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April 23, 2012 2:28 AM   Subscribe

Deletion clarification request!

Well, I've been lurking for a few years now, and after joining a few months ago, I finally got up the courage to submit a post to metafilter! Alas, it didn't go well, and it was immediately deleted. ("This is a single link 'bad thing that happened someplace' post. maybe if it's a big deal put together a longer post about it, but this isn't really conducive to decent discussion.")

Looking at the blue as of this typing, 6 of the first 10 posts I see are "single links" with commentary already started on them. A state flagship school (with 50,000 students!) making a change of this magnitude is something that's generated a good deal of commentary on other internet places I frequent. (I suppose I could have put the links IN the article in my FPP, but it felt like redundant padding when they were already available in the article itself...)

Before I made the post, I checked for similar posts made by other users in the past to see if this sort of thing would be appropriate. Is there a better way to judge the potential for deletion aside from referencing past and current metafilter posts? This was my first time trying to contribute, and right now I'm not entirely sure I should try again. :(

I guess in my lurking I only see posts that didn't get deleted, so despite having read the FAQs and etc, perhaps I'm missing some unspoken rule of etiquette here? (hopefully I'm not breaching another by making this post here!)

preposting edit!: okay, I looked at that deleted metafilter threads blogspot, and it looks like I am not alone! So I guess I don't have to worry so much now about it being a me thing (whew), especially since people were already commenting on the first person's thread attempt, but I guess I am still a little perplexed that something this important isn't considered to be relevant news. I have a lot of concern over America's broken college system, so any sign that public education is straying even farther away from its intended purpose seems (IMHO) really noteworthy.

Thank you very much for reading my question!
posted by Estraven to Etiquette/Policy at 2:28 AM (115 comments total)

I flagged it, because I thought it was local news outragefilter.

something this important isn't considered to be relevant news

Mefi isn't a news site. Being newsworthy (and, from my perspective, the US's education system being borked isn't really news) isn't a guarantee of being mefiworthy.
posted by pompomtom at 2:47 AM on April 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Sorry, further to that:

Is there a better way to judge the potential for deletion aside from referencing past and current metafilter posts

The rule I've always found helpful (and I don't post much), is that if something makes you think "Oh, hey, this is cool, people will like to see this" then it's a good chance it'll make a good post. If you think "Oh, people should see this", it's probably not a good fit.
posted by pompomtom at 2:53 AM on April 23, 2012 [20 favorites]


A well-framed, well-sourced, well-presented post about America's broken college system that goes more in-depth and presents some analysis of what's happening would definitely be interesting and something I think a lot of people here would be avid to discuss, but "Look At The Fucked Up Shit This One University Is Doing," is less gooder.

Even though you've been lurking and reading, unless you've been also reading Metatalk, you may not be aware of a lot of conventions and issues that are often under discussion here. One of them is the Outragefilter sort of post, and if you search for that, you'll find a lot of discussion. In a nutshell, though, "here's-some-terrible-news" is not usually a good post. We absolutely have no requirement that standard posts have more than one link, but we have a much higher bar for news/political posts, and if they don't give more light than heat, they're usually deleted. It's not often that a single link is sufficient for providing more context, background and analysis for one of these bad news stories than one could get from just looking at a regular news media site (which we aren't), so that's what the "single-link" reference is about here.

Also, just so you know... everyone who posts here with any regularity has had posts deleted. Everyone. We don't view that as a smackdown, or punitive at all; it's usually part of the process that builds skills for making better posts. Pretty much nobody arrives here with perfect ninja posting skills.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:54 AM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's been discussed here pretty well before on MeTa, as pompomtom says if it's a good interesting link then no problems but "you should see this and be outraged" links rarely last. As for it not goign well, you haven't seen the half of it. Welcome!
posted by arcticseal at 3:28 AM on April 23, 2012


everyone who posts here with any regularity has had posts deleted. Everyone.

I don't know if 58 posts to the blue (and 180 including the other subsites) counts as posting "with regularity" but I don't think I have ever had a post deleted (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong). So it is possible.

Posting this was probably tempting fate/meddling in the affairs of dragons.
posted by grouse at 4:18 AM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


everyone who posts here with any regularity has had posts deleted. Everyone.
Nope.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:00 AM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd like to stress that the emphasis here is not on the "single link." Single link posts are fabulous, they're great, they are often the best of the web and the best of Metafilter. What was wrong with that post was the sense that there are literally an infinite number of similar posts that could be made about middling-level outrages around the world. Many of them affect many more than 50000 people. Most of them are bad posts for Metafilter because they don't contain any content beyond the middling-level outrage.
posted by OmieWise at 5:03 AM on April 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Also, I'm not sure I've ever had a post deleted, but I'd like to know.
posted by OmieWise at 5:04 AM on April 23, 2012


Which is not to say I haven't made crappy posts. I remember one in particular that was just inane, and should have been deleted.
posted by OmieWise at 5:04 AM on April 23, 2012


I don't really see the problem with dropping Computer Science. It's just one field. It's not like they're dropping every branch of academics, or even all of the hard ones. It sucks for UF Computer Scientists, but kids who want to learn that will go elsewhere, just like kids who want to be painting majors don't go to Johns Hopkins.
posted by Plutor at 5:30 AM on April 23, 2012


but "Look At The Fucked Up Shit This One University Is Doing," is less gooder.

posted by taz (staff) at 10:54 AM on April 23


Please don't ever do that again. Not even as a joke. It isn't funny.
posted by Decani at 5:39 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am still a little perplexed that something this important isn't considered to be relevant news. I have a lot of concern over America's broken college system, so any sign that public education is straying even farther away from its intended purpose seems (IMHO) really noteworthy.

Noteworthy, in that you believe people should take notice and act to prevent such occurrences? You own stated reason for posting are filled with keywords that act as little flags --- "this important" "relevant" "a lot of concern" ---- to denote outrage-filter. You think people ought to know about this and get pissed off.

It can be a fine line sometimes for sure, but the general rule here is that a post should be interesting in and of itself and not just a pretext for getting people riled up about Very Bad Things. An interesting post could even be made about this topic --- but you'd have to bring in a larger context about how this dipshit move by the university reflects a broader trend. Otherwise it's just textbook, "hey, look at these assholes."
posted by Diablevert at 5:45 AM on April 23, 2012


I've had a bunch of posts deleted. I'd bet at least 10. Some were doubles. A few simply weren't good for the site. It happens. As taz said, it's not personal. It's not a punishment.

The nice thing about this place is you can always post again in 24 hours.
posted by zarq at 5:50 AM on April 23, 2012


Decani: "Please don't ever do that again. Not even as a joke. It isn't funny."

Please don't ever speak ex cathedra on what is and what is not funny.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:14 AM on April 23, 2012 [40 favorites]


Decani definitely isn't making this thread any funner.
posted by Think_Long at 6:16 AM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


UF's athletic department also happens to make money. Why cut a profitable department? Too knee-jerky, this post.
posted by fleacircus at 6:26 AM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Everyone stop doing that thing when I blow this whistle.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:27 AM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is this in the FAQ yet?
posted by Jpfed at 6:28 AM on April 23, 2012


Less gooderly.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:36 AM on April 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


Slightly baddish?
posted by Think_Long at 6:45 AM on April 23, 2012


I flagged it, because I thought it was local news outragefilter.

I really expected this to be up on metafilter when I read about it last night. Now, granted, I'm a UF alum (though ironically I read it on the facebook of someone who I went to high school with in NJ), but UF is the 7th largest campus in the US with nearly 50,000 students during the academic year. It was ranked 19th overall in the US News rankings for 2012. It's not like this is some tiny community college somewhere.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:14 AM on April 23, 2012


Please don't ever do that again. Not even as a joke. It isn't funny.

No, it's fucking hilarious.
posted by hippybear at 7:18 AM on April 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


Metafilter posts are nominally supposed to represent the "best of the web". Commonly this takes the form of a link to something "great", whether it's a written piece, artist page, video, etc. It's true that there are often posts about current events in which the links are factual and not particularly noteworthy on their own. In such circumstances the post itself, and the discussion that follows, should also be "great".

What makes content "great" is up for debate, but to me a common property of "issue" posts is that they educate, inform, and especially challenge the reader. Reading a good post could educate you about something you are unlikely to have encountered before, or cause you to reconsider your opinion or even develop an entirely new perspective on more familiar issues. MeFites will be able to build on something meaty and challenging and explore it from many different angles, which will lead to a rich discussion.

The main difference between the deleted post and your examples is that the examples all contained something challenging or provoking. The Atlantic article on college sports did a great job dissecting and exploring a complex issue. The other two were a little weaker, but still presented an unusual perspective which could be discussed and debated -- and which might be a perspective that most MeFites hadn't considered before. Posts that serve only to reinforce a common perspective generally get deleted (xyz sucks, amirite?) because they do not generate any commentary that hasn't already been said, and because they don't cause users to think before they post, which means the discussion is reactionary and closed-off. News posts without some kind of interesting framing or in-depth context likewise just serve as a prompt for people to agree or disagree, and thread-dump whatever it is they already know or believe about the topic. There has to be somewhere for the post to go.
posted by PercussivePaul at 7:20 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


While I think this post could have used more fleshing out (since we seem to insist on treating universities like big trade schools, what percentage of US jobs go to people with computer science degrees or how many CS graduates the University of Florida turns out per year?) but if something being a bad thing that happened somewhere is grounds for deletion, the blue is going to be a pretty sparse place.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:23 AM on April 23, 2012


I'll just put this here in case the next person who wants to post on the topic feels the need to make the cuts about the Athletic program rather than the State government

UAA Annual Report. PDF Warning
posted by JPD at 7:28 AM on April 23, 2012


Decani: "Please don't ever do that again. Not even as a joke. It isn't funny."

I laughed.
posted by octothorpe at 7:34 AM on April 23, 2012


The mods have started going overboard with deletions lately. And then people see those deletions and recalibrate their flagging, and so more posts get flagged, and it just gets worse and worse.

Because really, this is not an unusual FPP for MetaFilter. Or maybe it is, nowadays.
posted by smackfu at 7:50 AM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Like is this the bar for a FPP nowadays?

A well-framed, well-sourced, well-presented post about America's broken college system that goes more in-depth and presents some analysis of what's happening would definitely be interesting
posted by smackfu at 7:52 AM on April 23, 2012


It was pure flame bait the way it was phrased and consisted of little more than a single post to a Forbes content farm article. That's a pretty low bar.
posted by JPD at 7:59 AM on April 23, 2012


Personally I thought this was a really bad deletion and almost made a MeTa to register my disgust throughout the word. I'm in academia, though, so I could be biased about this story's earth-shattering importance.

As a data point, though, you can't beat the one-for-one tradeoff between Knowledge and Football.
posted by gerryblog at 7:59 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


smackfu: "The mods have started going overboard with deletions lately. "

Citation needed.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:00 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the last 48-ish hours there were three posts deleted, but two of them were the same one. The other one was a link to something behind a paywall.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:04 AM on April 23, 2012


I think there are lots of posts where a) something noteworthy or emblematic its suckyness happens b) other framing links are included c) the userbase ignores the background and focuses on the noteworthy event. In this case, the linked article itself is pretty poor. Even if the existence of bad-thing is really the story, someone having done a good job writing it up is important.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 8:05 AM on April 23, 2012


(feel free to correct me if I'm wrong)

Nope, you're right. And OmieWise, you've had six deleted for a variety of reasons. I've had three deleted [two doubles and an "Oh shit I posted before my 24 hours were up" situation].

And I think the single link thing is a red herring, there are a lot of great single link posts for MeFi but if the post is largely "Look at this terrible shit that is happening!" a single link editorial post [we used to call them Single Link Blog Op-Eds but have leaned away from the acronyms recently] is not so great. In this case, about this topic, a larger "This is what is going on here" post would have probably been okay, a "Wow these people are idiots" post is less okay. And some of this is just being stuck in the sun-up to the US elections where some people think every "Romney did a dumb thing!" post is worth a discussion here and many many other people don't. We have a community here that has varying interests and political-type posts (of the "People in power did a dumb thing") are always going to be a bit of a crapshoot.

Estraven, I'm sorry I didn't drop you a note or something. We usually don't like to leave new users hanging with a "What happened here?" thing and I should have dropped you a note.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:06 AM on April 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Citation needed.

I bet cortex could run some stats on that!
posted by smackfu at 8:09 AM on April 23, 2012


Even I have had posts deleted, and I'm the greatest person ever.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:10 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have mixed feelings about this deletion. I don't blame the mods for doing so, as I can see how the framing of the post...a link to a single op-ed piece which essentially amounts to, "LOOK AT THIS TERRIBLE THING THAT IS HAPPENING AND BE UPSET ABOUT IT" meets the deletable "Outrage-Filter" threshold.

On the other hand, the first incarnation of this post had the beginnings of what I thought was a potentially interesting discussion about how the comparison between the athletic and CS departments was a false equivalency, how the athletics department is a money-maker for the university that can actually drive money back to academic departments (whether or not this is actually true I have no idea, which I guess speaks to the weak framing of the deleted posts). But I can definitely also see how this could have turned into a more typical anti-sports, THIS IS AN OUTRAGE mess, so hard for me to argue with the decision here.
posted by The Gooch at 8:13 AM on April 23, 2012


And I guess it just seems so arbitrary. A single link op-ed post about guns gets deleted. Reposted immediately with one more link and it lives and has exactly the same discussion. Posts are deleted because they should be follow-ups to open threads, even an obit post! But then a new single link blog post about e-book pricing stays up, even though it's already been posted here as comments to a post a few days old.

I know people can justify any deletion after the fact, but I think people would have a really hard time predicting some of these deletions in advance. And that just worries me.
posted by smackfu at 8:13 AM on April 23, 2012


I bet cortex could run some stats on that!

Or, you know, you could, as the person making the assertion. Data's available, have at it, if this is something you actually want to get behind. I can give you some pointers on where to start, Infodump-wise, if you're not sure what's out there and don't want to look through the docs on the wiki yourself.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:15 AM on April 23, 2012


I'm not sure how I feel about those claiming they've never had a post deleted.
posted by infini at 8:17 AM on April 23, 2012


And I guess it just seems so arbitrary.

There is no unified theory of posting. Any attempt to make sure that some simple equation will yield a 100% predictive "yes" or "no" about whether the input is a post that will be deleted is doomed. This should not be news. If that's what it would take to avoid the label of "arbitrary", then, yes. In practice, we're human, we use guidelines and community input, and we deal with stuff on a case by case basis over time. Flexibility is and always has been a watchword; I don't know if you're imagining some golden age where mathowie was some kind of magic post-adjudicating robot and nobody argued about stuff in Metatalk or what.

A single link op-ed post about guns gets deleted. Reposted immediately with one more link and it lives and has exactly the same discussion.

A situation we weren't thrilled about but we ran with it once it popped up the second time to see if it would go okay. It went...okay. Not great. We talked about that one a lot.

Posts are deleted because they should be follow-ups to open threads

Which is a long-standing bit of policy and something that if anything we've been a little lax on in the last year or two.

even an obit post!

A man died a day or two after there had been a loving "this guy is totally dying, and also here's what's been interesting about his career" thread and post. This was not a case of deleting an obit post because someone had mentioned his discography in a post several years earlier; the obit thread was literally reproducing the de facto obit thread that was very active.

But then a new single link blog post about e-book pricing stays up, even though it's already been posted here as comments to a post a few days old.

Having been mentioned in the comments of another thread has never been hard-and-fast double territory; if anything it's generally fine, and there have been exceptions where a new post made a bit less sense for situation-specific reasons.

And, you know, none of this is like "you must memorize this stuff or you a bad poster" stuff. We know there's a lot of little wrinkles and subtleties that come up in metatalk when we're talking about moderation guidelines and policy beyond the really stark bright-line stuff. We don't expect everyone to be aware of everything, and if you get a post deleted because it bumped into something you weren't aware of, that's no big deal.

But it's not arbitrary; we spend a lot of effort over email and in metatalk trying to be as clear as we can about the reasoning and discussion that goes into this stuff, and it will never be a precise science but there's a hell of a lot more to it than e.g. throwing darts at a board and deleting what gets hit.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:24 AM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well, I wish someone would make a new version, because WOW. The flagship university is cutting its CS program?? That's all minds of crazy. And scary.
posted by leahwrenn at 8:25 AM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I know people can justify any deletion after the fact, but I think people would have a really hard time predicting some of these deletions in advance. And that just worries me.

Sorry to be sort of chirpy about this, but we're really not trying to be a site where someone can predict, in advance, whether something will be deleted. Make your post, take your chances. Talk to the mods about your posts if you're really concerned and we can give you some advice and even look over a draft of your post. Few posts get deleted. You can, almost always, post again with the same basic topic if it didn't go well the first time. You have no black mark on your record. The gun post, honestly, we would have deleted a second time except we felt like we were going to play whack-a-mole with that article unless there was some post that stood. Sometimes we feel that we have no decent option and so we opt to let a touchy post stand and then just sit in the thread watching everyone talk instead of being a little more hands-off which is what we'd prefer. Once in a while we can do this but it doesn't scale.

I know it's frustrating, but it's the way the site runs and has always run. We try to do the best we can to take the temperature of the site and moderate it appropriately. There are some people who feel that basically nothing should ever be deleted and some people who feel that we should be deleting twice as much as we do. Our goal from a mod perspective is to have people looking at the site often enough so that we're not surprised by something that has been going badly for eight hours, where we don't notice a mess in progress until people start quitting the site and emailing Matt. We want to be responsive and we want to be transparent, but our goal is not to be a site where things don't get deleted, or where we have hard and fast rules so there's a calculus of posting.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:29 AM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I saw this article (or one like it this morning), thought about putting it on my blog, and didn't.

I didn't because the thing I really wanted to read was about the political maneuvering behind this action. It seems pretty clear to me that this is the administration of the university playing brinksmanship with legislators, and I'd love to understand the background behind that.

Give me an article beyond "UoF cutting CS, increasing athletics spending, outrage, outrage" and find me sources which talk about where the money for these various programs comes from, what the arguments being made in the legislature are, what the factions within the university and within the funding legislature are, and I'd be fascinated by that.

Maybe digging some of the background information out would reframe this?
posted by straw at 8:31 AM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


The mods have started going overboard with deletions lately.

I can count the number of times a deletion wasn't necessary with one hand. They do a good job of screening the vast majority of content quickly and keeping the site content relatively high.

And I guess it just seems so arbitrary.

I asked about a particularly egregious one in the last MeTa round we did on this subject (48 HOURS AGO). The answer I got back? Because sometimes really good discussions spawn around really shitty posts in the time it takes a mod to see it. And that's fair enough.

I'm not sure how I feel about those claiming they've never had a post deleted.

Maybe we should start appending Poppins to their usernames? Pony request please!
posted by Talez at 8:31 AM on April 23, 2012


I'm pretty sure I've had two double-posts deleted and then two I requested be deleted after reflecting that the content might be iffy. Those don't count so I've never actually had a post deleted.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:32 AM on April 23, 2012


I normally don't bother commenting in deletion threads because most of the time things are sufficiently in the "grey" area of mod discretion that the deletion is reasonably defensible.

However, I had two thoughts similar to Kid Charlesmange and smackfu that I wanted to raise:

1. Not all single-link posts about something bad that happen should be considered outragefilter. Otherwise, posts about something bad will have a higher bar, but I think we still would like to be able to read about bad things that happen on Metafilter, where they engender interesting discussion.

This test: "if something makes you think "Oh, hey, this is cool, people will like to see this" then it's a good chance it'll make a good post; if you think "Oh, people should see this", it's probably not a good fit," works somewhat, but it seems to favour light entertaining posts over posts that are about bad things, which is not so hot.

I thought that outragefilter consists of posts that can only lead to a series of comments that say, "wow that sucks". But it is possible to be outraged and still have a good discussion about the causes of the outrageous thing, the possible outcomes, the ways it could be avoided, etc.

I'm not necessarily saying this particular post was not outragefilter (althought I think an interesting discussion could be had about many issues that are raised by the decision by this institution, as The Gooch pointed out). I'm using responding to the deletion reason and comments above in support of it, to discuss some possible cons of the approach.

2. The answer to single-link bad-thing deletion can't possibly be that the OP should create a well-sourced post looking at the systemic cause of the bad-thing and its epidemiology on a nation-wide basis. Maybe we can ask to have them flesh things out to hint at some possible areas of discussion, but to me, the point of posting such things on Metafilter is to create the discussion that teases out the systemic causes, other effects, etc.

To be sure, the flexible case-by-case approach to deletions is a good thing. I just thought discussion of the exercise of discretion would be useful, to help draw out the factors that go into the decisions.

On preview: Reading Jessamyn's explanation for the deletion seems to address some of the concerns.
posted by girlpublisher at 8:33 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or, you know, you could, as the person making the assertion.

Percentage of posts deleted for recent quarters:
2011	Qtr1	91.54%	8.46%
	Qtr2	91.58%	8.42%
	Qtr3	90.26%	9.74%
	Qtr4	89.06%	10.94%
2012	Qtr1	90.48%	9.52%
So there was definitely an uptick in deletions late last year. But of course we all know that the stats don't include a column called "deletions I think are iffy".
posted by smackfu at 8:34 AM on April 23, 2012


So there was definitely an uptick in deletions late last year. But of course we all know that the stats don't include a column called "deletions I think are iffy".

You should probably run the stats back further to seasonally adjust.
posted by Talez at 8:36 AM on April 23, 2012


Charlesmange is one of my newest favorite things.
posted by emelenjr at 8:37 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let's be honest, I've worked at megaco long enough that I can make the stats say anything I want.
posted by smackfu at 8:37 AM on April 23, 2012


"Something crazy is happening in Florida" is Fark's raison d'etre. There's a gentleman's agreement to leave that territory to them.
posted by mendel at 8:44 AM on April 23, 2012


Like, here's aggregate data since 2007 (I can't load more posts than that into Excel):
Qtr1	90.34%	9.66%
Qtr2	89.90%	10.10%
Qtr3	89.77%	10.23%
Qtr4	90.11%	9.89%
Grand Total	90.04%	9.96%
So if there is a seasonal effect, it's in the summer.

But if someone wanted me to show deletions are going down, I would run the data like this:
2007	89.94%	10.06%
2008	88.72%	11.28%
2009	89.72%	10.28%
2010	90.96%	9.04%
2011	90.59%	9.41%
2012	90.48%	9.52%
I mean, obviously the stats are just junk for this purpose, unless you went through every deletion reason and classified them by cause. I was just responding to cortex's "why don't you run the stats" comment.
posted by smackfu at 8:44 AM on April 23, 2012


I'm pretty sure I've had two double-posts deleted and then two I requested be deleted after reflecting that the content might be iffy. Those don't count so I've never actually had a post deleted.

Did I ever tell you about the FPP where I mashed my comment into the post itself? Oh hope me all did even as we counted down to deletion.
posted by infini at 8:45 AM on April 23, 2012


Those don't count so I've never actually had a post deleted.

You know this isn't true right? I can't tell if this is a joke or not. Feel free to let me know if you'd like me to make a (short) list for you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:49 AM on April 23, 2012


I once made a post so bad the whole subsite was deleted. So if you're ever sitting around wondering why we don't have a MeFi Short Film, blame it on the Duck Dressed Like JFK Mating With A Stapler Dressed To Represent The Middle Class video.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:51 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Out of curiosity, (and since people are already asking,) would you mind checking to see how many posts have I had deleted? Am wondering if it's really 10+ or not.
posted by zarq at 8:56 AM on April 23, 2012


I was just responding to cortex's "why don't you run the stats" comment.

Which I can appreciate in the formal sense, but where we started was with you making a pretty strong assertion, someone asking for citation, and you suggesting that I run the stats. I didn't bring up the idea, you did.

If you want to actually do the work to make a coding-based argument that there's been as shift in deletion policy (with the actual rate of deletion not varying much over time) involving a specific move toward deleting one class of posts and in tandem away from deleting another class of posts, by all means go for it and I'll be happy to chat about methodology and findings. I'm pretty skeptical about what there is to find, as one of the folks actually making the deletion decisions and working pretty hard with the rest of the team to keep the rudder about as steady as it can be in great big organism like this. But it's doable if it's something you care to do.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:59 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


> You know this isn't true right? I can't tell if this is a joke or not.

Mostly a joke, and it's possible that I have some memory holes, but as far as I know the only posts that I made that were deleted were 2-3 doubles and then two that I asked to be deleted (one was a blog with copyrighted music for download and the other was an email harvester). Please correct me if I'm wrong.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:05 AM on April 23, 2012


Out of curiosity, (and since people are already asking,) would you mind checking to see how many posts have I had deleted? Am wondering if it's really 10+ or not.

Since I already had the file up, and this is just since Jan 2007:

107087: Double. -- jessamyn
107050: beat to it -- cortex
106084: previously -- jessamyn
100588: Domestic violence is awful and this is an arresting and disturbing spot, but neither of those really seems to add up to a metafilter post. I'm sure the intent was good but I'm not sure why this is here with this presentation. -- 96140: a few more links to a "look at these assholes" post doesn't make it much less deleteworthy. -- jessamyn
95665: I feel like when a lot of the discussion in the thread is people acknowledging that they can't even stomach reading the central link, it might be something that good intentions aside just isn't a great idea for a post. Awful, horrific situation but wheth
93074: maybe put some of these links into the open thread? -- jessamyn
91338: poster's request -- cortex
88809: yup -- cortex
posted by smackfu at 9:06 AM on April 23, 2012


I'm not sure how I feel about those claiming they've never had a post deleted.

Add me to the perfect list, except when f***ing idiots don't understand me, or if I've been drinking. Or both. Actually, it's usually been both. Or I single-linked to the Onion. Speaking of which, I still stand by this one.
posted by philip-random at 9:06 AM on April 23, 2012


I don't really see the problem with dropping Computer Science. It's just one field. It's not like they're dropping every branch of academics, or even all of the hard ones. It sucks for UF Computer Scientists, but kids who want to learn that will go elsewhere, just like kids who want to be painting majors don't go to Johns Hopkins.

This way lies madness and doom (or, as they call it in German, "excellence"). In order for academia as a whole not to collapse and die, there need to be enough jobs for researchers and teachers in each discipline that people wouldn't be crazy to get a Ph.D. and spend their lives specializing in it — in order for there to be computer scientists, there need to be many ordinary departments of computer science as well as a handful of "excellent" ones. Further, the idea of the university in general, and the US university system in particular, is that universities are basically generalist institutions — not specialized research centers, but places where an undergrad student can be exposed to a broad selection from the various branches of knowledge before figuring out a major field. American students aren't meant to know what specialized thing they want to study at the age of 17 before choosing a college.
posted by RogerB at 9:09 AM on April 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


I find it easier to think of MetaFilter as curated content in which the vast majority of contributions are accepted but some are not. The question "does this belong on MetaFilter?" can only be answered by the mods, who just like any other editors, are charged with deciding whether or not the content fits the site. The difference between MetaFilter and the New Yorker is that the bias here is towards publication vs. close curation, but it ultimately comes down to the fact that the mods here have been tasked with the decisions about what stays and what goes. I don't understand why many posts that look damn good to me are deleted -- and let me say, I am utterly mystified at some of the posts that are allowed to stand (I personally don't come to MetaFilter to read single link posts to the NYT). However, I personally find "hmm, editors/mods are weird" as a satisfactory answer.
posted by Wordwoman at 9:17 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Please correct me if I'm wrong.

I think this is all of them. But yeah, just doubles.

57005: previously
58925: posted three years ago
59108: Everything old is new again. -- CORTEX
59727: posted previously. from cortex and -- jessamyn
62366: d'oh, posted yesterday -- mathowie
62527: *spells "double" with flashlight* -- cortex
73443: poster's request - possible spam harvester. -- jessamyn
86154: poster's request -- jessamyn
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:18 AM on April 23, 2012


Heh, here is an actual interesting stat:
userid		Live	Deleted
1-10000		91.81%	8.19%
10001-20000	92.35%	7.65%
20001-30000	90.72%	9.28%
30001-40000	89.36%	10.64%
40001-50000	91.32%	8.68%
50001-60000	89.99%	10.01%
60001-70000	87.07%	12.93%
70001-80000	87.55%	12.45%
80001-90000	89.29%	10.71%
90001-100000	85.08%	14.92%
100001-110000	84.70%	15.30%
110001-120000	83.61%	16.39%
120001-130000	85.80%	14.20%
130001-140000	76.76%	23.24%
140001-150000	75.86%	24.14%
I'll stop now.
posted by smackfu at 9:18 AM on April 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


smackfu: "Since I already had the file up, and this is just since Jan 2007

Thanks. Only 8? Thought it was more than that.

Not that I'm complaining.
posted by zarq at 9:19 AM on April 23, 2012


Excellent. I'm off to whip up a ragebait post to ruin my record!
posted by Burhanistan at 9:20 AM on April 23, 2012


Oh, the infodump is also only through end of January this year, so if you have any since then they aren't in it.
posted by smackfu at 9:20 AM on April 23, 2012


I've only had 1 or 2 deleted that I remember and that's OK since they probably weren't that good.
posted by jonmc at 9:23 AM on April 23, 2012


you suggesting that I run the stats

Sorry about that.
posted by smackfu at 9:24 AM on April 23, 2012


smackfu, I'm curious - is that computed over the last year or over all time? If deletions in general were less common in the early days of MeFi that could explain the trend.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:25 AM on April 23, 2012


People wanting to check out their deleted posts can also try going to the mefi deleted posts blog and entering their user name into the search box on the upper left.
posted by lalex at 9:28 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


If deletions in general were less common in the early days of MeFi that could explain the trend.

When it was just mathowie running things, there may have been fewer deletions because he's just one (awesome!) guy. And if I'm remembering right, weren't deletions back in the day nuked from orbit, so that there isn't even a sign that they used to be there?
posted by rtha at 9:28 AM on April 23, 2012


It's Jan 2007 through Jan 2012. I really need to get a newer version of Excel that can load all the data in. I love me my pivot tables.
posted by smackfu at 9:29 AM on April 23, 2012


Heh, here is an actual interesting stat:

If that trend line keeps going logarithmically, with the deletion rate doubling every 75,000 users, it means that once you get to UserID 300,000, the deletion rate will be 100%. So, you take their $5, but you can set the system to autodelete every one of their posts.
posted by beagle at 9:32 AM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's certainly been an increase in MeTa posts about "Why was this post deleted?" in the last couple of months. Does nobody think to email the mods for a further explanation? Or do we just have to thrash every deletion out in the Gray now (except doubles)? That's not a trend I'm on board with personally, if anyone's taking votes.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:32 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah at some point, I can't remember when, we started getting people's first posts emailed to us as well as people's posts who were on the watchlist [usually spammer-looking people, but also people who were on a rage tear or other sort of off-kilter activity] and that led to a spate of earlier deletions where previously a post would have stayed up even if it was terrible because it already had 150 comments. Now we can kick posts around the mod list and see what people think about them which is helpful but also probably means an uptick in first post and new user spammer deletions. I wonder if there's an easy way to calibrate "First post deleted and user banned" stuff. maybe checking for example.com in the URL field of the deleted posts blog? Hmm, after trying it, doesn't look like it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:33 AM on April 23, 2012


Also, if anyone's taking orders for pie, I like raspberry but mine has to be gluten-free. And my pony order remains a pinto that I shall name Tecumseh.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:33 AM on April 23, 2012


I'll stop now.

Not until you list the average number of posts per userid id bracket to go with that last set of numbers. Or better yet just run the numbers for "fewer posts == higher deletion rate".

And while you're at it if you'd care to run a list of people who have posted more than 5 times and have no deletions, that would be interesting.

Normally I wouldn't ask, but I have a new job and I have to appear productive at the moment.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:33 AM on April 23, 2012


And if I'm remembering right, weren't deletions back in the day nuked from orbit, so that there isn't even a sign that they used to be there?

Yeah, one thing to be sure to adjust for when doing this stuff is that for historical reasons some things appear as gaps rather than as explicit deletions. Older mefi posts and askme, meta posts up through some time in 2007.

Heh, here is an actual interesting stat:
userid		Live	Deleted

Note the gaps in the users.txt file are not banned accounts, they are accounts that did not complete the signup process. They reserve a userid but are not shown in that file since they never became live. Per the wiki, early gaps were from bug-fixing or odd griefing fixes.

So it's not "Live vs. Deleted" accounts; banned folks are still in there and barring really really extraordinary circumstances we do not ever remove an account from the database. More of a "Completed vs. Uncompleted" stat.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:37 AM on April 23, 2012


Yeah, it's a pain since you can't really analyze the data without loading it into a SQL db. Which is always just a bit more effort than I want to do.
posted by smackfu at 9:41 AM on April 23, 2012


I really disagreed with this deletion. I thought this was really funny and actually kind of subtle in how all of these disparate things were the same "sort" of bad thing. So deletions like that, IMO, are the 22nd worst thing in the world.

I guess the existence of single-link silly video posts, and single links to other silly and innocuous things, that don't get deleted makes a lot of deletion reasons look like they are just based on the whims of moderators.
posted by jayder at 9:42 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


2010 was a bad year. I can live with the rest, thanks for the link lalex
posted by infini at 9:42 AM on April 23, 2012


Oh, nine. Miscounted. Out of 442 posts total. Guess that's not bad, all things considered.
posted by zarq at 9:44 AM on April 23, 2012


People wanting to check out their deleted posts can also try going to the mefi deleted posts blog

Okay, I've had eleven deletions (all FPPs) in less than four years, against sixty-one which were accepted. Which I'm assuming is worse than average, maybe way worse. Does this make me a worse than average Me-fite (maybe way worse)? Maybe. Or maybe, in the context of MetaFilter, I'm just more likely than some to trust the discretion of the mods (and the community) and try something on a whim. Certainly, consistent among my deleted FPPs is that they tend to have been the impulsive ones -- the, oh shit, I've gotta share this NOW! ones. And sometimes I really was drinking.

But I'm with jayder -- that was a bad deletion. And yet, not worth any more comment than that. I sometimes think it's best to think of the mods as pretty good referees. They usually make the right call but sometimes they don't. But it's just a game anyway, right?
posted by philip-random at 10:00 AM on April 23, 2012


And OmieWise, you've had six deleted for a variety of reasons.

Thanks for checking. That's a surprise. Or it surprises me, since I still can't really remember that, although I guess I have some vague "double" recollections. 3%! At least I'm not just 99% any more. Not quite as badass as when Jane's Addiction sang about the 1%, but a man's got to start his outlawery somewhere.
posted by OmieWise at 10:02 AM on April 23, 2012


Five doubles and one at my request because it turned out the main link was behind a paywall. That seems less badass and more poor execution on my part.
posted by OmieWise at 10:06 AM on April 23, 2012


I sometimes think it's best to think of the mods as pretty good referees. They usually make the right call but sometimes they don't.

Actually, make that very good referees. But even the very good get it wrong sometimes.
posted by philip-random at 10:11 AM on April 23, 2012


Which is what makes MetaFIFA and the MFA's (Mathowie's Football Assoc :P) reluctance to use goal-line technology and limited instant replay review of favorites all the more aggravating.

Also we could do away with comment flops if the mods would just book a few of the more egregarious performances!
posted by Edogy at 10:22 AM on April 23, 2012


Heh, here is an actual interesting stat:
userid		Live	Deleted
10001-20000	92.35%	7.65%
10kers represent!
posted by juv3nal at 10:46 AM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


As a data point, though, you can't beat the one-for-one tradeoff between Knowledge and Football.

I said it in the post and I'll say it again: football and academics are not a zero sum game; there is no tradeoff to be had here, and the funds spent on athletics are made BY athletics. The athletics program, though a convenient foil for your nerd rage, actually financially supported the University to the tune of about $50 million dollars over the last decade, which presumably is propping up some other department you'd hate to see vanquished. The nerd rage, jocks vs. geeks angle along with a link to a lame source was exactly what made this post poorly worded flame bait.
posted by drpynchon at 10:51 AM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, it's a pain since you can't really analyze the data without loading it into a SQL db. Which is always just a bit more effort than I want to do.

There's a link in my profile to some SQL scripts for Infodump table creation and data loading. That might reduce the amount of effort required, since that stuff is indeed tedious to set up initially.
posted by FishBike at 10:58 AM on April 23, 2012


With regard to it not being "best of the web"...I think that's not even a valid argument for any non-mod to make as it's 100% subjective. I think 6/10 MeFi posts aren't "best of the web", but amazingly no overwhelming force makes me click on them, and if it's a matter of time savings...well, if I'm pressed for time, I shouldn't be reading MeFi.
posted by TomMelee at 11:12 AM on April 23, 2012


This etsy post seems like yet another internet tempest in a teapot.
posted by smackfu at 11:13 AM on April 23, 2012


A good post on the topic would either a) provide evidence that the elimination of the computer science department at the same time as the increase in the athletic budget (that's the entire athletic budget, not just the football budget, no matter how tempting it is to think that it's just the latter) is anything other than coincidental; or b) ignore the athletic budget increase and focus solely on the elimination of the CS department.

The conflation of the two items without any evidence that they're directly related only pushes the post further into OutrageFilter territory.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:39 PM on April 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


The Forbes article is the one that is doing that conflation, not the poster.
posted by smackfu at 12:43 PM on April 23, 2012


Which is why it's not a great single-link post.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:49 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Forbes article is the one that is doing that conflation, not the poster.

Which means Forbes is worthy of condemnation for their shoddy journalism in addition to the post being OutrageFilter.

"Nearly a billion people lack access to clean water" could be the nucleus of a good post. "Nearly a billion people lack access to clean water; meanwhile, $CELEBRITY builds an Olympic-size swimming pool in their backyard with millions of gallons of clean water" is not, not even if it was published in The Economist first.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:52 PM on April 23, 2012


I saw the original post go up and my read on this was OutrageFilter, too. In my state the university system operates fairly independently of the legislature, except of course for the budget. A common tactic for some of the larger universities to deal with budget cuts larger than they want to take is to then promptly issue a press release about how they are going to have to cut [insert very important program here] to balance the budget. The end game is to create enough media attention and public scrutiny to force the budget cut onto some other player in the system. All of the administrators, legislators, and other government insiders know exactly what is going on, but you can't stop and explain that to the tens of thousands of people who are phoning, emailing, and signing petitions. The media also understands what is going on, but playing the story straight gets more attention, so it usually turns out to be an effective tactic.
posted by kovacs at 2:04 PM on April 23, 2012


I have 100% non-deletion record on the one post I made. Therefore, I choose not to post.
posted by arcticseal at 5:22 PM on April 23, 2012


Two other things: 1)I forgot to say that I watched this video while the sound was muted, 2)I wonder if the DoD has one or more of these facilities.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:26 PM on April 23, 2012


Gah! Recent Activity/Professional White fail collision.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:27 PM on April 23, 2012


My second post started because I'd read something that I thought was worth sharing, but I knew that at least part of that was because I was outraged. That made me think I should go collect more information on the issue. Once I'd done that, I knew more about what was going on, and that it was a general public health problem rather than just an outrageous thing that happened to one particular woman, and the post did not, in fact, get deleted, and I learned even more fascinating stuff from the comments.

I think if your response is to be outraged that something happened, that doesn't mean it's going to be a bad post, that just means that you need more to make it a post that will stand. Just because it's theoretically possible to get away with a single-link post doesn't mean single-link posts are the best thing for complicated issues.
posted by gracedissolved at 6:51 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I believe the wording of the fpp in question was very neutral, not outragefilter. The way it's worded, the author of the fpp could even be trying to post a "hey look at this awesome thing!" post, not a "hey look at this horrible thing!" post. Obviously some people will have a stance that it's a positive thing, because there's some people deciding that it should happen.

Or in other words, it doesn't seem like that fpp could have been more neutral, except perhaps by having some supporting links. Yet everyone is acknowledging that it shouldn't be necessary to have multiple links. So...?
posted by BurnChao at 11:09 PM on April 23, 2012


Burnchao: Yeah, I was trying to keep it neutral since I remembered that FPP about the Passover thing not going so well because people got really offended over the poster having some commentary on the link. I figured it'd be better to keep it short and simple to be safe, but...oh well.

As far as all the "you should think about whether OTHER PEOPLE want to see it, not whether YOU want them to see it" stuff, well...most people on here have used a computer at some point in their life, so I figured there would some interest in it. Granted, I'm going into a STEM field (not comp sci), so I guess I can't really say how non-technical people feel about it. That might be why it's been discussed so much around me recently, actually; I'm around a lot of people who work in technical industries. (Despite being flagged for being "local" news, I'm a bit over 1,000 miles from where this is happening, and it's still been pretty high profile.)

Perhaps I will feel differently later, but at present, given the lack of objective guidelines...I think I will probably just stick to comments in the future, and keep my original contributions to less subjective corners of the internet. I guess my impression of this place was a little different from its actual reality, unfortunately.
posted by Estraven at 12:48 AM on April 24, 2012


Controversial news sorts of posts are the trickiest, honestly. Sometimes a single link is okay because the source did really good, thorough, non-Op/Ed coverage of the issue, in other cases a collection of links highlighting different aspects of the issue is better. Phrasing/framing of the post matters more, efforts not to editorialize from the OP matter more, efforts to expand the focus beyond The Bad Thing to a degree that helps to background or contextualize the bad thing matter. Choice of pull quotes and titles matter. It matters more if the site has been awash with many posts on the same topic. Upshot? News/controversy/politics posts are just more challenging posts to make than posting something cool/fun/interesting that people might like.

We had years of debate, discussion, and complaint on both sides of the "newsfilter" issue, and rather than saying No News Posts Ever, or, okay All News Posts Are Fine, the site settled on a higher bar for these sorts of posts. Higher bar means more challenging for the poster, and also some disappointment when something is deleted and people wanted to talk about it.

But what is often overlooked in the heat of anger over deletions is that the post subject is very, very rarely barred. We usually say try again. Posters don't have to wait days or weeks before they can repost. They can repost the next day, and we don't consider deletions black marks against a poster. Also, someone else can take a shot at a different presentation of the material. In terms of trying accommodate current events and news sorts of posts without them taking over the site with copy/paste headline links to perfunctory mainstream media Bad News of the Day or Everybody Get Mad Now Op/Ed stuff, I think it's a pretty good, fair and even approach – especially when reposts are pretty much always on the table. But, yes, it definitely does put more of a burden on, and requires more of, the user who wants to make these posts.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:05 AM on April 24, 2012


But what is often overlooked in the heat of anger over deletions...

What anger? This seems like really well spoken advice useful in most other deletion threads, but doesn't seem relevant to this thread. I haven't seen the poster get angry, nor anyone else. Really, no offense, but it seems like you are projecting anger where there is none. Maybe that can explain why a post that seems very neutral to me gets deleted as outragefilter. There was no editorializing, no anger, just "here's a thing".

So when you suggest the post could be made again, the question is how? The post was neutral. It seems like the only way for the post to fly is if it's padded with fluff links and/or editorializings. The post had the bare facts, no judgments, no outrage. The post was so neutral it could've just as easily been mistaken as Everybody Get Glad Now Op/Ed, instead of the Everybody Get Mad Now Op/Ed that you saw it as. That the very definition of neutral: if you determine if the speaker is for or against the topic they are speaking of, they are neutral voiced.
posted by BurnChao at 4:08 AM on April 24, 2012


Did you read the link? If you read the link and are insisting that the post couldn't possibly be made better, I'm not sure what to tell you. It was a short bloggy eye-rolling, outraged, report-a-little/snark-a-lot quickie thing that has since been updated to reflect the several errors made in the content.

And you are insisting that we are asking for fluff links or Glad Op/Ed... based on what? This is hyperbolic and difficult to respond to. Maybe you can point out some deleted posts that were later successfully made with happy links or whatever, and we can talk about those.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:40 AM on April 24, 2012


What anger?

Pretty sure taz is referring to the decade-plus of discussions we've had about "Why was my post deleted" which are often fairly grouchy here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:18 AM on April 24, 2012


I think it's funny that it did get reposted, and the link was hidden in so much CS talk that the resulting post is just CS chat. Managed to bury the lede so far no one is discussing it.
posted by smackfu at 9:03 AM on April 24, 2012


Even funnier: someone's comment in that thread about "let's hope this third attempt survives deletion" or something like that was itself promptly deleted.
posted by Estraven at 2:25 PM on April 24, 2012


Estraven: "Even funnier: someone's comment in that thread about "let's hope this third attempt survives deletion" or something like that was itself promptly deleted."

Comments like that can easily shift a discussion to whether a current post should exist or be deleted. They can create a situation where no one in the thread discusses the post's actual content, just whether it is Metafilter-worthy or not.

If it were my post, I'd be relieved to see comments like that removed.
posted by zarq at 2:31 PM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh yeah, I can understand why they'd delete that. I just found it ironic.
posted by Estraven at 2:41 PM on April 24, 2012


Ah.

By the way, I sincerely hope you don't stop posting. Having a post deleted every once in a while is par for the course for many of us. It's truly not personal.

Creating posts can be both a rewarding and at times frustrating experience. But I think having the "bar" set a little higher here than in other places is one of the better things about MeFi.
posted by zarq at 2:49 PM on April 24, 2012


I think it's funny that it did get reposted, and the link was hidden in so much CS talk that the resulting post is just CS chat. Managed to bury the lede so far no one is discussing it.

My philosophy is that it is all fine and great to be critical of some entity (here being the state of Florida, yes, they have problems I know), but it is not good, may I say mortal, to ignore the fact that some other entity (here being the computer science industry/universe) is in an interesting situation these days that needs to be addressed and acted upon.

I made the post because I felt it necessary to flesh that particular aspect of the news out in discussion that turned out really really good. Thank you! This economy might be better off for it.

...If it were my post, I'd be relieved to see comments like that removed.

I did not even see it, and I am thankful I did not.

*

As far as outrageFilter goes, I have been seeing a troubling amount of it lately, probably due to the election season getting ramped up. But I understand that this is a pretty persistent problem, as in my other post from the past few days which linked to a post from 2007. I looked at that older post: couple links dead, one link to an Amazon book page of a scrappy looking book on Deming (not the one I would have picked as I know what Deming did, but it looks like it did put New Economics in later), and then comments that take it out to the alley for a bit of a beating, with only one or two reminding everyone what the guy did for Japan.

And I personally think we can do better than that my fellow MeFites. The internet has everything you need to balance your post out and make for decent discussion, with Google, Bing, Wikipedia, etc. as your starting points. It's important, because you just don't know if one day thoughts developed here end up playing themselves out in the real world.

We can do better MeFites, we can do better. Do it! Please!

...and thanks!
posted by JoeXIII007 at 4:53 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


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