Romney threads July 13, 2012 7:17 AM   Subscribe

I REALLY disagree with this deletion.

For a couple of reasons:

1) There were already close to 100 really good comments.
2) The previous Romney thread was about something different all together.
3) Unlike Reddit, good/updated threads don't stay on the top page, and good threads get lost easily.
4) The SEC story appears to be developing into THE story of the 2012 campaign against Romney. It deserves it's own thread.
posted by roomthreeseventeen to Etiquette/Policy at 7:17 AM (315 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

The SEC story appears to be developing into THE story of the 2012 campaign against Romney. It deserves it's own thread.

I agree, and that should be the focus of the post, but this one ending with a suggestion Romney trafficked in aborted fetuses for profit kind of undermines any good that could have come from this thread.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:22 AM on July 13, 2012 [26 favorites]


I'm usually pretty OK with deletions, but I agree with you. Other than the fact that it involves Romney (and, yeah, I understand that the topic of Romney is going to get a lot of play and every Romney post can't stand) this is an utterly distinct topic, and a pretty big one. And it feels weird and wrong to go into the Romney at the NAACP thread and speak in detail about the motivations of the Washington Post fact checkers on a completely different story.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:23 AM on July 13, 2012


That deletion did somewhat take me aback too. If it had been deleted earlier it would have made more sense to me.

On the other hand, that whole weird aborted fetus derail that kept getting slung in as asides did probably make the thread more trouble than it was worth.
posted by winna at 7:23 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Even if it were an amazing thread, and it's not, the volume of politics threads will make this place tiresome for many. Not everything needs to be covered.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:23 AM on July 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


The SEC story appears to be developing into THE story of the 2012 campaign against Romney. It deserves it's own thread.

Everyone always says that about every story until the next one comes up. I am all for a (much) higher bar for political posts over the next few months.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:23 AM on July 13, 2012 [27 favorites]


I agree. The whole "only one post per topic" rule is a good one in general, but some topics are so big that they need to be broken into smaller ones. At some point it starts to look like "hey, we already have a thread open about North America, just use that one". The election is such a topic.

If you only want one thread open at a time, either figure out a way to make the old thread show up back on the front page, or close up the old one and start fresh with the new one.

Also, it's fucking disrespectful to erase a thread where 100 damn people commented and added to the discussion.
posted by gjc at 7:24 AM on July 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


It's a big story, yes. However it's been discussed in the open Romney thread. We are not a political blog, we're ramping up to US election season and this one was not a good post for MetaFilter. Axe-grindy and basically a "let's dump on Romney" thread. We're at the point where every single development in the election cycle isn't going to get its own post here and that's going to have to be okay with people. If this is a big deal news story, and I'm not saying it's not, make a post that makes it look like a big deal and not just toss a derailing non-sequitor about aborted fetuses on the front page of what's trying to be a serious post about something lousy Romney did.

I would also dispute that there were 100 good comments, but agree that we don't like to delete threads in progress when we can. That said, while we have 24 hour moderation, sometimes we like to have some time when we can discuss problematic posts which requires waiting for people to be around. Apologies for the bad timing.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:25 AM on July 13, 2012 [13 favorites]


MetaFilter is not Reddit. If you want to follow a thread, add it to your favorites, and track it with the 'My Favorites' tab at the top of the page, or the 'Recent Activity' page.
posted by schmod at 7:25 AM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Unlike Reddit...

Thanks god mathowie, it isn't.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:25 AM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Not everything needs to be covered.

True, but when you have the Boston Globe and the Washington Post fighting about the relevance of a story, that's very relevant and very interesting.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:26 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


1) It also had a bunch of flags and problematic framing. It not having been deleted yet is not bulletproof insurance against it not ending up deleted after all.

2) The previous Romney thread was largely about Romney, and the specific subject of this newer post had come up there. Folding stuff into an existing thread is actually more the norm of how we have handled this close-grouping stuff when a topic is a big recurring one, and while we're not planning to be like "only one election thread per month" or anything we are going to encourage people to be less willing to kick open a new thread every time.

3) Also unlike Reddit, we have neither a dedicated political subreddit nor a daily post volume on the order of the thousands. I know people like to post and read and talk and argue about politics here and election stuff, but every single election cycle we see a glut of this stuff, it is always a pain in the ass in terms of elevated levels of election-related hollering with or at fellow mefites, and we have always just started at some point to push back a little more explicitly on the multiplication of these posts. We have tags and search that make it really easy to find previous posts with very little effort.

4) Sounds like there will be a really great post to make about it a week from now when we've gone from "appear to be" to "has in fact" and there's a bunch of really solid analysis/commentary on what's played out. There is no rush.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:28 AM on July 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


I had the Bain idea months ago.

I also beat Reuters to the birth certificate idea by months.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:30 AM on July 13, 2012


Also, it's fucking disrespectful to erase a thread where 100 damn people commented and added to the discussion.

That stopped be clever about 10 years ago. That or I'm getting old. Perhaps both.
posted by yerfatma at 7:34 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Bullshit deletion. This is a story breaking on all major news sites and distinct from the previous Romney thread.

I guess it's the old LOL POLITCSFILTER argument but honestly, this is kind of a big deal. Lots of decent comments and links now disappeared.
posted by bardic at 7:34 AM on July 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


This is a very significant development, and deserving of consideration in its own right. It's an amazing scandal that would have made news no matter who was running for office or for what office, surrounded by intricate issues of law and business and wealth/class and honesty that begs to be unpacked and examined. This isn't a "dump on Romney becuz he's a Gooper!" issue, this is a "Historic campaign blunder" issue that would have demanded attention had it been Romney, Obama or the guy running for selectman in my home town.

It really needs its own space apart from the NAACP thing, or general election-season silliness.

The fetus thing was a very minor point, and a derail waiting to happen, and Metafilter has made me sad by derailing right on top of it on schedule... correct me if I'm worng, but this may be why the mods finally nuked it. They left a warning about it that was ignored.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:36 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not to mention, closing it 8 minutes after another moderator helped make it better.

sometimes we like to have some time when we can discuss problematic posts which requires waiting for people to be around.

If the question of deleting the work of the poster and the commenters isn't a slam dunk, then you should really be leaving it up.

Sounds like there will be a really great post to make about it a week from now when we've gone from "appear to be" to "has in fact" and there's a bunch of really solid analysis/commentary on what's played out. There is no rush.

So we are deleting analysis and commentary that's happening right now, to wait for some other analysis and commentary after it's been run through the spin cycle and nobody cares any more? This isn't NPR or a weekly news journal. This is, if I remember correctly, a community weblog. Moderators aren't editors or curators. If that policy has changed, please let us know.
posted by gjc at 7:36 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


No one is saying don't do this, but they are asking for a high bar. This wasn't that.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:37 AM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


that's very relevant and very interesting.

This isn't really a good reason for a post, when there is another open Romney thread. We end up in this position a lot, where breaking news gets posted over and over again in different ways. I generally support the notion that we should contain that breaking news to a few places, and if there is an open thread, it should go in there. This is true if it's about Romney or about Penn State.
posted by OmieWise at 7:39 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


That stopped be clever about 10 years ago. That or I'm getting old. Perhaps both.

It wasn't meant to be clever. I am legitimately insulted.
posted by gjc at 7:40 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not to mention, closing it 8 minutes after another moderator helped make it better.

After jumping into discussion about it with that moderator and another one. I'm not sure if you're angling for a "rogue deletion" thing here or what.

So we are deleting analysis and commentary that's happening right now, to wait for some other analysis and commentary after it's been run through the spin cycle and nobody cares any more?

Something cannot simultaneously be THE BIG DEAL story of the election cycle and something that nobody cares about any more a mere week later. This is part of the weird compression of perspective that seems to come into these arguments, and they happen every four years: Metafilter is not an election coverage blog. It's not a news site. There is not actually a problem if we are not promptly on top of each story, there's no issue if we don't sync up with the news cycle.

When a post Should Not Be Deleted specifically because it's the current big news story, there's a serious disconnect between the "hey, did you find something neat on the web you want to share" ethos this place was founded on and the news-hound instincts of folks protesting thus. And I've got zero against news-hounding, but being really into the dynamics of the election does not translate to that being what Metafilter excels at.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:42 AM on July 13, 2012 [15 favorites]


I think the deletion was a good one.

Thank you, mods, for your work; part of which is keeping the front page from becoming 100% North American Politics, 100% of the time.
posted by subbes at 7:43 AM on July 13, 2012 [23 favorites]


We have tags and search that make it really easy to find previous posts with very little effort.

Provided you've seen the thread before or know that you are looking for it. But what if you haven't seen the thread and don't know to look for it? I don't think I saw the earlier one. Moreover, it is likely that if that post was framed as mainly just about Romney -- without the SEC/Bain angle, I wouldn't have looked. And so, I wouldn't have known that the SEC/Bain issue was raised in the comments.

I agree about the fetuses issue -- better left out of the post. Question, for my edification: how problematic was that angle in the actual thread? Were there a lot of flagged/deleted comments related to fetuses? Were people being abusive? It sure didn't seem that way to me.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 7:43 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


roomthreeseventeen: “The SEC story appears to be developing into THE story of the 2012 campaign against Romney. It deserves it's own thread... when you have the Boston Globe and the Washington Post fighting about the relevance of a story, that's very relevant and very interesting.”

No, it's not. The 2012 campaign against Romney is not what Metafilter is for. We don't need to immerse ourselves completely in the tawdry bullshit surrounding politics. We are better than that. Let the Boston Globe and the Washington Post fight it out on their own sites in their own time, because we sure as hell don't need it here.
posted by koeselitz at 7:44 AM on July 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


Thumbs up mods.
posted by Think_Long at 7:46 AM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


If someone reworks and reposts the SEC stuff, you might also include info/analysis on Romney's overseas accounts and the stuff that's been emerging about his "blind trust" investing in his sons' companies. It all seems to be of a piece and I would like to understand it better. And it might make for more meat in one larger "financial practices" post.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:48 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't want to see a new thread for each new "big" Romney story. Agree with the deletion.
posted by nightwood at 7:49 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Provided you've seen the thread before or know that you are looking for it. But what if you haven't seen the thread and don't know to look for it?

If you don't know that you're wondering if there was a recent thread about Romney, not seeing one is not a problem. If you are wondering, you can type "Romney" into the search box at the top of the page and get links to several recent threads mentioning him.

Moreover, it is likely that if that post was framed as mainly just about Romney -- without the SEC/Bain angle, I wouldn't have looked. And so, I wouldn't have known that the SEC/Bain issue was raised in the comments.

If you type "Bain" into the search box, the comments tab will take you right to threads where it's being discussed.

I am sympathetic to folks who like being able to have quick access to threads on subjects they're interested in, but the search box works really well for that, and complaints that come down to "I would have to do something besides casually skim the front page to find the topic I'm interested in" are not super well-founded. This is not reddit, the peak story on the new cycle is not always going to be at the top of the page, and that really needs to be okay because that's how Metafilter has always worked.

Using search and RSS tag feeds and the My Mefi tab on the front page can all make it easier to laser in on subjects you're specifically interested in. I heartily encourage people to use them if they're wanting to feel less like they don't know where the subjects they might be interested in are or have been discussed.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:50 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Provided you've seen the thread before or know that you are looking for it. But what if you haven't seen the thread and don't know to look for it?

In a couple of hours time, this one would have scrolled off the top of the front page as well. What happens then? Do we post it yet again for good measure?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:50 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


BushFilter ruled this site for eight+ years, but this gets deleted? Unreal.

Maybe if your name was y2karl and you put in twenty paragraphs of opinion in small text, it would have stayed.
posted by entropicamericana at 7:50 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Another vote for decent-to-good material + not great framing + US politics + another thread that touches on it already = Good 'deletion with the option for a reframing later' choice

Seems like a MePolitics sub-site might be useful for times like these, but that's another monster altogether.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:52 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you type "Bain" into the search box, the comments tab will take you right to threads where it's being discussed.

It actually takes you to this thread, and the deleted one.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:52 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


We don't need to immerse ourselves completely in the tawdry bullshit surrounding politics. We are better than that. Let the Boston Globe and the Washington Post fight it out on their own sites in their own time, because we sure as hell don't need it here.

What proportion of the community has to disagree with this sentiment before the "we" here becomes either shaky or backwards? Is there polling on these sorts of things or is it just feelings gleaned from meTa threads? Serious questions -- how is community sentiment gauged? Or does it even matter at the end of the day?
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 7:53 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Metafilter is not an election coverage blog. It's not a news site. There is not actually a problem if we are not promptly on top of each story, there's no issue if we don't sync up with the news cycle.

Anyone posting a thread with the tags "romney", "obama", or "election" should have to retype those sentences into a text field before they are allowed to post.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:53 AM on July 13, 2012 [12 favorites]


BushFilter ruled this site for eight+ years, but this gets deleted? Unreal.

BushFilter sucked too. A lot of Bush-related posts got deleted. A lot of people hollered about Bush-related posts getting deleted. Also Kerry, Obama, McCain, Palin, et al. A lot of excess election/politics stuff has gotten posted and a lot of that has gotten nixed.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:53 AM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


I was a little surprised to see it deleted 100 comments in, but count me as another one who is glad that there are places like MetaFilter that are not 100% US Politics 100% of the time. Good deletion.
posted by gauche at 7:54 AM on July 13, 2012


In the previous thread, I sort of preemptively agreed and disagreed with the mods, and I do think the aborted fetuses thing was pretty unnecessary. IMO I'm going to mostly side with the mods here. Even though we've already seen both new developments on both sides and a ramping-up of the back-and-forth, the fact is that it's now Friday, the death slot for political news, which means this could be a Solyndra-style fizzle or something bigger.

If this is still the big election story next week, because some info that is Very Big News (e.g., meeting minutes from after Feb 1999 showing Romney giving the thumbs up to layoffs) has been released, and per Eyebrows McGee a poster links it with the as-yet-unlinked-as-FPP Vanity Fair and MJ articles about the outsourcing and offshore accounts, I think it would make a much stronger FPP than the deleted one.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:55 AM on July 13, 2012


Le me just say that the stories that get 100+ comments right out of the gate are virtually never good discussions.
posted by schmod at 7:56 AM on July 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


I already know who I'm going to vote for, so, for the sake of my sanity, I'll skip all the election threads until the Obama victory party, thanks.
posted by jonmc at 7:56 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Maybe it's time to break out the flashing red lights again?
posted by carsonb at 8:00 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


In a couple of hours time, this one would have scrolled off the top of the front page as well. What happens then? Do we post it yet again for good measure?

Yeah, that's fair. I guess it just seems to me that having multiple relatively closely related threads isn't a big deal for precisely this reason. But maybe I should think it over some more.

If you don't know that you're wondering if there was a recent thread about Romney, not seeing one is not a problem.

I think that misses my point. I wouldn't have known about the new developments regarding Romney without the post here because I have mostly stopped looking at un-meta-filtered news sites, and I don't have access to television news. So ... it's an interesting topic that I would like to discuss with the generally very good interlocutors here but wouldn't know about if I didn't see the post here.

PeterMcDermott makes a good point though. I might not have seen this one either given enough time. That makes me wonder if there is an optimal delay between posts with relatively similar content. Or is there a community standard? Unwritten rule?
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 8:00 AM on July 13, 2012


I have thirteen reasons why this is the worst deletion ever.
posted by box at 8:01 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, much love to cortex and the rest of the gang—the level of disingenuous shit you put up with in these discussions might very well suffocate a lesser mod team. Cheers.
posted by carsonb at 8:01 AM on July 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


"I already know who I'm going to vote for"

Handsome Dick Manitoba is running?

I kid, I kid. . .
posted by bardic at 8:03 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Seems like a MePolitics sub-site might be useful for times like these, but that's another monster altogether.

Talk to Brandon Blatcher about PoliticalFilter sometime. It's a very tough thing to do well. One of the things that is difficult here is that many of the news stories that come up in the election cycle are deemed to be the most important news of the campaign and then we argue about whether it's appropriate to delete a thread on the most important aspect of the campaign. And, as cortex says, this alone is not an okay reason to keep a post or to let a sort of lackluster post stay.

With breaking Giant Disaster stories and the occasional superfamousperson obit we'll sometimes say "Well I guess this is as good as it's going to get and the topic is so important/timely that we're actively inhibiting community discussion if we keep deleting them" but otherwise we don't feel this way.

is an optimal delay between posts with relatively similar content. Or is there a community standard? Unwritten rule?

Tough call. A lot of it depends on the frequency with which people like to post about a topic. So like one ancient history example was "Dick Cheney Shoots Guy in the Face" First there was the news itself, then the news about the response to the news, then the jokey sites riffing on the news, then the allegations of conspiracies or cover-ups, etc. The first few non-dupe posts seemed okay but then you get into a post-fatigue thing where for people who are interested in a story, a new update is clearly worth another post but for everyone who didn't care in the first place, continual updates seem weird and noisy. We try to draw a line somewhere, but we have to decide each time and it's challenging.

If you're really into discussing and debating the finer points of the US elections, you may be happier somewhere else for a few months. Or, you'll have to be aware that as a non-news blog, we're not necessarily going to let every axe-grindy post about new election developments fly. We're trying to be up front about this, but this week has basically been the week where we're starting to get a little more serious about this.

Stronger posts lead to better discussions which lead to more satisfied communities with less aggrieved moderators. This seems to be in everyone's best interests in the long run.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:05 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Found something cool on the web?

NO BUT I WANNA FIGHT ABOUT SHIT ANYWAY
posted by shakespeherian at 8:05 AM on July 13, 2012 [19 favorites]


I think that misses my point. I wouldn't have known about the new developments regarding Romney without the post here because I have mostly stopped looking at un-meta-filtered news sites, and I don't have access to television news.

This is not Metafilter's problem. I am glad you like it here, I like it here too, but there are actual news-centric sites of basically every possible stripe out there that are more reliable venues for news. Not using any of those may be a totally sane life-choice but it's not a reason for Metafilter to be more news-centric.

That makes me wonder if there is an optimal delay between posts with relatively similar content. Or is there a community standard? Unwritten rule?

There's no strict codification of it, no. It's mostly always been a "know it when you see it" sort of metric; to the extent that people start feeling like "wait, another post about X?" on a regular basis, that's about where we tend to start paying more attention and being more willing to cull some.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:05 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yea, jessamyn I completely understand and can sympathize. Messy doesn't begin to describe the turmoil that a subsite like that would be. Your right, it'd either be a mod nightmare or a free-for-all. Neither of which sounds like a whole lot of fun.

That said, more turtle videos please!
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:08 AM on July 13, 2012


I have thirteen reasons why this is the worst deletion ever.

MeFi should not be a platform for political advocacy, there is no moral mandate to require every anti-conservative post to make it to the front page.
posted by Think_Long at 8:10 AM on July 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


Good 'deletion with the option for a reframing later' choice

And fuck the people who commented, I guess. Right?
posted by gjc at 8:11 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter's not a news site.
posted by batmonkey at 8:12 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


And fuck the people who commented, I guess. Right?

There's always (almost always, anyway) comments in deleted threads. Comments are not special snowflakes, or a quickly depleting natural resource, or an endangered species.
posted by kmz at 8:14 AM on July 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


dios?
posted by bardic at 8:14 AM on July 13, 2012


Deletion criteria seem to be expanding lately. Pretty soon we'll only have posts on comic books/movies, Joss Whedon shows, and YouTube clips of kittens. Those of us who aren't stereotypical nerds will have to find our links elsewhere.
posted by rocket88 at 8:14 AM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sigh. How many times do we have to see the "But it's BREAKING NEWS!" argument to "It's not a news site" deletions?

It's like yelling, "I WANT A BURGER!" at your local lingerie store. No matter how passionate you are about the fact that eating among panties would be fun, it doesn't turn the place into a restaurant.
posted by xingcat at 8:15 AM on July 13, 2012 [44 favorites]


Great deletion, imo. For me personally, I can'
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 8:15 AM on July 13, 2012


And fuck the people who commented, I guess. Right?

You guessed it!
posted by shakespeherian at 8:16 AM on July 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


t see what's so damn interesting about this election, same bullshit as every year. Is anyone honestly undecided at this point? But then I'm seriously politically fatigued to-the-max, so whatever.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 8:16 AM on July 13, 2012


Your right, it'd either be a mod nightmare or a free-for-all. Neither of which sounds like a whole lot of fun.

I thought the real problem was that nobody actually used it?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:17 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or, you'll have to be aware that as a non-news blog, we're not necessarily going to let every axe-grindy post about new election developments fly. We're trying to be up front about this, but this week has basically been the week where we're starting to get a little more serious about this.

Ah. You've changed the way the site is being moderated, and it's our fault for reacting negatively to your inconsistency. Good to know.

MetaFilter's not a news site.

People keep saying that, but it really isn't true. Most of the stuff on the blue is "news". "We're not a news site" seems more like an excuse for the editors to delete stuff that they feel like deleting.
posted by gjc at 8:20 AM on July 13, 2012 [14 favorites]


bardic, Handsome Dick told me before the last election, that he was voting for Obama 'because Bruce Springsteen said to.'
posted by jonmc at 8:21 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I would love to see a political news site that reports on the news, say, exactly two weeks after it happens. It would have headlines like "Romney speaks at NAACP, has little lasting effect on poll numbers." Has that been tried? It would be such a relaxing way to follow the election, and probably leave readers better informed than they would be following breaking news.
posted by Honorable John at 8:21 AM on July 13, 2012 [19 favorites]


Deletion criteria seem to be expanding lately. Pretty soon we'll only have posts on comic books/movies, Joss Whedon shows, and YouTube clips of kittens. Those of us who aren't stereotypical nerds will have to find our links elsewhere.

This is a kind of weird comment, as it seems like you're associating moderation of a breaking news thread with restricting the sites content to a trendy description of content a nerd might be interested in?
posted by iamabot at 8:22 AM on July 13, 2012


Some of the stuff on the blue is neat news. “This news is interesting, therefore I should post it to MetaFilter” is a good train of thought. “This stuff is news, therefore I should post it to Metafilter” is not.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:24 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Too bad I can't customize my mefi experience to ensure that any post that mentions Obama or Romney or Palin or Teaparty,etc would just not be visible.

If anyone has a time machine that can transport me to January 2013 do let me know.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:25 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Does beer count?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:26 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


There's always (almost always, anyway) comments in deleted threads. Comments are not special snowflakes, or a quickly depleting natural resource, or an endangered species.

From the "about" page: This website exists to break down the barriers between people, to extend a weblog beyond just one person, and to foster discussion among its members.

Discussion is purported to be a mission of the site. Treating people's discussions as chaff in favor of editorial whim is disrespectful.

This is a kind of weird comment, as it seems like you're associating moderation of a breaking news thread with restricting the sites content to a trendy description of content a nerd might be interested in?

Deleting whole threads isn't moderating, it is editing for content.
posted by gjc at 8:26 AM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


"Is anyone honestly undecided at this point?"

I don't know, dude, Romney-for-America's strategy of calling me LITERALLY EVERY NIGHT, always and without fail choosing the moment I have JUST gotten the baby to sleep, is seriously bringing me around to liking their candidate!

Oh, no, wait, I think I was just hallucinating from Romney-call-induced baby-screaming-related exhaustion.

Literally. Every. Night.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:26 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh hey, good point, Alia. I had forgotten about My.MeFi.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 8:27 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


You've changed the way the site is being moderated, and it's our fault for reacting negatively to your inconsistency. Good to know.

Moderation here is always a little fluid because we're responsive to what's going on in the world and also here on the site. The site has been around through four US presidential election cycles and at least for the last one, we did exactly the same thing we're doing now. We don't expect people to remember, it's our job to be mindful of the longer cyclical stuff that happens here not yours.

Deleting whole threads isn't moderating, it is editing for content.

Your view of how the site should work seems to be at odds with how the site actually works. This is a moderated site and threads get deleted. This has always been true and will continue to be true.

We try to set expectations accurately, you can figure out how you feel about what we say we're trying to do, we can talk about it here. We're not blaming anyone for negative reactions, you feel what you feel, just explaining what's going on here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:28 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Deleting whole threads isn't moderating, it is editing for content.

And you wonder why people don't take you seriously.
posted by Sailormom at 8:28 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


If I were a political campaign the only robocalls would be false flag operations.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 8:30 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


100% US Politics 100% of the time

This sort of hyperbole is asinine. In any case, by posting about other things, you can make this even less true, no matter how many American politics links are posted.

I think the mods have a tough job and make a lot of judgment calls, but sometimes, between their comment and post deletion and the little notes I see more and more of, guiding the conversation in the prescribed direction and ending what they judge to be derails, it seems like they make their jobs harder by overdefining what is good for Metafilter. It's probably largely an effect of the flag queue and the burgeoning user base -- now things get flagged and the mods are pinned into doing something rather than moving on -- but it makes mod and user irritation seem inevitable.

I don't envy the mods, nor do I envy the users, in these cases. Everybody is pushed around. Seems like flagging puts the onus on the mods to do something, like moving on is only an option for the users, and the mods are forced to take action.

It's damaging, because of course nobody's going to naturally look in the open Romney thread, about the NAACP address, for insights on this Bain issue. They're separate, and pretty important.

Of course, the mods make a good point that once the news shakes out into something more solid, a post would be appropriate, but that's a pretty soft barrier, sure to cause resentment for people who consider scuttlebutt news and who notice such criteria aren't universal at all. Everything's done case-by-case, and damn, it must suck to be the one making the call.

I really don't think it can be sorted out. We've inculcated a culture of flagging, but obviously, if people can't look at the front page without skipping the posts that don't interest them, if people feel like the presence of one kind of post prevents them from looking at something else, our flags will force the mods into unpopular action every time, and in some cases, their institutional inability to move on will continue to make the site worse for some.

Worse for some, better for others. A rock and a hard place. Well done, mods. Your decisions are irritating and you do a great job of keeping things together; you have my sympathy, my respect, and my occasional frustration. You make the best of a tough situation. Thanks.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:30 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


They aren't editors. They're moderators. They moderate. If a post becomes difficult to moderate, one of the options is to delete it.

When there's already an open thread on the larger topic, that conversation can be had there, including pasting in the comments that would otherwise be "lost".

This hasn't ever been any different on this site, particularly during the 6mos prior to an American Presidential election.
posted by batmonkey at 8:30 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I agree that the framing of the post using dead fetuses was pretty cringeworthy, BUT:

- You could remove that part of the post and leave its topic more-or-less intact.
- The "other Romney thread" you invite members to discuss Bain in is about his meeting with the NAACP. It's like asking people to play baseball at a football field because they're both stadiums.
- The NAACP was just was even more picayune and of-the-moment politics.

While I appreciate your wanting to keep the site from descending into political nastiness, this is a story that's got legs, and I would expect more details to emerge from non-traditional (i.e. blog) sources digging through available documents than traditional media.
posted by mkultra at 8:31 AM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


I was starting to look through old Metatalks to see just how constant the seemingly incessant "OMG, moderation sucks so much more than before" talk has been throughout the site's history, but now I'm stuck in the rabbit hole of funny super early MetaTalks.

Check out mathowie thinking about a Slashdot style karma system, somebody joking about a dupe link checker, and a first inkling of systematic moderation!
posted by kmz at 8:31 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wonder if there is some talking past one another with respect to what makes something a "news site." I understand that metafilter is not exclusively or even primarily a site for news. But often what I read here -- actually most of what I end up actually reading and talking about here -- is related to current events and is something I would not have known about without seeing it on the blue.

I completely agree with Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish that the bar should be neat news. But then, I thought the deleted post met that threshold, modulo the fetuses stuff.

I'm also not entirely sure I understand the news-fatigue / election-fatigue argument. Is it really that much of a burden to have one or two extra posts every day that fit into the target post's category? I honestly don't know what it is like for the mods, so if the answer is just, "Yes, that makes life much harder for us because of flagging, abusiveness, etc." then I guess I'm satisfied. But if the complaint is, "I don't like to have the extra few pixels on my screen covered up by U.S. election stuff," then I don't get it.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 8:32 AM on July 13, 2012


You could remove that part of the post and leave its topic more-or-less intact

Now see, that would be editing, something the mods don't do.
posted by Sailormom at 8:35 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Deletion criteria seem to be expanding lately. Pretty soon we'll only have posts on comic books/movies, Joss Whedon shows, and YouTube clips of kittens. Those of us who aren't stereotypical nerds will have to find our links elsewhere.

People harping about how much better Metafilter moderation was back in the day are starting to sound like previous generations talking about how much better things were in the 40s/50s/60s/70s/80s (whenever they grew up, usually).

Deleting whole threads isn't moderating, it is editing for content.

Wait, you're against all post deletions?

- You could remove that part of the post and leave its topic more-or-less intact.

This is not done, one of the pillars of moderation here. They'll only edit posts or comments for HTML errors or forgotten links and the like.
posted by kmz at 8:37 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's no strict codification of it, no. It's mostly always been a "know it when you see it" sort of metric; to the extent that people start feeling like "wait, another post about X?" on a regular basis, that's about where we tend to start paying more attention and being more willing to cull some.

and

Moderation here is always a little fluid because we're responsive to what's going on in the world and also here on the site.

Do you people not understand that the "know it when you see it" and "fluid" standard is what is driving people crazy about these deletions? What was OK last week isn't OK this week, and not telling anyone until they break the hidden threshold, is not a way to run anything.
posted by gjc at 8:38 AM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


but this one ending with a suggestion Romney trafficked in aborted fetuses for profit kind of undermines any good that could have come from this thread.

Yup, given the season we're in (and it's only going to get hotter), I appreciate the precedent this sets. You may have the best thread EVER in the history of MeFi political threads, but if you choose to include a bit of gratuitous, intentionally incendiary garbage, you get canned.

True, but when you have the Boston Globe and the Washington Post fighting about the relevance of a story, that's very relevant and very interesting.

For sure. And I'd love to see that explored further on this site. So what's with the fetuses in the headline?
posted by philip-random at 8:39 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can see how it was fair to delete the thread, but I think waiting five hours and until a hundred comments have been made is missing any reasonable window and kind of disrespectful of people's time and energy. When I have a lot of other things to do, I tend to wait until a post looks like it's going to stick around before commenting, because I'll find time to talk to you all that I wouldn't just to shout my opinions into the old void.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 8:39 AM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


I flagged this post because it was axe-grindy political news of the day. If I want that I can go to the Huffington Post.

There will be plenty of opportunities to discuss Mitt Romney and the election. There will be better posts that create better contexts for doing that.

This post was a hair-on-fire, aborted fetuses, isn't Romney terrible knee jerk. I'm glad it got deleted.
posted by alms at 8:40 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ah. You've changed the way the site is being moderated, and it's our fault for reacting negatively to your inconsistency.

Nah, posts like this have been deleted for these very same reason since long before I was registered with the site.

Newsfilter/Politicsfilter posts that didn't make some notional grade have always been archived at /dev/null.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:40 AM on July 13, 2012


I was reading that thread this morning and was totally caught off guard by the red box. It was a pretty civil thread with lots of good comments. Taz was doing an excellent job keeping up with mod tasks.

I mean, the deletion makes sense given the Romney-themed thread two days prior but...it was not fighty and there was a mod present. I'm surprised, but I really shouldn't be - this is good precedent to set going into election season.
posted by troika at 8:41 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


What was OK last week isn't OK this week, and not telling anyone until they break the hidden threshold, is not a way to run anything.

Well, if there's someone to tell people how to run their thriving, decade-old internet community, it is someone else who has run a thriving, decade-old internet community. Just out of curiosity, which one is yours?
posted by griphus at 8:41 AM on July 13, 2012


I can see how it was fair to delete the thread, but I think waiting five hours and until a hundred comments have been made is missing any reasonable window and kind of disrespectful of people's time and energy.

I'm okay with the statute of limitations being longer than five hours. I'm also okay with the statute of limitations never, ever including a comment count.
posted by Etrigan at 8:42 AM on July 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


100% US politics 100$ of the time.

This sort of hyperbole is asinine.

What hyperbole? You are aware that there are indeed websites that are 100% US politics 100% of the time, no? Some of them are even very good at what they do and I like reading them.

MetaFilter is not one of them and I am glad for that, because politics is like a black hole for my attention and aggravation levels and I like having a website in my regular rotation that is filled with very smart people not primarily talking about politics.
posted by gauche at 8:43 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do you people …

You people? Really?

… is not a way to run anything.

I don't know, the site seems to be doing pretty ok, and would probably survive the departure of everyone really upset about selections of these kinds.
posted by OmieWise at 8:43 AM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


People harping about how much better Metafilter moderation was back in the day are starting to sound like previous generations talking about how much better things were in the 40s/50s/60s/70s/80s (whenever they grew up, usually).

Oh man, Metafilter was the bomb when it had an afro, bell bottoms and big collars.

Then it turned into a jive turkey in the '80s, hanging out with kajagoogoo.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:43 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


gjc: “Do you people not understand that the ‘know it when you see it’ and ‘fluid’ standard is what is driving people crazy about these deletions? What was OK last week isn't OK this week, and not telling anyone until they break the hidden threshold, is not a way to run anything.”

Get over yourself for long enough to notice that plenty of people – yes, actual people – really love these deletions, and are incredibly sick of election posts and the crap that happens around here every four years. It always comes up, it's always been a problem, and the mods have always deleted plenty of election noise. Seriously, if you think this is new, you haven't really paid attention to Metafilter during an election before. That's fine, nobody's required to have been here for any length of time, but you can't act as though it's new. Nothing has changed.
posted by koeselitz at 8:43 AM on July 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


And fuck the people who commented, I guess. Right?

No, bummer for the people who commented. My sympathies to the people who commented. There's no ire, no rebuke, no ill will, no standoffishness that comes with deleting a thread. Reading any of that into is on your end, not ours.

Ah. You've changed the way the site is being moderated, and it's our fault for reacting negatively to your inconsistency. Good to know.

The only change here is from some imagined site where we haven't always deleted posts for similar reasons. I seriously don't know where you have gotten your conception of how moderation works on Metafilter or how election seasons in specific have played out here if you think you're seeing something new. Stuff has always gotten deleted. Particularly for "another post about x" stuff when those are already thick on the ground. Which has always been a particular problem during election season about election-related news and commentary. You are mistaken if you believe otherwise.

I would love to see a political news site that reports on the news, say, exactly two weeks after it happens. It would have headlines like "Romney speaks at NAACP, has little lasting effect on poll numbers." Has that been tried?

It's not really anything specifically in the mission of his blog, but Nate Silver's Five Thirty Eight blog tends to treat most election news stuff as more "what if anything did this lead to, race-wise" fodder than something to breathlessly report as it happens. The guy is a wonk, it's nice.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:43 AM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


I agree with the deletion: The post had nothing at all to do with the genderqueer lifestyle or Doctor Who.
posted by Jeff Mangum's Penny-farthing at 8:47 AM on July 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


Your view of how the site should work seems to be at odds with how the site actually works. This is a moderated site and threads get deleted. This has always been true and will continue to be true.

Nobody is arguing against deleting threads that break the guidelines. But threads that don't obviously break the guidelines, but are "too close" to another topic that is open, is something different. And this thread was by no means an obvious break the guidelines thing, evidenced by another moderator helpfully moderating the thread prior to the deletion.

I can see how it was fair to delete the thread, but I think waiting five hours and until a hundred comments have been made is missing any reasonable window and kind of disrespectful of people's time and energy.


Yes, this, exactly. If you want to have tighter control, then you need to do it sooner out of respect for people who care enough to try to add to the discussion.

No, bummer for the people who commented. My sympathies to the people who commented. There's no ire, no rebuke, no ill will, no standoffishness that comes with deleting a thread. Reading any of that into is on your end, not ours.

That's the problem: you should care about the comments. They are the community.

There have been times when moderators have said they left bad posts because there were already tons of comments. That should be the default reaction to an iffy post with significant comments.
posted by gjc at 8:49 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


My thanks also to the mods for nuking this. And my condolences to those who commented and now feel bad because of the deletion, it must be tough to experience the violence inherent in the system firsthand.
posted by tommasz at 8:50 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


There have been times when moderators have said they left bad posts because there were already tons of comments. That should be the default reaction to an iffy post with significant comments.

Oh, hell no.
posted by tommasz at 8:51 AM on July 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


I agree with the deletion: The post had nothing at all to do with the genderqueer lifestyle or Doctor Who.

If you look at Mitt Romney's tax returns, it's quite obvious his investments are bigger on the inside.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:51 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do you people not understand that the "know it when you see it" and "fluid" standard is what is driving people crazy about these deletions? What was OK last week isn't OK this week, and not telling anyone until they break the hidden threshold, is not a way to run anything.

Well, I haven't met any of them in real life so I haven't been able to run a Voigt-Kampff test on them, but I'm pretty sure the mods are human beings, not robots.

All those comments lost in time, like tears in rain...
posted by kmz at 8:51 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nobody is arguing against deleting threads that break the guidelines. But threads that don't obviously break the guidelines, but are "too close" to another topic that is open, is something different.

Your conception of what is and what is not in the guidelines is mistaken, gjc. Not posting new threads on the same basic topic (being 'too close' to another post, in other words) is a guideline!
posted by carsonb at 8:51 AM on July 13, 2012


Get over yourself for long enough to notice that plenty of people – yes, actual people – really love these deletions, and are incredibly sick of election posts and the crap that happens around here every four years.

Again: is it possible to get numbers? What proportion are really sick of these things, what proportion of people think we have just the right number of these things, and what proportion of people want more of these things? With only a + system (which I like, I'm not asking for changes), I can't tell what the overall sentiment is. And I have no idea what it looks like from the mod's side.

Also, could someone who is not a mod but loves these deletions explain to me what is so abhorrent about having posts like the target post? Or having them in greater numbers during election seasons? Or if that isn't quite the objection, explain it to me maybe? Because again, I just don't get it.

And speaking as a relative newbie, I've never been around for an election year. If the moderation policy has a periodic nature with a four year period, then for people who have been around for a year or two, what looked like a stable moderation policy doesn't look so stable anymore. After being around for a couple cycles, I suspect people adjust, but surely the neophyte reaction is not absurd.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 8:53 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


That should be the default reaction to an iffy post with significant comments.

So then we get angry MeTa threads arguing about what constitutes 'significant' comments.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:53 AM on July 13, 2012


Oh man, Metafilter was the bomb when it had an afro, bell bottoms and big collars.

There used to be a slap bass/trombone solo every time a new post was published! Man, we used to get up with the downstroke and now we just have strokes.
posted by winna at 8:53 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


The "other Romney thread" you invite members to discuss Bain in is about his meeting with the NAACP. It's like asking people to play baseball at a football field because they're both stadiums.

It's more like asking people to discuss Romney election news in the open Romney election news thread. Elections weird things up; we have topic drift pretty naturally even in non-election contexts where politics come up, but especially so when there's this constant news cycle effect. As much as I sympathize with folks who would prefer dedicated posts for each development, that's not really how we want the front page to work and making peace with the fact that one thread might host more than one subtopic about an ongoing long-haul situation will make things work a lot more smoothly here for those who are and aren't interested in the subject.

The NAACP was just was even more picayune and of-the-moment politics.

And was not great IMHO but we ended up not nixing it. That it was also an election news thing is not an argument for just running with all of them; if anything, it's a reiteration of the argument that folks need to collectively make the effort to not post news-of-the-moment stuff so much, because it's counterproductive to the "but this is really big news!" argument to be pushing up against the topic fatigue that comes with constant posting about this stuff.

Is it really that much of a burden to have one or two extra posts every day that fit into the target post's category? I honestly don't know what it is like for the mods, so if the answer is just, "Yes, that makes life much harder for us because of flagging, abusiveness, etc." then I guess I'm satisfied. But if the complaint is, "I don't like to have the extra few pixels on my screen covered up by U.S. election stuff," then I don't get it.

It's the "it makes things suck in various ways" thing, yeah, not the pixel thing. We're not overly worried about the pixels, we're worried about the systemic effects on the site's content, mood, user expectations, mod resources, etc. A couple extra threads to argue about politics every day for several months when everybody's at their most het up about politics is a really really big deal in aggregate.

Do you people not understand that the "know it when you see it" and "fluid" standard is what is driving people crazy about these deletions?

Some people may go a little bit crazy. I'm not unsympathetic. But being okay with some fluidity and reaction to the current state of things is, again, not a new thing here. If that's a dealbreaker for someone, Metafilter is maybe not their ideal place to hang out, and that's been true for years and years.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:56 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, could someone who is not a mod but loves these deletions explain to me what is so abhorrent about having posts like the target post? Or having them in greater numbers during election seasons? Or if that isn't quite the objection, explain it to me maybe? Because again, I just don't get it.

I come to metafilter specifically for the 'filter' aspect. The front page posts pass a bare minimum of curation by the mods with input from the community. If the blue is swamped with US poli posts, then the site loses its curated aspect and my interest wanes.
posted by Think_Long at 8:57 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I rarely if ever read MetaTalk, let alone post here. But I wanted to say I strongly agree with those who are surprised by the deletion. It is a huge story, more important than what he said at the NAACP convention. (Not that I'm saying that should be deleted.)

It just doesn't make sense to me to expunge the thread rather than continue to monitor/ clean it up.
posted by NorthernLite at 8:59 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm sure it's different for the mods, but I really don't understand why people can't just ignore threads they're not interested in - or if they can't, why that shouldn't be on them instead of everyone else.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 8:59 AM on July 13, 2012 [8 favorites]



I'm sure it's different for the mods, but I really don't understand why people can't just ignore threads they're not interested in - or if they can't, why that shouldn't be on them instead of everyone else.


Exactly. This is a HUGE story that's important to a ton of people. It's never going to end up in the NAACP thread.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:01 AM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'd be 100% ok with any new post containing about the election going into a moderation queue and not going live until a mod reviews it. I know that it is antithetical to the way it works around here, but screw it. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
posted by COD at 9:02 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


If the blue is swamped with US poli posts, then the site loses its curated aspect and my interest wanes.

Thanks, that helps. Question: what is the saturation point for you? I'll have to go back and do a count to be sure, but it seems like maybe 2-3 U.S. politics posts per 30 posts in a given day. Is ten percent already too much? Just tolerable?
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 9:03 AM on July 13, 2012


Exactly. This is a HUGE story that's important to a ton of people. It's never going to end up in the NAACP thread.

Have you looked at that NAACP thread? "Never" just rode into town.
posted by Etrigan at 9:04 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Etrigan, I meant comfortably.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:05 AM on July 13, 2012


When I first saw that post, I thought "this should be deleted because of the 'invested in aborted fetuses' bit," which was just terrible. But then I thought, "okay, that's really bad, but the sources are good." And then I thought, I wish the team were up, so I could ask their opinion. And then I thought, "Okay, well, since I'm uncertain, I'll just watch the flags for a while," and this was at like 3 am on the west coast, 5 am on the east coast, so I knew it would be some time before I could talk to the other mods. And there were only a few flags at first...

Then, when people started waking up, the flags started flying in, and we all discussed the post, and it was decided...

So, that's what happened with the lag time. Also, there were some problems with the aborted fetuses bit, with some pushback from me deleting one sort of over the top comment (not from that commenter, actually), and that aspect was not boding well. Ultimately, with another thread open, this one would have had to be much better, but no matter what, definitely without the invested-in-aborted-fetuses flamebait ending.
posted by taz (staff) at 9:07 AM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's the "it makes things suck in various ways" thing, yeah, not the pixel thing. We're not overly worried about the pixels, we're worried about the systemic effects on the site's content, mood, user expectations, mod resources, etc. A couple extra threads to argue about politics every day for several months when everybody's at their most het up about politics is a really really big deal in aggregate.

Okay, this I buy. Thanks for the insight.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 9:08 AM on July 13, 2012


Is ten percent already too much? Just tolerable?

Just about tolerable in my opinion, and that's speaking as a politically engaged American. I can't imagine what it's like for our international friends.
posted by Think_Long at 9:08 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I have a lot of other things to do, I tend to wait until a post looks like it's going to stick around before commenting, because I'll find time to talk to you all that I wouldn't just to shout my opinions into the old void.

Which is a smart strategy and it's going to pay dividends compared to investing immediately in a thread. We can't give you a 100% guarantee on this stuff, though. Especially if it's something where the first several hours are in the wee hours when there's not a chance for mods to have a conversation. taz is on pretty much by herself at night; her occasionally wanting to hold off a bit on making a call to get a second opinion or two is reasonable, so that's something to take into account.

There have been times when moderators have said they left bad posts because there were already tons of comments.

And those have routinely been hugely contentious things based on tricky borderline calls, in which a lot of people have argued and not unpersuasively that maybe that's not so worth keeping around after all, bummed commenters or not.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:10 AM on July 13, 2012


I guess one could always read one of the 356 Star Wars posts instead.
posted by R. Mutt at 9:10 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


You are aware that there are indeed websites that are 100% US politics 100% of the time, no?

I'm sorry, gauche, I misread what you wrote. I took it to mean that Metafilter was creeping towards being 100% American politics, but now that I read your comment again, I see that I had it backwards. I was wrong, what you wrote wasn't asinine. Thank you for taking the time to clarify.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 9:11 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


gjc, as a point of reference, the know-it-when-you-see-it standard is exactly what I come to MeFi for. At a site like Reddit I could see what the majority of the community voted for. At a site like BoingBoing I could see what a few editors found and posted. Here I can see whatever the idiosyncratic members of the community came up with on any given day, filtered through the mods' taste for what makes a good mix for the front page. Tempering that mix is their job.

These threads are great, because they help us provide feedback like "really, we could handle more Romney in our MeFi" or whatever. But ultimately their discretion is a core part of what makes the site work.
posted by Honorable John at 9:11 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


There have been times when moderators have said they left bad posts because there were already tons of comments. That should be the default reaction to an iffy post with significant comments.

Except there's an "except" here. It's political season and shit tends to get very hot. So there are a few extraordinary things that need to be done to keep the house in order. I agree that such decisions can be frustrating as hell, but I can see where they're coming from. And I'd be very surprised if, at some point over the next months, a mod doesn't make a bad call or five. Think of it as life during war time. Everyone's under pressure. There's always more shit coming. High drama all the way.
posted by philip-random at 9:15 AM on July 13, 2012


I am so not looking forward to this election period. I'm already driving home in complete silence. I need to fill that up with some good podcasts I guess.
posted by odinsdream at 9:15 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


The only change here is from some imagined site where we haven't always deleted posts for similar reasons. I seriously don't know where you have gotten your conception of how moderation works on Metafilter or how election seasons in specific have played out here if you think you're seeing something new. Stuff has always gotten deleted. Particularly for "another post about x" stuff when those are already thick on the ground. Which has always been a particular problem during election season about election-related news and commentary. You are mistaken if you believe otherwise.

Now you are being defensive and disingenuous. Read what jessamyn said: "but this week has basically been the week where we're starting to get a little more serious about this." A change was made, and I am not mistaken.

Some people may go a little bit crazy. I'm not unsympathetic. But being okay with some fluidity and reaction to the current state of things is, again, not a new thing here. If that's a dealbreaker for someone, Metafilter is maybe not their ideal place to hang out, and that's been true for years and years.

Fluidity is fine. Not communicating changes ahead of time, and deleting people's legitimate contributions to the community just because some of the moderators have decided to tighten up their interpretations of the guidelines is not cool. It is especially insulting when one moderator has already been in the thread. People might understand a "slipped under the radar" reasoning if that was the case. But it isn't the case here.

Look, I know nobody is going to change your minds, because that's not how the game is played. You guys are the umpires, and we are arguing balls and strikes. It's the attitude that I can't stand: "no, that's where the strikezone has always been" and "oh, you know what? I got that last call a little wrong, so we are just going to replay the whole inning again. All the runs you got during that inning don't count anymore."

(Gotta love the "maybe this isn't the place for you" argument. Stay classy, metafilter.)
posted by gjc at 9:17 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


It just doesn't make sense to me to expunge the thread rather than continue to monitor/ clean it up.

This will work sometimes but the big problem is that it doesn't scale. Not excusing just explaining how things work. So in a thread like the Tosh thread from a few days ago that is highly contentious and also quickly moving... that thread was generating over a comment a minute when it was really hopping. Now it's slowed down some but there are still people commenting, arguing, disagreeing and flagging each other.

And we're responsible, since that thread is open, for making sure it stays more or less on track. This has involved a lot of commenting by us, some comment deletions, a bunch of emails to and from people. We've all got the thread in our Recent Activity. And the thread has been bumpy but not awful. But once we commit to a thread being open, especially a contentious one, we commit to moderating it which means comments have to meet the guidelines, people need to treat each other in accordance with the guidelines, etc.

So, if there are more than one or two of those sorts of threads, the person who is working (usually one of us has Lead Mod responsibilities at any given time) can pretty much not do anything else but babysit them. So it affects our ability to fix typos, answer email, look at other flags, talk with each other about larger issues on the mod list, and comment in MeTa threads. And this is all for, in this sort of case, a type of thread that isn't even MetaFilter's core mission.

I understand why people aren't happy about this and I understand why people wish we did things differently, but with the commitment we've made to the level of moderation we have here (both in terms of responsiveness but also in terms of being situationally appropriate and available for discussion here) one of the criteria we work with is the likelihood of a thread becoming a messy ugly timesink. People who want to help with this can make better posts and behave better in the posts we do have. And again, sincere apologies for the lateness of this deletion. taz explained how it happened but generally we'd prefer that not happen.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:22 AM on July 13, 2012


Read what jessamyn said: "but this week has basically been the week where we're starting to get a little more serious about this." A change was made, and I am not mistaken.

The last election cycle (and earlier ones iirc) were run exactly like this. I think it must be you who is being disingenuous for ignoring this fact.
posted by advil at 9:22 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


St. Alia of the Bunnies: "If anyone has a time machine that can transport me to January 2013 do let me know."

I have one, but it only takes you forward at the rate of one day per day.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:23 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


We're trying to stay classy but some folks seem to want to discuss politics anyway.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 9:23 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's maddening that you're completely ignoring anybody who isn't a mod that disagrees with you, gjc. Could you maybe stop and notice that there are a whole bunch of people here who think that things haven't changed?

gjc: “That's the problem: you should care about the comments. They are the community.”

No, that's emphatically not true. We, human beings, are the community. There is a difference between us and the comments we've made.
posted by koeselitz at 9:24 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


You guys are the umpires

One of the umpires is the owner and this shit is not a democracy.
posted by liketitanic at 9:25 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


that thread was generating over a comment a minute when it was really hopping

I believe this rate, 1 comment per minute, is the basis for the unit of measurement known as the palin. Going outside now, have a great weekend everyone!
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 9:25 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here I can see whatever the idiosyncratic members of the community came up with on any given day, filtered through the mods' taste for what makes a good mix for the front page. Tempering that mix is their job.

No, it's not. If it was, there would be some kind of approval process before letting something hit the front page. Their job is to enforce the rules. My argument is that when there is a borderline/judgement call, they should err on the side of respecting the contributions made by the people who posted in that thread. People who don't like a topic can always ignore threads that don't concern them.
posted by gjc at 9:25 AM on July 13, 2012


It's more like asking people to discuss Romney election news in the open Romney election news thread.

Ok, that clarifies a question I had earlier about 'thread drift.' I was wondering if that thread about Romney's speech at the NAACP, which was drifintg toward the 'was Romney CEO of Bain longer than previously stated' should have remained more about Romney&NAACP or was the thread an open 'here's Romney!' thread.

Thanks for the response to the question I hadn't even asked yet.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:26 AM on July 13, 2012


Read what jessamyn said: "but this week has basically been the week where we're starting to get a little more serious about this." A change was made, and I am not mistaken.

A change is made in my living room every December when I put up my Christmas tree, but I think you'd be hard pressed to say my position on trees in the house is "fluid" and "inconsistent."
posted by Rock Steady at 9:26 AM on July 13, 2012 [20 favorites]


Now you are being defensive and disingenuous. Read what jessamyn said: "but this week has basically been the week where we're starting to get a little more serious about this." A change was made, and I am not mistaken.

A forecasted nudge in reaction to the expected uptick in election-related posts during the election season, consistent with nudges we've made in the past during election cycles, which point I've specifically made several times. You have not been communicating clearly if that's what you are complaining about; your approach has read much more as a statement that we've up and swept the rug out from under folks by breaking with long-standing moderation style or policy.

If your thesis is "moderation should not react in any way even to predictable changing circumstances", you are going to be disappointed. There is lots of history behind this. It's okay if you have somehow missed that previously, but this is us letting you know that in fact you missed it. We will try and help communicate this stuff to new folks or confused folks, but user education's a two way street.

It is especially insulting when one moderator has already been in the thread.

A mod doing some work on a thread is not a guarantee that it will not get deleted. Again, this is not a new thing. We work both autonomously and as a team, and sometimes we'll end up doing triage first and deciding to delete later. I hear you that it bothers you that that happened, but it is manifestly not an insult.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:27 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


A change is made in my living room every December when I put up my Christmas tree, but I think you'd be hard pressed to say my position on trees in the house is "fluid" and "inconsistent."

But if it blocks the front door, it would be nice to tell everyone in the house in advance.
posted by gjc at 9:30 AM on July 13, 2012


Get over yourself for long enough to notice that plenty of people – yes, actual people – really love these deletions, and are incredibly sick of election posts and the crap that happens around here every four years.

If you see a thread on a topic you're sick of, the solution is simple: don't read it. I'm not interested in posts about gaming, but I don't complain about them, I just don't read them. The second golden rule of Internet discussions: take what you need and leave the rest.

The first golden rule is, of course, The Golden Rule.
posted by tommyD at 9:31 AM on July 13, 2012


If you see a thread on a topic you're sick of, the solution is simple: don't read it.

By this logic, no thread should ever be deleted.
posted by kmz at 9:35 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


tommyD: “If you see a thread on a topic you're sick of, the solution is simple: don't read it. I'm not interested in posts about gaming, but I don't complain about them, I just don't read them. The second golden rule of Internet discussions: take what you need and leave the rest.”

People always make this inane argument asking us not to care about the community. The fact is, it's called a "filter" for a reason. When the front page is inundated by political crap, the site as a whole suffers.
posted by koeselitz at 9:35 AM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


This was a good deletion. I hesitate to say "I hope to see more of these deletions", because it'd be great if this stuff wasn't posted in the first place. But, given that we're in an election season, the best we can hope for is quick response by the mods to prune out all the crap that is coming at us in the next few months.

(Gotta love the "maybe this isn't the place for you" argument. Stay classy, metafilter.)

In all seriousness, have you ever actually considered that this may, in fact, not be the place for you? Because the mods have made their position clear, and you have made it pretty clear that you do not believe them and feel they are somehow ruining this community. They're not going to change how they run the site based on your reaction to their policies, and yet, your reaction to their policies seems to indicate you think they are intolerable.

So why stay?
posted by tocts at 9:37 AM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Plate-o-rice-a-Romney and beans.
posted by vozworth at 9:40 AM on July 13, 2012


the solution is simple: don't read it.

As cortex and jessamyn have discussed above and at some length, the problem with contentious threads is not just that some people don't like reading them. It's that they suck up mod resources and lead to ill-will and people bearing grudges and flaming out and therefore kind of make the whole place a bit shabbier.

Put it this way: a mod can keep an eye on (let's just guess) 600 civil, on-point, useful askme question threads, an equal number of FPPs, and at the same time help people with typos and html errors, provide shockingly fast turn-around on questions you send to them, sniff out self-linkers, and generally keep the place clean and nice, OR they can babysit one thread on a contentious topic that will make a bunch of people unhappy anyway.

This is just me talking, but it doesn't even seem like a judgment call.
posted by gauche at 9:40 AM on July 13, 2012


If you see a thread on a topic you're sick of, the solution is simple: don't read it. I'm not interested in posts about gaming, but I don't complain about them, I just don't read them.

Which is a totally reasonable personal approach to lowering your annoyance/stress/whatever level when reading Metafilter, and something pretty generally worth doing, yeah. I absolutely appreciate people's willingness to filter on their end a little to help keep things saner around here.

But that's a personal-reading-habits complement to, not a replacement for, dealing with systemic problems that turn up with over-saturation of newsy stuff in election seasons or to the more general expectation we have that folks won't go nuts with multiple posts on a given topic at any time in the year. Both are important.

(Gotta love the "maybe this isn't the place for you" argument. Stay classy, metafilter.)

It's not a LOVE IT OR LEAVE bit of jingoism, it's a practical consideration. There are lots of websites other people like that I don't like very much, and that's fine; those places don't work for me for one reason or another, so I don't spend much if any time there, and I'm a more satisfied internetter for it.

If you find the way a place works personally frustrating to the point that you feel genuinely insulted by standard operating procedure stuff, it might not be the place for you. That's the entire thought. I don't see a lot of value in putting myself in a nominally recreational situation that makes me unhappy, so I tend to avoid that sort of thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:42 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


gauche: “As cortex and jessamyn have discussed above and at some length, the problem with contentious threads is not just that some people don't like reading them. It's that they suck up mod resources and lead to ill-will and people bearing grudges and flaming out and therefore kind of make the whole place a bit shabbier.”

That's a good way to put it.

I mean, I personally can think of a few really awesome posters here – some of my favorites – who made great post after great post on all kinds of non-political topics, and who ended up having to be banned because they kept getting drawn into crappy political arguments and saying things they shouldn't have said.

If those awful political threads hadn't existed, those people would probably still be here.

So, yeah. These threads have a direct impact on Metafilter. They bring down the quality of the community, they cause bitterness, and they ultimately end up losing us valuable contributors.
posted by koeselitz at 9:44 AM on July 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


MetaFilter: a nominally recreational situation that makes me unhappy
posted by neroli at 9:45 AM on July 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


Can I suggest that people who like lots of US politics links and an eloquent, jokey commentariat check out Wonkette? I'm IceCreamEmpress over there, though I rarely comment.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:46 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Having to moderate another community forum elsewhere, I can say that it's not just the noise of constant posting about the election that is problematic, but the constant back-and-forth. One person posts a pro-Obama post. Someone else responds with an anti-Obama, or pro-Ron Paul, or pro-Romney. The other person sees that and again counters. It's like a game of chicken that never, ever, ends.

I would be glad for Metafilter not to contain that. Someone comes up with interesting and quirky news about a candidate, I'm in. But stuff that's front-page news on the Washington Post doesn't have to be posted here.

That said, if we had to delete one Romney post, I'd rather we deleted the one with a racial slur as the title. (And yes, I know it's from a poem. That doesn't mean it should be excused.)
posted by corb at 9:48 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


The thing is, there were people who were interested enough in the topic to get into the post and join in a raucous conversation that was beginning to grab a lot of moderator resources and amping up member blood pressure. Moderating it bit by bit would have been like being pecked to death by pterodactyls. It was savvier to close the post and suggest a way to re-post in a less controversial fashion.

Just as there's freedom to ignore a conversation, there's freedom to continue like conversations in existing threads.

Many of us are here for the "filter" aspect. A majority, I'd say, prefer the site actively moderated.
posted by batmonkey at 9:52 AM on July 13, 2012


Halle-friggin-lujah.

There is no such thing as a bad deletion when it comes to politics threads. Nuke them all and let reddit sort 'em out.

Or since we can't have that for some reason, nuke 95% of them and let the odd one go as a honeypot for people who want to talk politics. Which I guess is what is happening now.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:57 AM on July 13, 2012


I was pleased that this was deleted, and in general approve of a higher number of deletions on election season stuff.
posted by Diablevert at 9:59 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was surprised by a number of things wrt that FPP. I saw it up and though, oh this is going to get axed quickly because of the NAACP post and the fact that we have been talking Bain over there for the last few days and even had an exchange about should it be a separate FPP with, I think, the consensus that it perhaps should wait a week and if it still had legs then yes.

But, the FPP went up and remained up, a moderator took a role in doing some cleanup and the discussion progressed, so I assumed things where copacetic. Then it got axed.

I think the timing would be my biggest complaint (that and the extraneous fetus filler in the FPP) Once things have been around a few hours in prime time and it is obvious the moderators know about the post it seems reasonable to assume everything is ok, unless things turn south pretty badly, which they really weren't

I totally get that people don't want MF to be all American politics all the time, that is a position I am on board with 100%. But it IS NOT all American politics all the time, even at it's worst it is not. Right now there is NO FPP on the front page that is wholly about the election. The deleted post would have make it 1 of ~50.

And

if you don't like posts about American politics... honestly don't click on them, if it make syour blood boil, or you are disgusted by it I fully encourage you to skip over to the parkour cats or whatever tickles your fancy. I don't have much interest in New York, there certainly are plenty of posts regarding New York and yet somehow I contain myself to calling for a NY based blackout.
posted by edgeways at 10:03 AM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Again: is it possible to get numbers? What proportion are really sick of these things, what proportion of people think we have just the right number of these things, and what proportion of people want more of these things? With only a + system (which I like, I'm not asking for changes), I can't tell what the overall sentiment is. And I have no idea what it looks like from the mod's side.

Who cares? This isn't a democracy, it's a dictatorship. A product is offered, and people who like that product are welcomed to come and contribute. People who don't are welcome to conform to expectations or to go elsewhere. If 10,000 Japanese anime fanatics suddenly signed up, that would not make it appropriate for 1/10 of all FPP's to be about anime. They would either need to channel their passions into topics of more general interest, or to leave.

Also, could someone who is not a mod but loves these deletions explain to me what is so abhorrent about having posts like the target post? Or having them in greater numbers during election seasons? Or if that isn't quite the objection, explain it to me maybe? Because again, I just don't get it.

I used to be a political fanatic, but now for the most part abhor it. I like internet memes and arts and cultural commentary and science and things like that. It's sometimes hard to sift through all of the bad material on those topics to find the good stuff, and MF is a good place to come to find the good stuff and to discuss it. Political discourse tends to operate at a lower level, no matter how smart and earnest the participants, and it also tends to inflame people to the point where they want to talk about nothing else. That can be trying for people not interested in obsessively discussing politics, because constantly sifting through "OMG Romeny once did x" and "BREAKING: Obama said y" posts is pretty annoying - the point of places like MF is to get away from that.
posted by pdq at 10:04 AM on July 13, 2012


if you don't like posts about American politics... honestly don't click on them

This is a bad argument, and has already been refuted. Read the thread. "Don't click on them" is not a viable option. Mass politics threads have long-lasting negative effects on the community.
posted by tocts at 10:05 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


"But in this country it is a good thing to kill an admiral a political post from time to time to encourage the others." - Voltaire
posted by benito.strauss at 10:08 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


roomthreeseventeen: "Not everything needs to be covered.

True, but when you have the Boston Globe and the Washington Post fighting about the relevance of a story, that's very relevant and very interesting.
"

So it should have been about that.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:08 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bad deletion. I was really enjoying the conversation and nuanced perspectives that only intelligent mefites can provide.

Bring on more cat videos!
posted by Big_B at 10:10 AM on July 13, 2012


"Don't click on them" is not a viable option.

I don't agree.
posted by edgeways at 10:11 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's always funny to me when a mod says "this isn't a news site," because Metafilter is actually the first site I check in the morning to see if anything notable (celebrity deaths, the Apocalypse, etc.) happened the night before. Metafilter I think is actually the best news site because it isn't a news site, since only stuff I actually really need to know (the Apocalypse) tends to make it through the filter.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 10:11 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Don't click on them" is not a viable option.


We have to click on everything? Man am I doing Metafilter wrong or what.
posted by troika at 10:12 AM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Bring on more cat videos!

As much as Metafilter is not an election news site, it is also not a "nothing but election news and cat videos" site. Election news plus cat videos adds up to some small fraction of what gets posted, and I'd put solid money on election news pulling the big majority share there.

This is a generalist site. It's okay that some election news stuff shows up. It's okay that some cat videos show up. It's great that those are two little slices in a very diverse pie, and that's something we're going to continue putting effort into maintaining. And it's honestly pretty deeply annoying to have people reflexively frame complaints about the deletion of a post they liked as if that post was the sole bulwark against an otherwise indomitable and homogeneous phalanx of silly youtubery or whatever. Keep this stuff in perspective.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:17 AM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't agree.

The problem with your "don't click on them" is that the people who *are* clicking on them are more likely to be the ones fucking things up and making mod resources go to paying attention to one thread at the expense of other things mods do. Those of us who are already not clicking on them are, hello, not causing the problems. So "don't click" is not a solution. "Don't be an asshole" is a much better solution, and is just as difficult to enforce.
posted by rtha at 10:18 AM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


A mod doing some work on a thread is not a guarantee that it will not get deleted. Again, this is not a new thing. We work both autonomously and as a team, and sometimes we'll end up doing triage first and deciding to delete later. I hear you that it bothers you that that happened, but it is manifestly not an insult.

I understand that you didn't mean to be insulting, and appreciate you saying so. That doesn't really change the result.

If you find the way a place works personally frustrating to the point that you feel genuinely insulted by standard operating procedure stuff, it might not be the place for you. That's the entire thought. I don't see a lot of value in putting myself in a nominally recreational situation that makes me unhappy, so I tend to avoid that sort of thing.

If the thread in question was handled in a standard operating procedure kind of way, it would have been deleted right away. The policy isn't insulting; rather the manner in which the policy was enforced in this case, and the general defensive and dismissive attitude of some of the moderators, was insulting.

Suggestion: when there is a borderline post, especially one with a lot of comments, close it up without deleting it. With a link to the pre-existing discussion if necessary. This eliminates the conflict between moderator authority and showing respect for people's sincere contributions to the site. And it would greatly reduce everyone's favorite time-waster, threads like this. Not to mention, being a nice record of examples of how not to post.
posted by gjc at 10:32 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The problem with your "don't click on them" is that the people who *are* clicking on them are more likely to be the ones fucking things up and making mod resources go to paying attention to one thread at the expense of other things mods do. Those of us who are already not clicking on them are, hello, not causing the problems. So "don't click" is not a solution. "Don't be an asshole" is a much better solution, and is just as difficult to enforce.

This is ridiculous. The people clicking the links are the ones "more likely to be" creating the problems??? Fuck it then, shut down comments!

If you can't control your sensitive little clicky finger to click on the thread then maybe this isn't the place for you.
posted by Big_B at 10:38 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Here's a Front Page Post titled Take your PoliticsFilter elsewhere -- indicating the extent to which deletions of FPP for being PoliticsFilter was a sufficiently well-established principle of the site to be incorporated into in-jokes and memes as early as 2005.

The post is identifying a potential home for people who are looking for a sympathetic site to discuss US electoral politics, because even back then, it was frowned upon as being contrary to the culture and stated purposes of Metafilter.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:41 AM on July 13, 2012


I normally would like to stay out of commenting on thread deletions - I do understand the mods generally have a more holistic picture than I do - but I'd like to point out that, in this particular case, we _have_ ended up with killing discussion quite a fair bit. Very few commentators went from the deleted thread to the old one; so what was shaping up to be an interesting discussion on Bain (minus the bits on aborted fetuses; will grant you that one) simply has died. They are discussing a tangential topic voter ID laws, there in the old thread, not Bain.

Again, I don't want it to made a bigger deal than it really is - these things happen, and I do appreciate the reason at a framework level - but this has all the experience of being kicked out of a seminar room because the lights have to be switched off at 6pm sharp or something. Just kills the social dynamic.
posted by the cydonian at 10:41 AM on July 13, 2012


The "don't click on it" argument works for low density topics, not high density ones.

If I was complaining about a post about ceramic kittens from central Asia, then yes, the appropriate response is to tell me not to click on it and enjoy the rest of the site.

But ElectionFilter has the ability to change the basic characteristics of the site. I'd argue that the density of election posts is already diminishing MetaFilter, but that's probably just me. But if there was no mod push-back against ElectionFilter at all I don't think it's much of a stretch to say the site would be pretty fundamentally harmed.

That said, I do wish I had gotten to the deleted thread quickly and made a "Bain is America's reckoning" joke. C'est la vie.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 10:45 AM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


I completely agree with this deletion.
posted by grouse at 10:46 AM on July 13, 2012


Nuke them all and let reddit sort 'em out.

Oh please no; Reddit is never an alternative for Mefi. Even the worse Mefi threads are models of adult, mature discussion compared to the cesspool that Reddit is.
posted by the cydonian at 10:46 AM on July 13, 2012


The policy isn't insulting; rather the manner in which the policy was enforced in this case, and the general defensive and dismissive attitude of some of the moderators, was insulting.

Now you're moving the goalposts. Might be time to put down the keyboard and back away from the computer.
posted by carsonb at 10:48 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Even the worse Mefi threads are models of adult, mature discussion compared to the cesspool that Reddit is.

This is completely untrue although there's no shortage of cesspools in Reddit.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:48 AM on July 13, 2012


Mods, would it be possible to use the sidebar to point people to open election threads and advise them to post there instead of starting new ones?
posted by Wordwoman at 10:49 AM on July 13, 2012


Mods, would it be possible to use the sidebar to point people to open election threads and advise them to post there instead of starting new ones?
posted by Wordwoman at 10:49 AM

The only problem there is that, I think, we'd have to have some sort of known time limit between posts and as that limit expired you'd get a glut of Politicsfilter posts trying to be the one that stays.
posted by troika at 10:50 AM on July 13, 2012


Ugh, let's not clog up the sidebar - reserved for awesome things - with terrible contentious ragebait election threads.
posted by elizardbits at 10:52 AM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


This is ridiculous. The people clicking the links are the ones "more likely to be" creating the problems??? Fuck it then, shut down comments!

If you can't control your sensitive little clicky finger to click on the thread then maybe this isn't the place for you.


The people who click are more likely to read the thread than people who don't. Agreed?

People who read the thread are more likely to participate in it than those who don't. Agreed?

This is not about who clicks who who doesn't, really. It's about how those who click behave in the thread. People being assholes in a thread is not solved by "don't click."
posted by rtha at 10:53 AM on July 13, 2012


Mods, would it be possible to use the sidebar to point people to open election threads and advise them to post there instead of starting new ones?
posted by Wordwoman at 10:49 AM

The only problem there is that, I think, we'd have to have some sort of known time limit between posts and as that limit expired you'd get a glut of Politicsfilter posts trying to be the one that stays.


Oh, I don't know. I can see something like it working, though not in the sidebar. More like a gentle request triggered by subject matter (election/Obama/Romney etc) that asks you to check the current election thread before you post.

And if you go ahead with your post, and it gets deleted, well at least you can't say you weren't warned.
posted by philip-random at 10:55 AM on July 13, 2012


If the thread in question was handled in a standard operating procedure kind of way, it would have been deleted right away.

I get the impression you're looking at this through some lens where there is only ever one kind of scenario that arises on the site or something, where there's exactly one simple "it gets deleted immediately or it doesn't get deleted" rubric that processes all posts and churns out a pat answers.

"Post goes up in the wee hours, call gets made once the sun has come up" is one of the common things that has historically happened on the site. If anything, it used to be a lot more common but taz being around at night has helped make it more possible to get a lot of not so great threads nixed more promptly while the sun is still down. Mostly gone are the wake-up-to-a-trainwreck scenarios, which is great.

More generally, mods chewing on a post for a while or waiting for a second opinion has happened plenty of times even during the day. We try to keep this from being the default, but it's still something that is going to happen sometimes for practical/logistical reasons, and it's not new.

The policy isn't insulting; rather the manner in which the policy was enforced in this case, and the general defensive and dismissive attitude of some of the moderators, was insulting.

You've been aggressively arguing a case in this thread that doesn't jibe with actual historical moderation practice and guidelines discussions on the site. If you're going to read us pointing that out as defensiveness, I don't know what to tell you: you have been saying things that are incorrect, and it's part of our job to communicate how this place actually works and what we do and how and why.

Again, there's no insult intended in the deletion, in the decision to delete, or in the explanations of policy and practice in here. I'm sorry you feel insulted. I don't want you to feel that way. But if we're doing our jobs the way we normally do them and you're taking offense, there's no practical solution to that. We are not going to radically change things here to prevent you from being bothered by how this place works.

Suggestion: when there is a borderline post, especially one with a lot of comments, close it up without deleting it. With a link to the pre-existing discussion if necessary.

It's been suggested before, but it's not on the books. Deleted posts are by design findable already for anyone who wants to look for them; there are user scripts and browser extensions that make it trivial to find them, and a user-maintained blog that collects them. We do not have and do not see sufficient value in implementing a close-but-don't-delete function and all the user education and policy shifts that would need to come with making that a new part of mefi posting culture; that would be a big change to how this place works.

This eliminates the conflict between moderator authority and showing respect for people's sincere contributions to the site.

Which, again, we're sympathetic about that feeling of having a thread you were following or participating in getting cut off, but that threads get deleted is a fact of life around here and not an insult to or rebuke of commenters in general. Discussion is evergreen around here and will spring up again in another thread, eventually if not immediately. And it's fine for someone to link to comments from a deleted thread in a legitimately related thread if they want to do it in just as "hey, here was some interesting further discussion" sort of way.

And it would greatly reduce everyone's favorite time-waster, threads like this.

I find this seriously, seriously unlikely.

Mods, would it be possible to use the sidebar to point people to open election threads and advise them to post there instead of starting new ones?

It's not impossible, but it's not something we've done with any regularity and we'd have to talk seriously about the details and the goals of that if we were going to try pursuing it. It's certainly a general concept we've thought about in the past. Early warning system or suggested redirect or something.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:58 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I would happily pay a monthly subscription to Metafilter if I never had to see another political thread on the blue.

I was happy to see this thread go.
I would be happy to see every political post that was critical of Obama go.
I would be happy if they were all gone.

I am not advocating for a change in policy, but rather adding my voice to those who think that there's already too much political arm-waving here and wish it would go elsewhere.
posted by DWRoelands at 11:04 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm IceCreamEmpress over there, though I rarely comment.

Wallace Stevens is no excuse for tyranny.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 11:12 AM on July 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


I would be happy to see every political post that was critical of Obama go.

How else can we customize Metafilter for your particular needs?
posted by Avenger50 at 11:15 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


By Using My Mefi!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:17 AM on July 13, 2012


i live by a very simple rule on metafilter: the moderators are always right.

seriously. once i accepted that here, i relaxed quite a bit. i believe they're doing the best they can. i've had comments and threads deleted. but i never came in here upset about it because you know why?

the moderators are always right.

for free range, threaded, upvote and downvote powers, head over to reddit, as has been mentioned before.

but of course, reddit is not metafilter and never will be.
posted by Avenger50 at 11:18 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


How else can we customize Metafilter for your particular needs?

Can you airbrush a swankass scifi painting on the side of the van? Something with Chewbacca in it, but not a nude. The cops bothered the hell out of us about the last painting you did with the Ewoks.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:19 AM on July 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


My Mefi allows users to apply their own filter (via tags) to the already-filtered frontpage (how meta!)

suggested tags:
politics usa war film Obama youtube movie art comedy internet military science reason UnitedStates America drone law Drones drugs election occupy racism UAV aljazeera pornography
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:19 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whoops - the My Mefi preference page is here.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:26 AM on July 13, 2012


In addition to Avenger50's policy of understanding that the mods are always right, I also keep in mind that this is a discussion web site that I paid $5 to join, and that nothing I write here is particularly important in the grand scheme of things. I'm not writing my novel in the comments, it's no big deal if some of them vanish.

Although writing a novel spread across the comments of Metafilter and somehow keeping them relevant enough to not get deleted sounds like a deliciously meta project for somebody who is not me to tackle.
posted by COD at 11:27 AM on July 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


> What proportion are really sick of these things, what proportion of people think we have just the right number of these things, and what proportion of people want more of these things? With only a + system (which I like, I'm not asking for changes), I can't tell what the overall sentiment is.

I wasn't going to comment in this stupid thread, but I want to add my vote for "mods are doing a great job, keep up the deleting." (I can always remove this stupid thread from Recent Activity, after all.) I personally wouldn't mind a bit if there were not a single political thread until after the election, and frankly all you politics junkies should be grateful for every thread the mods leave standing rather than whining about the ones they delete. If you think MeFi is your one-stop-shopping solution for political argument, you are doing it wrong.
posted by languagehat at 11:28 AM on July 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


I personally wouldn't mind a bit if there were not a single political thread until after the election, and frankly all you politics junkies should be grateful for every thread the mods leave standing rather than whining about the ones they delete. If you think MeFi is your one-stop-shopping solution for political argument, you are doing it wrong.

Or, you know, you might be doing it wrong. There are tons of smart people on MeFi, and many, many of us like the political threads.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:30 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


But the mods run the place, and if you don't like the way they run it, feel free to start your own.
posted by languagehat at 11:33 AM on July 13, 2012


At least we know that somebody is doing it wrong.
posted by Think_Long at 11:33 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


languagehat: “If you think MeFi is your one-stop-shopping solution for political argument, you are doing it wrong.”

roomthreeseventeen: “Or, you know, you might be doing it wrong. There are tons of smart people on MeFi, and many, many of us like the political threads.”

I don't think there's a right or wrong way to do it. I do know, however, that those who shoot for argument and discussion over worthwhile links are generally going against the spirit of the community as it was founded. That doesn't mean that those who want threads to be about political argument are bad people; it just means that they're not likely to get what they're after on Metafilter.
posted by koeselitz at 11:34 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]



I do kind of feel for the argument that the deletion of such a large (and in my opinion very well played out and interesting) body of comments, though standard operating practice, is a loss for the community, and that many of the moderater responses seem to be just reiterating that "that's the way things are" without really acknowledging the fact that people put serious effort into comments and the loss of those comments is a net loss for the community. I'm not saying each deleted thread needs to include an apology to all the commenters, but when a lot of people come to MeTa saying "hey that had a lot of good comments, deleting it kind of sucks", I find it disappointing to find that the responses to this are the standard boilerplate of "politics", "recent thread", "that's the way it works", "might not be the place for you", rather than "yeah it does suck that good comments get deleted with bad posts". And I know any mod can now come in here and say that, because I don't imagine that they're secretly sitting around holding grudges against the idea of comments in threads, but it does make me feel like theres' a bit of a discord when users are coming to MeTa saying "comments are really valuable to me" and the mod response is "bummer".

Again, I don't need a specific reassurance from the mods about their opinions on comments. Just in the interest of making it easier for them to sense the "temperature of the room", I think it's worth saying I support nudging up the weighting that the comments have in the deletion calculus.
posted by kiltedtaco at 11:37 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I do kind of feel for the argument that the deletion of such a large (and in my opinion very well played out and interesting) body of comments, though standard operating practice, is a loss for the community

Just think of it as amputating a finger to save the whole limb. It might be a minor loss (though I personally don't think it is) but it's not half as big a loss as it would be if the failure to moderate effectively were to change the quality and consistency of the whole community.

The things that bring people to Metafilter are the things that make it work. It doesn't seem at all dismissive to me to suggest that if those things don't work for you, that you should seek another site that moderates more in accordance with your tastes.

As noted upthread, the failure of PoliticsFilter has to be in some way indicative of the fact that people like the way things are done here -- so much so, that they can't even be bothered to patronize a subsite specifically dedicated to political discussion.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:45 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I appreciate what you're saying, kiltedtaco, and at the risk of saying the things you're noting you're not asking us to come in and say, yes: comments are part of what we consider when making a deletion decision, and we do get, as I've tried to say a couple times above, that it kind of sucks to feel like a thread got closed on you if you were enjoying reading it or contributing to it. It's not something we see as immaterial; it's just not also something that fundamentally overrules a deletion decision.

The fact that the thread had discussion ticking along is part of what we talked about this morning on email, specifically because we get that side of it. It's something we've talked about more explicitly in past threads, but not everything gets fully emphasized every time it comes up, so here we are. I hear you, and cutting off conversation is not something we take lightly or really have a dismissive attitude toward, however much it may be a necessary side effect of the moderation work we do here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:52 AM on July 13, 2012


There is a difference between political posts, and breaking-news-must-post-now-before-somebody-beats-me-to-it political posts. I quite enjoy many of the politically flavored posts here that are looking back on something from 2 weeks, 2 years, or 2 centuries ago. People take their time, add interesting comments, and I usually learn a lot.

However the newsfilter political posts frequently go poorly. Many people are in a hurry to get their point heard. Too many people have a emotional attachment to their candidate or party of choice. The lack of any ability to look back (since it's brand new news) and add some context to the news seems to kill the likelihood of a decent conversation in the comments.
posted by COD at 11:55 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


The lack of any ability to look back (since it's brand new news) and add some context to the news seems to kill the likelihood of a decent conversation in the comments.

That, and the "Your Candidate Eats Babies" posts. Politics aren't bad, the point where everyone's super heated about breaking stuff before they've had time or inclination to cool down? Absolutely.
posted by corb at 12:10 PM on July 13, 2012


I'm grumpy that my original comment was deleted and then I reframed my comment, resubmitted and then the whole thread got killed. I understand the mods perspective, but I remain a bit grumpy.
posted by humanfont at 12:15 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


That, and the "Your Candidate Eats Babies" posts.

Personally, I was quite interested in story about Placenta Mitt, the afterbirth tycoon. (Made his in slunks during the war.)

If you thought Obamacare was bad, wait until you get Benwaycare!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:36 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I know that all previous definitions of "what MetaFilter is" have been deprecated, and that there are no hard-fast rules besides "don't self link", and that everything is grey area, and that there are always exceptions, etc...

but...

I still think that a good MetaFilter post is what the MetaFilter guidelines page says: "A good post to MetaFilter is something that meets the following criteria: most people haven't seen it before, there is something interesting about the content on the page, and it might warrant discussion from others."

If this is shaping up to be "THE story of the 2012 campaign against Romney", doesn't that mean that it doesn't qualify as something most people haven't seen before? I can understand why certain events (9/11) get their own threads despite being very well known events, but this can hardly be compared with 9/11 in terms of scale. So it's a big news story, but not big enough to necessitate a 9/11-scale thread. It seems to me that, according to the guidelines, it's not the kind of post that meets the 'good MetaFilter post criteria'.
posted by Bugbread at 12:37 PM on July 13, 2012


Novelty isn't the only criteria for a good FPP. MeFi is also a community and occasionally it is fun to talk amongst ourselves on the big news of the day.
posted by humanfont at 12:50 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


occasionally is the most important word in that sentence.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 12:53 PM on July 13, 2012


Yeah, that's really what MetaChat is for, humanfont.
posted by koeselitz at 12:54 PM on July 13, 2012


Meanwhile, on the front page ...
posted by philip-random at 1:18 PM on July 13, 2012


yeah, can we get a quick yea or nay on the current iteration. I think it is framed better but don't want to spend much time if it's going to get booted.
posted by edgeways at 1:29 PM on July 13, 2012


Yeah, after a quick chat we're going to leave that most recent thread up. It avoids the framing issues of the previous one, and is pretty thorough.

The thing with Really Big News posts is that enough people will independently decide to post about it that we can usually kill the marginal or poorly-framed ones and still end up discussing the topic here. Sometimes it's right away - major obit posts often come in batches of three within a minute - and sometimes it takes a day or two for the story to develop, but usually someone will come back around with it.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:31 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


A look back:

"You know, I get as sick as anybody over every minor story about the U.S. presidential election getting posted to the Blue, and I know the mods are trying to keep the quality of posts up, but it still surprised me to go there tonight and find NO DISCUSSION of what history could very well define as THE important turning point in this election: John McCain's not knowing how many houses he owns."
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 1:32 PM on July 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


gjc -- the handwringing over the poor "100 Comments!" and the "Great Discussion!" seems a little excessive. So you had a great discussion for 100 comments -- that's neat! The deletion doesn't rewrite history and take away your conversation. Perhaps you're concerned that these great words are now lost to posterity? If that's the problem, I'd suggest posterity will be just fine without them. I guess I just don't think of posting comments as creating some property right or time investment that's entitled to protection. This is all pretty ephemeral stuff.

I guess the other argument is that you were deprived of a continuing conversation that would have been awesome. Setting aside the dubiousness of such an assumption, the mods made clear that the conversation could have (and did) continue in the other thread, and could be reposted to the main page in an appropriate form at an appropriate time (to say nothing of the eleventy billion other outlets for having a conversation about this issue).

Anyway, your outrage seems way disproportionate to the decision, and gives no credit to the possibility that the mods are acting in good faith for the betterment of the site.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:34 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, after a quick chat we're going to leave that most recent thread up.

You've kowtowed to the vocal minority! KOW TOWED I say!
posted by Think_Long at 1:38 PM on July 13, 2012


Fantastic new FPP. Thank you
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:39 PM on July 13, 2012


Yeah, I don’t get the "Tragedy has stuck, I commented in a thread and now it’s deleted" thing. 100 brilliant comments, lost to history? I think we’ll be alright.
posted by bongo_x at 1:44 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, after a quick chat we're going to leave that most recent thread up.

Grumble grumble grumble.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:47 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


We'd never have problems like this if the quidnunc kid was in charge.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:54 PM on July 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


This is a generalist site. It's okay that some election news stuff shows up.

Thank you, cortex - I am so glad you said that. The vision of mefi as a generalist site is my vision too and what has kept me interested and involved at one level or another for more than a decade. I am somebody that very much likes and wants selected posts on political events and topics to be part of that mix. I like the high-level sharing that goes on and I like hearing what my fellow mefites think. I agree with this specific deletion because of the terrible fetus framing. I'm on record repeatedly as saying that I believe politics should be held to a high bar. I believe that of every post on any topic, really...

Mods, you are pretty much all saints in my book, so please block your ears during my little rant aimed at a small subset of my fellow mefites: I get that you don't like politics and it offends your very sensibilities. But I am frustrated and offended by those of you who repeatedly bang the "shut it down" drum and the hectoring and bullying that so often goes on in regard to political content. Please do not patronize me and other mefites by saying "there are plenty of other sites, go find them." Please do not tell me to "take it to a spinoff site." Please stop telling me if I don't like it, I can go to reddit or elsewhere. Do you not see how selfish and disrespectful that is? Do I try to shout down your [tedious] pet topics, much as I might often want to?

And please stop with the "It's too hard on the mods" defense - a repeated drumbeat of continued complaining, hectoring and passive aggressive flagging is hard on the mods, too.

Call for quality posts - by all means, I am all for that. Speak up when they do not meet the grade. But please don't infringe on my enjoyment of the site to wall off topics that you just don't like.
posted by madamjujujive at 2:06 PM on July 13, 2012 [14 favorites]


“If you see a thread on a topic you're sick of, the solution is simple: don't read it. I'm not interested in posts about gaming, but I don't complain about them, I just don't read them. The second golden rule of Internet discussions: take what you need and leave the rest.”—tommyD

and

“People always make this inane argument asking us not to care about the community. The fact is, it's called a "filter" for a reason. When the front page is inundated by political crap, the site as a whole suffers.”—koeselitz

First — wow, this is just like 2004. I'm glad I wasn't here in 2008. Those who think things are different are mistaken. All this has happened before. All this will happen again.

Anyway, back then there were some of us who read pretty much the entire site. So, back then, everything that was posted was important because is was part of experiencing MeFi as MeFi. Now, the site is so huge, of course that's not realistic for anyone and no one experiences the site that way. We all are by necessity quite selective about the threads we read, and more so the ones in which we participate. And, all things being equal, then it only makes sense to make room for lots of things we each don't find interesting, not read those posts and threads, and go on our merry ways.

But all things aren't equal.

Obviously if MetaFilter became a site with 95% Joss Whedon posts, then it would be unusable for most people. Not reading those posts wouldn't solve the problem.

I can imagine someone objecting that this couldn't happen because the amount of posts aren't limited, if 95% were Whedon, then it would be because the total amount of posts increased dramatically and they were all about Whedon. But, really, I think we all understand that this isn't what would happen because things don't actually work that way.

How things actually work is that as more Whedon posts appeared, people would have an increasing sense that MeFi was a site about Whedon, those that don't like him would lose some interest, those who do would gain some interest, and what would happen is that some posts that would have been non-Whedon would be replaced by posts that are Whedon. Non-Whedon content would drop in an absolute, not just relative, sense. And the character of the membership would change quite a bit, too, of course. Which would feed back into this and accelerate it.

Of course this is highly unlikely to ever happen. But that's because there aren't that many people, relatively speaking, who are that interested in Joss Whedon, either in general or on MetaFilter.

But there are a huge number of people, generally and on MetaFilter, who are interested in a) news; and, b) American politics. We know this, it's been demonstrated since the beginning of the site. Even though the site was never intended to be a news or politics site and has never, ever been altered to make it more appealing as a news and politics site. The opposite, actually: news and politics have always had a higher bar to clear, both from the admins and the community in general, for posting. And yet news and politics, as many have noted above, constitute a large portion of MeFi posts. So, clearly, while it's the case that slippery-slope arguments are generally suspect and often used disingenuously, I think in this case there's a preponderance of evidence indicating that there is indeed a strong impetus toward news and politics that must be resisted to some degree lest MeFi turn into a news and politics website.

And this is so much more true during the American election season. The forces involved possibly increase by an order of magnitude during the election season.

Furthermore, the above argument all involves the gestalt of the site, how much it is kept being the MetaFilter we know and obviously enjoy, as it's been very successful for 13 years now. This argument doesn't even account for the other things that happen when political posts predominate. Some big things happen: the membership becomes more irritable and fighty in general, the political threads specifically get more and more contentious and unpleasant, the left-leaning nature of the community here becomes increasingly visible and thus more unfriendly to those who aren't left-leaning (that is to say, diversity is inhibited), the American-centric nature of the commnunity here becomes even more increasingly dominant and thus more unfriendly to those who aren't Americans (again, diversity), and the admins spend a much greater time fighting fires that are specific to these political threads.

Collectively — both the slippery-slope part and the negative side-effects part — make up a large negative affect on MetaFilter and — here's an important bit — is not balanced by the benefit of MeFi being more PoliFi because, as nice as that might be, it's absolutely something that people can get elsewhere, in whole or in part. No, the quality of comments elsewhere isn't up to the quality here. But then...neither is the quality of the comments here in these political threads.

I've always been opposed to newsfilter and politicsfilter but I'm a news and politics junkie. News and politics sites account for 75% of my daily internet, science is another 15%, and miscellaneous (mostly found here) the balance. Back in the day, I always thought that the newsfilter advocates felt the way they did because they didn't get their news elsewhere. I don't think that now (I think the motivations vary), but, anyway, it's certainly not the case that I oppose creeping newsfilterism and polifilterism on mefi because I'm not interested in news and politics. Not at all. Rather, it's because I think MeFi is very good, in fact unique and very good, at what it does and I believe it would be very easy for MeFi to get swallowed into a black hole of news and politics and lose it's essential character, and then fade away into oblivion. I think that even an amazing community like this can die (see: The Well, for example) and it beats the odds every year that it survives. Allowing it to become more about news and politics and discussion of news and discussion of politics will very much hasten its demise.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:07 PM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


passive aggressive flagging is hard on the mods

Is flagging truly hard on the mods? Or is that only the case when the flagging is done passive aggressively? How does one flag passive aggressively, anyway?
posted by grouse at 2:14 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do I try to shout down your [tedious] pet topics, much as I might often want to?

I wish I could favorite this twice. People who think that we're turning into 100% American politics 100% of the time are deluded. A quick check of the front page for the last ten years confirms that delusion.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:16 PM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Those who think things are different are mistaken. All this has happened before. All this will happen again.

We'll get another awesome scif fi series with a crappy final season?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:18 PM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


"We'll get another awesome scif fi series with a crappy final season?"

Sadly, yes. Almost certainly.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:19 PM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


roomthreeseventeen: “Fantastic new FPP. Thank you”

So what exactly makes it "fantastic"? The fact that it's about Mitt Romney?
posted by koeselitz at 2:19 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sigh. Here we go again. Site will be near-unusable for the next six months.
posted by koeselitz at 2:20 PM on July 13, 2012


So what exactly makes it "fantastic"? The fact that it's about Mitt Romney?

It's more nuanced, states what the issue is and then get's into the nitty gritty of the issue while not including that outrageous abortion link.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:22 PM on July 13, 2012


So if I made a nuanced, well-stated, direct post about Benoit Cezard, it wouldn't be deleted, even though there's already a post about Benoit Cezard on the front page right now?
posted by koeselitz at 2:24 PM on July 13, 2012


I wish I could favorite this twice. People who think that we're turning into 100% American politics 100% of the time are deluded. A quick check of the front page for the last ten years confirms that delusion.

I'm not really interested in this debate much anymore, but I would posit that this may have something to do with proficient moderation.
posted by Think_Long at 2:27 PM on July 13, 2012


So if I made a nuanced, well-stated, direct post about Benoit Cezard, it wouldn't be deleted, even though there's already a post about Benoit Cezard on the front page right now?

There isn't another post about Mitt Romney on the front page, so I don't know what your point it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:30 PM on July 13, 2012


Site will be near-unusable for the next six months.

koeselitz, does one political post on the front page out of about 50 really make the site "near-unusable" for you?
posted by madamjujujive at 2:30 PM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


We've lost more members over these stupid political threads than all the other topics combined. Statistically, it's almost impossible that we won't lose a lot of users over the next six months because of this crap. That's fine, I guess, but it's not something I'm going to be comfortable with. Neither is the general feeling of bitterness, nor the creeping movement of politics into every thread, regardless of whether it's about politics or not.

Brandon Blatcher: “There isn't another post about Mitt Romney on the front page, so I don't know what your point it.”

Thread is open. But I guess that doesn't matter.
posted by koeselitz at 2:33 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


madamjujujive: "Mods, you are pretty much all saints in my book, so please block your ears during my little rant aimed at a small subset of my fellow mefites: I get that you don't like politics and it offends your very sensibilities. But I am frustrated and offended by those of you who repeatedly bang the "shut it down" drum and the hectoring and bullying that so often goes on in regard to political content. Please do not patronize me and other mefites by saying "there are plenty of other sites, go find them." Please do not tell me to "take it to a spinoff site." Please stop telling me if I don't like it, I can go to reddit or elsewhere. Do you not see how selfish and disrespectful that is? Do I try to shout down your [tedious] pet topics, much as I might often want to? "

Wait, I'm a little confused. Most of the "take it to a spinoff site" and "go somewhere else" comments are in response to "goddamit, mods, why did you delete my political post" complaints.

So you think the mods, who, among their other duties, delete some but not all political posts, are saints.
But you are frustrated and offended when other people agree with those mods' decisions?
posted by Bugbread at 2:37 PM on July 13, 2012


"Call for quality posts - by all means, I am all for that. Speak up when they do not meet the grade. But please don't infringe on my enjoyment of the site to wall off topics that you just don't like."

I think I completely agree with you about how you view MeFi and what you love about it.

But I don't think it's accurate to compare either current news or, especially, American political news (and especially American presidential election news) to Random Topic X, tedious or no.

There's a small group of things which are sorta kinda different in the way that news/politics is different and some of those I get annoyed at seeing — but I don't think that any of them are so extraordinary that any special policy should apply to them. (There's special policies for topics that are extraordinary in a different way — that they reliably generate truly unpleasant threads — but that's not what we're talking about, I don't think.)

But news/politics are special because there's such an extraordinary impetus for such posts — an impetus that is mostly limited to specifically American news and politics. So this is different both in magnitude and character — it's different in character because of how this particular strong interest is alienating to the unusually large number of non-American mefites (and this diversity is something we should be proud of and is an important part of what makes MeFi so great).

That politics is unique doesn't prima facie justify a blanket ban, but it does make the point reasonable and arguable. I think that some of the people who propose such a ban do so out of exasperation, are not necessarily serious about it, and almost certainly don't intend to belittle your interest. Some of the others probably sincerely believe it to be a lesser of two evils and likewise don't intend to belittle your interest.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:37 PM on July 13, 2012


The non-deletion of this new FPP is a disrespectful fuck you to everyone who... aw, just kidding. I'm not sure why 'Hey, PoliFilter is held to a higher standard, put some effort into those posts, content- and presentation-wise, or they'll probably get the hook' is so difficult for some to understand or accept*.

*Okay, I know why ('It's important to meeee riiiiiiiighhtttt NOWWWWW!'). It's ridiculous and does no one any favours, regardless of where they stand on the issue.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:38 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


"A quick check of the front page for the last ten years confirms that delusion."
posted by nangar at 2:40 PM on July 13, 2012


That's kind of a Kinsley faux pas.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:42 PM on July 13, 2012


How does one flag passive aggressively, anyway?
Do you feel the burn? I just passively aggressively flagged you. (Just funnin' with you grouse, I rarely flag)

Is flagging truly hard on the mods?
Well, flagging is a call to action for the mods.
posted by madamjujujive at 2:43 PM on July 13, 2012


Once you post a comment to this site, you have to let it go. Let that little birdy sprout wings and fly. Maybe it will make it once it leaves the nest, maybe not, but once you click "post" you should let go of all investment in it.
posted by 1000monkeys at 2:51 PM on July 13, 2012


How does one flag passive aggressively, anyway?

You go into a thread that you've alrady voiced a complaint about in MeTa or over email and you flag twenty comments in a row indiscriminately. Or you go on a flagging spree in MetaTalk where we hardly ever delete anything. We've seen a few people do both of those things and told them to stop.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:51 PM on July 13, 2012


We've lost more members over these stupid political threads than all the other topics combined.

Well I applaud your wish to keep us altogether, and I too am sorry to see members go - even people I don't like. But I think we'd lose people anyway. I've seen membership relinquishment in all kinds of threads here; true some of the contentious topics may provoke the most, but there are lots of topics besides politics that people find contentious. And with all due respect, I don't think the problem is a thread but their inability to walk on by. And to some degree, I think that for many, there is a life cycle on mefi and a thread can just be the proverbial straw.

...nor the creeping movement of politics into every thread, regardless of whether it's about politics or not.

Ya, I can sympathize with that and unless pertinent, I don't think that should be allowed, nip that in the bud. But to me that is all the more reason to have a few dedicated threads and keep the discussions there.
posted by madamjujujive at 2:56 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


So if I made a nuanced, well-stated, direct post about Benoit Cezard, it wouldn't be deleted, even though there's already a post about Benoit Cezard on the front page right now?

If you had a set of nuanced links about Benoit Cezard being taken as a political prisoner by Russia or about Benoit Cezard planning a trip to the moon or something else completely different from the title on the open thread, I for one would not object to a new post about him.

That it is the same person is not enough connection in my opinion, unless the original post is something like: here is person X and everything related to person X.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 2:57 PM on July 13, 2012


That '10 things about Americans' post that was just deleted was a completely awful deletion.

'This isn't that profound an article and isn't going over particularly well. -- restless_nomad'

It's not particularly unprofound, either, and certainly wasn't going badly. My goodness.
posted by Kwine at 3:00 PM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


It was getting flagged unusually heavily, as single-link lists often do. "Why Americans Kind of Suck" is a concept that needs a little more meat behind it to work here.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:02 PM on July 13, 2012


madamjujujive: “But to me that is all the more reason to have a few dedicated threads and keep the discussions there.”

That seems fair enough, and it's all I ask. And, yeah, there are going to be a couple of open Romney threads; two threads is going to kill no one.

Thanks, mods, for being conscientious.
posted by koeselitz at 3:04 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I only didn't delete it because she already had by the time I saw it. Sort of button-pushing "this is (in broad, snarky generalizations) why you/they all suck" stuff is a pretty fight-starting way to go with just about any post, and the sort of weird sketchy FIX YOUR LIFE IN THREE EASY TIPS, GET MY LIFE-CHANGING PDF, FIND SUCCESS IN SEX AND LOVE, LEARN TO PICK UP WOMEN flavor of the website wasn't helping it out at all.

No knock on you, I get that you went in with good intent, but it wasn't great post material.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:07 PM on July 13, 2012


I would have flagged that thread, had it stayed, since it kept crashing my Chrome.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:08 PM on July 13, 2012


It was a reasonably interesting article at bare minimum; your characterization of it as "Why Americans Kind of Suck" is pretty unfair to it. Were there comments deleted from it? I had that thread open for pretty much its entire existence and I didn't see anything going wrong in the thread.

I didn't post it, cortex, but I was happy to read it the article. Guess I was lucky to get the chance. I have no idea why a post gets deleted these days.
posted by Kwine at 3:09 PM on July 13, 2012


It was a shitty article that said old things in a not new way. And at least a third of the comments were variations on "this is stupid, here's why."

So that's my opinion. Yours is different. FPP got deleted and world did not end.
posted by rtha at 3:13 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I didn't post it, cortex

Whoops, sorry.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:15 PM on July 13, 2012


> If the blue is swamped with US poli posts, then the site loses its curated aspect and my interest wanes.

Thanks, that helps. Question: what is the saturation point for you? I'll have to go back and do a count to be sure, but it seems like maybe 2-3 U.S. politics posts per 30 posts in a given day. Is ten percent already too much? Just tolerable?


Yes, ten percent is already too much for any single topic, let alone a very narrow one like the US election months before the actual date. Heck, even 10% politically focussed topics, including US non-election and international politics would be borderline.

As cortex addressed above, the real issue isn't pixel space on the front screen, it is the tone it sets for the site and the bleed into every other post that touches on society, politics, and the economy.
posted by stp123 at 3:20 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


And at least a third of the comments were variations on "this is stupid, here's why."

If that were the standard, some incredibly high percentage of posts would be deleted. Even if it were the standard, I don't think it met the standard. Finally, 'world did not end' could be used as justification for any deletion ever. Anyway, I've said my bit and I'll end my derail now, carry on.
posted by Kwine at 3:22 PM on July 13, 2012


A fully honest 10 things you don't know about America article would probably have some positivity in it in addition to the negative stuff.

Anyway, I flagged the Romney post when it popped up because the abortion part of it didn't seem to fit, but I wanted it to stay once the conversation was going.

The thing is, if you are going to argue people should just have discussed it in the other Romney thread where does that leave the Stericycle discussion? It's a legitimate topic that ties into the Bain story, and into the greater story of the election since Romney is not fully trusted by pro-life groups and is considering a pro-choice woman for VP. So, if someone wants to discuss this aspect of the story, where do they take it? It seems to fit in a general Romney thread as well as Bain fits into an NAACP thread. It's contentious, yeah, but it's also relevant. However, I think if I stuck it in either Romney thread at this point it would be considered a derail.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:22 PM on July 13, 2012


If that were the standard

It kind of is - or one of them, anyway. It is one way that mefites self-police, in addition to flagging. Talking about how crap a link is + flagging lets mods know that a thread needs attention; sometimes that attention results in deletion. There have been several deletions recently where "try this again with less editorializing" kinds of reasons given. I bet if you put a post together that included the link from that deletion and rounded it out with other good links, it might not get deleted.
posted by rtha at 3:36 PM on July 13, 2012


Whenever I see a thread get deleted for a reason that more than a very few people question, it makes me realize that bandwidth and/or hosting for a few pages of text must be getting out-of-control expensive. Then I start feeling guilty about all the throwaway, smart-assed comments I make and then I wonder if maybe the best solution would be to require everyone to make all posts and comments in shorthand.
posted by item at 3:41 PM on July 13, 2012


I understand that you didn't mean to be insulting, and appreciate you saying so. That doesn't really change the result.

Go away. People are being polite and pretending to care. Go build the site you want to have.
posted by yerfatma at 3:42 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I just can't believe that that was the post several mefites were happy to go to the mat over.

I know it's hard to resisting quaffing the collective media's election kool-aid, but come on, that was absolutely not substantive.

Substantive = actual policies, and you know, things that will actually affect the majority of citizens should the politician/party in question assume power.

Generally absolutely anything that is branded with the word "scandal" or anything related to gaffes is not one of these things. This tawdry, gossipy nonsense is beloved by media cause it's a lot cheaper than paying someone who's knowledgeable to actually read through boring, long policy documents, submitting FOI requests, and talking to lots of different people.

But come on, it's no better than US Weekly with politicians instead of Kardashians. This is not to say that these things shouldn't be known, but the hysteria about them - as wonderfully demonstrated the quote about John McMain not knowing how many houses he owns (honestly, what the fuck does it matter? Did not knowing that change his policies, or how he would govern? Did he break any laws by not knowing that? Was it a vote-breaker or maker for anyone?) I think amply demonstrates a solid case for a bit of consideration when posting to the Blue about whatever prurient, banal, shit WaPo is rabbiting on about today (I mean WaPo! Honestly, wiping my arse with that thing would just leave me shittier).
posted by smoke at 3:43 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wait, I'm a little confused. Most of the "take it to a spinoff site" and "go somewhere else" comments are in response to "goddamit, mods, why did you delete my political post" complaints.

Ah, Bugbread, it may be true that I am conflating a specific remark made in response to specific situation with the general sentiment of "we hate politics so kill it" and if so, my bad. I admit that in writing my comment I did not go back to carefully select who said what and bridled more at the recurring general "kill it all" tone. And an easy confusion it is because those phrases and similar sentiments have been the annual refrains during the decade or so of my tenure here whenever politics is raised in meta. I have indeed been told to go elsewhere, but being an ornery sort, it will take more than that to get rid of me.
posted by madamjujujive at 3:45 PM on July 13, 2012


I feel like this terrific piece by Jay Rosen sums up my attitude to most political coverage (and I say this is a very politically engaged total pinko), and I would like to add my voice to those thanking the mods for stopping Mefi from adopting the kind of reflexivity he outlines.
posted by smoke at 3:51 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


...and almost certainly don't intend to belittle your interest. Some of the others probably sincerely believe it to be a lesser of two evils and likewise don't intend to belittle your interest.

Ivan Fyodorovich, I actually don't think anyone is trying to belittle my interest and I don't see this as personal. I think I phrased it as such intentionally just to make people think. I hear a lot of "I don't like it" or "it spoils things for me" sentiments and I hoped to flip the coin to explain how it can make feel. But thank you for weighing in and saying that, I appreciate it.

... alienating to the unusually large number of non-American mefites

I think that is a good point and one that resonates with me. But I would be happy to see some non-American political threads too, I've learned a lot from those that have been here. So you see I am incorrigible.
posted by madamjujujive at 3:57 PM on July 13, 2012


Leaving a comment about how a thing sucks really isn't a standard. It's why the flags exist. Flag it and move on is the standard. You're supposed to flag something, not make a shitty comment about why the thing sucks. Often, people still make comments about why the thing sucks. I have been guilty of this myself and I was wrong to do it. Look at the Amy Sohn post, where like twenty of the first twenty five comments are about how she sucks or how the piece sucks, there are probably more but that's all I could bear to read. Some of them have many favorites, but they're a problem. If that's supposed to be a feature of threads around here then I don't know anything about this place.
posted by Kwine at 3:57 PM on July 13, 2012


"This is not a good article and here's why" comments are generally considered substantive engagement with the post. If people for the most part don't like a posted article, they're often the best comments the thread is going to get.

There are a lot of comments at the beginning of that Amy Sohn thread that probably would have been deleted had they been flagged. (But... they weren't.)
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:05 PM on July 13, 2012


I have attempted to provide a balanced and detailed overview of the Stericycle investment in the context of the new thread. I hope the mods will let it stand.
posted by humanfont at 4:12 PM on July 13, 2012


Leaving a comment about how a thing sucks really isn't a standard. It's why the flags exist. Flag it and move on is the standard. You're supposed to flag something, not make a shitty comment about why the thing sucks.

Ah, but a list of how things suck. Now that's something special!
posted by MoonOrb at 4:25 PM on July 13, 2012


"But I would be happy to see some non-American political threads too, I've learned a lot from those that have been here. So you see I am incorrigible."

Oh, I agree. But you see that my beef with political posts is really with American political posts and has everything to do with the combination of the things I discussed previously. I'm not at all against political posts because they're political. Or even news because it's news. Because I'm very interested in both, as it happens. I just think that both are problematic on MeFi and need to be held to certain limitations.

But, yeah. For example, Krugman's blog is pretty much the first thing I read nowadays (this has been true for the last few years, although I've been reading Krugman regularly since his Slate days) and I've been really happy that he's been giving Kim Lane Scheppele a high-profile place to write about the political situation in Hungary (and recently, a similar but very distinct, set of events in Romania) by letting her guest blog there. And, interestingly and relevantly, it's my understanding (I don't read the comments) that this has caused some backlash from his readers because they don't think it fits on his blog and, probably mostly, they don't care. (Of course it is related because the economic conditions in these economies has a great deal to do with the politics and I and many others worry that Hungary, especially, might be a bellwether.)

That's just one example that comes to mind. I'd love to see posts here on this situation in Hungary, for example. But, unfortunately, I'm not the person to write such posts because I'm reluctant to post in general and am especially reluctant to post...news and politics. But, like you, there's a lot that I'd be happy to see on MeFi. Even so, I'd not want to see just a link to one of Scheppele's posts to Krugman's blog; I think I'd prefer to see something that has both a broader and deeper view (though she necessarily attempts to provide this in her posts there because she's aware her audience knows little about the subject). Not necessarily more links, just something more than a link to a blog post. And, likewise, the political posts that I think belong on MeFi are the ones that really give us something that we're not going to see on all the other news and political sites. I liked the suggestion above about posts that significantly trail these events by, say, two weeks. Posts that find/collect deeper analysis and more information than we saw when the story was mostly a headline.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:49 PM on July 13, 2012


For years I have avoided reading the MetaTalk threads that arise when a political post is deleted, because it's always the same discussion, over and over. I read this thread and have found it to be no exception.

As cortex said: "Metafilter is not an election coverage blog. It's not a news site. There is not actually a problem if we are not promptly on top of each story, there's no issue if we don't sync up with the news cycle."

I really, truly, earnestly don't understand why people don't understand this.

Anyway, what I wanted to say is: thank you, mods, for the deletion and for your patience. You've got much more than I have.
posted by Specklet at 4:50 PM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Two of the last three threads posted to Metafilter are Apple related, yet still very different. And while I personally don't give a fuck about Apple products, and probably won't read those threads, other people do. I am more than capable at avoiding the threads that don't interest me.
posted by gman at 5:01 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have mostly stopped looking at un-meta-filtered news sites

Hell yeah, I can totally relate to that. But if you are at all interested in political news, I find that 45 seconds of scanning the front page of Talking Points Memo every other day is more than enough to keep up with what the 1440-minute-per-day newscyclists are bloviating themselves to death over this week, and more than enough (along with a couple of state activist groups' Twitter feeds and my local paper) to alert me to any news stories I might want to dig into more deeply.

Seriously, stop looking to Metafilter to keep you up-to-date on U.S. politics during an election season. It's a bad strategy.
posted by mediareport at 5:15 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


what history could very well define as THE important turning point in this election

This is July. The election is in November. Get some perspective.
posted by mediareport at 5:18 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


FWIW, the first Swift Boat media push was in May 2004, as was the rich Massachusetts politician meme. Just sayin'.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:25 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't want to be "that guy," but, FWIW... just sayin': I told you so.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 5:34 PM on July 13, 2012


The new FPP is not any better. Even the hardest news articles are still primarily conjecture. The resulting thread is no more than 195 comments worth of hot air.
posted by Ardiril at 7:03 PM on July 13, 2012


zombieflanders I love you, but if you think the "rich Massachusetts politician meme" and the Swift Boat idiocy was what won Bush the 2004 election, I don't know what to say. Both had their negative effects, sure, but the key was the vote suppression across many states, particularly Ohio. I'm sorry, but pinning your hopes of a Romney defeat on a news story in July strikes me as very silly.
posted by mediareport at 7:06 PM on July 13, 2012


... And while I personally don't give a fuck about Apple products...

You are dead to me, once you sip this delicious drink.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:07 PM on July 13, 2012


It was a reasonably interesting article at bare minimum; your characterization of it as "Why Americans Kind of Suck" is pretty unfair to it.

It would have been just on one side or the other of the border of deletion-worthy, but that obnoxious little aside about "Let me explain to you, as an expat pick-up artist, why American women are all frigid" put it well over the top into bullshit.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:45 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


what history could very well define as THE important turning point in this election

Pshaw! Anyone with a working time bridge or half a history chip will tell you the turning point of Obama vs. Romney was round two of the old-timey, bare-knuckles boxing match... Wait a minute. What year are we in? Sweet Lord of Lipids! Forget I said anything.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:14 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


"It would have been just on one side or the other of the border of deletion-worthy, but that obnoxious little aside about "Let me explain to you, as an expat pick-up artist, why American women are all frigid" put it well over the top into bullshit."

I was writing a comment about that bit when the thread was deleted. I agreed with the nine other things the guy listed, but that one ("Americans don't express gratitude or emotion") was just stupid (because even within the limited context of European cultural standards, Americans are more effusive than some and more restrained than others) and called into question the validity of everything else.

It does seem to me, though, that lists like that are in general pretty darn lame and make for bad posts. I can easily imagine a better article somewhere that makes most or all of the points that were made by that guy; but, even then, I'd think it was a bit facile unless it was informed by how Americans compare to others on these same criteria.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:52 PM on July 13, 2012


Honestly, when I made that FPP I thought there was a good chance that it would be deleted for precisely the reasons I think it was deleted. I was hanging out at Metafilter during the 2008 election and I know how crazy it can get here. I wouldn't volunteer to be a mod under those circumstances. It's got to be really difficult to make snap political judgments about the significance of one post or another, and nobody wants the site swamped with a zillion posts about similar things.

Having said that, though, I do think cortex kind of missed the importance of the Boston Globe story, suggesting that maybe it should just be tacked onto the NAACP story instead. That's a pretty big mistake, but we all make mistakes.

He was right that there are months to go. Who knows what other kind of weirdness could come up?

But then, if other kinds of weirdness does come up, isn't that why we're here?
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:30 PM on July 13, 2012


> It's got to be really difficult to make snap political judgments about the significance of one post or another

I really hope they're not doing that, and just instead gauging the framing and the relative heat versus light of the content of the link in question. I wouldn't think the mods are excising those posts based on the perceived significance, unless it's something really obvious.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:34 PM on July 13, 2012


Having said that, though, I do think cortex kind of missed the importance of the Boston Globe story, suggesting that maybe it should just be tacked onto the NAACP story instead.

My thinking was not so much "this Romney news thing is qualitatively less important than that other Romney news thing" as it was "this is the second Romney news thing in a couple days, let's maybe keep it to one post". It's thinning the crop, not picking a favorite plant. Particularly since we don't have the luxury of seeing all the posts that will be made in a given month ahead of time and then picking the ones that are best preemptively.

Other than things that are sort of shocking sudden impact news (and this is mostly stuff like natural disasters or major shocking geopolitical events), I don't really see "how significant will this news story be" as a factor in what makes a Metafilter post good or bad, and mostly find arguments that a post should stay because something might be (usually phrased, pretty often incorrectly, as "will be") a big deal to be putting the cart before the horse and treating Metafilter like a breaking news competition.

If it's significant, that will be obvious a week later. If it's not so significant, that will be obvious as well. Making a decision to post then, based on what has actually happened makes more sense if the goal is to make a post about what has actually been a big deal rather than making a post to try and get stakes in the speculative news-watching game, essentially. And it means people have had a chance to chew on the issue, read some analysis, find some great digestions, and have a conversation that is less first-blush reactions and more thoughtful deconstruction.

I mean, look. I skim TPM every day, I wander political commentary blogs a little bit; I don't spend a lot of time on this stuff but even at that I actually stay more abreast of the political news cycle than I particularly care to because it's a little useful to have context when this stuff comes up on Metafilter. And so I ride that news-junkie, poll-watcher, horse-race thing a little and I get that there's this dynamic of a real big twist or gaffe or scandal coming down the wire. I know from juicy, I get the excitement of a sudden whammy. It's a weird compelling sort of unfun fun.

But that's what a site like TPM is good for, because that's what it's explicitly for. That what poliblogs are for. Metafilter is not by a long shot the same sort of site.

And as Burhan suggests, I don't follow this stuff so that I can pick winners and losers in the news cycle by nixing the posts I don't think are the right sort of news. I know just based on common sense that a lot of this stuff will likely come up, and if it gets posted in reasonable amounts that's just part of the mix of what's on Metafilter in any given week and that's fine. But it tends to get thick on the ground during election years, and we're seeing that, and that's not so great and that means we're going to push back on it by discouraging over-posting and as a result sometimes encouraging folks to take it to an existing related thread, just to keep the number of threads down.

If people manage to show restraint up front by holding off on the not-so-big news, there won't be that weird collision when some bigger news comes along and it's like, Candidate X post number four for the week. But this is a big crowd and people don't coordinate, so that's a lot to hope for. The fallback position then is to hope that people can at least try and be realistic and understanding if us trying to keep the volume to a dull roar means reactive compromises in pulling some non-earth-shattering posts when things get overly crowded.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:57 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Making a decision to post then, based on what has actually happened makes more sense if the goal is to make a post about what has actually been a big deal rather than making a post to try and get stakes in the speculative news-watching game

It would be nice if every time a major story broke everybody just sat around for a few days and meditated on it before making a Metafilter post. But you know that's not how it works. People want to talk about what's on their minds, not what was on their minds days ago.

But I've said it before, I wouldn't want to be a Metafilter moderator during an election year for all the bribes in Congress. (I said it differently,... whatever.)

There's some justifiable reference to subtleties of framing. Right, well... the heat comes from making a statement about "aborted fetuses", but that same heat works on the other end, from folks who think that aborted fetuses should be the most important thing to think about during an election.

Elections aren't about being right or wrong. Elections aren't about who shouts loudest. Elections have nothing whatsoever to do with public perception.

And if you believe that, I've got a President I'd like to sell you in November.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:12 PM on July 13, 2012


... alienating to the unusually large number of non-American mefites

To this non-American mefite 'all American politics, all the time' would suck, but so would 'all American sports, all the time' or 'all Belgian bee-husbandry, all the time'.

I've enjoyed many of the monster threads from the previous elections a lot, exactly because it's interesting to get an inside perspective on something that's happening in another part of the world.
posted by rjs at 10:20 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Elections aren't about being right or wrong. Elections aren't about who shouts loudest. Elections have nothing whatsoever to do with public perception.

Elections, notably, aren't about what gets posted on Metafilter. The nation is not gathering on our doorstep hoping to learn what to think about all this President stuff that's been going around.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:23 PM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


The nation is not gathering on our doorstep hoping to learn what to think about all this President stuff that's been going around.

I dunno. I thought that every four years Metafilter becomes a kind of "cyber Town Hall" for the lucky citizens who have ponied up $5 to be a part of it, but maybe you're right. Maybe this election year all of that will take a back seat to more pressing concerns. I saw a video of a turtle chasing a dog here just the other day, so that's an encouraging sign.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:31 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


See above; but beyond that, I'm trying to think of the last time people were awful to each other in a thread about turtles.

If mefi election threads are town hall meetings, mefi as a whole is the town. And I care a shitload more about the welfare of that town than I do about insuring a sufficiently dense schedule of town hall events.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:47 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The nation is not gathering on our doorstep hoping to learn what to think about all this President stuff that's been going around.

But perhaps it should be. Turtles notwithstanding.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:50 PM on July 13, 2012


It is my understanding that it's turtles withstanding all the way down.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:55 PM on July 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


Yeah, there aren't any seats left. It's turtles withstanding room, only.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:17 PM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I care a shitload more about the welfare of that town than I do about insuring a sufficiently dense schedule of town hall events.

If for no other reason, this is why cortex is not the presumptive Republican nominee.
posted by twoleftfeet at 11:54 PM on July 13, 2012


I would love to see a political news site that reports on the news, say, exactly two weeks after it happens.

PoliticalLowPassFilter?

*Technically it would probably be an AllPass Filter, but the joke isn't is funny that way.
posted by Chekhovian at 1:48 AM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


*Goes back to Horowitz and Hill*

PoliticalBesselFilter?

Yeah, that's the ticket!
posted by Chekhovian at 1:50 AM on July 14, 2012


Many people unfamiliar with Filter Theory don't realize that it is primarily concerned with dating and mate selection. Metafilter is a dating site that accepts political discussion and discourses on comic books largely as a way to help people mate. If you want more than that, you should vote for the other guy.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:42 AM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


But Romney did profit from disposing aborted fetuses, fact of the matter. Sorry if it squicks you out. It's just true.
posted by spitbull at 5:00 AM on July 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


And where do we go with that information? Is paying someone to dispose of aborted fetuses bad now? I mean, I get that Stericycle had problems and those are fair game, but how on earth is "profiting from disposing aborted fetuses" supposed to count as some kind of black mark against a candidate, among a mostly pro-choice crowd?

How does that work?
posted by mediareport at 5:35 AM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


By the way, spitbull, referring to your fellow MeFites as "you assholes", which you just did over in the other thread, is why these threads are a problem in the first place.
posted by nangar at 6:07 AM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


referring to your fellow MeFites as "you assholes", which you just did over in the other thread

Way I read it he was referring to Republicans as "you assholes".
posted by Wolof at 6:30 AM on July 14, 2012


I've been wrong before!
posted by Wolof at 6:34 AM on July 14, 2012


He's assuming that the person he's responding to is a Republican (which may or may not be correct), so they're included in "you assholes".
posted by nangar at 6:41 AM on July 14, 2012


But Romney did profit from disposing aborted fetuses, fact of the matter. Sorry if it squicks you out. It's just true.

And as a standalone post for MeFi it would just be button-pushing outragefilter. Tacking it on to the end of a post that is nominally about a bigger deal issue turns the post into something that looks a lot more like "And guess what ELSE that fucker Romney did" which is the type of thing we'd like to see significantly less of.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:45 AM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Spitbull, in political threads, you frequently write a lot while saying almost nothing. This is no exception.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 8:02 AM on July 14, 2012


There have been times when moderators have said they left bad posts because there were already tons of comments.

Popping in late to say that cortex has told me that a long delay and a lot of comments was explicitly not a reason to keep a post up. If memory serves, this was over a thread about someone's U2 concert experience. (Definitely music and not politics.)

I'm pro-filter for election-related posts. I read TPM and I get enough horse race stuff over there.
posted by immlass at 10:11 AM on July 14, 2012


But Romney did profit from disposing aborted fetuses, fact of the matter. Sorry if it squicks you out. It's just true.

He made an investment in a biomedical waste processing company, which was later sold for a profit. It isn't clear when Stericycle started providing services to planned parenthood. It was not something anti-abortion groups made an issue of until long after his investment ended. No is it clear what the margin was on those services. Therefore it is not factually established that Romney profited specifically from the disposal of fetuses. The bulk of the profits in the investment came from business expansion into outpatient surgical clinics and winning contracts with hospital chains and large lab providers. Even in the planned parenthood contracts most of the waste they were dealing with was probably non-fetus repated. What is disgusting is that the pro-life groups have attacked these companies as a way to ban abortion, by denying clinics the services they need to operate.
posted by humanfont at 10:14 AM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


As someone who finds politics to add nothing but poisonous anger and frustration to his life, but also finds them to exert a carwreck-like fascination that's difficult to resist, I really appreciate deletions like this one, and any and all attempts to keep politics to a minimum around here.
posted by Ragged Richard at 11:27 AM on July 14, 2012


The Stericycle thing was tacked onto the end of the "Romney was still at Bain" thing because it helps explain why Romney may have mis-stated his actual departure date from Bain; the Stericycle thing doesn't play well with his base. The connection was in the articles, if you read them, and wasn't some kind of "outragefilter" thing.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:41 PM on July 14, 2012


Yeah, it was on topic and part of the Bain story. It isn't something Mefites would be outraged about, most of them anyway.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:53 PM on July 14, 2012


I think the Stericycle story is a bit like the aquabuddah story against Rand Paul in 2010, on the surface it seems like a home run in opposition research, but when you look at how his base actually responds, they are weirdly more energized. The prolife groups are already giving him cover, sending out messages about how it is all an Obama plot to divide them.
posted by humanfont at 3:15 PM on July 14, 2012


"I'm pro-filter for election-related posts. I read TPM and I get enough horse race stuff over there."

That's an aspect that I think hasn't been mentioned yet, but one thing that's really bummed me out as a regular reader of TPM since it began is how it's increasingly catered to horse-race political reporting.

Josh has a PhD in American History from Brown and what I've always loved about him was the depth he brought to the perspective and just how high quality his analysis usually is. Over time, he's concentrated on building TPM — which, don't get me wrong, is an absolutely awesome thing in terms of its media influence (this story is one example, as they and Atlantic Monthly broke it) — and as he's built his little media empire I think he's sort of steadily pandered to some bad impulses in his readership.

Like most everyone else who is very plugged into political news, I'm interested in horse-race reporting. But I do think that this emphasis is almost like an addictive drug that the political media and the news consumer is wholly dominated by, to everyone's detriment, because everything that really matters gets buried under "who do you think is going to win?" interest.

And that's true here on MeFi. Notice that people are justifying this post in horse-race terms — that it might be the defining moment for who will win the election. This is interest in the election as nothing more than a contest.

People care and remember about this stuff, I don't deny that, but it's so trivial. What does Nixon's poor performance on the televised debate tell us about Kennedy's presidency, or Nixon's? What does "Read My Lips" tell us about Bush? Or Swift Boat about Kerry? These are memorable moments that we think of as swaying voters, but they mostly just exist as moments in a contest, not things that tell us much about history or policy.

In this context, this stuff is very interesting but mostly just ephemera, because for every truly memorable moment there's twenty that people claim will be, but won't.

Meanwhile, if we're going to have election year political posts, we could have posts that really bring something that matters, something substantial, to the table — which is admittedly not something that we can claim about every good MeFi post, but is true about most of the best MeFi posts.

This Bain story doesn't tell us anything we don't already know about Romney. Sure, it tells us a fact, and that fact is yet another example of his mendacity. And it's clearly hurting him. But it doesn't reveal anything about him as a candidate for President, about how he will govern, that we didn't already know.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:30 PM on July 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


It was a reasonably interesting article at bare minimum; your characterization of it as "Why Americans Kind of Suck" is pretty unfair to it.

I was having fun posting in that thread, and I have to say that "Why Americans Kind of Suck" is a very fair characterization of that article, with an added dose of "American women should be nicer to me." I applaud the deletion, although it no doubt robbed me of some mild pleasure arguing about it.

One thing that I find kind of bothersome about the demands for the exact metrics by which the mods decide on post deletions is that it seems like an attempt to lay a trap. By their nature, deletions are always going to be a bit subjective, and I would rather not see more contentious MeTa threads saying "cortex cited section 4.3.2, and that was clearly inadmissible from the MeTa of 15 July!" I think this site is more pleasant when the mods have some room for decision-making and it doesn't feel so much like a game of Champions or GURPS with each player rapidly thumbing through their rulebook to argue with the GM.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:22 PM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Notice that people are justifying this post in horse-race terms — that it might be the defining moment for who will win the election. This is interest in the election as nothing more than a contest.

For what it's worth, I thought the interest of the story had very little to do with the election. I thought the story was interesting from the perspective of rule of law, justice, power, and inequality in the United States. The question for me is whether Romney did something illegal and if so, whether his breaking the law will have any consequences.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 11:16 PM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought the story was interesting from the perspective of rule of law, justice, power, and inequality in the United States. The question for me is whether Romney did something illegal and if so, whether his breaking the law will have any consequences.

A lot of horse-race posts can be framed in ways that don't emphasize the horse-race aspects, and I personally think that's a better framing. To counter my snarky dismissal of Josh Marshall, a great example of that is the coverage he's been doing of the technical aspects of the latest Obama attack ad on Mitt Romney, particularly the comparison of the sound engineering to the Daisy ad from 1964.

The thing about horse-race coverage is that something happens every day, and then we have breathless OMG THIS WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING posts every day, which are both tiresome for a significant portion of the membership and hard on the poor mods. Better framing or just plain different framing won't necessarily solve those problems, but it will at least improve chances that political posts will elicit discussion that isn't the same thing as the last post on the subject.
posted by immlass at 9:11 AM on July 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

Get over yourself for long enough to notice that plenty of people – yes, actual people – really love these deletions, and are incredibly sick of election posts and the crap that happens around here every four years.
There's a lot of this type of comment, not just in this thread but on this site in general. I just don't get it. Why do you care? Just don't read those threads.

There are plenty of things that I'm not interested in that get a whole lot of posts on this site. They don't bother me in the least, because I don't bother reading them. It's fine with me if other people want to read them.

Why is this topic different? Or is it perhaps not different; rather, perhaps you and I are different in how we react to seeing a post about something that we have no interest in?
posted by Flunkie at 8:23 PM on July 15, 2012


Why is this topic different? Or is it perhaps not different; rather, perhaps you and I are different in how we react to seeing a post about something that we have no interest in?

I alluded to an answer in the post above yours: political posts seem to require a lot of mod effort to monitor, and when they don't go well or get deleted, to deal with MetaTalk posts. That doesn't make it a unique topic--there are others that require a lot of babysitting--but it does mean that a lot of semi-related posts (e.g., US election season) is rough on the mods and the bar for good posts may be a little higher.

If a significant fraction of Doctor Who posts generated nasty arguments that required monitoring and MetaTalks and people posted a bunch of posts every week on Doctor Who, I'm sure the mods would be anticipating the new series starting next month with the sort of glee they look at political posts with, too.
posted by immlass at 7:38 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


★★★★★★★★★★★★★
Vote Pond/Williams 2012
★★★★★★★★★★★★★
posted by Rock Steady at 8:18 AM on July 16, 2012


political posts seem to require a lot of mod effort to monitor...

That then is a moderation concern, not a user base concern. If the mods feel that a given post is too contentious or people are behaving badly they have all manner of tools at their resource to nip it in the bud. They are paid to do this. Yes, people should not act like assholes that makes it hard for everyone, but unfortunately the mods we know and love are paid to not only have fun, but from time to time to remind people to stop being dicks.

There are, frankly, some pretty damn good political threads. there are threads that generate some heat, and threads that are clusterfucks, this is true for any topic where people have passion about it.

Should we have nothing to do with religion, pet treatment, feminist theory, or anything else that could be controversial? I don't think anyone here would argue for such. We have lost good members over AskMe policy. I too am sad when we lose a good member, but I am not about to wish we would voluntarily curtailing our communication because someone doesn't know to walk away from the keyboard

If you don't like a thread stop reading it, if the mods think it is too much work they can delete it.

People may disagree, but I think politics matters, I still think whom we elect has great influence on how the country is run, and they we should talk about such things, even if it upsets some people, or distracts from nerdy pop culture update #609.

-end of line.
posted by edgeways at 9:57 AM on July 16, 2012


Vote Pond/Williams 2012

Platform: we can save millions on Secret Service protection, because the VP never stays dead.
posted by Ragged Richard at 10:04 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


If the mods feel that a given post is too contentious or people are behaving badly they have all manner of tools at their resource to nip it in the bud

The mods have already weighed in on this issue upthread, as a quick search for mod usernames in this thread shows. One of their tools is telling us to make better posts.

Should we have nothing to do with religion, pet treatment, feminist theory, or anything else that could be controversial? I don't think anyone here would argue for such.

Nobody is arguing that about politics either. But nobody is posting clusterfucks about those subjects every day either. We have the same discussion we have in this thread about politics pretty regularly about obituary posts--what is a good one?, is the first post the best?, etc.--and one of the conclusions is that people should build better obituary posts. People should also build better political posts. People should post the best posts they can make in general.

People may disagree, but I think politics matters

It is an established Metafilter tenet that "this is an important topic" makes for lousy posts.

Vote Pond/Williams 2012

I can get behind that plan!
posted by immlass at 10:13 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Vote Pond/Williams 2012

So what you're saying is that they should...basically, run.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:19 AM on July 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Coming back to this topic with another perspective.

I have a minority political viewpoint.

When I see multiple political posts, every week, on Metafilter, filled with vitriol at people like myself and at a party I may choose to vote for, I am hurt and offended. It feels like they are full from top to bottom of people insulting people like me in a way that would never be okay with any other subset of people. It does not make me feel welcome as a community member.

And it makes me angry, and hurt, and I often leap into an argument because I hate seeing people be so blatantly offensive to people like me. And because these conversations consume so much mod time, they are often more poorly moderated than any other type of topic.

I would certainly appreciate if there were less of them.

The idea that people can just choose not to read them if they don't want to is fine if they were posts about, say, ice skating. But they're not. They're often about, "Your ideals are wrong. Your leaders are wrong and bad and awful." They're very rarely, "Here's a cool link giving more information that no one has heard about on a candidate." They're often, as someone else has said, OutrageFilter, and it's not always SharedOutrageFilter. Sometimes it's awfully offensive, and just seeing them up there is frustrating.
posted by corb at 10:23 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


This happens every election because there is a subset of people whose entire lives and identities are defined by politics and the successes of those who share those politics (or, often more accurately, the failure/devastation who have other politics).

With these people whose entire worldview is the political theater, the day-to-day minutiae of an election becomes major events when to people who are not so obsessed with politics don't give a crap. To those politics obsessed people, it is irritating to them and revolting that others Don't Care Enough to understand why the particular issue is Really, Really Important. Those those non-politics obsessed people, it is irritating to them to have to hear about this crap incessantly, especially when the discussion is always so heated, divisive and caustic.

You can go back in the history of election coverage here on Metafilter and see countless of examples of Really, Really Important posts--topics which are breathlessly described as game-changers and defeat of the opposing side. And a bunch of ugly behavior is exhibited in those threads. Of course, in hindsight we laugh at the complete lack of importance of those issue that are defined at the time as being so important. So what was accomplished with them? Not much other than the temporary joy for those who could expunge their bile on that day and, unfortunately, probably lasting bad feelings for and between certain users. So really nothing happens but dividing the userbase.

What's the solution? No matter how much you tell the politics obsessed to limit posts to substantive, important matters and not just minutiae, they'll never get it because they will always see every little thing as having a completely unhinged level of importance. So that metric won't help. The idea of isolating politics stuff has been beaten to death and rejected, so its not worth talking about. We've historically landed upon the idea of "skipping it" as the solution. In my estimation, that has just fostered a festering history of acceptance of some really unpleasant and unbecoming behavior that often spills elsewhere on the site. My preferred solution is a heavy-handed moderation (and sirens warning of same) until the point gets across that electoral posts will be held to exceedingly high standards. Having to deal with more Metatalk complaints about deletions seems worth it to me.
posted by dios at 11:19 AM on July 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


PS - I'm still taking applications for the pro bono proofreader position. My volume is low, so it shouldn't be that taxing of an editing job despite the high error-to-post ratio.
posted by dios at 11:29 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


If the mods feel that a given post is too contentious or people are behaving badly they have all manner of tools at their resource to nip it in the bud.

Yes. And deletion is one of those tools. As they have stated repeatedly.
posted by Lexica at 11:37 AM on July 16, 2012


Yes. And deletion is one of those tools. As they have stated repeatedly.

Right, absolutely.
posted by edgeways at 11:41 AM on July 16, 2012


And deletion is one of those tools. As they have stated repeatedly.

And then people whinge that this post was important, or good enough, or had a good discussion, and therefore should not have been deleted, as in this very post. Either you trust the mods on setting and enforcing a high bar for political posts or you don't. I do.
posted by immlass at 12:57 PM on July 16, 2012


There is also a middle ground. I can trust the mods to have a high standards and to also listen when people have concerns. I don't think it is fair to automatically lump everyone who may have a concern or a disagreement as simply whinging on.
posted by edgeways at 2:14 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]



If anyone has a time machine that can transport me to January 2013 do let me know.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies


Mitt Romney has a wayback machine that lets him retroactively resign from a position after three years. Not sure if it works in the other direction, although his eyes looked like he was glimpsing a bad future in his Friday tv interview-go-round.

Anyway, be sure you don't overshoot and miss Pres. Obama's 2d inaugural. It's gonna be sweet.
posted by spitbull at 7:13 PM on July 16, 2012


There is also a middle ground. I can trust the mods to have a high standards and to also listen when people have concerns. I don't think it is fair to automatically lump everyone who may have a concern or a disagreement as simply whinging on.

Nor is it fair to say people who expect (US) political posts in (US) election season to be treated like any other controversial subject that causes a lot of shitstorms are advocating for there to be no political posts at all. Personally I'd be happy to see a couple or three interesting posts that touch on US election politics every week, but the breathless moment-by-moment stuff and the outragefilter and the "tee-hee lets mock conservatives" (whom I don't even agree with) all the time every day should be nixed IMO and I'm glad the mods are nixing it.

Make political posts. Just make them good ones.
posted by immlass at 7:52 PM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


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