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All about sockpuppets, privacy accounts, Brand New Day, and other multiple-mefi account things November 12, 2012 11:24 AM   Subscribe

Hey there! No big thing, but it's time for a general reminder post about what's okay and what's not with sockpuppets, alternate accounts, Brand New Days, and other multiple-accounts-related stuff on Metafilter.

Since we're always getting new users (and new Metatalk readers), we thought it'd be good to go over some of this account stuff as a sort of reminder/update/primer for everybody and consolidate some of the issues that have come up in past discussions or that live in the FAQ into a single omnibus post for easy reference. So:

1. You are you. The core deal with Metafilter accounts is that you're expected to have one and only one main account. This is you, this is your continuity of identity on this site and in this community; you participate with others here as a known quantity, in good faith with no account-related hijinks or identity weirdness. Everything below is a qualified exception of some sort to that basic expectation, and it's all in the territory of a privilege, not a right: if you seem to be abusing the spirit of those exceptions, we will ban the accounts involved.

2. Privacy account. It is okay for privacy reasons to have a spare account that is publicly unrelated to your main account. This is okay specifically for commenting anonymously in threads where you're uncomfortable associating a sensitive subject (related to work, private life, etc) with your established main-account/real-life identity, or to ask questions in a functionally anonymous way without having to use the Anonymous Ask Metafilter process itself. You are expected to keep use of this account to only those sorts of things; no casual commenting in threads, no making Metafilter posts, etc.

3. Brand New Day. If you want to have a fresh start on Metafilter, it is okay to close or walk away from your existing account and start up a new one instead that's not publicly related to the old one. This is commonly called "Brand New Day" on Mefi, or BND for short. If you are doing this because you want to distance yourself from your previous behavior/history/reputation, it is on you to make the effort to change your behavior along with your mefi handle. When we talk about "Brand New Day" we aren't just referring to a different username, we're talking about a fresh start where you meet the mods and the userbase halfway by genuinely making the effort to not do the same old problematic things or have the new account be a poorly-maintained open secret. If you're going to start over, you need to really start over. The ability to have this fresh start is extended as a courtesy, not a given, and it depends on you holding up your end.

4. So you want a new username. It's also okay to publicly transition from an older account to a new account if you want to change usernames for some reason. If the goal is not to privately do a Brand New Day thing but just to change handles, it's a good idea to leave a note on your profile page of both the old and the new account noting that e.g. "I used to be Swizzle Schtick" and "I am now Abraham Stinkin" so folks who wonder what happened to that user or who the new person is can figure it out easily. Note that this is the official option for changing usernames; we will not alter the username associated with an established account (it messes with site continuity in weird ways to retroactively change a handle like that), so you will have to set up a new account if you're unhappy with your current username.

Changing accounts once is generally fine. Changing accounts a lot is not so great, and we will contact you if we see you churning through accounts on an ongoing basis.

5. Joke accounts. If you want to make a one-off (or sparingly recurring) joke with an aptly-named new account, that's fine. But that needs to be all you use that account for, and you should make a point of not getting carried away with it to the point where you are annoying other users or disrupting conversations.

6. Privacy is to the userbase, not to the mods. The mod team will make a very serious effort to protect your identity regarding use of new or alternate accounts for Brand New Day or privacy/anonymity reasons; we will not reveal your identity to the userbase or the public without your explicit permission or prior acknowledgement.

That said, you do not have an expectation of privacy from the mod team itself; we need to know who is using what account to prevent misuse/abuse of multiple accounts or banned folks trying to return to the site on the sly, etc. If we find that you are in some way misusing multiple accounts on the site, we will address the problem to you as best we can; if you can not or will not resolve that problem yourself, we will close one or more of the accounts involved. If you put us in a position where we have no practical options other than outing you or banning you, we will ban you; we will not facilitate weird identity games or sockpuppetry or other have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too scenarios.

7. Posting limits are per person, not per account. Having multiple accounts is not a license to post more often than the built-in site limits. This has primarily been an issue with Ask Metafilter: the seven day wait between questions is firm and not something that we are okay with users skirting around with multiple accounts. We will contact you if we see something that looks like this is happening, and we will close one or more of your accounts if the problem persists.

8. Don't share accounts. If you have a roommate or a spouse or a friend who also uses Metafilter, they need their own account. The two-or-more of you asking questions, discussing stuff, etc. under the same handle is problematic for the rest of the userbase and for the mods and if it's an ongoing thing you need to buy them (or tell them to buy) an account that they can use independently. If you share a computer with another account-holding Metafilter user, you need to not post under each other's usernames—be sure to log out consistently, or just use different browsers entirely, however you need to manage it. It's important that your identities not get tangled up via misposts.

9. No sockpuppetry bullshit. The above scenarios, as defined, are pretty much the only contexts in which it's okay to operate more than one account (whether serially or in parallel) on the site. Anything else is likely to be taken as abuse of the site and can be grounds for a quick banning. Among other problematic things:

- Do not use a spare account to have two voices in a thread.
- Do not use a spare account to promote your business/projects/whatever on the sly.
- Do not use an account to pretend to be a disinterested third party about something you have a stake in.

10. Broach account-hijinks concerns privately to the mods. If you think something weird is going on with an account or set of accounts, please do not make a public accusation in-thread. Instead, contact the mods directly via the contact form, and we will look into the situation and deal with it accordingly. Public accusations of sockpuppetry, suspected Brand New Day identities, etc. are problematic and dramariffic and usually wrong to boot, and can lead to some seriously bad feelings and misinformation with zero upside. Don't do that; help us discreetly do our jobs instead.

11. When in doubt, ask the mods. If you've got a specific situation you're not sure about regarding a second account, please feel free to check with us at the contact form. You'll never get in trouble for asking, we'll keep the discussion private to the mod team, and we're happy to help you suss out the okay vs. not-okay angles on any given account-related dilemma before you act so that there's never a site problem to begin with.

I think that's just about everything. Have at it with the clarifying questions and comments and such. We'll plan to update the FAQ a bit to make sure it's hitting any key points currently missing.
posted by cortex to Etiquette/Policy at 11:24 AM (177 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

Yeah this is a thing we've been batting around a little but since we've had a few edge case situations coming up in the past few weeks and figured it might be a good thing to write all down in one user-facing place. This is nothing new, as near as we can tell, just wanted to make sure that the expectations we had and what we've communicated to users match up fairly well. Let us know if you have questions, as always.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:33 AM on November 12, 2012


If we suspect someone is a BND, is it super bad form to ask them or the mods privately? There are some people about whom I am curious but I've kept it to myself because asking seems a little squicky/contrary to the purpose and I didn't know who to contact.

Also, I totally get "don't share accounts" and "don't use multiple accounts to get around time limits" but if something comes up for me after I've used my question is it okay to ask my husband or roommate to post a question for me? This hasn't come up yet and I don't particularly expect it to happen but I'd like to know just in case I have like a baking EMERGENCY after I've already asked about fancy socks or whatever.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:38 AM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


We are pretty lenient if there are emergencies, we just expect to see that as a one-time thing. In the distant past there have been people with multiple "emergencies" over time that we've sort of raised an eyebrow at.

The back-end mechanism we have can tell us if someone is asking a question with a sock puppet within the seven day limit and if the second question is something along the lines of "Just got in a car accident, need advice" or even "I think I destroyed my souffle for the party tonight, need advice" we're usually okay with it, but a string of "just wondering" types of questions that impinge upon the limit will usually result in some sort of "What's up?" note from us.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:45 AM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


If we suspect someone is a BND, is it super bad form to ask them or the mods privately?

If it's a question of the form "can you give me some identifying information about someone" we're generally not going to be in a position to help out there. So it's not like you're gonna get in trouble for asking (and maybe there's a very specific weird situation going on that makes it worth pointing out to us) but generally what we're going to say is that we can't say anything.

You can contact someone directly if you need to, but use discretion and take into account that they may not want to be in a position of having to either refuse to answer or lie to you if they're trying to embrace the BND thing.

if something comes up for me after I've used my question is it okay to ask my husband or roommate to post a question for me?

Well, officially that's in line with "don't use multiple accounts to skirt the limit". As an actual one-off sort of thing in a legitimate emergency, we're not going to rain the fire of hell down on you or anything, but it's not a contingency that anyone should be planning for or something we'll be happy to ever have a reason to look twice at for any given user. I think people tend to use "emergency" to mean something other than an actual emergency in cases like this; AskMe is not an emergency service or crisis hotline.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:47 AM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


If someone gets banned under a very specific, recognizable username, can/should that person come back under a close variant of that name?

I'm asking for a "friend."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:51 AM on November 12, 2012


I both agree with these rules and fit it disquieting that they need to be stated. Number 9 especially. Thanks mods for keeping things groovy.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:51 AM on November 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Counter until joke accounts for "Swizzle Schtick" and "Abraham Stinkin" starts now...

If it's a question of the form "can you give me some identifying information about someone" we're generally not going to be in a position to help out there.

How about (assuming they have not made note of it in their profiles), questions of the form: "has user X ever noted in a comment that they used to be user Y"?
posted by juv3nal at 11:52 AM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


How about (assuming they have not made note of it in their profiles), questions of the form: "has user X ever noted in a comment that they used to be user Y"?

Sounds like someone wants the mods to do their research for them.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:55 AM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


How about (assuming they have not made note of it in their profiles), questions of the form: "has user X ever noted in a comment that they used to be user Y"?

That seems like a question you could answer by reading/searching X's commenting history; we'd have no way of knowing other than doing that ourselves, in any case.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:56 AM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


juv3nal, you can run a search constrained to an account, from that account's profile.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:56 AM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


The mods know who is who. Six months ago, I had my rarely-used joke commenting account (see #5 on the list) open when I didn't realize it, posted a FFP under that ID, and quickly received a MeFi Mail from a mod politely but firmly reminding me (and this is an exact quote) "one-off FPPs from random socks are really problematic from a community accountability standpoint" (see #6). Color me embarrassed. (And no, YOU may not know what the sock puppet ID was.)

Of course, I also have done a #4... in case EVERYONE didn't know, I was originally wendell (user #206) and I got oneswellfoop (user #20007, one away from an incredible coincidence) when $5 sign-ups became available because I felt I owed Matt that much, AND, it was the url of the blog I had at the time and I didn't want anyone else using it here. In time, I decided to re-identify myself online by my real name, Craig (not supposed to be a secret), so I dropped all things wendell and went with the not-used-before foop-ID. But it was ABSOLUTELY no secret (and I was surprised a couple of the folks in the new ChatMeFi didn't know: "YOU'RE WENDELL?!?" "Yes, I WAS") But no, YOU still may not know what my sock puppet ID is.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:11 PM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


oneswellfoop: But no, YOU still may not know what my sock puppet ID is.

I, for one, would like to congratulate the members of the MetaFilter pseudo-community for NOT posting a "what is wendell's sock puppet ID" MetaTalk in the one hour since it was announced and officially warn anyone considering doing something like that it will not end well.
posted by Kattullus at 12:17 PM on November 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


I used to be MiguelCardoso. It started as a joke and I got carried away. I apologize for anyone I hurt. Especially about all the George W. Bush business.
posted by ColdChef at 12:31 PM on November 12, 2012 [30 favorites]


We are pretty lenient if there are emergencies

Is there any way that can apply if you only have one account?

I ask because when I'm considering asking a normal non-emergency question I often find myself thinking, "Ok, but what if there's something really important I need to ask in the next week?" So I often pass on asking things I'd rather like to ask.

Also, it would be good to have some guidance about what might or might not constitute an emergency. I imagine you'd be flexible about something potentially life threatening, so that's not a concern. But what about lesser things... e.g. "X happened to me, is it a scam? What action should I take?" or "I can't get my work done because of X tech problem. Anyone know how to fix this?" Those are more the kinds of things that I worry I might unexpectedly need to ask Mefi about.
posted by philipy at 12:31 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've noticed more posts recently with some version of sock in the username, to the point that I wondered if it was becoming a thing and if it was going too far. But I also figured the chances are high it's just confirmation bias on my end so tried not to be bugged by it. It's kind of nice to see the policy laid out here anyway, in case it really was a thing and not just my brain and because I like knowing how things should work even when my brain isn't being an idiot. So win all round over here.

I also had a dream a small while back that I married someone pretty famous in a big celebrity wedding (huge white dress and all *shudder*) and I had to do the brand new day thing in preparation so that my stupid metafilter ramblings wouldn't get mixed up with their career and celebrity profile. Which is all kinds of stupid because I like being married to my non-famous husband and wouldn't wear a wedding dress for any amount of money and having a different username, even in a dream, was really weird and uncomfortable.
posted by shelleycat at 12:34 PM on November 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


I'm still Horselover Phattie, but you'll really need to get the pink laser treatment before it will make any sense.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:34 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


My fiancee and I asked related-ish questions less than an hour apart a while back. That's cool, right? I mean, we're separate people, and we were asking related, not identical, questions.

I don't like my username, but since I have over 1000 comments I'm not going to change it. Alas.
posted by insectosaurus at 12:43 PM on November 12, 2012


My fiancee and I asked related-ish questions less than an hour apart a while back. That's cool, right? I mean, we're separate people, and we were asking related, not identical, questions.

Nothing specifically wrong with it, no. It might make people blink a bit and if it was a habit that might be a problem (and probably a situation where coordinating on a single question might make sense) but as just a thing that happened one time because of timing it's no biggie.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:47 PM on November 12, 2012


I view incorporating "sock" into sock puppet usernames as a hedge against inadvertent violations of number 9, nine, nine, nine. Plus it tells you that the user is wise in the ways of the site, despite a minimal comment history.
posted by carmicha at 12:50 PM on November 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


Okay, thanks! She's mostly a Metafilter reader and I'm mostly an Ask reader, so weirdness is unlikely to happen.
posted by insectosaurus at 12:51 PM on November 12, 2012


I'm glad the mods have spoken in with an official response on the previous question, because I'm really prone to say yes to anything a couple named insectosaurus and heisenberg want.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:52 PM on November 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


If a user's BND is a known quantity, would there ever be any rationale for the mods to disclose what their previous problematic behavior was so that the broader userbase can flag accordingly?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:08 PM on November 12, 2012


If someone is around under a new name on a provisional basis because of previous bad behavior, we're going to be watching their current behavior fairly closely as it is. Beyond that, if what they're doing now doesn't seem obviously problematic/flag-worthy to folks reacting to them as just another user, I don't feel like there's much reason we'd want to intentionally deputize the userbase to watch for and flag specific behavior, no.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:14 PM on November 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


That makes sense. Thanks!
posted by shakespeherian at 1:19 PM on November 12, 2012


joke accounts are basically the worst.
posted by The Bizzaro Whelk at 1:19 PM on November 12, 2012 [45 favorites]


Is there any way that can apply if you only have one account?

No. The seven day limit is hard-coded and it would take an act of pb to make that different which is something we have literally never done. It's actually a good excuse to get a sock puppet account before you need one, so that you have it on hand in case of emergencies.

We totally get the "I am nervous I might need to ask a very important question later, so I feel I can't ask my trivia question now" concerns which is why we're okay with people having sock puppets in the first place.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:21 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


That seems like a question you could answer by reading/searching X's commenting history; we'd have no way of knowing other than doing that ourselves, in any case.

That's fair. I thought you might have an "is no longer incognito" flag so you'd know whether or not you needed to delete if another user "outs" them.
posted by juv3nal at 1:26 PM on November 12, 2012


It's actually a good excuse to get a sock puppet account before you need one, so that you have it on hand in case of emergencies.

God forbid anyone is ever in a situation where the difference between life and death is AskMe, but I can't imagine how a person would feel when they realize that their desire to know how many episodes of Spongebob Squarepants feature the music of Tiny Tim is what did them in at the end.

Save yourself an embarrassing death and register your sock puppets now, people.
posted by griphus at 1:35 PM on November 12, 2012 [25 favorites]


I also seem to notice lots of users with "sock" or "sockpuppet" or references to such in their usernames, and I also take it as a hint to the community that this is a user conversant in site social norms.

It seems okay to me, especially since it would become apparent when a sockpuppet was taking over the interaction duties.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:36 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


The thing is, if the username has sock in it I pretty much only expect to see it posting two maybe three times ever. But when I see the same few posting over and over until I recognise their writing etc in the same way I would any other user, then I start to go hmm. Because that's not really an "alternative" account any more.

But it could easily be that I'm conflating lots of similar names into one or two (I really don't take that much notice of the name usually), or that the confirmation bias thing was making two postings per name blow up into a whole lot more in my brain, or that there are users with sock in the name as their main/only account. Socks in general are kind of fun after all (I'm wearing new ones today with a snowflake theme and feeling kind of fancy). Or that I'm just making it up which is why I decided to stop thinking about it a couple of days ago.

This post did make me go hmm all over again though, at least for a small minute. It's gone now.
posted by shelleycat at 1:55 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


griphus: "God forbid anyone is ever in a situation where the difference between life and death is AskMe,"

It happens all the time.
posted by zarq at 2:03 PM on November 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think there are a lot of 'sock' sockpuppets. A LOT.
posted by carsonb at 2:04 PM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


The thing is, if the username has sock in it I pretty much only expect to see it posting two maybe three times ever. But when I see the same few posting over and over until I recognise their writing etc in the same way I would any other user, then I start to go hmm. Because that's not really an "alternative" account any more.

This. I've been noticing it a lot more, which makes me assume there is a lot more I'm not noticing since I'm not all that observant.

We totally get the "I am nervous I might need to ask a very important question later, so I feel I can't ask my trivia question now" concerns which is why we're okay with people having sock puppets in the first place.

Really? But isn't this just a direct run-around of the #7 thing above, with posting limits being per-person, not per-account? That makes no sense to me. I get having a second account for sensitive topics (I've considered getting one for that reason), but I'm less entranced with how I'm noticing them being used, and a bit confused with the per-person/per-account thing just mentioned. It's not an issue to me either way -- I'm in no danger of hitting my question limits with one account, much less with several -- but still seems odd.
posted by Forktine at 2:06 PM on November 12, 2012


I love it: The Sock Puppet Sentience Movement. That's awesome.
posted by zarq at 2:08 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


MetaTalk: I also have done a #4.
posted by heyho at 2:12 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Really? But isn't this just a direct run-around of the #7 thing above, with posting limits being per-person, not per-account? That makes no sense to me.

We're willing to be softies about it as literally a one-off thing in an actual emergency. Like, we'll see that you did it on the back end, and if we see it's "hey, did you ever look at your hands" rather than "my car died, I am 70 miles up a gravel road, and my dog is missing" you're gonna get the stinkeye about it. If we see you doing it more than once, you're gonna get the stinkeye about it. Basically, testing the limits of our generosity is a good way to find out that the border of that generosity is lined with stinky eyes.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:14 PM on November 12, 2012 [26 favorites]


Really? But isn't this just a direct run-around of the #7 thing above

Sorry, maybe I wasn't clear. I meant that if your concern about potentially having a valid emergency in the future is keeping you from asking your trivial question now, sock away a sock puppet for just such a potential emergency so that you can make full use of the site for all the rest of your non-emergency questions.

And, in the future, if you have an emergency, it's okay to use your sock puppet for that and we'll look the other way on the seven-day thing, but this is like a "once in a MeFi-lifetime" thing if you break your leg or something, not an "any time you don't know what to bring to the potluck" thing. Ultimately, we'll be the ones who will call shenanigans if you use it more than basically once.

On preview: what cortex said.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:14 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Broach account-hijinks concerns privately to the mods."

I just misread that and asked myself "WTF is a broach account?"

And why are the mods so concerned about them? Privately. And in the third person.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:15 PM on November 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


There are 200+ accounts with "sock".
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:16 PM on November 12, 2012


re: #2 - no casual commenting in threads
i will admit this is a point i wasn't clear on. when i made my sock puppet i emailed the mods to let them know that it was to keep my mefi identity secret from my real world identity (so, asking questions that i know my dad is googling or needing to post a picture of my pet to ask a question related to them). i think i've also responded once or twice with my sock for the same reasons - knowing that my comment could easily link back to real life. the commenting has been on things like "what do i feed my parrot" or whatever, nothing tense or involved. i guess i'll cut that out and just not answer things where i worry about my geeky family tracking me down.

re: #8
when i emailed the mods i said that my husband and i would both use the account, again as a "what could improve this family stuffing recipe" sort of thing - but i'm the only one who has used it so far. i guess there's no reason for my husband to use it because i can just post whatever he has a question about. neither of us count the days until we can ask another question, so between all 3 accounts, i'd bet there's 5 questions a year tops.


thanks for the clarifications.
posted by nadawi at 2:21 PM on November 12, 2012


There are 200+ accounts with "sock".

From beneath you, it clutters up the floor.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:22 PM on November 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


I had originally written "Voice account-hijinks..." and struggled to come up with an alternative that wouldn't be a crash blossom since even rereading my own text I was like "what the fuck is a Metafilter voice account?"

i guess i'll cut that out and just not answer things where i worry about my geeky family tracking me down.

To be clear, it's okay to e.g. provide a substantial answer/comment to something with a privacy sock if your specific reason for using that account for that is something like "this is something that if associated with my real account could compromise a legitimate privacy issue". The comment itself doesn't have to be some super serious deal, we just need people not to be like "I'll answer this question / join this mefi conversation because I'm logged in with it and I don't feel like changing." Don't be lazy, don't use the sock when there's not a decent reason to do so, and you are probably okay.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:27 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


ah-ha. that makes sense. i think my sock has 2 ask.me questions and 3 comments so i certainly don't lean on it. i did have a panic moment the other day where i was checking the sock account and left it logged in and was terrified i had commented as nadawi on it. luckily i had just read a bunch of threads and not commented on anything.
posted by nadawi at 2:30 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder how many people here realize that cortex is my sockpuppet.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:34 PM on November 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


10. Broach account-hijinks concerns privately to the mods. If you think something weird is going on with an account or set of accounts, please do not make a public accusation in-thread. Instead, contact the mods directly via the contact form, and we will look into the situation and deal with it accordingly. Public accusations of sockpuppetry, suspected Brand New Day identities, etc. are problematic and dramariffic and usually wrong to boot, and can lead to some seriously bad feelings and misinformation with zero upside. Don't do that; help us discreetly do our jobs instead.

If in the future it does turn out that someone has been trolling us with multiple sock puppets, in another dhoyt/jenleigh/highsignal/hall of robots situation, might I request that you please continue to publicly inform the userbase once things are resolved?

I'm all for avoiding meta callouts but would really prefer to know when someone's being uber manipulative
posted by zarq at 2:41 PM on November 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


the weirdest thing was that George Clooney wasn't a sockpuppet
posted by The Whelk at 2:41 PM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


George Clooney was actually Brad Pitt just fuckin with George
posted by shakespeherian at 2:45 PM on November 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


might I request that you please continue to publicly inform the userbase once things are resolved?

It's always a balance between someone's right to privacy and the userbase's right to know they've been fucked with. This isn't something we can promise we'll do [for example in the Scott Adams situation he had an option of just walking away from the situation and we would have left it alone - this might not be everyone's choice but it was how we were prepared to deal with it] but generally speaking if we feel that people have a right to know for good reasons, we will tell folks. As always, ask us over email if you have concerns that you think are not being addressed.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:46 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Always good to have a reminder of house rules. Pants are still optional but good behaviour is mandatory.
posted by arcticseal at 2:47 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, what Jess said. It's one of those things where it'd have to be such an exceptional case that we can't forecast how we'd deal with it until the details were actually on the table. The thing with the dhoyt thing is partly just how weirdly singular that whole deal was on mefi. It's pretty memorable, but it's also seven years ago now.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:49 PM on November 12, 2012


It's good to see this laid out, but it's even better (IMHO) that none of it surprises me, as a long-time but not extremely active member of the site. Hooray for fairly consistent behavior/messaging from the mods.
posted by hattifattener at 3:09 PM on November 12, 2012


actually a good excuse to get a sock puppet account before you need one

This may be overthinking matters but... doesn't an account have to have some activity before it's allowed to ask questions? That would seem to mean that you have to comment with your sockpuppet a few times, which is not allowed?

Also... and equally likely to overthinking.... would one potentially need two sockpuppets? One for privacy which is not at all identified with your main account, and one in-case-of-emergency which is identified?
posted by philipy at 3:11 PM on November 12, 2012


This will not oneswellfoop.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:15 PM on November 12, 2012 [13 favorites]


doesn't an account have to have some activity before it's allowed to ask questions?

Yeah you're overthinking it a little. The "make a few comments" limit is just for making a front page post to MetaFilter, not for AskMe. So you'd be fine. And really, it's up to you how you do it.

Us wanting to make this clear was in response to a few questions from people and a few things we've noticed that were a little envelope-pushing (perhaps knowingly, perhaps unknowingly) and we figured spelling it all out was a good idea. It's really not the office equivalent about sending out a memo about people leaving dishes in the sink when everyone knows full well there's only one offender but you have to pretend like it's everyone.... We're doing this because it's a good idea to make sure expectations are clear, not so we can play gotcha with anyone.

Basically if you are not intentionally fucking with us, we will try to work with you so that you can make the site work for you. However we'd rather have a discussion about it (here or over email) rather than have people make a series of possibly out-there guesses that turn into a weird situation that could have been handled more gracefully at an earlier point.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:17 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Presumably you also aren't making any promises about keeping identities secret if you get a subpoena or court order.
posted by grouse at 3:29 PM on November 12, 2012


I used to be King Ghidorah, but there was an uprising.

Stupid peasants... Oh, they'll see. Sure, democracy is all well and good, but what happens when they need my three heads and fire breath? I'll look down at them and tell them to bring it up in one of their precious 'committees.' Oh, they'll see...
posted by Ghidorah at 3:29 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm Scott Adams and so is my wife. She's a certified genius.
posted by iotic at 3:40 PM on November 12, 2012


6. Privacy is to the userbase, not to the mods. The mod team will make a very serious effort to protect your identity regarding use of new or alternate accounts for Brand New Day or privacy/anonymity reasons; we will not reveal your identity to the userbase or the public without your explicit permission or prior acknowledgement.

Have the mods ever been contacted by law enforcement or three-letter agencies to get info on users? Has this ever happened under conditions that made the mods uncomfortable?

If this has happened but you're under a gag, just don't reply.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:53 PM on November 12, 2012


This will not oneswellfoop

Shouldn't that be "will not foop swell"?
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:57 PM on November 12, 2012 [11 favorites]


Have the mods ever been contacted by law enforcement or three-letter agencies to get info on users? Has this ever happened under conditions that made the mods uncomfortable?

Not to the best of my knowledge, except a few cases we've mention (the ebay scammer is the one I remember). If Matt knows, he's not telling. Asking in MetaTalk is not really a great way to get answers to that sort of question.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:03 PM on November 12, 2012


Shouldn't that be "will not foop swell"?

Yes. But only once.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:04 PM on November 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Asking in MetaTalk is not really a great way to get answers to that sort of question.

At the very least you need to be wearing a long coat and standing under a massive stone bridge in the fog.
posted by The Whelk at 4:06 PM on November 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


'Follow the favorites.'
posted by shakespeherian at 4:07 PM on November 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Jessamyn: It's always a balance between someone's right to privacy and the userbase's right to know they've been fucked with. This isn't something we can promise we'll do [for example in the Scott Adams situation he had an option of just walking away from the situation and we would have left it alone - this might not be everyone's choice but it was how we were prepared to deal with it] but generally speaking if we feel that people have a right to know for good reasons, we will tell folks. As always, ask us over email if you have concerns that you think are not being addressed.

Cortex: Yeah, what Jess said. It's one of those things where it'd have to be such an exceptional case that we can't forecast how we'd deal with it until the details were actually on the table. The thing with the dhoyt thing is partly just how weirdly singular that whole deal was on mefi. It's pretty memorable, but it's also seven years ago now.

Well, sure. And it was also notable because no one would have known except for Team Mod, matteo and y2karl, if it weren't for the fact that y2karl made it his personal crusade to out dhoyt and then created a meta post to talk about it / declare victory. mathowie said flat out that he was not planning on telling us that someone had used multiple sockpuppets to create some 70+ FPPs and a couple of hundred comments across the three subsites. I remember reading about it after the fact and thinking, "Man, as a member, that's the sort of thing I'd really prefer to know." Even though I understood (and back then disagreed with) his reasoning. This was all discussed in thread at the time.

Then seven some-odd years later, two other incidents were handed very differently: Scott Adams and holdkris99. You were up-front with us. Transparent regarding what had happened and how it was being handled -- not just to us but on Reddit. Gotta say, it was really nice to see.

I appreciate that you (collectively) and Matt go out of your way to be good admins and protect us on many levels, even when we screw up. I truly do. But for whatever it's worth, if you ever have to choose between telling me that I've been fucked with and protecting some troll's privacy, I'd much rather know I was fucked with. When you've gone that route in the past, it's been appreciated.
posted by zarq at 4:08 PM on November 12, 2012 [12 favorites]


'Follow the favorites.'

Surely you mean, "Cherchez la préféré."
posted by Forktine at 4:16 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


...and you would've gotten away with it too if not for those damn kids and their dumb dog.

but seriously, how often did the ghost NOT turn out to be a local businessman trying to get the property cheap?
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:29 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


joke accounts are basically the worst.

This isn't over!
posted by Passillododorconquail Buttonquivorybidododorbacon at 5:10 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


BND's are awesome!
posted by George Lucas at 5:15 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


BND's are awesome!
posted by George Lucas at 7:15 PM on November 12 [1 favorite +] [!]

1 user marked this as a favorite:
George Lucas November 12, 2012 7:16 PM


Wha...?
posted by limeonaire at 5:18 PM on November 12, 2012


Then seven some-odd years later, two other incidents were handed very differently: Scott Adams and holdkris99. You were up-front with us.

Scott Adams was invited privately to cut the sockpuppet shit or get banned; he was not outed unilaterally. Had he chosen to take the "walk the fuck away, dude" option, no one would have known he was doing that. Which may be a bummer in one sense but is very much consistent with how we want this stuff to work: we protect your identity even if you're being a dickbag, pretty much full stop. The form that protection takes may be summarily banning you because you're incapable of controlling yourself, but it's not going to be outing you, much as Adams preferred to presume and imply otherwise at the time.

We're big on transparency wherever practical but we're also pretty serious about the privacy thing, and some sense of a right to social justice when someone has been acting in bad faith doesn't actually trump that in our general calculus on this stuff.

The holdkris99 situation was a lot more singular and was a question more of faked death than anything; that a sock account was involved was secondary and, yes, at that point letting the community know is the fundamental thing. But that is a precedent I mostly hope we just never, ever have to reference again.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:21 PM on November 12, 2012 [10 favorites]


This is why I like Mefi - a lot of privacy, and plenty of opportunities for overthinking.
posted by philipy at 5:57 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the clarification. You guys are fucking jake by me.
posted by slogger at 6:00 PM on November 12, 2012


So, what? You're not down with the proximity?
posted by carsonb at 6:31 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was Midas Mulligan. I'm sorry about all that Master-of-the-Universe business. Also, my sock puppets like to called "stocking marionettes."
posted by octobersurprise at 6:53 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]




BND's are awesome!
posted by George Lucas at 5:15 PM on November 12 [+] [!]


Big Neck Disease?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:04 PM on November 12, 2012


BND: Bundesnachrichtendienst (German Intelligence Agency)

or Buy Nothing Day

or Bismark, North Dakota

or these guys.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:20 PM on November 12, 2012


BND's are awesome!
posted by George Lucas at 5:15 PM on November 12 [+] [!]

Brand New Darth?
posted by iamkimiam at 7:22 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


please, iamkimiam, no Spoilers for Star Trek VII
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:26 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


AAARGH... Star WARS VII (edit window needs to be 10 minutes longer for me)
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:38 PM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


If I ever run for elective office, I will need the entirety of metafilter and the subsites burned to the ground. Is that a contact form thing?
posted by maxwelton at 7:44 PM on November 12, 2012 [16 favorites]


Every once in a while a "new" user comes out of the woodwork and it's super obvious that they've been a user before and it fills me with this irrational curiosity- who is that guy? Is it supposed to just remain this elephant-y thing in the room and we shouldn't ask?
posted by Jpfed at 7:53 PM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


"...a crash blossom..."

No relation.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:55 PM on November 12, 2012


He's Turd's brother.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:29 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Jpfed writes " Is it supposed to just remain this elephant-y thing in the room and we shouldn't ask?"

Yes.
posted by Mitheral at 8:30 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm curious about what kind of back-end info you folks officially keep about our identities. I've met many of the moderators over the years, and am LinkedIn/Flickr/Google Plus connected with some of you, so I'm not exactly anonymous. But I don't believe I ever used real identifying information when I signed up for this account, and the email address linked to it is not connected to my name. So did one of you at one point take my real name and enter it into a back end database attached to Crouton Supafreak? Or am I a special case because I signed on before the $5 thing? Do you know more about all of us than I realize?
posted by croutonsupafreak at 8:47 PM on November 12, 2012


Every once in a while a "new" user comes out of the woodwork and it's super obvious that they've been a user before and it fills me with this irrational curiosity- who is that guy? Is it supposed to just remain this elephant-y thing in the room and we shouldn't ask?

Yeah, it drives me nuts, too, but only because I'm nosy and love playing internet detective.

It's fun to figure out BND then keep it to yourself, though. Like a delicious secret! Or something!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:53 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Every once in a while a "new" user comes out of the woodwork and it's super obvious that they've been a user before and it fills me with this irrational curiosity- who is that guy? Is it supposed to just remain this elephant-y thing in the room and we shouldn't ask?

Yeah, this is basically what I was trying to ask and it seems like the answer is that the mods won't say in order to protect a user's privacy (reasonable) and the user might not want to say or might not be allowed to say as terms of his/her BND (reasonable) so you might be putting them in an awkward position by asking.

That said (and understood) I'd just like to KNOOOOOOW! I am so nosy and curious and it kills me and I hate dealing with that but I suppose the answer is "suck it up, Pterodactyl" so I will try.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:06 PM on November 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm curious about what kind of back-end info you folks officially keep about our identities.

We've been pretty straight about it. I've met you personally but can't remember your real name and if I did I wouldn't come here and write it down. The only time we do something like that specifically is if someone seems like a troll and/or is one of those "Sends $5 through the mail" types of people that we want to make sure isn't fucking with us.

The data we have includes

- PayPal you signed up with which can sometimes include your address but I don't think usually does
- IP address you've logged in from
- last time you logged in since 2010-ish (inexact)
- email address you have in your profile [don't keep historical ones]
- website in your profile [current and historical, mostly just to check for spammers]
- mod notes [blank for most people]
- history of timeouts, self-closures, or bannings [including if you left a note when you left]
- other accounts that are under your same paypal [and we can "unsock" these if it's just a gift you gave to someone]

So yeah since you are pre-PayPal we have basically nothing about you except IP addresses and whatever you have put in your name/email address field. We don't do any machine-linking of any of the social stuff people add to their profile [like if you had a twitter account linked and then unlinked it, we don't keep that information] and I think that's true for all the other information you give us except the website field and that's really only because we have spammer concerns. Is that sort of what you were looking for or curious about?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:08 PM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


CAN'T YOU!!!

FEEL A!!!

BRAND NEW DAY!!!

CAN'T YOU!!!

FEEL A!!!

BRAND NEW DAY!!!

CAN'T YOU!!!

FEEL A!!!

BRAND NEW DAY!!!

CAN'T YOU!!!

FEEL A!!!

BRAND NEW DAY!!!
posted by Sys Rq at 9:18 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yep, thanks Jessamyn.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:44 PM on November 12, 2012


Every once in a while I get a favorite from someone with "sock" in their username. It causes me to really overthink how/why people use favorites. So, thanks for that, I guess. Whoever you are.
posted by Sara C. at 10:14 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Doesn't this policy simply demonstrate the utter hypocrisy of the mods, and their frighteningly louche approach to good-governance?

As we all know, the mods themselves are the main violators of the multiple account rule - cortex and jessamyn BOTH have sock puppet accounts, with the cunning pseudonyms "cortex staff" and "jessamyn staff", which they use to almost completely disguise themselves. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the other mods also had similar doppelgangers.

This is a flagrant example of the inconsistency of Mod. If we look through MeFi scripture, we could no doubt find other examples of self-contradiction. It all goes to show that a belief in Mod is just anti-rational superstition which cannot stand up to logic.

Of course, many of us prefer scientific, evidence-based reasoning - when WE walk through the valley of the shadow of MeFi, we don't need to cry out to a mystical father figure like Mathowie, asking for "thy Mod and thy Staff to comfort me" - !

In that context, we should separate belief in Mod from the governance of the site, and remove the High Priests of Mod from their positions of authority. That's why it was so important to vote #1 quidnunc kid earlier this month. Of course, I didn't actually win a majority, but my analysts assure me that there's a simple reason for that: you people are all big jerk-faces. Apparently calling you out on that will not be good for my 2016 campaign, but you probably don't even care about that, do you? You moddamn JERKS.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 2:10 AM on November 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


Dissociative Identity Disorder. Elephant in the room.

We've said enough.
posted by Segundus at 3:52 AM on November 13, 2012


with the cunning pseudonyms "cortex staff" and "jessamyn staff",

Clearly modeled after Clark Kent / Superman. I mean, the glasses and hat, while a quite a crafty and effective way to deflect attention from his superpowers, in the end it proved not quite enough of a disguise to keep everyone fooled. It worked for a few decades, but people made the connection in the end because, you know, they read the last chapter in the book.

Here on MF, we stopped by MeTa regularly over the years and slowly understood the link. It was hazy for a long time, but the two of them just participated in a few too many threads and then we all knew. The gig was up and they were OUTED!.

wee so schmert.
posted by lampshade at 4:07 AM on November 13, 2012


- mod notes [blank for most people]

How long until we can put FOIA requests in on these?

"griphus is ████████ into the ████ due to the nature of the ████████ within a five year scope encompassing ████████ the ████ marshmallow ████████ above ████ including ████████, horse manure, ████, ████████████-reactors, and any and all rotary engines built after 195█."
posted by griphus at 4:30 AM on November 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


I've only done the joke account thing once --it was a thing that simply had to be done.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:36 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've only done the joke account thing once --it was a thing that simply had to be done.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:43 AM on November 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


oof
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:49 AM on November 13, 2012


Omg which one was the joke account the Cockmonster or the Rancher???
posted by item at 4:58 AM on November 13, 2012


Thanks for clarifying all this and making this post.
posted by OmieWise at 5:25 AM on November 13, 2012


Nthing the thanks to the mods for clarifying all this. While I think I've managed not to break any rules (and have no sockpuppets), it would have been useful to have this information in handy-dandy form like this early on.
posted by immlass at 7:33 AM on November 13, 2012


At any rate, I'm so happy to have my very own advocate.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:38 AM on November 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


You people take yourselves way too seriously. And if the mods actually cared about accountability, the site would be more in keeping with what it was before the rush for commercialization.

But seriously, the air of self-importance coming off so many is stinky.
posted by thelastcamel at 7:43 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ew.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:54 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The rush for commercialization?

You mean the teeshirts?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:56 AM on November 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


the site would be more in keeping with what it was before the rush for commercialization.

I know what you mean. C'mon mathowie, did you really have to put a banner ad up between every five comments like that? And the pop-ups. Seriously, every time I click something on the site I have to close dozens of pop-up ads and it's getting really tiresome.

And those "click the monkey" flash ads -- don't you realize that those were old and tired in 2005? Surely there's a better ad service than the one you're using.

Not to mention the new subsite, sideboob.metafilter.com, I mean, you know that is just blatant clickbait to draw the rubes in from reddit and HuffPo. More eyeballs, more clicks, more money! Well, it just makes me feel dirty and used, really.

Bring back the good old days when metafilter was just user-generated text and moderation!
posted by gauche at 8:02 AM on November 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


My goal here is matthowie standing on a bridge saying, "I want to live again, Clarence. I want to live again!" and suddenly it starts snowing.
posted by gauche at 8:04 AM on November 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Teacher says that every time an ad loads mathowie gets $5.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:05 AM on November 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


the site would be more in keeping with what it was before the rush for commercialization.

Yeah I'm not totally sure what you're talking about here, could you be more specific? I usually take these sorts of comments to mean "Back when Matt was running the place by himself and is was just him and his friends talking amongst themselves" but part of the problem with that situation was that it wasn't that much fun for mathowie, who had to deal with each and every problematic comment and a lot of email and felt like he could never go on vacation much less get a good night's sleep.

We view the ads as a necessary evil that allow us to have round the clock moderation and we make zero content decisions because of our advertisers. This site keeps six fulltime and two part-time people employed. Or maybe that was a joke? I can't tell anymore.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:13 AM on November 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


What about mefi brand socks. Each pair could be one blue one and one green one.
posted by postcommunism at 8:22 AM on November 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


thelastcamel, who must either be a BND themselves, or not really have been here for the halcyon times of yore, only has three MetaTalk comments (including this one), only two of which have any substance. The other one was a fleshing out of this position, which seems to be that the moderation here sucks and this place is a business and not a community. This seems like a weird place to reiterate that.
posted by OmieWise at 8:26 AM on November 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would totally wear mefi blue socks with yellow stripes.
posted by ODiV at 8:45 AM on November 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's a Brand New Day
And the sun is high
All the birds are singing
'Cause you're gonna die.
posted by maryr at 8:50 AM on November 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Brand New Day was a surprisingly good storyline, especially after the whole sell-your-marriage-to-Satan incident dropped everything into the cellar quality-wise.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:56 AM on November 13, 2012


You people take yourselves way too seriously. And if the mods actually cared about accountability, the site would be more in keeping with what it was before the rush for commercialization.

But seriously, the air of self-importance coming off so many is stinky.


No, no - the hipster thread is just one post down.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:01 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


If we write a post under a sock puppet, would it be within the rules to allude to posts we wrote anonymously?

I apologize if the answer seems obvious, but I just wanted to be sure.
posted by bookwibble at 9:12 AM on November 13, 2012


I created a sock puppet account one day when I was really, really high, but I've never used it because I'm damned if I can remember what I called it.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:12 AM on November 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


*makes note on "Weeder McKermit" admin page*
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:39 AM on November 13, 2012 [13 favorites]


if it weren't for the fact that y2karl made it his personal crusade to out dhoyt

Oh, please. I did NOT make it a personal crusade. I only did so because another user was going to post a dhoyt outing thread that was going to be a lot more hotheaded than one I eventually posted. If you read that thread closely, you will see that I was not at all comfortable about having to do so.
posted by y2karl at 9:48 AM on November 13, 2012


Well, thanks gauche. Do you know how long my brain is going to spend trying to think of a funny joke to make about sideboob.metafilter.com?
posted by ambrosen at 10:23 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


If the site is going to get commercialized, I say you go for a full-blown George Lucas level of commercialization. I'm talking mod action figures, novels, a holiday special, and a show on the Cartoon Network.

I'm not sure about a prequel. Perhaps a gopher or bbs?
posted by Area Man at 10:31 AM on November 13, 2012


And if the mods actually cared about accountability

ALL the mods care about accountability here at Matt's House of Hammers. Say taz sells you a ball-peen and it breaks while you're out on a job - she will personally drive out to your site and bring a replacement hammer, a bottle of Chartreuse, and a platter of tiny cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches for your entire crew (please do alert MHoH to any allergies or special cream cheese requests). That's accountability right there. And have we mentioned DIScountability? Beacuse ALL CLAW HAMMERS ARE 20% OFF THIS WEEK, FOOL. So remember: Matt's House of Hammers - "It's Hammer Time"™
posted by mintcake! at 10:34 AM on November 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


That reminds me - I'd like to get some sort of large display to present some artisinal smoked meats to the public.

Can someone set me up with a ham banner?
posted by maryr at 10:37 AM on November 13, 2012


(Oops, guess that's been done.)
posted by maryr at 10:37 AM on November 13, 2012


I'm talking mod action figures

With Banhammer Action Lever!
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:45 AM on November 13, 2012


I miss pot and kettle.
posted by languagehat at 11:05 AM on November 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


I miss pot and kettle.

Memory is failing me - didn't those belong to a deceased user?
posted by lalex at 11:09 AM on November 13, 2012


So what's the story with all the "posting for a friend" stuff. Doesn't it circumvent the one user per account rule. Are you guys discouraging it at all or is it an exception?
posted by ODiV at 11:09 AM on November 13, 2012


Are you guys discouraging it at all or is it an exception?

We discourage it. Basically if we see someone doing it more than basically once, we'll drop them a note and tell them to get their friend an account. We were just having a mod powow about the "asking for a friend" questions that come in via the anonymous form and decided to basically stop allowing them. I understand that "asking for a friend" can be code for "need to give myself distance from this question that is basically about me" but it's problematic and introduces one more layer of confusion and miscommunication which can be problematic in already-touchy threads.

pot and kettle did not belong to a deceased user.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:16 AM on November 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I need someone I can cry to;
I need someone to protect.
Making love and breaking hearts,
It is a game for Ask.
But I'm not asking for myself.
I'm just asking for a friend.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:23 AM on November 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, please. I did NOT make it a personal crusade.

You said you were holding a grudge. At least one or two people in that thread commented that you had been agitating about it for days in MeCha and email and after posting this callout of dhoyt. Looking back at the threads, (and with mathowie's reference to "a few people here are doing little sore-winner victory laps and dropping "I told you so's" to those they disagreed with.") it really did seem to me like you had.

y2karl, I really don't want to get into this with you. It's been seven years. You were going through a great deal of personal turmoil at the time, which I am very aware of, and very sympathetic to. My comment earlier in this thread was not intended to disparage you. Truly. I was merely attempting to put things into a specific perspective -- that if it hadn't been for the fact that you were invested in the situation and took it upon yourself to alert the community, no one would have known what had happened. Four "people" would have simply disappeared from Mefi and no one would have been any the wiser.
posted by zarq at 11:52 AM on November 13, 2012


I beg to differ.I thought not telling folks was a bad idea and I was not happy about Matt's comment, since I would have respected his wishes had it not gotten out. Dhoyt was a troublemaker and I did not like him at all at the time. As it turns out, he was a troubled soul, or so I would like to think now. And I would not have known he had multiple accounts had not matteo dropped a hin via email during the callout you linked. In which I slowly figured it out. And if you read that closely, you will see I figured out that dhoyt was using multiple accounts to go after matteo. I kept my so-called victory laps to email and metachat until someone else wrote me and told me he was going to post about it. I can, if you wish, supply the name and email. But I am not going to do it here. In that callout thread I got slapped down by Matt, who then wrote me afterward and told me it was all true. I thought his victory lap remark was a bit of an unnecessary cheap shot, all things considered, since he wanted to keep it all under wraps, which everyone seems to think was a bad idea.

I am not proud of that post or thread and it has always rankled me that people favorite it.
posted by y2karl at 12:30 PM on November 13, 2012


This was good. I didn't have a clear vision of how it worked in here. I just assumed the rules were all about controlling the booger-flicking.

I wouldn't know what to do with a sockpuppet, but I can see that others like them, and they can be benign when trolls are not allowed to use them. I have to smile, though, when I think about where the hand goes.

A few years ago, I ran across a biting comment about chat-room folks and BB occupants. I can't remember the citation:


Though the wind does not blow here
still there are sad songs
and little dogs with angry hearts
barking with their fingers
at everything which moves
and some birds who fly in their sleep
but their feathers are not real
wishing for a life in someone else's body
words that do not roll along any rivers
like water
looking for relatives
and counting blessings
the drum beats in the quiet void
where strangers posture strangely
and the door stays open
all night
posted by mule98J at 12:33 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do you know how long my brain is going to spend trying to think of a funny joke to make about sideboob.metafilter.com?

If it helps I always think that "sideboob" should be conceptually parallel to "side-eye" but then I can never decide quite what that would mean exactly.
posted by yarrow at 12:35 PM on November 13, 2012


I did NOT make it a personal crusade.

I wouldn't have blamed you if you had. Hell, you deserved a medal.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:27 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can, if you wish, supply the name and email. But I am not going to do it here.

Oh, for heaven's sake. I don't care about names and emails. It was seven years ago. You don't need to defend your honor to me in any way. As I said earlier, I brought it up to make a specific point, not reopen old wounds or disparage you.

I am not proud of that post or thread and it has always rankled me that people favorite it.

I understand. Have had comments and threads that I've felt similarly about over the years.

Since I seem to have mischaracterized / misinterpreted your intention in making that post as well as the tone of your comments, I apologize.
posted by zarq at 2:23 PM on November 13, 2012


For making what point ? I made the post -- that is a fact. Was I on a crusade ? That is your opinion. As to my mental state at the time, you could have either accepted me at my word or, as you chose to do, cherry pick my comments to support your opinion. Now, who was making a big deal there ?

Anyhow, I accept the apology you have begrudged me.
posted by y2karl at 2:45 PM on November 13, 2012


So... y2karl and zarq are the same guy, yeah?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:53 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


What about mefi brand socks. Each pair could be one blue one and one green one.

I like the sound of Shelleycat's Special Snowflake Socks, but I assume they're a one-off.
posted by Catch at 3:26 PM on November 13, 2012


I hope I'm doing this right.
posted by A Friend of Dug [sock] at 3:28 PM on November 13, 2012


You're not. *sigh*
posted by someone is wrong on the internet at 3:41 PM on November 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


It was not a begrudging apology. It was sincere. I don't make apologies unless I mean them. If you want to believe otherwise, that's your business.

Further, I've already explained the point I was trying to make to cortex and jessamyn in a previous comment to you.

Y2karl, I've apologized. If there's something else you would like me to say, please tell me. Otherwise, I'm walking away now.
posted by zarq at 3:53 PM on November 13, 2012


Metafilter: Where all the socks I lost in the dryer went
posted by NoraCharles at 4:30 PM on November 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Does anyone else feel their brain tweak when they read the phrase "Metafilter's own"?

It certainly seem to ride the edge of or at least come close to breaking the self-linking rule. It's similar to the feeling I get when I find out second cousins once removed are getting married...
posted by Talez at 5:21 PM on November 13, 2012


nope! it's a huge community filled with lots of people, some of them do notable things. i only get annoyed when it's said about people who showed up once to talk about themselves. they might have a log in, but they aren't really "metafilter's own."
posted by nadawi at 5:26 PM on November 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Metafilter owns some more than others.
(Or is it 'some mefites own more than others'?)
posted by ceribus peribus at 6:12 PM on November 13, 2012


I did not realize the lack in my life.. until I was told I did not have metafilter socks. I *need* metafilter socks. How can I get me some metafilter socks?

I occasionally feel the need to have a sock account, but I can never remember my paypal account until well after the need passes.
posted by nat at 7:15 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh man. I also desire socks. White ankle length, please, with the MetaFilter logo embroidered at the back.
posted by wallabear at 8:12 PM on November 13, 2012


White ankle length, please, with the MetaFilter logo embroidered at the back.

Very professional.
posted by kagredon at 10:56 PM on November 13, 2012 [5 favorites]




i can't figure out which account i prefer so i pretty much use them both and switch between them as i see fit. for a while i was a puppet at work only but then i was fired.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 12:36 PM on November 14, 2012


Gosh it's been so long (well since this afternoon where I pointed out the 'new security procedures' make it just so much easier to inject a logic bomb) that I've been tempted to methodically break all the rules and do some gentle trolling, just to prove.... sigh, just, too lazy... which is a good thing... and I am neither zarq or his puppet.
posted by sammyo at 6:19 PM on November 14, 2012


The best way to deal with having a reputation for being an offensive asshole is to convince yourself that you were right and they deserved it. BND is for amateurs.
posted by clarknova at 1:28 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I missed this thread due to it being Diwali and all but I've been meaning to ask (and please let me know if it should move to a new MeTa or an Ask) - what are the pros and cons of being associated with your real name in your profile or vice versa? For odd circumstantial reasons, I end up on Twitter as my passport name rather than a handle and I'm tired of watching conversations whizz past my head.

of course, if y'all are ignoring me cos i stink and am nasty... *sniff*
posted by infini at 4:33 AM on November 15, 2012


what are the pros and cons of being associated with your real name in your profile or vice versa?

I would be quite interested in hearing a thoughtful analysis of the pros and cons.

But for me it seems like it would depend how comfortable you are with everyone that can use google knowing everything about you that could be discovered via a perusal of your online life, and getting whatever impression of you they are likely to take from that.

Some people are at a place in life where that's not really a concern at all, for others maybe it's a big deal.

One thing that might be worth flagging up though is that if you sometimes talk about the people in your life, you are potentially exposing them too, not just yourself.

For odd circumstantial reasons, I end up on Twitter as my passport name

I can't figure out why you mentioned Twitter here, maybe I'm missing something.

But anyway, there's nothing to stop you having multiple Twitter accounts. Most clients are even designed to work with multiple accounts, it's such a common thing for people to do.

if y'all are ignoring me cos i stink

I'm afraid we googled you and discovered all about your personal hygiene issues.

posted by philipy at 8:50 AM on November 15, 2012


You've convinced me to stick with the status quo and keep the lives separate (at least for the google)
posted by infini at 9:45 AM on November 15, 2012


"The greatest trick dhoyt ever played was convincing the world that he did not exist."
posted by Samizdata at 11:52 AM on November 15, 2012


That's because dhoyt was Paphnuty.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:10 PM on November 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've occasionally considered the idea of setting up a MetaFilter account for a fictional character, and being totally up front about it, and having this fictional character take part in the community. This generally leads me into going over a mental list of the reasons why that would be a bad thing to do. I mean, even if the name of the account was "I am a fictional character!" that would probably be seen as more of a statement of philosophy than a statement of fact. And a detailed statement of fictionality on the profile page would be no help, because you shouldn't need to open someone's profile just to find out whether the person you thought you were having a good-faith discussion with actually exists. Really, the only "good" thing that would happen is that the mods would put a firm stop to those shenanigans before I managed to do any damage.

So I did it on tumblr instead.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 1:58 AM on November 16, 2012


what are the pros and cons of being associated with your real name in your profile or vice versa

I'm semi-transparent - meaning I go by Deo offline as well, so people who know me get to know both my names, but I try to keep my names separate on the internet so you can't find them with an easy search. My may goal personally was safety, and nothing I've seen since I started using Deoridhe online (which was a long time ago; I'm a very persistent pseudonym) has convinced me otherwise - indeed recent actions in the feminist, geek, and skeptical communities have convinced me my security consciousness was a good idea. My secondary goal was to keep my personal life and professional life separate, and that appears to be working as well.
posted by Deoridhe at 2:28 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


So I [became a fictional character] on tumblr instead.

It's getting to the point where I suspect that this is the most prevalent approach to Tumblr.
posted by kagredon at 10:02 AM on November 16, 2012


The downsides of not being 100% open as I see it...

- Sometimes you actually do want to be associated with things you said online. For example if you're giving great answers to questions in your professional field, it would be nice if everyone checking out your credentials online saw that.

- To stay reasonably unidentifiable, you sometimes have to leave out details that would otherwise help people or might lead to serendipitous connections. ("You went to college X in year Y? So did I! Do you know so-and-so?")

- If you feel unable to be open about stuff because of the misconceptions and prejudices associated with that stuff, you might be missing an opportunity to help change perceptions. Also you may be being unduly anxious, and missing out on discovering that your fears are needless.

I think those downsides are non-trivial, so it's worth considering what's going to work best for you.
posted by philipy at 10:09 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of many ironies related to the topic in general, and, the use of one's real life name in particular, is that when I signed up, the user name Karl, which was my own first choice, was already taken. See here also. Since he originally gave his name on his first user page as Karl Potente, I thought I had been rightly beaten to it until he inadvertently outed himself in an AskMetaFilter thread. Knowing this, quite by accident from reading that thread, was how, after receiving a hint, I figured out who might be who since three of five accounts, before they got scrubbed, listed the same home town.
Also scrubbed was the highsignal blog, which by and large consisted of unattributed reposts of my own MetaFilter posts on the war in Iraq.
Hence, the phrase One of many ironies...
posted by y2karl at 11:21 AM on November 16, 2012


pot and kettle did not belong to a deceased user

I got better.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:11 PM on November 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


I also seem to notice lots of users with "sock" or "sockpuppet" or references to such in their usernames, and I also take it as a hint to the community that this is a user conversant in site social norms.

It seems okay to me, especially since it would become apparent when a sockpuppet was taking over the interaction duties.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:36 PM on November 12 [1 favorite +] [!]


I'm really glad that some people think this because I, sockpuppet version of normal mefite, was worried that I would be viewed as some sort of horrible non-contributor who was just sucking life out of AskMe. I just like to keep my neuroses separate from the rest of my public facing self.

/formal declaration
posted by ArgyleMarionette at 4:20 PM on November 19, 2012


Dhoyt lives forever on mefi - a reminder of a time when people were very naughty. Karl that is a great thread, be proud of of it. Mr camel person..............what, in your opinion would make a great front page post ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:32 PM on November 24, 2012


I only know pot and kettle in retrospect, from reading the archives. And yet I still miss them dearly.

Did they actually cause problems at the time?
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 12:12 PM on November 26, 2012


It was brought to my attention that they came off as much more mean-spirited than I intended, which should have been more obvious if I hadn't been so in love with my own cleverness. It is one of the things I most regret in my time here.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:21 PM on November 26, 2012


Oh. Okay, I guess I can see where they might come across that way. If it helps ease the regret any, I really get the strong impression that a lot of people are really fond of them.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 12:33 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


And I guess I really, really like saying "really".
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 12:45 PM on November 26, 2012


> It was brought to my attention that they came off as much more mean-spirited than I intended, which should have been more obvious if I hadn't been so in love with my own cleverness. It is one of the things I most regret in my time here.

Seriously? That strikes me as bizarre. If I had had the brilliance to invent them and someone had told me they were mean-spirited, I would have told them to take a chill pill (or words to that effect). They were pure fun, and I think you should revive them. Haters gonna hate, but you don't have to bend to their will!
posted by languagehat at 1:54 PM on November 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


I appreciate the kind words, but I really, really don't want to pick at old scabs. I caused offense and in hindsight I agree that there was a legit beef. I've trotted them out a couple of times since then for very limited and non-targeted appearances, but I think the site is better off keeping those at a minimum.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:25 PM on November 26, 2012


Well, as long as you're willing to trot them out occasionally, I feel better. If there was a legit beef, I'm glad you've taken it on board and learned a lesson, but those limited and non-targeted appearances give some of us a great deal of pleasure.
posted by languagehat at 2:56 PM on November 26, 2012


I dunno: the accounts (Pot, Kettle) are disabled, which would seem to present some difficulty in trotting them out when the occasion calls for it. Is it a self-imposed mod approval filter for future cast-iron shenanigans, or are they truly over?
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 8:01 PM on November 26, 2012


I closed them, myself. I'll ask to have them re-opened if/when an appropriate situation presents itself to do so respectfully.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:12 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


As I thought, then. Fair enough. And thank you.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 8:35 PM on November 26, 2012


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