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October 16, 2012 8:59 PM   Subscribe

What about an "on second thought, maybe it'd be better not to have said anything at all" window?

I, of course, would never say anything regrettable on MetaFilter, but what if, say, I realized immediately (or a short time) after hitting "post" that perhaps it'd have been better if that comment had lived forever imprisoned in my head?

It seems like a logical extension of the edit window, and I propose it as A Thing since the edit window seems to be going quite nicely.
posted by TheNewWazoo to Feature Requests at 8:59 PM (77 comments total)

That really really is what the Preview button is for.
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:02 PM on October 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


You can probably just do this under the current edit window regime and will at worst be privately chastised.
posted by lalex at 9:03 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


We'd really rather you just drop us a quick note at the contact form to let us know you regret it. We often have to do a little case-by-case decision-making on whether and how to clean up a regretted comment based on the context, whether people have quoted it already, whether those replies would go, etc.

Filtering up front is, as always, the best plan here. If you're feeling like you're in a place where you might make a comment you'll regret, just go ahead and put the brakes on right there and don't make the comment at all. Nobody ever caused themself grief by erring on the side of restraint in an online discussion.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:04 PM on October 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


Huh? Just edit your comment by deleting it, or contact the mods.
posted by dfriedman at 9:04 PM on October 16, 2012


When I have done that in the past, I've then contacted the mods and asked them to delete my comment. They always have done so, promptly, without argument.

I don't see any need for a new mechanism to handle this.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:05 PM on October 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Huh? Just edit your comment by deleting it, or contact the mods.

Or this!
posted by lalex at 9:07 PM on October 16, 2012


Note: please do not edit your comment by deleting it. We are very responsive to the contact form as a rule, and compounding regrettable something with conspicuous misuse of the edit feature is not going to improve a situation.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:08 PM on October 16, 2012 [11 favorites]


if your comment is terrible enough it will be deleted anyway.

she said, guiltily
posted by elizardbits at 9:11 PM on October 16, 2012 [21 favorites]


Nobody ever caused themself grief by erring on the side of restraint in an online discussion.

Do you have any idea how many people are still wrong today, simply because good sense intervened?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:15 PM on October 16, 2012 [14 favorites]


I am doing a vague interpretive dance that both suggests "hey hit us up on the contact form for that" but also points in the direction of the excellent frog and toad story about will power that I have deposited around here somewhere....
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:29 PM on October 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'd never not.
posted by fleacircus at 9:30 PM on October 16, 2012


MetaFilter: I am doing a vague interpretive dance.
posted by ApathyGirl at 9:36 PM on October 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


In my opinion one of the few regrettable aspects of "internet culture" is this supposed need to react as quickly as possible in a discussion. Egregious "First Post!" offenders aside, a lot of us (and I'm including myself here) still seem to think that we simply must contribute our thoughts and opinions at lightning speed else --Heaven Forfend! -- the conversation move on without our wonderful and amazing witticisms.

I'd like to think that MetaFilter can be a refuge from that particular crazy train.

The Edit Window feature is implemented explicitly for the removing of typos, or to be more explicit, actual honest-to-god typographical errors which can become barriers to reading the actual text. The ability to redact oneself in a public forum for just any old reason seems to be a tool of a very different kind, one that impacts the text itself, not just the letters representing it. I'd rather not enable folks to tamper with that content unless there are very good reasons to do so (hence flagging, hence contact form, hence mods).

On preview of jessamyn's wise fable, the solution to this problem is to take a deep breath and ask: "Do I really need to post this thing, worded in this way?"
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:36 PM on October 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


On preview of jessamyn's wise fable, the solution to this problem is to take a deep breath and ask: "Do I really need to post this thing, worded in this way?"

And ... once you select "Post Comment", accept that it will likely stand (typos excepted). Because seriously, not that many comments get deleted around here, only the ones that are throwing discussions into chaos. Most of them, however dumb, stay, as they should, as record of the conversation that happened.

It is, of course, understandable to feel compelled to delete something during your five minute window, but please, get outside yourself for a moment.

A. hardly anyone's going to care what you said, not for very long anyway
B. a deletion does have the potential to seriously undermine the conversation that is underway

Is your vanity that important? If so, then maybe you just shouldn't be posting in the first place.

collective YOU throughout this comment, no aspersions cast at Doleful Creature
posted by philip-random at 9:54 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Filtering up front is, as always, the best plan here.

Never misses a chance to drop the title line in a MeTa thread.
posted by carsonb at 10:00 PM on October 16, 2012


no aspersions cast at Doleful Creature

Oh by all means, cast away, good sir. I await your presence upon the moor just north of town, at dawn, pistol in hand. I demand satisfaction!
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:03 PM on October 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


what dfriedman said.
posted by lalex at 9:03 PM on October 16

Huh? Just edit your comment by deleting it, or contact the mods.
posted by dfriedman at 9:04 PM on October 16

I'm confused.
posted by unliteral at 10:04 PM on October 16, 2012


Shenanigans.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:25 PM on October 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Reverted. lalex, do not do that, period.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:39 PM on October 16, 2012


Why is it so hard to avoid abusing the edit window? This is why we can't have nice things! Like images of elephants pooping or people fucking chickens!
posted by Justinian at 10:48 PM on October 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


The best thing to do is preview, decide your comment sucks, and don't click "post comment." But if, in the extremely rare instance you don't do that, and you feel like it needs to be gone, leave it as is, post another comment saying something like "sorry, that was dumb; asking mods to delete," flag the dumb comment, flag your comment explaining you are asking for a deletion, and, optionally, contact us to ask us to delete.

The reason this is better, and one of the reasons we ask that people not make substantive changes on their comments, is that people will still be seeing your original comment, sans editing, until they refresh the page. People who have just loaded the page, or who have refreshed, will be seeing the edited comment... this will lead to weirdness in the discussion as people respond to different versions of the same comment. This makes zero difference when all you are doing is fixing typos and small errors, but when you are adding or deleting content and/or changing the intent of the thought it becomes messy and confusing.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:19 PM on October 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why is it so hard to avoid abusing the edit window?

I'll try to only say this here once, but I've been kind of bemused by the various "edit window not for that" pronouncements about uses that aren't dictated by the actual mechanics of the thing.

"The street finds its own uses for things" and all that.

I understand the mods' desire to guide the use of any given feature, but I predict that this particular back-and-forth will continue for the remainder of MeFi's existence, or at least for the lifetime of the edit feature. If it were me, I'd be strongly inclined to mark edited comments with an asterisk, expose history of comments somewhere, and let the chips fall where they may. I suspect that once people get the hang of it, it doesn't turn out much more problematic than the plenty-common "on preview" you see around here.

I'm not asking for an explanation of why that's not going to happen - if nothing else, it's obvious that the mods are strongly interested in continuity of discussion, etc., and don't feel that the conventions which have evolved elsewhere for this sort of thing are sufficiently non-disruptive - but it's an interesting dynamic to watch, anyway.
posted by brennen at 11:30 PM on October 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


people will still be seeing your original comment, sans editing, until they refresh the page. People who have just loaded the page, or who have refreshed, will be seeing the edited comment... this will lead to weirdness in the discussion as people respond to different versions of the same comment.

... or as I commented in a previous thread, it will be like the Tardis just showed up. This feels fundamental to me, kind of beyond argument. ANYTHING other than fixing typos has enormous potential toward causing confusion. Which I personally can imagine being fun in Hey-Is-Philip-K-Dick-messing-with-this-thread sort of way ... but I somehow doubt that would be good for the community.

That said, brennen's got a point ...

"The street finds its own uses for things" and all that.
posted by philip-random at 11:44 PM on October 16, 2012


This is absolutely true, but the Metafilter street has been known to wind its own way before.

I think much depends on what the individual user is accustomed to. People who like Reddit-style threaded conversations sometimes feel stymied by Metafilter's everyone-in-the-room discussion, and, likewise, people who are invested in the discussion style we have here may be frustrated by Reddit's discussion flow. I'm one of those people.

Because I don't hang out there a lot, when I go to Reddit to read a big comment thread, it feels like I'm basically just seeing random comments strung out on a page, and the hidden comments, deleted comments, edited comments, and nested comments all make it feel like a sort of cacophony from which I can sometimes pluck some nuggets of information and possibly get a hazy sense of the group dynamic. People who spend more time there and have a feeling for the rhythm of that discussion paradigm are surely experiencing something quite different and much more satisfying, and I think the same is true here.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:18 AM on October 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


With a preview button, I don't understand what the hell the point of an edit window is. I really don't. It just opens up a can of worms.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:44 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Though I could easily live without it, it's now become part of my routine.

1. Make my comment,
2. double-check it in preview,
3. post it,
4. read it again ... and fix any typos I may have missed in preview.

But, of course, I'll still mess up -- just noticed a typo from earlier today, a missing two syllable word that makes the comment stumble, but doesn't kill it. It's still clear what I'm trying to say.

In the right hands, there is nothing wrong with the edit window. But we've all got left hands, too. Most of us anyway.
posted by philip-random at 12:50 AM on October 17, 2012


Well, those of us who play drums are busy with our left hands.
posted by mannequito at 1:41 AM on October 17, 2012


Not to mention our feet.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:44 AM on October 17, 2012


Always never let us know what your left hand is doing.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:46 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh don't worry, I'm just flagging it and moving on.
posted by mannequito at 2:15 AM on October 17, 2012


You realize of course that I totally have the power to change "flagging" to "flogging"?

. . . M U S T . R E S I S T . . .
posted by taz (staff) at 2:49 AM on October 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


I've been busier and busier, and less able to make comments, and sometimes, especially recently, when I write up a comment, I pause, and I think, did I really need to say that? Am I furthering discussion? It's not an edit window thing, it's just me thinking, did that need to a part of MetaFilter?

I end up not making the comment probably four times out of ten, now. This, of course, works for me, but might not work for everyone. Just an idea.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:44 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I write a lot of AskMe responses that I never post. I usually sit on comments for awhile unless they're short or in fast-moving threads. (Well, I do it anyway and as a result don't participate much in fast-moving threads, as much as I appreciate the debate commentary, etc.) I know I tend to be talkative, and online at least I have the advantage of nobody hearing me until after I actually hit "post", so if I realize after the fact that I've been on about nothing important, I can skip it.
posted by gracedissolved at 4:05 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


brennen: "I understand the mods' desire to guide the use of any given feature, but I predict that this particular back-and-forth will continue for the remainder of MeFi's existence, or at least for the lifetime of the edit feature."

Gives us something else to do besides lamenting the lost IMG tag.
posted by radwolf76 at 4:11 AM on October 17, 2012


but also points in the direction of the excellent frog and toad story about will power that I have deposited around here somewhere

This is the one about the cookies, right? Will Frog and Toad be able to muster up the will power they need to stop eating cookies before they become sick?
posted by lakersfan1222 at 5:55 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Binders full of MeFi comment edits.
posted by Wordshore at 7:14 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Flagging one's own comment is a brilliant idea and one that never would have occurred to me.
posted by scratch at 7:16 AM on October 17, 2012


Flog it (and send the mods a note.)
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:28 AM on October 17, 2012


if it's flogging you want to call it, I suggest you call the mods "masters".
posted by philip-random at 9:08 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I write all of my stuff in Notepad first. I edit out (hopefully) all of the judgy junk and if the answer ends up being more than "yup" or "hell no" then I paste it into the comment window and preview. If it still makes sense after a minute or two I post.

And five minutes and one second later I realize I made a typo.
posted by kimberussell at 9:46 AM on October 17, 2012


With a preview button, I don't understand what the hell the point of an edit window is.

You would not believe how many typos I catch only after posting. I think it's a workflow thing.

Hopefully there are counters being kept on edit window usage. It would be very interesting to know how often it is used.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:07 AM on October 17, 2012


I expect there are ranking tables assembled that show just who the major edit button users (or abusers) are.
posted by arcticseal at 10:41 AM on October 17, 2012


I wish all my comments would just disappear after a specified time.

I’d also like to see everyone have the ability to edit others comments for 5 minutes after their posted, to make them more like what you think they were trying to say, or what you are reading into it and want to respond to.
posted by bongo_x at 10:53 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


scratch: "Flagging one's own comment is a brilliant idea and one that never would have occurred to me."

Not really, the real brilliance is using the contact form. From what I understand, mods have to click through to see which users flagged something, even self-flagging. It's a nice gesture, but at the end of the day, it's just another lone flag.
posted by radwolf76 at 12:41 PM on October 17, 2012


Call it an "I regret the error" button. Or maybe "I offer a complete and utter retraction. The imputation was totally without basis in fact, and was in no way fair comment, and was motivated purely by malice, and I deeply regret any distress that my comments may have caused you, or your family, and I hereby undertake not to repeat any such slander at any time in the future."
posted by kirkaracha at 1:47 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've typed up many a comment only to stare at its preview window'd result and decide against posting it. In fact, I'd say this happens maybe 20% of the time I start to compose something.

Almost without exception, whenever I get the sense that I should reconsider saying something but say it anyway, I regret it. Ditto "funny" "quips" and attempts at playful banter with other users.

That said, I think the fact that you can't just self-delete things willy-nilly is a feature and an important part of the discourse on Metafilter. I like that I'm held, at least to some degree, accountable for what I choose to contribute, because it means everybody else is, too.

If I really need take-backsies, that's what the contact form's for, and having to admit to another party that, yeah, I probably shouldn't have said whatever it was I said is a large part of the incentive to check myself before I wreck myself.

Again.
posted by Sokka shot first at 2:48 PM on October 17, 2012


What does happen if you post a comment and then delete it? Is it just a blank comment?

Edited to add> Ah, you get this:
Your comment appears to be blank. The edit window is for fixing typos. If you need to have your comment removed you can contact the site admins and let them know. Please include the URL of the comment you want removed:

[comment URL]

Or go back to your comment.
posted by maryr at 2:55 PM on October 17, 2012


You get a little warning message saying "Hey you can't do that" unless you hack your way around it in which case you'll get a note from us saying "Hey, please don't do that"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:56 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, thank you for the prompt reply, jessamyn.
posted by maryr at 2:57 PM on October 17, 2012


I am doing a vague interpretive dance

SHE'S MY MOTHER'S SISTER'S GIRL
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 3:00 PM on October 17, 2012


I understand the mods' desire to guide the use of any given feature,

Well, it's more than that. The mods can control the use of any given feature. They can: revert your edit back; they can delete the comment; for that matter they can replace any comment edited for content with "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo;" they can give you a break; they can ban you; they can say "Screw it no edits for ANYONE."

They don't just have the desire to guide the use, have the ability to enforce this. It's really not too much to expect that people read the short little sentences above the edit window and follow the guidelines. We expect people read and follow the guidelines when posting or commenting, even when those guidelines are different from other sites. What would make editing any different?
posted by Gygesringtone at 3:14 PM on October 17, 2012


Metafilter: compounding regrettable something with conspicuous misuse
posted by chavenet at 3:52 PM on October 17, 2012


This thread, if I am not mistaken, marks the first publicly-documented abuse of the edit feature. It was inevitable that it would happen eventually, and now here it is. A thing happened.
posted by Scientist at 4:28 PM on October 17, 2012


Scientist: “This thread, if I am not mistaken, marks the first publicly-documented abuse of the edit feature. It was inevitable that it would happen eventually, and now here it is. A thing happened.”

I guess maybe it depends on what "publicly-documented" means, but I've seen it happen at least a dozen or so times already, and it's almost always accompanied by a mod note saying "please do not do that."
posted by koeselitz at 4:32 PM on October 17, 2012


I guess I'm mistaken, then.
posted by Scientist at 4:46 PM on October 17, 2012


It was pretty instant, actually. I remember a lot of little ones that people figured were pretty innocuous, like a jokey "this is totally an abuse of the edit window, but I really think koeselitz' comment was awesome!" thing. Not terrible, something that people can be forgiven for thinking was harmless and totally acceptable.
posted by koeselitz at 4:52 PM on October 17, 2012


One of my favourite things to do recently is to write a vitriolic 500 word comment in the comment box that destroys someone's stupid argument and then instead of hitting post I hit ctrl-w and go eat a cookie.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 5:03 PM on October 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Frog and Toad, previously.
posted by longtime_lurker at 5:23 PM on October 17, 2012


Flag yourself and move on.
posted by notyou at 5:46 PM on October 17, 2012


Flog yourself and move on.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:02 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


cortex: "Note: please do not edit your comment by deleting it. We are very responsive to the contact form as a rule, and compounding regrettable something with conspicuous misuse of the edit feature is not going to improve a situation."

I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that the mods are very responsive to the contact form, that they will, under the appropriate circumstances remove a misguided answer to an "Ask" question.

I also want to thank them specifically and publicly for cleaning up my FUBAR answer the other day. It wasn't a big deal, but I quickly compounded my error by using the edit window to point out my own error rather than just contact them first.

Edit window is best left for fixing yypos and such.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:28 PM on October 17, 2012


I'm hoping that the mods will eventually institute an edit hellban feature, where edits are only visible to the editor.

If it wasn't for our outsize population of pedants, I'm pretty sure that no-one would notice.
posted by zamboni at 7:08 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Personally, when I start to notice my tone getting sharp on here (my own blog is another matter!) I usually leave MeFi, do something else for a while, and several times even sleep on it. I'm slowly getting over my compulsion to respond because SOMEONE is WRONG on the INTERNET.
posted by Deoridhe at 7:13 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think we should add a radio button to the commenting process.

I am posting this comment because: If you choose the third option your comment is deleted and you are barred from commenting for ten minutes.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:01 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you choose the third option your comment is deleted and you are barred from commenting for ten minutes.

I suspect that an honest commentariat in this scenario would limit itself to ~30 comments across the entire site a day. (+/- 5 depending on what The Whelk has consumed lately.)
posted by brennen at 10:21 PM on October 17, 2012


The first and third options there are absolutely not mutually exclusive, though. You can have meaningful contributions to give and still disagree strongly with someone else. Constructive disagreement might be the best contribution one can give to a conversation, in fact.
posted by koeselitz at 10:25 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


(To be fair, I think that there's a big intersection between "I have meaningful content" and "Someone is WRONG", but if it could actually be shown that the latter doesn't in some way animate a majority of the comment traffic on the web as a whole, I would be as surprised as I have ever been by anything.)
posted by brennen at 10:26 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


If this existed my post history would be EMPTY
posted by chaff at 2:48 AM on October 18, 2012


We will have separated you from the wheat, then.
posted by maryr at 6:29 AM on October 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Is this the place to ask for the pony of any abuse of the edit window immediately and permanently loses the ability for that user to ever use the edit window? Perhaps this shows just how much I'm not a fan of the pony named EditWindow, but if there's a simple flag in the back end, and the instructions point out that any mis-use is an immediate lifetime ban from playing with EditWindow, that might help some.

When one is facing a warning, it's easier to interpret something like "typos" to include "thought typos and different phrasings". If there's any question, I assume that the moderators would be willing to field it, and make the edit if the window expires (similar to mods expressing willingness to edit before EditWindow existed).

The Preview window allows full editing; not just typos. The 5 minute edit window is abuse waiting to happen. The edit window at best alleviates the symtoms of the problem; I've seen many instance of people noticing their typos just after the 5 minute window, I'm sure the mods have seen/heard about more. The problem is a human problem, not a technical issue.
posted by nobeagle at 8:54 AM on October 18, 2012


I write all of my stuff in Notepad first.

So do I.^M. I can vouch for this approach as it''s prevented me from posting something that makes me look foolish.^M
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:13 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that the mods are very responsive to the contact form, that they will, under the appropriate circumstances remove a misguided answer to an "Ask" question.

...

Edit window is best left for fixing yypos and such.


What JohnnyGunn said. I've used the contact form I think three or four times, and in every case I've gotten a response within minutes. The mods are super responsive.

Also, that "yypo" is killing me. Not because it's a typo, but because it might not be a typo and I can't tell.
posted by gauche at 11:22 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


We will have separated you from the wheat, then.

Spare a small tear for all the usernames chosen in haste...
posted by chaff at 12:40 PM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


1. Posting While Under the Influence is ill-advised.
2. In a contentious thread, before you hit "Post," take a few calming breaths. Count to 10. Re-read the post.
3. Always keep in mind: Everybody needs a hug.
4. If none of the above stopped you from posting something regrettable, email the mods.
posted by theora55 at 12:43 PM on October 18, 2012


I am posting this comment because: Someone is Wrong is not so bad, if there's something resembling thoughtful discussion of why. I'm feelin' fighty! should be posted to FightFilter.com.
posted by theora55 at 12:56 PM on October 18, 2012


The first and third options there are absolutely not mutually exclusive, though. You can have meaningful contributions to give and still disagree strongly with someone else. Constructive disagreement might be the best contribution one can give to a conversation, in fact.

If you think someone is wrong then I agree that a useful discussion can ensue. If you think that they are WRONG, however, I would advise caution.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:23 PM on October 18, 2012


You guys are kind of stepping on my toes here.
posted by someone is wrong on the internet at 8:43 PM on October 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


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