Another shooting
December 14, 2012 10:01 AM   Subscribe

As most people are probably aware there was a mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school this morning. This comes after a shooting in a mall outside of Portland, OR earlier this week. I'd like to discuss events like this with the Metafilter community, but what is the right way to do so (or is there even a way to do so)?
posted by 2bucksplus to Etiquette/Policy at 10:01 AM (504 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Probably the best and only way is if you can find after-the-fact wrap-ups. Breaking news is kind of a waste here and of course both of these horrific events will launch the mothers of all gun control thread battles, so if in a few days there's a good analytical article in The Atlantic, or Harpers, or The New Yorker or something that we can discuss broader aspects of it beyond breaking news tragedies.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:05 AM on December 14, 2012 [21 favorites]


First: this thread is not going to become a de facto discussion of the school shooting.

Second: MetaFilter is often less good at breaking news stuff than it is at well put together posts about things that have happened. I suspect we'll know more in a few hours than we know now. Right now we know very little.

Third: people should try very hard to make a post that's good and not OMG THIS TERRIBLE THING because we know the thing is terrible and having a good post can help people have reasonable discussions

Fourth: this goes double for comments. If you are that person who always shows up and says "Way to go Amerika, more dead kids!!" we will consider your comments threadshitting and delete them. Have a real discussion with real people and try to save your snark and sarcasm and overbroad generalizations for other places on the internet, if anywhere.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:08 AM on December 14, 2012 [25 favorites]


Really, a thread like this is much better for site health than whatever that deleted one would have become. Give it a few days.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:12 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd love it if the hypothetically sucessful post could include some context. For example, Newtown is a somewhat unusual place - it's a relatively wealthy area, has families-everywhere kind of feel, etc. (I used to live in Naugatuck, not too far away.) It reminds me of the horrible murder of that family in Cheshire a few years ago.

Waiting until someone in a position of responsibility (who's willing to publicly attach their name to the report) actually verifies the facts would be great, too.
posted by SMPA at 10:12 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't figure out how to sort out my feelings of 'Yes, breaking news posts are not good use of Metafilter' and 'That 9/11 thread is one of the best uses of Metafilter I can think of.'
posted by shakespeherian at 10:15 AM on December 14, 2012 [64 favorites]


I am very serious about this thread not becoming a discussion of the thread. Don't toss body counts in here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:16 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some breaking news posts end up being excellent (9/11, Mumbai bombings, tsunamis,) - full of community and on-the-ground reporting and the like.

But that all happens kind of by accident. With something like this, all I can see happening is a lot of people going "gun control" and a lot of other people going "now is not the time to talk about gun control" and then it all spins out of any goodness or usefulness and we end up in meTa.
posted by rtha at 10:19 AM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think this thread should wait for days until we find gun control sources.
posted by stbalbach at 10:21 AM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


I appreciate that there's a Meta Talk question on this, first. Very much. This is good use of this section.
posted by infini at 10:21 AM on December 14, 2012 [30 favorites]


I agree with rtha. The last few similar posts have been mostly battles between one side of the gun control debate and the other. It's hard to see what an outsider to such a tragedy can say that is meaningful or helpful, outside a respectful fullstop.
posted by Jehan at 10:22 AM on December 14, 2012


These kinds of "breaking news" events pop-up fairly regularly throughout the year. Perhaps we need a new area dedicated solely to breaking news? Maybe it's hidden until such an even happens that warrants emergency activation of MeFiNews for the duration of the event?
posted by Thorzdad at 10:22 AM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'd like to discuss events like this with the Metafilter community

I very strongly believe that links come first, not discussion.

Also, mathowie, I'm sorry but I couldn't resist:

Metafilter: a good analytical article in The Atlantic, or Harpers, or The New Yorker or something.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:22 AM on December 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


I have a suggestion: let's not have a discussion about this most recent mass tragedy caused by mental illness and the breakdown of American civilization. There are approximately one billion venues where you can wring your hands, obsessively track body counts, and pore over the inane, banal, disturbingly familiar dribble of details about some broken individual whose revealed pattern of mental illness posed no obstruction to their collection of egregious volumes of small arms and ammunition. Nothing will be learned and nothing will be accomplished. There is no scenario in which we would not be better off skipping it.
posted by nanojath at 10:23 AM on December 14, 2012 [31 favorites]


I understand the need for moderation, but a blank front page on a story this large is kind of conspicuous, no?
posted by splatta at 10:24 AM on December 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


Metafilter isn't the solution to all problems, nor is it the proper venue for all discussions. Some things belong elsewhere.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:25 AM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


a blank front page on a story this large is kind of conspicuous, no?

No.
posted by Egg Shen at 10:26 AM on December 14, 2012 [29 favorites]


Are there any mefites in that area, and would this thread be OK for them to check in?
posted by deadmessenger at 10:26 AM on December 14, 2012


It's only conspicuous if we assume this is the kind of thing that "belongs" on metafilter, and I don't think it is, certainly not as a "breaking news" kind of thing. MeFi isn't CNN or other (inter)national news outlet, and I think it's good that we don't just default to that.
posted by rtha at 10:27 AM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


splatta: "I understand the need for moderation, but a blank front page on a story this large is kind of conspicuous, no?"

If we were a breaking news site, sure. But we're not.
posted by brundlefly at 10:27 AM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

splatta:
"I understand the need for moderation, but a blank front page on a story this large is kind of conspicuous, no?"
No, it's not.
posted by charred husk at 10:27 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


If we were a breaking news site, sure. But we're not.
Except all the times we are, when we do it well, sure.
posted by fightorflight at 10:29 AM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


I understand the need for moderation, but a blank front page on a story this large is kind of conspicuous, no?

Conspicuous in what sense? MetaFilter is not a news organization and is not obligated to cover breaking news events.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 10:30 AM on December 14, 2012


Are there any mefites in that area, and would this thread be OK for them to check in?

I really, really hope nobody shows up here to tell us their child has been shot.
posted by carsonb at 10:30 AM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


I still remember all the pointless, breathless and vehement speculation from the Aurora shooting thread and, yeah, I see absolutely no downsides to not having a thread on this until there are enough facts with which to have a discussion.
posted by griphus at 10:31 AM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'd like to discuss events like this with the Metafilter community...

Serious question: why do you want to have this discussion with the Metafilter community, as opposed to making an interesting post about the subject?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:32 AM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


it would devolve like the giffords' thread.
posted by clavdivs at 10:33 AM on December 14, 2012


Sometimes news is actually about something new happening. In those cases it tends to go better since the topic itself is what is interesting.

Sometimes news is just a proxy for a subject that has been done to death. In this case, until something new surfaces, the story will just be a proxy for a gun control argument. This does not go so well.
posted by charred husk at 10:33 AM on December 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


This is a bad road to be going down. Can a mod shut this now? As long as this thread is open, people are going to either argue about this or do gory body counts.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:33 AM on December 14, 2012


fightorflight: "Except all the times we are, when we do it well, sure."

Sure, we sometimes do breaking news stuff, for better or for worse. But that doesn't define the community or the site, so I don't think a gap in our "coverage" is conspicuous any way.
posted by brundlefly at 10:34 AM on December 14, 2012


I think if site policy and the context of breaking news is on topic, here, keep the thread open.
posted by clavdivs at 10:35 AM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: Serious question: why do you want to have this discussion with the Metafilter community, as opposed to making an interesting post about the subject?

I don't think it's much of a secret that many people here value the discussion as much as (if not more than) the links. That's no reason to post every single breaking news story to the front page, but the impulse is understandable, to me at least.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:36 AM on December 14, 2012 [33 favorites]


I understand the desire to come to Metafilter when shit like this happens. It's my first instinct (after calling home and suggesting my partner not watch the news...)

But I still agree with everyone that it just doesn't work here and probably never will. Unless one of the new rumored subsites is PlaceToGoWhenTheNewsMakesYouWantToPunchAWall.Metafilter.com.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:36 AM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


clavdivs: "it would devolve like the giffords' thread."

Seriously, go back and review that thread before diving in with a pro-breaking thread argument. Because yikes.
posted by boo_radley at 10:37 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Serious question: why do you want to have this discussion with the Metafilter community, as opposed to making an interesting post about the subject?

Because it's the best community I belong to? Right now I'm switching back and forth between the relevant threads on a videogame forum and reddit.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:37 AM on December 14, 2012 [20 favorites]


IMO, to early for a thread, no details and it absoul-utly breaks my heart.
posted by clavdivs at 10:37 AM on December 14, 2012


Well, bye. Going elsewhere. See ya MEFI!
posted by stbalbach at 10:38 AM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


This place has evolved and is as much a community as it is a place to post interesting stuff. It clearly has one of the smartest and best-informed user bases on the web (although not without its blind spots). It's natural that members of this community want to talk about these events, and it's a bit strange that mods are so adamant that this not happen.
posted by downing street memo at 10:40 AM on December 14, 2012 [65 favorites]


Til then take care.
posted by carsonb at 10:40 AM on December 14, 2012


Yeah, probably the best way would be after the fact, with as much information as is possible.

If the post is just "This is happening," it becomes a breaking news thing, which isn't inherently terrible - but a thread about this is also basically guaranteed to contain, at the very least, a series of disagreements about gun control. One or the other might be manageable (if not a little demanding on the mods, in execution), but breaking news plus a guaranteed argument about a contentious issue would be really likely to result in an insta-shitshow, and probably something the site is better off without.

It's not that breaking news threads are guaranteed to go badly, but they're a roll of the dice and there's no way to know whether they'll go well or poorly until they exist.

If Metafilter absolutely needs to have a post and a thread about this - and I don't lnow that it does, but I don't make the decisions around here - it'd be better to take the time to craft a decent post about it. Maybe include context and whatever media commentary and let the links speak for themselves. Offer some interesting take on it, some reason to read about this here instead of on pretty much any one of the million other sites that will be covering it. It'll still have an argument about gun control in it, but what can you do.

I guess what I'm saying is that nothing good has ever come of a situation in which a large number of people are both highly opinionated and factually uncertain. "I don't know exactly what's going on but I'm very angry about it" is not a sentiment likely to produce the kind of thing whose presence would improve this site.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:41 AM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


yikes is right boo and my opinion comes from my own anger that day. Do you think throwing up a link will go well, there are no details as of yet for starters.
posted by clavdivs at 10:41 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


While it is nice to think that Metafilter is only about the links, that line only seems to come out when there is a desire to control what kinds of newsy links are ok, not that newsfilter is itself always deleted, because it plainly is not.

I think in general, if we allow news, and if we take the "weblog as community" thing seriously, then the members should be able to discuss what they want to discuss, and the role of moderators is to help that discussion be civil. I understand this is a heated topic but that's because it is, in fact, rightly a heated topic, and not false outrage.
posted by Rumple at 10:41 AM on December 14, 2012 [31 favorites]


God damn I need a drink.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:43 AM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


Some of the most memorable threads have been breaking news ones.
posted by drezdn at 10:43 AM on December 14, 2012 [10 favorites]


salve clavdivs,

The link goes back to the Giffords thread (and not to a current event story), so that people can see what they might be advocating for.
posted by boo_radley at 10:44 AM on December 14, 2012


but a thread about this is also basically guaranteed to contain, at the very least, a series of disagreements about gun control.

As it should. This is the crux of the issue. Why avoid it?
posted by downing street memo at 10:44 AM on December 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


First: this thread is not going to become a de facto discussion of the school shooting.

I don't really understand this.
posted by eugenen at 10:45 AM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


good point but I think mrfi is better for having less if no news threads, well i will contain that to political threads,
IMO, a newfilter like page might need to be discussed. but i dont think that will happen. (the page that is )
posted by clavdivs at 10:45 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I understand the need for moderation, but a blank front page on a story this large is kind of conspicuous, no?

This is a bad road to be going down. Can a mod shut this now? As long as this thread is open, people are going to either argue about this or do gory body counts.

I have a suggestion: let's not have a discussion about this most recent mass tragedy caused by mental illness and the breakdown of American civilization. There are approximately one billion venues where you can wring your hands, obsessively track body counts, and pore over the inane, banal, disturbingly familiar dribble of details about some broken individual whose revealed pattern of mental illness posed no obstruction to their collection of egregious volumes of small arms and ammunition. Nothing will be learned and nothing will be accomplished. There is no scenario in which we would not be better off skipping it.


I think if site policy and the context of breaking news is on topic, here, keep the thread open.


I think this is a seminal thread. We are at the edge of discussing site policy on breaking news items, and also those we know "Metafilter does not do well"(tm) and a host of other things as nothing is as simple as that ;p (emoticon is only my attempt at some self deprecating addition to the plain text)

Look, even I've made a OMG shooting at a educational institution FPP. That was what made sit up right now particularly when I read nanojath's comment.

This is metaGRAR. With all its attendant irony intended. (try saying that aloud as I am right now because I'm talking to you all, not just typing away here)

This is sad and terrible and a tragedy and maybe it will be a wake up. But if it is, then that's a story indeed. And if it isn't, its GRAR.

And we can choose right now, here in this thread, in advance instead of it resulting in a 6000 comment MeTa which leads to people leaving and flameouts and whatnot, most of the time.

That is all from 3am in Singapore.
posted by infini at 10:45 AM on December 14, 2012


...then the members should be able to discuss what they want to discuss, and the role of moderators is to help that discussion be civil.

I think the problem is that there is no way to have a civil discussion without something to have the discussion about. Without relevant facts, the thread devolves into gun control debating, armchair psychologizing of the shooter, and "this just in!" comments full of misinformation and rumor.
posted by griphus at 10:45 AM on December 14, 2012 [13 favorites]


I come to this place for the discussion more than the links, and I absolutely support keeping a lid on an FPP on the subject. Right now there is no context, no information, no backstory, nothing but body counts and outrage and it will generate way, WAY more heat than light. Nope nope nope.
posted by KathrynT at 10:45 AM on December 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


As it should. This is the crux of the issue. Why avoid it?

Because it's just a massive shitfight on a polarizing issue that rarely sees one side change its mind. It's two dogs chasing each other's tails.
posted by Talez at 10:46 AM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


take the time to craft a decent post about it

This just means "make it look like some effort went in so everyone can ignore the crafty links and have the same chat thread they would have had if there was a completely linkless post saying 'School shooting: Discuss'."
posted by Wolfdog at 10:46 AM on December 14, 2012 [41 favorites]


As it should. This is the crux of the issue. Why avoid it?
posted by downing street memo

is it the crux of the issue, no. As supporting evidence see the Bath school bombing.
posted by clavdivs at 10:47 AM on December 14, 2012


Why avoid it? Because there will be very much heat and very little light. We've done it before, and there's no point in doing it again.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:47 AM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


I find MeFi to be excellent and collecting information in one place, and allowing the community to discuss what has just happened. I've visited the site 5x in the last hour to see if there is a post up.
posted by cell divide at 10:47 AM on December 14, 2012 [11 favorites]


Even so, a discussion is better when there's something concrete to discuss. Right now it's just idle speculation. Yeah, we can all speculate, but wouldn't you rather talk about what actually happened?
posted by troika at 10:47 AM on December 14, 2012


First: this thread is not going to become a de facto discussion of the school shooting.

I don't really understand this.


Basically, since MetaTalk has a different set of criteria and expectations than the front page, we should not discuss the topic of the now-deleted post here.
posted by CancerMan at 10:48 AM on December 14, 2012


eugenen: "I don't really understand this."

There's sort of a policy that "talking about the rules for a thing" not become the thing itself. Does that help?
posted by boo_radley at 10:49 AM on December 14, 2012


Even so, a discussion is better when there's something concrete to discuss.

How about "holy fucking shit", for starters? Rational, reasoned discussion is not an absolute good. "Holy fucking shit" has value.
posted by downing street memo at 10:50 AM on December 14, 2012 [27 favorites]


Any thread right now would just be an outpouring of shock and trauma and distress -- maybe disguised as debate, but really just venting all the horror. Do we need to go out of our way to be ragey and unkind to one another for no real reason on a day when a bunch of little kids just got murdered? I'm like the least "let's all hug" person I know, but this seems like one occasion when anything we can do just to be a little nice and human to each other for a minute would be helpful.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:50 AM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


Some breaking news posts end up being excellent (9/11, Mumbai bombings, tsunamis,) - full of community and on-the-ground reporting and the like.

9/11 and the tsunami in Japan had much broader impacts, and were unique events. Sadly, public shootings are common enough news, and don't have a broad enough impact, that I don't think each one needs a thread. MetaFilter is not about breaking news, it is about interesting topics. Much like religious and political threads, unless there is something different about this recent terrible event, the same issues get hashed out in the same ways.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:51 AM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


It clearly has one of the smartest and best-informed user bases on the web (although not without its blind spots). It's natural that members of this community want to talk about these events, and it's a bit strange that mods are so adamant that this not happen.

This.

I want to hear thoughtful opinions, not noise. That's possible (but never guaranteed) here, when it's allowed. It is far less likely/bordering on impossible elsewhere. "Make your own site" dismissals are not a good answer, because good communities are a pretty random and extremely rare occurrence, even if you have perfect moderation.

There's a need for a large part of the userbase, basically, that isn't being met. I wish that fact were at least acknowledged and treated as legitimate rather than ignored or hand-waved away.
posted by Ryvar at 10:51 AM on December 14, 2012 [21 favorites]


What I would really, really, really like out of any eventual post is the following:

1) Honest respect for the grief of those who lost their most precious loves today.

2) Ways we can be helpful.

3) No knee-jerk, "let's fight!" BS, not even if it's on a side I nominally agree with.

There will be a number of thoughtful wrap-ups on this, I'm positive. We can do a good job with this.

MetaFilter is not a news site. MetaTalk is not a discussion board. I'm no one important, just a member.
posted by batmonkey at 10:51 AM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


I find MeFi to be excellent and collecting information in one place, and allowing the community to discuss what has just happened. I've visited the site 5x in the last hour to see if there is a post up.


Same. Although I understand the mod's decision and am not personally interested in another reiteration of the "gun control now plz" thread, I still find myself refreshing the frontpage because this is the only community that I feel can discuss this issue even somewhat sensibly. Facebook, Reddit, and various topic forums I frequent just don't cut it for me, there aren't enough thoughtful opinions.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 10:51 AM on December 14, 2012 [16 favorites]


As it should. This is the crux of the issue. Why avoid it?

Well, again, there's nothing wrong with a thread where people argue about gun control, and in fact it's basically inevitable; what I'm saying is not that we should avoid it but that "I don't know what's going on" and "I'm angry about what's going on" are principles which don't tend to coexist to positive effect.

This just means "make it look like some effort went in so everyone can ignore the crafty links and have the same chat thread they would have had if there was a completely linkless post saying 'School shooting: Discuss'."


If, in a day or two, someone half-asses a post with some randomly-selected links with a rundown of what happened, that would still be better than a thread in which the inevitable gun-control fight is happening at the same time as people dropping into the thread to post conjecture and hearsay and whatnot. In terms of overall effect on the site, I may be wrong about its impact, but either way it'd be less of a headache to moderate.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:53 AM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


There are approximately one billion venues where you can wring your hands, obsessively track body counts, and pore over the inane, banal, disturbingly familiar dribble of details about some broken individual whose revealed pattern of mental illness posed no obstruction to their collection of egregious volumes of small arms and ammunition. Nothing will be learned and nothing will be accomplished. There is no scenario in which we would not be better off skipping it.

Mostly I agree but the trouble with the other venues is that they're not here. My most charitable read is that some members of this community would rather experience this mess together and that's something I can respect too.
posted by mazola at 10:53 AM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


This is what Metachat is for. There exists a whole site (actually multiple sites) specifically to handle the overflow from things not deemed appropriate topics for here.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:53 AM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Metafilter is the first place I went after seeing the headline about this. I'm not sure why. I guess I wanted to be (virtually) with other people as I try to process the news. I agree that a front-page post would probably go badly. Yet I still wish there was one.
posted by diogenes at 10:54 AM on December 14, 2012 [71 favorites]


I don't see what there is to discuss at the moment. What, right now, makes this shooting different from past shootings? All we have right now is that there was a horrific, multi-victim shooting at a school.

What is there to comment on or discuss that makes this situation unique at this moment?

Why not wait until we have actual content to mull over?
posted by rachaelfaith at 10:54 AM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


I still find myself refreshing the frontpage because this is the only community that I feel can discuss this issue even somewhat sensibly

Agreed.
posted by triggerfinger at 10:54 AM on December 14, 2012 [13 favorites]


downing street memo: How about "holy fucking shit", for starters? Rational, reasoned discussion is not an absolute good. "Holy fucking shit" has value.

Yeah, I totally agree with you, but MeFi is not set up to be a "Holy fucking shit" kind of place.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:54 AM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


"Holy fucking shit" has value.

But is that value suitable for MetaFilter? Serious question, because MetaFilter is not the only forum for discussion on the internet. Kind of like thin obit posts, there might be some stand-out comments, but most come to leave their pebbles, except Holy Fucking Shit posts usually bring more GRAR than grief.

This is what Metachat is for. There exists a whole site (actually multiple sites) specifically to handle the overflow from things not deemed appropriate topics for here.

Exactly (note: some links on the MeFi wiki may be dated or dead).
posted by filthy light thief at 10:55 AM on December 14, 2012


(and I say that as someone who loves the breaking news threads, and would highly support a news subsite, but who understands that the mods would quite rightly look at the administration of such as a fresh nightmare.)
posted by Navelgazer at 10:55 AM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not only is there nothing to discuss at this point beyond speculation and grief, there's some evidence that the way our society, or at least our newsmedia, approaches mass shootings is actually deeply unhelpful and will, in fact, spawn copycats. I don't need MetaFilter to contribute to the lurid 24/7 coverage of a horrible tragedy that very few of us will be directly affected by or have much of anything insightful to say about.
posted by Copronymus at 10:55 AM on December 14, 2012 [10 favorites]


i have to agree with navelgazer, that is exactly the proper forumn to go to and it's mefis!
posted by clavdivs at 10:57 AM on December 14, 2012


I don't need MetaFilter to contribute to the lurid 24/7 coverage of a horrible tragedy that very few of us will be directly affected by or have much of anything insightful to say about.

It's still going to end up covering it. The discussion is whether or not the post happens now or when more details are known.
posted by drezdn at 10:57 AM on December 14, 2012


it's a bit strange that mods are so adamant that this not happen.

We are asking that people wait until there are some things actually known about this. I don't necessarily feel that this will take days, but maybe a few hours. And not having this thread become the shooting discussion thread is mostly because MeTa is not for MeFi-posts-by-proxy. The moderation rules are different and the community is different.

"Holy fucking shit" has value.

But it's rarely a jumping off point to good discussion, particularly about such a contentious issue. I understand if people who need to discuss this right now go elsewhere, I personally think that's fine. I am assuming we'll have a post on this topic sometime this afternoon and am hoping it will go fine.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:58 AM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


The discussion is whether or not the post happens now or when more details are known.

Yeah, does anyone here actually doubt that there will be a thread on this?
posted by griphus at 10:58 AM on December 14, 2012


It's natural that members of this community want to talk about these events, and it's a bit strange that mods are so adamant that this not happen.

In events like this (mass shootings, especially at schools) are not things we end up "talking" about. We talk past each other. We shout, we accuse, we insult, we snark. We occasionally offer an insightful comment or link that gets drowned in the insults and accusations and data-dumps of which countries have more/less/firearams/murders. It's completely unsurprising that the people who have been around for years and get paid in part to keep us from going completely off the rails don't want that to happen.
posted by rtha at 10:59 AM on December 14, 2012 [10 favorites]


9/11 and the tsunami in Japan had much broader impacts, and were unique events.

At the time the 9/11 posts were made, no one knew the cultural impact of what was happening. Under the current guidelines, they probably would have been deleted.
posted by drezdn at 10:59 AM on December 14, 2012 [11 favorites]


For me anyway, I think there is some value in seeing the initial reactions, thoughts and the back and forth that goes with any breaking news story. Because it tells me a lot about how other people see things, how other people might agree or disagree, and why. It gives me a better sense of the world outside of my own head, where things are often much different than I would imagine them to be. I've learned a lot about other people and other points of view over the years from seeing these kinds of things on Metafilter. I think that some of that is lost - to a certain degree - once some time has passed.
posted by triggerfinger at 10:59 AM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


Has a seperate site page ever been considered for news, politics etc. seperate from the blue?
posted by clavdivs at 11:00 AM on December 14, 2012


chat.MetaFilter.com is available for those (like me) who just want to go somewhere online to not be alone right now.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:00 AM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


I still find myself refreshing the frontpage because this is the only community that I feel can discuss this issue even somewhat sensibly

Agreed.


Same here.

My Facebook Newsfeed has exploded with discussions of this tragedy. Granted, I have friends from Newtown and lived nearby in Connecticut ... but, I, too came to MetaFiler. There is often good discussion, updates and a shared catharsis which this community provides.
posted by ericb at 11:00 AM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


There are two different camps right now:

(1) I wish this could be a place to process, reflect, say holy fucking shit.

(2) There isn't any concrete news and this isn't unique or interesting anyway.

For the record, I'm in the first camp. I know this isn't what Mefi is for. But sometimes I think that the restraint borders on absurdity.
posted by murfed13 at 11:01 AM on December 14, 2012 [24 favorites]


This is hitting me pretty hard, and I would find a MetaFilter thread about it comforting, and a help in displacing the thoughts and images I really do not want to have.

Oh well, I guess Metafilter is a community, except when it isn't.
posted by jamjam at 11:01 AM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


Serious question, because MetaFilter is not the only forum for discussion on the internet.

It is basically the only sizable, decent, general-interest forum for discussion, that I know about. Reddit is a cesspit. What else is there?
posted by enn at 11:02 AM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


(2) There isn't any concrete news and this isn't unique or interesting anyway.

I don't see anyone making the argument of the second half of this sentence.
posted by griphus at 11:03 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a parent in Connecticut 15 miles away from the shooting, I'm way too close to offer an informed opinion on moderation for this topic. But, as diogenes said above, Metafilter was the first place I went to try to process this news.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 11:03 AM on December 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


But sometimes I think that the restraint borders on absurdity.

Agreed. Most communities come together in times of need -- for information, discussion and generally for comfort. MetaFilter has provided such a venue for 'coming together' before. Consider me perplexed right now.
posted by ericb at 11:04 AM on December 14, 2012 [18 favorites]


We talk past each other. We shout, we accuse, we insult, we snark. We occasionally offer an insightful comment or link that gets drowned in the insults and accusations and data-dumps of which countries have more/less/firearams/murders.

And there is always a parallel discussion going on that has nothing to do with gun control. It is easy to ignore the gun control threads of conversation and focus on the rest.
posted by enn at 11:05 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't need MetaFilter to contribute to the lurid 24/7 coverage of a horrible tragedy that very few of us will be directly affected by or have much of anything insightful to say about.

Yeah, I've got nothing to say, except that I've got a pile of stuff I should be doing today. So I will do that -- focus on what I can do. Not wallow in the easy alienated online shock of an atrocity that happened four thousand miles away, which is what I'm so tempted to do.

.
posted by philip-random at 11:05 AM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm with you mods on this.

That said, one of my friends was all "We need our guns because the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of tyrants."

To which I replied : "And apparently the blood of schoolchildren and mall shoppers."

I got unfriended. oops.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:06 AM on December 14, 2012 [18 favorites]


I would suggest to the mods that drawing inside the lines is not always the highest good, and that this situation is an example.
posted by Mooski at 11:06 AM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


Consider me perplexed right now.

Me too.
posted by R. Mutt at 11:06 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree with the reason for the deleted post but I, too, come here to find discussion about the issue to help work through it. There are people here who excel at sifting through tons of info to find the best links to updates.
posted by perhapses at 11:07 AM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


Griphus:

I don't see what there is to discuss at the moment. What, right now, makes this shooting different from past shootings? All we have right now is that there was a horrific, multi-victim shooting at a school.

What is there to comment on or discuss that makes this situation unique at this moment?

Why not wait until we have actual content to mull over?
posted by rachaelfaith at 10:54 AM on December 14 [1 favorite +] [!]

posted by murfed13 at 11:07 AM on December 14, 2012


And if you really want to chat with someone without further information or context and want to get your "holy fucking shit" conversations out, talk with co-workers, friends, family, or complete strangers. Because I think right now there would be the same amount of signal to noise as in a breaking news thread. I've had two co-workers walk by and mention the shooting already, and neither of them had anything more to say than "what is this country coming to."


At the time the 9/11 posts were made, no one knew the cultural impact of what was happening. Under the current guidelines, they probably would have been deleted.

Plane(s) had crashed into the WTC. In comparison, public shootings are, quite sadly, not that unique.


Also, I think in years (a decade?) past, MetaFilter was small enough that there could be a real discussion over a major news topic without the thread becoming really busy, if not noisy, really fast. Now, the site has enough users that significant news events bring a lot of people together, beyond the point where people can actually read all the comments being posted right at this moment, so few people are actually conversing in the thread, and are instead adding their comments into the noise.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:08 AM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think processing the news only works if we have details. Right now we have nothing, so it's a bit apparent that the thread would be full of speculation, leading to questions, leading to further speculation, and then it just takes one comment taken out of context to turn it into a gun control or mental health care fight.

I'd rather start the discussion once we are informed about the particulars of this event, so that we have a better foundation to start processing this news.
posted by CancerMan at 11:08 AM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


I can't figure out how to sort out my feelings of 'Yes, breaking news posts are not good use of Metafilter'

Yeah, I have mixed feelings about that too. On the one hand, I understand that breaking news is not MetaFilter's raison d'être, and that MetaFilter does not do breaking news as well as MetaFilter does other topics.

On the other hand, I also feel that MetaFilter does breaking news better than most other websites—including some allegedly professional news organizations—do breaking news. I've found past "breaking news" type threads to be fairly good at separating information from misinformation, rumor, and unverified claims. There's enough cool heads around here who know to challenge a fact in a random tweet with "hang on, there's no verification of that aspect yet, let's hold off until we get a better source."

On the third hand, I'd like to somehow be able to read MeFi-quality fact-from-fiction analysis without having to read the inevitable, predicatable GRAR-y gun control debate and "WTF, America?" comments.

On the fourth hand (think of me as General Grievous, if you like), I recognize that for those who want to have the inevitable, predictable GRAR-y gun control debate, it is on topic in a thread on the incident, regardless of whether that thread happens today or a week from now, and it's not my place to tell people not to have that discussion in a breaking news thread just because I don't want to read it.

I don't have a good solution. I wish there was a place that did fact-from-fiction sorting on breaking news events as well as MeFi, but without all the other discussion. I also recognize that MetaFilter is not such a place now nor will be one in the future.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:08 AM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


...a horrible tragedy that very few of us will be directly affected by

This is going to dominate local and national politics for the next 4-8 years. It's too much, way too much, for the electorate to put up with, so close on the heels of Aurora. This is the American Dunblane. Now or later, we will be discussing it.

Maybe, for today, I want it to be later. Rage is a reaction to fear and shock, and I don't want another excuse to roar at someone on the internet this time of year.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:08 AM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


There are people here who excel at sifting through tons of info to find the best links to updates.

Let them make a post in a few days, instead of tossing links into the fray.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:09 AM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


This just means "make it look like some effort went in so everyone can ignore the crafty links and have the same chat thread they would have had if there was a completely linkless post saying 'School shooting: Discuss'."

This, a million times this. All the demands for waiting a few hours for information, the Atlantic, etc, will amount to little more than "make sure you say 'I'm writing a novel' on your chatty AskMe".

It seems like for a sizable number of people this site is the place they come to discuss matters of interest with like-minded (and intelligent non-like-minded) souls. Not to say visiting for the links alone isn't just as valid as using favourites for bookmarks, but it's not the only MeFi.

Serious question, because MetaFilter is not the only forum for discussion on the internet.

It is the only forum for discussion with all the Mefites. Even MetaChat, for all it has many Mefite users, is a different space.
posted by fightorflight at 11:09 AM on December 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


Yeah -- someone could craft an FPP and pad it.

Hey, did you know that Newtown, originally known as Quanneapague, was purchased from the Pohtatuck Indians in 1705, settled from Stratford and incorporated in 171. Newtown was a stronghold of Tory sentiment during the early Revolutionary War.

The game of Scrabble was developed there by James Brunot.

And, Bruce Jenner attended Sandy Hook High School in Newtown.

All true facts!
posted by ericb at 11:11 AM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


Maybe a news subsite is one of the seekrit additions Matt mentioned in that interview the other day.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 11:11 AM on December 14, 2012


Oooh ... forgot to mention James Thurber was from Newtown!
posted by ericb at 11:11 AM on December 14, 2012


you guys, there is a lot of good emotional support and discussion going on in chat right now. Come on over.
posted by KathrynT at 11:12 AM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've been at another community discussion, and the posts there have been 50% "oh my god, this is terrible, what information do people have, those poor children" and 30% "this is why the US is terrible and I am going to go on and on about how terrible the US is" and 10% "guns are the devil" and 10% "guns don't kill people, people kill people".
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:12 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, join us in chat.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:13 AM on December 14, 2012


I don't even know how to join metachat. Someone help me?
posted by SkylitDrawl at 11:13 AM on December 14, 2012


NB: chat.metafilter.com and MetaChat are two totally different things.
posted by griphus at 11:14 AM on December 14, 2012


Not metachat, but chat.metafilter.com.
posted by zvs at 11:14 AM on December 14, 2012


This post is already 100 comments long. If y'all really want to discuss this, someone should go ahead and spent 10 minutes making a decent post. 'Cause seriously, talking about whether to make a post just seems like spinning wheels.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:15 AM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


One of the things that went sort of badly in the Aurora thread were the sub-threads where people took a rumor or speculation and got really angry at each other about it, and when the actual facts came out they were kind of overshadowed by the well-established positions about the fake news. That's part of what we're trying to avoid right now - there is just very little actual knowledge, and waiting a few hours until some more concrete facts are known (at the very minimum) will help slow the spread of misinformation.

(And I, personally, have a real problem with the way these things get blown up in the media and don't want to feed into that, but that's my own feeling and no part of site policy.)
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:16 AM on December 14, 2012 [17 favorites]


Even though it goes against my instincts, I'm going to side with the mods. Hell, I'm not even sure I want a thread when we have significantly more information. For me, personally, it's because there will be those people--at least one member in particular is a well-known repeat offender--who will say absolutely disgusting shit that it horrifies me to know that they actually believe, and makes me want to reach through the Internet and (I'm softening my words here) shake some sense into them. It will be couched in relatively serene words but will be propaganda and pseudostatistics that will inevitably be found to have come from the NRA and related organizations, and despite them having every right to their opinion, I will consider them complicit in what has gone on. All of that is what the mods know is going to happen, and they know that there are going to be quite a few people that will feel quite similar to how I feel, if not stronger.

But that's not what Metafilter is for.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:16 AM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm largely opposed to breaking news threads, not so much because "that's not what Metafilter is for," but because mod time is a finite resource, so time spent babysitting those threads is time away from the rest of Metafilter. For truly massive events like 9/11, discussion of which is going to obliterate anything else anyone cares about for a day or two anyway, it's different, but this just does not rise to that level of event, to me.

Then again, I'm opposed to a lot of the comments people view as "community," so probably my view is different from a large subset of the membership.
posted by dsfan at 11:17 AM on December 14, 2012


Saying there should be a post for this for the benefit of "discussion" is unavailing. There is no discussion to be had about the event as such. There could be some emotional venting and a lot of chatting, idle speculation, etc. But there is not any ability to have a discussion. The reason is because no one enough about what occurred to have a discussion. Our understanding of the topic is exceedingly limited and constantly changing. So the set assumptions right now might be different in an hour. So the ability to talk intelligently about has occurred is impossible due to incomplete and possibly wrong information.

Trivializing this tragedy at this initial stage by making it as a data point in a broader, preconceived political argument about gun control is an insult to those currently suffering. It is politicization of tragedy that sucks the humanity out of the loss and makes the loss of life substantively irrelevant and secondary to someone's political argument. That is a discredit to us all.

I have seen past shooting threads (Giffords, holocaust museum, etc), and I have felt dirty after reading each one. And reading them in retrospect can inform why discussing this tragic case now at this stage is impossible to do in a manner befitting of the esteem we claim for our discussions here.
posted by dios at 11:17 AM on December 14, 2012 [14 favorites]


There's padding a post, and there's providing context. The latter will take a few days, when there is more known about the events that happened today. Right now, there are news blogs that are "live blogging" coverage. This is still a very breaking story. I think that is why there hasn't been a post to survive on the front page.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:17 AM on December 14, 2012

This is going to dominate local and national politics for the next 4-8 years. It's too much, way too much, for the electorate to put up with, so close on the heels of Aurora. This is the American Dunblane. Now or later, we will be discussing it.
Well, I remember Dunblane. I was 14 and at school at the time. The news went from mouth to mouth, and I don't recall anything more than our teacher saying, "Yes, the rumors are true." Then we all sat and worked in silence. There wasn't an expectation that we had anything useful or helpful to say on the matter.
posted by Jehan at 11:17 AM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


This post is already 100 comments long. If y'all really want to discuss this, someone should go ahead and spent 10 minutes making a decent post. 'Cause seriously, talking about whether to make a post just seems like spinning wheels.


I'm with the mods that there probably isn't enough information around right now to make a decent post. We know, what? Basically nothing right now, besides that a shooting happened in an elementary school. But if someone wants to give it a try, I'm all for it.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 11:18 AM on December 14, 2012


Meanwhile, on my facebook feed two people have changed their profile photos to candles and one person has already blamed "rap lyrics and mental cripples from broken homes."

I would welcome a place on the Internet to discuss this with rational, intelligent human beings, even if I disagree with them. Metafilter is, sadly, one of the few places I know where I can do that.

I understand not wanting to be a breaking news site, I also think once in a while you need to let the kids rough house because they just need to get it out of their systems. Padding a thread with a few Wikipedia links isn't going to make the rough housing any better.

On the other hand, I understand such a thread is a nightmare from a mod standpoint and will most likely not be an example of Metafilter at its finest.

Maybe we should just all step away from our computers and go for a walk.
posted by bondcliff at 11:18 AM on December 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


I was going to suggest reviving the Jabber chat from the election day, but it seems like it never went away.

As long as we have that, I actually do think that might be the best place to have our discussion (and, yes -- we need to have a place to have a discussion, but it's probably a good idea to keep it off of The Blue until there's enough material to form a full FPP)
posted by schmod at 11:19 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think processing the news only works if we have details. Right now we have nothing,

A friend of mine has a very active fb thread on this at the moment, and it's full of people going "This is awful!" and even more people talking about mental illness, stigma against treatment, whether or not the shooter was mentally ill, whether or not people who are diagnosed should have their guns taken away, gun control yay, gun control sucks, etc.

Given that we all have the same amount of information right now - which is to say, basically none - I can't see how an fpp could go any differently.
posted by rtha at 11:19 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's the reddit thread, in case anybody really desperately wants to shit into the wind/receive windblown shit from others about this event as details unfold.
posted by tehloki at 11:20 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


talking about whether to make a post just seems like spinning wheels.

A lot of this thread seems to be a more general "should MeFi do breaking news posts, and if so, how" discussion. It's not just a "should there be a post on today's shooting in Connecticut" thread. As such, I think it's a worthwhile conversation to have.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:21 AM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


This just means "make it look like some effort went in so everyone can ignore the crafty links and have the same chat thread they would have had if there was a completely linkless post saying 'School shooting: Discuss'."

This is exactly right. The idea that a post with more links, or better links, when it has as its subject a thing that people are going to want to discuss regardless of the content of the links, will result in a better quality of discussion, seems very cargo culty to me. "If we make this breaking news post look like a post about a New Yorker think piece with links to thoughtfully-chosen supporting and contrasting blog posts, maybe the discussion will resemble the thoughtful discussion that would result from such a post." And maybe if we build a fake radio tower out of scrap wood, John Frum will return.

Either allow breaking news posts or don't, but this policy that they're allowed only when they are made up to look like something other than what they are—excuses for discussion—is a bad policy.
posted by enn at 11:23 AM on December 14, 2012 [24 favorites]


I'm with the mods that there probably isn't enough information around right now to make a decent post.,

Yes and no.

In an effort to be constructive, here's a suggestion for a post that could be productive and also offer a place for people to post links to the CT situation and information becomes available:
A brief timeline about the rise of mass shootings around the world and links to articles about why they occur or have been on the rise.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:24 AM on December 14, 2012


I was going to suggest reviving the Jabber chat from the election day, but it seems like it never went away.


It is still there and is perfect for this sort of thing. I encourage people who haven't been there to try it out.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:24 AM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


There are places where that conversation is being had amongst MeFites. chat.metafilter.com, for one, as already mentioned.

I think we can have a far better conversation after we get a lot of the reflexive stuff out of the way. I hope. I so hope.
posted by batmonkey at 11:26 AM on December 14, 2012


There are details. A lot of details.

The tragedy is broadening.

Since we can't discuss it here ... I suggest people follow The Newtown Bee (looks like their site has been hacked) Facebook Timeline, Newtown Patch (updates) and The Litchfield County Times Facebook Timeline.
posted by ericb at 11:30 AM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Every other social media have looked at (and closed for the forseeable) is a wall of grief, anger, hatred, revenge and anti-American racism. Pleased that this is at least one community online - possibly the only one - which has deliberately hit the pause, and is debating what it is contributing and should contribute.
posted by Wordshore at 11:30 AM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


Wordshore: "anti-American racism"

Americans are a race now?
posted by dunkadunc at 11:31 AM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm 100% with the mods on this one. MetaFilter is not a news site, let alone a breaking-news site.

At this point, a thread on this shooting would just be a lot of anger and sadness looking for an outlet.

No thanks.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:32 AM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm thankful that this wasn't the policy on 9/11, because 1) I wouldn't be on Metafilter, that thread was how I found it, and 2) I wouldn't have had the extremely valuable information and discussion in the thread to help me process the events of the day.

This is where I have trained myself to go for information and discussion of these events-a place where scattered reports are collected. Where am I supposed to go?

(on preview, thanks for the ideas, ericb)
posted by Kwine at 11:33 AM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


I realize that the whole reason I'm here now is because I need a hug. And metafilter is one of the few online places that does metaphorical hugs well.

(I don't want to hug my coworkers, that'd be weird - internet strangers are better for that)

I agree that it shouldn't be an FPP until there are details, so until then, HUGS to you all.
posted by ldthomps at 11:34 AM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hey, MeFites:

{{{{{{{YOU}}}}}}}

(a big fluffy group hug)
posted by batmonkey at 11:36 AM on December 14, 2012 [9 favorites]

"This is going to dominate local and national politics for the next 4-8 years. It's too much, way too much, for the electorate to put up with, so close on the heels of Aurora."
What's scary is that it probably won't.

In a few weeks discussion will be relegated to pundits arguing gun control on cable news echo chambers. It doesn't take long for a tragedy to turn into a talking point and a quick glance at Facebook isn't making this look any different.
posted by cedar at 11:38 AM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


deliberately hit the pause, and is debating what it is contributing and should contribute.

This a thousand times.

"Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people." - Eleanor Roosevelt

This event, like many events before and many events that will follow, is horrible and sickening and utterly tragic, and there's a legitimate human need to process that.

If this event is directly impacting you (because you live in that community or have direct ties to it in some way), there are more relevant places to talk about the unfolding events, as others have already mentioned.

For the rest of us, we need to process our feelings on something that doesn't directly impact our lives. At least not yet, anyway. We may have an emotional response to this monstrous tragedy, but on balance it is not different than all the other monstrous tragedies that have happened, and hell, some may even be happening right now in other parts of the world. Doesn't diminish the need to work through these feelings, but I think it should temper our response in handling it as a community.

So to have a great, helpful, significant discussion about such a thing, it behooves us to wait, consider all the facts once they're settled, and seek to discuss the ideas and issues that surround this event.

That being said I'm more than happy to offer internet hugs to one and all who need it. Feel free to memail me if you want something even more specific than that. Seriously.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:38 AM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


You mean "prejudice" not racism, Wordshore. But it is astonishing to me how many people feel the need to unload anti-US diatribes while people in the US are trying to understand a horrible tragedy. To me, it would be like going up to someone who had just been in a car crash and saying "Well, what did you expect driving that car, it's unsafe, you're an idiot". Car safety is important. Gun policies are important. Grandstanding about either to people who are shocked, confused, and in pain is not.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:38 AM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


Every other social media have looked at (and closed for the forseeable) is a wall of grief, anger, hatred, revenge and anti-American racism. Pleased that this is at least one community online - possibly the only one - which has deliberately hit the pause, and is debating what it is contributing and should contribute.

That pretty much describes my two different global twitter timelines. Yes.

And....batmonkey stole my line.

[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[huggityhugbucketyhuggity]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]
posted by infini at 11:38 AM on December 14, 2012


Interestingly, this was my first stop when I found out about the news, because I figured that it would only have been posted (and not deleted) if there were facts and stability to the story -- which I prefer to wait for, it isn't like finding out non-details and non-facts really quickly will help save anyone's life -- and so if it wasn't a solid FPP that stuck around, I'd know that there was no point to looking for answers elsewhere yet.
posted by davejay at 11:39 AM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


I wouldn't have had the extremely valuable information and discussion in the thread to help me process the events of the day.

I think in the case of 9/11, as well as the various hurricane threads, Metafilter users were valuable in providing news to the rest of the community, which made the breaking news discussion very useful. Unless we have a large user base on the Newtown, CT SWAT team, that's not going to be the case. It's just going to be a bunch of people agreeing that yes, this is a tragedy, and violently disagreeing about the causes.

Still, it's inevitable so we should probably just open the damn floodgates.
posted by bondcliff at 11:40 AM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah. I went to high school (back in the '80s) in Newtown. My Facebook feed is ablaze with friends with Newtown connections passing speculation back and forth. Other social media is ablaze with speculation and...

I too turned to MetaFilter's front page when I saw this story breaking. I too really value the insight this community can bring to events and my world. However, right now there isn't any real information out there, and the only sort of conversation we can have about it is what I'm already seeing elsewhere: Knee-jerk re-iterations of our opinions as pasted on to speculation.

Hell, the first thing I thought about when I found the alleged shooter's Facebook page was how those images fit back on the people in my social group in high school. Dress. Attitudes about firearms. And then I realized that I was just making up stories that fit my preconceptions.

We can do better than that. And the way to do better is to wait. As davejay points out: There are no facts and story stability yet. Once again, monster respect for the mods. Thanks.
posted by straw at 11:40 AM on December 14, 2012 [8 favorites]




You mean "prejudice" not racism, Wordshore. But it is astonishing to me how many people feel the need to unload anti-US diatribes while people in the US are trying to understand a horrible tragedy. To me, it would be like going up to someone who had just been in a car crash and saying "Well, what did you expect driving that car, it's unsafe, you're an idiot".


Nothing that I can answer you with is currently permissible on this thread. Here's a hug. Call me an idiot. I'm on the internet.
posted by infini at 11:41 AM on December 14, 2012


> Americans are a race now?

Alright. Yeees, it's official. To be American is to be racy.
Sadness outlet: Sorry to hear the hideous news. Too sad to take in right now. I'm turning into my father, "it's too sad, de, too sad"
posted by de at 11:41 AM on December 14, 2012


Just found out I know the shooter. Blinded by confusion right now.
posted by rachaelfaith at 11:42 AM on December 14, 2012 [24 favorites]


In the context of whether breaking news posts should be allowed, I made a FPP about the most recent Israel-Gaza conflict the day it happened, and was very thankful for the information and discussion it led to, in no small part due to the moderators. That seems different though because of the language and cultural barriers inbetween America (I know not everyone here is american) and the Middle East. It was very helpful to get multiple different sources, and I feel like it led to perspective I wouldn't have gotten otherwise.

I'm not sure how or if that applies in this case, though.

.
posted by DynamiteToast at 11:42 AM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people." - Eleanor Roosevelt

That is a very interesting idea and I have an idea that it would be nice to discuss this idea with all you great minds out there. Idea.
posted by davejay at 11:43 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think we can have a far better conversation after we get a lot of the reflexive stuff out of the way. I hope. I so hope.

You know what? I wonder if it won't be worse. Right now, a chunk of the people who would be having that conversation here aren't just sitting with their hands folded in their laps waiting for more information to become available; they're having the conversations on other sites. They're having shittier conversations, more likely, with more antagonism and posturing.

That will only entrench their positions, so that when the discussion does start here a depressing chunk of it will just be reddit-forged GRAR lobbed from behind the barricades.

A shock like this is a great spur for people to reconsider their positions. It will be too late in a few days' time.

consider all the facts once they're settled, and seek to discuss the ideas and issues that surround this event.

The ideas and issues don't depend on the facts of the event. The idea of gun control isn't dependent on the shooter's identity. What is being argued for here is the chance for Mefite's great minds to discuss the ideas. What you are saying is we should wait to discuss the events and people, like the average and small-minded. Great.
posted by fightorflight at 11:44 AM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have trouble figuring out what to do with these sorts of stories because I'm someone who feels the constant need for details and updates and sits there hitting refresh, but on balance I think that that approach is really bad for me. There's nothing I can do, obviously, knowing the constantly updated death toll isn't going to make me happier or better informed or able to change a damn thing. The only difference between processing this now, as the details come in, and processing it tomorrow is that I'm slightly agitated by the constant flow of upsetting information. I sort of wish everyone who didn't need to know about this could just forget about it for 24 hours and then read a well written news article once everything was known.

I'm glad Metafilter is striving for this.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:44 AM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


Oh lord, rachaelfaith.
posted by rtha at 11:45 AM on December 14, 2012


Just found out I know the shooter. Blinded by confusion right now.

Wha?
posted by item at 11:45 AM on December 14, 2012


Sys Rq: "At this point, a thread on this shooting would just be a lot of anger and sadness looking for an outlet.

No thanks.
"

So a bunch of members of this community want to talk about it. But you don't. So we shouldn't, because you would have found it impossible to not participate in a thread that doesn't interest you? I don't understand.

I don't understand why we have to funnel this into chat, why chat isn't an officially recognized part of the site, and why this community is only a community sometimes. And what details are we waiting on, that would make it ok to talk about this, that isn't on the front page of the New York Times right now?
posted by danny the boy at 11:46 AM on December 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


fightorflight: "You know what? I wonder if it won't be worse. Right now, a chunk of the people who would be having that conversation here aren't just sitting with their hands folded in their laps waiting for more information to become available; they're having the conversations on other sites. They're having shittier conversations, more likely, with more antagonism and posturing. "

I get what you're saying and I appreciate it, but if past performance is any indicator, those shitty conversations would be happening on the blue as well.
posted by boo_radley at 11:46 AM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm sure we will have a thread about this today, but still the news seems to be breaking and much of it feels like rumors because every hour that passes I'm hearing new numbers of people wounded and dead and talk of a 2nd shooter. When information starts to stabilize (I'd guess in a few hours) I think we can have a thread about it.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:48 AM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


griphus: Even so, a discussion is better when there's something concrete to discuss.

downing street memo: How about "holy fucking shit", for starters? Rational, reasoned discussion is not an absolute good. "Holy fucking shit" has value.


Just my 2 cents but I strongly agree with griphus on this and strongly disagree with DSM. "holy fucking shit" does not have value for me. A bad thing happened. Bad things happen every day. We don't have enough information yet to meaningfully discuss or analyze the bad thing. Metafilter is not (for me) a place to come and talk about how sad or angry we are about something that's breaking news. I would argue that simply experiencing an event together as a community is valuable only in cases where the event's consequences will affect the average user (e.g. 9/11) or when a MeFi thread can facilitate checking in on members/coordinating disaster response (e.g. Sandy).
posted by Wretch729 at 11:48 AM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm not a fan of decisions like this, for several reasons:

They seem, no offense to the mods, to be very arbitrarily enforced; there certainly are breaking news stories on Metafilter, and always have been, despite periodic decisions like this in the past at seemingly random times.

The whole "Metafilter doesn't do such-and-such well" trope generally seems pretty silly and condescending to me.

The "Metafilter is not a news site" trope seems simplistic. Metafilter most certainly does news stories, and it's also not a cause-of-death statistics site, an Alferd (or Alfred) Packer site, or an autonomous vehicles site.

The "Do we really have to discuss such-and-such, I cannot stand when we discuss such-and-such" trope frankly just makes me think "Don't read such-and-such threads, then."

The "We have to wait till we know facts" trope strikes me as counterproductive; I've often found out facts from Metafilter's breaking news threads, as they happened, in near real time.

But most of all, decisions like this seem to ignore the fact that this is obviously a place that a lot of people want to discuss things like this with each other on. That seems to be treated as if it is a bad thing, for some reason. That some of us want to discuss it with each other.
posted by Flunkie at 11:49 AM on December 14, 2012 [17 favorites]


danny the boy: "I don't understand why we have to funnel this into chat, why chat isn't an officially recognized part of the site, and why this community is only a community sometimes. And what details are we waiting on, that would make it ok to talk about this, that isn't on the front page of the New York Times right now?"

Postings about shootings and tragedies tend to fracture the community. Genuinely. This community is a community only sometimes because people have irreconcilable differences of opinion because it's hard to remember the humanity of other members when they're just a name on a screen. I'm not sure why the NYT would serve as a standard for MetaFilter post validation and I don't know why that's the example you'd cleave to.

I'll go back to what dios said. He encapsulates what I think.
dios: "Trivializing this tragedy at this initial stage by making it as a data point in a broader, preconceived political argument about gun control is an insult to those currently suffering. It is politicization of tragedy that sucks the humanity out of the loss and makes the loss of life substantively irrelevant and secondary to someone's political argument. That is a discredit to us all.

I have seen past shooting threads (Giffords, holocaust museum, etc), and I have felt dirty after reading each one. And reading them in retrospect can inform why discussing this tragic case now at this stage is impossible to do in a manner befitting of the esteem we claim for our discussions here.
"
posted by boo_radley at 11:49 AM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


My position at this point is that we need an emotional outlet. Something this horrific in the country has not happened in over ten years. Many of us live close to this area and know these families.

I also think that when we do have a thread, anti/pro gun control discussion needs to be KEPT OUT. strictly. Not only is it tired and unproductive, it's god damn disrespectful to use a tragedy like this as a platform for your pet political views.
posted by WhitenoisE at 11:51 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hang in there, rachaelfaith.
posted by malocchio at 11:51 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't understand why we have to funnel this into chat, why chat isn't an officially recognized part of the site, and why this community is only a community sometimes.

Chat is in beta, basically - it's official and all, we're just still figuring out what place it has in the larger scheme.

It's a good place for this sort of thing because a) it's a good place for the sort of "holy fucking shit" emotional reactions - people can have and share them and feel validated and supported without the Metafilter-standard expectation of debate and argumentation applying and b) it's more ephemeral, so those emotional reactions don't dictate the tone of the conversation for the rest of the day/week/month.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:52 AM on December 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


rachaelfaith, if the person you know is the person whose Facebook photo in a black cap has been posted on news sites, he is still alive and posting and thus is not the school killer.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:52 AM on December 14, 2012


Flunkie perfectly articulates my thoughts. Policy seems to deny and/or be resistant to the fact that communities evolve over time. You've got thousands of people that want to talk about this? By god, let them talk about it. Electrons are free and one thread isn't going to hurt anyone. You don't want to be a part of that thread, don't be a part of it.
posted by jbickers at 11:52 AM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


I know people complain about newsfilter, but I find that when we DO do newsfilter here, it becomes a huge go-to site. Like on election day or 9/11.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:52 AM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


As much as I love politics threads and enjoy the community spirit of breaking news threads, I definitely support the mods' decision to hold off on a thread about this for at least a few hours. I was around for the Aurora and Giffords threads, and the grief and mutual support was drowned out by a lot of anger and often vitriol on both sides, and a lot of mudslinging about mental health issues. I went away from them feeling sadder than ever that we can't come together after a tragedy like this, but must instead be further split by a political position.

I've been following breaking news on Twitter, and I'll likely pop my head in the chat later, but for now I'm glad that there isn't another giant miasmic thread on this site with people reiterating the exact same facts and figures across each other while parents are grieving and news outlets have a fucking field day interviewing children. When a politician decides that actually making policy is more important than goodwill of corporate donors, then maybe we can have a worthwhile discussion.
posted by Phire at 11:53 AM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


So a bunch of members of this community want to talk about it. But you don't. So we shouldn't, because you would have found it impossible to not participate in a thread that doesn't interest you? I don't understand.

What is there to talk about? "This bad thing happened." "Oh, how awful." "I agree that child murder is not good." "Guns killed them." "Guns could have saved them." [enormous derail]
posted by Sys Rq at 11:54 AM on December 14, 2012 [10 favorites]


A side note, as I watch you folks kill duplicate attempts to post an FPP about this: you should really consider activating your holiday queue when you know there's been a big thing like this, and manually approve FPPs for a few hours. Better not to have 'em up than to delete them repeatedly.
posted by davejay at 11:55 AM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


Without retracting my comments above, I do conceed jbickers has a point. If this HAD been posted as a newsy FPP I would likely not have read it, and would have probably thought to myself that I didn't like it being there, but would not have actually flagged it or anything. I respect the opinion "why not post, if you don't like it don't participate."
posted by Wretch729 at 11:56 AM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


What is there to talk about?

How about the social and psychological factors that lead to a shooting rampage every few hours in this country? How about the shamefully inadequate mental health care system that often ignores these perpetrators until they crack?
posted by WhitenoisE at 11:57 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Derail? Non-productive sure, unfortunately, but pretty damn relevant.
posted by ODiV at 11:57 AM on December 14, 2012


rachaelfaith, if the person you know is the person whose Facebook photo in a black cap has been posted on news sites, he is still alive and posting and thus is not the school killer.

Man, I hope that's the case, because that's the guy I know. But how many Ryan Lanzas are from Newtown and live in Hoboken currently? It's really odd.
posted by rachaelfaith at 11:57 AM on December 14, 2012


WNYC currently is engaged in a thoughtful conversation / discussion.
posted by R. Mutt at 11:57 AM on December 14, 2012


What is there to talk about? "This bad thing happened." "Oh, how awful." "I agree that child murder is not good." "Guns killed them." "Guns could have saved them." [enormous derail]

The solution to bad speech is more speech, not silencing everyone.

The solution to this problem that seems to be afflicting America is a national conversation. It's a conversation that's been put off for too long, frankly. And, yes, it's a conversation that doesn't often go well. There's no solution to that except trying again and again.
posted by fightorflight at 11:57 AM on December 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


you should really consider activating your holiday queue when you know there's been a big thing like this, and manually approve FPPs for a few hours.

The holiday queue is only for MetaTalk. There's no queue for the blue at all.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:57 AM on December 14, 2012


Rumple writes "While it is nice to think that Metafilter is only about the links, that line only seems to come out when there is a desire to control what kinds of newsy links are ok, not that newsfilter is itself always deleted, because it plainly is not."

It's only required for newsy links and GRARy ones at that. A crappy post of no interest just sits there not generating traffic and not requiring mod interaction.

drezdn writes "At the time the 9/11 posts were made, no one knew the cultural impact of what was happening. Under the current guidelines, they probably would have been deleted."

Metafilter was a different place then. See for example the change in chat filter acceptance in AskMe.
posted by Mitheral at 11:58 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


via Mefi Chat Looks like the media should take a timeout on discussing this too, or at least on posting pictures of the suspect...

Sort of proves the point of this thread I think.
posted by yellowbinder at 11:58 AM on December 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


Put me in the camp of being bewildered that we're not allowed to have a FPP on this. There are plenty of facts available. There are plenty of people who want to talk about those facts.

Those of you that can't control yourselves enough to not read a thread you don't like still haven't learned.
posted by Big_B at 11:59 AM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm just gonna keep saying this forever because I feel strongly about it:

If stupid assholes want to threadshit, ban them, why in the HELL make the site suffer instead?

"MetaFilter doesn't do that well" is a poor excuse from an otherwise intelligent, enlightened community that does, in fact, do breaking news very, very well all the time.

I came to MeFi as soon as I heard, because I expected to hear from a wide ranging view of people with intelligent experience and background, pointing out varying viewpoints that would be very helpful in figuring out what went on. Its absence from the front page is absolutely conspicuous.

Not like anybody misses me (and I don't blame you), but this very exact issue is why I don't come here much any more. Open, concise, community-driven conversation about topics that aren't actually important. Why not important ones? Oh, because we don't do those well.

For shame.
posted by TomMelee at 11:59 AM on December 14, 2012 [29 favorites]


Deleting a thread like this is similar to the NRA refusing to talk about gun control because it's "too soon." It's always not soon enough. Let's bring the discussion out into the open while we can.

This is perhaps more needing an FPP than anything else put on the blue in weeks. The refusal of the mods to see this just shows how dedicated they are to rules at the expense of the entire point of Metafilter.

Note: yes, everybody does need a hug.
posted by luriete at 12:01 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


The holiday queue is only for MetaTalk. There's no queue for the blue at all.

Ah. Then for your own sakes, I think a revised suggestion of adding an on-demand queue for breaking events windows is worth considering. Although it is also worth considering that I could really go for a nice meal right now, and nobody seems to be giving that much thought.

anyone?
posted by davejay at 12:01 PM on December 14, 2012


While it's true that if you don't like a post, you don't have to participate; that's both 1) an argument for never deleting a FPP ever and 2) equally true in the reverse, if you want to talk about something that we're not talking about here, there are plenty of other communities to do it in. There's no right, either legal or fundamental, to have a particular conversation within a particular online community.

I think there are plenty of people who would feel like they wanted to participate and come away from it more hurt and angry and confused than they started. Give this time and that's a lot less likely to happen.

I am also pretty sure I've heard that Breaking News flash body count updates are objectively bad in that they encourage copy cats. At this point that's all a thread would be.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:01 PM on December 14, 2012


I really enjoy this site, and I come here often. One thing I learned early on was that it is a site run by Matthowie and a team of moderators. It is not a democracy. It is their site to do as they see fit. They are very good about getting feedback from the community and incorporating that into their decision making. A lot of decision making also seems to be about managing work load or not creating unnecessary work load without a well thought out plan to deal with it.

So, as happens from time to time, they make decisions that I don't agree with. But my attitude is that it is their sandbox and they can do what they want. I will take my toys and go home.

I have no opinion on this decision as I usually avoid breaking news story posts and move on so I guess it is easy to say that I support the decision of the folks that run this place. I either live with it or move on.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:03 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


The fact that we have managed to avoid giving googlejuice to the false Facebook ID of some poor bastard who happens to have the wrong name makes me feel like our reasoning is fairly sound. That whole cycle is the worst part of social media and frankly appalls me.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:04 PM on December 14, 2012 [50 favorites]


How about the social and psychological factors that lead to a shooting rampage every few hours in this country? How about the shamefully inadequate mental health care system that often ignores these perpetrators until they crack?

These are indeed excellent things to be talking about, not just during an episode like this, but all the time. Events like this remind us that these things need to be discussed -- and there is value in that* -- but when people are feeling emotional, this discussion is not likely to be productive. On the other hand, if we wait too long, we'll never discuss it. So waiting a few hours or days until everybody's had a chance to work through their emotions can only improve the discussion that we should be having on these topics.

*perhaps it goes without saying that I'd rather events like these never happened, and so the topics could be forgotten about because they were no longer things that needed to be discussed, but that might be too much to ask of the world.
posted by davejay at 12:04 PM on December 14, 2012


Looks like the media should take a timeout on discussing this too, or at least on posting pictures of the suspect...


Wow. That poor guy. His picture has been circulated everywhere and people are calling him a monster and the face of evil.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 12:05 PM on December 14, 2012


Put me in the camp of being bewildered that we're not allowed to have a FPP on this.

I don't think such a thread is "not allowed," but something that will require some time to put together. Again, MetaFilter is not for breaking news.


If stupid assholes want to threadshit, ban them, why in the HELL make the site suffer instead?

Breaking news threads aren't only made a mess by threadshitters, but by general confusion and noise. Yes, there's some consolation taking place, but a lot of GRAR going on way or another.


Deleting a thread like this is similar to the NRA refusing to talk about gun control because it's "too soon." It's always not soon enough. Let's bring the discussion out into the open while we can.

It's not "too soon" because it's a sensitive topic, but because it's breaking news, and the story is still unfolding. The story will probably never truly be "complete," but when news agencies are still scrambling to put the pieces together, it's not great for a MetaFilter post, which are static. Yes, the comments add to the topic, but they aren't meant to continue the telling of the story.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:05 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


I would think a discussion of the Heller decision and other gun laws would be the right thing.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:07 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

What is there to talk about?
Let's find out.
posted by Flunkie at 12:08 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


But the deleted thread was only tangentially about what happened today, and more was a very specific question about what causes people to behave in the way that today's "shooter" behaved in. It wasn't really about the news at all, and only used that as a jumping-off point.
posted by luriete at 12:08 PM on December 14, 2012


Ultimately I guess I don't like being treated like I can't have nice things. I'd rather the mods have to watch the thread like hawks (sorry for the extra grief, really) than say nope, you're not enough of an adult to talk about this yet. Wait till you're older.

Just in terms of community interaction, I'd rather we approach each other with presumptions of good faith and back it up with vigilance in moderation.

I don't think anyone staff-side isn't taking this seriously, but a lot of members here seem to feel like they know better than the rest of us. That the sizable portion of people here who want/need to talk about this, their desire for how they want this community to work is patently wrong and should be ignored.
posted by danny the boy at 12:09 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


restless_nomad: "The fact that we have managed to avoid giving googlejuice to the false Facebook ID of some poor bastard who happens to have the wrong name makes me feel like our reasoning is fairly sound. That whole cycle is the worst part of social media and frankly appalls me."

This is why you get to delete comments. Someone posts false or speculative info? Delete.
What else you got?
posted by Big_B at 12:09 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]

luriete:
"Deleting a thread like this is similar to the NRA refusing to talk about gun control because it's "too soon." It's always not soon enough. Let's bring the discussion out into the open while we can.

This is perhaps more needing an FPP than anything else put on the blue in weeks. The refusal of the mods to see this just shows how dedicated they are to rules at the expense of the entire point of Metafilter."
I think you have a different concept of what the point of MetaFilter is compared to the mods.
posted by charred husk at 12:09 PM on December 14, 2012


If stupid assholes want to threadshit, ban them, why in the HELL make the site suffer instead?

You're "suffering" because you can't be bothered to go to some other website? Please.

Tell that to the people who were just murdered.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:09 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hey, I just wanted to mention that the chat site doesn't work for me at all (or other users like me; I imagine I'm not the only one). I read 95 percent of the time on my smartphone, usually in small bursts while my toddler plays with something for a few minutes. So anything I have to read in real time is out because I miss too much and can't participate in a way that respects the context of the room.

Also, the chat UI (while great on a desktop) is not usable on my smartphone.

I read both the Gifford thread and the Aurora thread as they unfolded and despite the wrong assumptions and misinformation, I found them to be valuable. I did not come away ill-informed, as it seemed like nonsense was corrected relatively swiftly. I have no idea if my impression was created by skillful mod heroics, but I am glad those threads existed. Especially from a phone, news websites get SLOOOOOOW in a way that MeFi avoids, so I guess I do use it for breaking news. (The NYTimes app barely works for me right now. Not that it's Mefi's job to fix that.)

I could write this because my kid is napping, but I hope I'm speaking for other mobile users too.

I wish there were a thread; I could be catching up on it right now.
posted by purpleclover at 12:10 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


This is why you get to delete comments. Someone posts false or speculative info? Delete.

Funny story -- you can't actually delete anything from the Internet.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:10 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's not about the mods having extra work.

It's about wanting this to be a quality, respectful representation of what happened and what can be done.

The people who are freaking out about not having a thread on the blue on this are picking something really weird to be stressing about, when there's a perfectly acceptable conversation - with links and everything - happening in chat.
posted by batmonkey at 12:11 PM on December 14, 2012


Someone posts false or speculative info? Delete.

That's what we're doing. Right now very nearly all the news, except the fact of the shooting itself, is speculative. It'll settle down pretty soon now, but we can afford to wait until then.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:11 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sys Rq, wtf? That's not what I said and you know it.
posted by TomMelee at 12:11 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


My favorite breaking news post was the Balloon Boy Hoax drama, where mefites were making on-the-fly lift calculations and debating based on math whether it was possible for the boy to have been in the balloon at all. Way better and more timely info than MSM.
posted by Esteemed Offendi at 12:11 PM on December 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


If stupid assholes want to threadshit, ban them, why in the HELL make the site suffer instead?

You're "suffering" because you can't be bothered to go to some other website? Please.


There's a thread actually on that topic #furredsquirrelpablum
posted by infini at 12:12 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Big_B:
"This is why you get to delete comments. Someone posts false or speculative info? Delete.
What else you got?"
Do you expect the mods to research every claim to make sure they're factual? I've just watched the MSNBC liveblog correct itself four times in the last hour.
posted by charred husk at 12:12 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sys Rq: "If stupid assholes want to threadshit, ban them, why in the HELL make the site suffer instead?

You're "suffering" because you can't be bothered to go to some other website? Please.

Tell that to the people who were just murdered.
"

How about you not belittle the concerns of other users?
posted by Big_B at 12:12 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


charred husk: "
Big_B:"This is why you get to delete comments. Someone posts false or speculative info? Delete.
What else you got?"
Do you expect the mods to research every claim to make sure they're factual? I've just watched the MSNBC liveblog correct itself four times in the last hour.
"

No, the community is pretty good about immediately telling people they have false information. Or at least used to when we were allowed to discuss current events.
posted by Big_B at 12:14 PM on December 14, 2012


sys req, that's really not helpful. you have an opinion on how this site should would, others have differing opinions. you don't get to say, "go somewhere else if you disagree with me". your opinons don't have a higher intrinsic value than other peoples'.
posted by danny the boy at 12:15 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Okay, this chat is close to heated grar as I can take. Night all and hugs again.
posted by infini at 12:15 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's possible to connect to chat through any Jabber client, not just the web interface. Does anyone have iOS and/or Android Jabber client apps they would recommend to people using chat on their phones?
posted by beryllium at 12:15 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

filthy light thief: It's not "too soon" because it's a sensitive topic, but because it's breaking news, and the story is still unfolding. The story will probably never truly be "complete," but when news agencies are still scrambling to put the pieces together, it's not great for a MetaFilter post, which are static.
Precisely. Just over the last hour or so since I sat down to read this thread the story has changed three times. The reporters on the scene are broadcasting whatever rumors they've been told by anybody in a uniform apparently.

I am glad though that there is the outlet of chat.metafilter.com. I value the emotional support of mefites just as much as I value their reasoned arguments and uncanny ability to find obscure information on the Internet. If you're hurting or worried and just want to be with your fellow mefites, I encourage you to log in there. There's good information about how to log in to chat in the original announcement from Election Day.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:16 PM on December 14, 2012


restless_nomad - it wasn't false or speculative info in the thread that Jessamyn deleted, though. It was a question asking for references as to what makes people do violent things like this. There was nothing speculative about it.
posted by luriete at 12:16 PM on December 14, 2012


But it does not honour the dead to insist that there must be no room in that space for rational thought and critical appraisal. Indeed, such situations demand both. For one can only account for so many "isolated" incidents before it becomes necessary to start dealing with a pattern.

It is simply not plausible to understand events in Connecticut this Friday without having a conversation about guns in a country where more than 84 people a day are killed with guns, and more than twice that number are injured with them.

Amid all the column inches and airtime now being devoted to these horrific slayings, though, that elephant in the room will remain affectionately patted, discreetly fed and politely indulged. To claim that "this is not the time" ignores the reality that America has found itself incapable of finding any appropriate time to have this urgent conversation. The victims in Newtown, Connecticut deserve at least that. And these tragedies take place everyday, albeit on a smaller scale.


Metafilter is one of the few places where the a sensible gun control conversation is not off the table. I do think we need to talk about this as much as possible, as often as possible, and as boldly as possible because the national climate now has anyone who dares mention sensible gun control measures shouted down by the NRA masses. The national norm is irrational and I think we need to have as much reasonable discussion out there as is possible.
posted by triggerfinger at 12:17 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


That the sizable portion of people here who want/need to talk about this, their desire for how they want this community to work is patently wrong and should be ignored.

Perhaps I'm an outlier on this, but my own attitude isn't that at all; it's that any of us can discuss this with friends, family, and any number of people on the internet, including people on MetaFilter who want to discuss it in MetaChat, as it happens...but that if we want the site to be unique, then we collectively need to make well-considered unique decisions once in a while, and if we can't agree on what those decisions are, then the mods get to make 'em, because this is their house we're all guests in, even if having us as guests is what makes the house such a popular place to hang out.
posted by davejay at 12:17 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


you don't get to say, "go somewhere else if you disagree with me".

That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying, "Go to some other site for breaking news, because breaking news is not what this site is for." It has nothing to do with me.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:17 PM on December 14, 2012


luriete, people are mostly talking about the several threads on the blue. The AskMe had some framing problems which could theoretically get fixed and undeleted if the poster gets back to us fast enough.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:18 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is why you get to delete comments. Someone posts false or speculative info? Delete.

But that is why right now the mods are saying it's not the right time - because we do not yet know which info is false or speculative, and which isn't. And so any thread that gets started would have nothing but "does anyone have any info?" and nothing else becuase the mods would have deleted anything because all there is IS speculative info right now.

The mods aren't saying "we can't ever have a FPP about this," they're just saying "give it an hour or two until we have some yardstick to know which information IS speculative".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:18 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think there is a significant difference between a current news thread for a major world event like 9/11 (or Mumbai or...) and a school shooting no matter how terrible. And I think the mods are right to tolerate threads for the former but have much stricter guidelines for the latter. Maybe throw chat.metafilter.com links into the deleted threads when they get deleted?
posted by Justinian at 12:18 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe throw chat.metafilter.com links into the deleted threads when they get deleted?

In my opinion -- which is of limited value, granted -- this is the best pony I've heard in a long time.
posted by davejay at 12:20 PM on December 14, 2012


Right. At least 27 people dead at an elementary school. But not enough info to talk about it.
Gotcha.

Just listened to our President talk about it. Apparently he thought there was enough info to discuss it.
posted by Big_B at 12:21 PM on December 14, 2012 [13 favorites]


I am so conflicted!

I really do need to discuss and process the news, and it would be great to do that with a community that's non-awful.

But the part of the reason this community is non-awful is that it's not a place that follows the standard news cycle of incomplete information, and commenting before thinking.

Maybe things would be better if there was a subsite (or associated site) for this? That way the FPPs that are really-news-but-claim-not-to-be can go there, along with the inevitable discussion, and the front page can be reserved for the less crazymaking stuff.
posted by vasi at 12:24 PM on December 14, 2012


If you just missed the experience of getting through that statement from the President over on chat because you were busy fussing about not having the experience of processing this freshly with MeFites, you really missed out.
posted by batmonkey at 12:24 PM on December 14, 2012


Mods have repeatedly said that there can be a post about it when there's less shitty info/no info and better sources and framing. That is not the same as "You can't talk about it ever here."

It's like people don't read the comments in a thread or something.
posted by rtha at 12:24 PM on December 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


Did he discuss it with people, or did he address the nation? Because I didn't see him take any questions.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:24 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


This Mod decision is frustrating because, as a father and grandfather, events like this evoke a visceral response in me, and aside from my IRL family, you are the people I most want to turn to for comfort and insight.

That said, I still agree with the Mod decision. As horrible as this is, I think it is clearly different in scope and nature from the 9/11 and Tsunami threads, and is exactly the kind of thread that should wait for facts, frustrating as that wait is. However tightknit this community may be, MetaFilter is still first and foremost a site for providing links to interesting content, and then discussing that content. To the extent that this content is still very much changing by the minute, I find that I agree with which side of the line the Mods have chosen to view this subject.

But it's still frustrating.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:24 PM on December 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


I was totally against this decision until I heard about innocent!Ryan Lanza being mistaken for killer!Ryan Lanza (if that's who the killer is). I can imagine how this would have down in a actual thread and it wouldn't have been good.
posted by nooneyouknow at 12:25 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ironically the mods are probably spending about the same amount of time sitting in this thread defending their decision as they would babysitting an FPP.
posted by elizardbits at 12:25 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


Right. At least 27 people dead at an elementary school. But not enough info to talk about it.
Gotcha.

Just listened to our President talk about it. Apparently he thought there was enough info to discuss it.


I'm sort of loath to respond to this sort of snarky comment, but I'm not even sure we know that the President thought there was enough information to talk about it. The President giving a press conference is (unfortunately to my mind) absolutely expected; he would have been crucified in the media if he hadn't said anything. Taking the mainstream media's thirst for a never ending news cycle of tragedy updates as a sign of how to run the site seems precisely backwards to me.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:25 PM on December 14, 2012 [14 favorites]


I feel like I just went out on a date with a girl who is upset because she thought I was in a rock band because I listed "music" as an interest when I just played tuba in a polka band.

"I'm sorry I'm not what you thought I was. I don't know what else I can tell you."
posted by charred husk at 12:26 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Install a system where members can downvote comments or posts, and X number of downvotes automatically nukes that comment or posts. This way the community and not just mods can decide what topics are worthy of discussion, and Metafilter doesn't have a goddamn K-Pop video on top of its front page on a day when most of our minds are elsewhere.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 12:26 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh god, no, please leave reddit shit at reddit.
posted by elizardbits at 12:27 PM on December 14, 2012 [27 favorites]


Ironically the mods are probably spending about the same amount of time sitting in this thread defending their decision as they would babysitting an FPP.

It is much less terrible for my day dealing with people who are mad at me than people who are mad at each other.

And seriously, folks, feel free to hop in chat. It's a good fit for this need right now.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:27 PM on December 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


Install a system where members can downvote comments or posts, and X number of downvotes automatically nukes that comment or posts.
reddit.metafilter.com
posted by tonycpsu at 12:27 PM on December 14, 2012


wait was that a hamburger i can't tell, too tired, too friday
posted by elizardbits at 12:27 PM on December 14, 2012


There's a difference between talking about a current event, and writing about something on MetaFilter.

As restless_nomad mentioned upthread, this is an emotional topic, but lots of those feelings are ephemeral. Any thread on this topic will be long, and the comments in the beginning will always be at the top of the thread. Those will shape the discussion in the weeks to come, and right now, there's not a lot of solid information, so the emotional, incorrect comments will probably set the tone of the whole thread, even if there are corrections further in the thread.

I don't mean to belittle anyone's desire to discuss and process the topic at hand, but there really are other outlets than MetaFilter.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:28 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


For whomever winds up making the eventual post, please consider linking Fred Rodgers' advice on how to talk about tragedies with children.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:28 PM on December 14, 2012 [11 favorites]


Ironically, the top of my reddit page right now is a before and after weight loss picture of a cute girl.

I also feel like right now is possibly the only time we need K-Pop videos.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:28 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Put me in the camp of being bewildered that we're not allowed to have a FPP on this. There are plenty of facts available.

This is not what the mods, and mathoiwe, have said. For you to understand this from what they have said require 1) skipping their comments or 2) a total and complete misreading.

Make a good FPP, if you can.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:28 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not hamburger in the least. If I'm the target, I can completely control half of the interaction. Much simpler.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:29 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


[We are not starting with the "go fuck yourself" here. Do not make me start handing out timeouts before we even make it to the blue. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:31 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


No, I meant the upvote/downvote idea, r_n
posted by elizardbits at 12:31 PM on December 14, 2012


Oh, gotcha.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:33 PM on December 14, 2012


This is the thing I was think of about how the coverage of these sorts of tragedies can lead to copy cats. I think it's fairly instructive on how to run a site like this as well.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:34 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


elizardbits writes "Ironically the mods are probably spending about the same amount of time sitting in this thread defending their decision as they would babysitting an FPP."

This is a site policy discussion; something that will hopefully be useful long term (like the boyzone disscusions of yore) even if we end up having this discussion again.

Also less than 200 comments as of this comment; An FPP would have double that easy by now.
posted by Mitheral at 12:35 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's a conversation that's been put off for too long, frankly. And, yes, it's a conversation that doesn't often go well. There's no solution to that except trying again and again.

No, it's a conservation that cannot happen, because it goes like this :

"maybe we should talk about gun..."

"BLAEARG TYRANNY SOCIALISM LIBERTY FOUNDING FATHERS!!!"

I mean, I own guns. I like them. I see both sides, here. The solution to this problem isn't legislative, it's cultural. Gun culture in this country is fundamentally broken and the main proponents of it are unwilling and/or unable to address the faults therein.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:37 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


ob1quixote writes "For whomever winds up making the eventual post, please consider linking Fred Rodgers' advice on how to talk about tragedies with children."

That link is "Service Unavailable"ing for me.
posted by Mitheral at 12:37 PM on December 14, 2012


I am aware of all those things, thanks. My point is that no matter what decision is made, it is impossible to please everyone.
posted by elizardbits at 12:37 PM on December 14, 2012


Double is hugely conservative. I think a blue thread would already have more than a thousand comments.
posted by Justinian at 12:38 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


In a case like this, not permitting a front page thread is also a contribution to the argument.
posted by washburn at 12:42 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


They are NOT BLOCKING ANY FPP. They are DELETING BAD FPPs!

Post a good one: it stays.

Goodness gracious sakes alive ARGH.
posted by batmonkey at 12:44 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


I've been penned up in a small, crowded conference room doubling as office space all morning, with four other people. They're all rabidly hunting down news on this shooting and repeating it to each other, getting into arguments about who has the right info and who has the wrong info, getting into arguments about gun control, and on and on. I walked out of that room for lunch with the last thing I heard being that they have the shooter's brother in custody, and then I came into the break room where CNN is blaring and they're reporting that the shooter's brother was shot dead in his home. And while I'm typing this, there's now a state trooper or something giving a press conference on CNN and the banner below him indicates that the shooter is dead but that they still actually need to confirm his identity, even though the news outlets have been reporting that it's this Ryan Lanza kid for the past couple of hours.

If the news outlets can't even get the goddamn story straight, I don't want to see a thread on the blue about this issue until some basic facts are cleared the fuck up. I don't think that's too much to ask. No one's going to prevent you from talking about this story. An FPP will probably be up before nightfall. There have been multiple chat options posted about in this thread, and this is basically the only story the internet is talking about right now. Relax. Unclench. Go do something kind for someone else to help offset the balance of shittiness going on in the world. Just... fucking STOP.
posted by palomar at 12:44 PM on December 14, 2012 [32 favorites]

Mitheral: That link is "Service Unavailable"ing for me.
I think it's up and down because a lot of people are trying to access it. Here's a Coral Cache link to the same content just in case.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:45 PM on December 14, 2012


purpleclover, or other people having problems with the chat:
If the problem is that it scrolls too fast, you can turn off scrolling. There is a little switch on the bottom right part of the screen, click it and the place you're reading will become stable and the conversation will be queued up "below" there. That way you can catch up at leisure.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:46 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow. That poor guy. His picture has been circulated everywhere and people are calling him a monster and the face of evil.

In a strange coincidence, I just listened to the On the Media interview with Neda Soltani, an Iranian woman who was confused with the woman (Neda Agha-Soltan) who was killed during the 2009 protests in Iran and became an impromptu symbol of those protests; Soltani's life was pretty much destroyed by that confusion (she now lives in exile, her image used and abused and largely vilified by the Iranian govt and the protest movement alike). If rachaelfaith's friend is not connected to today's shootings, I hope he avoids that kind of fate.
posted by aught at 12:46 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Big_B: No, the community is pretty good about immediately telling people they have false information. Or at least used to when we were allowed to discuss current events."

The problem is that you can't just delete the offending comment. You also have to delete all comments that refer to it, including the ones that debunk it, and hope someone posts a clean comment with the new information that doesn't have any ties to the false information, including reposting the wrong link in order to correct it.

Do that a few times and the thread becomes little more than a carcass. Why not just wait a few hours? Will that really ruin your day if the thread is later this afternoon instead of right now?
posted by Phire at 12:48 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]



That link is "Service Unavailable"ing for me.


Try this one. Don't know if it's the same content, though.
posted by dersins at 12:50 PM on December 14, 2012


I'm gamely trying to figure out how to use a Jabber IM client, but finding it pretty frustrating. What's the IP address?
posted by purpleclover at 12:51 PM on December 14, 2012


(Sorry, unclear: the IP address to connect to chat.Metafilter.com)
posted by purpleclover at 12:54 PM on December 14, 2012


Newtown is my hometown. I can't speak for the whole town, but with all the misinformation flying around right now, I very much appreciate that Metafilter is waiting until a clearer picture of what happened emerges before allowing a FPP to run.

This is completely heartbreaking. I've been to that school a thousand times growing up. I've been crying all day. Just awful.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:55 PM on December 14, 2012 [24 favorites]


Aw, Joey Michaels. I'm really sorry. :(
posted by palomar at 12:56 PM on December 14, 2012


So sorry, Joey Michaels!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:56 PM on December 14, 2012


purpleclover: "chat.Metafilter.com"

Pinging chat.Metafilter.com [50.22.177.13] with 32 bytes of data
posted by boo_radley at 12:56 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

washburn:
"In a case like this, not permitting a front page thread is also a contribution to the argument."
Yes. The contribution is, "There is still too much speculation and misinformation."
posted by charred husk at 12:57 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


Aw, man, thank you folks, but no need to be sorry for me. I'm crying for the families, and for my family members who thankfully weren't hurt.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:58 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


purpleclover, which client are you using? We might have specific info that can help. The original thread announcing chat also has information about connecting a Jabber client.
posted by pb (staff) at 12:59 PM on December 14, 2012


also, for people trying to connect to chat from devices, here's a potential xmpp url for you to try clicking on:

xmpp:chat.metafilter.com
xmpp:50.22.177.13
posted by boo_radley at 1:02 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Uh, it's the first thing that came up in the Google Play store when I searched for "Jabber client"? Is that not right? It's Cisco Jabber IM.
posted by purpleclover at 1:05 PM on December 14, 2012


It helped me to go to CNN.com and watch and listen to the President's remarks. I cried with him, and it helped. As usual, he said just the right things. And now I want to find out if there is any way to help, any way at all.

Hugs to you and your whole community, Joey Michaels.
posted by bearwife at 1:05 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


Install a system where members can downvote comments or posts, and X number of downvotes automatically nukes that comment or posts. This way the community and not just mods can decide what topics are worthy of discussion, and Metafilter doesn't have a goddamn K-Pop video on top of its front page on a day when most of our minds are elsewhere.

At least consider the fact that not all MeFites are Americans. While the majority of the membership is American and from the northeast, and while this is a big deal internationally, and people all over the world (like here in Canada at least) have been affected by what happened, this is still an international site.

My condolences to people who have been affected by this tragedy.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:09 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cisco Jabber IM probably won't work, but I haven't tested it. You need a Jabber client that supports group chat and from what I understand, the Cisco client doesn't. I'm not familiar enough with the Android Jabber client situation to make a recommendation. They're fairly rare on iOS, but OneTeam and JabberB both work with the MeFi Jabber server.
posted by pb (staff) at 1:10 PM on December 14, 2012


I don't have anything to say, but my heart is very very heavy, and I'm glad this metatalk thread is here; it has a palliative effect, at least for me. Though I confess I haven't read through all the comments yet.
posted by angrycat at 1:11 PM on December 14, 2012


pb, it definitely doesn't work. I'll keep looking around.
posted by purpleclover at 1:12 PM on December 14, 2012


The Jabber client I got to work on my Motorola Droid 4 was Xabber.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:13 PM on December 14, 2012


It helped me to go to CNN.com and watch and listen to the President's remarks. I cried with him, and it helped.

Amen.
posted by ericb at 1:16 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Cisco client is meant to work only with their stuff. Xabber is a good suggestion.
posted by selfnoise at 1:16 PM on December 14, 2012


I'm very uncomfortable with the comments in this thread re: whether the alleged shooter is the same person a poster knows in real life.

I can't quite put my finger on why that feels gut-level wrong to me, but just thought I'd toss it out there.
posted by nacho fries at 1:17 PM on December 14, 2012


I can't quite put my finger on why that feels gut-level wrong to me, but just thought I'd toss it out there.

The media grabbed a Facebook page and ran with it - for a minute, it looked like it was confirmed. Turns out, as usual, the first FB page for a given name was not in fact the correct one. Weird situation all around.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:19 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I also think that when we do have a thread, anti/pro gun control discussion needs to be KEPT OUT. strictly.

I wholeheartedly disagree with this, and I say that as someone who is as tired of the inevitable gun control debate as anyone, and who will probably stay out of whatever thread we end up with for that very reason.

Not only is it tired and unproductive,

It is tired and unproductive to you—and to me—because we've heard all the arguments dozens of times before, and there will be nothing that is new—to us—said on either side.

But people are born and children grow up. The people reading and participating in the debate this time is not exactly the same group as those who did last time. The debate is not tired, and hopefully not unproductive, to the person reading it for the first time, the person whose views on the issue are still forming. Not unlike this XKCD, except gun control debate is less fun than Diet Coke and Mentos, albeit more important.

it's god damn disrespectful to use a tragedy like this as a platform for your pet political views.

So, what, people in favor of stricter gun control are only allowed to cite non-tragic shooting deaths in support of their point? Or are you suggesting there's a statute of limitations after which this ceases to be a tragedy, and only then can gun control proponents cite it?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:20 PM on December 14, 2012 [15 favorites]


nacho fries, I think it would be reasonable for the mods to edit all of that out. The person originally identified in the media as the killer is not the person who was the killer.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:21 PM on December 14, 2012


A friend of mine was confused for that Canadian bus cannibal awhile back because he has the same name and had the bus' ordinating city as his hometown on Facebook. Thankfully the media didn't run with it, but it was still upsetting for my friend to have his profile picture posted around in relation to the crime.
posted by ODiV at 1:23 PM on December 14, 2012


For what it's worth (which I realize is exactly nothing) I am in favor of a FPP at this point; I think there is plenty of solid information to link to - press conferences, Obama's speech, many news stories.

I would really like it if the information was compiled in once place, with additional links posted as they come. I have been listening to NPR all day while driving, and as soon as I got home, I came to Metafilter to read more.
posted by insectosaurus at 1:23 PM on December 14, 2012


FWIW I am 100% supportive of the mods' decision. Color me nanojath.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 1:24 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


it's god damn disrespectful to use a tragedy like this as a platform for your pet political views.

And yet taking the topic off the table and labeling it "disrespectful" is, in itself, a political act. So you are reserving the right to engage in political behavior, but only for yourself?
posted by ambrosia at 1:24 PM on December 14, 2012 [19 favorites]


Yes. The contribution is, "There is still too much speculation and misinformation."

Maybe a phrase to that effect at the top of the front page would be helpful at times like this, say with a link to metachat?
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:28 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth (which I realize is exactly nothing) I am in favor of a FPP at this point; I think there is plenty of solid information to link to - press conferences, Obama's speech, many news stories.

Right now, there's still confusion in the media over the perpetrator's name, to say nothing of any other information.

So, no.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:30 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ok, nap is over so I'm done fumbling around with apps. I do want to reiterate that for a lot of users, I'm sure that the chat site is a great way to blow off steam/vent/process, and I understand the principle here. That said, an FPP, however thin, would have been better for me. (And a lot of other primarily mobile users, I think.)
posted by purpleclover at 1:30 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Celsius1414: "Maybe a phrase to that effect at the top of the front page would be helpful at times like this, say with a link to metachat?"

Oh, man. Metachat would hate that.
posted by boo_radley at 1:30 PM on December 14, 2012


Is the password that chat.metafilter.com is asking me for my MetaFilter password?
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:34 PM on December 14, 2012


Is the password that chat.metafilter.com is asking me for my MetaFilter password?

Yes. (Well, possibly it's asking for your metafilter password as of election weekend. I'm not totally sure it stays in sync.)
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:35 PM on December 14, 2012


Is the password that chat.metafilter.com is asking me for my MetaFilter password?

Yes, your current MetaFilter password.
posted by pb (staff) at 1:35 PM on December 14, 2012


Celsius1414: yes
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:35 PM on December 14, 2012


I thought I could beat pb to an answer...god many years later, still such a noob
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:36 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


As someone who is usually quick to point out that Metafilter is not a breaking news site and is not about the discussion allow me to say:

Metafilter is not a breaking news site.
Metafilter is not about the discussion.

Metafilter is about sharing cool stuff you find on the web.

And lest you think that such restrictions are arbitrary, remember that this entire site is run with six moderators. 10,000 active users with six mods, half of whom are asleep at any given moment.

The moderators have already indicated that they will give in to pressure and invite several intertwined massive flame wars onto the site in the form of a thread about this. I disagree with this decision, I would rather they were spending their time keeping less doomed threads from deteriorating.

Responsible management includes restricting mission creep, and I believe that the mods are dropping the ball in this arena.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:36 PM on December 14, 2012


Yes.
posted by DynamiteToast at 1:36 PM on December 14, 2012


Any chance of an SSL port to connect on? Would love to use chat without exposing my MeFi password over the wire.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:37 PM on December 14, 2012


> it's god damn disrespectful to use a tragedy like this as a platform for your pet political views.

> How about the social and psychological factors that lead to a shooting rampage every few hours in this country? How about the shamefully inadequate mental health care system that often ignores these perpetrators until they crack?

Talking about those is somehow *not* political, but talking about the ease with which most people can get guns is, and should be verboten in discussions about mass shootings. I really don't see the difference.
posted by rtha at 1:37 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


MetaChat seems to observe an unofficial "No feel-bad shit from the news" policy and I hope it stays that way.
posted by Egg Shen at 1:38 PM on December 14, 2012


Not to get too crazy meta, but bears repeating: jessamyn: "First: this thread is not going to become a de facto discussion of the school shooting."
posted by boo_radley at 1:38 PM on December 14, 2012


Any chance of an SSL port to connect on?

We don't have a certificate for chat.metafilter.com. But the Jabber server itself has a self-signed certificate. I'm not sure if the Web client at chat.metafilter.com connects on secure ports, but you could use a different Jabber client that does connect securely.
posted by pb (staff) at 1:39 PM on December 14, 2012


Yeah, https://chat redirects to https://www
posted by boo_radley at 1:41 PM on December 14, 2012


I was going to use irssi with the XMPP plugin, which does support SSL. It would be on a different port number though, right?
posted by tonycpsu at 1:41 PM on December 14, 2012


Responsible management includes restricting mission creep, and I believe that the mods are dropping the ball in this arena.

Yes, we are clearly in a damned if you do and damned if you don't situation at this point. We made the executive decision to deal with a fighty MeTa thread and try to hold off having a thread about the shooting until someone could make a decent post about what had happened. That has not yet happened.

Thanks for your feedback. Get back to us when you have more than one data point to tell us if you think this is an ongoing problem the site is having, since right now there are just a lot of people who are unhappy for various reasons and it's difficult to tell who is upset because MetaFilter isn't different and who is upset because a very upsetting thing just happened.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:41 PM on December 14, 2012 [11 favorites]


Look, I want to talk about this as much as the next person-I was waiting for my grandson's school bus this afternoon listening to the radio and realizing that NO one seems to have their facts straight yet-we can wait till this gets sorted out some. Horror plus social media plus a bajillion news outlets online plus speculation would only lead to a very very bad thread.

It's really okay if we reflect BEFORE we react.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:42 PM on December 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


I wish there was something like "today.metafilter.com" where linking to things that happened today was allowed, encouraged, and celebrated. Best of from that site could (should?) be moved to the Blue, or be used as a basis/resource/backgrounder for a comprehensive "good" MeFi post.
posted by andreaazure at 1:43 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


It would be on a different port number though, right?

Yeah, 5223 is the secure port.
posted by pb (staff) at 1:44 PM on December 14, 2012


Look, Metafiler prohibits as a matter of course all sorts of questions and comments. However, questions (such as this one) about obtaining and concealing weapons, however, are considered perfectly acceptable here.

There's no law saying that Metafilter has to be a site that facilitates the buying and concealment of firearms, but it has chosen to be one (when folks like me or this person suggest prohibiting such activities, we are quickly shut down). So it's hardly surprising that at a moment like this, the decision is to bury the issue and prevent the sorts of heated arguments that ought to occur following this sort of event.

I've long ago accepted that Metafilter (like reddit) is strongly pro-gun, and I'm not surprised to see that fact reflected in the absence that's so obvious and embarrassing right now on the front page.
posted by washburn at 1:44 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, just to echo what Jessamyn said, a good neutral post about this with links to a variety of reports presented in a calm way would probably stay up.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:45 PM on December 14, 2012


I've long ago accepted that Metafilter (like reddit) is strongly pro-gun,

You are basing this hilariously incorrect statement on a single 6 year old thread and I lol at you.
posted by elizardbits at 1:47 PM on December 14, 2012 [24 favorites]


> I've long ago accepted that Metafilter (like reddit) is strongly pro-gun

That's definitely debatable. I've seen some pretty heated words towards gun owner users here. My experience is that it skews towards stronger gun laws rather than being "strongly pro-gun".
posted by Burhanistan at 1:47 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Onion, believe it or not, encapsulates what I'm feeling pretty nicely, without getting all politic-y.
posted by scblackman at 1:47 PM on December 14, 2012 [22 favorites]


washburn: "I've long ago accepted that Metafilter (like reddit) is strongly pro-gun, and I'm not surprised to see that fact reflected in the absence that's so obvious and embarrassing right now on the front page."

Oh man. WHOLE CLOTH.
posted by boo_radley at 1:49 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


washburn: " I've long ago accepted that Metafilter (like reddit) is strongly pro-gun, and I'm not surprised to see that fact reflected in the absence that's so obvious and embarrassing right now on the front page."

HA HA HA what.
posted by Phire at 1:50 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


However, questions (such as this one) about obtaining and concealing weapons, however, are considered perfectly acceptable here.

Questions about how to do legal things legally are acceptable here, whether or not we as admins approve or disapprove of those things. A much stronger case could be made that Metafilter is pro-marijuana based on our deletions, frankly.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:51 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Onion, believe it or not, encapsulates what I'm feeling pretty nicely, without getting all politic-y.

Really, this sentence applies to pretty much any situation like this, at least since 9/11.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:51 PM on December 14, 2012


pb: " Yeah, 5223 is the secure port."

Hm, I can connect, but when I try to join the mefi room it says my nick is reserved. Guess I'll stick to the web chat for now.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:51 PM on December 14, 2012



Thank you all SO MUCH for this thread here. Metafilter is doing what it does best - metathinking.
We are seeing all our diversity, all our diverse needs at this tragic time. We are weighing needs and wants. THIS is the discussion that needs to happen here today. Yes, I came here first, too - but wasn't eager to jump into a breaking news thread.

And still, this meta thread is one that is also hard to keep following. My need is silence. Just silence. I'll be able to think later. Now I just feel.

Thank you ALL - seriously, profoundly - for helping me understand all of the dramatic needs and wants right now -- and for helping me try to carry some compassion into all my other interactions in the next few days.

Hugs
posted by Surfurrus at 1:52 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've seen some pretty heated words towards gun owner users here.
posted by Burhanistan


I'm consistently on the receiving end of those heated words here, so yeah I'd agree that Metafilter isn't what I'd call "pro-gun".
posted by blaneyphoto at 1:52 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


The absence of a fast-moving, heated, contentious thread loaded with speculation, rumor, and vitriol is embarrassing to you?
posted by palomar at 1:52 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


Tony - You are there now, or so says the room.
posted by elizardbits at 1:53 PM on December 14, 2012


Jon Stewart Tears Into Fox News For Arbitrarily Deciding When And Where People Can Talk About Gun Control
posted by homunculus at 1:53 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've read all of the comments. I've thought about it.

It is all too easy to say "This is Matt's site and what he says goes" in a very dismissive manner. This is his site however the site would be nothing without the contributors. Our opinions and ideas should factor into the equation.

It is also too easy to say, "Go elsewhere for your discussion." For many of us we have a shared history here. We have been reading each other's comments and responding for many years and so we recognize names, we know backgrounds. There are posters here that I respect deeply and if they offer a comment that is not 100% in line with my thinking, I take two steps back and rethink the matter over. All I am saying is that where the discussion takes place and with whom matters greatly to me. Nowhere else will do.

I understand the idea of such a thread being distasteful to many of you. However 9/10s of what gets posted is of no interest to me, some postings even annoy me, but I have the option of not reading them. So your dislike of the idea cuts no ice with me.

The bottom line is this: I am waiting for the FPP. I may not contribute anything to the post but I will read and absorb it all. Whenever that might be.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 1:53 PM on December 14, 2012 [15 favorites]


Any thread that doesn't include a link to that Onion article probably isn't a worthy FPP in my mind.
posted by togdon at 1:54 PM on December 14, 2012


...but when I try to join the mefi room it says my nick is reserved.

You might try logging out of the web client first. We don't allow multiple connections from different clients. It also could be a problem with your XMPP gateway, I'm not sure.
posted by pb (staff) at 1:54 PM on December 14, 2012


I did log out prior, so I'm assuming it's something where I didn't specify the channel name or nickname in the right format. I tried my nick as "tonycpsu" and "tonycpsu@chat.metafilter.com", and the chat room as "mefi" and "mefi@conference.chat.metafilter.com".
posted by tonycpsu at 1:55 PM on December 14, 2012


Yeah, that all sounds good tonycpsu. Not sure why you can't connect with that setup. Sorry about that.
posted by pb (staff) at 1:57 PM on December 14, 2012


Just a general reminder, too - we are always delighted to receive draft posts at the contact form, if you want to put one together and get it pre-vetted.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:58 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


No worries, mate.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:58 PM on December 14, 2012


washburn writes "Metafilter (like reddit) is strongly pro-gun, and I'm not surprised to see that fact reflected in the absence that's so obvious and embarrassing right now on the front page."

I doubt in aggregate Metafilter is pro-gun or even anti-increased gun regulation. Either way, discussing how something is done isn't advocating doing that thing.
posted by Mitheral at 1:58 PM on December 14, 2012


Either way, discussing how something is done isn't advocating doing that thing.

You mean scarabic doesn't really want us to hide the body?
posted by radwolf76 at 2:02 PM on December 14, 2012


Sometimes, loud voices at a given time can make a place temporarily seem more pro or anti than it actually is.
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:05 PM on December 14, 2012


Metafilter actually does breaking news very well - unusually well. The 9/11 thread is absolutely fantastic and one of the best online historical records of that day. This is a wicked smart userbase and shutting out discussion of the shooting seems counterproductive to the site. YMMV.
posted by moammargaret at 2:06 PM on December 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


For everyone who wants to see a post:

Go for it. Do the work. Find the sources, put them together in a coherent fashion, Structure it so it creates a logical flow of information, answering questions as the readership thinks of them. Find reputable sources, and sources that will update with information as it comes in. Avoid tabloids and sensationalism. Find a good hook, use a pithy writer.

Do the work.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:09 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


It was wise to hold off on this one. Reports are still changing. Shooter's name was Ryan, and here's his FB profile... No, it's his brother Adam, and that profile is the wrong Ryan! There was a body found at the shooter's home. Now there's not! There has still been NO official release of the shooter's name.

I agree that MeFites do breaking news very well. But in a case like this, I don't think there is anything to be gained by going Blue early.
posted by The Deej at 2:10 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I suppose one benefit is that it chronicles the misinformation as a story breaks. This can be instructive later on.
posted by mazola at 2:11 PM on December 14, 2012


Metafilter's front page is kept so clean
As it blogs to a waiting world.
And the mods feel so shocked,
Metachat's world is rocked,
And our thoughts turn to
our own URLs.
Swift FPPs ain't so peachy keen,
No, it ain't so neat to admit defeat.
They can see no reasons
'Cause there are no reasons
What reason do you need to be shown?
posted by perhapses at 2:12 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's a bomb at the state department!
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 2:12 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


for historical perspective Mother Jones had a good article back in Sept: A Guide to Mass Shootings in America I'm really not up to making a FPP about today's events, even in historical context etc... but I think if one does get made th MJ bit would be topical and fit well.
posted by edgeways at 2:14 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hey mods, just a quick note to say that I think you're doing the right thing here and appreciate how you're remaining so goddamned civil while taking flak from us yabbering gobshites about just how you should be pleasing us at the moment.
posted by klangklangston at 2:15 PM on December 14, 2012 [23 favorites]


"There's a bomb at the state department!" - Trust my experience in this, such ploys don't work.
posted by Ardiril at 2:16 PM on December 14, 2012


I suppose one benefit is that it chronicles the misinformation as a story breaks. This can be instructive later on.

I think, for Metafilter, the lesson was learned long ago: don't be in a rush to be the first to break news on Metafilter.
posted by NoMich at 2:17 PM on December 14, 2012


washburn: "I've long ago accepted that Metafilter (like reddit) is strongly pro-gun"

Are we talking about the same site?
posted by brundlefly at 2:17 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I guess I'm dumb, but I don't understand how asking both the pro gun demographic and anti gun demographic not to derail the future thread is in any way political.


After every mass shooting, one side of that discussion always, always tells the other side not to bring it up now, because doing so would be "political." I know that you framed it as applying to both sides, but this is one subject where one side wants to talk about it, and the other side never does. Mass shootings in the United States are inextricably interwoven with a host of political and social issues: gun control, mental health services, domestic violence, and others. I do not think it is possible or desirable to have a post about a mass shooting and limit the discussion to non-political commentary.
posted by ambrosia at 2:18 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why ought the bar for a quality post be set so high in this case but not others? Metafilter isn't a stranger to slyt/slnyt/etc.
posted by samofidelis at 2:19 PM on December 14, 2012


Ha! You guys have accustomed me to favorites to the point that I am getting frustrated over in Metafilter Chat.

Curses. ...because I did not even want favorites in the first place
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 2:20 PM on December 14, 2012


Because a SLYT of kittens afraid of apples does not create the mother of all shitstorms.
posted by rtha at 2:20 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


I can understand the moderator's desire not to have a thread on an evolving emotional hotbutton news issue like this one because managing it would be really hard work but I really think it is an incorrect decision. The antidote to false information is not silence. Metafilter was, for me at least, an invaluable corrective to confusion and misinformation during unfolding events like this and right now I miss that. This decision feels wikipedian.
posted by srboisvert at 2:22 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Holy cow, three threads in a two minute window. MULTIBALL!!! MULTIBALL!!!
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:22 PM on December 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


(we'll figure out which one is the best and keep that)
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:23 PM on December 14, 2012


Aaaand the thread is here.

"[Note to all: we discussed this and are going to go with this as the topical thread. Thanks everyone for being patient while the news did its thing. ]"
posted by ericb at 2:24 PM on December 14, 2012


I prefer Brandon's but according to R_N, it looks like you've already figured it out?
posted by radwolf76 at 2:24 PM on December 14, 2012


If they are all good, maybe a merge?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:24 PM on December 14, 2012


I'm inclined to leave Brandon's open to discuss the media and meta issues and keep Wordshore's as the news and reaction thread. I may be persuaded otherwise though.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:27 PM on December 14, 2012


I suppose it comes down to how many threads you need to moderate.
posted by radwolf76 at 2:29 PM on December 14, 2012


washburn: "I've long ago accepted that Metafilter (like reddit) is strongly pro-gun"

Are we talking about the same site?


I was surprised to realize this.

You'd think it wouldn't be, but it has been in my experience. When I asked about prohibiting concealed handgun askme posts, I did so from one of the few states where concealed carry was illegal. Still, there was near absolute unanimity that such questions were just fine.

And whenever gun issues arise, defenders of "gun right" seem to spring from the woodwork in remarkable numbers. Not sure why.
posted by washburn at 2:31 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


My main interest in this Metatalk thread is that I have in the past and want in the future to be able to come to Metafilter for information on breaking news stories that have a large and sometimes calamitous effect on many of us (911, Hurricane Sandy) because you are my people, and when the apocalypse comes I want to spend it with you.

This school shooting, while horrific and tragic, is not the sort of story that I am talking about, because our community, or some section of it, isn't in imminent danger or subject to the whims of the unknown as it would be in the middle of a natural or man made disaster. But I do see the comments of Matt and the mods above suggesting we don't do breaking news well, and I just wanted to put in my voice that I hope this is not a site policy change and that some kinds of breaking news threads will still stand. (But in any case I respect your decisions and understand if you don't like me as much as I like you all in terms of finding a place to spend the apocalypse.)
posted by onlyconnect at 2:32 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I came into this thread with mixed feelings, undecided on whether there should be a thin breaking news post right away, or whether the mods were right to delete and hold off until a better post with better information could be made.

Even when it came out that someone had been incorrectly identified by major news organizations as the shooter, and an early fast-moving thread might have further promulgated that misinformation (and regardless of the fact that MeFi's readership is much much much smaller than that of major news organizations) I wasn't immediately convinced. "But," I said to myself, "MeFi is also very good at identifying and debunking misinformation, and perhaps the fact that the named individual was not the shooter would have been uncovered sooner if there had been an early fast-moving thread."

However, I later remembered that even an attempted debunking can contribute to the spread of misinformation. Have people read an article debunking the moon landing hoax theory, and some of them will come to believe the moon landing was a hoax after reading the article. Possibly due in part to a don't stuff beans up your nose type effect, except with information rather than action—they had never even considered before reading the article that the moon landing might have been a hoax. Possibly due in part to careless reading and/or forgetfulness over time: they remembered only that they had read an article about the moon landing hoax, but not particular arguments for or against it. Either way, the point is that attempting to debunk misinformation can perversely lead to more people believing the very thing you're trying to debunk.

Based on that, I've come to the conclusion that the fact that an early fast-moving thread may serve to debunk misinformation is not sufficient to atone for the possibility of that same thread being a vehicle for the misinformation in the first place, and I now agree with the decision to delay thread posting until there is enough solid, confirmed information to be worth discussing.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:32 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


who is upset because MetaFilter isn't different
This is an uncharitable way to characterise those disagreeing with you.

As has been pointed out a lot, Metafilter *has* been all the things you say it isn't at times in the past. The pushback here is to a policy change, enforced on arguable premises. To pretend 'twas always ever thus and people are actually angry because *they* want to change the site is not cricket.
posted by fightorflight at 2:35 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


And whenever gun issues arise, defenders of "gun right" seem to spring from the woodwork in remarkable numbers. Not sure why.

I don't think there are that many of them. It's just that one or two well-known ones tend to bloviate many many times in gun-related threads.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:35 PM on December 14, 2012


When I asked about prohibiting concealed handgun askme posts, I did so from one of the few states where concealed carry was illegal. Still, there was near absolute unanimity that such questions were just fine.

Is it your position that because concealed carry is illegal in your state, it should be verboten on Ask Metafilter?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:35 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Waiting here was the right move. These mass shooting stories are always filled with wild rumors and misinformation. Giffords and Aurora both had people pointing to the tea party based on misunderstood or false information.

I do agree that in general the moderators are overzealous on disallowing breaking news, but not in this type of case.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:35 PM on December 14, 2012


I think its a little ironic that people are basically saying "the moderation decisions and leadership of mathowie and team have built up a community that I feel is the best community on the web, so I am going to disagree with their decisions on how to maintain that community because its getting in the way of me using it now."
posted by jacalata at 2:37 PM on December 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


I'm inclined to leave Brandon's open to discuss the media and meta issues and keep Wordshore's as the news and reaction thread. I may be persuaded otherwise though.

Personally, I vote to have only one, since it's difficult to follow two open threads. Maybe, combine them, as suggested by St. Alia?
posted by ericb at 2:37 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think combine them and prune them, because the Wordshore thread is now full of the stuff that Brandon so carefully curated in his.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:41 PM on December 14, 2012


Yeah, deleted Brandon's, which was excellent but just not diverging enough.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:43 PM on December 14, 2012


And there goes Brandon's.
posted by radwolf76 at 2:43 PM on December 14, 2012


Already, the discussion in Brandon's FPP has veered beyond "discuss[ing] the media and meta issues" to personal reactions from parents (e.g. mathowie) and others.

Again, I would hope that we can consolidate the two in some fashion ... as bifurcated discussions will be challenging to follow.
posted by ericb at 2:43 PM on December 14, 2012


None of the comments in either of the two now-open threads strike me as being any different than would have been made in an earlier "thinner" thread. Either sometimes a major breaking news event is best of the web or its not. Delaying it for 4 hours doesn't appear to have changed anything. My personal stance is that while MeFi should NOT (edit sorry) be a generic newsfilter, there are certain events that ought to be recognized as "unusual" and deserving of discussion, even if they are "breaking", and this story is one of them.
posted by modernnomad at 2:44 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yeah, deleted Brandon's, which was excellent but just not diverging enough.

Should've previewed. Thanks.
posted by ericb at 2:44 PM on December 14, 2012


For any future attempts to leave two threads open in situations like these, perhaps moderator notes in each? "This is the thread for news and reactions." / "This is the thread for media and tangents"

It might help them differentiate from each other.
posted by radwolf76 at 2:46 PM on December 14, 2012


I know there is a thread now but I just wanted to weigh in on the policy side.

I understand if people who need to discuss this right now go elsewhere

For many of us, there is no "elsewhere." This is my community on the web - for better or for worse, ya'll are my peeps. I don't want to talk to strangers. Personally, I'd rather we just purged the site of the jerks that can't talk about things reasonably than we get rid of topics - but hey, I guess that's just me.

Sidebar: Some of you -- certainly not all, but too many to quote -- who are saying "this doesn't belong here" are being pretty fucking condescending and dismissive in your tone. Please state your opinion respectfully instead of impugning other people's motives or opinions.
posted by madamjujujive at 2:47 PM on December 14, 2012 [13 favorites]


For any future attempts to leave two threads open in situations like these, perhaps moderator notes in each? "This is the thread for news and reactions." / "This is the thread for media and tangents"

It's probably just not a workable idea.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:48 PM on December 14, 2012


When I asked about prohibiting concealed handgun askme posts, I did so from one of the few states where concealed carry was illegal. Still, there was near absolute unanimity that such questions were just fine.

I think that displays not so much a pro-gun attitude as a broader attitude of "I, too, might someday want to AskMetaFilter about how best to do something that is legal for me to do, even if it is distasteful to many people here."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:49 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


None of the comments in either of the two now-open threads strike me as being any different than would have been made in an earlier "thinner" thread.

I haven't looked in the surviving thread, but I'm guessing there aren't any comments which incorrectly identify an innocent person as the shooter.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:52 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


> The solution to this problem that seems to be afflicting America is a national conversation.

Has there ever been one of these, about anything? I don't remember one. What are they like?
posted by jfuller at 2:54 PM on December 14, 2012


This is an uncharitable way to characterise those disagreeing with you.

Sorry, was trying to be neutral there. It's a big community and a lot of people would prefer the site be different in some way (myself included) and we're here and open to hearing those suggestions. That said, translating "I wish this extremely unusual situation was managed differently" into "The mods aren't really doing their jobs in general" is an overgeneralization and one that hurts my feelings, personally. It's hard making decisions that you know are going to be unpopular with a lot of people no matter what you do and having people acting like because you made a decision that they don't agree with that you're not doing your job is, to my read, a sort of aggressive thing to say.

We're all upset for a variety of reasons. If there are issues with how we run the site generally there are better times to bring that up than in this thread. If this one decision we had to make is the straw that broke the camel's back for peopel that showed them that this isn't the MetaFilter they want, that's a decision they'll have to make for themselves but is a different issue than the one most people are talking about in this thread.

Right now we had the chat room available for "must talk right now" stuff, were here to take constructive suggestions and "You did this wrong" feedback, we waited for a decent thread to be posted [and offered to vet any post that someone wanted to make] and have multiple moderators in on a Friday afternoon/night to respond to people's concerns, keep an eye on the flag queue and the rest of the site. I know that's not everyone's idea of how this should have, in a perfect world, happened, but in mod-town it's actually a decent job with the things we can control, which is precious little.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:55 PM on December 14, 2012 [14 favorites]


Some of you -- certainly not all, but too many to quote -- who are saying "this doesn't belong here" are being pretty fucking condescending and dismissive in your tone.

A lot of the people who agree with you have also been doing that.

Please state your opinion respectfully instead of impugning other people's motives or opinions.

A lot of the people who disagree with you have already been doing that.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:58 PM on December 14, 2012


I haven't looked in the surviving thread, but I'm guessing there aren't any comments which incorrectly identify an innocent person as the shooter.

Isn't that part of the story which would have been sussed out in a contemporaneous MeFi thread?

Already, the question is being asked in the media -- Connecticut massacre suspect: How the media IDed the wrong guy.
posted by ericb at 3:05 PM on December 14, 2012


Just wanted the join the "came to metafilter first" crowd. The bad things happening now threads are pretty much the only therapy I can afford when trying to parse these events. I read the train wreck threads and go with the ups and downs. I cry, I laugh, I get angry. I read as some people belittle one another and how others unite together. I yell at my screen when people post ideas I don't agree with. I absorb the information and the misinformation. It never fails to astound me how at least one of you will say exactly what I feel or say something that sways me. None of you even know me but to me, you are all family. Reddit/twitter/facebook/etc can't even come close. MetaFilter is so outstandingly different. The reason for that is the impossibly hard job our moderators do. Internet discussions always fall to fuck you no fuck you eventually, it's amazing, even cute cat vids devovle into this. That sociopathic toddler comes out when we write to strangers on the internet and it's the mods who keep it at bay.

My first response to not seeing any FPPs about this was to hit refresh a gabillion times and get angry. I made it over to this thread and by the time I got it all read we have a post. Whew.

I can only imagine how difficult it is to manage all the personalities that are part of this place.

Thank you mathowie and crew. It's an amazing thing you got here.
posted by M Edward at 3:08 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


Isn't that part of the story which would have been sussed out in a contemporaneous MeFi thread?

Yes—and here I explain at (perhaps too much) length why I don't believe that justifies a contemporaneous thread.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:10 PM on December 14, 2012


The allowed thread is predictably kind of shitty.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:12 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm glad the mods decided to wait a bit before allowing a thread to go up. I also spend time on Metafilter as my primary online community (and one of my primary communities), but the kind of poor reporting and hysteria that was prevalent in the very first hours after this happened were reason enough to insist on a bit more time passing before accepting a thread.
posted by OmieWise at 3:16 PM on December 14, 2012


Personally, I'd rather we just purged the site of the jerks that can't talk about things reasonably than we get rid of topics

As someone who thinks this was an excellent decision (and one I'd like to see repeated in the future with breaking news), I actually strongly agree with you on that. However, since it takes an awful lot to be banned here, the realistic choice is between delays like this or allowing the initial fog of rumours to stand in the thread. I prefer the former, but appreciate that some feel strongly that they need to discuss big issues immediately.

To that, I would suggest that although we live in a world where photos of sandwiches are worthy of broadcast and comment, I believe silence and patience is sometimes the wisest and most productive choice for the site in the short term. I don't believe early comments on this site would have been any more insightful or worthwhile than comments made elsewhere while there just wasn't solid information available beyond an approximate body count.

BTW, it's interesting to see, besides 9/11, the Japanese tsunami thread given as an example of Metafilter dealing well with breaking news. My main memory of that thread was a hugely-favourited comment which appeared to give insight, but which turned out to be very wrong. Thinking about it, it wasn't really anything to do with the speed at which the post was made, but I still wouldn't hold that thread up as best-of-Metafilter.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 3:17 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Burhanistan: "The allowed thread is predictably kind of shitty."

Well, you do the best you can.
posted by boo_radley at 3:18 PM on December 14, 2012


My personal stance is that while MeFi should NOT be a generic newsfilter, there are certain events that ought to be recognized as "unusual" and deserving of discussion

I can see that as a general principle, but I think I'd set a much higher bar for "unusual" than you. What makes this sufficiently unusual to constitute an exception to a general (and still hypothetical, at this point) rule against breaking-newsfilter?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:25 PM on December 14, 2012


I can't tell if that was a dig at me or an apology for the thread, but I guess I'll take the latter.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:27 PM on December 14, 2012


Definitely not a dig at you. As my crypto-mystic managers say, "it is what it is". How does a site provide something horrible (IMO, etc) that people are clamoring for?
posted by boo_radley at 3:31 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Jessamyn, thanks to you and the other mods. I for one am happy with the decisions made today, the ways in which you all extended services to those who wanted more right now, and very grateful that HOW MANY AD VIEWS CAN WE SCORE WITH THIS NEWS? is never the metric by which decisions are made here.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:35 PM on December 14, 2012 [20 favorites]



I can see that as a general principle, but I think I'd set a much higher bar for "unusual" than you. What makes this sufficiently unusual to constitute an exception to a general (and still hypothetical, at this point) rule against breaking-newsfilter?


I'd certainly be wary of adopting some kind of "bright line" test as to what would be unusual enough to warrant allowing a thread to go ahead, and it may ultimately have to be a subjective call by the mods (but that's the case anyway with lots of contentious threads). As for today's news, as far as I can tell it may be the worst massacre of children in an American elementary school in America's history. Given that the mods and users are mostly American (while I'm not, I accept the predominantly America-centric nature of the site), it seems to reach that "unusual" threshold.

I totally get holding off on shitty obit posts until they can be fleshed out, but the delay and padding out of this story with links is purely window dressing -- the thread is going to be some people posting dots, some people taking one side or the other about guns, and really lots of people just coming together in a place they comfortable talking, trying to find solace or meaning with one another in the face of an almost unspeakable horror, simply by typing something into the ether and hoping someone else reads it.
posted by modernnomad at 3:45 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


the delay and padding out of this story with links is purely window dressing

It's really, really not. This was about avoiding the entire embarrassing period of time when the US media was throwing random theories up on their websites without confirming anything, including number and identity of victims, number and identity of suspects, etc.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:48 PM on December 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


The original mis-identification of the shooter was based on an anonymous law enforcement source. The current identification of the shooter is also based on a on an anonymous law enforcement source, as per the link in the officially-vetted post. At the latest official press conference, the police declined to officially identify the shooter. So I'm not sure why relying on anonymous law enforcement sources was "throwing random theories up on their websites" a few hours ago but now it's, I guess, something totally different, and that is supposed to prove something about when is the correct time to make a MetaFilter post.
posted by enn at 4:14 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


Basically we couldn't hold it off forever, so we waited until at least the story stopped changing every ten minutes. There's only so much we can do, short of declaring the topic off-limits entirely, which we were not prepared to do.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:17 PM on December 14, 2012


Pony: I would love to have a daily current events thread where people can hop in, talk about immediate events in the news, and most importantly, post analysis and links. At midnight server time, the thread expires/closes and a new daily thread opens. That would leave standard FPPs as they were meant to be, with deeper hindsight and curated links, and we could also capture current events all over the world.

This would work equally well for elections, for things like Felix Baumgartner's jump, for this awful school shooting. The 911 thread, the Sandy thread, the 2012 election thread, and the Red Bull jump thread were particularly great at capturing reactions and sharing information.
posted by mochapickle at 4:50 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's pretty much what chat is, isn't it?
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:52 PM on December 14, 2012


Yeah, but chat misses the function of archiving/accessing right here on MeFi. And I can't favorite chat comments I like. I check MeFi all day and it's just something that would be cool to be able to refresh and catch up. I'd even be open to viewing subtle ads for something like this -- it'd be worth that much to me, and perhaps to other users.
posted by mochapickle at 4:58 PM on December 14, 2012


That sounds like an exhausting noise thread, tbh.
posted by elizardbits at 5:01 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


The fact that chat isn't archived is what's possible to maintain it at our current staffing levels. Grar just floats away rather than becoming a permanent, inescapable part of the discussion. Making a thread for basically undirected chat would turn out much differently and we couldn't afford to leave it unmoderated.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:03 PM on December 14, 2012


Yeah, I see what you mean. I guess it would take an army of mods. Withdrawing pony request...
posted by mochapickle at 5:05 PM on December 14, 2012


I guess it would take an army of mods. Withdrawing

REPLICANTS.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:22 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


chat.metafilter.com: That sounds like an exhausting noise thread, tbh.


(this is actually what I love about it and also why it is usually way too much for me)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 5:29 PM on December 14, 2012


By the way thanks.

This thread answered the questions I had and while I don't necessarily agree with everything, I can see that there is a well reasoned policy in place.
posted by 2bucksplus at 5:33 PM on December 14, 2012


Why ought the bar for a quality post be set so high in this case but not others?

See I find this sentiment - expressed more than once in this thread - quite interesting. There is rarely any grar - and certainly not this level - about the deletion reason "this post isn't much more than 'this is a terrible thing that happened'", or the posts that are nuked for that reason.

The only difference, this time, is I think that people want to talk about it. Maybe that's the only difference you need, or valid enough reason, I don't know.

Like R_N, I'm deeply uncomfortable with public discourse around most tragedies, especially involving murders, especially involving children. It always seems very inward-looking, more to do with ourselves and reinforcing notions of sacred and profane than anything else.

I do feel the site's ethnocentrism and our own culpability in buying into and promulgating an hysterical media cycle plays a part in some of the urgent, burning need to discuss, emote, opine; stamp our own mark on a tragedy like this.
posted by smoke at 6:01 PM on December 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


I do feel the site's ethnocentrism and our own culpability in buying into and promulgating an hysterical media cycle plays a part in some of the urgent, burning need to discuss, emote, opine; stamp our own mark on a tragedy like this.

I think to a point that's true. But I do think that this is a community, and when people have strong emotions - positive or negative - they want to share them with their community. That's a natural, human response, and one of the reasons I like having chat around is that it can be an outlet for that.

Because the other side is that, like it or not, Metafilter is a well-trafficked website and as such is part of the modern news cycle. We can't just close our eyes and pretend that we're a bunch of friends sitting on a porch somewhere - our conversations are archived and read and forwarded, our eyeballs, when we direct them to other sites, are tracked and paid for, and occasionally our conversations are lifted directly into the larger media milieu. And my personal opinion is that we have an ethical responsibility as part of this system. The details of that responsibility are murky and always in flux, but I think not jumping into a feeding frenzy around a tragedy like this, when we risk disseminating not only inaccurate but actually harmful information, is a big part of it.

It's hard as a site member to separate those two things out, but as a mod I have to, and I really appreciate that everyone here is willing to listen and discuss these meta-issues even in a really emotional moment.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:20 PM on December 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


I think to a point that's true. But I do think that this is a community, and when people have strong emotions - positive or negative - they want to share them with their community. That's a natural, human response, and one of the reasons I like having chat around is that it can be an outlet for that.

Oh yes, I should have been clear that I think it's a part, not the part, or even necessarily the biggest part.
posted by smoke at 6:23 PM on December 14, 2012


[Again, this is not the blue thread, please don't bring that conversation here. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:21 PM on December 14, 2012


There are literally zero interesting things that can be said about the shooting. It's bad, we need better gun control, the mentally ill don't get enough help. Or, you're an idiot and think this could have been prevented if teachers were issued service revolvers. The entire conversation has been had so many times it's totally perfunctory. What would be the point of a post or discussion on Metafilter? What insight does anyone here possibly have?
posted by spaltavian at 7:40 PM on December 14, 2012


washburn: "I've long ago accepted that Metafilter (like reddit) is strongly pro-gun"

Are we talking about the same site?


It's not that Metafilter is pro-gun, it's that people who have point of views other than 'anti-gun' feel that it is actually possible, at times, to have a fairly calm, reasoned discussion regarding firearms and their general use and management in on this site. That that can even happen is just an example of how good this community on this site is.

This, however, is not one of those times, and the admins are wise to take the route that they taking. It wouldn't be a discussion - it would be a witch-hunt that would barely be considered communicating, to say nothing of a real, reasoned debate.

At the heart of this, there is a man with murder on his mind, and decided to act on it. Once a person gets to that stage, it doesn't matter what tool he chooses, death soon follows.

What got him to that state? Delve into that with as much fury and gusto as some do here with anti-gun arguments, and not only would one be further on the path to reduce gun violence, but deadly violence of all types, whether it is assault and battery, domestic abuse, war, what have you.

You can discuss the finger, or what it is pointing at, or in this case, a discussion about the person pointing may be of more relevance and use.
posted by chambers at 8:00 PM on December 14, 2012


At the heart of this, there is a man with murder on his mind, and decided to act on it. Once a person gets to that stage, it doesn't matter what tool he chooses, death soon follows.

This is a debatable point, and one you should make on the blue thread, not here.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:39 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I just wanted to say that I respect and appreciate the decision to be patient with this story, to not feed into the mad dash of sick fascination. No one needs the details. Everyone needs the discussion.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 8:42 PM on December 14, 2012


The open thread is horrible, just horrible. And I hate myself for posting in it and reading it, especially now it's descended to an argument about shooting deer. That's all I got. Well, except I wish it would be shut until there's a hope of something more respectful and substantive than people discussing the number of guns they do or don't have and what rifle you should get to drop wildlife.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:59 PM on December 14, 2012


it's descended to an argument about shooting deer.

Someone asked if there were actual subsistence hunters outside of Alaska and me and Sidhedevil answered in the affirmative with no agenda except to just say "Yeah it happens" and a few people who either weren't reading or didn't care to read galloped off on a tangent. I can't say it's a great thread, but people are allowed to talk about what interests them. It's a difficult topic, made more difficult by the intersection of a few related topics some of which are more and less disturbing than others [the one that sticks in my craw is "I am upset that people are so upset by this when there are many worse tragedies in the world" but everyone's response is different] which is what makes these conversations extremely problematic for MetaFilter, or anywhere really.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:13 PM on December 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


I've long ago accepted that Metafilter (like reddit) is strongly pro-gun,

You are basing this hilariously incorrect statement on a single 6 year old thread and I lol at you.
posted by elizardbits at 1:47 PM on December 14 [21 favorites +] [!]


Hmm. In this meta thread, quite a few people jumped on me for noting that Metafilter is a strongly pro-gun site. But look at the comments in that horrible front page thread, and tell me again how there's such a clear consensus in favor of gun-control here.

The front page thread is ugly, but rightly so. It's just our reflection in a mirror, and we should have to see it.
posted by washburn at 9:25 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


But look at the comments in that horrible front page thread, and tell me again how there's such a clear consensus in favor of gun-control here.

There is a clear consensus that gun control is a complex, multifaceted issue with no single obvious solution. Like most issues, trying to divide an argument into "pro" and "anti" does very little but make people angry - it certainly doesn't move us any closer to either civil discussion or any sort of solution to a problem.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:30 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


METAFILTER: ugly, but rightly so. It's just our reflection in a mirror, and we should have to see it.
posted by philip-random at 9:37 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Funny, I just finished reading that thread (as it currently stands), and I would have said that there are a handful of voices saying that banning guns is undesirable but that control is absolutely not a bad thing, a lot of people saying it'll be really difficult to convince gun-nuts, and the vast majority expressing despair at the political gridlock that prevents politicians from even entertaining the idea of discussing gun control laws. There are people in all categories who are gun owners, but as far as I can tell no one has been all "GRAR OVERTHROW GOVERNMENT TYRANNY".

I recall a few "you can pry my guns out of my cold dead hands and I will shoot anyone who tries" commenters from the Aurora threads, but they were definitely a tiny but very vocal minority in terms of proportion of commenters.
posted by Phire at 9:39 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was looking for feelings, and thinking about trying to share my own, or face them, anyway.

I got some of that in the first part of the thread, enough to not be quite as crushed down, but the last 150 comments or so are mostly by people who seem determined not to feel anything-- at length.
posted by jamjam at 9:44 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm glad the FPP got delayed for reasons r_n has summed up nicely in this thread. The news cycle hits such a high velocity (as in balloon boy or Tony Scott/cancer) that anybody reading and passing along information becomes part of the problem, even though that's kind of what the internet is there for. This feels like a problem that will not be going away any time soon, and one that Metafilter is especially susceptible to.

That said, I read the Sandy thread as it was happening (maybe to take my mind off of it), and only filled my tub an hour before losing power/water because of comments in that thread.
posted by lowest east side at 10:33 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thank you for putting up a blue thread. I needed a place to come for intelligent conversation with great links. I had a very trying day at work today, wilfully ignoring the news until I got home tonight. I limited my GRAR to Facebook and I understand the difficulty moderators have preventing a shitstorm, but the news is extremely upsetting to me today and its not practical for me to drink myself into oblivian at the corner bar tonight. Metafilter provides an essential service for me on days like this. I recognize that the mods don't view this as essential service of the site, but I've been here a long time now, and this is a big part of what keeps me here. Thanks.

Fuck. Just fuck. I haven't felt like this since 9-11. there are dead 5 year olds still lying at the school who haven't been reunited with their families, families who kissed their kids good night and tucked them into bed 24 hours ago.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:26 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


OP of the blue thread here. Thanks mods, for quickly and collectively previewing it before it went live.
posted by Wordshore at 11:52 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks for your thread, Wordshore. And thanks, Brandon Blatcher, for your good thread as well.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:07 AM on December 15, 2012


For my own part, on the topic of breaking news threads, I drew a tremendous deal of strength and support from the tsunami thread. It was an incredibly frightening and stressful time, and while it did certainly have it's bumpy parts, it also became one of the few places to get reliable information that I knew of. It allowed those of us in Japan to connect with each other and make sure everyone was okay, and the comments offering support reduced me to tears on more than one occasion.

Not every breaking news thread goes like that, and it might have well been the exception, but for me at least, they aren't all bad.
posted by Ghidorah at 12:49 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can I just thank the mods? I've had the thread open all day (it's currently 8.17pm here in Australia), and I think they've done an amazing job of jumping on spotfires, aka deleting inflammatory comments, putting them out before the thread went all to hell. Some people are obviously irrational at the moment - sometimes understandably, sometimes not - but I'm sure the majority of us appreciate the effort the mods are putting in.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 1:17 AM on December 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Nthing malibustacey999 - the mods have done an exemplary job with an awful situation.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:15 AM on December 15, 2012


"I'm glad the FPP got delayed for reasons r_n has summed up nicely in this thread."

Remember when r_n was getting hammered almost daily for being a heavy-handed noob mod? It seems to me, she's really found her stride and is making unique, confident contributions to site moderation.

Congrats, restless_nomad.
posted by klarck at 5:11 AM on December 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


> This place has evolved and is as much a community as it is a place to post interesting stuff. It clearly has one of the
> smartest and best-informed user bases on the web (although not without its blind spots). It's natural that members of this
> community want to talk about these events, and it's a bit strange that mods are so adamant that this not happen.

It's called a community, but there are some asterisks that never applied to its model--the IRL communities in which humans have lived since prehistory--and don't apply to those today. The deleted threads are small instances (and jerking all of Egypt offline at once, as happened in 2011, is a big one) of what one of those asterisks points to, namely that online communities are controlled by a very small number of people compared to the number of users, and operate or don't operate at the pleasure of that small number. That alone is enough to dissuade me from coming to depend on them, either for emotional support or for anything else, to whatever degree I can control.

There was nobody here where I live to tell my I could not ask a question or voice an opinion to anyone about the shooting. A given individual might say "I just can't talk about it yet" but as for general discussion, nobody controls it or can limit it. A community of which that is not true seems pretty near-beer to me.
posted by jfuller at 6:35 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dee Hock the founder of Visa says:

"Community is composed of that we don’t attempt to measure, for which we keep no record and ask no recompense. Most are things we cannot measure no matter how hard we try – such things as respect, tolerance, love, trust, beauty – the supply of which is unlimited. The nonmonetary exchange of value does not arise solely from altruistic motives. It arises from deep, intuitive, often subconscious understanding that self-interest is inseparably connected with community interest; that individual good is inseparable from the good of the whole; that in some way, often beyond our understanding, all things are, at one and the same time, independent, interdependent, and intradependent…
posted by infini at 7:03 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


In this meta thread, quite a few people jumped on me for noting that Metafilter is a strongly pro-gun site.

I think maybe there's an issue of how an intermediate position is perceived based on one's own position going on here, too. If your position is "the vast majority of ordinary citizens should not have access to guns, period," then someone taking the position of "gun control laws should be much stricter to completely outlaw especially vicious types of guns, and to better screen prospective gun owners for their fitness to own guns, but ultimately many ordinary citizens should be allowed to own guns if they so choose" may well seem like a pro-gun position to you.

However, for better or for worse, this latter position is generally not considered a "pro-gun" position in US society at large. If the former is your position, then yes, MetaFilter probably is "pro-gun" compared to you. But it's not "pro-gun" as that term is generally understood, at least in the US, hence all the scoffing at your claim that MeFi is pro-gun. And I daresay you'd be hard-pressed to find any site, at least where Americans were a majority of the members, which would not be "pro-gun" by your standards.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:32 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


One of the attributes that put me off joining MetaFilter in the last decade was the total absence of pictures, and the ability to embed media, within posts and comments. Remembering thinking "What is this ridiculously retro MetaFilter? Gopher for the Millenials or something?" Shallow, yes, and some of my other reasons weren't much better.

But with this particular incident, have come to appreciate that people cannot shove other media into posts and comments, only link to it externally. If one wants to see it, you have to click the link.

That picture of the crocodile line of obviously upset and frightened children seems to be the default, used by every media, picture for the shootings. I hated the ... intrusion? "see the upset children, fleeing"? oddity of "why the photographer isn't fleeing as well?" ... the first time it appeared, and every time since.

Can't quite articulate why, but there's something very disturbing, wrong, in that particular picture being acceptably, casually, by default being used everywhere. And I'm glad that I can come to MetaFilter for discussion and comment in the knowledge I won't unwillingly see that picture (and certain others) over and over, here.
posted by Wordshore at 8:18 AM on December 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


What is this ridiculously retro MetaFilter?

One of the few sites where you can reasonably feel safe from cross-site-scripting browser attacks.
posted by radwolf76 at 8:30 AM on December 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


> Can't quite articulate why, but there's something very disturbing, wrong, in that particular picture being
> acceptably, casually, by default being used everywhere.

Agree! And I am also sick to death of seeing pics resulting from shoving a camera in weeping people's faces, and glad these can't appear here. (On this occasion not just weeping people but f*cking small children.)
posted by jfuller at 8:42 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


call it grief-horror-shock porn.

Even the "good" media seem addicted to it. It's become a situation where if something horrible happens to you or your family, you owe the MASS camera eye (and microphone) a few minutes of your inarticulate emotional nakedness. And if that doesn't include some tears, then you are judged as somehow less than human, perhaps even complicit in whatever evil has occurred.
posted by philip-random at 9:03 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


You can be judged as properly human if you figure out a way to borrow some grief, or invent a reason to feel bad somehow.
posted by rhizome at 6:19 PM on December 15, 2012


That sounds like an exhausting noise thread, tbh.
posted by elizardbits at 5:01 PM on December 14 [1 favorite +] [!] .


let's be real here
posted by bright and shiny at 6:42 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would stand in solidarity with washburn, when the NRA gets suggested as a good gun-control group in this thread. The idea is about as offensive as suggesting that Stormfront is a good resource for learning about the Holocaust. I cannot believe there are people on this site who are so completely tone-deaf and insensitive to even think those are acceptable answers, given what has transpired here.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:32 PM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


That's a pretty misleading summary of the suggestion. The NRA only has 4.3 million members. A membership drive to sign up members who are say pro universal handgun band that signed up 10 million members would neuter the NRA and would set back gun advocacy while they regrouped under a new umbrella organization.
posted by Mitheral at 6:56 AM on December 16, 2012


20 dead kids and our response is to put the NRA up as a pro-gun-control solution. This site has hit a new low.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:51 AM on December 16, 2012


our response

AskMe is by and for the users. We shut down the NRA discussion in that thread when it started but there are always going to be people who have suggestions or viewpoints you don't like. You're welcome to continue grousing about it, but there's a huge difference between a single comment on an open thread and "our response" to anything. Everyone's nerves are frayed here, if you think you can find a place where literally no one suggests "try solving the problem from the inside out" I wish you luck; please come back and tell us what you've found.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:05 AM on December 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Regardless of whether washburn was on or off the mark, I was kind of disappointed that the kneejerk snark to him was rewarded with so many favorites. I suppose I've lost the stomach for that sort of vapid discourse.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:04 AM on December 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Turn off favourites. Seriously. It'll save your stomach.
posted by Mitheral at 10:37 AM on December 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


That's excellent advice, but that culture of rewarding inanity is still pervasive and encourages "oh snap" nonsense like that. Eh, it's the internet.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:41 AM on December 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


This site has hit a new low.

Really? Because one person answered a question in a way you didn't like? Okay, that's pretty dramatic.

After making the mistake of going onto other social media this weekend, retreating back to MetaFilter as it's one of the few places online where the 'debate' has some substance, people from different viewpoints (as opposed to a stream of just 'BAN ALL GUNS AND VIDEO GAMES') are chipping in, and the amount of inflammation and people telling others with a different viewpoint to shut up or go away is (relatively) low.

One example of many from elsewhere; the irony of people tweeting that members of the NRA should be shot or worse is ... oh, I don't know. Certainly not useful in any way.
posted by Wordshore at 12:06 PM on December 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can someone please start a separate thread to talk about hunting and/or subsistence hunting? The conversation in the blue is dominated by that derail.
posted by missmerrymack at 1:37 PM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


...but that culture of rewarding inanity is still pervasive and encourages "oh snap" nonsense like that. Eh, it's the internet.

It's Metafilter and I want Metafilter to be where people have respectful, informed discussions on difficult subjects, not just a site where, thanks to mods discouraging the worst behaviour, comments aren't quite as bad as the rest of the internet.

I'm permanently frustrated by the gap between MeFites' self-congratulation and the inanity, snark and fightiness that is not only tolerated, but frequently rewarded. Sure, this is the best site for general-interest discussion that I know of and there is often gold among the dross, but it's not only about the SNR; I believe there would be a lot more people contributing that gold if there was notably less dross.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 1:39 PM on December 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Originally, I disagreed with the mods about shooting down all the early Newtown threads. I, too, wanted a place here to discuss the shooting, to share my shock and horror, to read the stories of others. This, like many others, is the first place I turn when major news events happen. I value the people here, and the thoughtful way most share their opinions.

Reading the Newtown thread while watching the memorial service on CNN has caused me to change my mind to the other extreme. I'm sorry the mods allowed the thread at all. Arguing that we are better than most places on the internet (and I agree, we are) does not excuse us from our excesses.
posted by booksherpa at 5:35 PM on December 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


What is it that you don't like about the thread, booksherpa?
posted by tonycpsu at 7:22 PM on December 16, 2012


20 children are dead, and people are snarking at one another over petty differences. It's become yet another forum for the same endless arguments.
posted by booksherpa at 7:53 PM on December 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Quoting a Facebook friend:

I can't believe how shocking the event in Sandy Hook has been to me. It goes beyond any natural disaster or act of war. It is a crime against the very nature of the human spirit. Obama is not faking, the teaching of God was not a factor, even the availability of guns was only a marginal factor. There are many ways to release extreme emotion and this event was just about the worst way it could happen. It is not possible to say anything that will change what happened, we can only try to prevent it. Try talking to people in public places, get to know those those who live around you.
posted by philip-random at 8:14 PM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think when people who know each other in real life talk online, it ends up being close to the sort of conversations you'd have in person. I've seen a few gun control debates among friends, but not many, and they've been remarkably civil. Mostly I see prayers and pictures and articles being shared, or questions about how to talk to your kids.

When you're talking online to strangers, it seems easier to let the discussion devolve into debates about guns, and forget that it started because of a horrific shooting. Maybe it's a coping mechanism, I don't know.
posted by booksherpa at 8:27 PM on December 16, 2012


I can't believe how shocking the event in Sandy Hook has been to me. It goes beyond any natural disaster or act of war

I guess that probably depends a lot on whether it's your kids being killed and maimed in acts of war.
posted by Mitheral at 8:39 PM on December 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not to pick on you, Mitheral, but that kind of comment is exactly what I mean. For someone who doesn't have a personal experience of acts of war, 20 dead children in a senseless school shooting, in a place perceived as safe, can register harder than dozens or hundreds of dead children over the course of a war in a far away country. It's sad but true, that a local tragedy will have more impact on a person than a distant one, and a single event can seem more shocking than one that is repeated.

It doesn't mean that it is any less horrific that kids are dying in violent ways in other places, just that philip-random was personally strongly affected by this particular event. As was I. Perhaps you could refrain from judging the emotions of others? Can we please all just be a little gentler with each other?
posted by booksherpa at 8:57 PM on December 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


booksherpa: "it seems easier to let the discussion devolve into debates about guns, and forget that it started because of a horrific shooting"

It was a horrific shooting, but I would align myself with phillip-random's Facebook friend in saying that we're powerless to bring any of the twenty-six victims back, but we can do our best to talk through the issues and see if we can learn something from discussing them.

Are the extremes of the debate going to change their opponents' minds? I doubt it. But speaking only for myself, I've actually learned quite a bit about the other side from that thread, and it gives me hope that there are people out there who believe in the 2nd amendment more strongly than I do, but are also on board with some incremental regulations that could improve safety and reduce the negative impact that unfettered access to firearms has on our society.

So in that respect, I've really found the thread therapeutic. I'm sure that will change when the realities of the political process and entrenched lobbying interests become more visible, but at this point right now, I'm hopeful that something can be done that might turn the tide.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:03 PM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't read most of the thread. All I want to do is mourn for the families, the children, the educators and my town right now. I said this before, but I can't speak for the whole town. For myself, it would have hurt less to read the thread if people could have been, in general, more kind to each other even while vehemently disagreeing.

But I lost my shit about Mike Huckabee in that very thread, so I also understand that remaining rational when you're already in an emotional state and you read an idea that you find repulsive is a very difficult thing to do.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:46 PM on December 16, 2012


Mike Huckabee would have made Gandhi want to punch a kitten.
posted by Pudhoho at 2:24 AM on December 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Can we please all just be a little gentler with each other?

This from the person who just said what amounts to "shut up, all of you just shut up, you are not talking the way I want you to talk about this; you shouldn't be allowed to talk about it at all"?
posted by fightorflight at 4:57 AM on December 17, 2012


it seems easier to let the discussion devolve into debates about guns, and forget that it started because of a horrific shooting

A horrific shooting was able to happen because of guns. Whatever the conclusion you draw from that - all guns should be criminalized, all teachers should be armed, we need more legislation, we need to nullify all legislation and repeal the 2nd amendment - there are a lot of people who do not draw the same obvious conclusion, and will instead draw a very different conclusion.

If we are to have any hope of reducing the chance of such a horrific shooting being repeated (for the 47th time in US history) then we need to engender political will by having the debate about guns. Availability of guns will not change because of moral outrage. It will (or will not) change because of debate about guns.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:15 AM on December 17, 2012


"I'm glad the FPP got delayed for reasons r_n has summed up nicely in this thread."

Remember when r_n was getting hammered almost daily for being a heavy-handed noob mod? It seems to me, she's really found her stride and is making unique, confident contributions to site moderation.

Congrats, restless_nomad.


I guess this is a nice sentiment but I always thought restless_nomad was a fine mod, not that she bloomed later or something after a rocky start. People just seemed to be a little reactive and "oh noes new modz" about it.

I think she has been unique and confident this whole time.
posted by sweetkid at 7:08 AM on December 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


People just seemed to be a little reactive and "oh noes new modz" about it.

Actually, it was a lot less pretty than that.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 8:48 AM on December 17, 2012


Yeah, I know, but my point is that I don't think it's community groupthink that r_n has finally found her ground or somesuch.
posted by sweetkid at 8:53 AM on December 17, 2012


It's a credit to restless_nomad's constitution that she rolled with that as gracefully as she did.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:59 AM on December 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I know, but my point is that I don't think it's community groupthink that r_n has finally found her ground or somesuch.

I completely agree with you that restless_nomad has been an excellent mod from the outset. I just wanted that incident remembered as the ugly spectacle it was. Firstly because of how well it reflects on her and secondly because I think Metafilter can only improve if the bad days are noted with shame and lessons are learned about how we deal with all kinds of disagreement.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 9:58 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thank you for all the compliments, folks. I'm not particularly proud of that thread, but I'm not ashamed of it, either - in my more cynical moments, I think it actually helped that it got so heated and over-the-top, because I think it sort of short-circuited the whole cycle of griping. Taz got more static overall, I think, but it was spread out over a longer period of time. I'll take the short sharp shock any day.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:21 AM on December 17, 2012


Can someone please start a separate thread to talk about hunting and/or subsistence hunting? The conversation in the blue is dominated by that derail.

While remaining neutral on whether hunting is a derail, I assert that putting up an additional thread is not a solution: Either way, having a separate thread on hunting does not change whether the hunting disucssion is on-topic in the original thread.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:49 AM on December 17, 2012


When I posted that there were lengthy posts focusing on subsistence hunting that were dominating the conversation. It was a derail from the topic at hand. It has mostly quieted down now.
posted by missmerrymack at 12:16 PM on December 17, 2012


Oh Jesus that thread. Just got to this part.

"Your parents are terrible people and bad at math."

Remind me never to post anything about anyone I love or care about in a contested thread so I don't have to watch them get shit all over.
posted by charred husk at 12:26 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a Brit who loves America for complex reasons (enough that I'm in the early stages of emigrating there, to the mid-west) I'm reading every comment and have found the thread often educational.

Yes, seriously.

The press and TV media here filter stuff about the USA to an extreme, and warped, degree, as much as the USA press and TV media reciprocatingly do about news and events in the UK and Europe. it shows. Over and over again, what could be generalised as enlightened liberal colleagues here have seriously incorrect ideas of some aspects of American culture, especially guns. As an example, this weekend I corrected a third colleague/friend who thought that in some states it was obligatory for adults to own a gun.

Even after accumulating 3+ years in the USA myself, traveling and living in several rural places, the culture and attitude to weapons, and their access and use, is often difficult to figure out. And I'm from an English farming background, given a gun and told to earn my own pocket money in rabbit kills, at a young age. The comments have been useful for me (as a non-American who doesn't yet live there) to figure out a lot of stuff, both factual and in terms of attitude.
posted by Wordshore at 1:02 PM on December 17, 2012


"Your parents are terrible people and bad at math."

With respect, the quotation is "Then your parents do not understand math." I understand that people are generally sort of upset and not so happy with many factors about how that thread has gone and I'm right there with you, but saying that someone does not understand math is not the same as saying that they are terrible people or even bad at math generally. I have a more nuanced set of opinions about what I think is going on there, but I don't think they're really relevant to the general topic here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:16 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


yeah, "terrible people" wasn't mentioned.
posted by sweetkid at 1:31 PM on December 17, 2012


As an example, this weekend I corrected a third colleague/friend who thought that in some states it was obligatory for adults to own a gun.

Yeah, we only have that in a few towns.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:03 PM on December 17, 2012


Well, it's going predictably in there. I hope that everyone who thought it was necessary to have a Very Important Discussion has gotten what they wanted out of it.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:59 AM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


For what it's worth, this furriner is finding the thread extremely enlightening. I'm learning a lot. I'm also running into things that I can't understand, but that's okay: it's still good to know about them.
Thank you all, for keeping it civil. And my heart goes out to the US people, for having to deal with such severe issues.
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:07 AM on December 18, 2012


I went though the comments in this thread from people who advocated Metafilter as a place of discussion up until the thread was created and looked at which users commented in the FPP. From everyone who advocated creating a thread-as-discussion (using my own subjective interpretation), I came up with ~65 comments, with most users-who-advocated posting 0 comments, trailing to one who posted over 20. This doesn't include ericb, who at this time had ~40. This is out of 2058 comments, representing ~3.1% of all comments in the FPP at the time this comment was created.

For people who value discussion, they are not discussing much.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:13 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


You could be right, but my recollection is that a small proportion of members visit Metatalk anyway, so saying that Metatalk advocates of an immediate thread about this massacre only contributed 3.1% of comments doesn't really prove much. The fact that some didn't participate at all is pretty striking, though.

A more meaningful (though still imperfect) figure would be the average number of comments (and perhaps words) in the thread contributed by users who wanted an immediate thread compared to the average participant in that thread. The problem with threads related to guns is that any sort of analysis will be thrown off by a small number of very vocal participants. Taking the median rather than the mean might help reduce that effect.

Finally, the disagreement was not about whether there should be a thread at all, but whether it should go up while there were no firm numbers and Ryan Lanza was still being named as the shooter.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 6:59 AM on December 18, 2012


When you're talking online to strangers, it seems easier to let the discussion devolve into debates about guns, and forget that it started because of a horrific shooting. Maybe it's a coping mechanism, I don't know.

It's been such a totally devastating tragedy. When that thread started, I was looking for news, information, and general commentary about the events, expecting it would develop more from the human angle. I felt such a need to share. I work alone at home - I wanted the human sharing with people I respect.

If I were queen of mefi, I probably wouldn't have taken the thread in the gun debate direction -- but in a curious way, it has probably proven more therapeutic to me than a thread that would be more feeling-focused because it is making me feel less powerless in the face of this horror and more positive about the potential for change. There are a few frustrating deviations and some people who are sticking to extremes, but by and large, a pretty good and civil discussion. But I can appreciate that it isn't the discussion some people felt they wanted or needed.

For people who value discussion, they are not discussing much.

For many of those who wanted a thread - maybe they are reading & following -- I often do just that. Maybe they aren't satisfied with the trajectory it has taken. Or maybe they just wanted to weigh in on site policy. But I wouldn't call a 2100+ thread "not discussing much."
posted by madamjujujive at 8:27 AM on December 18, 2012 [4 favorites]



For many of those who wanted a thread - maybe they are reading & following -


& favoriting ... which is the MeFi equivalent of following a discussion at a social gathering, nodding in agreement every now and then, which definitely has an effect on how the discussion flows.

Though I didn't advocate for that thread, I did end up tracking some of it yesterday and found it not that bad. In fact, in terms of how to get info etc on the tragedy, it's about as good a source as I've come across (though I could've done without the subsistence hunting sidetracks).

I guess my overall feeling on such situations is that, unless you're immediately affected (in the community where it's happened/happening, or personally connected with it somehow), there really is no particularly good argument for NEEDING to be on top of every permutation of the story as it unfolds -- you are ultimately just another gawker, slowing down as you pass the grisly scene, afraid to look, compelled to look.

The thing to do, of course is take a different route, avoid the scene altogether, but that's hard to do. At least, in waiting to pursue an FPP on the story, MeFi allowed time for the dust to settle, the smoke to clear. At least we didn't contribute to the immediate chaos/confusion of the story as it was first breaking.

kudos to the mods for making the calls they made.
posted by philip-random at 9:10 AM on December 18, 2012


Well, it's going predictably in there. I hope that everyone who thought it was necessary to have a Very Important Discussion has gotten what they wanted out of it. [. . .]

From everyone who advocated creating a thread-as-discussion (using my own subjective interpretation), I came up with ~65 comments, with most users-who-advocated posting 0 comments. [. . .] For people who value discussion, they are not discussing much.

-themanoftwistsandturns

I'm one of those who called for debate on the front page and then didn't contribute a word to that discussion. I'm not sure whether I should feel guilty for this or not. By the time this thread was finally posted to Metafilter, I'd already begun discussing this at some length elsewhere, and there's only so much time in the day I can spend a day arguing about the second amendment. Maybe that seems weak to you, but there you have it. I'm not sure whether others who were disappointed to find no discussion here ended up spending time elsewhere instead, but I wouldn't be surprised.

As to whether people like me got what we wanted from the "Very Important Discussion," I'm not sure. Personally, I think one lesson here might be that delaying threads on breaking news isn't going to prevent a certain amount of noise and grar from emerging later on. Another might be that by intentionally delaying discussion of unfolding events, metafilter not only makes it harder for people to share corrections of the rumors published in media sources, but it also encourages members to go elsewhere to discuss breaking news (which might I suppose be viewed as either harmful or beneficial).

Personally, yes, I'm glad that people here had chance to have a discussion at some point, even if I myself was already "discussing much" elsewhere, by the time the mods permitted a conversation on the blue.
posted by washburn at 9:25 AM on December 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


by the time the mods permitted a conversation on the blue

By the time someone was willing and able to make a decent post on the blue. I have mostly just held my tongue in this thread for lack of polite things to say, but I am in this case as in lots of previous editions of this same sort of conversation powerfully bothered by folks inability to make that distinction. Hours long conversations about how "we can't have a post" as if there's some sort of arbitrary blanket ban on the topic, while we say "let's wait till someone makes a better post" and people collectively decline to do so. It is a massively frustrating thing to behold.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:10 AM on December 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


If I were queen of mefi

What's this "if" business?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:19 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


There was also a fair amount of discussion in chat about what to do, and because chat doesn't get recorded for posterity, any attempt to judge the go/no-go decision exclusively based on what's in this gray thread is going to draw conclusions from incomplete information. If I remember right, at least matthowie and restless_nomad stopped in to give their take on things, and the official word was "make a good post and we'll keep it." There was some talk of holding off for a few hours to avoid recording incomplete/incorrect information that might get picked up by news outlets, but there was definitely no "we will not allow a post on this" directive.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:21 AM on December 18, 2012


Hours long conversations about how "we can't have a post" as if there's some sort of arbitrary blanket ban on the topic

Opening post in this thread, from #1:
Probably the best and only way is if you can find after-the-fact wrap-ups [...] so if in a few days there's a good analytical article...
Second post:
I suspect we'll know more in a few hours than we know now.
Neither of those really say "we're ready to go as soon as you guys step up to the plate" to me. Even in the best reading, they say "maybe, when there's a good post, but that won't be now -- it'll be in a few hours to a few days".

Which may not be a total blanket ban, but it's definitely different from "shucks, if only a good post had been made". It's definitely a large enough window for an hours-long conversation about why we can't talk about something now. It certainly justifies the "when the mods permitted a conversation" thing you quoted.
posted by fightorflight at 10:25 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


If I were queen of mefi

What's this "if" business?


She's waiting for me to hand over the crown. That will take place on the 21st, when the Mayans descend on van Daniken's chariot to spray milk all over the world in protest of what we've dont to it in the intervening millenia.
posted by infini at 10:31 AM on December 18, 2012


Neither of those really say "we're ready to go as soon as you guys step up to the plate" to me.

They're both explicitly acknowledging the reality that there may not be much to step up to the plate with at the predictably chaotic outset of a breaking news event. The post needed to not be breathless HEY A THING HAPPENED knee jerk posting. That does not seem like an uncontroversial idea. Maybe there could have been a good post earlier, probably there couldn't have been, and shitty rushed posts make for even worse breaking news situations and are universally discouraged here.

That is not some random moderator deviance from the established norm, that's the way things basically always work, so presenting it as "the mods not permitting" rather than "the material just isn't there" seems bizarre. The complaint comes down to "why isn't Metafilter just not being Metafilter in this case so that I can not have to wait". The answer is because this is still Metafilter.

I understand that it's a terrible event, and people are upset, and were looking for a place to latch onto and for lots of folks this is that place. I empathize, and I understand how in practice all these understandable and well-meaning moving parts of the site dynamic work as independent pieces. But the emergent phenomenon is, as I said, massively frustrating.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:37 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Talking about it "now", like, within a minute of the news breaking? Would that have been good enough - a single link to the front page of CNN?

We, the users, are responsible for making posts decent enough to stand. Shitty posts, especially shitty breaking-news posts, ought to be deleted and usually are. Why was this special - because it was particularly shitty news, and some people just couldn't stand to wait a few hours to say something on metafilter about it?
posted by rtha at 10:40 AM on December 18, 2012


Talking about it "now", like, within a minute of the news breaking? Would that have been good enough - a single link to the front page of CNN?

Yeah, like this thread. Terrible post. Sure, different times, different site, but it's odd for the same thread to be both held as a Mefi high point and simultaneously inconceivably beyond the pale.

They're both explicitly acknowledging the reality that there may not be much to step up to the plate with at the predictably chaotic outset of a breaking news event.

Fine. But the end result is still a lot of people wanting a conversation -- a conversation they've had in the past multiple times very shortly after breaking news happens -- and this time they weren't permitted.

Maybe there could have been a good post earlier, probably there couldn't have been

The entire "wait a few hours/days" framing of the mod responses seem geared to explicitly dissuade people from even trying to make such a post until mods had explicitly said "OK, we're ready to accept posts on this topic now". And I notice that it wasn't very long after Matt said that three posts arrived, one of which stayed.

The complaint in this case actually boils down to "why is Metafilter not even being allowed to attempt to be the Metafilter it is?"
posted by fightorflight at 10:49 AM on December 18, 2012


Neither of those really say "we're ready to go as soon as you guys step up to the plate" to me.

I think saying "Maybe a few hours" an hour after this thread went live is close to that and I clarified it an hour later specifically saying that someone should try to make a decent post (after a lot of intervening discussion of how to get on the chat server for people who wanted to talk right now). I understand that's not how you heard it and we can be more clear next time when there's a large scale nightmarish disaster, but I stand by what we did and, for the most part, how we communicated what we were doing. "This is not a 9/11-level disaster such that we'll just okay a post linking to the front page of CNN; make a good post" is basically the way I heard it in my brain. We deleted some ungood "We don't know anything yet but OMG SHOOTING" posts.

We did not delete any post about the shooting that would have stood as an otherwise good post on some other day. There's a discussion to be had about how much of this is appropriate [waiting for a better post instead of letting people talk RIGHT NOW about everything] and our compromise has been to have the chat server available to facilitate instant discussion (and offer lots of help for people who want to use it) and then wait for a decent post, the same way we more or less do now with very-famous people obit posts. It's a judgment call and it's not going to make everyone happy, but we rally try to err on the side of being consistent and responsive which can be frustrating for people who see us around and are just mostly looking for responsive. I hear you, but it's not something we're likely to do a ton differently in the future.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:51 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


So after a quick trip through the posts via post number, I also notice that the people who were highly invested in discussion, except for two, did not actually attempt to create a place for that discussion on the front page. While of course I do not know what submissions were sent to the mods privately, I would like to note that the eventual FPP was created by someone who recommended moderation.

So here's whats bothering me. People claim to be highly invested in the discussion that is possible on this site, in this community - and also refuse to create a space for that discussion or participate in that discussion once it arises. To me, these people seem to be demanding that others do the work of creating FPPs, when they have no investment themselves in the process.

this time they weren't permitted.

Its not that they weren't permitted - they didn't even try.

You, fightorflight did not try to make a place for discussion. It is odd that discussion is so important to you yet you cannot be bothered to make a place for it.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:52 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The complaint in this case actually boils down to "why is Metafilter not even being allowed to attempt to be the Metafilter it is?"

It was being allowed to. Good attempts weren't happening. Whether that's because it was literally impossible to make a solid post sooner or not I cannot say because that's a total counterfactual; I think it's fair to say that making a solid post sooner was practically speaking going to be a taller order the further into "sooner" you traveled because the reportage situation was in fact chaotic and close to useless closer to the event.

And let me be clear. I am not frustrated that people wanted to talk about it. I am not frustrated that there was not a good post sooner—I do not blame people for being unable to put together a good post before there was decent, halfway stable material to make that post out of. If there wasn't a good post to be made because the content wasn't there, that's no one's fault.

The thing that frustrates me is the lack of acknowledgement that that's the actual core cause for delay. That if there's not material for a good post, and hence no good post, that's how things work, not some exceptional mod contrivance to deny mefites something they're otherwise entitled to or whatever. We didn't get up Friday morning and try to come up with some clever way to fuck with people; how this was handled is consistent with the reasoning and practices we've used for years.

Sometimes the way things play out within the guidelines and community expectations here is that the thing that makes sense is to wait. Waiting can be hard, but it's a normal component of how this place works, in all sorts of ways, and people being willing to recognize and respect that is important.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:03 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sure, different times, different site

You handwave those away like they're irrelevant, and they're not. Not to mention the (horrible) fact that school shootings are not that unusual. Multiple terrorists hijacking multiple planes and using them as weapons is.
posted by rtha at 11:05 AM on December 18, 2012


Translation: Imagine if someone walked past Michaelangelo and said "Hey! That's a misshapen lump of marble, YUCK" while he was still looking for the pieces that weren't an angel.
posted by infini at 11:06 AM on December 18, 2012


the man of twists and turns - maybe because they were respecting the direction mods gave to hold off, but wanted to comment on that direction? Maybe they were fearful of doing it after seeing several other posts having been deleted? Maybe they were at work and did not have time to do the research to make a post that would be acceptable? Or know what would be acceptable? Maybe they just aren't good at making posts?

Not everyone at Mefi makes posts. Yours seems like a similar argument to me to one that is often raised - that somebody shouldn't comment on the quality of a post if they don't make (m)any posts themselves. Or that a member has more right to comment on site policy because they make a lot of posts. We all have our way to contribute. I like making posts, but I comment less.

cortex, sorry that it has been frustrating, gah, I would not want to be a mod. Count me among those who wished a post went up sooner, but I respect your (and all mod) decisions even when I don't agree. I know you all work with good intent. Reasonable people disagree. I appreciate that there is a place for us to have our say.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:24 AM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sure, different times, different site, but it's odd for the same thread to be both held as a Mefi high point and simultaneously inconceivably beyond the pale.

Kind of like the movie Birth of a Nation and it's place in film history.

History is strange that way, different times having different effects.
posted by philip-random at 11:27 AM on December 18, 2012


Its not that they weren't permitted - they didn't even try.
As I said, it's pretty clear from the outset here that the message is "don't try yet", eg "you don't yet have permission to try".

To me, these people seem to be demanding that others do the work of creating FPPs, when they have no investment themselves in the process.

This from someone, the man of twists and turns, who was a lurker for a considerable period of time? Were you not invested in the site during that time? Can you see no distinction between "I am urgently burning to make a post on this topic" and "I disagree with a policy that says nobody should be allowed to make a post on this topic yet"?

It was being allowed to. Good attempts weren't happening.
Good attempts weren't happening because the mod message was really clear in this thread that the time for posts wasn't now, but "later", "in a few hours", "this afternoon". It was more than three hours before Jess made a post even hinting that posts were being accepted on the topic.

I think it's fair to say that making a solid post sooner was practically speaking going to be a taller order the further into "sooner" you traveled because the reportage situation was in fact chaotic and close to useless closer to the event.

One of the things MeFi has been good at on breaking news in the past is sorting and sifting while an event unfurls. What if (god forbid) this had only been the start of multiple shootings, perhaps co-ordinated? Would you have continually shoved the deadline out so that things could settle down? I have especially valued how good MeFi has been at sorting wheat from chaff in such situations in the past. To say "we're not going to do that this time, we're going to wait until the media has done it and then talk about it afterward" is ... strange.

It's even stranger that this is then presented as "how it's always been", as if we've never jogged along beside news as it happens before. Sure, good posts have generally been required to hang the discussion off, but even then that's been possible shortly after an event multiple times in the past - not just 9/11.

I think saying "Maybe a few hours" an hour after this thread went live is close to that

When the question is "when can we do this?", I just can't read "in a few hours" as close to "get set, go!".

By the way, I want to be clear that I totally appreciate you guys had no other motive here than trying to steer the site to good places, and this was a tough situation for you to do it in. Like madamjujujive says, reasonable people disagree, and I agree with many more calls than I disagree with.
posted by fightorflight at 11:29 AM on December 18, 2012


I would like to point out that when I made my comment the name of the shooter that was being confidently identified in the various news reports was wrong. Even today I'm seeing a hell of a lot of speculation about details and running to judgement based on incomplete reporting.

I didn't bother to participate in the resulting FPP because my glances in there suggested to me that it was exactly what I feared: Much reinforcement of previously held beliefs, as though the small amount of information we have learned about this incident changes what we previously knew.

So, personally, I still think we don't have enough solid information on which to base a FPP, at least not from this user base. I love y'all, but I'll read and participate in this topic here one when it comes around again, in sizeable fractions or multiples of a year.
posted by straw at 11:39 AM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Good attempts weren't happening because the mod message was really clear in this thread that the time for posts wasn't now, but "later", "in a few hours", "this afternoon".

By my count, three posts were attempted and deleted after this thread went up, so the mod message did not entirely prevent people from attempting to post. The first claimed there were two shooters. The second claimed the shooter was the father of a student. The third claimed the shooter was the son of a teacher. That suggests that good attempts weren't happening because the information available was very poor.

I'm sure that had one of those threads stood, the true facts would have come out eventually. However, I don't see what good tossing around rumours while waiting for confirmation from the authorities would have done. As far as I can see, it wouldn't have helped the truth come out faster and it wouldn't have made for a better thread.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 12:02 PM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


If there wasn't a good post to be made because the content wasn't there, that's no one's fault. [...] The thing that frustrates me is the lack of acknowledgement that that's the actual core cause for delay.

I think some people just have a different analysis of the core cause. The usual standards for good posts are, if I understand correctly, intended in part to foster good discussion by ensuring good discussion prompts. But in a case like this, I'd think the discussion prompt is inevitably the event itself, and the links have essentially no effect. (Like enn and Wolfdog were saying a long ways upthread.) And if the links don't matter, then why bother evaluating them by the usual standards? From this point of view, the core cause isn't the lack of good posts according to the usual post standards, but the enforcement of those standards in a case where the rationale for them doesn't apply — which, now that I put it in those terms, strikes me as pretty contrary to the usual no-rules-just-guidelines-and-mind-the-context theory of moderation here.

This isn't really my own opinion, but I do consider it a reasonable view to take, and I don't think it's right to characterize it as coming from a "lack of acknowledgement [of] the actual core cause".
posted by stebulus at 12:43 PM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I borked the link to enn's comment.
posted by stebulus at 12:50 PM on December 18, 2012


What if (god forbid) this had only been the start of multiple shootings, perhaps co-ordinated? Would you have continually shoved the deadline out so that things could settle down?

We explicitly don't play this game here. I'm sorry you were not happy with the decisions that we had to make under the circumstances we made them.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:04 PM on December 18, 2012


I don't imagine that I am the only person who is finding the so-called debate on the blue so dispiriting. But like a car wreck, it's something I can't turn away.

My commendations to the mods for keeping it as civilized as it is.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 2:46 PM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


OP of the FPP here. A brief timeline of it.

I quite like the challenge of (sometimes) constructing an FPP; it's intellectually and culturally interesting, the filtering and framing of knowledge for a specific audience, with the resulting post being - hopefully - the catalyst for debate and more people adding related knowledge. It's also been related to work, on and off, for the last 20 years. Initiated a recent discussion about this here on Talk recently.

It wasn't long after the first reports (through the UK media) of the shootings appeared that it became apparent that this was a major, and bad, incident or event. That and being laid up ill, crawling the walls to do something useful, but too out-of-it to do actual work, started consideration of how to do a FPP following IMHO the four basic rules of an FPP:

1. It isn't about you.
2. It isn't about your emotions or opinions, either.
3. It's about interesting factually correct 'stuff' (this can include cats).
4. It should be possible that the post is written by anyone else on MetaFilter (see rule 1).

The second 'rule' made this difficult, because of the extreme nature of what was happening, or had happened. Even more difficult was that the information about the incident was fluid, incorrect, inaccurate. I *nearly* posted, with a four-link FPP, quite a while before the accepted FPP went up, but at the last moment realised that two of the links went to sources which had suddenly doubful information. It wasn't fit to go live.

Looking around for sources of stable (which is the key word here, as Cortex used earlier) news and information meant looking at social media, which was a dispiriting experience, full of people who were angrily reacting, often to incorrect news or just sheer speculation. Hence the comment about this, and it was good at MetaFilter holding off and discussing this. At that point, I couldn't see how an FPP that would not upset many people further could be done, and watched various other attempts being deleted.

After a break, watched more news sources and unfollowed a heap more British academic liberal colleagues on social media uttering variations of "Americans are stupid". Noticed that the BBC, which is usually (but not always) restrained and careful had a fairly stable story, and was sticking to basic facts. That was the starting point for another attempt. It wasn't IMHO enough for a FPP; this absolutely needed to have multiple sources and not be a single link post. Sorry, have tried but can't articulate why; it just personally felt that it needed the respectful gravitas(?) and source safety(?) of multiple sources. Rather than "Here's a link to something about a very bad event."

Repeated Google news searches threw up many possibilities which I skimmed through, with three eventually standing out and used to form an FPP that reads as a very basic timeline of the event. When in doubt, do a neutral timeline.

Got a housemate to read it off my screen to see if it came over as emotional or inciting emotion in any way over and above the obvious subject matter. She thought it okay. Nearly submitted it then, but saw Matts comment about posts being considered. Just after that on a whim searched wikipedia to see if there was an entry with some more original sources, and decided to link to that page there, as that would be rapidly evolving.

Sent it to the mods. Several of them read it and got back to me very quickly, within seconds or a few minutes. Got the impression from the positive but short replies that things were intense on this particular event in Mod HQ - not surprising, really. Still wasn't sure about the title but decided to leave it without a fixed number in case more victims were discovered. Quickly added a link to more information about the town to make the post slightly 'rounder', and fulfill another of the who/what/where/when/why/how attributes about events.

Dithered then finally posted to get a conclusion on this exercise, then noticed that a few other people had posted about the same time. Up to the mods what happened then. I did really like Brandon's post, which was significantly different and had interesting links; unfortunate that the comments on our posts got all fuzzily overlapping.

I do have mod-empathy; have been a mod on far more unpleasant places than MetaFilter and frankly, never again. But on this post, I certainly haven't colluded in any unethical way with the mods. Haven't met any of them in real life, they delete my stuff on a semi-regular or regular basis (latest comment deleted 6 hours ago), suspect I'm one edit away from being banned from tinkering with the December post wiki (it's a perfect insomnia activity), and strongly suspect that the one mod with whom I have many mutual contacts outside of MetaFilter thinks I'm genuinely bonkers mad. I can live with that.

As for commenting on the thread; the process of coming up with the FPP made me dislike 'breaking news' journalism even more than before, which is saying something. Am pretty disgusted with the lack of media fact checking, the lack of apology or even recognition for fact changing, and journalists harassing parents, siblings and surviving children. So while I've found many of the comments on the thread interesting and educational, in a way I can't articulate very well, I've got an odd mental block over contributing apart from a '.'.
posted by Wordshore at 4:43 PM on December 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


A queue for posts on the blue is seriously an idea I like, probably too much of a workload and editor type role for the mods though.

Just give the mods a quick chance to smell posts out for obvious flaws before approving. In the case of breaking news stories where there is an official decision to wait, for instance waiting for a major political announcement to become official, people won't feel as much of a need to First Post it and the best of the efforts can be posted at the right time.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:38 PM on December 18, 2012


I don't imagine that I am the only person who is finding the so-called debate on the blue so dispiriting. But like a car wreck, it's something I can't turn away.

Why? I really don't understand. It seems like it is going mostly okay to me. The subject matter is quite dispiriting but that's not the fault of the blue.
posted by Justinian at 9:26 AM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


A queue for posts on the blue is seriously an idea I like

Not me. There's no need for it at all, and it would change this from a place where we share with each other into a place where the mods share with us. It's a horrible idea.
posted by OmieWise at 9:55 AM on December 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


A queue for posts on the blue is seriously an idea I like

Not sure; possibly. The one part of MetaFilter that personally think does need a queue (thought this again today) is MetaTalk itself.
posted by Wordshore at 11:18 AM on December 19, 2012


The odds of there ever being a queue on Metafilter proper are very low. Not only would it drastically change the nature of the site, but it would increase our workload by a ridiculous percentage. Right now, we touch very few threads on the blue (it's the 80/20 rule for sure - 20% of the threads generate 80% of the work. The actual numbers might be even more dramatically disparate.) There would have to be an overwhelming, site-changing reason to make a change like that, and there just isn't. It's really not a problem that occasional threads get posted and then get deleted. It just isn't.

MetaTalk is a slightly different story. We do put a queue up for holidays and the like (we were just discussing next week's queue setup, in fact - there will be an announcement at some point) but I'm not totally sure if having one all the time wouldn't change the nature of MetaTalk, or at least represent a temptation to us as mods to avoid the messy, angry, major-workload threads that are an integral part of what MetaTalk is for. I don't think any of us would do it consciously, but I personally don't want that decision in my hands all the time because I'm not totally sure I'd make the right one.

MeTa is a messy thing by nature - it's a weird intersection of new-user help space and hardcore-user site direction debate venue - and there are probably ways to make it do both things better. But making the queue permanent wouldn't be the first one I'd reach for.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:30 AM on December 19, 2012


proud to be a hardcore user ...
posted by madamjujujive at 2:12 PM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was just thinking about a full-time MeTa queue after the last couple of Ask-related posts (one was "why was this anonymous?" the other was "why was the user allowed to have this deleted?")

I really think threads like those are in poor taste, as they draw much more attention to a question that, for whatever reason, the poster was sensitive about. In general, I hate the idea of MeTa posts being squashed before they ever see the light of day, but I'm 100% on board with it for posts like those.
posted by SpiffyRob at 6:49 AM on December 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm curious whether there was any discussion, by the OP or among moderators and either before posting or afterward, about the necessity or propriety of publishing the brother's name in the FPP.

My own opinion is the typical, "You can't unring a bell, but you can certainly stop ringing it and/or decline to join the chorus," and I think this becomes doubly pertinent in a situation where bad information has already been corrected and people continue to discuss (if not perpetuate) it anyway. I think the judgment call would be closer at a newspaper, since the misidentification aspect is arguably newsworthy, but MetaFilter isn't a newspaper.

But I'm mostly curious whether its inclusion was discussed at all. Apologies if I missed some discussion of this in the thread already, but I don't see any.
posted by cribcage at 8:08 AM on December 21, 2012


But I'm mostly curious whether its inclusion was discussed at all.

No, this is literally not something we discussed at all.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:22 AM on December 21, 2012


Thanks for answering, Jessamyn.
posted by cribcage at 8:26 AM on December 21, 2012


Were you not invested in the site during that time?

Nope.

Can you see no distinction between "I am urgently burning to make a post on this topic" and "I disagree with a policy that says nobody should be allowed to make a post on this topic yet"?

I understand your position as "I think somebody else should do the work for me"

This is not a compelling argument, no matter how you phrase it.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:01 PM on December 24, 2012


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