Join 3,564 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

One pill makes you larger... and one pill makes you smaller.
June 21, 2012 9:03 AM   Subscribe

The text was small for a reason. Font size can be important in meaning and expression.

The comment in this post was small for a reason. And now it is no longer small, but normal-sized.

Is there a rule on formatting comments with the tags that I missed? Or is this another example of arbitrary intervention on behalf of People That Hate The Small Tag?
posted by nickrussell to Etiquette/Policy at 9:03 AM (394 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Giant swaths of small text are hard for many people to read. Consider conveying whatever the "this is in small tags" angle is explicitly rather than paralinguistically if it is important, and keep in mind that not everyone is going to understand small tags to convey the same meaning in any case.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:08 AM on June 21, 2012 [14 favorites]


You seem to use the small tag a lot for comments, and I don't know why. It just makes your comments harder to read. A one-sentence jokey aside is one thing, but paragraph after paragraph? I always flag them.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:08 AM on June 21, 2012 [21 favorites]


Would you care to share the reason the text was small. Because I'm looking at your comment and there's a pretty compelling reason why it should not be small.
posted by zanni at 9:08 AM on June 21, 2012


I favor keeping the authorial intent present in small tags, rather than making it all normal-sized.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:09 AM on June 21, 2012 [12 favorites]


I get what you're going for, but come on. There's no need to foist several paragraphs of small text on the thread. Maybe try keeping those small asides to a few lines, both for the sake of brevity and the rest of our eyes.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:09 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Giant blocks of text in small font are difficult for people to read and there have been complaints about them previously in MeTa. Usually people employ small text in AskMe when they are making some sort of off-topic aside in the hopes, I guess, that their off-topic answers won't be deleted. Your comment was flagged as an HTML error and I went in and thought it looked like an HTML error and fixed it. If you're using and HTML tag in some sort of "no one else on this website uses this tag this way" way, people may misunderstand you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:10 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are no small tags. Just small people.
posted by Eideteker at 9:11 AM on June 21, 2012 [11 favorites]


Seriously? 18 paragraphs, 1,300 words? All that needed to be small?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:11 AM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Could you tell us why meaning needed to be conveyed by making so much text small?

'Cause that effect only works in minute doses. Usually.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:16 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, you're the guy that does huge blocks of small text?

Yeah, don't do that. Please.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:18 AM on June 21, 2012 [20 favorites]


This is the conversation we had about this a few months ago.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:19 AM on June 21, 2012


The comment in this post was small for a reason

What was that reason?

More than a dozen paragraphs of text in small tags is wicked annoying/difficult to read. Stylistically, I see the small tag as being used for asides or parentheticals, and to me, asides and parentheticals are by their nature short.
posted by rtha at 9:26 AM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


I dislike the small font being used as huge blocks of tiny text. I don't even bother reading them. I could fix up my computer to make the text all the same size, or I could fiddle with my Metafilter settings...but why bother? I don't read every word of every comment anyway. Small fonted comments are first on the list of comments to skip.

Since I'm shooing the kids off my lawn anyway, I also dislike the "small aside" comments I see. For some reason, it reminds me of a person using a ventriloquists dummy to make comments that they wouldn't otherwise make themselves.
posted by Elly Vortex at 9:31 AM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Now, watch me use the small tag while drinking a glass of water.
posted by box at 9:32 AM on June 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


(Also, what are the arguments for and against removing small from the list of acceptable html?)
posted by box at 9:34 AM on June 21, 2012


The text was small for a reason.

There is no good reason to make a page of text small.
posted by Sternmeyer at 9:34 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I happen to agree with nickrussell here. It would be nice not to have comments changed after the fact to remove tags. I think a much better solution would be an option to disable the "small" tag in comments for those who don't like small text. Otherwise, I don't really see why we still have the tag at all.
posted by koeselitz at 9:34 AM on June 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


I dislike the small tag for the same reason that I dislike things like "*ducks*"; I feel like it is generally used as a passive-aggressive acknowledgement that the writer is saying something that s/he's sort of embarrassed about. In which case why not just not say it?

And using it for large blocks of text doesn't make any sense to me.
posted by dfan at 9:35 AM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


How can you not like ducks?
posted by koeselitz at 9:36 AM on June 21, 2012 [52 favorites]


I dislike the small tag for the same reason that I dislike ducks:

they always wind up biting me in the ass.
posted by mazola at 9:36 AM on June 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


I view style tagging mostly the same as emoticons. They're best used erring on the side of sparingly. This applies to your bolds and italics and your smalls. It doesn't apply to blink, which is reserved for conveying the subtextual meaning of "please arrange for me to be ran over by a zamboni." An entire wall of small is pretty excessive.
posted by Drastic at 9:37 AM on June 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


People flag things that are difficult to read. There's no actual rule that you have to follow "Metafilter house style", but since I've been edited for readability a couple of times, I've stopped doing the things that get edited. (making whole paragraphs links, et.c.)

Another relevant previous MeTa: the one I made about the small tag on the mobile site.
posted by zamboni at 9:37 AM on June 21, 2012


Seriously? 18 paragraphs, 1,300 words? All that needed to be small?

The deeper meaning behind your small font is long on me, too (sorry if I am being dense) but I'd also ask commenters to consider the length of their comments in general anyway. The occasional novel is one thing, and some of the most valuable contributions to this site are that long or longer. But as a general rule, I think that's a bit much.
posted by juliplease at 9:38 AM on June 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


Also, what are the arguments for and against removing small from the list of acceptable html?

Primary argument for would be no more small-tag-related headaches. Primary argument against is that used sparingly and with discretion the headaches are already pretty few and far between and people seem to enjoy the extra bit of expressiveness. We don't have any plans to remove it at this point, but folks need to keep in mind that overuse of it is likely to get them some annoyance from fellow users and in outlier cases mods may take action.

I happen to agree with nickrussell here. It would be nice not to have comments changed after the fact to remove tags.

This is something we do very, very rarely. People seem to use tags in sort of aggressively problematic ways very, very rarely.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:38 AM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


*lost on me
posted by juliplease at 9:38 AM on June 21, 2012


It doesn't apply to blink, which is reserved for conveying the subtextual meaning of "please arrange for me to be ran over by a zamboni."

My rates are reasonable. $20, sait.
posted by zamboni at 9:39 AM on June 21, 2012 [29 favorites]


I see what you've all done here... this whole thing is just a setup for someone to now post a link to that cute little imprinting duck linked over on the blue, isn't it....

I for one, refuse to do that...
posted by HuronBob at 9:39 AM on June 21, 2012


Eighteen paragraphs of small-sized text to make an impression reminds me of the issue of the New Yorker that Target bought all the ads for. At first it was sort of neat, having all the ads bear the same aesthetic, and because they had all the room in the magazine, they could be as creative as they wanted instead of just BUY A THING.

After forty pages, however, I wanted to burn down Target headquarters. I think I was in the majority as the New Yorker never did anything like that again.
posted by griphus at 9:40 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm glad that the mods made that bigger, because it was a great comment and I would never, ever have read it if it was in small text.
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:41 AM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I just imagine nickrussell always speaks in sotto voce at MeFi meetups.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:43 AM on June 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


The small tag is the equivalent of someone talking under their breath or as an aside. A sentence or two of that is OK, but holding an extended monologue like that is and should be unacceptable in everyday conversation. And as far as I can tell there was no reason for that here.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:44 AM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


While I generally think that people should be able to tag their comments as they want and have them stay that way, I think there's a qualitative difference between a couple of [small] sentences and that much text, just as there is a difference between using [blink] for a few words and for a whole paragraph. We would expect the latter to be changed.
posted by OmieWise at 9:44 AM on June 21, 2012


I read your comment when it was small. I read it again now that it's been embiggened.

There's no difference.
posted by Aquaman at 9:47 AM on June 21, 2012


Passive-aggressive ducks
posted by drlith at 9:47 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't really have the patience for huge wall of text comments, so the small font helps point out what I should just scroll by. Any truly awesome wall of texts are going to end up on the sidebar anyway.


ducks are jerks, though. adorable jerks.
posted by elizardbits at 9:49 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure the small text is meant to signal that the comment will contain a surprising number of references to Chinese people.

I don't expect to see that kind of racist HTML on MetaFilter, and am glad the mods stepped in.
posted by jack_mo at 9:51 AM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


I am more surprised that a mod edited the comment without leaving a note in the thread. (I guess it's a minor edit, but aren't they all?)
posted by yaymukund at 9:51 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


<huge><throbbing>dicks</huge></throbbing>
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 9:51 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


The text was small for a reason.

I would still like to know what this reason is.
posted by grouse at 9:53 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am more surprised that a mod edited the comment without leaving a note in the thread. (I guess it's a minor edit, but aren't they all?)

We do zero editing of comments for content; fixing an obvious and called-out typo, or a runaway tag, or a busted link, is about the only sort of stuff we'll go in and change without having some sort of discussion with the commenter first, and it's usually not something that merits putting extra focus on since the goal is to fix a "this is making the comment/thread harder to read" problem.

We're much more likely to leave a note about some sort of multiple-deletion or derail situation in a thread.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:56 AM on June 21, 2012


If only there were a way for people with less than optimal vision to increase the text size in their browser.

I can't say I really care for the continuing mod mission creep around here.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:56 AM on June 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


it reminds me of a person using a ventriloquists dummy to make comments that they wouldn't otherwise make themselves.

It's a little remarked on fact that Charlie McCarthy was a big fan of the small tag.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:58 AM on June 21, 2012


If only there were a way for people with less than optimal vision to increase the text size in their browser.

If only people didn't grandstand with html. See, it works both ways.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:58 AM on June 21, 2012 [15 favorites]


We do zero editing of comments for content

I think that editing the size of the text is absolutely editing for content. I'm not saying nickrussell's comment needed to be small-text, but comments certainly have different vibe at normal size than at small size, and the message of the comment is changed slightly.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:00 AM on June 21, 2012 [12 favorites]


In making things easier to read.. don't forget that the blockquote tag is awesome!

(I am on a crusade! I make no apologies)
posted by royalsong at 10:02 AM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ceci n'est pas petit.
posted by Zed at 10:02 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


entropicamericana: If only there were a way for people with less than optimal vision to increase the text size in their browser.

I can't say I really care for the continuing mod mission creep around here.


How is it mission creep? Someone flagged the comment as a HTML/display error. Jessamyn followed up the flag, said "yup, sure looks like that to me" (because honestly, eighteen paragraphs of tiny text looks more like an accidentally unclosed tag than authorial intent) and "fixed" the problem.

Even if she had known that it was intentional it's still something that annoys members and makes it hard for people to read comments (most people don't know you can change the text display size in your browser, and people shouldn't have to unless you're using smalltext to hide a spoiler or something) which means that removing the tag would still fall under the general Mod Goal of "promoting open dialogue and maintaining site usefulness" which has always been a part of the mission.
posted by Scientist at 10:02 AM on June 21, 2012 [23 favorites]


nick was probably just making small talk.
posted by de at 10:05 AM on June 21, 2012 [14 favorites]


Put me on the side of leaving it alone. Mods arbitrarily deciding that they know what I meant more than I did is one of the major reasons I stay out of Ask. The effect seems to be less prevalent elsewhere.

Giant blocks of text are a dumb idea if you want your words read. Because people won't read them. Which is what should have happened here.
posted by DU at 10:07 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


If only there were a way for people with less than optimal vision to increase the text size in their browser.

That seems like odd logic in this case. Isn't the OP's complaint that his comment somehow needed to be read in smaller font? (He didn't clarify why.) If that's the specific complaint, then it wouldn't seem to make any difference whether the comment is enlarged by a moderator or by the reader.

Making a long block of small text is antisocial.
posted by cribcage at 10:11 AM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I can't say I really care for the continuing mod mission creep around here.

You should probably make your own MeTa post about that, then. Unless your argument is that axing a small tag that seemed to be an error is in some ways overstepping the boundaries of what we usually do. I understand where people are coming from where some people feel more and less strongly that formatting is part of a post's essential content, but we do pop in and fix things from time to time which is one of the reasons we have the "HTML error" flag. Other examples include

- walloftext Askme and MeFi posts - sometimes we'll tuck more inside or turn four teeny paragraphs into one big one if a lot of people have flagged it
- broken or unclosed HTML tags
- times where people have tried to get creative with a greater than or less than tag and failed
- people who use erratic bolding in their AskMe questions
- obvious spelling errors or typos that are derailing or have gotten flagged (this is rarer than the other rarities)
- removing not-strictly-necessary links from AskMe posts
- making giant my-whole-paragraph-is-a-link posts into not all-link [as zamboni mentioned above]

When people employ HTML in cutesy ways, we don't mess with that even if the comments are unreadable. In this situation I couldn't tell that this was an intentional move on nickrussell's part and it didn't make sense based on his other participation here. So, okay, that was a misread. However, if you're so attached to your presentation style that you're not communicating to the people you are attempting to communicate with (which is just an after the fact realization as a result of this MeTa not something nickrussell would have known before) it might be a good idea to rethink that approach. As mods we're responsible for keeping the place running smoothly and try to do that as best we can.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:12 AM on June 21, 2012 [9 favorites]


So why write so much in a smaller font? Is there some sort of pixel conservation thing afoot? And while we're playing Unanswered Questions, did we ever find out what is so bad about T. C. Boyle?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:12 AM on June 21, 2012


I am big. It's the paragraphs that got small.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:14 AM on June 21, 2012 [12 favorites]


I can't say I really care for the continuing mod mission creep around here.

I don't care if it's flagged.
I wanna have control.
I wanna perfect comment.
I wanna perfect post.
I want to use small text.
For reasons unknown.
You're breaking my small tag.
I wish I could small tag.
But you're a creep.
You're on a mission.
What the hell am I doing here?
I don't belong here.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:17 AM on June 21, 2012 [77 favorites]


shakespeherian: "I am big. It's the paragraphs that got small."

They were in the pool?
posted by zarq at 10:18 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm glad there's a huge discussion about this very important issue.
posted by Decani at 10:23 AM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


We just want you to be happy Decani. That's all we've ever wanted.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:24 AM on June 21, 2012 [19 favorites]


I'm glad that you're glad!
posted by shakespeherian at 10:24 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sometimes it's OK to have several paragraphs of small. This rarely happens.
posted by phunniemee at 10:24 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mods arbitrarily deciding that they know what I meant more than I did is one of the major reasons I stay out of Ask.

I'm not sure what you mean here, to be honest.
posted by inigo2 at 10:27 AM on June 21, 2012


ducks are jerks, though. adorable jerks.

Fun linguistic fact:

A recent spate of confusion erupted among some Icelanders on Facebook when someone posted a picture of a goose with the caption "Reið gæs sem var að rífa kjaft við mig", which can have two meanings:

1. "An angry (reið, angry) goose that was mouthing off to me."

2. "Fucked (reið, as in the past tense of ríða, to fuck) a goose that was mouthing off to me."

Needless to say, any confusion as to what the guy actually meant was based solely on this rarely-appearing double meaning and a desire to embarrass him. Which worked, I might add. Fun times with language - and angry geese.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:32 AM on June 21, 2012 [15 favorites]


You should probably make your own MeTa post about that, then.

I'm not really up for being at the bottom of a dogpile today. I'm just registering my opinion, which will continue to be ignored, and the world will continue to turn. sic
semper erat, et sic semper erit...
(Is Latin still allowed? How about italics? Hope I'm not grandstanding here.)
posted by entropicamericana at 10:33 AM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's a difference between ignoring your opinion and disagreeing with it. No one ignored it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:34 AM on June 21, 2012 [23 favorites]


Oh man, do you have trouble seeing us from all the way up there on that cross?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:34 AM on June 21, 2012 [25 favorites]


Is Latin still allowed? How about italics? Hope I'm not grandstanding here.

You could have just asked if jerkiness was still allowed, and covered all your bets.
posted by OmieWise at 10:35 AM on June 21, 2012 [9 favorites]


(Ninja'd.)
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:35 AM on June 21, 2012


Not really, I can actually see my house from here.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:35 AM on June 21, 2012 [10 favorites]


I frankly skimmed that comment because, fun-sized or regular-sized, it was too damn long for me. I'm sure I miss some good answers that way, but I'll live.

I use small tags when I'm trying to convey something that is either Off Topic or only midly related, so I assume that when someone posts an entire comment like that it's not something I need to bother straining my eyes over.

Ducks are cool. Penguins, on the other hand...
posted by sm1tten at 10:36 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not really up for being at the bottom of a dogpile today.

Your argument seems to be that mods touching a comment without explicit permission from the commenter and/or leaving a note about it is some sort of mission creep. It isn't. It's always been part of the mission in certain cases, as explained above.
posted by rtha at 10:37 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Penguins, on the other hand...

Are freezing.
posted by davidjmcgee at 10:38 AM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Chalk me up as another that thinks that even the most egregious uses of the tag should be left alone. It's trivially easy to increase the size of this text on desktop. If it's too small for you to read on mobile, just don't read it.

I completely understand the confusion about whether or not this was intentional, though I guess I'm not clear on if it would have been left alone if it was clear that it was intentional (apologies if I missed a mod explanation to this end.) But I would definitely err on the side of leaving it alone in cases like these.
posted by SpiffyRob at 10:42 AM on June 21, 2012


nickrussel doesn't seem interested in explaining what meaning he was trying to impart by have so much text enclosed in the small tag.
posted by rtha at 10:48 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


The small tag doesn't so much make the text small as it does make it smaller than the text around it. That may be small, or big, depending on the user's browser font size setting. Likewise, removing the small tag doesn't make the font big, it makes the font the same size as the text around it. The relative size of the text is where all the meaning is. Changing the relative sizes of two fonts, when that relative size was meant to convey something meaningful, seems questionable to me.

It seems like the absolute sizes of fonts should be in the reader's control, and the relative sizes of fonts should be in the writer's control.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 10:49 AM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


So ridiculous.

Honestly.
posted by batmonkey at 10:49 AM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think that editing the size of the text is absolutely editing for content.

I hear you, sort of, but it's a weird penumbral area at best, and is where the rubber of author intent meets the road of readability. And formatting as structure or nuance within a comment is a more defensible thing in this arena than blanket formatting of an entire large comment. To the point where I have no qualms about fixing an apparent runaway italics tag on a comment but frequently dither about where the author probably intended it to end because it's not always unambiguous and I don't want to put emphasis in their mouth where it wasn't, etc. We don't muss around with the fine details of comments. Wrapping an entire long comment in a readability-reducing tag for no clear reason is quite different and an exceptional case to begin with.

(Is Latin still allowed? How about italics? Hope I'm not grandstanding here.)

Once upon a time we had the big tag, but the decision in that case, years and years ago, was that people fucking around with it was sufficiently disruptive to the erstwhile goals of this place that even keeping it around provisionally was not worth the effort. It wasn't unanimously supported, but it was a workable solution to weird crazy formatting shit getting in the way of actual conversation.

We haven't gone that way with the small tag, and I hope we never have a reason to, because it's got less of a tendency to be disruptive and most of the time people use it just fine. Everyone once in a while someone uses it in a way that's sort of conspicuously annoying, regardless of their intent, and it may get stripped. This is not a new sort of thing, and making the rare edit to the formatting of the rare obnoxious abuse of a tag is a much less heavy-handed approach to the problem than actually banning a tag outright.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:49 AM on June 21, 2012


They came for the img tag, and I did nothing, they came for the big tag and I did nothing
posted by Cranberry at 10:50 AM on June 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


I do wish we had the big tag too; I would mostly use it to pretend to be Hagrid from time to time
posted by Greg Nog at 10:52 AM on June 21, 2012 [24 favorites]


A wagon train somewhere out West, on its way to an old Spanish mission, creeps along. A war party attacks. Wagons circle and the bloodbath is averted.

Many years later it's another chapter in a saga of genocide. O Greeley, what hast thou wrought?
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 10:52 AM on June 21, 2012


Chalk up my vote on the following topics as follows:

Keep or axe the small tag: Keep, please keep. Most (read: the vast majority) of the usage I see is helpful and adds contextual information to an otherwise stoic format.

Mods may/may not edit for format in comments without 3 days notice and a email back and forth: Modify away if you believe it's a accidental error or if you get a extremely large number of flags that are having trouble viewing the comment due to formatting. Never edit content, of course.

On commenters that make entire comments in small and want to continue doing so, despite public discourse that mentions it makes for difficult reading, for the purpose of some retained right to literary license: Would the same thing be ok if you were using the blink format? What about AN ENTIRE POST IN BOLD UPPER CAP LETTERS? Or If Someone Thought It Was Cute To Capitalize Every Single Word (Or EvErY OtHeR LeTtEr EvEn) In Their Comments? Basically, people are complaining because it makes it hard for them to read/follow the material of your comments so if it's pertinent, keep it rational and be considerate. Like they said on The Office episode where Kevin started leaving out article adjectives and talking in shorthand to 'save time', using those things are like the verbal equalivent of wearing underwear.

Jokes are fun though, keep those coming.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:53 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: where the rubber of author intent meets the road of readability.
posted by batmonkey at 10:54 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


The one thing that the small tag is good for is allowing me to pretend that my monitor is much more huge than it actually is. Of course, I also need to pretend that I am somewhat further away from it than I am, but I have a good imagination.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:55 AM on June 21, 2012


I do wish we had the big tag too; I would mostly use it to pretend to be Hagrid from time to time

That's what the small tag is for! The tiny text makes you feel like a giant! Also, the tiny corn cobs in Chinese food.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 10:56 AM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, the tiny corn cobs in Chinese food.

They make me feel like a log flume.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 10:57 AM on June 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


Honest Question: Does it matter that it was in Ask rather than on the Blue? I feel like there are much greater abuses of html than this all over the Blue (ascii art, for example), but that they wouldn't be permitted in Ask either. If you posted a useful answer to an Ask question in some weird ascii art format (or say, Zalgo-style text) I presume it would be deleted or altered as well, and if nickrussell's comment in question was on the Blue, would it have been edited in the same way?
posted by Rock Steady at 10:58 AM on June 21, 2012


No comment on the small tag, but there are like four or five people who can't seem to comment without making it a huge wall of text and I just skip over them regardless of what they have to say. Get an editor.
posted by desjardins at 11:00 AM on June 21, 2012 [11 favorites]


They make me feel like a log flume.

full of screaming children?
posted by elizardbits at 11:01 AM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


and unsanitary blue water.
posted by Think_Long at 11:01 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


'What do you want for lunch.'

'I'm feeling like a log flume today.'
posted by shakespeherian at 11:03 AM on June 21, 2012


Maybe? I mean, it'd depend on context, I guess, but I think it'd be just as sort of annoying in a "why are you doing that?" way on the blue as it'd be on the green. The lack of the same utility-focused mission on the blue means that people are on the one hand less likely to be overly concerned with a problem with a given comment vs. and answer, and on the other hand a little more likely to address stuff like that in situ and would probably tell them to cut it out.

We haven't seen a rash of recent long comments wrapped up all in small tags, so it's hard to speak in generalities. If I saw someone routinely wrapping thousand-word comments in small tags on the site I'd probably just drop them a line directly to discuss it in any case, but that's not something that's really hit my radar any time in recent memory.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:03 AM on June 21, 2012


The text was small for a reason.

Can you tell us the reason here? Because I think of myself as a fairly attentive reader (given that that's my job and all) and I still don't get it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:05 AM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


I flag questions in Ask that are all bold above the fold. Is there a difference between that and this?
posted by no regrets, coyote at 11:09 AM on June 21, 2012

It seems like the absolute sizes of fonts should be in the reader's control, and the relative sizes of fonts should be in the writer's control.
Yeah, but we can't change the size of fonts, unless, err, oh, never mind.
posted by ambrosen at 11:10 AM on June 21, 2012


We never edit things except when we edit things.
posted by crunchland at 11:14 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


We never edit things except when we edit things.

We never edit things except for rare cases that have been spelled out in the FAQ for years.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:17 AM on June 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


Once upon a time we had the big tag ...

I remember the big tag. It was so much larger than life.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:17 AM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Not only do I support the removal of obnoxious tags, I am pleased this action annoys the perpetrators.
posted by ryanrs at 11:18 AM on June 21, 2012 [10 favorites]


Small tags, like most things, should be taken in moderation. Doughnuts on the other hand...
posted by arcticseal at 11:19 AM on June 21, 2012


The mods are welcome to edit any of my posts that they decide are in need of moderation.

I don't mind and understand. I still love them. Without the mods MeFi would not be as awesome of a place as it is.
posted by royalsong at 11:27 AM on June 21, 2012


I agree with Greg Nog and presumably the OP that editing text size is absolutely editing for content. Those who think that it's the exact same thing no matter what the size presumably think that font is completely irrelevant and that listening to music on shitty old cassette-and-headphones setups is the same as listening to it live.

(Okay, so I got kinda jerkish at the end there, but seriously it is different and maybe the mods should ask if the poster wants it edited OR deleted)
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:28 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is Latin still allowed?

Based on the MeTa about non-English-language posts, I am very tempted to make an FPP in Latin. If someone else did, I promise to participate, also in Latin. With a minimum of jokiness.

Quidquidne latine dictum sit, altum viditur.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:38 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


So this is like, a serious issue? Perhaps if the context pertaining to why the comment needed to be in smaller font were revealed I might be more sympathetic. But all of this moaning about editing font size is ruining authorial intent . . . really? Some of you need to get over yourselves. You're not making art, you're posting a comment to a website.
posted by anansi at 11:38 AM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


How long should the mods wait? And what if the poster doesn't answer? Aren't they already overwhelmed? Can't we expect adult posters to accept a completely irrelevant* change rather than make even MORE work for our mods?

This just seems so unreasonable to me, when they already have to make so many judgment calls and toe so many lines and be so, so, so careful with every thing they do.

* I read it both ways - this weird control freak response makes no sense for the absolute irrelevance of the impact the change had, unless the small text was intended to make the absolutely massive answer stand out as unreadable, in which case, okay, yeah, now it's more immediately readable and how is that a problem, actually?
posted by batmonkey at 11:39 AM on June 21, 2012


Those who think that it's the exact same thing no matter what the size presumably think that font is completely irrelevant

There is a spectrum of thought here between "font size is sacrosanct" and "font size has zero effect on meaning". "You can use the small tag here for effect, but in exceptional cases like wrapping thirteen hundred words up in it for no apparent reason the hit to readability may trump the unstated motivations" falls somewhere in between.

The choice of typeface is, in fact, irrelevant on a site where the type face is standard across all comments and, for the vast majority of readers, standard, period. Whatever Verdana means, basically.

There are venues where complete, unmediated control over the presentation of your text is available. Metafilter allows for a reasonable amount of flexibility in formatting, but it is not that wild kingdom. This is not some new thing, and it is not predicated on thinking that formatting is meaningless or inherently bad. Life here is a compromise between writer and reader.

but seriously it is different and maybe the mods should ask if the poster wants it edited OR deleted

If nickrussell would like his comment deleted, we can do that, though it seems to me to be wildly out of scale as a response to the situation goes.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:41 AM on June 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


> I agree with Greg Nog and presumably the OP that editing text size is absolutely editing for content.

I find this a completely bizarre point of view; it seems to extend the meaning of "content" to cover anything and everything.

I also find it bizarre that nickrussell has not deigned to explain what the oh-so-important "reason" was after repeated requests. And, for that matter, that he felt the need to post 18 paragraphs in any type size. I guess it's just a bizarre day.
posted by languagehat at 11:42 AM on June 21, 2012 [17 favorites]


David Foster Wallace didn't get the memo.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 11:44 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe because it's advice for young people, so only people with sharp eyes should be able to read it?
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:44 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Those who think that it's the exact same thing no matter what the size presumably think that font is completely irrelevant

There's a difference between Zapf Dingbats and Times New Roman but I don't care about Arial vs. Helvetica.

That's right. Come at me font bros.
posted by kmz at 11:45 AM on June 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


i agree with greg nog that cheeseburgers are fucking awesome
posted by elizardbits at 11:47 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Come at me font bros.

Stuff just got serious. The next movie poster you see and menu you try to read are going to be... poorly designed! You don't screw with the font bros.
posted by Zed at 11:50 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I find this a completely bizarre point of view; it seems to extend the meaning of "content" to cover anything and everything.

GUESS SOME OF US MAJORED IN POETRY, HERE TO TAKE YOUR BLINDERS OFF, EVERYTHING IS A TEXT

No but seriously, the size of text in relation to other text, when specifically chosen by the creator, is part of the content. I's a stylistic choice as much as italic or bold.

So this is like, a serious issue? Perhaps if the context pertaining to why the comment needed to be in smaller font were revealed I might be more sympathetic. But all of this moaning about editing font size is ruining authorial intent . . . really? Some of you need to get over yourselves. You're not making art, you're posting a comment to a website.

Um, I'm not making art here, but if someone feels like they are doing something very specific and meaningful with a comment and the font size is part of that, I can respect it and understand it. I guess you're arguing for people to be less thoughtful and invested in their comments?
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:51 AM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


(Also, yeah, I probably do need to get over myself but it's not really fair to rope the OP into my need to get over myself, he doesn't endorse my comments here or anything)
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:52 AM on June 21, 2012


Jessamyn has already stated that she thought she was correcting an HTML error. Because the comment had been flagged as containing an HTML error and when she looked at it, that's what it looked like to her too. So she fixed it. Her intention was not "I'm going to edit this content." It was "I'm going to fix this error. Because that's been in my job description ever since I started working here."
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 12:02 PM on June 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


No but seriously, the size of text in relation to other text, when specifically chosen by the creator, is part of the content. I's a stylistic choice as much as italic or bold.

Which is all well and good, but I've never seen a comment that long that's (intentionally) all italic or bold. I think it's the difference between "the occasional whisper is an effective tool to provide emphasis" and "I'm going to whisper all the time." I don't think anyone's advocating moderating the first, but I don't think there's anything wrong with asking the second to speak up if he wants to be understood.
posted by Gygesringtone at 12:02 PM on June 21, 2012 [9 favorites]


Gygesringtone: Well said.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:07 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


What was the reason?

Anyway, time to plug my Greasemonkey script "Embiggen the Smallest Metafilter". If you have it installed, and mouse over small text (on Metafilter), that text will be embiggened.
posted by Flunkie at 12:17 PM on June 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


I was making art :(
posted by griphus at 12:19 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Jessamyn has already stated that she thought she was correcting an HTML error. Because the comment had been flagged as containing an HTML error and when she looked at it, that's what it looked like to her too. So she fixed it. Her intention was not "I'm going to edit this content." It was "I'm going to fix this error. Because that's been in my job description ever since I started working here."

Okay, I don't think anyone is trying to give Jessamyn crap or like tell her she was doing something bad or anything. This is the part of the site for discussing stuff like this and it doesn't have to be a personal jab at the mods to say "maybe this can be handled differently"
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:21 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


What are you all talking about? Hello? Can anybody here me up there?
posted by pardonyou? at 12:27 PM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have nothing meaningful to contribute to this serious issue.

[Best viewed in Arial 9pt]
posted by mazola at 12:28 PM on June 21, 2012


testing.. huh the small tag stacks too.. did not know this. I always wondered how people got tiny tiny text.
posted by royalsong at 12:33 PM on June 21, 2012


Honest Question: Does it matter that it was in Ask rather than on the Blue?

Presumably because Ask is a money-maker for the site, whereas the Blue is a Wild West for stylistic peccadilloes. Comments on Ask must meet a higher standard for appropriateness and legibility, to encourage views.

Anyway, Jessamyn has explained at least twice that her edit was based on thinking it was a true tag error; why are people continuing to beat this expired horse?
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:34 PM on June 21, 2012


Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
--Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address

posted by pardonyou? at 12:37 PM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


3.5 hours and around 120 comments in and still nickrussell can't explain himself? Couldn't have been too important.
posted by terrapin at 12:38 PM on June 21, 2012


Yea, maybe I'm still not an expert on metalk norms but I honestly see that as nothing short of bad form, in this case at least. No one's shouting or calling for blood, but some people want to understand a point from his original statement so that they can either empathize or disagree.

Trust me, I understand that some MeTalk threads would be much better off if the OP never showed back up to comment but I don't think this is one of them.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:40 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


3.5 hours and around 120 comments in and still nickrussell can't explain himself?

Maybe he did but it was so small none of us noticed.
posted by neroli at 12:42 PM on June 21, 2012 [18 favorites]


Come at me font bros.

Stuff just got serious. The next movie poster you see and menu you try to read are going to be... poorly designed! You don't screw with the font bros.


Some men just want to watch the words kern.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:44 PM on June 21, 2012 [20 favorites]

3.5 hours and around 120 comments in and still nickrussell can't explain himself?
This time he wrote it really small.
posted by dfan at 12:44 PM on June 21, 2012


I don't wanna tell you how to do your job, but could you make the comment bigger?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:48 PM on June 21, 2012


Come on. If you are going to make text that small I want tasty beef for my pinchy zooming, not a snorty eyeroll.
posted by empatterson at 12:48 PM on June 21, 2012


-Jesus I'm sorry! I didn't see your comment there. Are you okay?
Yes.
-What happened? Did you fail at HTML?
No I'm fine. Please leave me alone.
-You've been drinking.
I haven't been drinking.
-Why are you typing paragraphs of tiny, tiny, type?! You could have broken my ciliary muscle! Look... what's wrong? Here, let me help you...
NO! DON'T EDIT ME!
-What's the matter with him? Has he failed at HTML?
-No, he hasn't failed at HTML.
-Is he hurt?
No, please all of you leave me alone.
-He must be mad.
I'm not mad. Just leave me alone.
-Why are you using such a small font for big chunks of text? Why won't you tell me what's wrong?
-He must be mad. Oh look! Mod! Mod!
-Are you alright?
I'm fine. Please, will you just let me type here?
-I'm afraid I can't let you do that, sir.
DON'T EDIT ME!!!
-Just tell me why you're typing that way! Tell me!
You don't want to know. Please believe me.
-You think that typing big chunks of text in a small font is more considerate, right? What, that people may be put off by a huge comment and making the font size smaller might mitigate that? Is that it? Is that why you're typing that way?
No.
-Tell us! Tell us, for Paphnuty's sake!
You want to know why I'm typing big chunks of text in such a small font?
-Yes!
You really want to know? Yes, I'll tell you. I'll tell you why I'm lying here... but God forgive me... and God help us all. Because you don't know what you ask of me...
-Tell us!

...

Or he just thinks small fonts are kinda purrrr-ty.

posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:48 PM on June 21, 2012 [37 favorites]


Aw, I fucked up the end.

*Flags as HTML error*
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:53 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


the small font reminds me of how fluttershy would type if she could..
posted by royalsong at 12:55 PM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Presumably because Ask is a money-maker for the site, whereas the Blue is a Wild West for stylistic peccadilloes. Comments on Ask must meet a higher standard for appropriateness and legibility, to encourage views.

I must say, that's an interpretation that never occurred to me! My thinking is that the standards for comments are higher because they have to actually answer the question asked. AskMe is not a conversation the way the other pages are. There is a question, then everything that follows has to be an answer to that question. That's why they don't allow fights to break out in the threads - because it means people have stopped answering the question. The standards have been the same since long before the advertising arrived.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 12:57 PM on June 21, 2012


Yeah, to be clear, there is no money angle there. We're very happy the site can pay our paychecks but that has bupkis to do with how the various subsites are moderated.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:02 PM on June 21, 2012


I have removed
the tags
that were in
the comment

and which
you were probably
using
for a digression


Forgive me
they were flagged
so blurry
and so small

posted by txsebastien at 1:08 PM on June 21, 2012 [23 favorites]


The deeper meaning behind your small font is long on me, too (sorry if I am being dense) but I'd also ask commenters to consider the length of their comments in general anyway. The occasional novel is one thing, and some of the most valuable contributions to this site are that long or longer. But as a general rule, I think that's a bit much.

I totally disagree with this (unless, like you know who of the big hoax, you are setting up a long story that you just want to find a home for...).

I am a huge fan (if you can be a comment fan) of nickrussell's comments and ideas and I am glad to hear them in long, short, big or small form.

Speaking of stories...saying it's 'too long' is like when my former roommate got a handwritten letter from a friend and threw it on the table without reading it. I said 'why don't you read it?" and she said, "I'll read it later, there's too many words".
posted by bquarters at 1:10 PM on June 21, 2012


Aw, I fucked up the end.

You did it to yourself.
posted by TwoWordReview at 1:12 PM on June 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


My thinking is that the standards for comments are higher because they have to actually answer the question asked.

Yes, that's what I meant by "appropriateness." But I see Cortex has said that's not the case, which just confirms for me that the edit was not nefarious. It really would be useful to have the OP explain why it destroyed his meaning.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 1:12 PM on June 21, 2012


I think it is quite annoying that people start a MeTa - which is about having a conversation about MeFi - and then don't bother to stay around to have that conversation. If you can't stay around for some reason, then don't make the MeTa right now. Do it when you have some spare time to engage in the conversation that you seemingly want to have.
posted by vidur at 1:34 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dude had time to comment on AskMe since he posted this thread. Kind of seems like bad faith engagement.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:37 PM on June 21, 2012


Wait, my bad. That was 4 AM this morning--prior to posting this MeTa. Never mind.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:38 PM on June 21, 2012


I'm not surprised that the OP is choosing not to answer to people who:

1) jump on a bandwagon to keep hounding him
2) will not, in all likelihood, read the answer in good faith, anyway
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:39 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't know, guys -- writing in a tiny font, claiming it was meaningful, then disappearing -- I'm starting to get worried.
posted by neroli at 1:42 PM on June 21, 2012


I didn't participate in the previous discussion, nor have I have flagged or otherwise complained about small print, but I do find it very difficult to read if not impossible. Thankfully, I've never seen this here, but if you combine the small tag with italics, you might as well be using an Arabic or Japanese keyboard. So keep in mind when using the small tag as a means of expression, there's going to be a subset of people who won't be able to read your it, let alone appreciate the nuances of expressiveness that it may possess.

I'm not advocating an all out ban of the small tag, but it does seem to be cropping up more and more. I just wish that people would be a lot more selective about using it.
posted by kaybdc at 1:44 PM on June 21, 2012


I guess you're arguing for people to be less thoughtful and invested in their comments?

I'm not sure that an author who writes a comment with a thousand-plus words, and then presents it in a form that indicates whispering, an aside, or a derail is "invested". It's an incredibly poor stylistic choice if you want your output to be read. Expressing that has nothing to do with a desire for commenters and posters to be less thoughtful about their words, but more thoughtful about their presentation.

We're only talking about a specific instance of making a poor choice of presentation. If the mods were regularly re-sizing small text, I think then it might be worth waving the flag of stylistic oppression.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:44 PM on June 21, 2012


I think nickrussell makes a good point whether or not we know the reason he wanted so much text in small type. His question has broader application than simply deciding if we agree that his text should have been big or small.
posted by MoonOrb at 1:44 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


> I don't know, guys -- writing in a tiny font, claiming it was meaningful, then disappearing -- I'm starting to get worried

Heh, I was expecting a clip from the documentary Crumb showing R. Crumb's brother's notebooks and his progression towards insanity.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:44 PM on June 21, 2012


nickrussell, why didn't you just message the mods to find out why your post was altered?
posted by futz at 1:45 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm not surprised that the OP is choosing not to answer to people who jump on a bandwagon to keep hounding him
posted by Blazecock Pileon
I'm now picturing everyone who's criticised nickrussell with a flaming cock. I mean, not that I don't normally imagine Mefites with crotchfire, but this time it's a little more, you know, vivid.
posted by ambrosen at 1:45 PM on June 21, 2012


I'm not surprised that the OP is choosing not to answer to people who:

1) jump on a bandwagon to keep hounding him
2) will not, in all likelihood, read the answer in good faith, anyway


I don't get it. If you don't want to have the discussion because you assume bad faith on part of the rest of MeFi community, then why start the MeTa in the first place? And if you do want to start a discussion (without having to participate in it), then at least don't leave the community wondering about the "reason" that you explicitly mention in the very first sentence and which seems to have been why the MeTa was made in the first place. I mean, if there was no such reason for the small text comment, if it was just an unintentional html error, he would hardly be starting a MeTa about it.

I am aware that nickrussell hasn't said anything that implies an assumption of bad faith about the community. This is just a response to BP's guess about nickrussell's silence.
posted by vidur at 1:50 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


vidur: "I think it is quite annoying that people start a MeTa - which is about having a conversation about MeFi - and then don't bother to stay around to have that conversation. If you can't stay around for some reason, then don't make the MeTa right now. Do it when you have some spare time to engage in the conversation that you seemingly want to have."

Something may have happened, where he can't respond quickly. It does happen. The post is going to be open for a whole month, and he has plenty of time to respond.

We don't need to start demanding that he be coated in raw meat and thrown into the piranha tank because he hasn't responded immediately to our "urgent" requests for clarification.
posted by zarq at 1:51 PM on June 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


Technically we are all coated in raw meat, all the time.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:53 PM on June 21, 2012 [15 favorites]


We don't need to start demanding that he be coated in raw meat and thrown into the piranha tank because he hasn't responded immediately to our "urgent" requests for clarification

I know. Which is why we haven't demanded any such thing. Just noted the annoyance.
posted by vidur at 1:53 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


18 paragraphs of small text? Sounds like a stunt comment. Hey I have ALL THIS STUFF TO SAY and if I didn't want it to be read I wouldn't have written it. But I don't want you to think I'm overbearing and maybe you should skip all the text, which, by the way, I wouldn't have written had I not intended it to be read. So I'll make it small, mmkay?

Or, 5 hours after making the original post, the OP might want to explain what the reason really is, since it was important enough to say it was formatted that way "for a reason (which I won't elucidate here, and nevermind I think I'll just not come back to the thread anymore and respond to people asking me what, specifically the reason is)" but I guess not important enough to defend when questioned.
posted by chimaera at 1:53 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


vidur: "I know. Which is why we haven't demanded any such thing. Just noted the annoyance."

I was exaggerating for comic effe- nevermind.
posted by zarq at 1:56 PM on June 21, 2012


We don't need to start demanding that he be coated in raw meat and thrown into the piranha tank because he hasn't responded immediately to our "urgent" requests for clarification.

How about a tofu stir-fry?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:03 PM on June 21, 2012


My post was fairly intemperate, but I think there is a valid issue that the OP considered it important enough to post to Metatalk rather than email the mods, bringing it publicly, and then not engaging publicly in the discussion.
posted by chimaera at 2:12 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


And isn't the line "...and one pill makes you small"?
posted by Eideteker at 2:14 PM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yes, yes, now quit scaring him away, I really want to know what the reason was for the font size!
posted by blurker at 2:15 PM on June 21, 2012


"One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you
grow shorter."
posted by JanetLand at 2:18 PM on June 21, 2012


Something may have happened, where he can't respond quickly. It does happen. The post is going to be open for a whole month, and he has plenty of time to respond.


What happens a lot--and not really reading anything into nickrussell's non-commenting--is that people post a MeTa thread when they are 1) annoyed and/or 2) on their way to work/school/the subarctic/an airplane and can't reply. While the "something came up and I was surprised as you!" explanation is a possibility, I suspect it's not likely, just based on experience here and not my astute knowledge of human nature which is generally lacking anyhow.

Not a huge deal but since this is specifically a place you come to engage with the community it seems odd to me when people basically open the door to community engagement and then don't engage. Sure, stuff happens, and that's totally fine. But in many cases there is some detail that could stand to be clarified and having people sort of standing around wondering is not really optimal. We see the same thing happening in AskMe. People ask a question and leave out an important detail and then either never come back to clarify and/or get peeved that people have been making assumptions in the absence of clearer outlines of the issue.

If you just need to ask us a question there is the contact form and you will generally get a reply so fast your head will spin. That said the spinny head thing is sort of a fun, so I suggest people try it sometime.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:20 PM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


then not engaging publicly in the discussion.

Very busy. Will reply later. Don't worry. About a thing. Every little thing. Is going to be alright.
posted by nickrussell at 2:21 PM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hooray!
posted by blurker at 2:23 PM on June 21, 2012


MetaFilter: sort of a fun, so I suggest people try it sometime.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:24 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


<huge><throbbing>dicks</huge></throbbing>

Your HTML contains a nesting error. Also, dicks.
posted by davejay at 2:24 PM on June 21, 2012 [9 favorites]


And isn't the line "...and one pill makes you small"

Yes.

And the ones that the mods give you... don't do anything at all.
Go ask Haughey
I bet he'll know

posted by tyllwin at 2:25 PM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


I highly recommend using the contact form. It's a great way to get rid of your warehouses full of stuffed sheep in clown outfits.
posted by garlic at 2:31 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


At least nickrussell is considerate enough to DJ the thread, and choosing chill songs to keep the crowd calmer in his absence was sensible enough. He's not an unreasonable guy.
posted by heyho at 2:33 PM on June 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


there is the contact form and you will generally get a reply so fast your head will spin

I can vouch for that. Modheadspinning is my favorite form of recreation except for MeTaGRAR.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:40 PM on June 21, 2012


In the name of the most holy and individual Trinity: Be it known to all, and every one whom it may concern, or to whom in any manner it may belong, That for many Years past, Discords and Civil Divisions being stir'd up in the Roman Empire, which increas'd to such a degree, that not only all Germany, but also the neighbouring Kingdoms, and France particularly, have been involv'd in the Disorders of a long and cruel War: And in the first place, between the most Serene and most Puissant Prince and Lord, Ferdinand the Second, of famous Memory, elected Roman Emperor, always August, King of Germany, Hungary, Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Arch-Duke of Austria, Duke of Burgundy, Brabant, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, Marquiss of Moravia, Duke of Luxemburgh, the Higher and Lower Silesia, of Wirtemburg and Teck, Prince of Suabia, Count of Hapsburg, Tirol, Kyburg and Goritia, Marquiss of the Sacred Roman Empire, Lord of Burgovia, of the Higher and Lower Lusace, of the Marquisate of Slavonia, of Port Naon and Salines, with his Allies and Adherents on one side; and the most Serene, and the most Puissant Prince, Lewis the Thirteenth, most Christian King of France and Navarre, with his Allies and Adherents on the other side. And after their Decease, between the most Serene and Puissant Prince and Lord, Ferdinand the Third, elected Roman Emperor, always August, King of Germany, Hungary, Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Arch-Duke of Austria, Duke of Burgundy, Brabant, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, Marquiss of Moravia, Duke of Luxemburg, of the Higher and Lower Silesia, of Wirtemburg and Teck, Prince of Suabia, Count of Hapsburg, Tirol, Kyburg and Goritia, Marquiss of the Sacred Roman Empire, Burgovia, the Higher and Lower Lusace, Lord of the Marquisate of Slavonia, of Port Naon and Salines, with his Allies and Adherents on the one side; and the most Serene and most Puissant Prince and Lord, Lewis the Fourteenth, most Christian King of France and Navarre, with his Allies and Adherents on the other side: from whence ensu'd great Effusion of Christian Blood, and the Desolation of several Provinces. It has at last happen'd, by the effect of Divine Goodness, seconded by the Endeavours of the most Serene Republick of Venice, who in this sad time, when all Christendom is imbroil'd, has not ceas'd to contribute its Counsels for the publick Welfare and Tranquillity; so that on the side, and the other, they have form'd Thoughts of an universal Peace. And for this purpose, by a mutual Agreement and Covenant of both Partys, in the year of our Lord 1641. the 25th of December, N.S. or the 15th O.S. it was resolv'd at Hamburgh, to hold an Assembly of Plenipotentiary Ambassadors, who should render themselves at Munster and Osnabrug in Westphalia the 11th of July, N.S. or the 1st of the said month O.S. in the year 1643. The Plenipotentiary Ambassadors on the one side, and the other, duly establish'd, appearing at the prefixt time, and on the behalf of his Imperial Majesty, the most illustrious and most excellent Lord, Maximilian Count of Trautmansdorf and Weinsberg, Baron of Gleichenberg, Neustadt, Negan, Burgau, and Torzenbach, Lord of Teinitz, Knight of the Golden Fleece, Privy Counsellor and Chamberlain to his Imperial Sacred Majesty, and Steward of his Houshold; the Lord John Lewis, Count of Nassau, Catzenellebogen, Vianden, and Dietz, Lord of Bilstein, Privy Counsellor to the Emperor, and Knight of the Golden Fleece; Monsieur Isaac Volmamarus, Doctor of Law, Counsellor, and President in the Chamber of the most Serene Lord Arch-Duke Ferdinand Charles. And on the behalf of the most Christian King, the most eminent Prince and Lord, Henry of Orleans, Duke of Longueville, and Estouteville, Prince and Sovereign Count of Neuschaftel, Count of Dunois and Tancerville, Hereditary Constable of Normandy, Governor and Lieutenant-General of the same Province, Captain of the Cent Hommes d'Arms, and Knight of the King's Orders, &c. as also the most illustrious and most excellent Lords, Claude de Mesmes, Count d'Avaux, Commander of the said King's Orders, one of the Superintendents of the Finances, and Minister of the Kingdom of France &c. and Abel Servien, Count la Roche of Aubiers, also one of the Ministers of the Kingdom of France. And by the Mediation and Interposition of the most illustrious and most excellent Ambassador and Senator of Venice, Aloysius Contarini Knight, who for the space of five Years, or thereabouts, with great Diligence, and a Spirit intirely impartial, has been inclin'd to be a Mediator in these Affairs. After having implor'd the Divine Assistance, and receiv'd a reciprocal Communication of Letters, Commissions, and full Powers, the Copys of which are inserted at the end of this Treaty, in the presence and with the consent of the Electors of the Sacred Roman Empire, the other Princes and States, to the Glory of God, and the Benefit of the Christian World, the following Articles have been agreed on and consented to, and the same run thus.
posted by pyramid termite at 2:41 PM on June 21, 2012


You have to post the whole thing to become a member of the Westphalite Lounge. And that's pretty frowned upon now.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 2:54 PM on June 21, 2012


I'm okay with getting rid of the small tag completely, if we're voting.
posted by empath at 2:59 PM on June 21, 2012


The small tag is like soy sauce - used sparingly, every now and then, it adds a stylistic flavor that gives more nuance, but you wouldn't want to lean backwards as far as you can and pour a whole bottle into your sinuses, no matter how much money your friends bet you.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:02 PM on June 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


Hey MStPT, wanna make a dollar?
posted by shakespeherian at 3:02 PM on June 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'll give two.
posted by Etrigan at 3:04 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there a separate category for wasabi-laced? 'Cause if there is, I'm volunteering my honey as a competitor. (Who's running the betting? We are gonna CLEAN UP on this one and it's gonna make up for all the times he's embarrassed me by going into a wasabi-induced bliss trance at the sushi counter.)
posted by Lexica at 3:21 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


You have to post the whole thing to become a member of the Westphalite Lounge.

i'm not sure i want to drink chocolate wine
posted by pyramid termite at 3:22 PM on June 21, 2012


but watching marisa pouring a whole bottle into his sinuses would be a very cirno thing to do
posted by pyramid termite at 3:24 PM on June 21, 2012


I dislike the small tag immensely, especially when used extensively like this evidently was, but even more so when people go like this in the middle of the text.

Anything you want to express by using the small tag can be expressed by words, or else it's probably inappropriate for this site (except maybe metatalk).
posted by J. Wilson at 3:26 PM on June 21, 2012


Some of my friends did the wasabi up the nose thing, pre-Jackass. I promise it is hilarious but I'd rather see some soy sauce inhalation. For completeness.
posted by rhythm and booze at 3:29 PM on June 21, 2012


I was exaggerating for comic effe- nevermind.

Well, you should have put it in small text then.

I am coffee-deprived, so my comic meter may not be functioning
posted by vidur at 3:32 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


i'm not sure i want to drink chocolate wine

You shouldn't drink it. You won't like it. Here, let me take it off your hands. I'm doing you a favor, really.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:33 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


hey, guess who invaded grand theft auto?
posted by pyramid termite at 3:41 PM on June 21, 2012


royalsong: "The mods are welcome to edit any of my posts that they decide are in need of moderation."

Same here - it's not like they could make them worse.
posted by dg at 3:42 PM on June 21, 2012


All I'm saying is that nickrussel missed a serious opportunity to go for "every little thing is gonna be alright."

just sayin'
posted by Alterscape at 3:44 PM on June 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


"The text was small for a reason.

Can you tell us the reason here?"


Leprechauns. It's always the fucking leprechauns.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:53 PM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


The small tag is like soy sauce - used sparingly, every now and then, it adds a stylistic flavor that gives more nuance, but you wouldn't want to lean backwards as far as you can and pour a whole bottle into your sinuses, no matter how much money your friends bet you.

All I have to say about that is that I learned the hard way that soy sauce is denser than beaten eggs, and that if you don't want stupid salty scrambled eggs, you should stir the egg mixture when you're pouring in soy sauce and thinking there's not enough in there.
posted by kmz at 4:02 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is the part of the site for discussing stuff like this and it doesn't have to be a personal jab at the mods to say "maybe this can be handled differently"

the young rope-rider, "I guess you're arguing for people to be less thoughtful and invested in their comments?" sounds an awful lot like a personal jab, or at least a deliberately disingenuous one.
posted by liketitanic at 4:08 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not surprised that the OP is choosing not to answer

I thought there were supposed to be three people on crucifixes (crucificies?) before we got started. Must you always pop in to make a comment that sounds like nothing more than evidence for how awful this place is the next time a thread doesn't go your way? Your self-focus is amazingly off-putting.
posted by yerfatma at 4:08 PM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Anything you want to express by using the small tag can be expressed by words, or else it's probably inappropriate for this site (except maybe metatalk).

That's absurd, I write in very big letters.
posted by octobersurprise at 4:14 PM on June 21, 2012


*takes nap while waiting*
posted by terrapin at 4:23 PM on June 21, 2012


The comment in this post was small for a reason.

i love how you're self-important enough to make this post, but couldn't give us the reason why the text was small. i love that part. you're a special little snowflake for real.
posted by Avenger50 at 4:24 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


a very cirno thing to do

Like building a snowman in the likeness of a crush?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:34 PM on June 21, 2012


There was a kid in the fiction writing class who wrote really long science fiction short stories. Like 30 or more manuscript pages long. They weren't very good, of course, and it was really a drag for everybody to read those stories close and comment helpfully and be prepared to discuss them when it was his turn. I think the instructor resented it more than the rest of us.

Eventually the instructor decided to put a ceiling on short stories submitted to the class to go with the floor he'd set in the syllabus. 20 pages was the limit. Still plenty of room for longish short stories, but still short enough for everybody to read and comment without pulling their hair out.

The next time the kid showed up with his pile of photo-copied stories to share with the class, each packet was exactly 20 pages. The margins were set at a quarter inch, all the way around. He'd had to hand write page numbers and author name in the headers they were so small. His word processor had balked at placing copy in such a narrow space.

And the font was 7 pt Times New Roman.
posted by notyou at 4:35 PM on June 21, 2012 [12 favorites]


I love the small tag and would be cast into despair were it to depart for the Elysian fields.
posted by winna at 4:37 PM on June 21, 2012


notyou: "And the font was 7 pt Times New Roman."

We have a 2-page limit on the response to criteria in applications for jobs here. Well, we used to. Now, we have a 2-page with font of at least 10 pt, margins of at least 1 cm all around and maximum A4 paper limit after someone submitted two pages of 2 pt arial narrow with zero margins. The A4 size was a later addition after someone submitted their two pages on A3.

This is why we can't have nice things.
posted by dg at 4:42 PM on June 21, 2012 [12 favorites]


I want margins measured in cm and A# paper sizes :(
posted by batmonkey at 4:45 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I may have pulled a similar trick to get a paper in under the twenty page limit. But it was done in such a way that it wasn't absolutely obvious. Plainly I'm an amateur.
posted by winna at 4:48 PM on June 21, 2012


Is Latin still allowed?

Of course. How else will people be able to ask for advice on conjugating their Very Clever Latin Phrase Tattoo?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 4:55 PM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Unless you say something like Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo. That's a banninatio.
posted by languagehat at 5:05 PM on June 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


Death to all tags. And false metal.
posted by bongo_x at 5:10 PM on June 21, 2012


dg: " Now, we have a 2-page with font of at least 10 pt"

Have you had to specify which fonts are acceptable yet? (Thinking back to college when we all knew which were the smaller "12 pt" fonts, the ones to use if your paper was pushing the page limit, and which ones were larger and the ones to use when you were having trouble reaching the page minimum…)
posted by Lexica at 5:17 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, even Arial Narrow (which seems to be the most compact of those generally available) is fine to read at 10 pt.
posted by dg at 5:19 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


See, now I had the opposite problem in school. Being told "20 pages" would, to me, mean it was time to triple space, make those margins extra wide, and milk commas and dashes for all they were worth.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:27 PM on June 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


Whenever I hear about over-abundant wasabi ingestion I think about The Nanny.
posted by CancerMan at 5:37 PM on June 21, 2012


Being told "20 pages" would, to me, mean it was time to triple space, make those margins extra wide, and milk commas and dashes for all they were worth.

A paragraph can be as few as three sentences, right? What were those rules about block quoting any quote that's more than three lines? How can I take advantage of the widow/orphan rule at the bottom of pages? Are we using footnotes? If I make this sentence a word longer, will it make the paragraph push onto another line?
posted by Night_owl at 5:43 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


20 pages is not even a proper introduction. You can't even get started with just 20 pages!

You all are just lucky I don't take the same earnest attitude toward commenting that I did toward making sure my readers really grasped the significance of the Edwardian attitudes toward social hygiene issues. I think most folk would prefer the whole 'In the name of the most holy and individual Trinity: Be it known to all, and every one whom it may concern, or to whom in any manner it may belong, That for many Years past, Discords and Civil Divisions being stir'd up in the Roman Empire' wheeze.
posted by winna at 5:43 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


My Dad used to brag that he could write a single sentence an entire page long, in German.
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:54 PM on June 21, 2012


I was one of those people that used the font size/type, margins, and character spacing, and line spacing, for all it was worth. And I thought I was slick!

Until I went to grad school, where a) they were a lot stricter about it and b) they drilled stylish succinctness into us. Gosh, turned out I wasn't fooling anybody but myself.

But it really hit home when I started teaching. You don't want to be angry that earnest, eager-beaver student who just has SO MUCH TO SAY that they just can't contain it all, but you find yourself grading over a glass of wine... then a couple glasses... then the whole bottle just seems to disappear because in 99.5%* of the cases, the damn thing was wildly out of control!

*There were a couple of times where the extra really did make a difference, but we're talking a couple of pages extra (sans formatting). The majority were pages upon pages of dreck.
posted by sm1tten at 5:58 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


My Dad used to brag that he could write a single sentence an entire page long, in German.

Big deal. That's only eight words.
posted by Etrigan at 6:10 PM on June 21, 2012 [17 favorites]


I was super proud of myself for actually being able to use my high school latin on a date, when we were looking at a medieval manuscript that happened to use a bunch of vocabulary words that I actually remembered and i was able to translate it with only a small amount of mumbling and elision. Literally the first time in my life I have ever used my 5 years of latin to translate something IRL.
posted by empath at 6:22 PM on June 21, 2012


When I taught freshman composition, I started failling overlong papers just like I failed too-short papers. There were folks who thought it made them look smart to turn in 14 pages on an assignment that called for a paper 4-5 pages long. Not only was it usually dreck, but it showed that they didn't know how to choose an appropriate topic.

I am burning with curiosity about the reason for the small tag, though I have no opinion one way or another about its use in this instsance.
posted by not that girl at 6:33 PM on June 21, 2012


I just tried using the <bigger> tag on my penis and it didn't work!
posted by cjorgensen at 6:35 PM on June 21, 2012


You don't need the tag on that, you just need to rub it.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:39 PM on June 21, 2012


I think I would like to not read about anyone's penis in metatalk any more.
posted by empath at 6:42 PM on June 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


Don't be cocky.
posted by jonmc at 6:45 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not bothered by the mods/Jessamyn editing that comment. I'm not a fan of ginormous comments in general, but putting the whole thing in small font is just obnoxious and unnecessary. I would have thought it was a formatting error and fixed it as well, if I were in her position.

Also: is the contact form broken or something? Why does this very specific, very extraordinary situation need a big MeTa thread?
posted by 1000monkeys at 6:46 PM on June 21, 2012


I think I would like to not read about anyone's penis in metatalk any more.

gosh, i thought that's all we ever talked about here
posted by pyramid termite at 7:00 PM on June 21, 2012


Your HTML contains a nesting error. Also, dicks.

it's ok, i flagged it.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 7:01 PM on June 21, 2012


USE YOUR WORDS, PEOPLE!

By which I mean, define paper length by word count, not page count, and you won't have these kind of shenanigans.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:29 PM on June 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


Paper lengths are lame. Everything should be as long or short as it needs to be.
posted by J. Wilson at 7:34 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm going to go ahead and guess that you don't have to do a ton of grading.
posted by pickinganameismuchharderthanihadanticipated at 7:37 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Your paper can be as long or as short as you like. I will read the first five pages."
posted by dg at 7:38 PM on June 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


dg, did you have me as a teacher? Because that's what I did.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:39 PM on June 21, 2012


Also: is the contact form broken or something? Why does this very specific, very extraordinary situation need a big MeTa thread?

Also, I see this sentiment all the time in meta. It seems like people use it to be dismissive in a passive way. I don't really care about the font thing, but I don't see why users do this on the very section of the site that is designed for discussion.
posted by pickinganameismuchharderthanihadanticipated at 7:43 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Totally skipping this entire thread to note that after folks on "smart" phones complained about small tags I just started using parentheses instead, and have found it works just the same, without being difficult for "smart" phone users.

Stop using the small tag and just use (). Easy peasy.
posted by mediareport at 7:51 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there a reason you use quotes around the "smart" in smart phones?
posted by cjorgensen at 7:57 PM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Grading freshman American history essays is, I'm pretty sure, one of the things that I will have to do in hell.

I admire teachers the same way I admire people who juggle things on fire- it's an enormously tricky task that I can't imagine being able to do. Although the risks of juggling things on fire is much lower.
posted by winna at 8:04 PM on June 21, 2012


I can't say I really care for the continuing mod mission creep around here.
posted by entropicamericana at 6:56 AM on June 21 [8 favorites +] [!]


This font is way way too small to contain the depths of my WHATEVER, DUDE.
posted by Sebmojo at 8:07 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Paper lengths are lame. Everything should be as long or short as it needs to be."

My syllabus literally says, regarding paper length, "Your paper should be like a miniskirt: Long enough to cover everything, but short enough to be interesting."

COME ON NICKRUSSELL, WHAT IS THE REASON???
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:24 PM on June 21, 2012 [16 favorites]


Eyebrows I want to take your class.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:26 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


We never edit things except when we edit things.
posted by crunchland at 8:14 AM on June 21 [2 favorites +] [!]


I have developed a most marvellous yawn about this comment, but unfortunately this font is too large to contain it.
posted by Sebmojo at 8:33 PM on June 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


You only teach adolescent males, McGee?
posted by de at 8:35 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not only adolescent males are interested in what comes in miniskirts.
posted by dg at 8:37 PM on June 21, 2012


Also, I see this sentiment all the time in meta. It seems like people use it to be dismissive in a passive way. I don't really care about the font thing, but I don't see why users do this on the very section of the site that is designed for discussion.
posted by pickinganameismuchharderthanihadanticipated at 10:43 PM

How does one singular instance of someone using a small font and writing a wall of text equal THE MODS ARE TRYING TO SILENCE US!! MISSION CREEP!!1!one!!

Things that are a one-off issue should be dealt with directly via the contact form. If there was this sweeping pattern of mods "changing the content" of posts, then yeah that would be a MeTa issue. This is not that.
posted by 1000monkeys at 8:42 PM on June 21, 2012


*one singular instance of mods changing the font size of someone using....
posted by 1000monkeys at 8:43 PM on June 21, 2012


Bookman Old Style looks like it's just a normal font at 12pt, but it is a magical pagecount-enhancing dream of a thing.
posted by catlet at 8:53 PM on June 21, 2012


All those page-enhancement tricks became obsolete a decade ago when my students started turning papers in electronically, and I would just open them up in my text editor and do a word count. They could use whatever font and margins they wanted; the word count never lies.

I stopped teaching 5 or 6 years ago and, although I miss it sometimes, I am mostly glad not to be doing it anymore.

We're never going to learn the reason for the small tag. We've been drawn into a mystery that will never be solved.
posted by not that girl at 9:20 PM on June 21, 2012


I'd say the small thesis has served its purpose, surely.
posted by de at 9:30 PM on June 21, 2012


We must keep the small html tag, because without it

NO ONE COULD EVER SPEAK AS DEATH FROM DISCWORLD AGAIN.

And that would be a tragedy.
posted by tzikeh at 9:46 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


What a ripoff, man. I read the whole thread and am still waiting of the answer.
posted by Specklet at 9:52 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Uh, FOR the answer. For.
posted by Specklet at 9:53 PM on June 21, 2012


While I generally think that people should be able to tag their comments as they want and have them stay that way, I think there's a qualitative difference between a couple of [small] sentences and that much text, just as there is a difference between using [blink] for a few words and for a whole paragraph.

What about for just a few letters?
posted by en forme de poire at 10:15 PM on June 21, 2012


we are killing a quadrillion squared to the quadrillionth power electrons to support this ridiculous discussion.

Please, think of the innocent electrons
posted by roboton666 at 10:25 PM on June 21, 2012


I recently made this comment in small type because I didn't want to make sensitive readers vomit or pass out.
posted by double block and bleed at 10:47 PM on June 21, 2012


This is way, waaaay too small.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:58 PM on June 21, 2012


One pill makes you larger... and one pill makes you smaller.

If you're gonna quote song lyrics, let's get 'em right, man. It's "small".
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:04 PM on June 21, 2012


All I'm saying is that nickrussel missed a serious opportunity to go for "every little thing is gonna be alright."

Nice one.

Also, the number of comments on this topic is a bit unsettling.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:13 PM on June 21, 2012


Man, all these demands to know precisely why nickrussell thought the small tag was necessary are really getting tedious. Have people never used a small tag to impart meaning? It's meant as an aside, something that has less connection to the rest of the conversation but is still pertinent.

I get the feeling the main reason people are demanding he explain why is because they enjoy mocking him by underlining facetiously that he failed to communicate his point. But most of the people urgently asking the question have used the small tag before, so surely they know that it has some meaning on some level.

nickrussell can come back and talk about whatever he wants, but he shouldn't have to answer annoying and pointless questions like that.
posted by koeselitz at 11:45 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am just curious about the thought behind making the entire comment (and such a long one at that) in small text. Obviously, there was a reason for it - it says so right there at the top of this page - and it was important enough to warrant a MeTa about it, so I would just like to know what it was.

I am not in the habit of mocking people here on MeFi (or indeed, anywhere else), so I would request that you refrain from assuming bad faith on part of folks who have asked nickrussell to clarify his intentions. He has chimed in to say that he is busy and will clarify later. I haven't seen anyone posting those reddidiotic "surely the OP will deliver" memes here, so I think we are mostly okay with it.
posted by vidur at 11:58 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm still grossed out about being covered in raw meat. Also, I solved this texty problem by setting my small font to a normal size, just a different font. Take that, stylistic editing!
posted by zinful at 12:16 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I remember the word "zamboni" from an old AskMe. Heh.

Also, I disagree with huge tracts of text being small. If it is private, send them a MeMail. This is a public site, after all. If there is another reason for it being small, well, I'm sorry. But I am 48 years old and I have to have special reading glasses to see the computer screen. And other glasses for driving. So far none for reading books, but I have to take both sets off to read a book. It's really annoying when I forget to switch glasses and have to get up and go hunt down my computer glasses and if I have to get up and go grab my driving glasses to read your comment, well then, I probably will skip the whole thing away because I am lazy and annoyed very easily, being a 48-year-old woman. With insomnia. Wondering why you had to post this MeTa in the first place when a simple CONTACT to the mods would have sufficed. So you're explanation, I await it with bated breath, dear sir, because it's 3:21 a.m. and I have nowhere to go but my kitchen for a cuppa.

Zamboni, heh.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 12:22 AM on June 22, 2012


Sorry for my grammatical errors. I am tired and cranky and need a two hour oily massage. Because sometimes a hug just won't cut it.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 12:28 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


He has chimed in to say that he is busy and will clarify later.

And yet you guys kept going.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:40 AM on June 22, 2012


Very busy. Will reply later.

uh huh.

buck buck buck buck buck
posted by ryanrs at 12:45 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


The defense rests, your honor.
posted by koeselitz at 1:06 AM on June 22, 2012


Well, if we're resting I'll just toddle off to bed.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 1:15 AM on June 22, 2012


The text was small for a reason.

That text was small, but this text is far away.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:39 AM on June 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


Come at me font bros.

I owe you nothing!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:52 AM on June 22, 2012


First they came for the small taggers.

I totally spoke up, but they were all 'huh?' and 'wuh?'
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:11 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


nickrussell, I'm sort of glad you raised this on the grey because it's a great read that I'd have otherwise missed - but I'm even gladder that it was embiggened by the mods because I suspect I'd have skipped such a vast wall of small text.

Mods, please don't get rid of the small tag!
posted by humph at 3:29 AM on June 22, 2012


Man, all these demands to know precisely why nickrussell thought the small tag was necessary are really getting tedious. Have people never used a small tag to impart meaning? It's meant as an aside, something that has less connection to the rest of the conversation but is still pertinent.

I agree that that's the most common usage of the small tag around here, but it doesn't seem to apply to nickrussell's comment, which seems to be a perfectly good answer to the question asked. It doesn't appear to have "less connection to the rest of the conversation."

More generally, though, if you're using small text that way in AskMe, consider that what you're putting in small text probably is not answering the question at hand, and thus can be left out entirely. Small text is not a magical "this isn't answering the question but I know it's not answering the question so that makes it OK, mods please don't delete this" tag in the Green.

But that doesn't apply to nickrussell's comment under discussion, thus the confusion about his use of the small tag.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:30 AM on June 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


USE YOUR WORDS, PEOPLE!


By which I mean, define paper length by word count, not page count, and you won't have these kind of shenanigans.


Never underestimate a student's ability to fudge even an automatic word count. When the essay is over-long, that's when you start getting creative with hyphens to string words together and make multiple words count as only a single word, and re-editing sentences to omit unnecessary words like "the" and "a".

And if you put the hyphens between squidged-together words in a really small font, they're not visible to the casual reader, and it looks like you used a normal space instead.
posted by talitha_kumi at 4:42 AM on June 22, 2012


Whoa talitha brings the science!
posted by winna at 5:23 AM on June 22, 2012


Ryanrs, that's kind of mean.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:33 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gosh, I did some font playing, but mostly I used my ability to digress in 300-500 word chunks*. I'd write a couple of tangentially related blurbs and paste them in next to the closest related topic, and then go up and add a sentence justifying it to the most appropriate topic paragraph or sub-paragraph. I had some teachers who praised me for delivering my ideas in neatly contained little chunks and some who called me out on rambling.

* Thank you forever, Mrs. Ahrens, for making us practice writing impromptu "topic essays" on 5"x8" cards (both sides, if needed) on the topic of the day. That skill saved me on more standardized tests than I can count, even more than the essay-padding application. I got more good writing advice in your history class than in any of my English classes.
posted by Karmakaze at 5:33 AM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Man, all these demands to know precisely why nickrussell thought the small tag was necessary are really getting tedious. Have people never used a small tag to impart meaning? It's meant as an aside, something that has less connection to the rest of the conversation but is still pertinent.

Did you click the link to the comment in question? It's a wall of text. That's not an aside.

Also, what's wrong with asking for his reason? He's the one who opted to make this subject a community discussion rather than contact the mods directly. He's the one who specifically said there were reasons for use of small text. Why should the very crux of his post be off-limits for questioning or discussion? What a strange thing to call people out on.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:37 AM on June 22, 2012 [13 favorites]


I could totally understand pushback on talking about this if someone had called nickrussell out, but nickrussell called the mods (and flaggers) out here instead of using the contact form, so, yeah, it's a community discussion.

That's apparently what he wanted (will we ever know?!), which makes it a little weird to have people saying we should be responding some other way.

MetaTalk is functioning as it is supposed to when someone brings something here, and there's no reason to tsk tsk people for participating in the community discussion they were invited to have.
posted by batmonkey at 5:44 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


What about for just a few letters?

I'm Georges Perec.
posted by OmieWise at 5:54 AM on June 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


In may day, we had <blink> and <marquee> and we LIKED it. We LOVED it. we also made gratuitous reference to SNL sketches from the early 90s
posted by moammargaret at 6:26 AM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


270 comments on <small> is one of the reasons I love this place.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:36 AM on June 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Never underestimate a student's ability to fudge even an automatic word count. When the essay is over-long, that's when you start getting creative with hyphens to string words together and make multiple words count as only a single word, and re-editing sentences to omit unnecessary words like "the" and "a".

I am now imagining this as the origin story for German.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:37 AM on June 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


Why are people sticking their penises in MetaTalk?
posted by slogger at 6:58 AM on June 22, 2012


It's meant as an aside, something that has less connection to the rest of the conversation but is still pertinent.

And generally speaking asides in AskMe are part of a larger comment. Or they follow a more on-topic comment. So there is the normal sized part of the comment that answers the question and the smalltext aside that sort of doesn't or makes a joke or does something else. And we have to make a decision about whether the comment is mostly-answer or mostly-aside. Comments that are entirely aside routinely get deleted as non-answers. So if you're taking a complete answer [as this looked like it was] and putting it in a style routinely used for asides--a style that would most likely get your comment deleted in the part of the site where it appears--it looks more like you made some sort of mistake than that you were doing this for some specific purpose. And if there was a purpose, no problem, just let us know what it is.

But while you can play through the looking glass all you want within your own social circle, in a larger group of people who may not know you and your quirks and your intentions, you have to sort of lean towards more standard forms of getting your meaning across, or deal with the fact that you may occasionally be misunderstood. People here can decide how much they feel that this request applies to them personally; we're just here to explain how it applies to how we moderate the site.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:08 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unicorn vs narwhal!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:13 AM on June 22, 2012


Don't shrink your words, please. I'm 66 and already have my monitor set on 125%. Tiny fonts make me want to scream.
posted by Carol Anne at 7:15 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


You could always go ctrl ++ to get text bigger, Carol Anne. And nickrussel could preface his comments with "press ctrl -- emdash it's for a reason".
posted by hawthorne at 7:20 AM on June 22, 2012


Or ctrl-mousewheel up!
posted by Grither at 7:22 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or command ++ if you're on a mac.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:24 AM on June 22, 2012


I can't read small text properly, so I am very pleased that a linked thread pointed out I can change the size of both normal and small text as a setting in the preferences in my Metafilter profile. If I'd ever noticed that, I'd promptly forgotten, so this thread has been worth it for me.
posted by Azara at 7:25 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I got more good writing advice in your history class than in any of my English classes.

Me, too! Well, not Mrs. Ahrens' history class. But most of what I learned about writing to both convey information clearly and with some degree of stylistic grace, I learned from a history teacher. Good history teachers are awesome.

posted by EvaDestruction at 7:53 AM on June 22, 2012


In may day, we had <blink> and <marquee> and we LIKED it. We LOVED it.

We still have blink. It's just that a lot of browsers don't actually render it by default, because a lot of browsers are jerks.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:10 AM on June 22, 2012


We're never going to learn the reason for the small tag. We've been drawn into a mystery that will never be solved.

I bet it's one of those things they'll finally reveal on the Metafilter series finale, and it'll turn out to be kind of a letdown.
posted by prize bull octorok at 8:29 AM on June 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


Like every let-down in life, it will also involve Patrick Duffy emerging from the shower.
posted by griphus at 8:32 AM on June 22, 2012


And a child playing with a snowglobe.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:33 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


A taterglobe.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:35 AM on June 22, 2012


Blink Test.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:35 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Goddamnit Safari!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:36 AM on June 22, 2012


In may day, we had {blink} and and {marquee} and we LIKED it. We LOVED it. we also made gratuitous reference to SNL sketches from the early 90s

You had {marquee}? LUXURY! I see your SNL early 90s and raise you a 1967 At Last the 1948 Show sketch.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:39 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm on another site that allows for marquee and I've only one time seen it used in an amusing way. And that was when someone figured out how to arrange a wall of seemingly randomly arranged :V faces to appear to be scrolling by on continuous loop. I still haven't been able to reproduce it properly.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:43 AM on June 22, 2012


This will end up being a stunt post by nickrussell to sell his new self-help book, Stories on Living Your Life in Small Words. Naturally, I'm looking forward to it after his last book, Decorating with Large Words.
posted by Atreides at 8:46 AM on June 22, 2012


I've been accused in the past of only posting fun and games type comments of late, but, for a fact, I'm still mad at Spoon for ruining the color tag for everyone.
posted by y2karl at 8:47 AM on June 22, 2012


Azara: "I can't read small text properly, so I am very pleased that a linked thread pointed out I can change the size of both normal and small text as a setting in the preferences in my Metafilter profile."

Unfortunately, that's not true - the "small" setting there only changes the size of the comment footers, not small-tagged comments. I still think the name of the setting should probably be changed.
posted by koeselitz at 9:00 AM on June 22, 2012


I think nickrussell is winding us up. Stirring the hornet's nest, so to speak.
posted by terrapin at 9:07 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


This thread is now way out of proportion to the font size at issue.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:17 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


You had {marquee}? LUXURY! I see your SNL early 90s and raise you a 1967 At Last the 1948 Show sketch.

I'll call that At Last the 1948 Show sketch, and raise you a 1962 episode of That Was The Week That Was, complete with Millicent Martin theme song.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:17 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think nickrussell is winding us up. Stirring the hornet's nest, so to speak.

I think he already responded, but the font size was so small we couldn't see it.
posted by rocket88 at 10:04 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


If a font falls in the forest ...
posted by desjardins at 10:37 AM on June 22, 2012


Is there a reason you use quotes around the "smart" in smart phones?

Yeah, they don't strike me as very smart for browsing, most of them.
posted by mediareport at 10:37 AM on June 22, 2012


> I was super proud of myself for actually being able to use my high school latin on a date

Er war der Beste in Latein!
posted by languagehat at 10:44 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Please come back and tell us your reason, nickrussell! I can't handle all this antici
posted by subbes at 11:44 AM on June 22, 2012


PAtion.

Oh, come on. somebody had to do it.
posted by maudlin at 11:46 AM on June 22, 2012


Dammit.
posted by maryr at 12:03 PM on June 22, 2012


Small comments got no reason
Small comments got no reason
Small comments got no reason
To live

They got little words
Little i's
They're only legible
When you capitalize
They got little commas
And tiny little zee's
Their periods are so small
That you can't even see
posted by drlith at 12:24 PM on June 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


Don't give up! I believe in you all.
A comment's a comment, no matter how <small>!
And you very <small> comments will not have to die
If you make yourselves heard! So come on, now, and TRY!
posted by Drastic at 12:31 PM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


buck buck buck buck buck
posted by ryanrs at 12:45 AM on June 22


That shit stands?

What a fuckin' joke.
posted by ambient2 at 1:48 PM on June 22, 2012


> What a fuckin' joke.

What the fuck is buck buck buck and why do you care, apart from being generally obtusely grumpy all the time and generally only chiming in to bitch bitch bitch?
posted by Burhanistan at 2:04 PM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Buck buck buck" is the sound a chicken makes.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:06 PM on June 22, 2012


Oh, I thought that was "bock"?
posted by Burhanistan at 2:07 PM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that's one pimp chicken who says buck buck buck.
posted by gman at 2:09 PM on June 22, 2012


It's a regional dialect, you elitists!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:09 PM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I thought that was the sound the Cadbury Bunny made?
posted by terrapin at 2:09 PM on June 22, 2012


Also, I thought it took some really, supremely egregious for something to be deleted from MeTa.

Otherwise, I would have flagged that. Just seems pointless on the grey unless it's waaaaay over the line.
posted by batmonkey at 2:13 PM on June 22, 2012


Very tiny hornets. I can't even see them.
posted by Namlit at 2:16 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait til you have the cataract removal surgery. You can see the hornets again!
posted by Burhanistan at 2:18 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, I thought it took some really, supremely egregious for something to be deleted from MeTa.

Correct. It's something we rarely do. And even less so when there are a bunch of other comments quoting that comment. If you think we should delete something or that maybe we missed a super-out-of-line comment that you flagged [because we rarely delete things, something has to get flagged a few times in MeTa for us to even look at it] please drop us an email. It's significantly more effective than just grousing about it in the thread.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:20 PM on June 22, 2012


I bloody hope nickrussell isn't using all this time to compose his entire "reason" within a <small> tag.
posted by terrapin at 2:23 PM on June 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Anyone else wondering how long the OPs response is going to be? It sure is taking a while to write it up.

On preview, high five, terrapin.
posted by freezer cake at 2:25 PM on June 22, 2012


Size matters.
posted by Obscure Reference at 2:34 PM on June 22, 2012


Fuck, that was supposed to be a chicken?

Stupid, chickens sound like this. And I think it may overestimate the scariness of MeTa; this isn't a pitchforky pileon situation, I think.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:34 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Huh. And do the cows say "shazoo!" where you come from, Alvy?
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:43 PM on June 22, 2012


Ctrl+ embiggenates. If you make with the little print, I can foil you by making it a readable size. Also, if you make huge text, I can bring it right down to a size that suits me. Just another reason me and Mr. Firefox and Ms. Web are such good pals. It's a great life.
posted by theora55 at 2:55 PM on June 22, 2012


Huh. And do the cows say "shazoo!" where you come from, Alvy?

Sometimes, if they're feeling sneezy.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:41 PM on June 22, 2012


I'm totally going to start saying 'buck buck buck' when I am making chicken sounds. It is super laid-back chicken talk from chickens who don't want to expend the effort to make the long o sound!

I am doing it right now at my desk staring out at the yard covered in rain. 'Buck buck buck! Happy Friday!'

But no one will ever stop me from going 'Ee-er-ee-er-OOOOO' for the crowing sound.
posted by winna at 3:49 PM on June 22, 2012


I just made a chicken sound and it did sound like "buck buck buck buck" so now I am feeling kind of, I don't know, ahead of my time.

The look of annoyed indulgence my cat is giving me upon my "buck buck buck buck" in his direction is kind of shaming, though.
posted by sm1tten at 4:08 PM on June 22, 2012


That shit stands? What a fuckin' joke.

What have you got against chicken? It is one of the basic meats of no offense to anybody.
posted by ryanrs at 4:09 PM on June 22, 2012


Oh, I thought that was "bock"?

Only when the chickens live near a brewery.
posted by Gygesringtone at 4:19 PM on June 22, 2012


Cock bock.
posted by adamdschneider at 5:29 PM on June 22, 2012


Huh. And do the cows say "shazoo!" where you come from, Alvy?

Probably, and Alvy is dead wrong - chickens go "chaw-CHEE! chaw-CHEE! chaw-CHEE!"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:14 PM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fuck, that was supposed to be a chicken?

Has anyone in this family ever even seen a chicken?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:18 PM on June 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


I bet ryanrs is happy now that his plan to make everyone in MeTa cluck out loud like a chicken has been realised. (What, you guys were all doing it too, admit it!)
posted by jacalata at 6:21 PM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I submit that the proper textual rendition is "BAWK bawk-bawk-bawk BAWK bawk-bawk-bawk".
posted by Flunkie at 7:00 PM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm with Flunkie, as long as we're talking English-speaking chickens only. You can explore many animal transliterations here*, with some interesting linguistic discussion here**.

*I lost a little faith in the chart's reliability when I saw that it has English-speaking cranes saying, "Clang!" But interesting nonetheless!

**No idea how reliable any of it is; perhaps one of MeFi's linguists will weigh in.

posted by dogrose at 7:22 PM on June 22, 2012


As god is my witness, I thought he was challenging nickrussell to a game of Buck Buck
posted by drlith at 7:25 PM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Or for the more adorable version of animal sounds, Bzzzpeek.
posted by frimble at 7:48 PM on June 22, 2012


warning: Bzzzpeek has auto-play audio.

that was close.
posted by batmonkey at 7:57 PM on June 22, 2012


"This is a game that we played when we were kids, and it's called Buck Buck ..."
posted by maudlin at 8:33 PM on June 22, 2012


Speaking of the general case, if people hate certain tags why do they not use browsers that handle user style sheets? You can make small tags render the text at six hundred points if you prefer. Or not render at all. The wonder of the web. It seems reasonable to make certain concessions for the mobile version, but in general people who have display preferences are perfectly capable of expressing them without foisting them on the rest of us.

At some point people have to take responsibility for making things the way they would like them to be and not placing the onus on others. Obviously that philosophy doesn't hold when the text itself is rude, offensive, or otherwise inappropriate in a way that goes far beyond community norms, but display preferences are decidedly not that. Use the tools that are available to you, I say.

I don't bother to tell the computer my preference beforehand, but that's because I'm well acquainted with the hotkeys that make text bigger/smaller in my browsers if I feel that a particular block of text is too small or too large.
posted by wierdo at 8:45 PM on June 22, 2012


as long as we're talking English-speaking chickens only.

Here in Korea, chickens sound like 'pass me a beer, wouldja?' Or wonderchickens do, at least.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:23 PM on June 22, 2012


...grousing about it...

cute
posted by ambient2 at 11:46 PM on June 22, 2012


Gimme summa that chicken, stav!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:16 AM on June 23, 2012


[apologies for the delay in following up.]

In the last conversation about moderator intervention, @Lynsey had a comment: I should never ask nickrussell if these pants make me look fat, which was in response to my own I don't think people crying is a big problem...

I took that on-board, and considered how a response on AskMe affects people. When I have been confused or a bit stuck, having a google often found message boards where others were having conversations about similar topics. It is profoundly inspiring that we can help each other in times of distress simply by sharing experiences on anonymous, faceless forums – truly the democratisation of information and communicating personal experiences.

When remembering how I engaged with that found wisdom, two strong themes emerged. The first was that the most helpful comments were those that were accessible in tone. Back to the basic psychological principle of interpersonal communication – 60% of content is communicated by body language, 30% of content is communicated by tone of voice, and 10% of content is communicated by what is actually said. The comments that connected were appealing in both tone and actual communication, whereas I have primarily been focusing on actually communication with little thought of tone.

The second point was that the most helpful comments were those in which it felt that the anonymous, faceless person had actually 'heard' through the text, and taken the time to think and reply with a considered response. It's very hard to 'hear' through text and especially read between the lines when someone has compressed a significant part of their life experience into a few paragraphs of text. Reflecting on why those comments connected, it was a balance between inherent affection and explicit answers.

To the former, in many cases a solution may not come from the interaction, however it's wonderful to feel heard – to feel that whilst the person that replies may not understand the situation or have relevant advice, that they have taken the time to both listen and reply. Even if their reply is not actionable, it is comforting to know that someone else has had similar questions and is willing to spend time relating their experiences for the benefit of someone – they are will to connect simply out of a desire for the asker to feel better.

To the latter, whilst we live in a world of soundbites and bullet points – "be the change you want to see in the world" or "Do less, do better" – to actually connect with people still requires sitting, listening, thinking, and replying within a context. Hence, my own posts can be a bit wordy. It is one thing to say, "you should do blah blah because that will result in sunshine and unicorns". Without context, there cannot be true communication. However, context is expensive in terms of column-inches, so to speak.

Thus, a conflict between how to write well-considered responses that 1) hear the asker and connect with them, 2) provides a shared context in service of that connection, and 3) respects the quasi-limited resource of column-inches. It ends up being a bit like that old joke, "you want to be rich, happy, and honest? choose two." aka, one cannot 'have it all'. It also ends up being a bit like apologies for writing such a long letter, for I did not have the time to write you a short one.

Thus, a comment about pants resulted in quite a thorough investigation into "what am I doing when I reply to AskMe comments, and am I best serving the askers? What can be done to better connect?" The answers seemed to be 1) listen more and better, 2) pay greater attention to tone, and 3) establish shared contexts with a degree of parsimony and efficiency.

So, to the (small) tag referenced in the post above. I read the post several times and heard the person asking, giving them body language and a tone of voice. What were they really after? Validation? Solutions? Recognition? Practical advice? Then onto tone. I have not had a directly similar experience to the asker yet I felt strong resonance with their question and was inspired to share. In terms of tone, the (small) tag was meant to demure a bit – to make the tone of the comment a bit diminutive – somewhat akin to speaking softly rather than speaking a normal, firm tone of voice.

Typography is the packaging of communication. The better the packaging, the better the communication. I am not a typographer, rather, I have studied typography and when it came time to determine how to respond to a post in a way that had a soft and a demure tone, the simple answer seemed to be the (small) tag. That way, the entire block of text is couched with the tone "hey, this may not be the right answer for you, but it's something that may help. I will say it quietly so that if it's not helpful, at least it's in little letters..."

--

And so here we are. Reading the comments above, there are many, many things not previously considered – especially that some people have trouble reading the (small) tag. I was arrogant in assuming everyone uses the internet the same way I do... command + to make fonts larger. In fact, there was a reply from someone saying 'like your stuff. can't read small fonts.' In the desire to better communicate tone, there was the unintended consequence of making the communication inaccessible across browsers, devices, and varying eyesight types.

Further, the desire to make the comment unassuming actually had the exact opposite result and made it stand out! Hence, the lesson that small typography is not the way to communicate a demure tone on Metafilter. Live and learn.

--

The final point, which is why I brought it here is that having said all of the above, the current process for moderator intervention remains troubling. I referenced Bo Xilai in the previous discussion about deleted comments and utterly failed to communicate that point, as Jessamyn in essence seemed to say, "no idea what you're on about man with the Bo Xilai."

Point about Bo Xilai is that it was not his results that were problematic – indeed, his results were quite good. It was his methodology of operating behind the scenes to effect those results.

Similarly, after the last discussion, I will agree that the deletion of some comments is beneficial in generating results – a clean, well-lit place. It is the methodology, that comments evaporate, or in this case, a tag and an entire tone of voice, that I am at odds with. In essence, it feels as if moderation at the moment operates in a big-brother capacity, moving around silently and gently to clean up the neighbourhood. And the results are truly phenomenal, of that I am quite sure we are all in agreement. Rather, it's the lack of transparency that comments were deleted or that a tag was changed that I find problematic – the methodology of cleaning up the neighbourhood.

And I don't have an answer this time and anymore than I did the previous time, rather it's something that has a bit of a chilling effect due to the arbitrary nature of enforcement. And this is not an attack against anyone, rather it's a commentary on the current nature of the process. Regardless, the moderators do incredibly well – and despite saying that now many times, I am sure someone will say "nickrussell doesn't care about moderator peoples". So be it.
posted by nickrussell at 2:46 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Genuine questions - what problems do you think lack of transparency is causing? How would it better Metafilter to have increased transparency?
posted by lrobertjones at 3:32 AM on June 23, 2012


Off the top of my head, a notification system to alert if one's comments are changed or deleted would probably be enough to start.
posted by nickrussell at 3:41 AM on June 23, 2012


nickrussell, I think it's just more of a problem of process. We couldn't have a discussion with every poster for everything we do. I'm not sure how many people it would take to do it that way, but it would be far, far more than Matt could afford. We try to cover most things in the FAQ, and we leave notes saying stuff like "comments deleted; blah blah reason" so that more people can understand why certain things are not okay, and if it's a new poster who doesn't seem to get how things are done we will often mail them to say, "I deleted your comment/post, and here's the reason." I've pretty much never mailed someone to say I fixed the html on your comment, though. I've sometimes mailed to say, "hey, your href was empty in that link, do you want me to fix it? What's the url?"

But, yeah, we fix formatting errors or things that mess up the layout or readability or comprehension. If someone's has a page title that says "Looking for recommendations for a laptop," (page titles only appear on inside pages, at the very top, and not as part of the post) and then the part of the question that actually appears on the front page says "my old one just broke and I need a replacement ASAP!" I'll edit it to add the actual question (from the title) to the post, and I don't email the person to explain all that.

A notification system has been discussed before, but if we had a notification system, we would spend almost all our time on back and forth emails with people arguing/explaining/complaining about every item, and we just don't have the resources for that sort of one-on-one attention.
posted by taz (staff) at 3:52 AM on June 23, 2012


The first was that the most helpful comments were those that were accessible in tone. Back to the basic psychological principle of interpersonal communication – 60% of content is communicated by body language, 30% of content is communicated by tone of voice, and 10% of content is communicated by what is actually said.

This isn't actually true. The studies (by psychologist Albert Mehrabian) that give these approximate figures only apply to like/dislike attitudes. i.e. Does the listener think that the speaker likes or dislikes them? The studies used recordings of single words. They're definitely not the basis of any psychological principle.

This is a good summary of the studies and the problems with the conclusions that people seem to have drawn from them.

Generally speaking, interpersonal communication research since has suggested that the verbal portion of any communications (what is actually said) is much more important in communicating (even attitudes of like/dislike) than the non-verbal portions of speech.
posted by xchmp at 3:52 AM on June 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


While notifying people about deleted comments may be troublesome, how troublesome would it be to notify people about comment alteration of any type? Typo correction and HTML fixes are not often points of contention. There's a difference between filtering out or deleting something that causes problems and altering what was posted even with the best of intentions.
posted by Saydur at 4:11 AM on June 23, 2012


Also I do not know if this was intentional on anyone's part, but I'm fairly sure xchmp's entire comment was italicized a few minutes ago.
posted by Saydur at 4:12 AM on June 23, 2012


if we had a notification system, we would spend almost all our time on back and forth emails with people arguing/explaining/complaining about every item

With all respect, that feels very much like an assumption rather than something rooted in data. If there was a notification system that was "Your Comments" with an automated activity list for those comments ("deleted", "title altered", etc.) and an optional moderator comment ("mean comment", or "misspelled"), there may be some response from the community, but at large, most people may just accept it and move on.

It's like wikipedia. The tracking system is a fair bit of overhead, yet it's what keeps Wikipedia really-high quality – that there is visibility and accountability for all changes.

Here, it would be nice to see a list of all deleted and altered comments to learn from it. In the end, it may well result in less moderator time rather than more.

Again, only data will tell, yeah?
posted by nickrussell at 4:28 AM on June 23, 2012


Saydur, xchmp flagged his comment as a display error, and I fixed it.

Typo correction and HTML fixes are not often points of contention.

We don't actually make many typo corrections for the most part (what I classify as typos as opposed to formatting errors). We don't usually fixed misspelled words, bad punctuation, etc., unless the OP requests it directly or comments in-thread about the mistake (like saying, "oops! That was supposed to be 'weird,' not 'wired'.") – if we happen to see it, or if someone flags it. But we do ordinarily fix broken html, unclosed tags, etc. Whatever time we would spend discussing those fixes with people would be time that we didn't spend on other things, so more problems would go unaddressed in order to do something that would be a small nicety, but just doesn't scale well for us.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:35 AM on June 23, 2012


Saydur, xchmp flagged his comment as a display error, and I fixed it.

Thank you for replying. I thought that's what it was, but at the same time it was this perfect moment for a raised eyebrow.

As for the lack of notification, I can see how it could be somewhat impractical. My thought was more one of an edit resulting in an automatic notification of "Your post was edited to fix HTML errors" would not result in too many discussions, yet be a very welcome notification to simply know it happened. If that is likely to drain too much time with responses anyway, then... I'm not sure what I feel about that one. Troublesome all around, I suppose.
posted by Saydur at 4:51 AM on June 23, 2012


nickrussell, there are so many differences between Metafilter and Wikipedia that it doesn't really make sense to try to use either as a blueprint for the other, since they are really completely different things, and what has evolved here has been organic and deliberate for this site over the last 12 years. We can all definitely discuss these and other ideas, and have done so in the past, but the way things are organized now hasn't been haphazard. It's been a series of choices and decisions from Matt, et al, thoughtfully and conservatively adjusted along the way based on deep experience of running the site.

Saydur, this is something we can think about, but since there are a lot of other things on the bucket list that are more pressing and since moderators fixing html errors isn't something that is actually causing site problems (with very rare exceptions), it's just probably not a site change that's going to be pursued at this point.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:15 AM on June 23, 2012


Similarly, after the last discussion, I will agree that the deletion of some comments is beneficial in generating results – a clean, well-lit place. It is the methodology, that comments evaporate, or in this case, a tag and an entire tone of voice, that I am at odds with. In essence, it feels as if moderation at the moment operates in a big-brother capacity, moving around silently and gently to clean up the neighbourhood. And the results are truly phenomenal, of that I am quite sure we are all in agreement. Rather, it's the lack of transparency that comments were deleted or that a tag was changed that I find problematic – the methodology of cleaning up the neighbourhood.

I think that a comparison to a Chinese politician involved a murder cover-up, and trotting out a reference to Orwell, is not really a great way to kick things off if you're aiming for a constructive discussion on moderation policy, but I'll bite.

Big Brother in 1984 did not move silently, at all. Things were done ham-fistedly, with no room for recourse or airing grievances. As taz has pointed out, Metafilter is simply too large a site to engage with every user before simple moderation duties such as repairing what appears to be an HTML error. Such conversations would be far from instantaneous. You posted this thread two days ago and are just now responding to the question as to why you felt the small text was necessary. Should the handful of mods who make many, many moderation actions every day to keep this site of thousands of users running smoothly be required to engage in a back and forth that could span days or even weeks before the simplest functions could be implemented, I feel the site would likely be a huge mess.

However, that's not to say that this is a one-sided affair. The mods can be contacted when you have a problem with how moderation was implemented. They do respond quickly, they actually do listen, and no one need fear any kind of reprisals for even the most strongly-worded criticism of mod policy. There's also the more community-oriented route - which seems to be the default setting lately - of starting a MeTa thread to get a larger understanding of how the community feels about moderation policy. Mods will take the time to explain, openly and through MeMail, reasons behind moderation decisions and will address grievances made to them in good faith.

But it's likely you know all this. I personally don't see how you can make a comparison to Bo Xilai or Big Brother in light of this, or without this being taken as hyperbole for effect. However, I do want to commend you for explaining, finally, what the reasons were for wanting to use small text, and for coming to the conclusion that "not everyone uses the internet the same way" you do. That takes a pretty fair amount of perspective, which I hope you can apply to how moderation policy works here, too.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:11 AM on June 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Nickrussel: may I ask a question?

I've been very curious precisely what "meaning" your making the font in that comment small was supposed to carry. Can you clarify?

Absent any other explanation, I've been wondering if maybe you thought you were simply trying to make the wall of text not look like such a formidably-sized wall, but I'm not certain.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:16 AM on June 23, 2012


.nickrussell, the list of reasons for comment deletion is quite small. "You were being rude" or "That was a derail" or "You weren't answering the question". Can't think of any others. When comments of mine have disappeared I didn't an email to tell me why. Except once, so I emailed the mods and Jessamyn explained it. Sending out an email for every change sounds like a dreadful idea. This problem already has a solution: Contact the mods if you have a question.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:17 AM on June 23, 2012


Absent any other explanation, I've been wondering if maybe you thought you were simply trying to make the wall of text not look like such a formidably-sized wall, but I'm not certain.

The aim was to convey tone:
"when it came time to determine how to respond to a post in a way that had a soft and a demure tone, the simple answer seemed to be the (small) tag. That way, the entire block of text is couched with the tone "hey, this may not be the right answer for you, but it's something that may help. I will say it quietly so that if it's not helpful, at least it's in little letters..."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:22 AM on June 23, 2012


Thanks marisa (damn, I was looking for that!)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:31 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


See, even normal sized text is hard for some people to read.
posted by gman at 6:34 AM on June 23, 2012


With all respect, that feels very much like an assumption rather than something rooted in data.

As one of the folks who has dealt with this stuff here for the last several years, I'm more inclined to run with the assumption based on practical experience than the one based on saying "oh but what if not". We work pretty hard to be transparent and accessible—far more than any other site of comparable size I've spent time at—but that doesn't extend to the point of sacrificing the ability to get work done and find some reasonable work-life balance in order to try and achieve absolute transparency and to always err on the side of preemptive over-communication. I'm comfortable hitting 98% on this stuff with a clearly stated "if you're still wondering, you can totally ask us" appeals process and leaving it there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:35 AM on June 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Am I remembering right that at some point, years ago, an unclosed tag in a comment could kind of break the whole thread?
posted by rtha at 7:53 AM on June 23, 2012


Or the whole front page, yeah. You can find a number of "hey uh I/they broke Metafilter again" metatalk posts back in the archives before Matt got a solid tag-matcher parser going as part of the posting process. Much harder to pull that sort of thing off these days.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:57 AM on June 23, 2012


> I thought that's what it was, but at the same time it was this perfect moment for a raised eyebrow.

Or it could have been the perfect moment for assuming the best of the mods and moving on with your life. I don't get why so many people—even as they assure everyone that of course they trust and admire the mods and think the place is what it is because of their fine work—still feel impelled to question everything they do just to make sure that it was on the up-and-up. I realize the mods are fine with being questioned and always willing to provide thorough answers, but it does take a bite out of their day and doubtless erodes their enjoyment of life just that little bit extra, and I personally am fine with assuming that if I notice some little thing changing (hey, wasn't that in itals a moment ago?) there's a good reason for the change and forgetting it. This is not because I worship authority (I'm an anarchist), it's because I have no reason to think the mods are doing anything nefarious and I value their time enough not to waste it.
posted by languagehat at 7:57 AM on June 23, 2012 [15 favorites]


For an anarchist, you have an unusual habit for continuously telling people how wrong they are, not behaving the way you think they ought to.
posted by crunchland at 8:05 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


We recently found that an oddly placed blockquote could break a post which was sort of new news.

And yeah the notification thing is something we've gone over a bunch of times here. Our general rationale is that most people don't notice/care and of the ones who do tend to be the ones who want to argue and debate the thing. We've had to adopt a sort of "two and out" strategy with contact form emails [basically telling people they need to either go to MeTa or appeal to Matt for a ruling/refund if they're not okay with what we've discussed with them] that mitigates this slightly, but having one on one email conversations with people about individual deleted comments is actually something that we can't do with our staffing levels, and having individual conversations doesn't help with community norms in the same way that MeTa threads do.

We've talked about other options including

- notification MeMails that come from a don't-reply adderss, we feel that's unkind
- having some outline for notifications like "we'll notifiy you in this case but not in these cases" that's expanded from our current list [for example we often will email new users who had their first post deleted if we think it will be something they will be confused about, or someone whose comment was axed purely because it had an empty HTML link or referred to a now deleted comment]
- getting some hapless intern to do the job of notifying about about deletions/edits. This is a terrible idea.

And at some level this would be a big change to the system put in place for something that the entire mod team and most of the userbase feels is a non-problem. As cortex says we're really really comfortable hitting 98% on this and dealing with the occasional email/MeTa if we get it wrong or someone else has a misunderstanding or something in-between. I know it's not exactly what everyone wants, and we have talked about getting more data on flagging/editing/deleting just because, yeah, it's a good idea to know as much about your job as possible. But with a lightly moderated site like this one, we prefer to put our energies into answering MetaTalk queries where everyone can discuss topics and dealing with email from people who are genuinely concerned/questioning not just opening a hundred individual lines of communication that don't contribute to the overall userbase knowledge set.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:06 AM on June 23, 2012


With all respect, that feels very much like an assumption rather than something rooted in data.

I get how it would be nice if people got notified, but it seems to me the system works. Lots of people who it isn't important enough to notice don't notice (but, that it might be important enough to complain about if it's pointed out to them), and the people who it is important do notice, and get a chance to ask for clarification.

Also, don't you think that they (who know how many comments they fix a day) have a MUCH better idea of how much extra work it would entail?
posted by Gygesringtone at 8:08 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or, what jessamyn said, two min. earlier and much better.
posted by Gygesringtone at 8:13 AM on June 23, 2012


"when it came time to determine how to respond to a post in a way that had a soft and a demure tone, the simple answer seemed to be the (small) tag. That way, the entire block of text is couched with the tone "hey, this may not be the right answer for you, but it's something that may help. I will say it quietly so that if it's not helpful, at least it's in little letters..."

Thank you, Marisa, for finding the actual answer to the question in that herd of teal deer.

Here is my own personal opinion: Making the text smaller didn't convey any extra "softness" or gentleness or quietness. All I saw was a huge wall of tiny text. Any more subtle meanings went whoosh! right over my head.

JMO, if you want to convey softness or a "you may or may not find this helpful" tone, it's all in the way one phrases the answer - sentence structure, qualifiers, disclaimers, etc.

Then again, maybe I'm just old and boring and uncool and not in tune with the arty, postmodern, fedora-wearing world of text and design. Or I'm a middle-aged reading-glasses-wearing person who will say "meaning, schmeaning" and scroll by a wall of wee text because it's unreadable.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:57 AM on June 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


I have not had a directly similar experience to the asker yet I felt strong resonance with their question and was inspired to share.

the entire block of text is couched with the tone "hey, this may not be the right answer for you, but it's something that may help. I will say it quietly so that if it's not helpful, at least it's in little letters..."

Then I really think you should have sent them an email through their throwaway.

I also think that when people ask a question on the internet, they should have the expectation that some of the answers they get will be not particularly helpful, either because of the lack of context, or how the query was framed, or what mood the answerer was in at that moment, or whatever. Of course, many Askers are seeking a particular answer, but that's never stopped most Answerers from engaging with them anyway -- because even if the Asker dismisses the response another reader might find it helpful. So that's why I think you could have skipped the small tag on your response.

Also, this struck me:
I was arrogant in assuming everyone uses the internet the same way I do

I think that's true. I don't mean just in the viewability mode, I mean in a general sense I'm not using or thinking about AskMe (or the internet) the way you are. Which is fine, you know, different strokes and all of that. But I know that there is a way to do what you were trying to do without the small tag because people are doing it right now.
posted by sm1tten at 9:01 AM on June 23, 2012


So, nickrussell, what do you see as the difference between saying, "You may or may not find this helpful" or "This may not directly answer your question but I feel it's relevant" and doing things with formatting? This isn't a rhetorical question; I'm prepared to believe there's a difference but would like to know what you think it is.
posted by BibiRose at 9:12 AM on June 23, 2012


I just want to say that I'm really glad that MeFi is not like Wikipedia. I lasted about a week over there.
posted by vidur at 11:18 AM on June 23, 2012


"I get how it would be nice if people got notified, but it seems to me the system works. Lots of people who it isn't important enough to notice don't notice (but, that it might be important enough to complain about if it's pointed out to them)"

I'm actually really glad we DON'T get notified, although it took a little getting used to. When I've (noticed that I've) had comments deleted, it's often been because I was too emotional in a thread. When I manage to step away even though everyone but me is busy being wrong on the internet, I can calm down, quit being so wound up, etc., and if I come back to the thread later I'm calmer. Whereas if I was already feeling fighty and emotional and I got an e-mail saying, "You've been deleted!" I would interpret that as "GIANT FAIL, LOSER" (and possibly "THE MAN IS CENSORING YOU") and want to immediately go be EVEN MORE FIGHTY so that I could make my awesome point using my mean words. Whereas cooling off for a while and coming back to it some hours later, on my own, means I'm much less upset.

Also with my phone right next to me all day chiming and zinging whenever I get e-mail, I can't even imagine. I'd never get the emotional distance to cool off.

Other people are probably better at stepping away from unproductive arguments than I am, though. I've been struggling with that since I was five. But the current system of NON-notification is really helpful for me and I think "deletion e-mails" would just increase how emotionally invested and attacked I felt, doubtless with me getting more pugnacious in response.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:57 AM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


For an anarchist, you have an unusual habit for continuously telling people how wrong they are, not behaving the way you think they ought to.

V for Venland, C for Crunchdetta

                  aka

Dude, give it a rest already: we have read and re-read your opinions of his opinions...


                   aka

Hey, Man, Get Off of His Lawn...
posted by y2karl at 12:01 PM on June 23, 2012


crunchland:
The whole point of anarchy is self-rule to the point that you don't need interference from an overall ruling authority, and compromise for a desirable community is part of the whole concept.

The US/tabloid definition is actually a corruption of the traditional and applied meaning.

So, I'd say languagehat is a fairly good example of an anarchist.
-----------------

nickrussel, I get where you're coming from with your intent and your request, and recognise that you now see how your approach was less likely to be perceived the way you intended than otherwise. Thank you for helping us see better what you were trying to accomplish with both the comment and the MeTa.

At the same time I'm confused as to why you would want a mostly-smooth process to suddenly have twice as much effort applied across the board in response to an extremely rare instance. And baffled at your insistent denial of input from the mods on why this wouldn't work.

I don't want to know if a comment has been fixed for readability. I don't want to know if something I wrote was deleted. If I care enough about the topic or my words, I'll come back to them and find out, myself. If the format of my output has been adjusted, that doesn't harm my words in the least. If my output was eliminated, it's on me to consider how useful it really was and if it's worth clarifying to a mod, and then taking further action. I only want to hear from them if I'm doing something troublesome that I should consider approaching differently or if I've been utterly awesome (my goal is to never have the former; I have no aspiration to the latter).

It puzzles me that you can't see how an approach that instead relies on the mods to have contact with every single member for every single format adjustment or deletion would be a burdensome amount of work that would end up eroding the experience for the rest of the members. Honestly, I'd like it if the mods had LESS to do, because they are interesting people in and of themselves, and having their voices on site in non-mod mode improves the experience for me.

I can see making the request in the first place, perhaps naively, perhaps to soothe the sting of the response to a well-meaning gesture, but to continue after it was explained why it's a bad idea...? Bad form, I think. I'm pretty sure the mods would leap on whatever workflow process made their days easier and enriched the site overall, and I know for a fact they've had to consider the whole notification (automated or otherwise) thing before, so accusing them of making assumptions after a careful and respectful explanation seems arrogant and out of place, actually.

It was a good comment. I favourited it, even. It wasn't well served by the small treatment. I'm glad you didn't send it to their throwaway, although that would have maybe been more appropriate for your goals. I agree with those who suggest a disclaimer or two on either end of the reply instead of relying on off-label tag use and hope you'll take that into consideration when you are next inspired to respond from the heart.

I hope you'll also let the hurt feelings go and accept that this was just a learning curve moment on the site and not something that would be fixed by taxing the mods or other members with a complete process change.
posted by batmonkey at 1:07 PM on June 23, 2012


self-rule -- So how does this fit with someone telling you what to do and how to act?
posted by crunchland at 2:18 PM on June 23, 2012


Well there's the whole idea of voluntary association. So basically the idea is that people are welcome to have consensual associations that are useful to them. People arrange themselves in societies voluntarily and with the presumption that these societies are mutually beneficial. Within these societies people may have a lot of push/pull about how to get along but since no one has more power over how people have to act than any other person, there is no coercion involved. People may decide that they don't want to be part of any particular society because people are overbearing or annoying or ankle-biting or just stupid or smarmy or whatever the thing is but these are individual choices not choices made by representatives chosen to lead us [and however they might be influenced]. Languagehat can't make you act in a certain way he can just express his opinions.

So it gets complicated with nation states because while I may have chosen to live in Vermont because it aligns with my values, as an example, other people may be here not by choice and they're still governed by the laws of Vermont and the laws of the federal government and they are not really able to freely not choose to be members of those societies, not easily anyhow, and so people feel that there's a bit of coercion involved and that is why MetaFilter is not like the federal government and why languagehat can be an anarchist here and that makes sense,

So languagehat can say those sorts of things the same way you can stay in MeTa and be sort of crusty and contrary and people can tell you "Hey man not cool" from time to time but it's way outside of the way we get along here where we would actually use our mod-powers to make you stop. It's sort of like that. The "community policing" thing has a lot of roots in the mods mostly not wanting to play The Man except in ways where we feel we need to to keep the community working smoothly. Not everyone agrees with our perspectives but everyone is able to publicly critique them if they can do that without being an assghole. Admittedly we do actually use our mod powers to make other people stop other things, so this is not an anarchist utopia [only a few people have the actual keys to the clubhouse, we don't share the means of production, etc] but the concept of mutual aid and direct action do inform some of the things that many of us do here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:37 PM on June 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


If you think anarchists don't bicker about rules, you clearly have never been to a meeting of an anarchist organization. Oh god, the process.
posted by ryanrs at 2:43 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


nickrussell, thank you for the explanation and the concern you displayed for the asker's feelings, as well as your demonstrated willingness to learn and give better advice.
posted by Danila at 5:49 PM on June 23, 2012


> So how does this fit with someone telling you what to do and how to act?

Dude, I know you enjoy poking me, and I figure it's done with a certain amount of rough affection (judging by some of your other comments) so I usually try not to respond, but I have never in my life told anyone what to do. If you think expressing my opinion about productive ways to behave ("assuming the best of the mods and moving on with your life" versus "question[ing] everything they do just to make sure that it was on the up-and-up") is "someone telling you what to do and how to act," you have a bizarre way of interpreting things people say. Which is, I guess, why you're so goddam cranky all the time. (Which I say with a certain amount of rough affection.)
posted by languagehat at 9:06 AM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I dunno, lhat - I'm pretty sure I remember a time when you told me I should use an en dash and not a hyphen.
posted by rtha at 9:14 AM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some people consider all conversation inherently coercive.
posted by Lexica at 9:18 AM on June 24, 2012


> I dunno, lhat - I'm pretty sure I remember a time when you told me I should use an en dash and not a hyphen.

DAMMIT
posted by languagehat at 9:49 AM on June 24, 2012


We're an anarcho-prescriptivist collective!
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:50 AM on June 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


But grammar fascists.
posted by maryr at 10:12 AM on June 24, 2012


As long as we're not the prescriptivist-anarchists. Bunch of splitters!
posted by arcticseal at 11:40 AM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anarcho-ethnobotanists, on the other hand.....
posted by y2karl at 1:54 PM on June 24, 2012


Archeabacteria?
posted by maryr at 2:32 PM on June 24, 2012


Archeabacteria

Is this something I would have to be a member of the Prometheus scientific team to inhale lustily?
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:52 PM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Given their proclivity for living in places that nothing else survives in, like sulfuric hot springs and deep sea vents, you should probably avoid inhaling independent of your state of arousal.
posted by maryr at 7:55 PM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


you clearly have never been to a meeting of an anarchist organization. Oh god, the process. -- Anarchists have organizations? What do they use? Robert's Rules of Disorder?
posted by crunchland at 5:13 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tedious answer to a humorous questions, but "without ruler" doesn't mean "without order". Anarchists set rules by collective agreement, and alter them by collective agreement.

(At least theoretically. Although anyone who's seen the washing up rota of a squat or long-term protest descend into chaos from anarchy may disagree.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:22 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anarchists have organizations? What do they use? Robert's Rules of Disorder?

Oops! See, right here, you tipped your hand. If you were going to call out languagehat for not behaving like an anarchist, you should have at least taken a couple minutes to skim the Wikipedia page on anarchism first. Ah well, live and learn!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:59 AM on June 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was arrogant in assuming everyone uses the internet the same way I do.

You might think you are being clever by using small fonts to "convey tone" in a wall of text, but if no one but you understands the meaning you are attempting to convey (and if the text is painful to look at), then the point you were trying to make is lost.
posted by deanc at 1:20 PM on June 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


running order squabble fest: "Anarchists set rules by collective agreement, and alter them by collective agreement."


E-eponysterical?
posted by subbes at 3:51 AM on June 27, 2012


Kinda!
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:53 AM on June 27, 2012


« Older I'm looking for a Metafilter p...  |  Can anyone help me find the na... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments