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April 11, 2012 5:18 PM   Subscribe

Give full disclosure; get deleted.

So I made this post on The Blue because it incorporates several favorite MeFi subjects: Louis C.K., DRM and content distribution / business models.

Incidentally, it happened to be written by a personal friend; a freelance journalist.

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of disclosing this fact, and the post was deleted.

If I had WITHHELD this fact, the post would NOT have been deleted, and a thoughtful and lively dialog would have continued to ensue.

Perhaps "no friends" is a rule, but how does this make sense and how is it good policy? Perhaps posts like mine should be judged more on a case-by-case basis? Perhaps full disclosure shouldn't be unconditionally punished, lest it be withheld by future FPPosters?
posted by ZenMasterThis to Etiquette/Policy at 5:18 PM (112 comments total)

Because it's like the one hard and fast rule here. Don't post shit you're close to.

If it had been yours it'd probably be a banning.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:21 PM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Are self-links ever okay on any part of the site?
Almost never. It's against the rules to link to your own site, a site that you host or contribute to substantially, or a site of someone who is a close friend or relative of yours in a MetaFilter post. Some more detail is in this MetaTalk comment. People who self-link in front page posts on MetaFilter will have their posts removed and their account banned. Transparency and honesty are important to the community and we rely on users to abide by the guidelines and participate honestly.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:24 PM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


If I had WITHHELD this fact, the post would NOT have been deleted, and a thoughtful and lively dialog would have continued to ensue.

And if we had found out after the fact that this was the case, we would have been rightly pissed at you. If you had not done it at all, things would have been hunky dorey. That people can sometimes in theory get away with breaking one of the few brightline rules we have around here does not make it okay to do so.

To be clear, punished would be banning you. That's actually what happens when we don't extend a little bit of the benefit with this stuff, because "no self-links/friend-links/client-links" is very much a bannable offense and is by far the primary thing (in mefi posts, in askme comments) that people get banned from Metafilter for.

You're an established user around here, I didn't get the feeling that you were trying to pull something off, I don't feel like this is something to kick you out for, but it absolutely needs to be a clear "do not ever do this again" sort of thing. Having your post deleted is about the mildest form of communication available on that front.

Perhaps "no friends" is a rule, but how does this make sense and how is it good policy?

Because it sidesteps a nasty swamp of issues that range from poor judgement to outright promotional intent. This is really, really well-established territory, we've talked about it tons over the years in here. Again: basically the one big bright not-flexible rule this place has.

The downside is that every once in a while someone who might otherwise make a post about interesting thing x has to give that a pass instead. The other ten thousand people here are still free to post it if they like. It may or may not get posted, but that's fine; most things do not get posted, because this is a relatively low-volume site and the internet is a huge place.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:26 PM on April 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


You've had an awful lot of posts deleted for fairly obvious reasons; perhaps you should familiarize yourself with the FAQ?
posted by lalex at 5:27 PM on April 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


i thought it was newsworthy, and made another FPP about the topic which includes your link as well as others.
posted by cupcake1337 at 5:29 PM on April 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


6 minutes for the end run!
posted by cjorgensen at 5:31 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


And if we had found out after the fact that this was the case, we would have been rightly pissed at you.

How would you have found out, though?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:38 PM on April 11, 2012


Oh, you know. Chatting at the urinals or whatever.
posted by adamdschneider at 5:39 PM on April 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


IM (limited) E, the mods usually find out when the thread starts to turn a bit sour and the OP jumps in to defend their friend.
posted by muddgirl at 5:40 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm genuinely astonished that you thought that would be OK, although in a perverse way your obliviousness at least proves the purity of your intentions.

Frankly, I think the post (and the repost) should be deleted while the Aziz Ansari thread is still open, but I'm pretty clearly out of the mainstream with the way I would choose to define a double post.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:41 PM on April 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


"This rule sucks because I could have gotten away with breaking it but I didn't."
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:41 PM on April 11, 2012 [13 favorites]


OK. I'll re-familiarize myself with the rules and try to stick to 'em.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:42 PM on April 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


How would you have found out, though?

Now and then, people break the rules and then it becomes clear later for one reason or another. Repeat behavior, someone putting two and two together if there's any kind of public trail to connect things, etc.

But it's not a given; someone might break the rules around here and then just keep it to themselves indefinitely. Which is a shitty situation, but what do you do. Which, again, that folks break the rules on the sly sometimes doesn't make it okay for them to break the rules.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:42 PM on April 11, 2012


"...in a perverse way your obliviousness at least proves the purity of your intentions."

This is wonderful, and I will be working it into a conversation as soon as I possibly can.
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 5:43 PM on April 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


If you had simply run this by the mods prior to posting, I'm sure something could have been worked out. As it stands now, your MeTa post should be deleted as well, for the following reason:

You're forcing the mods to make a public statement about a topic that is clearly black and white. As a mod, they can't answer that this could have been kept up, because then it opens the floodgates for all sorts of "grey area" posting in the future.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 5:43 PM on April 11, 2012


If I had WITHHELD this fact, the post would NOT have been deleted, and a thoughtful and lively dialog would have continued to ensue.

How would you have found out, though?


Is it really about "you would have never found out"? Would you steal something of no one would find out? Can't we rely on the honor system and be good people in these situations?
posted by two lights above the sea at 5:45 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, please. If you honestly think posting an interesting article by someone you happen to know to a group blog and stealing are the same thing, I don't even know what to say.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:47 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


What a strange thought process. "Something is against the rules, but it should be ok to do it as long as you admit you're doing it"?

"Your honor, my client admits to stealing the money, and turned himself into the police. He should therefore not be placed in jail, and furthermore he should be allowed to keep the money. To put him in jail, but to allow unidentified robbers to go free because they have not been identified, would make no sense, and might dissuade future robbers from admitting their guilt (and therefore also going free)."
posted by Bugbread at 5:51 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


You're forcing the mods to make a public statement about a topic that is clearly black and white. As a mod, they can't answer that this could have been kept up, because then it opens the floodgates for all sorts of "grey area" posting in the future.

Well, to be clear, this is not something we let much grey into pretty much ever, because it's a policy we feel needs to be hewed to pretty tightly to avoid wandering into madness and rules-lawyering.

I really, really appreciate it when folks who have an inkling of "am I too close to this" drop us a line via the contact form before posting, which happens I'd say once a week or so, because (a) we're never going to be mad at you for asking and (b) if it's something problematic we can let you know before it becomes a problem and (c) if it's actually fine (e.g. "I met him once at a book signing twelve years ago...") you can proceed knowing we have zero problem with it.

We end up telling folks to give a pass to stuff that's too close for comfort probably half the time that someone asks, and it's totally a non-thing in our eyes whatever the case. Checking with us is the key thing.

If you honestly think posting an interesting article by someone you happen to know to a group blog and stealing are the same thing, I don't even know what to say.

I'm not going to get into the analogy there because it's not an analogy we as mods would make, at all, about this. But to be clear, posting an interesting article by someone you happen to know to Metafilter is, all analogies aside, against the rules, grounds for banning, and something we'd really, really like to not see members try and make some sort of defense of. It's not a negotiable subject.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:52 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you know it's against the rules, don't do it. You agree to abide by the rules when you sign up as a member, it's not as though you're standing up to the man by posting the link. MeTa allows us to debate site rules, but is one of the hard and fast rules that aren't going to be changed.
posted by arcticseal at 5:54 PM on April 11, 2012


Perhaps full disclosure shouldn't be unconditionally punished, lest it be withheld by future FPPosters?

You might be surprised how much time we spend trying to figure out if a post is made by a friend of one of the people linked in it. And how while that's somewhat difficult to figure out, it's not impossible and usually results in either a banning or "We will ban you if this happens again" situation.

This whole post is making me feel fairly icky. If you respect the community, abide by the rules or let us know why you think they should be changed.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:59 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


ZenMasterThis, what were you hoping to accomplish with this exactly? The self-linking policy isn't exactly a secret around here. I once emailed the mods about a story I wanted to post, because I became aware of it when my cousin posted a cell phone video a friend of his shot to Facebook, and he (my cousin) was visible in about two seconds of the seven and a half minute video. And, guess what, that was too close an association to be acceptable. And you think "My good friend wrote this but *I* didn't write it so it's OK" is going to fly?
posted by KathrynT at 6:03 PM on April 11, 2012


Oh, please. If you honestly think posting an interesting article by someone you happen to know to a group blog and stealing are the same thing, I don't even know what to say.

No, of course I don't. Maybe you shouldn't say anything?
posted by two lights above the sea at 6:03 PM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


So why even bring it up?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:05 PM on April 11, 2012


a thoughtful and lively dialog would have continued to ensue.

I don't think that's the point of MetaFilter. The point is the links, which shouldn't have a connection to the poster. IMO, a good link with no discussion is better than a bad or questionable link with hundreds of comments.
posted by stopgap at 6:06 PM on April 11, 2012


I've often wished for a "link to your friends" site. Not a subsite; more like a spinoff site. We have MeFi for linking to strangers' stuff and Projects for linking to our own stuff, but there's no good place for linking to our friends stuff.
posted by roll truck roll at 6:20 PM on April 11, 2012


Put it in your profile or get your friend a MeFi account and tell them to put it on Projects. Both of those work really well.

There is literally The Rest of the Internet for linking to your friends' projects otherwise.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:24 PM on April 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


My best advice to someone who has a friend who does awesome stuff that they would post to Projects if it was their own stuff is to explain Mefi and Projects to said friend and either gift them an account or suggest they purchase their own. Then they can, themselves, use Projects in a totally sanctioned way and nobody is put in any sort of compromising position.

Though as far as that goes it's important to make sure your friend is going to actually grok mefi and not sort of shit around on the site. I send fewer of my own friends gift accounts than I used to.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:26 PM on April 11, 2012


I've often wished for a "link to your friends" site. -- That's what Facebook is for. Or your own blog. Or the boingboing submitterator.
posted by crunchland at 6:27 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Perhaps "no friends" is a rule, but...

You lost me right there.
posted by Trurl at 6:28 PM on April 11, 2012


How is this any worse than the ad for some leather goods place?
posted by Ideefixe at 6:36 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I solve this by not having any friends.
posted by The Deej at 6:37 PM on April 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Ideefixe: "How is this any worse than the ad for some leather goods place?"

Because it's a violation of the rules, and because it's written from a position of reduced perspective.
posted by Bugbread at 6:42 PM on April 11, 2012


What about friends with benefits?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:42 PM on April 11, 2012


How is this any worse than the ad for some leather goods place?

On the off chance that you're asking this because you don't know: friendslinks are always not okay and are deleted. Otherwise the community sort of checks out the posts and decides how they feel about them. So it's worse because it was a friendslink, we don't even get to the content of the post at this point, it's axed.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:42 PM on April 11, 2012


How is this any worse than the ad for some leather goods place?

Because ColdChef is not a close personal friend of the leather goods dude. I do not understand what is unclear there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:43 PM on April 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


At the rate some people are spousing, soon all the internet will be family AND THEN WHAT CAN WE POST?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:44 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Perhaps full disclosure shouldn't be unconditionally punished

If you wanted to avoid the punishment you deserve, you should have brought out the leather goods.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:47 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, IIRC, linking to commercial concerns that make neat things you can buy has been done in the past, and frequently - but there's usually something more than an ad pitch at work to make the FPP worthwhile, as was the case in the aforesaid leather man-bag puppy post.

Also, those who post them aren't friends or in a commercial relationship with the person who owns the linked-to enterprise.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:53 PM on April 11, 2012


Oh, you know. Chatting at the urinals or whatever.

You know, I wish you extroverts would just shut up and let a guy take a leak in peace. I mean, really, what is wrong with you?
posted by mlis at 6:56 PM on April 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I solve this by always using a stall.
posted by The Deej at 7:03 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


ThePinkSuperhero writes "Oh, please. If you honestly think posting an interesting article by someone you happen to know to a group blog and stealing are the same thing, I don't even know what to say."

They are obviously not the same but if one posits the existence of a continuum of bad or things people don't do then one can rank things according to their badness or perceived unlikelihood of doing. So one might rank self posting as more bad than jaywalking or stealing a loaf of bread but less bad than stealing a car or activities deserving the special hell like talking at the theatre.
posted by Mitheral at 7:06 PM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Deej writes "I solve this by always using a stall."

Sadly this doesn't stop some people.
posted by Mitheral at 7:07 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


That people can sometimes in theory get away with breaking one of the few brightline rules we have around here does not make it okay to do so.

This concept is literally the core of civilized society. It is not OK to break the rules just because no one is looking.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:07 PM on April 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


roll truck roll: "I've often wished for a "link to your friends" site. Not a subsite; more like a spinoff site. We have MeFi for linking to strangers' stuff and Projects for linking to our own stuff, but there's no good place for linking to our friends stuff."

*Cough*
posted by dg at 7:08 PM on April 11, 2012


Clearly the you just need to "Strangers on train"-ize this problem.
posted by Chekhovian at 7:15 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


You could have also had your friend sign up and post to Projects.
posted by odinsdream at 7:17 PM on April 11, 2012


Clearly the you just need to "Strangers on train"-ize this problem.

I'll post your FPP if you'll murder my father?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:26 PM on April 11, 2012 [13 favorites]


It seems like all this stuff could be coordinated on the metafilter backchannels I'm always hearing about. So why isn't there some sort of pseudo anonymous independent site for people to coordinate this? Small stakes I guess? If our corporate overlords ever take more interest in this site the mods are going to have to level up their sleuth skills, that's for sure.
posted by Chekhovian at 7:40 PM on April 11, 2012


Was it really so crucial to tell us the earth-shattering news about some comedian's get-rich-quick scheme?
posted by crunchland at 7:40 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is not OK to break the rules just because no one is looking.

Whatever. I'm not putting my pants back on.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:47 PM on April 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


I had qualms about this link to the iOS King of Dragon Pass release because I'd done a bit of beta testing for it. Flicked the mods an email, got an okay for the posting back in half an hour or so.

Given that's always an option for corner cases, I don't think the bright line rule works badly.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:49 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah on the occasion when I've had some questions about grey-area maybe-too-close-to-the-situation potential posts, the mods have always been really helpful (and down-to-earth and honest) in answering whether it'll fly. A+++ would use contact form again.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:51 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now hold on. Wait a just frikken minute. Lemme get this straight.

You broke the only hard-and-fast, 100% certain, absolutely for sure, no getting around this ever, here ... read this again in case you're unsure; rule: and now you're surprised by and complaining about the result?

Good grief.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:53 PM on April 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


So there was this Nature article on Perverse incentives in science research that I really wanted to FPP. But its behind a paywall. So I spent some time looking for a fig leaf. No luck. And I can't make a blog review of it and link to that because of this rule.

So one could, purely theoretically here, send this article to a 3rd party mefite, have them make a blog post about it. Then one could post a link to their blog post? And then we could derail and discuss the actual article rather than the review?

Basically, fuck you paywalls.
posted by Chekhovian at 7:56 PM on April 11, 2012


i thought it was newsworthy, and made another FPP about the topic which includes your link as well as others.

I'm not sure I particularly like the fact the link ended up getting posted anyway by another member. I'm not sure I want to argue about it, but I don't think I like it.
posted by crossoverman at 8:03 PM on April 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm beginning to think that ZenMasterThis is actually a performance artist acting out the persona of Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 8:07 PM on April 11, 2012


How can someone who's been here since 2002, and made 60 posts and 3,700 comments to the blue, not know that it's forbidden to make posts linking to stuff produced by people one knows, and that this is basically a corollary to the one and only rock-hard MetaFilter rule prohibiting self-linking?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:13 PM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Earlier today I was reading a metatalk thread, and agreeing with a comment there to the effect that the mods here are ridiculously patient, and ridiculously willing to explain over and over and over again, in nuanced and carefully logical terms, policies that really don't require much in the way of explanation, and I thought about posting a comment myself agreeing with the first comment, but I decided against it, because it felt a bit too much like sucking up.

And now somebody's complaining that their post got yanked for breaking the biggest rule on the site, and somebody else is questioning why that against-the-clearly-stated-rules post is any worse that the post from the earlier metatalk thread, that didn't violate any rules at all.

So I'd just like to say: the mods here are ridiculously patient. If I had to do their job I'd have gnawed off my own foot by now.
posted by Ipsifendus at 8:17 PM on April 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


The third option might be, if you're incidentally too close to a thing that would otherwise make a good post, run it by another member that's totally neutral, & let them make the post if they find it worthy.

A few years back, I found a pretty cool video, but was friends of friends with some folks in it, so I sent a link to another member here I'm on good terms with, and they decided it was worth posting. They hand no vested interest or attachment, and folks liked his post, so yay.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:18 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


So why isn't there some sort of pseudo anonymous independent site for people to coordinate this

No need for anonymity. Metachat has been mentioned a couple times. Don't be all "Plz post this to MF for me kthnx" but when cool things are linked there they often migrate here, and vice-versa.
posted by muddgirl at 8:19 PM on April 11, 2012


What about?

*Cough cough cough cough Plz post this to MF for me kthnx cough cough cough cough*
posted by Chekhovian at 9:13 PM on April 11, 2012


Or I could join reddit and post the link there with the hope of pollinating metafilter.

*Shudders the thought of joining reddit*
posted by Chekhovian at 9:14 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


reddit would down vote that link so fast you would feel banned.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:28 PM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


If I had WITHHELD this fact, the post would NOT have been deleted

During a flameout in MetaTalk once, somebody said he knew about several people who had slipped self-link FPPs under the radar repeatedly. It came off as rather empty bluster, like a kid insisting that he knows "a secret," but who knows.

Honestly, I don't think posting a self-link FPP would be hard to get away with if somebody felt inclined. Maybe part of the reason it isn't a bigger problem is that, as Cortex noted above, the Internet is a big place and this isn't the most high-traffic site. But I suspect the reason self-links don't happen more often has more to do with the fact that moderators know it would absolutely kill the site's viability, and so they police it actively.

I used to work in an independent record store that shared a parking lot diagonally across from a Tower Records. Both stores had problems with customer theft, but it was a much worse problem over at Tower. The reason was simple: We kept our employees on the sales floor, and they were paying attention. That's all it takes. It doesn't eradicate the problem completely, but it reduces it by something like 80%, especially when the would-be thieves can just walk across the parking lot to find easier pickin's.

I think the fact that self-linking is the "one true crime" at MetaFilter, and that mods are therefore constantly on the lookout for it, is the single biggest reason (maybe apart from the $5 signup fee) why self-links don't happen a lot more often.
posted by cribcage at 9:32 PM on April 11, 2012


During a flameout in MetaTalk once, somebody said he knew about several people who had slipped self-link FPPs under the radar repeatedly.

That was a she, actually.
posted by asterix at 10:15 PM on April 11, 2012


Or I could join reddit and post the link there with the hope of pollinating metafilter.

Not if you value your spleen.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:37 PM on April 11, 2012


We could enforce a $5 fine for every self-link, would go into the tip-jar for doughnuts.
posted by arcticseal at 10:41 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


> What about friends with benefits?

Terrible movie, I think.
posted by vidur at 10:54 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

If I had WITHHELD this fact, the post would NOT have been deleted, and a thoughtful and lively dialog would have continued to ensue.
But it would still have violated the rules, you would just have gotten away with it.
posted by delmoi at 3:14 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


So why isn't there some sort of pseudo anonymous independent site for people to coordinate this

There's a page on the wiki where people who really want an FPP on a certain topic but are too close to the material can see if anybody else wants to pull a post together.

It seems to have fallen into disuse, though.
posted by the latin mouse at 4:38 AM on April 12, 2012


It seems like all this stuff could be coordinated on the metafilter backchannels I'm always hearing about. So why isn't there some sort of pseudo anonymous independent site for people to coordinate this?

That sounds like a lot of work to post to a place where people would rather fight about the framing of a post than read the links.

I keed, I keed! Mostly.
posted by rtha at 6:17 AM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


We could enforce a $5 fine for every self-link, would go into the tip-jar for doughnuts.

More self-links = more donuts? SIGN ME UP. I will post a self-link every day.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:03 AM on April 12, 2012


ThePinkSuperhero: "Oh, please. If you honestly think posting an interesting article by someone you happen to know to a group blog and stealing are the same thing, I don't even know what to say."

They're not the same thing, of course.

But breaking a very clearly and repeatedly stated community rule (it's on the posting page!) is a violation of trust.
posted by zarq at 7:08 AM on April 12, 2012


covenant : an agreement between God and his people in which God makes certain promises and requires certain behavior from them in return.
posted by crunchland at 7:29 AM on April 12, 2012


During a flameout in MetaTalk once, somebody said he knew about several people who had slipped self-link FPPs under the radar repeatedly.

That was a she, actually.


My impression was that her "knowledge" of such things existed only in her mind; self-fabricated to allow her to claim she wasn't doing anything wrong.
posted by LionIndex at 7:33 AM on April 12, 2012


But what if you are like me and consider _everyone_ your friend, including people you don't know?
posted by fuq at 7:34 AM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


crunchland: "covenant : an agreement between God and his people in which God makes certain promises and requires certain behavior from them in return."

You reeeeally have to wonder about that whole passage. It's totally unrealistic.

I mean, a more honest reaction would be: "You want me to snip off my WHAT?! OH. HELL NO!
posted by zarq at 7:35 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Don't forget the rainbows!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:10 AM on April 12, 2012


Confessing your sins does not make them okay.

(Unless they are sexy sins.)
posted by Sys Rq at 8:39 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I had WITHHELD this fact, the post would NOT have been deleted, and a thoughtful and lively dialog would have continued to ensue.

You could say the same thing if you had written the post yourself under a different pseudonym. Just because enforcing the rules is sometimes difficult doesn't mean the rules shouldn't be enforced. And it's not like there's no way to investigate who's friends with whom on the internet these days.

Perhaps "no friends" is a rule, but how does this make sense and how is it good policy?

People are biased in favor of their friends, so they would tend to use less good judgment. And that's for people who are posting in good faith. You'd also get people who don't honestly believe the linking their posting is high-quality content, but who are just doing a favor for their friends. I know you may truly believe you're a completely impartial judge of your friends' work, but that opinion is also skewed. This is nothing against you -- everyone is partial toward their friends. By the way, there's nothing inherently wrong with linking to friends -- you can do it on your own blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. But Metafilter is a specific site that has made a decision to have certain characteristics, and one of them is that an FPP isn't supposed to promote the poster's friends or family.

Perhaps posts like mine should be judged more on a case-by-case basis?

Adjudicating all those cases would be a huge, new, complex job for the mods.
posted by John Cohen at 8:42 AM on April 12, 2012


If God's so happy, why are rainbows frowning?
posted by maryr at 8:53 AM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


"This rule sucks because I could have gotten away with breaking it but I didn't."

That's not the way I interpret it. This rule sucks because it it is not a valid detector of self/friend-promotion, and cannot be enforced if someone wants to ignore it. There are many situations where a friend may be doing something extremely interesting that you wish to bring to the attention of the MetaFilter community. If it is all about their work, and has nothing to do with promoting them, what is wrong with that? On the other hand, self promotion, or promotion of a friend's work for promotion's sake can usually be detected more readily than having an all-out ban. The rule should simply say that MetaFilter wants to promote ideas rather than individuals. It's a judgement call.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:36 AM on April 12, 2012


If God's so happy, why are rainbows frowning?
posted by maryr at 8:53 AM on April 12


...Aaand I only have myself to blame for reading this thread during a meeting, because that comment right there just caught me off guard, and just snorted out loud.

And now it's a little awkward.
posted by anitanita at 9:47 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Confessing your sins does not make them okay.
You fix that by adding this comment:
We could enforce a $5 fine for every self-link, would go into the tip-jar for doughnuts.

Then you have to think of some nifty name for selling these sorts of indulgences. Something with an x in it would sound cool. And then 100 years go by and cardinal mods will have grown fat and corrupt from their long term sale of self-links.

Then eventually some FPP with 95 points gets posted and there's a big schism and we get centuries of holy war.
posted by Chekhovian at 9:50 AM on April 12, 2012


That's not the way I interpret it. This rule sucks because it it is not a valid detector of self/friend-promotion, and cannot be enforced if someone wants to ignore it.

It's not supposed to detect anything. It's supposed to tell mefites "Don't self- or friends-link." And no rule is enforceable if someone chooses to break it.
posted by rtha at 9:50 AM on April 12, 2012


As a new parent, I read these kinds of MeTa posts intently to see how I should respond if my kid ever decides to do something against the rules, mouths off, or makes some kind of weird argument for why they ought to be allowed to do something I already said they couldn't.

I mean, what if my kid told me that the 9PM bed time rule sucks because it's a judgment call and not intended to be a self-promotion of individual efforts to stay awake for late-night telly? I would need to channel some serious Mefi Mod-mode in order to avoid the gut reaction of slapping his head.
posted by CancerMan at 10:02 AM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


There are many situations where a friend may be doing something extremely interesting that you wish to bring to the attention of the MetaFilter community.

Generally the issue is that you as a friend aren't the best person to impartially decide what is interesting.
posted by smackfu at 10:29 AM on April 12, 2012


If I had to do their job I'd have gnawed off my own foot by now.

Ah, but you never see their feet in pics do you?
posted by philipy at 10:43 AM on April 12, 2012


I have a rule that says I stay out of threads that I don't care about.

*thinks to self, but what if I acknowledge I'm breaking my own rule when I enter into a dumb thread? That makes it ok right?*

Ah, ha! That must mean I can follow my rule and break it at the same time!

--head explodes--
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:06 AM on April 12, 2012


Perhaps "no friends" is a rule, but how does this make sense and how is it good policy? Perhaps posts like mine should be judged more on a case-by-case basis? Perhaps full disclosure shouldn't be unconditionally punished, lest it be withheld by future FPPosters?

I know this has been covered, but "No Friends" is a rule. "No Friends unless you admit to them being your friend" is not. That's because the ban isn't in place to keep people from promoting things they're involved with in a deceptive manner, it's to keep people from promoting things they're involved with.

Does this mean that some good conversations never happen? Probably. But in exchange it keeps Metafilter from becoming another venue for self promotion, which the mods (and I bet most of the community), feel is a worthwhile trade.


covenant : an agreement between God and his people in which God makes certain promises and requires certain behavior from them in return.


You cannot Petition the Mods With prayer!
posted by Gygesringtone at 11:10 AM on April 12, 2012


This is a community weblog, god dammit. We don't chew off our own feet on this website. We chew off each other's feet.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:12 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are many situations where a friend may be doing something extremely interesting that you wish to bring to the attention of the MetaFilter community.

If the friend's work is all that and a bag of chips it'll be worth the $5 to get your friend an account and if they agree on the awesomeness they can post it to projects. And then if the impartial membership agrees it'll be posted to the front page.
posted by Mitheral at 12:41 PM on April 12, 2012


When did the rule change from "Don't self-link, but you can post your friends cool shit as long as you don't make any money."?

This is a serious question. I haven't read the rules of the site since there became actual written rules of the site.
posted by Jeremy at 1:16 PM on April 12, 2012


I don't think it was ever about who made money. It was more about how posting stuff your friend made might cloud your judgement about the quality of the links. About how you might be willing to post something sub-par in order to curry favor with your friend. Which is why sending the link to some other mefite to post is pretty much the same deal... that person might go ahead and post it even if the link is sub-par because they don't want to hurt your feelings by telling you that your friend's stuff sucks.
posted by crunchland at 1:22 PM on April 12, 2012


When did the rule change from "Don't self-link, but you can post your friends cool shit as long as you don't make any money."?

2001, 2002 maybe?

At the dawn of Metafilter, there was no proscription on self-linking, but it became an explicit no-no somewhere within the first year or so after a couple folks kept doing it and the userbase got very vocally meh about that. (Back then people were using "self-posting" as the lingo, if I recall from some of the archeological work I did on this a few years back.) I believe the no-friend-linking thing came along with that pretty quickly as the policy evolved from a "hey, user x, stop posting your blog" annoyance to more of a full on "people, stop abusing Mefi to promote stuff you have a stake in" policy issue. But someone would have to go do some research to really nail down the sequence and timing.

But, yeah, for years and years now. Certainly since well before I actually started working here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:24 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just wanted to chime in about the stealing analogy. It made perfect sense and TPS came off as deliberately obtuse. Apologies if that wasn't the case but I was shaking my head. Analogies aren't about comparing the exact same things typically. It gets complex sometimes (like the supposed anti-fitness sentiment vs. systemic racism mentioned recently; those things clearly are not analagous) and context matters. But basically stealing is against the rules whether you get caught or not and so is friend-linking. Nobody said expressly or implied that they are the same thing. But they are both rules , unless we want to parse things further and say that laws and rules can't be compared.
posted by aydeejones at 2:37 PM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


philipy: "Ah, but you never see their feet in pics do you?"

Why do you think none of them have ever left? It's hard to get another job that consists entirely of sitting around reading MeFi and, without feet, lots of options are unavailable.
posted by dg at 2:43 PM on April 12, 2012


The problem I have with analogies is that, like TPS demonstrated, people rightly get nit-picky about the details. Stealing is generally illegal - it's illegal to steal from pretty much everyone. The ban against self-linking is a single-site policy - it's more of a community norm than a law. It's more like how restaurants have dress codes that require a jacket. No, a t-shirt screen-printed to look like a suit jacket still does not count. No, you can't come in wearing a jacket and then take it off in the bathroom. Yes, you can still go to MacDonalds in your shirtsleeves if you'd like.

Maybe the nit-picky details of your analogy don't really matter to your point, but they might matter to other people who are trying to contextualize this rule.
posted by muddgirl at 2:51 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


In my case it's just that I have incomprehensibly, mind-wreckingly beautiful feet. It'd be a crime, literally a felony, to display them in public. Sort of an attractive-nuisance-meets-Lovecraft dealio. My lawyer can give you the details.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:53 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm envisioning cortex keeping his feet in a little bubble like David Duchovny in Mystery Men.
posted by arcticseal at 3:49 PM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wasn't being obtuse; I was more aghast that anyone would compare a rule on a website, more of a community norm than moral law (the jacket analogy fits well), to stealing. I didn't realize there were so many schoolmarms on site. Consider me schooled.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:46 PM on April 12, 2012


It's well known that schoolmarms are the only people on the planet who object to violating community norms. They're super weird like that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:12 PM on April 12, 2012


It takes all kinds of people to make a world! Sleep tight, all my little marms.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:20 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Someone could write a thesis paper about how much the schoolyard dynamic makes this place go the way it does.
posted by crunchland at 9:20 PM on April 12, 2012


I'm apparently insufficiently schoolmarmish enough to have looked out my window and seen the malefactor who threw a huge rock through my downstairs neighbor's bedroom window (directly below mine and where I'm sitting) about an hour ago. I probably would have if I'd had my window open and heard glass breaking; as it was, I only heard a loud thump and related noise, which I thought was her slamming something.

She just knocked on my door asking about it. She was out and just got home. I feel like I let her down, somehow.

She's also way, way younger than I thought she was. I was like nineteen when I first got my own apartment. But still. Damn.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:29 PM on April 12, 2012


self-linking/proxy-linking policy wherein I answer my own question with a little inspiration from cortex

MeFiMob reached consensus in 2001. How we've come to find ourselves where we are from the man himself (December 6, 2006).

A few historically interesting MetaTalk threads related to self-linking and partially illustrating the winding road we took to the current policy:
Im-sorry-I-called-out-a-user-who-selflinked (January 10, 2001)
The-Great-Crime-of-SelfLinking (April 4, 2001)
Can-I-Selflink-in-Comments (April 19, 2001)
is-self-promotion-always-wrong (May 11, 2001)
Selfblogger (June 11, 2001)
Selflinks-in-comments (June 18, 2001)
Giving-your-own-weblog-a-via-credit (July 5, 2001)
Selflinking-is-a-nono (July 25, 2001)
What-if-you-get-someone-else-to-post-your-otherwiseselflink (February 3, 2003)

Past Exceptions:
Another-Blackhawk-Down
A-historical-oddity-selflink-gets-a-pass (December 11, 2004)

Seems my understanding of the self-linking policy dated from early 2000. *shame*
posted by Jeremy at 11:37 PM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nice round up. All is forgiven!
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:01 AM on April 13, 2012


"Ah, but you never see their feet in pics do you?"

No, mathowie just can't draw feet.
posted by maryr at 4:03 PM on April 13, 2012


Actually here is a blatant self link from April 2000 where mathowie's response is "please don't use the font tag in posts". So at some point there wasn't a rule at all...
posted by smackfu at 5:36 PM on April 13, 2012


Yeah at some point when the site only had a few hundred users there wasn't really a reason to have a rule about it because no one in their right mind would think that a link on MeFi would get them anything other than some eyeballs from some blogger types. It's a little tough to track down some early policy stuff because there was no MeTa and we didn't save deleted stuff so if something got axed it got totally memory holed.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:40 PM on April 13, 2012



At the rate some people are spousing, soon all the internet will be family AND THEN WHAT CAN WE POST?


Oh Please! Just cuz we are spoused doesn't mean we KNOW each other.
or are friends
posted by a humble nudibranch at 2:20 AM on April 14, 2012


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