I'm happy for your achievement.
December 11, 2012 6:31 PM   Subscribe

I'm a big fan of borderline-believable alternate history myself, but I thought there was a general Metafilter policy against this sort of FPP?
posted by 256 to Etiquette/Policy at 6:31 PM (45 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

There's not really a policy against posting alternate/fictive history stuff, no. Intentionally being a jerk about it or something would be a problem, but that's not what happened here, and the poster actually noted a little embarrassment in thread over being accidentally fooled but has been a good sport about it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:34 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, no bones against Erasmouse, obviously. I was just surprised to see it stand without an above-the-fold satire warning. Not everyone clicks through to the comments. I seem to recall there being a ruling about entirely misleading FPPs, though I think the example was something like:
The President's Dead [more inside]
---
is a great song by Okkervil River
So maybe it only refers to stunt posts.
posted by 256 at 6:39 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, really it's the Don't Be A Dick principle that we fall back on. The accidental spoof thing is a little bit weird here but well-meaning and not something terribly controversial, so I figured it was fine especially since people called it out early in the thread, so, hey.

If it was crazy terrible breaking news that didn't actually happen or something like that, that'd be more of an issue but at that point we'd be more likely to just remove the post than to edit in a disclaimer.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:55 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nothing is real.

And nothing to get hung about.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:46 PM on December 11, 2012 [14 favorites]


That was my favorite Ayn Rand song.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:52 PM on December 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Your favorite? What about the B side: "Devil In Her Heart". It was so... confessional.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:00 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Joke's on all of you:

Okkervil River don't have any great songs.
posted by item at 8:05 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wow, that FPP had me. That should teach me to be on the lookout a bit more.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:15 PM on December 11, 2012


It served as a useful reminder of my credulousness.
posted by Egg Shen at 8:46 PM on December 11, 2012


It was just too much to be real.
posted by Miko at 9:19 PM on December 11, 2012


I WANT TO BELIEVE.
posted by GuyZero at 9:38 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


What does reality have to do with what I believe?
posted by not_on_display at 9:39 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Okkervil River don't have any great songs.

That is a damned dirty lie, Plus Ones is fantastic.
posted by maryr at 9:53 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Huh. I didn't even click through and I thought it was a hoax, but on examining my reaction it might have been based on a completely inaccurate understanding of when 1976 was. Turns out all these people were alive and adults at the time!
posted by jacalata at 11:16 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


There should be a disclaimer above the fold or at least in the FPP itself. One shouldn't have to read through the comments to figure it out.

Come on now.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:49 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


That was my favorite Ayn Rand song.

My own favourite is the one that goes:

"Will the state house me,
Will the state feed me,
When I'm sixty-four?"
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:35 AM on December 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


I usually assume that I can take what I read on the front page at face value. In this case the poster had fallen for the trick himself (not his fault) but I do think that fiction should be labelled as such, retroactively if necessary.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:45 AM on December 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Turns out all these people were alive and adults at the time!

Adults? I wouldn't say that about Rand.
posted by Skeptic at 1:13 AM on December 12, 2012


Figuring it out was half the fun. Even as a Rand disliker, I thought that she didn't sound right. She wrote novels, she wasn't a robot. (Henson didn't sound right, either.)

But yeah, most people don't read skeptically or look at the comments so it would be good to put a note up now.
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:57 AM on December 12, 2012


Someone needs to develop a one-woman Ayn Rand show like old Hal Holbrooke's Mark Twain shtick. You'd clean up on the idiot circuit.
posted by spitbull at 4:55 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


You'd clean up on the idiot circuit.

Yes, but so does Larry the Cable Guy.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:33 AM on December 12, 2012


Add me to the people asking for an above-the-fold note of satire, particularly as it references Ayn Rand, which honestly, a lot of people are already predisposed to believe the worst about.
posted by corb at 5:42 AM on December 12, 2012


The Passion of Ayn Rand
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:58 AM on December 12, 2012


a lot of people are already predisposed to believe the worst about.

Predisposed implies prejudice. I am inclined to believe the worst based on her actual work and legacy and personal conduct. As it were, I am post-disposed to believe the worst about her because she left no doubt.

Merely the mention of her name invokes satire and/or adolescent narcissism and simple-mindedness. Sometimes I think her entire schtick must have been satire, and her acolytes among the most gullible simpletons in the modern world. She was an angry moron,who wrote for fellow angry morons.
posted by spitbull at 6:04 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


AYN RAND: The empathy you point to obviously serves you well. I am happy for your achievement.

The conversation might be fake, but this reads almost verbatim like the vows to an Objectivist wedding that someone I know attended.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:05 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: a lot of people are already predisposed to believe the worst
posted by dubold at 6:47 AM on December 12, 2012


Add me to the people asking for an above-the-fold note of satire

Not me. I think the "don't be a douche about it" rule is good enough. Putting satire warnings is slightly too dumbed down for me and with good satire it doesn't matter whether you were fooled or not.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:56 AM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not me. I think the "don't be a douche about it" rule is good enough. Putting satire warnings is slightly too dumbed down for me and with good satire it doesn't matter whether you were fooled or not.

I can understand "don't be a douche about it" rule being good for deciding if someone should be sanctioned for posting an untrue FPP, but I don't think it's cool to present something untrue in a place where I expect to see generally truthful things. And now that we know that it's not true, it should be labeled as such or deleted.

And if it doesn't matter if we're fooled or not for it to be good satire, then it doesn't matter if it is labeled as satire. It does matter to me that a personal hero like Jim Henson is being treated himself as a puppet and words put into his mouth and believed to be true.
posted by inturnaround at 7:07 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I suspected early on that it wasn't real. They don't realistically chat over and around each other as often occurs in an online chat, just due to the nature of the medium. They also made similar punctuation errors, like forgetting question marks—both Henson and Rand do that on the first page. The "voices" seemed kind of accurate, but as chat text, it didn't ring true.

It did send me reading about Nolan, who I wasn't aware of, and that led me to a surrealist publication he worked on called Angry Penguins, which really piqued my curiosity, and that sent me to this delightful poem by the Australian Max Harris, from which the magazine got its name:

Mithridatum of Despair

We know no mithridatum of despair
as drunks, the angry penguins of the night,
straddling the cobbles of the square,
tying a shoelace by fogged lamplight.
We know no astringent pain,
no flecking of thought's dull eternal sea
in garret image, of Spain
and love...now love's parody.

See - chaos spark, struck from flint
and the plunging distemper, flare in the dawn's dull seep
of milkcart horse, morning horse
chaos horse, walking at three to the doors of sleep
with the creamy poison.
convulsions endure
from nine to five,
all life immure.
and still alive.

we know no mithridatum, nor the remembered dregs of fear,
the glass stands dry and silted; no end is near.


*** so yeah, I found all kinds of benefit from that post. Thanks, Erasmouse.
posted by Toekneesan at 7:49 AM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I liked being fooled. It was fun!
posted by windykites at 8:18 AM on December 12, 2012


the mefi member gullibility index is through the freaking roof. there was a time when that post would have been immediately recognized and appreciated for what it is. i blame facebook. and facebook onion reposts.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 8:55 AM on December 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Erasmouse already posted this in the thread:
Aw boo, is it not real?? I was totally taken in-- disclaimer really should be on the ABOUT section.

Apologies-- Mods, delete if you think appropriate.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:45 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon: "the mefi member gullibility index is through the freaking roof."

I don't know. I feel like anytime ANYTHING visual is posted, people are yelling "Fake!" within three comments.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:59 AM on December 12, 2012


All those voices were too obviously caricatures. No matter what you think of her, Ayn Rand was a better writer than that. Yoko Ono was an artist and feminist and didn't write such inane hippy BS. I'm also willing to bet that Henson knew how to spell "alter".
posted by oneirodynia at 10:10 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, you'd think a bunch of intellectuals using the newest tech in communication would be discussing that exciting new thing, not just being snippy to each other.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:14 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am against retro truth in labeling of FPPs. That way lies madness! The veracity of everything we read should always be suspect. Assume nothing. Question everything. And never, ever

carefully follow the instructions I am about to give you, starting with the introduction, and following through to the very end without skipping any steps:

The great philosopher Aristocrats famously provided his Ten Instructions for Seekers of Truth to Emperor Credulus III at the Feast of Saint Vitus in 1337 BS. These instructions will change your life!!!
  1. Ask first if you know who it is that is seeking the truth. How can you recognize the truth if you cannot recognize yourself?
  2. When questioning the truth of a thing, carefully visualize the thing without any clothing or ornamentation or lower back tattoos. How can you decide whether to bed an idea if you do not truly understand the nature of the idea or the idea’s providence or whether the idea is currently experiencing an outbreak?
  3. The only true answer to every question is: “It depends.” Any other answer is a lie. Probably.
  4. Absolutes are impossible. Non solutes are immiscible. Necked yoke lutes are inadmissible, as they are known lyres.
  5. Be the truth that you want to see in the world, Danny. I’m a veg.
  6. Satire is the lowest form of truth. But properly cultivated, it may grow a forest of trees from which you must not eat the fruit of knowledge, lest you fucking learn something.
  7. When wrestling with the truth, it is often useful to simply go limp, so that your self slips through the hold put on you by too much information, and the struggle can be reacquired from an unexpected angle. It can also be an advantage if you do not bathe. Take a whiff of that, truth!
  8. The scientific method is not a form of birth control, although the Venn diagram of people who are against both looks a lot like a diaphragm.
  9. Calling yourself a skeptic is not an excuse to bypass the scientific method. Artificial methodological bypasses are a leading cause of skeptic embolisms.
  10. If you don't clap loud enough, the cartoon fairy gets it! If you don't believe hard enough, Santa can't bring you any fucking presents! If you don’t have faith… well you get the idea, Emperor. Extortion is never a sign of the truth. Truth doesn’t care about you at all.
  11. The logic is sound, but the initial conditions are a lie.

posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:31 AM on December 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


No matter what you think of her, Ayn Rand was a better writer than that.

On the contrary, I thought this fake Rand was refreshingly concise.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:52 AM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Goddamned autocorrect! Provenance! "....the idea’s provenance...." Fuck.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:56 PM on December 12, 2012


Huh. I didn't even click through and I thought it was a hoax, but on examining my reaction it might have been based on a completely inaccurate understanding of when 1976 was.

It was about 36 years ago.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:59 PM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


borderline-believable alternate history

Like 'Kermit the frog is an altar ego'? I agree, this cannot be covered by any kind of policy.
posted by Namlit at 1:20 PM on December 12, 2012


You don't think that's rite?
posted by maryr at 8:25 AM on December 13, 2012


Rite of the spring: frog on altar.
posted by Namlit at 11:49 AM on December 13, 2012


Roast frog-leg surprise
Hey! I was still using that!
Kermit is tres hot
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:01 PM on December 13, 2012


Yeah, I sent a note asking for a disclaimer to be put in, but mods didn't think it was extreme enough to warrant one. Still feel uncomfortable about the whole thing.
posted by Erasmouse at 7:42 AM on December 14, 2012


Don't feel uncomfortable; it was a good post about something neat you found on the web. It was still pretty neat even when revealed as fiction. There there! Chin up! Right!
posted by not_on_display at 10:14 PM on December 15, 2012


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