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The Buddy System Works
November 26, 2012 8:53 AM   Subscribe

How about an FPP mentoring/buddy system?

I've noticed that when talk about posting FPPs comes up, there's a not-insignificant number of people who say "I have ideas sometimes but I am uncomfortable posting them as an FPP because I don't know enough on the topic/I'm not sure how to frame an FPP/people will threadshit/etc." I've also noticed that there are regular deletions of FPPs that, were they run by a knowledgeable third party first, would never have been deleted because someone would be able to say, for instance, "no that's way too axe-grindy." And I can totally understand the self-consciousness that would keep MeFites from running their ideas by the mods (as they often suggest.)

So what about some sort of directory, whether on the Wiki, on the site itself, on profiles or wherever, of MeFites and their chosen mentoring topics. So, for example, if someone has an idea for a video gaming FPP and either doesn't know if it is worth fleshing out or maybe it is finished and the framing seems hinky, they can pull up the directory and see "oh, hey, griphus volunteered to look over videogame FPPs, I'll send this to him" and then I can look it over and give some feedback. We have experts of lots and lots of things here (including on how to make an FPP) and something like this would improve the overall quality of what is posted to the front page. There wouldn't be some sort of official seal-of-approval process, but just an easier way for users who want to make FPPs but don't necessarily pay attention to who posts about what and don't know where to turn (and, again, are reticent to ask the mods.)
posted by griphus to Feature Requests at 8:53 AM (90 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I like the idea in general, or at least the idea of trying to address the issue you've identified, but wonder how much this specific idea would get used if it were anywhere but on MeFi proper.

The MeFi Chat has, in a limited way, been useful for FPP questions the few times it's come up so far (friendly, quick advice and opinions from MeFites).
posted by flex at 9:01 AM on November 26, 2012


I dunno, I get where you're coming from and have zero problem with someone putting together a wiki reference page if folks are into that, but beyond that I'm not sure this is something we really need to officially embrace.

My main feeling is that the intersection of (a) users who aren't sure how to make a good post but (b) are aware of that and (c) would actively seek out mentoring/guidance to help them get over the hump is actually a pretty small one, relative to the issue of first posts / poor posts in general. I think there's a fairly strong correlation between lack of serious engagement with / attentive lurking on the site and fatally flawed posts, so the uptake on a mentoring pathway would probably be really limited for the posts where it'd make the most difference.

Unless we really crammed this down folks' throats as part of the posting pipeline, but that feels like a really big departure from the existing "show up, pay attention, participate on your own terms" culture this place has always had regarding posts.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:09 AM on November 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


Having your poorly presented FPP deleted is all part of growing up, though. Also I think the main issue with deleted FPPs isn't the deletions themselves but the outraged MeTas afterwards that could very easily have just used the contact form instead. I'm not sure this would solve that problem.
posted by elizardbits at 9:13 AM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sounds a bit like it could become a sort of editorial board. Which isn't really ok. Unless I'm on it, in which case I think it could really improve so many aspects of the site.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:19 AM on November 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


We don't seem to be hurting for good posts or for good participants on the site. I like the idea of helping people to participate as they would like to participate, but a mentoring program seems a bit too much like it's solving something that isn't really a problem for the site, as much as it's a problem for particular users. Many folks have publicly said they will give feed back on a post before it goes up, and I think that pretty much addresses the problem adequately.
posted by OmieWise at 9:19 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I offer my services to mentor someone as long as I can call them my Little MeFite and they have to call me their Big MeFite.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:19 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sink or swim was good enough for most of us and I'll be gott-damned to see this place turn into a bunch of hand-holders and waterwing wearers.
posted by notyou at 9:21 AM on November 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Only if it's costume optional Alvy. I wouldn't want the neighbours to *clears throat* talk.
posted by redindiaink at 9:22 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can I mentor griphus on posting workable ideas for the site to MetaTalk?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:23 AM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sounds a bit like it could become a sort of editorial board. Which isn't really ok

Well, no, the entire point would be that it is completely voluntary on both ends.
posted by griphus at 9:23 AM on November 26, 2012


I want to make a human centipede joke here but I just can't make it work.
posted by elizardbits at 9:24 AM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Only if I can mentor Brandon on referring to people in the third person when they're, like, right here dude.
posted by griphus at 9:24 AM on November 26, 2012 [12 favorites]


I think most people's first posts are generally pretty good, honestly, but if anyone feels like running an idea for a post by me, feel free.
posted by empath at 9:25 AM on November 26, 2012


I don't see too much problem with how things are run now. If I don't like a post I stop reading it and if it gets deleted by the mods, I trust them. Usually.
Mentoring seems to insinuate that this is a big ol' scary site with lots of pitfalls and I think it is very user-friendly.
posted by Isadorady at 9:36 AM on November 26, 2012


Mentoring seems to insinuate that this is a big ol' scary site with lots of pitfalls and I think it is very user-friendly
b...b...but we´re about to have a knife fight.
posted by adamvasco at 9:42 AM on November 26, 2012


Only if I can mentor Brandon on referring to people in the third person when they're, like, right here dude.

There's a 15 minute slot between The Whelk's "Intro to Posting Animal Videos" demo and elizardbits "None of your Damn Business, I Just Need a Room" talk, we can do it then.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:44 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've helped out a few folks over the years. It can be fun.

If a wiki page is created, would be happy to add my name to it... but not until the Spring when I hope to have more time. :)
posted by zarq at 9:48 AM on November 26, 2012


Fortune favors the bold. The best way to come up with great posts is to look at past posts you loved and emulate them.

If you've a good idea, think about it, write it up to the best of your ability, and post it. Getting a post deleted isn't a judgment on someone's character. It happens.

Though I don't know why, if one was reticent to ask the mods about something, they'd feel okay asking someone else.
posted by inturnaround at 9:49 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Unsure about this. If you work in a link to a cat video into your post or comment, then it hardly ever gets deleted.
posted by Wordshore at 9:54 AM on November 26, 2012


The MeFi Chat has, in a limited way, been useful for FPP questions the few times it's come up so far

Woah - that's still around?
posted by item at 9:56 AM on November 26, 2012


If the post is OK but can't stand because of the framing, don't the deletion comments usually cover this issue? I don't look at a lot of deleted posts unless they are:
  1. Posts I commented on before they were deleted;
  2. Posts that someone makes a MeTa about; or
  3. My own posts.
That said, I find that the deletion comments -- especially Jessamyn's -- are pretty good about covering this and saying things like: "This sounds very axe-grindy; maybe try it again without X." I realize that this isn't the same as a buddy system, but it does help people to learn what does and doesn't work.

While most of my own posts that have been deleted were deleted because they were duplicates and I had missed the previous version, I've occasionally had posts deleted for other reasons and the deletion comments were always clear and made me understand why the post didn't work. I like to think that my FPPs are better as a result of having had not-so-good ones deleted with a good explanation from the mods.
posted by asnider at 10:06 AM on November 26, 2012


Mentoring seems to insinuate that this is a big ol' scary site with lots of pitfalls and I think it is very user-friendly.

To that I'd add that mentoring insinuates authority; the quasi-official status of the mentors proposed here enhances that status. Community authorities are necessarily conservative and the resulting mentored FPPs would reflect the mentor's understanding of what has always been a "good FPP". If a large number of heretofore reluctant posters were to take advantage of the program, we'd wind up with a lot more of what MeFi already does and (perhaps) less of what MeFi can become.

Aside from all that, I think this is a solution in search of a problem. Watch and learn really is good pedagogy and so is doing it yourself.
posted by notyou at 10:15 AM on November 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure that someone who is reticent to ask the mods for feedback is going to be any less reticent to ask someone else.
posted by chazlarson at 10:23 AM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


This seems more than a little off-balance to me. FPPs just aren't precious enough to warrant this kind of oversight/kid gloves/fancy-handing.
posted by fake at 10:36 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wouldn't this be more like an "OPs Anonymous?" You'd get a sponsor, then, when the urge strikes you to post a single link to a video of a kitten eating a piece of paper, you'd call your sponsor who would point out how the FPP lacked framing and talk you down from the ledge.

Unless it was a really cute kitten....
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:38 AM on November 26, 2012


chazlarson: "I'm not sure that someone who is reticent to ask the mods for feedback is going to be any less reticent to ask someone else."

Perhaps asking a friend for advice seems less intimidating than approaching someone who's in charge of the site?
posted by zarq at 10:38 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Mentoring seemed to work pretty well for e2.
posted by Jpfed at 10:41 AM on November 26, 2012


How about an FPP mentoring/buddy system?

A solution in search of a problem, as can be seen from a glimpse at the Metafilter deletions blog.

Counting along, the three deleted posts from yesterday are 1) spam, 2) a lightweight article about somebody being disappointed in their children by somebody who has been reading since 2010, 3) a confusing entry bysomebody who should've known better. The day before that: 2 doubles (something it's easy to run afoul of), one poster who fell for a hoax, and a bad post by somebody who since has written a better one.

The day before that,... but you get my drift.

Unless compulsary for the first post, a buddy system won't stop spam, nor would it catch established posters having senior moments.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:49 AM on November 26, 2012


I think this is a good idea, though I would never presume to mentor anyone.

I'd like to see explicitly collaborative FPPs too (which I take to be part of griphus' intent from the "mentoring/buddy system" description).

I might actually make one if that was an option.
posted by jamjam at 10:51 AM on November 26, 2012


Aren't we all already mentored by the light of Meatbomb?
posted by klangklangston at 10:55 AM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just a data point...

A handful of people have asked me to post things for them over the years. I always respond by suggesting that they do it themselves, and offer them a shoulder if they would like construction/framing advice. I usually also mention that there really isn't a high bar for FPP acceptance. My own posting history is ample evidence of that. :)

That said, it can really suck when a post doesn't go well, and discouraging. Especially if it's your first effort. Having someone to turn to for advice towards avoiding some of the more common pitfalls is a good thing. A bunch of my posts (deleted and non) could really have benefited from 20/20 foresight, rather than just hindsight.
posted by zarq at 11:03 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the main issue with deleted FPPs isn't the deletions themselves but the outraged MeTas

This, too, is all part of growing up, in an I-Hate-You-I-Wish-I'd-Never-Been-Born kind of way.

Also, now I want a "Save the MeTas" t-shirt.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:03 AM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


This idea kind of reminds me of an idea I've kicked around for years, a MeFi links pile, where anyone could leave a link, add some tags to it (kind of like delicious), but no comments on them. And we'd have a raw feed of interesting links and you could take one or more and put them together as a post on MeFi proper, in the same way we let you "promote" posts from Projects up to the blue.

I never could figure out how best to display a feed of recent links though, either on the sidebar of the front page of MeFi or cordoned off into just links.metafilter.com. It's certainly less formal than a whole mentorship system, but could provide an outlet for first timers to get their feet wet with a lower barrier to posting something interesting that could be picked up by others wanting to flesh things out.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:34 AM on November 26, 2012 [16 favorites]


I've been here since 2009 and just a couple of months ago got brave enough to post a FPP. If you've been here quite a while or are maybe bolder than me, don't discount that there might be people here with good things to say/post, who could use some handholding to do so.

I'm not sure how a mentor system could best be implemented, but I do think it would be helpful for people (like me) who are a bit intimidated by all the folks who seem like pros at posting.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 11:38 AM on November 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


That's a really interesting idea, Matt. links.metafilter.com Maybe with a mechanism to reduce spamming?
posted by OmieWise at 11:43 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe with a mechanism to reduce spamming?

Me, perched over it at all times, with a loaded gun.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:46 AM on November 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


That idea is definitely intriguing, Matt. And then if a link gets taken to the front page, it'd be credited to the original poster, just like Projects. I like that.
posted by flex at 11:47 AM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Spawn camping, cortex? I thought you better than that.
posted by griphus at 11:48 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


mathowie, that sounds like the wiki. Which nobody ever seems to pay attention to. But as a part of MetaFilter proper, maybe!

I try to encourage people to post links - I've had posts deleted, and it never stings as much as it seems to at first. If people wanted to get advice, they could consult the contribution index for people to ask.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:04 PM on November 26, 2012


The more I turn it over in my head the more I like it. It'd be lower stakes, so if you don't have the time to put a bigger post together, or if you don't want to open yourself up to negativity, you can still participate.

It's collaborative when the link is "promoted" which involves you in the community, to feel good if something you contributed gets expanded on or starts a discussion, and you'll get credited for it as well. That's community-building, which is excellent.

And then if you can't get enough of surfing interesting things, you'd have this extra page of MeFite-curated links to glance through, cool things that might be too thin for a post (but maybe not), or that might work as a post, but without the pressure of having to be the one to put it together if you want to share - just throw up a link for others to browse - fun for readers and for contributors.
posted by flex at 12:05 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm glad SweetTeaandaBiscuit commented and think that view - which is not uncommon - is worth listening to.

The issue doesn't seem to be with people who get deleted a lot. I don't think we want to be reasoning from the evidence of deleted posts for this particular discussion. Deletees do make mistakes and do (sometimes) learn from that - but they obviously aren't the intimidated ones, they're trying already.

I can recall my heart beating like a racing rabbit when I made my first post - seems ridiculous now but I had built the community up in my mind and what I imagined as a response was almost enough to totally deter me. And it took years for me to get going. The only reason I had the courage to begin posting more - and caring less as to whether my post was one for the ages - was a personal conversation with Jessamyn, who said something like "So you make a bad post! So what? It gets deleted, it falls flat. Everbody moves on. No big deal. More women should post on the internet. It doesn't have to be a big deal." Without those few words to adjust my perspective, I wouldn't have waded in.

Now I find myself repeating those words whenever there is an opportunity. Over the years any number of MeFites have mentioned to me - at a meetup, in a MeMail, on MetaChat - "I would love to make a post but I'm just so nervous." I know it seems ridiculous, but people develop an outsized and unrealistic idea of what community approbation could happen, and start reacting to that. And I wish more people would post more and different kinds of things, so my interest is in encouraging people to post more, too.

I'd view this as less an "editorial board" than an "attaboy" sort of function. I suppose it could help with framing and so on, but it feels more like just a training wheels sort of idea, a way for experienced posters to lend a little moral support to newer people who are like "is this a thing? I sort of got interested in it but I can't tell if it's something that might work on MeFi."

My only real hesitation would be giving something like that the thumbs up and then finding that people really hated it and it got deleted anyway - I'd feel like I set that poor person up. That probably wouldn't happen that much though.

If this is the thread of record, though, I'm more than happy to take a gander at stuff that people might want to post and give my 2 cents. Posting isn't something everyone wants to do, but I hate the thought that someone might be afraid to post.
posted by Miko at 1:00 PM on November 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Posting isn't something everyone wants to do, but I hate the thought that someone might be afraid to post.

Oh, I don't know; I think a little fear is healthy. Forces folks to raise their own personal bar.
posted by davejay at 1:10 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's "a little" fear, and then there's paralyzing fear that makes people just decide not to do anything. The latter, I think, is not so great.
posted by Miko at 1:11 PM on November 26, 2012


Make WINNING FPPS from the comfort of your OWN HOME - No Experience Needed! Call now for a FREE in-home packet explaining our services.
posted by The Whelk at 1:22 PM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Four out of my first seven FPPs were deleted. It didn't put me off posting, though I did ask on Metatalk for advice, tips, guidance on writing good ones. A lot of good comments came in.

And so I read and considered them, observed other FPPs, and don't think have had any deleted since then. It's kinda a 'practice make perfect' thing. Or falling off the horse and getting back on again. Actually it's a permanently ongoing 'practice makes perfect' thing; over time one gets an instinct for what will get heavily commented on (e.g. Star Wars, literature, Gangnam Style, Americana) and what will not (e.g. cricket, sadly).

That is, if comments and favorites (the closest thing to peer approval - thumbs up - gamification) are what are important to you on MetaFilter. My main interest with putting up FPPs is to improve my often terrible writing, and find better ways of explaining and summarising things. Framing is an enjoyable intellectual task, the process being similar in many ways to human Internet resource cataloging.

Two points, IMHO.

1. Related to that last thing is that whatever you FPP, however you frame it, some people will not like it. It's a big and diverse community, and some people on here will be 'meh' or 'urgh' with your post. A few might mention this in comments; the rest won't. It's no big issue; you don't like every FPP by everyone else. So there's no point fretting about people liking or disliking your first FPP. Anyway, the mods on here are better than the mods in comparable services for removing personally negative feedback. If anything, MetaFilter provides a nice, active but gentle 'first place' for this kind of activity compared to {waves at a whole bundle of other forums and community blogs}

2. MetaFilter is "not about you". What you've done with your FPP is make a sign and map to something that may interest some passing readers. Some will see the sign, turn off and explore. They don't really care who built the sign (can you remember who posted the most recent half dozen or so FPPs you read?). Worrysome thoughts that a large mob of MetaFilter users will collectively think "That is an awful FPP by user XYZ" just aren't based in reality.

So ... post. Maybe aim for several associated links in that first post, to provide more context and rabbit holes. Check it through to ensure it's "not about you" i.e. anyone could have written exactly the same FPP. And ... post. The worst that can happen?
- It gets derailed pretty quickly in the comments. Doesn't matter, as it's "not about you". Your responsibility is over the instant you submit the post.
- Hardly anyone comments or favorites it; at least not immediately. Well, many people probably will read it over time anyway.
- Cortex deletes it with a wittily constructed put-down.
If that's the worst thing that will happen in your day, then your day is pretty good :)

Writing a book. Many people talk about it. Far fewer do it. Until you actually do it, and write it, rather than talk about it, you'll never know if it was good or not. FPPs are like that. Though thankfully, unlike writing a book, doing an FPP usually only takes a few minutes.
posted by Wordshore at 1:40 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


a MeFi links pile

I like this idea. Maybe there is a way we could roll some of the wiki pages into MeFi proper. We've talked in the past about having a MeTa thread where we say hi to the new users and people can make themselves available for newer users to ask them questions. It's sort of winwin because it's completely voluntary, totally confidential and as much as we're happy to look over someone's post attempt, most of the things we are doing are things that long time users could do as well.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:54 PM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


I like the MeFi links pile idea. It makes me think of the belly flops at the Jelly Belly factory. Not quite the best of the tub, but still tasty and worth scrounging through for favorite flavors.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:14 PM on November 26, 2012


Metafilter already suffers from a mild lack of diversity simply due to all the negative pile-ons when somebody says something that the masses do not approve of. Imagine how much worse this would get if self-proclaimed "experts" were "mentoring" certain types of posts.

The Politics Expert "mentoring" you out of posting that FPP that mentions something positive about the Republican party.

The Sexuality Expert "mentoring" you away from posting anything that mentions negative consequences from open marriages.

The Feminism Expert "mentoring" you away from saying anything that might imply men are sometimes victimized.

The Economy Expert "mentoring" you away from posting anything that suggests one of his pieces of AskMe advice was stupid nonsense that ruined somebody financially.

Like it or not, people have their own agendas and any expert advice you get will inevitably be tainted by personal beliefs. Furthermore, how do we pick these "experts"? Do we vote on them, or do they simply volunteer to direct the course of certain topics out of the altruistic goodness of their hearts? How do we get rid of them if it turns out they're actually clueless? Before we go slapping an "expert" label on anybody and giving them any sort of authority (even if it's only advisory), I think it's pretty important to examine them with a highly critical eye.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 2:15 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


"There are no new ideas. Only new ways of making them felt." - Audre Lorde
posted by ceribus peribus at 2:24 PM on November 26, 2012


Imagine how much worse this would get if self-proclaimed "experts" were "mentoring" certain types of posts.

I think you are confused about how this would work and your uncharitable reading of people offering to help as a nefarious way to continue to subtly grind their axes here is frankly bizarre.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:27 PM on November 26, 2012 [13 favorites]


The Politics Expert "mentoring" you out of posting that FPP that mentions something positive about the Republican party.

Tomorrow's FPP on how to comb your hair with a razor-straight part.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:36 PM on November 26, 2012


"Daniel Jackson! We have caught nothing, we are fishing."

-Teal'c.
posted by clavdivs at 3:02 PM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


I do not like this idea because I think it would have a chilling effect on the open-access, small-d-democratic, few-bars-to-entry, all-the-same-once-we-pay-our-$5 thing that metafilter "does so well" (really). There is enough of an "I'm an important elder statesman, and it's not like an elder statesman on reddit, because I'm just really smart and perceptive" vibe here that I frankly find a little offputting. Why risk more of it?

Isn't anyone welcome to run an FPP idea by the mods first? Isn't this already something the mods do?

Also, I mean, I really like the site, but this is not Henry James' personal blog or what have you. Also, what's more, I get that people are anxious, but anxiety about making a post on a general-purpose website suggests that it's more than an FPP that's driving your anxiety.
posted by skbw at 3:10 PM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Interestingly enough:
"I think older members should "mentor" new members. Established MeFiers nominate someone (or just get assigned someone), they give the new user the tour, they "critique" (vie private email) the users first 10 posts or so, and they are required to review and approve the newbies first couple of FPPs, to ensure that they don't contain abbreviations like "FPP" or anything equally as reprehensible. Nominations and mentoring would go a long way towards reducing growing pains, I think."
posted by Shadowkeeper at 1:03 PM on July 25, 2002
So, not a new idea per se.
posted by zarq at 4:32 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Having your poorly presented FPP deleted is all part of growing up, though.
I wouldn't know.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:48 PM on November 26, 2012


Thanks, but I think I prefer to continue being too intimidated to ever consider posting an FPP. This feeling of hopeless confusion and unworthiness is part of what keeps me coming to Metafilter. I'd hate to lose that.
posted by Decani at 5:03 PM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's very easy, we set up a small private school in Westchester, NY for young Mefites who demonstrate exceptional ability.
posted by The Whelk at 5:14 PM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


If I was a mentor I'd be the head of the Posts That Get 10 Favorites and 6 Comments department. It's like latin but less interesting.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:13 PM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


LINK PILE FTW.

I love love love that idea. I would definitely stick it on a separate subdomain. links.mefi or whatever.

To reduce the possibility of spam, maybe some kind of user-filter that qualifies you to add to the link-pile? A non-deleted FPP?
posted by unSane at 6:25 PM on November 26, 2012


How about upvoting and downvoting to keep the best links on top?

Nah.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:32 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


To reduce the possibility of spam, maybe some kind of user-filter that qualifies you to add to the link-pile? A non-deleted FPP?

While that might be a good idea, that would also mean that the link-pile no longer contributes (or contributes less) to solving the timid-would-be-FPPer problem.
posted by Jpfed at 7:21 PM on November 26, 2012


True, but I'm not sure that's the motivation.
posted by unSane at 7:22 PM on November 26, 2012


It's interesting to me that people who by their nature are already tougher and more stick-out-their-neck-y than others are asking us to reason from them. People like that are not the target of this concern and don't need the support. As I noted above, they are doing fine with things as they are, and already, by their very inclination, represent a disproportionate number of FPPers in relation to site members.

The very purpose of an idea like this is to recognize that not everyone starts with that orientation to the site, and has enough awareness to be concerned about the reception of their work, and wants to make a good contribution - sometimes so much that they're afraid to make any.

It strikes me as so odd that the fear is that there would be less diversity of views on the site if more people posted. How could such a thing be, when the ruling paradigm right now asks people to bullheadedly push their way in by making bad posts that get deleted until they learn the hard way? On the contrary, if we could do anything to encourage more people to post more kinds of posts, that would encourage many more kinds of people - especially people who are hesitant to make posts now. That could only be good for diversity of views.
posted by Miko at 8:57 PM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


True, but I'm not sure that's the motivation.

It may not have been mathowie's motivation for originally thinking it would be useful, but unless he intended mentioning it in this thread to be a non sequitur, he must have thought that it was related to the subject matter of the OP:
"I have ideas sometimes but I am uncomfortable posting them as an FPP because I don't know enough on the topic/I'm not sure how to frame an FPP/people will threadshit/etc."
posted by Jpfed at 10:51 PM on November 26, 2012


I linked a cat video in a comment. Nobody favorited it. Do I still exist?
posted by Pudhoho at 11:08 PM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have ideas sometimes but I am uncomfortable posting them as an FPP because...I don't know enough on the topic

An FPP is supposed to be the start of a conversation. When commenters start telling you things you didn't know it's usually a sign that the post is going quite well. All the better if you start getting stories.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:03 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I linked a cat video in a comment. Nobody favorited it. Do I still exist?
posted by Pudhoho at 7:08 AM on November 27


Did anyone just hear someone say something? Nah. Must have been the wind.
posted by Decani at 9:19 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am all for mentoring / buddy type arrangements because these things frequently lead to hot, slightly illicit sex.
posted by tigrefacile at 1:52 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Metafilter is a swimming pool. At first you lurk (sit on the side thinking about getting in) then you pay your 5 bucks to actually get in.

At first you comment, that is play in the shallow end. Then you work up your courage to swim to the bottom and see how long you can hold your breath (askme) and eventually you cannonball into the deep end. (FPP).

If you look like you're in trouble the mods will help you out.

I'm still playing in the shallow end, FWIW.
posted by roboton666 at 11:34 PM on November 27, 2012


This particular academic paper may assist in further guiding towards posting and commenting. The section The core practices of MetaFilter - tacit knowledge in particular is relevant; it summarises Matts description of what constitutes a good thread:

Therefore, the attributes for ‘good’ posts are: ‘intelligence’, ‘thoughtfulness’, ‘uniqueness’, ‘liveliness’, ‘insight’, and ‘factuality’.
posted by Wordshore at 11:29 AM on November 28, 2012


Also everyone is constantly urinating.
posted by griphus at 11:32 AM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I, too, would like to offer my services to fellow members looking to make FPPs. If someone wants another eye, or help on where and how to find good sources, just meMail me.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:50 PM on November 28, 2012


Did someone mention the wiki? This was sort of the idea I had behind a draft/collaboration wiki page: throw up something you thought was interesting, work with others, or let someone else take it farther. There are some neat ideas up there, but it is a pretty quiet place.

The problem with the wiki is that there is so much on it, all a few steps removed from MetaFilter proper. The MeFi Links is a really keen idea, because 1) it's simpler than adding something to the wiki, and 2) it is more directly tied into MetaFilter.

However it works out, I'll add my name to the collection of people who are happy to help others making posts. If nothing else, remember the mantra: once you hit the "post" button, the post is no longer yours, but part of the whole of MetaFilter. Let this topic float away from you, and find something else to consume your mind.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:07 AM on November 29, 2012


... once you hit the "post" button, the post is no longer yours ...

Yep. That is very important.

Did an FPP over the last few days and 'let it free' a few hours ago. Watching the comments come in; some with additional information, some with snark, some with pedantic stuff (including one unwittingly hilarious one where the pedant has pedantically mislabeled his own link), some with derail, one that makes zero sense in any way.

There is a slight temptation to respond to a few of these, but there lies the area of meta-derail and possible madness ... no point. The distraction will burn out anyway, and one has other things to do.

Writing an FPP is like dove breeding. You can spend not much time on it and just let it go. Or take more time, develop and feed it. Maybe never letting it go (posting it). If you do let it go, it may fly off to interesting places.

Or a hawk may appears, swoop down and kill it.

You just don't know. Until you release your dove/FPP.
posted by Wordshore at 5:45 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or to put it another way. You may spend hours, days, weeks even, writing, passionately editing and re-editing an FPP on a topic close and dear to your heart. To finally post it, and for the first comment to be:

Gangnam Style is funnier.

Such is life. You should still post your FPP though, and will gain satisfaction from that, irrelevant of the comments.
posted by Wordshore at 5:49 AM on November 30, 2012


I'm repeating myself. I certainly think that with practice, you get to that place of Zen with it. However, I know from my own experience, and I hear from others all the time, that the initial post can be intimidating. And these are people I want to hear from. I know this mainly from moderating MetaChat for a few years - people who are funny, bright, interesting and active there, making posts and comments, often express a serious shyness about posting here. But their posts would be good.

This is one of those situations where, as a community, we should ask ourselves: who are our shibboleths including and excluding? When the zeitgeist was 'get a tougher skin,' we excluded certain kinds of people. By saying "eh, toughen up," we do the same. If we really value a diversity of views, more people posting, more different kinds of people posting, and more different kinds of people posting more different kinds of posts, then we need to adjust the community resources and norms in such a way that they feel more supported in taking the risk. If we only really value having people who are already like us follow our suit, and behave more like us and do and say things we would already do, we're not actually encouraging an open and varied community of ideas.

Like a lot of things with inclusion, sometimes you have to take an extra step to encourage those who are not already part of the in-group, whether the in-group is by dint of personality inclination or length of time with the group or demographic similarity or whatever. Just recognize that not everyone approaches the community with the ability to shrug off response. Much is made of quality on MetaFilter, and people who are concerned with contributing to that quality instead of detracting from that quality will naturally be more hesitant. Add to that their personal desire to belong to the group and be seen as a positive contributor, and the experience of harsh comments in response, or being deleted, could be a deterrent to future posting efforts.

I know it seems dumb to some people. And it seems dumb to other people once you've done it 25 times and gotten over the various outcomes and no longer see posting as a big deal. But before you have been that involved in the community - and especially if you don't know anyone IRL - it's often natural to psychologically lionize others on the site, and think our own contributions would be deemed unworthy by comparison. Users can easily overestimate the amount of social capital needed to be sure a post won't be attacked.

I think all that is unnecessary and am happy to offer one or two simple mechanisms / invitations to encourage more people to post. I don't think "people should just be like me" is a particularly welcoming response to those who say "I'm intimidated to post."
posted by Miko at 7:24 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I try to encourage people to post links - I've had posts deleted, and it never stings as much as it seems to at first.

I think I got less anxious about the possibility of things getting deleted when I saw the deleted post blogs*, and saw that most things that get deleted aren't borderline cases, and that usually, so long as you find something you yourself find interesting, isn't a double or self-link, and spend a little time exploring it and supplying extra links and (depending on the subject) explanatory content, it'll pass.

Now I'm more likely to self-edit for personal reasons -- things that pass the site's bar but not my own. I still worry about deletions however, when I try something weird, like making a post out of Unicode characters, or linking to hundreds of kooks.

*misses puke & cry
posted by JHarris at 4:52 AM on December 1, 2012


Don't know if this helps people thinking of making their first post, but it possibly isn't always effortless for us non-newbies. Have done 28 FPPs now and, despite being a veteran of human web resource cataloging, it's still often difficult, challenging and/or requires some thought to frame or word a post in a satisfactory way. I've had to ask the mods several times for help.

So if the front page gives the appearance of being an intimidatingly effortless load of posts by a bunch of confident MeFites, it's just an impression. It's (nearly) always fun and satisfying, but (nearly) always work as well.
posted by Wordshore at 5:12 AM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


From Miko above:

it's often natural to psychologically lionize others on the site

Granting this for a second. Wouldn't adding another layer of lions just make this problem worse? The site already has a large number of people who are surely awesome and well-intentioned but post like honorary mods. Will adding mentors make this phenomenon better?

Can't people who feel intimidated just go to a mod? I'm not saying they should not consult anyone...just that there are already people in place to consult.

Would it be helpful to add or reemphasize the "new here? mods are available if you want to run an FPP idea by them" messages? In the FAQ, on the new post page, or elsewhere?

Also. Re: psychologically lionizing people. I personally can totally understand being intimidated. But I draw the line at identifying with lionizing internet strangers. In all seriousness, I had a big problem psychologically lionizing my undergraduate advisor whom I saw, in person, for hours, every week, for years. I am not pooh-poohing this concern. I am just doubting that there are large numbers of people who have this reaction to a website. If they do, it may be about them and not about our FPP pipeline or lack thereof.
posted by skbw at 3:56 PM on December 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wouldn't adding another layer of lions just make this problem worse?

I guess I don't really feel like "person who has made a whole lot of posts with few or no " is the same thing as a "lion." I see the difference as dealing with a single person, who has expressed a willingness to be sympathetic, behind the scenes, versus taking a chance and putting your post up for hundreds of the thousands of aggregated people whom you currently idealize. No question that the first is easier. I've done it informally for a handful of people, so that's my basis for saying so.

Can't people who feel intimidated just go to a mod?

Sure, that's probably where we're landing. If there was an advantage to the proposal in the post, it was not adding to mod workload.

I am just doubting that there are large numbers of people who have this reaction to a website.

The reason I've been staying with this thread is that I can tell you that there are. I was one of them, I have met them, I have spoken to them, I have moderated them myself elsewhere. Yes. There are these people. I only made my first post on a mutual dare where a whole bunch of people agreed to make a post on the same day - that's the only thing that got me beyond the intimidation factor, otherwise I might never have gotten the gumption. Some folks need some sort of a leg up to get going.

And I'm sincerely glad you do longer lionize people in your life, but if your solution when others express the problem is that they should just get over it, then we're still at the "people should be more like me" stage of trying to get a greater diversity of people posting.
posted by Miko at 5:36 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying just get over it. I'm saying talk to a mod.

I would sooner see another mod, hypothetically, not that it's my decision, than a group of unpaid volunteers.
posted by skbw at 6:19 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe a less formal way would be for people to just add a line about "FPP mentoring" or similar to their profiles. Add a note about this to the new post page or the FAQ or the welcome message (is there one?). People who want a mentor can search for this keyword. Then they can connect as much as they want.

I just feel like we already take ourselves really, really seriously, to a fault, without adding another set of titles.

For every person who's intimidated and doesn't post, I would bet there's another who could participate more, but gets tired of seeing the same 25 usernames who come across like mods in print.
posted by skbw at 6:26 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


That doesn't seem to make sense; if such people posted, they'd see less of those other names simply by dint of diversifying the posting pool, making your posited 25 names a smaller proportion of total posts.

The cure for seeing an unvarying stream of the same people posting is to become a different person also now posting. More people posting = the goal. This entire thing is meant to enlarge the set of people who post, not give folks titles.

It's mostly solved - a bunch of people said in this thread they'd do it, so it's probably basically a de facto done deal. Unfortunately most people who could use this don't read MeTa, so. Anyway, if everybody encouraged one new person to post one cool thing they found or know about, we'd have a serious expansion of ideas. So maybe try that.
posted by Miko at 7:36 PM on December 2, 2012


The top 25 loudest voices are everywhere, not just in FPPs. I am hardly opposed to more people posting. Would hate to give the impression that I am. Speaking for myself only, I do see a selection of usernames on the front page and would be delighted to see an even broader selection.

Then the comments are the same cast of characters. (I'm not saying this in a mocking tone--just as an exercise. Should we have commenting mentors as well? Probably not, right?)

If we really wanted to increase posting--if I were the king of metafilter--I would instead pick out the top x many usual suspects and send them a personalized note asking them to cool it just a little bit. February could be Shut Up and Let The Lurkers Talk month.

You're correct that the target audience doesn't read Metatalk. I do think, like I said above, that some messages re: mentoring should be included in welcome mssgs, FAQs, new post forms, etc..
posted by skbw at 7:19 AM on December 3, 2012


skbw: " If we really wanted to increase posting--if I were the king of metafilter--I would instead pick out the top x many usual suspects and send them a personalized note asking them to cool it just a little bit. February could be Shut Up and Let The Lurkers Talk month."

That's a fun idea. Can we start with a week instead of a month? :)
posted by zarq at 1:07 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


If we really wanted to increase posting--if I were the king of metafilter--I would instead pick out the top x many usual suspects and send them a personalized note asking them to cool it just a little bit. February could be Shut Up and Let The Lurkers Talk month.

From a moderator perspective, as much as I'm concerned about a chilling effect, there would be some useful benefits to not having the same Usual Suspects dominate threads on certain topics. I understand that this often happens because people are either quite passionate, quite knowledgeable or simply quite dogged on the topic, but this sort of stickiness, for whatever the reason does have a sort of power law effect in ways that aren't always having the desired effects of having all members feel like their voices and contributions are equally valued. On rare occasions we have told people specifically to cool it when they are specifically monopolizing threads, but this could also extend to the front page where we could encourage (somehow?) newer or more-lurkery people to post to the front page.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:36 PM on December 3, 2012


Maybe instead of talking about best post contests we should be talking about First Post Wednesdays or something like that. (Or in addition to, if not instead of).
posted by Miko at 2:04 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


As long as we're doing more user education around FPPs, it might be a good message to pass along that FPPs do NOT need to be really long and "carefully crafted" in that certain obvious way. (Yes, they should be carefully crafted even if short, but the writerly approach, for lack of a better word, is OPTIONAL.)

If we emphasized that brief is great as long as the content is good, then maybe this, too, would make it seem less daunting. Something cool on the web that's not a double...gosh, I can manage to post one cool link plus one or two sentences, right?

The quick and dirty posts I usually enjoy a lot more, but, joking aside, I am not saying that people have to post as per MY idea of what makes a good post. God help us all if I became a posting mentor.
posted by skbw at 3:19 PM on December 3, 2012


Looking at the front page over the last couple of weeks, there's no shortage of single link posts. I'd venture to say that most posts are only 1-3 links, not linkfests.
posted by zarq at 6:54 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had an idea that I wanted to share
posted by Renoroc at 5:48 AM on December 8, 2012


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