As furiousthought pointed out no one wants to argue first principles all day long and that necessarily means we live with some bias. The bigger issue, in my opinion, is that favorites create a vivid sense of an audience that one can try to play up to and win over. However, that horse left the barn some years ago, and since I have favorites turned on now myself, I can hardly complain (but you know, I make the effort).

But it is kind of funny to read about there being a variety of conservative voices, or that well argued and supported conservative arguments are given a fair hearing.

Uh-huh.
posted by BigSky at 10:47 PM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wow... thread got long. If you actually read through to my comment, thank you, truly.

So... one of the things I don't like is to feel that I'm discriminating against people. But I do it. It's easy mental shorthand to ascribe to people who disagree with me negative qualities. I tend to see the way I view things as objectively correct, instead of one possible valid viewpoint. I can be sarcastic or even insulting to those who I disagree with. It's fun to be a little mean to people who think differently, and pleasurable to have one's dislike of those who don't conform to one's ideas reinforced by others.


That's the tendency I see sometimes on Metafilter. I'd like to encourage people to try to be more mindful about what they say, and how it may come across. If you value discourse, and I think most people on MeFi do, that means holding oneself to the same standards one would like to hold those who are completely different from oneself ideologically.

What I've found is that the gut level pleasure I get from snark is less valuable then the intellectual pleasure I get from stepping back and being humble about my own faults.
posted by gryftir at 12:34 AM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hi. Not white, otherwise yes.

I've scaled back my participation with the site a lot over the last few months. To the extent that I've participated recently, I've been very angry in, I think, inappropriate ways, and I'm sorry for that. I should not act that way.

It is disappointment. I cannot tell you guys who I am, because to do so would be to talk about my lefty religiousness, and you'd rather tell me how wrong I am than to hear me. I can't tell you guys who I am without having to wade through the preposterously prevalent casual racism against Asians, and there's a lot of that. I can't be who I am here without having to prove my validity to you, and fuck that, I don't owe that to anyone.

Theoretically I'm a fantastic candidate to feel at home here, not least because I'd love to be friends with all of you because you're smart and creative and talented. But fuck it. I can't be me in front of you without an interrogation, and I can't be me around you without living through your blithe prejudices. I'm not quitting, because I do like it here. But I'm having a hard time engaging you these days because, for real, you guys break my heart all the time, and at some point it's just too much.
posted by Errant at 1:33 AM on March 7, 2012 [28 favorites]


My son almost fits the demographic, though he's a libertarian and will turn 50 in 3 years. I couldn't get him interested, though. I've tried. Some people seem to take to this place and others just don't. It's a cultural thing, I imagine. We can point to the superficial trappings of culture, e.g. political slant, but I don't think that's what it is. In fact, I don't think we've made that much progress on answering the question desjardins proposed--as I recall, it was a how-to, not a why-not, or a let's-fight-about-whose-fault-it-is.

I think a certain amount of grar seem to be unavoidable no matter what we do to avoid it. Certain people feel sufficiently included, even if they (we?) deny it, and stick around and participate more or less. Others don't/won't. We're pretty large, all things considered. Can we improve upon it without becoming pretend nice? Despite our ability to describe our obvious missteps, I think this is the best we can do. So let's face it. We're not as perfectly inclusive as we'd like to think of ourselves.
posted by Obscure Reference at 2:28 AM on March 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


SILENCED ALL MY LIFE!
oh, that's my own foot in my mouth..
posted by a humble nudibranch at 2:51 AM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


desjardins: It's kind of weird that in a thread about diversity there have only been two people who have self-identified as non-white. I don't know what that means.

Well, I'm mixed race, and in my case it means Metafilter is pretty much OK about race. It's not perfect, but the problems are pretty small.

I find the political and economic groupthink that others have mentioned more of a problem. Even though I'm usually considered left of centre by UK standards, here I seem to be considered a right-winger, because I broadly agree with mainstream economics, in particular the marginalist theory of value; and I'm skeptical of the effectiveness of language policing on thought and society.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:04 AM on March 7, 2012


> Still, in general, no matter your orientation, I would say if you don't want your assumptions challenged, you don't want to be on MeFi.

In a sense, yes - but in another sense, I'm unconvinced that what happens when minority side meets majority side is that one side's assumptions get challenged more than the other's.

To give a relatively harmless example, MeFi is predominantly American, and as someone who isn't American I notice all sorts of ways that comes across in all parts of the site. Sometimes that's usefully assumption-challenging, but more often it's like the Ask question a few days ago where a poster with an upsetting but not life-threatening issue said something like "I know you're probably going to say 'therapy', but we don't really have that culture here, let alone in middle-of-nowhere rural England", and the very first answer was along the lines of "You should get therapy anyway, whatever the 'culture' is."

(And just in case this turns into a derail: I don't mean to denigrate the answerer, who was genuinely trying to help, nor the idea of therapy/counselling. Been helpful to me in the past! Some (well, two) of my best friends have counselling qualifications! But it is rarer in the UK, and what exists is primarily short-term crisis/grief counselling. Long-term, ongoing therapy for anything other than serious psychiatric care is uncommon, and in middle-of-nowhere rural England is pretty much unheard of outside Woody Allen movies. That OP might have less trouble getting hold of a witch doctor.)

That's not an example of the majority being bad and wrong, not at all, but neither is it really an example of one party's assumptions getting challenged more than another's. It's more like one party's assumptions getting so much purchase that they're universalised, regardless of what the other party says or does. And I worry that as someone who is in many other senses part of the majority demographic on MeFi - white, Western, university-educated, leftist - that this might be something I contribute to as well, without even realising it, by assuming that my own worldview and experiences are self-evidently the correct ones for a good, reasonable human being. If I notice this happening all the time in cases where I'm in the minority (being non-American, being religious), can I really say with a straight face that MeFi deals wonderfully with every single one of these other areas where I'm coincidentally not in a position to notice any problem?

I think challenging people's assumptions is a valuable thing. I just don't like the idea that we might, as a community, be so busy patting our own backs over how great we are at it that we totally fail to notice all the times when our assumptions override the real words, views and life experiences of others.
posted by Catseye at 3:10 AM on March 7, 2012 [12 favorites]


maryr: "As a science person (not to flaunt my credentials), I often find those additional references are one of the best things about MeFi. It adds depth to the post. Obviously no one wants to be in the middle of a pissing contest (ohgodmentalimage), but when someone is really an expert (or even an intermediate) on a subject, I would like to hear their take. I'm probably being a hypocrite, heaven knows I don't always know what I'm talking about, but I'd rather be corrected than to go on saying the wrong thing. I don't mean to be harsh, but how is ignorance going to add to the discussion? "

Heh, you've clearly never been an arachnologist (or related to one) who, about once a month, has to wade one into a spider thread. Nothing like trying to bring some information to bear when 99% of the comments are things like "NO." or "KILL IT WITH FIRE".
posted by barnacles at 3:31 AM on March 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


Miko: What I've been saying is that when you choose not to educate someone, you aren't entitled to fault them for their unwillingness to be educated. They may have proven quite willing, but you chose not to try.

How much trying is enough, then? Can I try, fail, give up, an then fault the person? Can I fault the person from the get-go if I spent a thread trying six months ago? It's not that simple, really, and the context is almost always practically impossible to discern.
posted by Dysk at 5:05 AM on March 7, 2012


Although Metafilter is consistently interesting and educational, I don't think we handle race particularly well. I found the tiger mother thread spectacularly disappointing, because I have a great deal of respect for the members of the Metafilter community, and it was difficult to see so many bright people saying so many horrible things.

That was a notably horrible thread too, that I remember even now (a year+ later). Errant said there is "preposterously prevalent casual racism against Asians" and it's something more than a few people seem to have noticed.

Maybe this is something for the mod team to keep a closer eye on?
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:30 AM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I agree, the tiger mom thread was notably bad, as was the Awkward Black Girl thread the young rope-rider linked above. I'm not sure of what sort of concrete steps there are moving forward, but in terms of desjardins' original question, the behavior in those two threads seem discouraging to me (a woman in the humanities.)

Also, I'm pretty left-leaning but largely stay out of general political threads because the discussion is so tendentious. I do think threads discussing particular events or facts can be useful, because often I learn new stuff -- I'm remembering a good Supreme Court thread, for example. But I really do think the general MeFi leanings toward snark and negativity come out particularly unpleasantly when dealing with politics. I'm all for challenging others' viewpoints, but I don't think a constant stream of one-liners is the best way to challenge others' viewpoints.
posted by lillygog at 5:45 AM on March 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, that tiger mom thread is hardly the only recent example - the Asian admissions ceiling thread was frankly horrifying as well. Honestly, when that kind of thing goes on so frequently, it doesn't paint a very flattering picture for me of exactly how reflective a lot of the anti-racism on this site is, as opposed to being used as a cheap rhetorical cudgel.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 6:00 AM on March 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm all for challenging others' viewpoints, but I don't think a constant stream of one-liners is the best way to challenge others' viewpoints.

I think this is a really coherent point about what happens and what seems to deter seemingly educated people from contributing often to threads that they might have some insight into.

It's one thing to educate someone if they're truly engaging on a subject; it's another to spend your time trying to correct snarky commenters who throw their disingenuous and plain wrong barb in and don't return to actually discuss the topic at all.

Some people don't want to know anything about the subject, they like their opinion just fine, and unfortunately they're often prevalent and early in a thread and take the discussion towards some broad, baseless comment that doesn't relate to the links provided.

The tiger mother thread is a perfect example; the second comment is a tired cliche by a serial one-line artist who never engages on a topic and it sets a really shitty tone early.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 6:01 AM on March 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


holy crap, i hadn't seen those two threads before. yuck. i guess i've been lucky in that i haven't happened to go into threads where people (who i otherwise admire!) say stuff like that...w-ow.
posted by ifjuly at 6:15 AM on March 7, 2012


I'd erased that Asian ceiling thread from my memory. What a horrible thread that was.
posted by rtha at 6:23 AM on March 7, 2012


Despite some passionate contradictions and accusations of being "self-congratulatory" about the MeFi culture, I haven't really seen anything to change my view that the general tendency is for arguments to produce and eventually come to rest on demonstrable facts.

It's somewhat telling that perhaps our most difficult points of contention, politics and religion, draw so much on personal ideology that there is a point at which evidence no longer matters and only inclination does. "How should we best govern ourselves" and "how should we conceive of the universe" are ultimately not answerable for each individual through chains of reason or through any amount of evidence. We can reason about the outcomes produced, but can't make a final objective determination on the questions themselves.

It may be that my point of view is idiosyncratic, but so very much of my own direct experience here has been coming into a discussion with a position or prejudice and gradually finding, through the arguments of others, that it needs to take new information into account, evolve, expand, deal with flaws, or in fact be reversed, that that has become my sense of what MeFi does. Not in every thread, I grant, or for every user, but in general.

I can understand people making choices about bailing out of discussions they've tired of or irritated by, even when someone on the internet is WRONG. That's your choice. I've made that choice many times in particular instances - picking one's battles makes all the sense in the world. But I still feel very strongly that though you can legitimately point to causes for why you made that choice, and ask for those conditions to be examined, you can't reasonably blame others for producing outcomes you refused to influence.

I stand by the idea that if you're willing to engage with topics in good faith, and the other parties are too (rare enough occurrence, perhaps, but it's up to each of us to determine how often that is true for ourselves), and the discussion continues, what generally happens is that people exchange enough information either to agree, agree to disagree, or arrive at a certain set of points which can come to rest. I'm not even talking about ideological threads - I'm talking about the general tendency of all topics with a non--subjective element. Sure, not everyone engages the site this way, all the time, or always wants to. Yet I would still say: that's part of the culture.
posted by Miko at 6:36 AM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's more like one party's assumptions getting so much purchase that they're universalised, regardless of what the other party says or does.

I think it's a case of the minority viewpoint having its assumptions challenged and the majority viewpoint, or "bias" of MeFi being accepted as normative. I'm not sure that's a problem, really. Maybe it's a good the-- the OP on that AskMe thread learns to move outside his/her assumptions and do something that wasn't previously considered. The people who blithely said "go to therapy, regardless of your culture" learn that it isn't universally easy for everyone to just do that as it is in the US.

Yes, there's a bias in favor of "expertise" and references and a bias against bull-sessions where people who don't actually know what they're talking about pretend to know what they're talking about, and that kind of argumentation is going to get smacked down.

At the same time, I think some of the people here are all-too-familiar with anti-vaccine, conservative, an objectivist arguments already (maybe even grew up believing them) and are unlikely to be particularly nurturing of them here.

The threads I saw recently that were trainwreck of ignorance tended to deal with urban poverty and race... namely Our Black Year and NYC High Schoolers Release 10 Point Educational Policy Plan. In both cases, a total failure of commenters to see outside themselves. MeFiers don't come across as particularly wealthy, but there's a bias towards a certain type of poverty or lower-middle-class standard of living that they understand.

On the other hand, since MeFiers, even if they aren't religious or conservative, tend to have a lot of first hand experience with both religion and conservatism, so I think the criticism they get for their "biases" on this score are unfair.
posted by deanc at 6:38 AM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would agree that there's a lot of casual anti-Asian racism on this site; I'd also say that it's improved over the past few years. When I first joined, for example, it seemed that any post that mentioned China or Japan was a race to see who could post 'ROR' first.

I also remember some fairly awful derail in which (not naming names) some fellow insisted that Asian-Americans basically mostly were involved in arranged marriages, and when Asian Americans were like, "Uh, wait, what? NOBODY I KNOW EVER has had an arranged marriage" he got all "LOOK AT YOU WITH YOUR ANECDOTES, HERE IS A VAGUE ARTICLE FROM A NEWSPAPER, QED TRY BRINGING IN SOME DATA." Basically a lot of "Let me tell ya about these people".

Oh, also as an amateur stand-up comic: Metafilter does comedy very very poorly too, because it's a race to see who can declare that they don't find this person very funny at all. It's that whole Ambrose Bierce thing: "A critic is a man who boasts himself difficult to please because nobody has ever tried."
posted by Comrade_robot at 6:38 AM on March 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


Also, you can buy me coffee any time, EmpressCallipygos!
posted by deanc at 6:52 AM on March 7, 2012


I think some of the people here are all-too-familiar with anti-vaccine, conservative, an objectivist arguments already

Again, this is a strawman, just like the idea that people are looking to be able to "mock gays". We're not talking about Santorum-style, know-nothing conservatism here; I think folks in general are talking about the false certainty that pervades discussion of progressive political proposals. Being anti-vaccine and being skeptical (in a scientific sense) about how universal healthcare or enhanced financial regulation would play out in the US are not the same thing. The latter points of view are not disrespectful to anyone, violate no rigorous body of pre-established knowledge, and are seen as offensive by the community only because they disagree with recognized viewpoints.
posted by downing street memo at 6:55 AM on March 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, Rodrigo Lamaitre and ifjuly, I respect your choices of careers/ideological viewpoints, and the fact that you guys stood up for economics here. But it's not just liberal, community-development oriented economists that deserve respect. Peoples' studies can take them in directions far afield from what you guys believe, but they still have legitimate opinions and expertise, expressed in good faith.
posted by downing street memo at 7:01 AM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


And there are still legitimate and well-grounded criticisms of all those positions, also expressable in good faith.

In other words, it's not exemption from criticism that I think should be the grail here. It's fair discussion.
posted by Miko at 7:06 AM on March 7, 2012


Maybe this is something for the mod team to keep a closer eye on?

It's something we're happy to have people give us a heads up about when they see something they think is problematic or needs attention, sure. That's a pretty key part of us being able to keep a close eye on something, especially if it's an issue of something that feels like a sort of casual, low-level anti-x bias or whatever, since otherwise we may not see it in the first place or might just not be tuned to pick up on it as much as we might.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:19 AM on March 7, 2012


In other words, it's not exemption from criticism that I think should be the grail here. It's fair discussion.

Jesus. I give up.
posted by downing street memo at 7:19 AM on March 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Huh. It's really interesting that a lot of the people in this thread are significantly older than I would have guessed. I assumed certain people were in their 20s and 30s and actually they're in their 50s and 60s. I guess it's because I can't picture my parents or stepparents (in their 60s) on this site. My mom can barely use her iPhone, and my dad types URLs into Google instead of the address bar. They're smart even if they're not adept at technology, but they would be very intimidated by many of the know-it-all people here. Many threads wouldn't be of interest to them at all, so I've found myself extrapolating that to the rest of you.

I'm glad to have my assumptions challenged.
posted by desjardins at 7:20 AM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe this is something for the mod team to keep a closer eye on?

Absolutely. We delete a lot of the ignorant lulzy comments along the lines of "ROR" but if people are seeing a problem we probably need to be looking harder. It's also a lot easier if these things wind up in MetaTalk while they are happening (or email us if MeTa is not really an option for you) so that we can look at it when we and the community can do something about it and not just look back when it's too late and say "Gee that went really badly"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:22 AM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised valkyryn's name hasn't come up as someone who's definitely conservative and theist but is mostly respectful. Perhaps that's why he doesn't seem to be attacked with the viciousness that other conservatives sometimes provoke.
posted by desjardins at 7:22 AM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Again, this is a strawman, just like the idea that people are looking to be able to "mock gays".

This cannot be re-itereated enough.

I live in Massachusetts (born and raised, lived here my whole life). Most red staters would call me a RINO, or just say outright I'm really a liberal. I am pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-civil rights, pro- pretty much every liberal social issue possible. I'm also agnostic (and if I'm really honest, bordering on atheist, but sometimes it's hard to put upbringing aside entirely).

I am all of these things, and I do not feel comfortable engaging in political discussions on MeFi.

Where I differ from the mainstream of MeFi is on issues of finance, on the role of government in the free market, on the role of government in our lives, etc. Unfortunately, my long readership of MeFi has taught me that very few mefites can accept that someone can disagree with the assumed "correct" liberal positions on these topics and not be a racist, misogynistic, homophobic theocrat who spends his days glued to Fox News, cheering on wars of choice and praying for the death of all the brown non-believers.


In other words, it's not exemption from criticism that I think should be the grail here. It's fair discussion.

Unfortunately, this comes off as really disingenous. Fair discussion would require that liberals and non-liberals be held to the same standard. What you have basically been saying this whole thread is that it's completely fair for someone's assumptions to be challenged. What you seem to be unable to fathom is that right now, there is an enormous bias towards challenging only non-liberal assumptions.

If you want to push for holding everyone equally accountable when engaging in lazy one-liners and uninformed snark, I completely agree with you. But if that's your goal, the majority of the effort required to achieve that goal is going to have to be directed at liberals.
posted by tocts at 7:25 AM on March 7, 2012 [18 favorites]


Can we talk about conservatives? OK. We'll talk about conservatives.

Right now, the political center in this country is center-right. That includes "liberals." There is some representation of the radical left here, and believe it or not, they get taken to task just as much as the conservatives are by the center.

If mainstream opinion is center-right, then "conservative" opinion is radical right. If you're a conservative, or sympathetic to conservative causes (Libertarian or Objectivist), you are a political radical, every inch as much as a Communist or Earth First environmentalist.

What's worse, being a conservative brings a lot of baggage - racism, sexism, class prejudice, religious discrimination, etc. - that cannot be shrugged off. A venue of discussion can be inclusive, or it can be respective of social conservative viewpoints...

...but it cannot be both.

We can do a better job respecting fiscally conservative viewpoints, but, for christ's sake, look around you. We are wallowing in the failure of right-leaning economic theory. I'm very sorry you're an economist with Chicago-school sympathies and people don't have a high opinion of what you do... but look around you. There is a lot of explaining fiscal conservatives need to do before they are taken seriously - that's not because this is an intolerant venue, but because we're not idiots, and read the business section of the paper like everyone else.

The overton window is returning to the center. I'm very sorry if you resent the shifting of your political views from "almost mainstream" to "kinda nutty," but it's not Metafilter's fault.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:26 AM on March 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


A lot of the issues would go away if people simply did their disagreeing with a modicum of civility.

For example, instead of saying "That's bullshit..." saying "I think you're mistaken because..."

Which is in part a reflection of whether people come from a subculture in which saying things like "That's bullshit" is a normal way to talk. There are circles in which throwing things like that around is pretty normal and it needn't mean "You are an idiot". But for people that don't come from those circles (and that would I suspect include many people who are older, non-US, from a non-tech background etc) language like that is going to make the place feel much less welcoming.

Personally (and it should go without saying this is only one datapoint, not some general truth) I have felt pretty pummeled on the site for things as various as giving some work-relationship advice that someone else declared to be BS, for making an FPP about the Dalai Lama visiting Stanford, and an FPP on a piece about the state of the Republican party.

And it's not like I'm even particularly thin-skinned or actually a Buddhist or remotely a Republican. So I can only imagine what it feels like on Mefi if you are any of those things.

But my take home from those experiences was "Don't bother trying to talk about things like that on Mefi, it's not worth the aggravation."
posted by philipy at 7:30 AM on March 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


In other words, it's not exemption from criticism that I think should be the grail here. It's fair discussion.

Well, I don't think anyone's arguing that their views should be immune from challenge. But I think you're failing to recognise that there's an inherent structural problem here, in suggesting that if people with minority views or viewpoints don't stick choose to stick up for themselves, they forfeit some grounds for complaint. It's simply this: even if the contestants are of the same weight and reach and agree to take turn exchanging one above the belt shot per round --- in other words, engage in a civil and constructive dialogue --- it's still not a fair fight if there's 100 fighters in one corner and two in the other. (An imperfect analogy, of course.)
posted by Diablevert at 7:30 AM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think it's a case of the minority viewpoint having its assumptions challenged and the majority viewpoint, or "bias" of MeFi being accepted as normative. I'm not sure that's a problem, really. Maybe it's a good the-- the OP on that AskMe thread learns to move outside his/her assumptions and do something that wasn't previously considered. The people who blithely said "go to therapy, regardless of your culture" learn that it isn't universally easy for everyone to just do that as it is in the US.

It's more that I don't think this was a case of one set of assumptions vs. another. A response like "who cares about what your culture thinks? Go to therapy anyway" is assuming that it is actually possible for the poster to do so, that "doing therapy" exists as a possible route for the OP to follow, even if people in the OP's community would frown on the choice. But the OP saying "therapy isn't really a thing where I live like it is for most of you on Ask, so what should I do instead?", I would say isn't an assumption. The OP isn't just refusing to consider going to therapy; they're pointing out that the "go to therapy" option does not exist for them as a practical option as far as they know, and then getting ignored. It just struck me as a particularly clear example of someone working out what the majority group's assumption would be, pre-emptively addressing it and explaining why it wasn't the case for them, and still getting responses which come straight from that assumption.

I don't want to single out that particular question, though, because I'm paraphrasing anyway and I don't see it as a case of anyone being combative or deliberately unhelpful. A far more serious example would be any of the gender-related threads where some female poster says "me and my friends get viciously cat-called on the street on a regular basis, and it's really unpleasant," and some male poster says "what? No, you don't, that doesn't happen, and even if it does happen sometimes I'm sure those guys don't mean it aggressively, they probably don't mean it that way at all, you're just interpreting it wrong because you're thinking like a victim". It's still the same issue, where somebody's assumption runs up against somebody else's direct experience, and the assumption isn't about to fold.

Obviously gender-related threads like that have a tendency to go on for 800 posts and spawn multiple MeTa spinoffs, etc, etc., so it's not like they in particular are slipping under the radar. But maybe other stuff is, stuff I'm not even noticing because my assumptions line up with the majority's assumptions and so it doesn't stand out to me as troublesome when they clash with other people's realities. If that's the case, I'd certainly like to believe it's a situation where my assumptions meet their assumptions and we both come away having learned a little something, but people being people, it's probably not.
posted by Catseye at 7:31 AM on March 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


downing street memo: Jesus. I give up.

I know you're frustrated, but kudos. I wish more people would do this, but some members here often fail to realize that further discussion is futile, especially when winning an argument is their primary goal.
posted by gman at 7:34 AM on March 7, 2012


Maybe this is elitist, but the overt hostility I was referring to towards theists here is a fairly consistent instance that if you believe in god or something that can't be proved by SCIENCE! you are misguided and/or dumb. I have no problem with people who don't believe in god or higher powers or astrology or any kind of woo. Really, I don't. I understand why those things can be hard to swallow. What sucks is that it is possible to be both rational/intelligent AND believe that the scientific method is not the end-all-be-all explanation to human existence.

I think any theists who feel "biased against" are saying more about their own feelings and ways of dealing with the world and its expectations than about MeFi itself.

I've read that sentence over and over and I'm having a hard time parsing what this means. On the one hand, of course a description of what I experience says a lot of my feelings and the expectations I have about MeFi--that is the whole point. On the other, just because I'm describing a personal experience does not mean that there isn't actually bias on Metafilter. Given how large this site is, how long it's been around, and how many members are part of the community, it seems reasonable that maybe other people have experiences that are not in your field of vision. I guess it's fine that you are skeptical of a claim of bias since you haven't personally witnessed it, but to be skeptical AND to imply that it's all in the heads of the people reporting the bias is fairly insulting.
posted by Kimberly at 7:37 AM on March 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm very sorry you're an economist with Chicago-school sympathies and people don't have a high opinion of what you do... but look around you.

The problem with discussion of economics here is not that people don't have a high opinion of Chicago-school economists, but that there's a vocal contingent that can't really distinguish any engagement with economic concepts or statistics more nuanced than wanting to guillotine all the bankers from being an Objectivist.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:39 AM on March 7, 2012 [13 favorites]


Jesus. I give up.

In what way did I disagree with you?

Maybe people are imagining something different than I am when I say "fair discussion." I mean listening, giving fair consideration, agreeing on terms, asking questions, accountability, and lack of insult.

I don't mean rushing to agree, or refusing to critique poorly constructed arguments, or aiming for some idea of "balance" in views represented. There are minority views of various kinds on the site, and they may remain minority views. But they can be discussed fairly without anyone expecting that they will suddenly be adopted and celebrated by everyone as the best idea ever. Polyamory is a pretty good example of something like this. We pretty much discuss it fairly, even when questions, critique and skepticism arise. But I don't think anyone expects it will become the default norm for the site, or that we need all threads on sexuality to contain a representative polyamory sector.
posted by Miko at 7:41 AM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wish more people would do this, but some members here often fail to realize that further discussion is futile, especially when winning an argument is their primary goal.

Noting that if a lot of MeFi's women had taken this tack when norms about sexism were being established, the site would be very very different, and many (most?) of those women would no longer be here at all.
posted by Miko at 7:43 AM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not falling for your trap!
posted by gman at 7:48 AM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not a trap. It's an observation.
posted by Miko at 7:53 AM on March 7, 2012


I haven't really seen anything to change my view that the general tendency is for arguments to produce and eventually come to rest on demonstrable facts.

Let me look at the most recent "political" thread I can see, Trurl's post about Eric Holder and the constitutionality of extrajudicial killings of suspected terrorists. To generalize a bit, the "left" side of this would probably be "it's definitely unconstitutional" and the "right" side (here at least) being "it's really dangerous but perhaps not unconstitutional." For the record, my gut feel on this issue is solidly to Obama's left, and probably in between the two sides presented on the post. Now let's see how fact-based the arguments are...alright, comment 1 compares the policy to Hitler. That's not so good. A few comments down...a potshot at the Cato Institute! Never mind that if the person had taken five seconds to look something up, it would be clear that this comment had no merit whatsoever. It goes on and on--what I see is the "right" side of this argument (saulgoodman, Slap*Happy, spaltavian) producing cites, and the "left" side producing mostly one-liners, with a few more constructed arguments (e.g. koeselitz).

Again, I'm saying this as someone who probably agrees more with the left of this argument, but if you actually look at what the discussion looks like, it's completely detached from reality to say that arguments are based on demonstrable facts. I don't even see people trying to address the legal cites people pull up.
posted by dsfan at 8:08 AM on March 7, 2012


> ... this sounds to me exactly like a guy going into a sexism thread and saying "I don't see what you women are complaining about, men have it bad too!"

It's exactly the same, languagehat. And, why, just pointing out that self-described conservatives aren't the only people Metafilter can be "unfair" to is exactly like smacking a woman's ass and telling her to make me a sandwich!

As for the rest of this discussion, well, it's certainly become the place to watch in full display the persecutory complexes that characterize so much of the contemporary American right. Forgive me for hoping I can watch that cross dragged for another thousand comments or more.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:12 AM on March 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


it's still not a fair fight if there's 100 fighters in one corner and two in the other. (An imperfect analogy, of course.)

I've also noticed the implication that sometimes people with a minority opinion should just "give up" and "let go now and then." This doesn't necessarily help encourage other speakers (yeah, maybe some of us do dig in and get fighty, but who knows who else you may be telling to "let it go" if you tell the fighty ones to "give up"?)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:13 AM on March 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's not a trap. It's an observation.

Can you point to evidence of MeFi women successfully winning sexism arguments and that success convincing them to stay on the site?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:26 AM on March 7, 2012


In other words, it's not exemption from criticism that I think should be the grail here. It's fair discussion.

Your implication that exemption from criticism is downing street memo's aim, instead of an atmosphere that does not presuppose conservative positions are stupid/wrong/not worthy of attention, is both an excellent example of this casually dismissive attitude towards conservative perspectives, and given the context, quite comic.
posted by BigSky at 8:29 AM on March 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Do I count as evidence?

As a frequent participant in sexism threads, I feel like we "won" in that there's way, way less casual boyzone stuff now than there used to be. And I'm still here - not in spite of those huge threads, but in large part because of them. Or, more accurately, because of the encounters I had with a lot of other people in them, some of whom have become friends, and because of what those threads helped teach me.

Of course, many women did leave, and did not come back.

*pours one out for occhiblu*
posted by rtha at 8:32 AM on March 7, 2012 [15 favorites]


Right, inspired by this thread I've posted something right-wing but (I hope) reasonable and fact-based in a politics thread on the front page (which I won't link to because it's not fair on the original poster). Let's see how that goes!
posted by alasdair at 8:33 AM on March 7, 2012


Your implication that exemption from criticism is downing street memo's aim

Why you think there was any implication there at all is unclear to me. Maybe you shouldn't be so eager to tell others what they mean.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:34 AM on March 7, 2012


MeFi is predominantly American, and as someone who isn't American I notice all sorts of ways that comes across in all parts of the site
Indeed, as a non-American, it is difficult not to see the fundamental US-centricity of Metafilter as something as a roadblock to diversity. Something like 30 to 50% of the FPPs are US-centric and a number of them are strictly US-centric, dealing with events, people or situations that can be discussed only by people with a solid grasp of the finer points of US culture.
Still, Mefites are very open-minded and seem generally well-traveled, and the majority of FPPs are not about the US, but even then the discussions tend to go through the usual American political and cultural filters. This very thread is a good example, as much of the discussion requires a good understanding of the American (and highly idiosyncratic) political divide. Unfortunately, trying to provide a non-American or a non-anglophone viewpoint is particularly challenging because 1) preemptively adding the necessary background information takes a lot of work and 2) it may miss the target anyway because cultural gaps are often wider than they seem. In fact such viewpoints are often best provided by anglophone expats and bicultural people, who do a great job bridging those gaps (Dee Xtrovert gave us fantastic comments about the Balkans, for instance) but they still remain minority viewpoints. To be fair, I don't think there's a good solution to this.
posted by elgilito at 8:37 AM on March 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


The problem with discussion of economics here is not that people don't have a high opinion of Chicago-school economists, but that there's a vocal contingent that can't really distinguish any engagement with economic concepts or statistics more nuanced than wanting to guillotine all the bankers from being an Objectivist.

Come off it. That's not even close to being the majority opinion - it's very close to being a strawman, if not actually propped up on a pole to scare away crows.

Since this is an inclusive website, there are going to be a few people from the hard left. Demanding they shut up their founts of nonsense so their mirror-universe counterparts can have the floor to spout nonsense of their own is... umm... not inclusive or productive. At all.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:40 AM on March 7, 2012


desjardins: "I'm surprised valkyryn's name hasn't come up as someone who's definitely conservative and theist but is mostly respectful. Perhaps that's why he doesn't seem to be attacked with the viciousness that other conservatives sometimes provoke."

The operative word being "mostly".
posted by zarq at 8:47 AM on March 7, 2012


Another group that hasn't been brought up in this thread - I know a few people who self-identify as fat that have left mefi over sizeist (is that a word?) posts/comments.
posted by desjardins at 8:49 AM on March 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Can you point to evidence of MeFi women successfully winning sexism arguments and that success convincing them to stay on the site?

I feel that we basically had enough conversations about how we-as-a-community felt about casual rape jokes not being okay and how people needed to do better at conversations about sex and gender that we don't have to rehash the same old arguments in every thread about gender issues so people can discuss the actual topics of the threads.

I also feel that it's a less volatile place for trolling in gender threads because people as a group are more confident with that sort of thing not being okay and are better at not engaging with trollish comments because they seem more way out of left field and not representing some sort of site zeitgeists. Of course we all know the people who left and not the people who, upon reflection, stayed, but I think we've been able to walk the talk more in terns of discussions about sex and gender specifically because we laid the groundwork with a lot of conversations about why certain sorts of jokey comments or aggressive comments aren't or don't feel okay to the community at large. i think this has had a positive effect on all sorts of people feeling more comfortable here, not just specific women.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:50 AM on March 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Do I count as evidence?

Always!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:50 AM on March 7, 2012


> I haven't really seen anything to change my view that the general tendency is for arguments to produce and eventually come to rest on demonstrable facts.

That's because you think reality has a liberal bias, so if an argument eventually comes to rest on a liberal position (perhaps because conservatives have given up, which to you is a signe of reprehensible weakness and perhaps admission of inadequacy), hey, demonstrable facts have won!
posted by languagehat at 8:53 AM on March 7, 2012 [12 favorites]


we don't have to rehash the same old arguments in every thread about gender issues so people can discuss the actual topics of the threads.

Hey, Miko brought up as an example and since she said Mefi is an "an evidence-based culture", was curious if she was going to provide evidence.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:56 AM on March 7, 2012


desjardins: "Another group that hasn't been brought up in this thread - I know a few people who self-identify as fat that have left mefi over sizeist (is that a word?) posts/comments."

I posted the last Meta about the Chris Christie thread back in October. I thought it went reasonably well (amusingly enough, there was a running conversation about tasty food throughout,) but I honestly have no clue if it was even worth bringing up. People chimed in, but it didn't seem as if minds were changed.

Whatever happened to the mefite who was claiming that fat people were mentally deficient, anyway? Mr. Sinewy Man Beauty? Is he still around? We should all chip in and buy him some McDonalds and a beer.

At least one or two people also brought up other threads that also hadn't gone well recently. One about someone who was deaf. Another about a disabled student. Apparently we don't necessarily do disabilities well, either.
posted by zarq at 9:01 AM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


if an argument eventually comes to rest on a liberal position (perhaps because conservatives have given up, which to you is a signe of reprehensible weakness and perhaps admission of inadequacy), hey, demonstrable facts have won!

Whereas, if we've learned anything from this discussion so far, the more likely case is that any argument at Metafilter which eventually comes to rest on a liberal position is indicted merely by being a liberal position at Metafilter because, like the power structure reinforces the dominant discourse, man.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:06 AM on March 7, 2012


Someone commented in the Rush Limbaugh/Sandra Fluke that Rush was evil because he'd cheated on his wives, he's been a drug addict and ... he's deaf. WTF. I called him/her out on it, but what would possess someone to say that?
posted by desjardins at 9:08 AM on March 7, 2012


I've heard people specifically get all "oh the IRONY" about the fact that Rush is specifically a deaf loudmouth, which in isolation I kind of get but yeah it's really easy to try and make that wee clever point and instead sound like you're just being a dickass about people with hearing impairment. I have no idea if that was what was going on with the comment you're talking about, though.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:11 AM on March 7, 2012


I believe the joke is "He has the face for radio and the ears for mime."
posted by octobersurprise at 9:16 AM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can you point to evidence of MeFi women successfully winning sexism arguments and that success convincing them to stay on the site?

Yeah, I'm evidence.

Not that I would put the arguments in terms of "winning" but in terms of "producing enough discussion and strong argument to shift to community norms."

There is a small library of specific threads in which this was hashed out over a few years. Several of them are linked in here - they exist and can be found, though I'm off to a meeting and can't do it right now. But plenty of people will testify to the fact that the results of sexism arguments allowed them to stay on the site. Here's one from the MeFi 10 memories.

That's because you think reality has a liberal bias, so if an argument eventually comes to rest on a liberal position (perhaps because conservatives have given up, which to you is a signe of reprehensible weakness and perhaps admission of inadequacy), hey, demonstrable facts have won!

Not really, languagehat. In fact, I refer more to mostly non-political threads. I realized that since I avoid most overtly ideologically political threads, and tend to only encounter discussion of subject tangentially when something about income/economics/poverty/wealth or food systems or something about gender and law is posted, I may not have such a clear idea of what in fact goes on in political threads, and perhaps they're quite a bit shittier and stupider than I imagine.

I stand by my characterization of my experience of the site culture taken as a whole. From AskMes about cast-iron pan seasoning to discussions of science news or whatever it may be, people challenge each other, demand facts or testimonials, and get them. Whether that always extends to all overtly political threads - well, I suppose I'm not the best person to comment on that after all. It could be that they invite such a specific subset of people with already-entrenched inclinations that the general norms are less influential there. I haven't noticed this tendency really, but when I think about it honestly, I'm not in a lot of political threads. The topical threads I end up in, which can have a political bent, don't seem to degenerate to the degree some folks are talking about.
posted by Miko at 9:17 AM on March 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


evil because he'd cheated on his wives, he's been a drug addict and ... he's deaf.

I'm also not exactly thrilled that people equate having affairs, using drugs or having drug problems with being evil either.
posted by philipy at 9:28 AM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hell is other people.
posted by Miko at 9:29 AM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not if you're cannibal.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:31 AM on March 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


What if you're a cannibal on a diet?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:36 AM on March 7, 2012


Have finger food.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:37 AM on March 7, 2012 [13 favorites]


People should probably get better at not calling people "evil" in the first place. It's such a fraught word that will often if used even slightly vaguely just starts a total side argument. There are many different and creative ways to say that Rush Limbaugh is a bad man who does bad things and should probably have negative repercussions from that. But it's facile and not particularly useful to just say he's "evil" and I think setting that sort of thing up makes people feel justified in their own shitty behavior on the site because fighting evil is righteous.

My feeling on this may be informed by my general agnostic nature. I feel that if you call something evil it's basically saying that someone was just born bad, or otherwise is incapable of turning things around or listening to reason and so you sort of absolve them [and yourself] of any responsibility for changing the situation. My feeling is that nearly all situations are more complex than they appear and it's worth spending at least a little bit of time figuring out what's going on when bad things happen so you can respond more effectively (for yourself, in line with your own values, but also to others who may not share your outlook or your values) and not just be part of the "things will never change!" problem.

So I think there are a lot of folks on MeFi who, for whatever reason, really like to dislike things. There's some feedback loop that works for them, or whatever. They need to not just dislike or hate things, they need to do it out loud, in front of everyone. As I've said before, there's a big difference between having something affect you negatively emotionally, and letting that negative emotion slop over into your comments here or the way you treat other people who are not actually the subject of your ire. The latter can ruin threads, even of people who generally agree with each other, and quickly. And I think, for better or worse, people often respond to what they perceive to be the weight of a comment which is often seen as content+delivery. So annoying content presented in a "here is something to know" way is one thing, annoying content presented in a "Listen to me you stupid piece of shit" way is a different comment even though the actual factual content is the same.

I just wish for this site that all the people who say "Well we should do less of this even if I'm often guilty of it myself..." could find a way to be more actively working on whatever that thing is and less expecting other people to change while they can't or won't.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:43 AM on March 7, 2012 [17 favorites]


I feel that if you call something evil it's basically saying that someone was just born bad, or otherwise is incapable of turning things around or listening to reason and so you sort of absolve them [and yourself] of any responsibility for changing the situation.

That does sound like Rush Limbaugh.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:46 AM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


"There is a small library of specific threads in which this was hashed out over a few years. Several of them are linked in here - they exist and can be found, though I'm off to a meeting and can't do it right now. But plenty of people will testify to the fact that the results of sexism arguments allowed them to stay on the site. Here's one from the MeFi 10 memories."

It was a hard-won victory and both at that time and prior there were quite a few people who left the site because of sexism. People left the site because of the arguments about sexism.

It is an example of MeFi becoming less hostile and more inclusive as a result of complaints and discussion, but it also is an example of how truly difficult and traumatic it can be to accomplish such things.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:55 AM on March 7, 2012


It does seem to me like we've had an awful lot of "rage against the Republicans" threads in recent days. Not much to say in them more than comment after comment with variations of "those guys suck, amirite?"
posted by crunchland at 9:56 AM on March 7, 2012


I'm someone who's stayed since the sexism has been cleaned up. It was awful before. MeFi has no where to go but up, at this point, with all the great mod attention.
posted by agregoli at 9:59 AM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why you think there was any implication there at all is unclear to me. Maybe you shouldn't be so eager to tell others what they mean.

?!

In the post Miko is responding to downing street memo says, "I think folks in general are talking about the false certainty that pervades discussion of progressive political proposals. Being anti-vaccine and being skeptical (in a scientific sense) about how universal healthcare or enhanced financial regulation would play out in the US are not the same thing. The latter points of view are not disrespectful to anyone, violate no rigorous body of pre-established knowledge, and are seen as offensive by the community only because they disagree with recognized viewpoints." One might characterize this as a request for "fair discussion" on these issues.

Miko's response does not acknowledge the conditions pointed to by downing street memo, instead she tells him what the desired goal should be, i.e. fair discussion. This isn't said by way of agreement, as in "I too think the goal should be fair discussion." but by contrasting it to "exemption from criticism". The contrast implies that she is distinguishing her own position from the preceeding comment.

Now maybe I shouldn't be so willing to tell others what they mean, but I'll go ahead and take another step down that path. My take on downing street memo's reply is that a number of Mefites agree with the above. Maybe we're all missing something, maybe just me.
posted by BigSky at 10:11 AM on March 7, 2012


It does seem to me like we've had an awful lot of "rage against the Republicans" threads in recent days. Not much to say in them more than comment after comment with variations of "those guys suck, amirite?"

Yeah, 'tis the season. Which will last until election day. Sigh. Do we dare hope to escape this year's circus without a repeat of a billion-comment Palin-type thread?
posted by rtha at 10:19 AM on March 7, 2012


No, because surely the VP choice this time around will be even more terrifying.

*weeps*
posted by elizardbits at 10:33 AM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can escape a billion-comment Palin-type thread by not reading it.
posted by Flunkie at 10:38 AM on March 7, 2012


Man I wish.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:39 AM on March 7, 2012 [14 favorites]


We're getting better at the "Make a better post about this if you want it to stand" process and we'll definitely be more hardline about posts that seem to just be politics outragefilter. We want the election season in the US to not become something that everyone on MetaFilter dreads or that causes a mass departure of users. As always we'd love it if there was a spin-off site specifically for political discussions, but that's a tough thing to do and do right so I'm not crossing my fingers for that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:42 AM on March 7, 2012


I joined two and a half years ago, after a lot of the really big boyzone stuff had gone down. When I go back and read stuff on this site from before that happened -- like when people link to old AskMes and such -- the casual, revolting sexism is like a punch to the gut. No, it's not everywhere, but it is surprisingly common. I am very, very glad I was introduced to Metafilter after all of that went down, because boy howdy is it better now.

The theism thing is interesting. I'm a progressive Christian who came to belief in adulthood, having been raised an atheist, so I don't have any childhood history or personal culture stuff wrapped up in my theistic beliefs. The one thing that always makes me giggle or chaps my hide, depending on how I'm feeling that day, is when people who don't believe in god tell me that because my belief doesn't involve a lot of the stuff that goes along with cultural Christianity, that I'm believing in god wrong. That's just gobsmacking, although it's been a lot less common in recent months.
posted by KathrynT at 10:43 AM on March 7, 2012 [13 favorites]


I'd hate to be a cop on mefi. No one has a kneejerk reaction of "pig" or "fascist tool of the elite" when I say I'm a project coordinator ("cog in the capitalist machine," maybe).
posted by desjardins at 10:50 AM on March 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


desjardins: I'd hate to be a cop on mefi. No one has a kneejerk reaction of "pig" or "fascist tool of the elite" when I say I'm a project coordinator ("cog in the capitalist machine," maybe).

I rarely see anyone here call them that. In fact, I think jessamyn, cortex, and the rest of them have it pretty darn good.
posted by gman at 10:58 AM on March 7, 2012


My feeling on this may be informed by my general agnostic nature.

Yes, I was going to point out that "evil" is a notion derived from the worldviews and conceptual frameworks of (certain) religions, which is why I personally would most likely never use it about anyone .

In one way it's rather strange that people that are vehemently non-religious would use such terms.

But from another POV it's not strange at all given what we know about human psychology. People parse the world through a bunch of concepts and filters that they've acquired mostly unconsciously, which set of concepts doesn't have to be internally consistent at all, and has little to do with what they intellectually believe.

The brain cannot actually make sense of the world without bringing a lot of prior expectations about what it is going to see into the process of perception and sense-making.

So next time someone picks out some seeming random thing from your post, interprets it in a way you never meant, and gets mad at you.... remember, that is how the human brain works. That is how *your* brain works too, and you will do the same unless you are actively taking steps to mitigate against it.

One such "mitigation" step is a presumption of innocence. i.e. Seriously consider the idea that they might have meant well in what they said, and you somehow got the wrong end of the stick.

Or for instance, consider the possibility that they're not a liar or a hypocrite, but they have simply failed to see the inconsistencies between some of the things they believe. Because in reality (as per above remarks) we are all failing to see inconsistencies between our beliefs all of the time.

Anyway, here's BBC Horizon on What makes us good or evil? (1/4) . (Short review and summary) Food for thought before throwing around such terms.
posted by philipy at 10:59 AM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


rtha: " Do we dare hope to escape this year's circus without a repeat of a billion-comment Palin-type thread?"

A Paul / Christie ticket might actually destroy the site....
posted by zarq at 11:19 AM on March 7, 2012


Hey guys here's an easy way to help! Let's get some answers to this question!

I.... tried to google up some stuff on my own, but didn't have much luck. =( And I basically only read one webcomic at this point, so I'm pretty well disconnected from webcomics circles.
posted by kavasa at 11:21 AM on March 7, 2012

I rarely see anyone here call them that. In fact, I think jessamyn, cortex, and the rest of them have it pretty darn good.
She's talking about actual police officers, I believe.
posted by kavasa at 11:22 AM on March 7, 2012


No, she was talking about S.M.A.T. (Special Moderation and Tactics)
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:24 AM on March 7, 2012


, for making an FPP about the Dalai Lama visiting Stanford, and an FPP on a piece about the state of the Republican party.

And it's not like I'm even particularly thin-skinned or actually a Buddhist or remotely a Republican.


I'm a Buddhist and it was feeling like I had to defend the Dalai Lama from accusations of being a rampant homophobe (?!) that made me quit the site under my previous name.

I eventually came back, but I certainly hadn't planned on it at the time. I took a BND kind of as a reminder to keep a little more distance between myself and the 'Filter. I certainly never post about things I care deeply about anymore. I think it's probably a healthier attitude to take towards the internet in general, but there is something about holding myself back that means that I just don't engage with the site as much in general. Certainly there's less GRAR in my life this way, but there's also just less MetaFilter.
posted by sonika at 11:24 AM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I rarely see anyone here call them that. In fact, I think jessamyn, cortex, and the rest of them have it pretty darn good.

There's a definite kneejerk anti-police sentiment regardless of the words used.

My husband doesn't frequent mefi much anymore because of his perception that it's anti-military (he's a veteran).
posted by desjardins at 11:34 AM on March 7, 2012


As always we'd love it if there was a spin-off site specifically for political discussions, but that's a tough thing to do and do right so I'm not crossing my fingers for that.

People didn't like feeling pushed from their "home" to some low rent shack down by the docks.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:47 AM on March 7, 2012


My husband doesn't frequent mefi much anymore because of his perception that it's anti-military (he's a veteran).

I think that's a fair perception, depending on where you are. The green, probably just due to its larger userbase, seems to have a lot of knowledgable veterans hanging around and answering military questions.
posted by Think_Long at 11:51 AM on March 7, 2012


My husband doesn't frequent mefi much anymore because of his perception that it's anti-military (he's a veteran).

It's definitely skewed anti-war, anti-military action. I bet some of the comments to that effect would be easy to take personally. The police thing though...there's a reason they're held to a higher standard, and it's also why it's so disappointing and enraging to see police breaking the law or abusing their position. Generally speaking people should bear in mind that the police also do a hell of a lot of good, but "police officer arrests guy committing crime, totally by the book" isn't really going to wind up as an FPP. The police threads are typically about asshole cops doing asshole things, which is going to invite comments to that effect.
posted by Hoopo at 11:51 AM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

My husband doesn't frequent mefi much anymore because of his perception that it's anti-military (he's a veteran).
FWIW, I've never felt attacked for relating my experiences or opinions related to being a vet. Although it's also true that there's a degree to which people will make comments about how soldiers are trained to evil etc. I guess for whatever reason those don't really bother me, although maybe that's because I have some ambivalence about how ethical my decision to enlist could have been.
I'm a Buddhist and it was feeling like I had to defend the Dalai Lama from accusations of being a rampant homophobe (?!) that made me quit the site under my previous name.
I googled some stuff and I could see why that would happen. One of the things that came up in my googling was this blog post. Maybe it can explain some of the bitterness/anger that people might have felt?
posted by kavasa at 11:53 AM on March 7, 2012


some low rent shack down by the docks.

That would be a cozy semi-detached that features seasonal waterviews and single-level living, just minutes from everything! Needs some TLC, but is "move-in-ready!"
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:55 AM on March 7, 2012


I miss group liveblog snarking the political events back in 2008, the debates and such, over on politicalfilter, but, yeah, that's great as a peak-level event but not so much a practical thesis for a website that'll stick around all year.

What would be maybe ideal was a like Political Discussion Party Bus that you could catch from the front page, maybe an every-fifteen-minutes sort of shuttle route. Hop on, liveblog the shit out whatever's up, then go to the bar after and call it good. Get it out of your system, come back to Mefi with a little bit of a hangover maybe but otherwise ready to discuss seriously just anything other than election politics.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:00 PM on March 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


This thread reminds me of those conversations you sometimes randomly get into with a partner when someone asks "So, what do you think could be better about our relationship?" even when things are going fairly fine.
posted by Miko at 12:07 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is exactly why the sheets are regularly changed in the guest room.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:10 PM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I remember when the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree closed down its politics sub-board and the regular disputants made a mass exodus out to a new board that they built and moderated themselves. It was sort of like Lord of the Flies - the initial rush of enthusiasm as the new moderators cast off all of the constraining adults rules of the mother community, the slow descent into savagery, drama and the reign of the trolls.

I still look back in there once in a while, and I don't think a new member has joined in years - it's just the same few diseased personalities that still haven't left, rehashing the same obnoxious debates they've been having for ten years. At this point I think you could simulate the whole thing with a moderately complicated Python script that took Google News headlines as its only input.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 12:15 PM on March 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think it was the "women can now serve in submarines" thread that made my husband perceive the anti-military sentiment, because some of the comments implied or directly stated that male submariners wouldn't behave themselves. He felt his word as a former submariner would be discounted.

(He served before the Iraq/Afghanistan debacles, and he's now very much anti-war, fwiw.)
posted by desjardins at 12:19 PM on March 7, 2012


I am the author of the deaf Rush comment.

My equation was not intended deaf = evil.

My equation was intended (the addiction, the multiple ex-wives, and the deafness) = (more deserving of a little sympathy than unadulterated scorn).

I would have replied in the thread but I never read desjardins' comment 'til now.

I didn't say he is evil. I said he is sick and I said he is a shithead.
posted by bukvich at 12:30 PM on March 7, 2012


Hey! The gender split is news to me. The only awkward threads for me are the discussions full of females seething about the victimhood of living in a world (or being in a thread) where not every single biological woman lives according to their special snowflakey version of the feminine gender. That's happened a couple of times, maybe three, ever so it's not a theme or anything.

Must have missed the boys club threads - or simply forgot about them because I'm an empty-headed female who just can't keep up with all these things the menfolk do.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 12:35 PM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


My take on downing street memo's reply is that a number of Mefites agree with the above.

You're wrong, but in the spirit of good feelings, let's agree that we're both right. So I'll concede that you're right and you can say that I'm right. Ok?
posted by octobersurprise at 12:54 PM on March 7, 2012


My take on downing street memo's reply is that a number of Mefites agree with the above.

You're right!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:56 PM on March 7, 2012


Shouldn't you people be off madly refreshing Apple's website right now?
posted by Burhanistan at 1:00 PM on March 7, 2012


Thanks, pinky!
posted by octobersurprise at 1:02 PM on March 7, 2012


Anytime, tober!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:07 PM on March 7, 2012


Shouldn't you people be off madly refreshing Apple's website right now?

Does it have a name, like say iPad 3? Or is it just "the new iPad"?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:10 PM on March 7, 2012


iPad Bob
posted by Burhanistan at 1:12 PM on March 7, 2012


I shall call it George.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:28 PM on March 7, 2012


Can you point to evidence of MeFi women successfully winning sexism arguments and that success convincing them to stay on the site?

Pointing to myself also, though I think Miko and desjardins have added a lot more to the discourse than I have. I remember the boyzone days and the boyzone wars, and that was pretty fucking crappy. Thanks to mat and jessamyn and cortex in particular for the amount of de-boyzoning that has gone on.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:50 PM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, and also KathrynT has contributed a lot more than I have. Hopefully I haven't forgotten anyone else who pointed to themselves. Also wanting to shout out for muddgrrl (if I am spelling her name incorrectly, I apologize) who has been a heroine of the revolution.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:52 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, and also KathrynT has contributed a lot more than I have. Hopefully I haven't forgotten anyone else who pointed to themselves. Also wanting to shout out for muddgrrl (if I am spelling her name incorrectly, I apologize) who has been a heroine of the revolution.
Also Nattie's sidebarred post in the schroedinger's rapist thread was awesome and I have linked several people to it over the years and almost without fail gotten a "woah, I had no idea" response.
posted by kavasa at 2:39 PM on March 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


I would agree that the overall atmosphere is much friendlier than it was back in those days. Things that got a "meh, try to be cool, if possible" back then get a "No, seriously, cut that shit out" now, and I approve of that.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:39 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I googled some stuff and I could see why that would happen. One of the things that came up in my googling was this blog post. Maybe it can explain some of the bitterness/anger that people might have felt?

To sum up: because he has not come out in favor of same-sex marriage, he is not using his position to further gay rights and thus is a homophobe. A tiny bit more complex - but that's the jist.

And it's not that I don't understand the sentiment. It's that the article I posted had absolutely nothing to do with gay rights and that's immediately what this turned into and it just had a nasty feeling. Don't get me wrong, I'm a proud queer and GLBT rights are extremely important to me, but the message that I was hearing - that if you're not using your power to advance GLBT rights, then whatever you *are* doing is worthless - really bummed me out and I just couldn't stand to be defending the Dalai Lama. It just was too surreal for me.

It's not that I didn't understand the argument or see the other side's point, it just wasn't germane to what I had posted and felt really exhausting to have to be that concerned about one issue all of the time. Anyhow, that's really enough said on one thread that happened years ago! I think we all moved on and I did (obvs) come back to the site after cooling down and re-assessing how personal I wanted my involvement to be.
posted by sonika at 3:17 PM on March 7, 2012


I'm a little late to this party, but, then again, I feel like a flashback to five years ago so maybe I was really early.....

Same conversation. Same confused attempts at denying a self-evident problem. Just the usernames are different. One thing is the same: Keith (I_F) and languagehat exhibit a humanity and charitable perspective that, if embraced by all, would obviate the problem.

There's a lot of people saying "oh I don't comment because I know they'll yell at me," and vague allusions to prior events, but so far a single link has been provided.

I've never seen that happen. Never. Nope, has to be a complete myth. Can't be any evidence of this. Impossible to find.

(Those must be some super-powerful blinders you got there....)
posted by dios at 4:15 PM on March 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Same confused attempts at denying a self-evident problem.

Yourself-evident, maybe. But add a little insult to your naked assertion, that'll make your plea for sweetness and light all the more reasonable.

There's a lot of people saying "oh I don't comment because I know they'll yell at me,"

Oh, I believe this. For about a year after the invasion of Iraq, I pretty much gave up on this place because it wasn't worth being badgered by the yahoos slavering for war.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:17 PM on March 7, 2012


Well I have only been a member for six months and I am an old, uneducated white women. I'm not sure what a URL is or a meme. But I know what a Brony is and I learned that here.

Metafilter has been a wonderful addition to my life, for the most part. I have been afraid of posting at times because so many of you write so well and I am insecure about my own abilities in that area. But I believe reading good writing helps improve one's own writing. So I read and on occasion respond. It can be a scary place to interact, but so what. A lot of things are scary. The thing I appreciate the most about this site, and why I keep coming back is the exposure to information and idea's that are new to me.

I have been guilty of making a terrible comment and was thankfully modded when I could not mod myself. I am hoping that I learned my lesson and will walk away from my computer rather than being a bitch in the future.
posted by cairnoflore at 6:35 PM on March 7, 2012 [18 favorites]


On Metafilter, nobody knows you're 20-50 years old, Western, IT/humanities/sciences, more likely to be male. Your profile can give as much, or as little, accurate or fanciful information as you like.
posted by theora55 at 6:37 PM on March 7, 2012


I'm actually a cat.
posted by maryr at 6:48 PM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm Linda Blair.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:49 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm actually a cat.

I'm sick and tired of your kind.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:51 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


It was a kitty thread that I got modded out of...No more kitties for me.
posted by cairnoflore at 7:27 PM on March 7, 2012


I remember when MetaTalk threads this long were full of really funny jokes.
posted by bendy at 8:29 PM on March 7, 2012


I remember when MetaTalk threads this long were full of really funny jokes.

My daugther, who is five, usually makes up really horrible jokes. But she's getting better.

A couple of her recent ones:

Q: What animal wears plaid?
A: A plaid-ipus!

Q: What did the baby broom say to the mama broom when the mama broom tried to wake her up?
A: Leave me alone, I'm sweeping!

Much, much better than the ones that used to have her rolling on the floor.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:04 PM on March 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


What's the same about a plum and an elephant?
They're both purple, except the elephant isn't.
posted by philip-random at 9:11 PM on March 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Q: Knock knock.

A: Who's there?

A: Rude interrupting cow.

Q: Rude interrup...

A: MOO MOO MOO MOO MOO!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:42 PM on March 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I visited the National Air and Space Museum. I believe the title is misleading because it is actually full of stuff.
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:47 PM on March 7, 2012 [18 favorites]


I never wanted to believe that my Dad was stealing from his job as a road worker. But when I got home, all the signs were there.
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:48 PM on March 7, 2012 [21 favorites]


What do you do if you're attacked by a group of clowns?
Go for the juggler.
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:49 PM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


20-50 years, Western Unicode [*], IT-tending-to-humanities, male.

I suppose there aren't many in these parts who'd involuntarily pronounce Ta-Ta each time they see the Reddit-isque emoticon, ಠ_ಠ.
posted by the cydonian at 2:06 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's very obvious from this thread that attacks on Arabs, Asians, "rednecks" and anybody else that is not part of MetaFilter's core group of American. white, upper middle class, urban professionals are not going to stop. There is a consensus that a) such attacks never occur on MetaFilter, b) that these attacks (which don't actually ever happen) are always totally justified and c) we don't really want diversity here anyway.

For those of you who do actually care, flag personal attacks and over the top bigoted rants, even if you're not the person being attacked or you're not a member of the group, class or ethnicity being demonized or denigrated. And consider responding in thread a little, especially if it's something the mods are unlikely to delete. Do it anyway, even if you also disagree with the person being attacked. You don't have to attack a person's class background or ethnicity just because you disagree with them about something.

It's our inaction and our silence (and the mods' inaction) that makes this kind of thing OK on MetaFilter.
posted by nangar at 2:27 AM on March 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


I suppose there aren't many in these parts who'd involuntarily pronounce Ta-Ta each time they see the Reddit-isque emoticon, ಠ_ಠ.

Heh. How do you say "underscore character" in Kannada?
posted by nangar at 2:31 AM on March 8, 2012


Whether that always extends to all overtly political threads - well, I suppose I'm not the best person to comment on that after all

What. Most of the contention here is ABOUT the political threads, I thought. So perhaps, yes, you are really not the best person to comment about this.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 3:56 AM on March 8, 2012


One of my cousin's jokes, when she was about six:

Q. Why did the turkey cross the road?

A. It was stapled to the chicken.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:44 AM on March 8, 2012


Q. Why did the turkey cross the road?

I've heard that one before, but with frog in place of turkey.

Which really - works much better. It's way easier to staple a frog.
posted by sonika at 5:56 AM on March 8, 2012


Why did the cat go to jail after testifying?

She was guilty of purrjury!
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 5:56 AM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is a consensus that a) such attacks never occur on MetaFilter, b) that these attacks (which don't actually ever happen) are always totally justified and c) we don't really want diversity here anyway.

This is a misreading of what many people have been saying above. You feel what you feel, of course, but I think many people including the mods have been pretty outspoken about wanting to do a better job on some of this.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:14 AM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


What. Most of the contention here is ABOUT the political threads, I thought.

Weeelll, it started out being more like "conservative viewpoints aren't welcome" and those viewpoints pop up in more than just the threads I called "overtly political" for that reason. They pop up in all kinds of discussions which have a political aspect but aren't about politics per se.

It seems likely to me since those don't usually go off the rails all that badly that my sense of what happens to people espousing conservative viewpoints in other kinds of threads isn't as sharply developed. I really don't go into too many threads that confine themselves to political topics, and as a result I don't think I see as many random pot-shots and lazy discussion as people say they are experiencing.
posted by Miko at 6:24 AM on March 8, 2012


My wife's son made up a joke when he was younger (about 8 I think):

What did The Hulk say to the broccoli?

Why're you mad?
posted by Brockles at 6:31 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


the Reddit-isque emoticon, ಠ_ಠ. --- Oh, is that where that annoying emoticon comes from?
posted by crunchland at 6:34 AM on March 8, 2012


It was a kitty thread that I got modded out of...No more kitties for me.

Well, now I'm curious. I'm not sure anyone's ever been deleted out of a cat thread. I award you the special snowflake prize!
posted by desjardins at 6:38 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


cairnoflore was probably reappropriating 'pussy'.
posted by de at 6:46 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nah, cats are a shockingly contentious topic.
posted by Miko at 6:55 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


> This is a misreading of what many people have been saying above.

Fair criticism, jessamyn. A lot of people seem to think there's no problem, but not all of them. And certainly you and other members of the mod team haven't been saying there's not a problem.
posted by nangar at 6:58 AM on March 8, 2012


Late to the party, gotta say that I have never seen anti-boomer ageism here and I'm another one like mexicanyenta who participated fully in the sixties and lived to tell the tales.
posted by mareli at 7:12 AM on March 8, 2012


Miko: "Nah, cats are a shockingly contentious topic."

Definitely. To declaw or not. To neuter or not. Kitty mills and inbreeding. Versus dogs as pets. Etc., etc.
posted by zarq at 7:18 AM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


One thing I just noticed in myself is that I'm reluctant to flag snark in part because it feels to me like there's something of "ratting to teacher" about it. That's not the only reason I never flag, but it's part of it.

I wonder that the community and the mods feel about that.

Also I don't really know where to draw the line between ill-informed snarky comments that are maybe just best passed over, and offensive/hurtful remarks that should be deleted and/or result in some rapping of knuckles or other intervention to prevent their re-occurence.
posted by philipy at 7:29 AM on March 8, 2012


How do you mill kitties?
posted by nangar at 7:39 AM on March 8, 2012


I wonder that the community and the mods feel about that.

We have explained patiently and repeatedly that we can't be everywhere at once and the flag queue helps draw our attention to things that might require mod action or just someone keeping an eye on. Since the site has been large enough to require multiple moderators, we've had the flagging feature specifically for the purpose of assisting the moderators in doing our jobs.

People are welcome not to use it, but it's a mechanism that is specifically built to assist in some of the problems that people have been discussing above. So, as much as this site is community policing (meaning we consider it everyone's responsibility to help keep it running smoothly through their own actions and keeping an eye on the actions of others), most people agree that there are times when the community can't do certain things that may need doing like giving someone the night off, deleting weird racist trolling, or other sorts of root-level actions. We differ as a community on where that line should be drawn but I think very few people who enjoy MetaFilter would like it if it were truly unmoderated.

So, given that the site is moderated and this is a not-up-for-discussion part of how it runs, the next step is "Okay how should that moderation take place and with what sorts of inputs?" Again, people disagree on where that line should be drawn. We have the flagging queue available to people as well as other ways of communicating including the contact form, MetaTalk, MeMail, IM and Twitter. I feel personally that for people who want less moderation on the site, sure, don't use the flag feature (except maybe to flag things as fantastic) but for everyone else, the feature is intended to help us do our jobs. We never act on the flags alone, there's always a human judgment call as well. So if you're not sure, you can flag it and we can take a look at it and make decisions.

I get that there are some people who wish the flagging feature wasn't necessary to keep the site running smoothly, but I don't think wishing is going to make it so and complaining about the poor results of wishing is just a bad scene for everyone... I'd suggest that people who don't like to use the flag feature try to find other ways of attempting to help threads run more smoothly with whatever personal toolkit they have available.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:39 AM on March 8, 2012


I wonder that the community and the mods feel about that.

They (the mods) have a job to do. A big part of that job is to respond to things us members find problematic. What's better -- not being a "tattletale," or watching a perfectly good thread go to shit over some awful comment and the ensuing response war? It's a website, and that's how it works. We're fortunate to have the most level-headed & least power-hungry batch of mods that I've seen about anywhere. They care about the community in the same way that you & I do, so flagging is just a tool for use to use -- a better one than in-thread callouts and angry responses.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:41 AM on March 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'd suggest that people who don't like to use the flag feature try to find other ways of attempting to help threads run more smoothly with whatever personal toolkit they have available.

Sweet. I've got a wrench and a pair of scissors.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:47 AM on March 8, 2012


How do you mill kitties?

I use the food grinder attachment on my Kitchenaid and the coarse grinding plate, naturally, because I'm not some kind of a monster.
posted by gauche at 7:52 AM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


nangar: "How do you mill kitties?"

First you place their cute little fuzzy wuzzy bodies between two large grindstones....
posted by zarq at 7:54 AM on March 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also I don't really know where to draw the line between ill-informed snarky comments that are maybe just best passed over, and offensive/hurtful remarks that should be deleted and/or result in some rapping of knuckles or other intervention to prevent their re-occurence.


I will flag stuff I think that breaks the guidelines or is awesome or looks detrimental to the site or bothers the shit out me. It's takes all of two seconds of thought, so I don't know why people wouldn't flag something. It bothers me deeply that one of the mods doesn't bring a mug of tea and a biscuit, while saying "There, there, it'll be ok" when I flag something, but I chose not to pay for Metafilter Ultra+, so that's my personal problem.

Flag it and move on, seriously, not need to think a lot about it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:59 AM on March 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


In all seriousness, I have not mentioned the topics that I frequently avoid because, you know, it's just not worth it.

Is there any area of my life in which absolutely nothing is off limits? Don't think so.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 8:00 AM on March 8, 2012


Nice to see you again, dios.
posted by terrapin at 8:00 AM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


> gotta say that I have never seen anti-boomer ageism here

Boy, you sure haven't been paying attention. These are from just the first two pages of a site search for "boomer"; there are forty pages in all if you want to extend the list:

you drop that steaming pile of cynical Boomer self-entitlement into the middle of it.

Don't blame the kid. Blame the boomer parents. Reason #2837281 why Boomers are fucking up our society.

I happen to think it is absolutely disgusting to burden a generation of young people with caring for the Baby Boomer generation, which (a) lost the Vietnam war, (b) raided the US treasury, (c) gutted non-military industrial production order to create a consumer society driven by marketing, and (d) replaced the ailing consumer society with an over-leveraged economy dependent on "high"

Y'know, Pastabagel, I'm just as hostile to the clueless boomer hegemony as the next jaded and cynical Xer

the unworkable nutty fantasy-land religion that is neoliberal economics, into whose hands the boomer generation delivered America

Oh good, more boomer rock dinosaurs mythologizing ubiquitous classic rock, we need more of that.

posted by languagehat at 8:12 AM on March 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


Also I don't really know where to draw the line between ill-informed snarky comments that are maybe just best passed over, and offensive/hurtful remarks that should be deleted and/or result in some rapping of knuckles or other intervention to prevent their re-occurence.

That's the thing about flagging -- YOU don't have to know where to draw that line. Flagging something is not always a declaration on your part that "THIS HERE IS A PROBLEM!" It can also be you asking the mods, "uh, IS this a problem?" They'll decide if it is or not.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:18 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also I don't really know where to draw the line between ill-informed snarky comments that are maybe just best passed over, and offensive/hurtful remarks that should be deleted and/or result in some rapping of knuckles or other intervention to prevent their re-occurence.

I flag things that strike me as possibly (but not obviously) WTF?!, figuring that mods will see it and make an educated call over it. Sometimes the flagged thing vanishes and sometimes it doesn't.
posted by rtha at 8:21 AM on March 8, 2012


I wonder that the community and the mods feel about that.

Basically what Jessamyn said. My feeling as a mod is that flagging is about the least intrusive and least prone-to-abuse system we can have for distributing the load of noticing potential problems to the userbase instead of making it a mod-only job that requires a small group of people to scour the entire site in real-time twenty four hours a day. The direct-scouring option isn't realistic, and not having moderation isn't either, so: flags.

Our consistent take on what the flagging system is for emphasizes that "potential problems" thing; flagging something is not a direct vote for it to go away, it's a direct request for something to get looked at by humans who will decide what if anything to do about it. For a lot of things that get flagged, what gets done is nothing. For individual things that get flagged a lot, it's more likely that something will get done, but whether that happens and what form it takes (deletion, a quick admin note, an email to someone, a mod just keeping a close eye on the thread for a while, etc.) depends a lot on the situation.

So, flagging tells us to maybe keep an eye on something. I don't see it as tattling, because in public discourse in a single venue the concept of tattling doesn't even make sense; we're not passing notes in class, this isn't back-channel communication that folks are only getting away with because of some pact of silence or honor among thieves or anything. And the stakes are potentially having a public comment removed from a thread and that's about it.

Anything that rises to the level of getting someone "in trouble" with us is going to be either wildly, egregiously shitty commenting or posting behavior or some sort of consistently problematic pattern of behavior over an arc of time that suggests someone just isn't getting mefi, and neither of those things are going to come down to one person flagging or not flagging a given comment. You can't tattle anyone into trouble with us, because people don't get in trouble here at that kind of level of granularity.

But folks in the community all have their own feelings about flagging, and if it's a system someone's not personally comfortable using, that's fine; don't use it, you're not obliged to. The system works because folks use it in aggregate, because a lot of individuals use it at least a little bit, and that evens out pretty well to an overall eyes-on-the-site responsiveness to possible problems that is resilient enough to work even if a lot of people decline personally to use it.

My only request is that folks who want to see things they think shouldn't happen on the site not happen, they use some means to let us know about it proactively. That can be flagging, that can be writing to us at the contact form, that can be discussing stuff in Metatalk or some sort of positive or constructive approach to being the change they want to see in threads (i.e. modeling good behavior, not publicly protesting or starting fights about things that make them unhappy). We can't fix problems or address sticky situations if we don't know about them, and flagging is the lowest-friction approach available for users to let us know about such stuff, but if that doesn't work for you but you still have concerns about stuff that happens on the site, please let us know some other way rather than just letting us know after the fact that something you wish had been addressed, and didn't let us know about, didn't get addressed.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:21 AM on March 8, 2012


Boy, you sure haven't been paying attention.

We probably all read different subsets of the site, so notice different things.

I was quite surprised upthread to read that people felt there was a lot anti-Asian sentiment on Mefi. (I'm of Indian heritage myself.) But on reflection I probably don't read threads where such things might come up. For example I never read the "Tiger Mom" thread that was cited as an example.
posted by philipy at 8:37 AM on March 8, 2012


You can't tattle anyone into trouble with us, because people don't get in trouble here at that kind of level of granularity.

Well, what level of granularity can I use to get gman in trouble?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:40 AM on March 8, 2012


You could maybe redirect his mail....
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:45 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


That would not be kosher.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:47 AM on March 8, 2012


Devils Rancher:

We're fortunate to have the most level-headed & least power-hungry batch of mods that I've seen

Come to think of it, it's almost embarrassing the amount of respect and affection I have for the Mefi mods. I'm constantly impressed by how they handle difficult situations.

cortex:

My only request is that folks who want to see things they think shouldn't happen on the site not happen, they use some means to let us know about it proactively

Noted.
posted by philipy at 8:50 AM on March 8, 2012


Won't somebody think of the poor, oppressed boomers?!
posted by entropicamericana at 8:52 AM on March 8, 2012


> Won't somebody think of the poor, oppressed boomers?!

His point was that sweeping generalizations make for shitty dialogue. You're a pretty consistent offender in that respect.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:54 AM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Isn't that a sweeping generalization in itself?

THINK ABOUT IT.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:00 AM on March 8, 2012


No, I just mean you're kind of a trollish jerk.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:01 AM on March 8, 2012


WONT SOMEBODY THINK OF THE TROLLISH JERKS?
posted by entropicamericana at 9:03 AM on March 8, 2012


You're doing nothing to disprove that opinion. We think about the trollish jerks all the time, trust us.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:05 AM on March 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


So many arguments here spring from "If I, personally, haven't experienced [X], it can't possibly be true."

Or conversely, "My personal experience is the universal experience..."

I'm sometimes astonished by how insistent metafilterites can be that their world is everyone's world. Even limiting that view to USA-Americans, there's surprisingly little recognition of regional or geographic variances of common experiences or opportunities, or even language usage. At times I find myself asking "where the hell do you people live?" -- (sometimes in envy, sometimes in a wtf?! way)

In an Ideal World, the exchange would look like this:
{} A: My experience is X. vs. B: My experience is not-X, but Y.
{} Both: Could you give more background & detail on your experience?
{} Rather than: Both: LIAR! Wilful causer-of-problem!

posted by Tuesday After Lunch at 9:09 AM on March 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have a hunch if we just tossed the five most fighty problematic users to the curb tomorrow, we'd have a good six months of mostly better discussions

but then we'd have no mods !

Anyway, Catseye nailed it, the self congratulatory narratives of freedom for minorities dissapear on mefi the nanosecond US colonialism is mentioned, pointed out or challenged - a flood in Vermont outweighs a Japanese tsunami.
posted by sgt.serenity at 9:18 AM on March 8, 2012


sgt.serenity: " Anyway, Catseye nailed it, the self congratulatory narratives of freedom for minorities dissapear on mefi the nanosecond US colonialism is mentioned, pointed out or challenged - a flood in Vermont outweighs a Japanese tsunami."

I haven't seen this, but it wouldn't surprise me. Can you back it up with a cite link or two?
posted by zarq at 9:24 AM on March 8, 2012


a flood in Vermont outweighs a Japanese tsunami.

That demonstrably didn't happen. The Vermont flood had two long threads about it, primarily. The tsunami had multiple threads per week going in for the better part of a month.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:24 AM on March 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was confused by your comment, but you must mean parochialism.
posted by Miko at 9:25 AM on March 8, 2012


Won't somebody think of the poor, oppressed boomers?!

There is a strand of thinking on Mefi that it's ok to be a jerk about an entire class of people if they are not, as a class, typically poor and oppressed.

First of all it's not ok to be a jerk about people. Period.

Second of all rarely is it the case that a generalization about a class of people as large as "boomers" or "Asians" or "white people" is going to be anything other than simplistic, ill-informed and quite possibly outright prejudiced.

For instance if you think every person born in America between 1946 and 1964 is well off, you need to step back and contemplate the absurdity of that thought.

Any time you're ready to bad-mouth entire large groups of people, it's pretty much a clue that you don't know much about that group of people and/or you are having a hard time seeing reality straight because of the preconceptions you are bringing to the table.
posted by philipy at 9:35 AM on March 8, 2012 [14 favorites]


There's plenty of individual people in that age group whose .. disagreeable behavior can be pointed out (Romney, born 1947, Santorum, 1958, Karl Rove, 1950, GWB, 1946). No need to tar the whole group.
posted by desjardins at 9:42 AM on March 8, 2012


Only an idiot would think all boomers are well off (I know I don't); but there is no denying that the boomers (as a whole) are the wealthiest and most privileged generation in history.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:54 AM on March 8, 2012


entropicamericana: "Only an idiot would think all boomers are well off (I know I don't); but there is no denying that the boomers (as a whole) are the wealthiest and most privileged generation in history."

The same could be said of nearly every generation that preceded them at the time.
posted by zarq at 9:56 AM on March 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


> Only an idiot would think all boomers are well off (I know I don't); but there is no denying that the boomers (as a whole) are the wealthiest and most privileged generation in history.

Yeah, statements like "Only an idiot would think all [GROUP] are [NEGATIVE CHARACTERIZATION] (I know I don't); but there is no denying that the [GROUP] (as a whole) are [NEGATIVE CHARACTERIZATION]" are great proofs of the speaker's lack of prejudice.
posted by languagehat at 10:04 AM on March 8, 2012 [11 favorites]


Don't feed the entropicamericanas.
posted by crunchland at 10:08 AM on March 8, 2012


The same could be said of nearly every generation that preceded them at the time.

And yet not about every generation that followed.

I'm not going to take everybody on in this thread. You may now let the hagiography of the Boomers flow eternally as the river to the sea, amen.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:13 AM on March 8, 2012


There's a deep gulf between hagiography and being shitty. That's the gulf most folks spend time in.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:17 AM on March 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


You may now let the hagiography of the Boomers flow eternally as the river to the sea, amen.

This kind of statement is infuriating. I don't know why people with no argument to back up their position so often feel it necessary to misrepresent their interlocutors. Oh, yes I do.

(You understand that there's a difference between asking that groups are not derided wholesale and painting them as saints and saviors, right? Yeah, I know you do. That makes your comment disingenuous and jerky.)
posted by OmieWise at 10:19 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]



Late to the party, gotta say that I have never seen anti-boomer ageism here and I'm another one like mexicanyenta who participated fully in the sixties and lived to tell the tales.


Heh, languagehat beat me to it. Search for "boomer" in Metafilter comments and note the quality of the posts. I think it's about unprocessed childhood resentments.
posted by Wordwoman at 10:20 AM on March 8, 2012


Second of all rarely is it the case that a generalization about a class of people as large as "boomers" or "Asians" or "white people" is going to be anything other than simplistic, ill-informed and quite possibly outright prejudiced.

It could, however, be quite funny.

This kind of statement is infuriating.

Why? It's just some twit prattling on. Like a politician, but without the suit.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:22 AM on March 8, 2012


Only an idiot would think all boomers are well off (I know I don't);

Yet you permit yourself to make snarky remarks about the entire class of people.

Which snarky remarks are completely irrelevant to any thoughtful debate on topics such as intergenerational equity or what to do about healthcare for an ageing population.

If you've for something thoughtful and interesting to say on those important topics say it.

If you've only got snark, like this...

let the hagiography of the Boomers flow eternally as the river to the sea, amen


Can it.

Or, I'm quite happy for the mods to can it for you.
posted by philipy at 10:27 AM on March 8, 2012


Metafilter: Like a politician, but without the suit.

Sorry, I could not resist.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:29 AM on March 8, 2012


This kind of statement is infuriating.

Why? It's just some twit prattling on. Like a politician, but without the suit.


Because it betrays such a transparent contempt for the community in a post about how to make this a better community? I strongly dislike that kind of directed thread shitting. It's not going to ruin my day, or anything, but it's the response of a troll, which is infuriating because it invalidates all conversation with them.
posted by OmieWise at 10:30 AM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


It could, however, be quite funny.

Well there's a kind of funny that we now call offensively-racist-jokes.

If you're Chris Rock, I'll give you pass on that and enjoy the joke.

If it looks like you actually despise the group in question, not so much.
posted by philipy at 10:31 AM on March 8, 2012


Long-term, ongoing therapy for anything other than serious psychiatric care is uncommon, and in middle-of-nowhere rural England is pretty much unheard of outside Woody Allen movies.

I was born and lived in the US most of my life, and I feel the same way. It’s a much smaller group of Americans than it would appear from movies.
posted by bongo_x at 10:33 AM on March 8, 2012


If you're Chris Rock, I'll give you pass on that and enjoy the joke.

Oh, only black people are allowed to be funny, is that it?! What about my European brothas and sistas?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:34 AM on March 8, 2012


Or conversely, "My personal experience is the universal experience..."

Oh god. I do not know what to do when there's an ask me with a question about how to manage or deal with an aspect of a diagnosed and well-understood medical condition and half the answers are from people who do not have that condition and have advice that is sketchy enough for a normal person but actively bad for people with that medical condition. See also legal questions.

My sense is that people who have expertise tend to back out of those threads slowly, and I'm always thrilled when someone wades in with science and facts and generously makes suggestions to the OP.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 10:36 AM on March 8, 2012


Why? It's just some twit prattling on. Like a politician, but without the suit.

But you see, if some twit unthinkingly uses the word "gypped," it is inevitable that there will be multiple objections from MeFites decrying its use as highly offensive (despite the fact that they personally know no Romani people and despite the fact that people who use the term generally bear said Romani no ill will and oh god please don't make this thread about the word "gypped" or I will scream). The unmoderated boomer hate (and yes, it does seem to be allowed to stand) absolutely makes me feel like less welcome here. In fact, I have not gone to MeFi meetups because it is that rampant and I only like to drink beer with people who don't hate me.
posted by Wordwoman at 10:42 AM on March 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


My mother was only 19 when I was born, so I'm that rarest of rare creatures -- the second-generation boomer, with no one left to hate.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:42 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


only black people are allowed to be funny

As far as I personally am concerned, you're welcome to be funny about any group of people that you don't despise.

But be prepared to deal with the aggravation of being misunderstood if you have oodles of affection for Asians or Trekkies or whatever, but it is not clear to all and sundry that you do.

Mostly you just need to be, y'know, actually funny, and not nasty.
posted by philipy at 10:48 AM on March 8, 2012


I have not gone to MeFi meetups because it is that rampant and I only like to drink beer with people who don't hate me.

I hope you go to meetups - I don't think you'll really find that attitude showing up at all. MeFites who go to meetups are usually the kind that like other people, at least enough to spend a nice evening with them.

I see Boomer hate showing up, definitely. I'm not averse to discussing generational issues as kind of a historical/sociological topic, but I don't agree with knee-jerk slams of an entire age bracket and agree that it happens too much.

Still, people willing to say that stuff are a tiny minority, and while I don't think that excuses them at all from critique of their participation here, it does mean that you're not likely to encounter it at a meetup, where mostly people are happy to have a good turnout of whoever wants to show up.
posted by Miko at 11:31 AM on March 8, 2012


Devils Rancher, that's cool! You could hate yourself, but then you'd be co-opting the GenXers. More damn greedy grubby boomer-ing.
posted by thinkpiece at 11:48 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


In fact, I have not gone to MeFi meetups because it is that rampant and I only like to drink beer with people who don't hate me.

Unless you live somewhere with an unusually high concentration of assholes, I can *promise* you that in person, mefites are awesome. They are friendly and funny and are much less prone to showing off their ability to make zingy one-liners, and much more prone to being quite open and unembarrassed about the music or books or beers they like without slamming anyone else's favorite beer/band/books.

This has been true of every meetup I've been to - SF, Portland OR, Seattle, London UK. (I keep meaning to call a meetup when I'm in DC, but I'm usually there such a short time that it would come down to a choice between seeing mefites and hanging out with my oldest friend. Sorry, DC mefites! Sometime!)
posted by rtha at 12:10 PM on March 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


> In fact, I have not gone to MeFi meetups because it is that rampant and I only like to drink beer with people who don't hate me.

Trust me, this will not be a problem. I (I, Boomer) have been to quite a few meetups in various venues and everybody has gotten along swimmingly. Try it, you'll like it! (Or, what rtha said.)
posted by languagehat at 12:18 PM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hmph, and I like drinking with people who don't hate me because, at my age, I have acquired a taste for an excellent cocktail, the more effing exotic the ingredients the better, and I'm proud of it.
posted by thinkpiece at 12:36 PM on March 8, 2012


You will find other cocktail lovers. I think we end up in beer places a lot because there's often a goal of making sure it's very affordable and also casual. There are some amazing cocktail bars in Boston, if you happen up this way, which could occasion a meetup.
posted by Miko at 1:11 PM on March 8, 2012


We do love our cocktails here in San Francisco, although more often than not we end up at non-specialty-cocktail bars; they are more tolerant of our loudness and tendency to bring burritos, and it's easier to accommodate a wider price tolerance. But at the gin meetup we just had (at someone's house), people were mixing all kinds of fancy cocktails.
posted by rtha at 1:22 PM on March 8, 2012


Anyway, I learned about fair trade paleo gourmet cocktails or whatever they are called on Portlandia. But sold! And I do get to Boston!
posted by thinkpiece at 1:25 PM on March 8, 2012


What I like to do is nurse a beer while discussing which cocktail to get.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:26 PM on March 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


For whatever reason, whenever anyone mentions nursing a beer or other drink I can't help but picture them with their shirt lifted and allowing a bottle to suckle from their nipple.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:29 PM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


And? What do YOU do, then?
posted by Brockles at 1:30 PM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Every time I nurse a beer my nipples taste funny for a week.

Every time my nipples taste like beer I can't stop licking them at work.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 1:46 PM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's true. It's really distracting.
posted by maryr at 1:59 PM on March 8, 2012


I'd just like to see more people trying to post in general. Seems like every long thread has at least one person wishing it was something else, or wishing that someone else would post topic AB instead of the thread topic AA.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:27 PM on March 8, 2012


entropicamericana: "The same could be said of nearly every generation that preceded them at the time.

And yet not about every generation that followed.
"

Here I go making myself part of the problem, but this is absolute crap. There has not been a generation following the baby boomers that's been around long enough to even consider making that assumption. Making sweeping statements about a huge swath of humanity based on a perception that they are (as a group) more wealthy and privileged than any other generation will ever be is just lazy and no better than painting all those from generation X as immature, lazy and incapable of standing on their own two feet.
posted by dg at 2:41 PM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


My favorite bit of gratuitous boomer hate was this post about Paterno and Sandusky, both of whom were born pre-war, inexplicably titled, "Is it time to lose faith in the Boomers?"
posted by octothorpe at 4:37 PM on March 8, 2012


Fancy cocktails are great but when strapped, just mix any liquor with coke or orage juice or both and guzzle.
posted by jonmc at 4:38 PM on March 8, 2012


Both?
posted by box at 4:57 PM on March 8, 2012


Sure, equal parts coke, OJ, and well bourbon. It's called an Oh Fuck It.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:06 PM on March 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you add Pineapple, it's an Oh Fuck It On The Beach. Gatorade, an Oh Fuck it On the 50-Yard Line.
posted by jonmc at 5:34 PM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


jonmc: "Fancy cocktails are great but when strapped, just mix any liquor with coke or orage juice or both and guzzle."

Orage juice sounds like something you might get if you squeezed MetaFilter hard enough.
posted by dg at 5:46 PM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Heh. How do you say "underscore character" in Kannada?

Well, I don't know the word in Kannada, but it's kriMdi giita in Telugu. (Telugu and Kannada scripts overlap a lot; so the Telugu equivalent thereof is ఠ_ఠ, for instance. )

In lieu of an exact word in Kannada, I'd say it would be a regular Ta, followed by a flat geddit? Ta.
posted by the cydonian at 6:05 PM on March 8, 2012


when strapped, just mix any liquor with coke or orage juice or both and guzzle.

You actually bother mixing?

As a Gen Xer (and more what's more, a Gen Xer right on the cusp of boomer-hood, so one who must be especially vigilant in proving his bona fides), what always makes me shake my head over Metafilter's boomer-hate is just how much it sounds like the boomers in their day. This is the generation, after all, that resolved to never trust anyone over thirty (and which has now resolved to never trust anyone under thirty).
posted by octobersurprise at 7:18 PM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Add Redbull and it's called an "Oh, Fuck It, You're Ordering Red Bull? I Can't Drink With You Anymore."
posted by maryr at 7:27 PM on March 8, 2012


I am a big fan of Red Bull - with vodka, with vodka and orange juice (an Electric Screwdriver!) with vodka and grapefruit juice (a Whippet!) but I don't actually order them much because the speed of metabolism of caffeine doesn't match well with that of alcohol, and most nights I do want to go to sleep eventually. Which I guess has the handy side effect of making me look much less douchey.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:42 PM on March 8, 2012


Gatorade, an Oh Fuck it On the 50-Yard Line.

Mixing gatorade and alcohol is just wrong. Gatorade is for after drinking so you don't get too bad of a hangover. Ideally you want Pocari Sweat, that shit is the best post-drinking hangover prevention there is, but Gatorade does the trick in a pinch.
posted by Hoopo at 7:51 PM on March 8, 2012


I don't know the word in Kannada, but it's kriMdi giita in Telugu ... the Telugu equivalent thereof is ఠ_ఠ, for instance.

The Telugu version is much cuter, I think. I might start using it to annoy people :)

I was hoping you spoke Kannada, because there was a weird and totally off-topic question I was going to ask you, ఠ⁔ఠ (That comes out looking grumpier than I intended. I just meant mildly disappointed.)

I'll probably ask on AskMe eventually. (Somebody here has to speak Kannada.) Thanks for your answer ఠ‿ఠ !
posted by nangar at 8:18 PM on March 8, 2012


I just scrolled through this entire thread to watch it completely devolve into something unrelated to diversity.

No one's actively making me feel unwelcome as a Black woman, but when I see things like "blacks" instead of "Black people," I remember exactly where I am...
posted by Ashen at 8:20 PM on March 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


Please don't judge the entire website by the callous comments of one user.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:08 PM on March 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


That wasn't what I said; to clarify, I often get reminders that I am in a majority-white space while on Meta.

If anything, I would gauge my decision to participate more by how well the community tackles topics like the one broached in this thread. I would be lying if I said I wasn't hesitant to say anything at all.
posted by Ashen at 10:37 PM on March 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


"My mother was only 19 when I was born, so I'm that rarest of rare creatures -- the second-generation boomer, with no one left to hate."

You're 1-2 years older than me, but my mom was young, like yours, when I was born in '64. She was 18.

Do you find, as I do, that being born in that nebulous area where the Baby Boom and X generations meet, means that the whole notion of these "generations" has less resonance to you than it seems to have with other people?

And, also, I think that the group that I most dislike and think of as a cohort in this sense are the Reagan-era yuppies. But that's my cohort! And yet I feel absolutely no sense of relationship to them at all.

I suppose that if I carry around any bigoted notions about boomers it's that I naively admire them in their 60s hippy/radical versions and then have been vaguely puzzled and disappointed in them as they've become conservatives through the 80s and beyond. But because my parents were somewhat older than that cohort, I just really never was around those stereotypical boomers. I think of my parents as Grease/American Graffiti kind of people (and that's how they think/thought of themselves). So I think I just have never really thought about boomers very much at all, actually. Not like other people seem to think of them.

Anyway, it all seems a bit odd to me. I haven't noticed a lot of boomer-hate here, but I don't think I'm likely to, not being sensitive to it because I don't self-identify that way. I don't self-identify as an Gen Xer, either.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:23 AM on March 9, 2012


That comes out looking grumpier than I intended. -- You could always just use your words to convey your feelings.
posted by crunchland at 4:20 AM on March 9, 2012


Do you find, as I do, that being born in that nebulous area where the Baby Boom and X generations meet, means that the whole notion of these "generations" has less resonance to you than it seems to have with other people?

Absolutely. I was a little to young to fully participate in the original flower child movement, though I remember it, and it made me who I am to a large part, but still, I was a small child at all those Grateful Dead shows and peace marches.

I think Richard Hell was on to something with the Blank Generation thing - I really came of age during the first wave of Punk in the late 70's, though I didn't fully embrace the lifestyle in the end. I certainly don't feel like I fit in the gen x thing much at all, though.

The labeling of generations would be a whole lot more convenient if people actually came along in huge batches every 20 years, but that's not how fecundity works. The boomers enjoy a unique position in that respect because in America certainly, and I'd imagine in Europe as well, the end of WWII resulted in a whole lot of babies all at once, which made a clearer demarcation than most generations, and now that's all out of whack again because these days, people just have babies whenever it suits them, for the most part, so these generational surges have sort of devolved into a pretty steady stream of vaguely-defined groups that people seem to really struggle to define the last 20 years or so.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:42 AM on March 9, 2012


You could always just use your words to convey your feelings.

Or you can use them to make snarky swipes at perfectly innocuous comments!
posted by SpiffyRob at 5:57 AM on March 9, 2012


Mixing gatorade and alcohol is just wrong.

Not as bad as mixing Gentleman Jack Black Label and 7-11 Blue Raspberry soda.

(A BYOB affair. Two different people each brought those offerings. Someone had the idea to mix them to see what it was like, and then trying to have a sip became a sort of party game for all attendants. I think we called the resultant drink "Smurf Piss.")
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:02 AM on March 9, 2012


people seem to really struggle to define the last 20 years or so.

This is quite true, and yet I believe there are some real effects to growing up in the varying zeitgeists. I was born in 1969, though my mom was also quite young born in 1950, and I find that many characteristics of Generation X do apply to me and my age cohort, though not necessarily the shallower ("slacker") stereotypes - but things having to do with growing up during a divorce boom, being a "latchkey kid," dealing personally and in the pop culture with the gradual unfolding of Vietnam PTSD, watching the political idealism of the 60s/70s disintegrate before our and our parents' eyes into a culture war, getting hit by the pretty harsh recession of the early 80s and dealing with the effects of the manufacturing shift and job restructurings associated with that, feeling a constant and very oppressive Cold War nuclear threat throughout most of the 80s. Some of this influences one's worldview, particularly at the level of interpersonal trust and trust of authority and sense of stability and optimism. Though I agree that it is difficult to draw clear lines which divide something called 'generations,' when you look at cultural history, it is possible to discern generational patterns, broadly painted, which helped drive cultural change.

blacks

Though I deplore the intent of the comment, I have to admit I wouldn't have flagged the use of "blacks." I fully agree that here it carries a derogatory connotation but coming from another source, especially, I have seen it used as simple shorthand, even by black people, just as I've seen "whites" used by both white people and black people as shorthand. I am certainly happy to avoid using this shorthand myself but I wonder if that's an instance where flagging it would have had any effect. It seems like a lot of people would have to agree that the shorthand itself - rather than the intent - is derogatory in order for that to be removed via flagging. I'm no stranger to discussions of terminology and racism, as a life in educational settings will engender lots of that, and in general my preference is always to use ethnic/racial descriptors as modifications of "people," as in not "the Chinese" but "Chinese people" or "people in China," but this is one instance where I wouldn't have flagged the usage, though I might have taken on the nasty intent.
posted by Miko at 6:23 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not as bad as mixing Gentleman Jack Black Label and 7-11 Blue Raspberry soda.

This is a vile and wicked heresy.
posted by jquinby at 6:27 AM on March 9, 2012


blacks

I prefer the term "beautiful people from whom we are all descended".
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:29 AM on March 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Do you find, as I do, that being born in that nebulous area where the Baby Boom and X generations meet, means that the whole notion of these "generations" has less resonance to you than it seems to have with other people?

I can't speak to this exactly but I was married for five years to a tail-end boomer (born in 62). I was born in 67 and there was a significant generational difference between us. For my part, I don't fit all of the Xer stereotypes, but I'm OK with identifying X since it's close enough.

I suspect a lot of anti-booomer sentiment, even here on Metafilter, is less against boomers themselves than against the ways that boomers are marketed to. There's an ideal marketer's boomer that things are made for and pitched to (for instance, classic rock radio--although that's slipped to 80s music and I must admit when it did I was meanly gleeful--or open-plan restaurants, which I'm told are designed to make boomers feel like they're at a party) and that person seems kind of obnoxious, honestly, particularly where money is concerned. But who marketers are selling stuff to doesn't have to do with individual boomers we know and love.
posted by immlass at 7:27 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was born in '64 too, Ivan, but somehow I've always identified much more as a boomer. I never even hear the term Generation X until I was grown up with a kid of my own so I couldn't really bond with that idea.
posted by octothorpe at 7:40 AM on March 9, 2012


But who marketers are selling stuff to doesn't have to do with individual boomers we know and love.

/cut to soft focus of middle-aged, blonde-haired woman in pattered frock, breathing deeply in sunny field of tall grass.

maycausedrowsiness,dizziness,headache,lossofappetite,stomachupset,visionchanges,
irritability,miasma,catarrh,ague,drymouthandnose.Theseeffectsshouldsubsideas yourbodyadjuststothemedicationIfthepersistorbecomebothersome,informyourdoctor.
Notifyyourdoctorifyoudevelop:breathingdifficulties,goiters,priapism,effluvialdischarge,
poundingorirregularheartbeat,ringingintheears,difficultyurinating,homicidaltendencies.
Ifyounoticeothereffectsnotlistedabove,contactyourdoctororpharmacistimmediately.

posted by Devils Rancher at 8:13 AM on March 9, 2012


I've long held the theory (being one of those folks born at either the tail end of Gen X or the very beginning of Gen Y, depending on who's counting) that what generation you identify with has more to do with what generation your parents were than who your age cohort actually is. My parents are both early boomers (I guess? mid to late forties births) and I definitely identify with and tend to be friends with Gen Xers far, far more than my actual agemates.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:17 AM on March 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


r_n, that's probably right, my parents were defiantly from the WWII generation and very much not boomers themselves which probably contributes my my generational identification. I think that birth order has a lot to do with it also, my only siblings were born in the fifties so I tend to identify with them more than people younger than me.
posted by octothorpe at 8:42 AM on March 9, 2012


This is a good thread and many people have made good points.

As someone who grew up in a European, continental political context, it seems to me that while MeFi leans left of the American centre, it's not just American conservative voices that are underrepresented, but also social-market rightists, socialdemocrats, socialists or communists. See for instance the use of the word socialist even though people complain about the way it's used by Republicans.

Because the Chicago school dominates the U.S., people often lump all economists together. There are two arguments against economics here, the argument from social policies and the argument from scientific rigor. The first argument usually disregards the fact that neo-Marxist or neo-Keynesian economics have different social outcomes than neoliberal economics and that deciding what policies to implement is a political, not an economic matter, and the second argument usually disregards the fact that economics is a social science and does not operate in static environments. The general contempt for Economics, Finance and Business is unfriendly to people who might want to share their expertise. I know that I was always looking for Mutant's commentary in such threads. Mind that I'm not saying not to question economics, but that when a thread has a lot of knee-jerking and false equivalences, it is unlikely that someone will want to wade into it for some constructive discussion.

The same goes for atheism/theism threads that are often noxious even to atheists. The majority of the global population are theists whether we like it or not, but because the most vocal Christians in the U.S. promote reactionary policies, religions and dogmas are often tarred with the same brush. There are all kind of religious people, there are both distinctions and dependencies between institutions and practitioners and there are interesting sociological and psychological reasons for people's adherence to religion. There is a wealth of issues to criticise related to religion, but many comments read as if the people who write them had never met any intelligent, kind persons who happen to be religious. It's hard not to be furious when Santorum-alikes want to take away birth control and turn their sexism into American law, but that's an issue that not just religious, but mostly cultural.

It also annoying seeing the hate for boomers. It assumes that they are all the same and with such facile assumptions, it's hard to believe that when Gen X/Millennials take over everything is going to be suddenly better by virtue of them not being boomers. Focusing on behaviours or beliefs rather than on generational cohorts is a better idea.

Finally, the site seems to skew heavily towards countries where English is the first language. As a text-heavy site that is not surprising, but I've seen more users from Scandinavia, or Holland or other countries where people have a good knowledge of English on other sites. Perhaps Matt should consider reducing the $5 for certain regions because what was a coffee's worth to someone paying in pounds or euros might be a higher barrier to someone using Indian rupees. Having more non-American/British members would be good for current users in other places too. Having moved to the UK, there is a greater sense of community that is quite welcome after living in a country where IRL (or Meetups) was of no use.

That said, MeFi remains the best site I've found and that is largely due to being a self-examining community. The unexamined (online) life is not worth living and MeFi continues challenging itself.
posted by ersatz at 8:46 AM on March 9, 2012 [14 favorites]


I think the married or coupled people could be more welcoming to singles.

Of course, singles could be more welcoming to married people.

And naturally, the goddamn breeders should be more welcoming to everyone else and not using the dining table as a changing room.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:54 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


And naturally, the goddamn breeders should be more welcoming to everyone else and not using the dining table as a changing room.


Oh, you don't have to worry about that! We practice Elimination Communication and don't use diapers. What could go wrong?
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:57 AM on March 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Don't know what that means, but it doesn't sound pretty enough for my dinner party.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:04 AM on March 9, 2012


Perhaps Matt should consider reducing the $5 for certain regions because what was a coffee's worth to someone paying in pounds or euros might be a higher barrier to someone using Indian rupees.

Anyone who emails us saying that the $5 is a hardship [from whatever country] is usually asked to send *something* [a postcard, some tiny bit of local currency] and we'll set them up with an account. We don't really advertize this fact for obvious reasons but we have been able to increase our international participation somewhat by not being sticklers about the fiver.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:17 AM on March 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Lurkers who have read that far will be rewarded :)
posted by ersatz at 9:31 AM on March 9, 2012


Oh, you don't have to worry about that! We practice Elimination Communication and don't use diapers. What could go wrong?

This made me laugh really hard even before I Googled it and found that yes, it really is a thing.
posted by Wordwoman at 9:38 AM on March 9, 2012


This made me laugh really hard even before I Googled it and found that yes, it really is a thing.

Oh, yes. I was given the Dunstan Baby Language CD's when my kids were born. Tried, but found it totally impossible to match with my kids.

If people get something out of that stuff, more power to 'em.
posted by zarq at 10:09 AM on March 9, 2012


I can't speak to this exactly but I was married for five years to a tail-end boomer (born in 62). I was born in 67 and there was a significant generational difference between us. For my part, I don't fit all of the Xer stereotypes, but I'm OK with identifying X since it's close enough.

Seconding this, with even less age difference between me and the Largely Mythological Husband.

For whatever reason, the demographic crash between Boom and X happened SHARPLY in my little town. The grades above me had three classes of ca. 25 people each; my grades had two classes of 30 people each, because 20 people to a class was too cost-ineffective for our cash-strapped school system.

My second year in junior high, we had trouble fielding pretty much all our sports teams because there just weren't enough kids. In high school, the class(es) ahead of me dominated all the extracurricular activities out of sheer numbers, until my class finally got to be seniors and rule over our diminished kingdom.

I think, from my point of view right on the prow of the generational ship, that a lot of intergenerational resentment goes back to childhood experiences like this. I, and a lot of my friends, felt that we had just missed out on this idyllic time that our babysitters and older siblings had been reveling in.

In retrospect, I can see that this is probably a load of crap, but childhood resentments are hard to shake. It didn't help me move past that any to graduate college in the middle of a horrendous job market at the same time the hippie icons of the 60s like Jerry Rubin--the same people who would come to my college and talk at us about how we weren't engaged and weren't making a difference in the world the way they did--were making money hand over fist on Wall Street. It felt (and again, I acknowledge that this is a totally limited point of view, but this was how it felt to me and a bunch of my friends) like the previous generation had gotten everywhere before us and scooped all the good stuff and left us with the crumbs.

Now, there are forty-seven trillion things that are wrong with this point of view from a logical and evidence-based perspective. At least. But in a lot of these things I think people can be just like early hominids seeing lightning and assuming the gods are trying to kill them. I saw a demographic shift and a decline in per-capita public spending on education and a contraction of the job market and an adjustment of lifetime earnings expectations and it was easier for me to blame the Boomers than to unpick the complicated and indeed overdetermined factors that made all of those social changes happen.

My hope is that I have moved past that, but I welcome being called out whenever I haven't.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:48 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


However much we may agree that diaper-changing in the dining room is reprehensible, I have to say that 'goddamn breeders' is ugly and unnecessary.
posted by jquinby at 11:23 AM on March 9, 2012


someone needs to do something about all the laffin-at-the-crazies gawkposts

i get that it is easy to do and it makes you feel good but you can get that shit like anywhere, c'mon
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 11:24 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


someone needs to do something about all the laffin-at-the-crazies gawkposts

They get comments and favorites by the truckload, which probably has a lot to do with why people make them. And the mods delete them pretty reliably if their content boils down to only "look at these assholes."

Without checking, of my last 50 posts, I'm pretty sure the one about the father who shot up his daughter's laptop on Youtube had the most comments. I don't think I make 'gawkposts' (fun term!) very often, either.

If a person is posting solely to get comments and favorites, they could do nothing but make those kinds of FPP's and be quite happy.
posted by zarq at 11:33 AM on March 9, 2012


And to give you an idea of contrast, my last two posts are *very* heavy on content, but have a total of 5 comments and 30 favorites between them.

I guess we could ask which sort of post is better for mefi? Posts that actually fulfill (at least in my mind) the "best of the web" credo but don't spark any conversation, or ones that don't fit the credo but do initiate huge, often interesting but contentious discussions?

I think there's probably a happy medium we could find.
posted by zarq at 11:49 AM on March 9, 2012


I think there's probably a happy medium we could find.

Taint so!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:50 AM on March 9, 2012


Coccygeal plexus pushers.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:53 AM on March 9, 2012


@zark

theres not as much to be said about good things as bad probably

also 'gawkposts' is a fun neologism but i have this foreboding sense its gonna bite me in the ass somehow
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 12:29 PM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


This, of course, alludes to you: @zark

Says the person who proclaimed the other day that twitter is basically just animal noises.
posted by gman at 12:57 PM on March 9, 2012


USE PROPER SYNTAX MOTHERFUCKER OR I WILL CUT YOU
posted by Burhanistan at 12:58 PM on March 9, 2012


No, just cut him, it's ok.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:10 PM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Once upon a time (way back in the 1990s.....) when the Clinton administration was proposing a system that seemed to be somewhere in between Canada-style Single-Payer system and the British Socialized NHS system (which itself seems to be under unprecedented attack in the UK), the "Conservative" party in the US proposed an alternative that, with surprisingly few modifications, eventually became Obama's Affordable Care Act. And not a single Republican in 2010 voted for it.

I say this because, as someone who is on the more conservative end of Metafilter, I do not self-identify as conservative any longer -- because I'm not, by 2012 standards. The reason isn't that conservatism is incredibly unpopular on this site per se, it's because in the US, "conservatism" has gone BATSHIT FUCKING INSANE. Rather than an uneasy marriage-of-convenience between the social conservatives, the fiscal conservatives, the corporatists, the old racist former Southern Democrats, and the subtly marketed-to but generally marginalized crypto-fascists and libertarian anarchists that once exemplified conservatism in the US, the moderates have been run out of the Republican party.

Virtually the only self-identified "conservatives" that are remaining are the True Believers who have so deeply invested their ego in their political identification that they've disappeared up their own assholes who cannot defend their beliefs with reasonable argument and only know how to spout bullshit talking points.

Shit, even if you don't believe me about any of this, remember that Charles of Little Green Footballs (who by any normal standard was closer to the batshit wing than the moderate wing of conservatism) has been branded as a "liberal" blogger by the Red State crowd. Think about that for a second.
posted by chimaera at 2:18 PM on March 9, 2012 [17 favorites]


USE PROPER SYNTAX MOTHERFUCKER OR I WILL CUT YOU

Worst mohel ever.
posted by Forktine at 3:07 PM on March 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


the @name convention did not start w/ twitter fyi
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 3:26 PM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Somebody here has to speak Kannada.

Kannada, eh?

Apologies to the two ethnic groups I may have offended with that awful joke.
posted by MattMangels at 4:55 PM on March 9, 2012


"Seconding this, with even less age difference between me and the Largely Mythological Husband."

Huh. My ex-wife, most of my college friends, and my another long-term SO were all born around 1969-1971, as compared to my 1964, and so I'd expect to be able to see the same divide you describe, but I've not. Assuming there is a widespread resentment of the boomers by the older x'ers, maybe I've never noticed this because by personality I'm an x'er, but by childhood/parents I'm more of a boomer, so I'm somehow blinded to the conflict? That's possible.

The other possibility is that peoples' experiences are greatly varied and these generational affiliations are far from universal.

Or a combination of both.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:05 PM on March 9, 2012


the moderates have been run out of the Republican party.

I have been in a few conversations lately in which I was talking about the liberal wing of the Republican party - that there used to be one, which is surprising to a lot of contemporary and recently-politicized conservatives. And they were responsible for a lot of important reforms and smart changes, and played a not-insignificant role in Civil Rights especially in the 50s just prior to the run-up of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This rightward move has contributed to the dug-in, gridlock situation in which we find ourselves on almost all major policy. It was once true that liberal and moderate-leaning Republicans could make common cause with conservative and moderate-leaning Democrats, and this sort of centrist coalition made the government function and made it possible to pass legislation that captured majority support. The fact that it's now almost impossible for members of either party to collaborate with members of the other to craft legislation in the first place, and also that gamesmanship on legislation often means that a bill which would otherwise have passed is too decorated with give-backs to allow the other side to vote for it, means we're just fucking stuck and we all suck it up while government grinds its gears and pontificates about relatively irrelevant issues.

I can't say there's been an equivalent letfward move making this polarization more extreme, because in my lifetime the Democratic party - first under Clinton and now under just plain attack - has moved more rightward, too. Positions to the left of the theoretical center are now just untenable to hold without being utterly vilified.

This is why Olympia Snowe is stepping down - a real loss. I was her constituent for about 5 years and felt, mostly, well represented by her and respectfully communicated with by her team on all issues, despite the fact that I'm not a member of her party.

/rant of the day.
posted by Miko at 7:36 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


One thing that's really, really noticeable as I move through the professional/academic workforce is the lack of peers Gen-Xers have. I work at an intersection of academia, professional consultancies and government, and regularly meet with all of the sectors---all to say that I think I'm seeing a slice of typical technocracy.

I have very few peers, people my own age in any of those organizations. I'm early gen-x. Most of the people I deal with are either boomers or, lately, new gen-yers being hired as assistants and bright new things. the cause was a significant slow-down in hiring in both government and industry starting in the late eighties which has only started to reverse itself, by the mid 2000s.

As a result, it's a little disconcerting for me to see someone in their 30s or 40s at a conference or in a meeting. With those few peers I do have, there's this weird vibe, an assumed us-vs-world conspiracy. It's not that I don't like my boomer and gen-y friends and colleagues, but, there are relatively few of us gen-xers, and each of us has our own tales of extended marginal entry into the system. We have a sense we got where we are by accident, when the older generation weren't paying attention.

So yeah, I do think that, in broad strokes, gen-x folks do have baggage when it comes to inter-generational attitudes, both older and younger, and it's something we need to be conscious of.
posted by bonehead at 9:19 AM on March 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


I see delmoi asserting some points, people questioning some of them, and delmoi not coming back to answer the questions.

What actually happened is that there had been another thread about a very similar topic, at about the same time, and I had been discussing the the topic in more detail.

I just popped and saw people making the same kind of errors (which people make all the time), so i figured I would make a post with the same information there. Having two parallel discussions about the same topic didn't seem like a good use of my time, at the time.

I do find it annoying when someone just leaves a thread after people disagree with them, but at the same time, you can't expect everyone to stick around forever in every thread they post in.
posted by delmoi at 9:51 AM on March 10, 2012


I work at an intersection of academia, professional consultancies and government, and regularly meet with all of the sectors---all to say that I think I'm seeing a slice of typical technocracy.

I have very few peers, people my own age in any of those organizations. I'm early gen-x. Most of the people I deal with are either boomers or, lately, new gen-yers being hired as assistants and bright new things. the cause was a significant slow-down in hiring in both government and industry starting in the late eighties which has only started to reverse itself, by the mid 2000s.

As a result, it's a little disconcerting for me to see someone in their 30s or 40s at a conference or in a meeting.


I work in a similar setting, and I agree totally. If I had to pull numbers out of my ass, I'd guess that of the people I interact with professionally, 75 percent are older than me, mostly 50-60 years old, another ten percent are about my age, and the rest are younger new hires. There must have been some big gap in hiring, because I have very few coworkers that are my age.
posted by Forktine at 10:38 AM on March 10, 2012


One thing that's really, really noticeable as I move through the professional/academic workforce is the lack of peers Gen-Xers have.

I also agree with this perception. And it's not all attributable to gaps in hiring. It's a much smaller generation:
Sandwiched between 80 million baby boomers and 78 million millennials, Generation X — roughly defined as anyone born between 1965 and 1980 — has just 46 million members, making it a dark-horse demographic "condemned by numbers alone to nicheville," as Gordinier puts it in the book.

...Gordinier's book began as the essay "Has Generation X Already Peaked?" in Details magazine. He composed the rant in four days after the birth of his first son. "It grew out of a time when I think Gen-Xers were feeling colossally invisible. All the mass-media oxygen seemed to be sucked up by baby boomers and millennials. The baby boomers were turning 60, and that's all you heard about. How the boomers were turning 60 and they were still sexy and they're hot and they're launching their second acts," he said in an interview with TIME. "And at the same time, there's this media monotony, this bombardment of Lindsay/Paris/Britney...Where, he wondered...were the cover stories about Generation X turning 40? How about less Bob Dylan and more Kurt Cobain? "If Nevermind changed the world, the world changed back pretty fast," Gordinier writes.
I do think that it's hard to be heard in mass media when demographics stack up like that. And it's something I've been conscious of from a very young age - that mass media skewed boomer in its perspective almost completely until milennials started making the news. I can recall being 17, and a dedicated Nightly News watcher and fan of Tom Brokaw's, when Clinton entered the White House and there was much reporting about the relative youth of his staff, which was novel then. Tom Brokaw said something like "many of us grew up thinking one day we could be in the White House. Today, our children are there." And I can clearly recall thinking "What you mean 'our' children, dude? Why aren't you talking to me?"

Mass media is a numbers game, and so I do think there's a little bit of left-outness felt in Generation X because we just never amounted to the same mass consumer bloc as either generation between us. And I really do feel it in my profession - there are very, very few professionals in my field who are in their 30s/40s, and we all know each other. The top tier is dominated by boomers, still, who are delaying retirement, and there are masses of younger people at the entry level and middle management. It's likely that a lot of leadership positions will open up in the next 20 years, but given the length of that wait, we will be competing with the rising MIlennials for those jobs rather than taking them on in turn. It's been a rather serious discussion in my field as there's concern about the future of leadership.
posted by Miko at 10:18 PM on March 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


On reflection, I couldn't have been 17. I was a bit older. But I was still not in a position to talk about "our children" working in the White House.
posted by Miko at 10:21 PM on March 10, 2012


Hey now, Nicheville's very nice!
posted by rtha at 10:21 PM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


bonehead, Forktine, and Miko - wow, you've slightly blown my mind. I'm always saying that I seem to be surrounded by people older and younger than myself and rarely see anyone my own age wherever I go. I knew about the demographic changes, but I just never thought to put the two together.

I'm technically at the end of Gen X, though I always felt that culturally, people around my age (born in 1976) were really too young (and not cool/slacker enough) to be X and too old (and not happy/earnest enough) to be Y. So it's like the situation you're describing, only a bit more extreme. I'm not even talking about any specific industry or environment. It seems that wherever I am there are young 20-somethings, and people in their 50s and 60s, and I'm the only 30s-to-40s person there (or nearly.) When I've remarked on this, people tend to look at me like I'm insane and occasionally they point out that everyone my age has kids, and it's only because I don't that I never see my peers. And although I do notice people roughly my age with young kids sometimes, they a) are still less numerous than the college students and significantly older people, and b) may well be under 25 themselves, for all I know.

I thought I was doing something wrong, like failing to find all the people my age who were hiding. But maybe it's that they're really not there. I feel so vindicated now, and sort of depressed. So...thank you!
posted by DestinationUnknown at 8:11 AM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have to say I'm pretty astonished that so many people even think of themselves and others in terms of generational labels.

I had to check Wikipedia for where the boundaries are supposed to be, and remind myself what the alleged attributes are.
posted by philipy at 9:36 AM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I feel like I can't afford not to. My field takes in people in college through their 80s, and I am always running up against the different outlooks and assumptions. It just seems essential for good communication to understand something of this. Of course we are not stamped out of a machine etc., etc., but there are fundamental shared experiences of growing up that profoundly shape people's worldviews, even when they aren't all that aware of it themselves.
posted by Miko at 9:49 AM on March 11, 2012


DestinationUnknown: "I'm technically at the end of Gen X ... It seems that wherever I am there are young 20-somethings, and people in their 50s and 60s, and I'm the only 30s-to-40s person there (or nearly.) "

Well, I'm at the end of the boomers (born 1961) and I have similar experiences, professionally (public service). I think bonehead is right on the money in that this corresponds with the huge 'right-sizing' movement that seems to have largely run its course. This is obvious when you look at certain stats such as 80% of the staff in my department being of retirement age or older in the next five years. But I think there's another aspect to this - a cultural one. Those from Gen Y are much more likely to make their presence known in a professional setting that those from Gen Y would be at the same age and this is even more marked when you compare Gen Y with boomers. Boomers grew up in a time when 'respect for authority' was hammered into them and they were much less likely to make themselves known in a professional setting because of a perception that it would be disrespectful. Members of Gen Y have grown up believing they are entitled to have their views heard and they have much less reticence in doing so. So, even though I have some perception that I am bracketed by (older) boomers and Gen Y, the reality is probably more that Boomers are over-represented and are by far the largest group in my professional setting.
posted by dg at 5:51 PM on March 11, 2012


Shit - meant to say 'Those from Gen Y are much more likely to make their presence known in a professional setting than Boomers would be at the same age
posted by dg at 5:52 PM on March 11, 2012


Late to the party, gotta say that I have never seen anti-boomer ageism here -- clean up on aisle 7.
posted by crunchland at 3:09 PM on April 1, 2012


Leaving a comment in a two week old Meta thread is actually not a great way to direct our attention to anything. Please feel free to flag something in that thread. Right now there are no undeleted comments that are flagged except for yours.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:22 PM on April 1, 2012


Yeah, that wasn't even directed at you guys, although my terminology might have been misleading, like it was in need of a janitor. I was making the point that there was a mess of anti-boomer sentiment for anyone who has not seen it rear its head before.
posted by crunchland at 3:29 PM on April 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


At least that stopped me from being left hanging awkwardly at the end of a conversation.

Oh ...
posted by dg at 3:35 PM on April 1, 2012


I was coming here to make the same point as crunchland: that thread is chock-full of exactly the kind of bigotry people here were denying exists.
posted by languagehat at 7:47 AM on April 2, 2012


I take back all the nice things I said upthread. That thread is a shitty mess, full of blame & othering, and I want no part of it. I typed & deleted several angry comments just now, then figured it'd be better to register my disappointment here.

If I'm the proximate cause of your failure, then I'm surely bemused by that fact.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:01 AM on April 2, 2012


'But MeFi is, more than anything else that it is, an evidence-based culture.'

This thread: It is to laugh.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:41 AM on April 2, 2012


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