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more talkin bout guns?
December 23, 2012 12:57 PM   Subscribe

I'm pretty annoyed that the FFP on gun studies and the CDC was pulled. Granted, there are similar threads open, but this seems like new information to me. I feel like we're being unnecessarily cautious about the gun control discussion, in a way that feels a bit repressive.
posted by daisystomper to Etiquette/Policy at 12:57 PM (124 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

These are high-heat, high-activity conversations, and splitting them into multiple parts just makes them harder to follow and harder to manage. Keeping topics to a minimum number of threads is standard procedure here.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:59 PM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think it's more that we've already had thousands of comments about gun control on the shooting thread, another thread a week later feels like too much and just an excuse to continue the same hot button issue discussion in a new spot.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:01 PM on December 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


I agree that it was an original topic, but the discussion wasn't much different than what was going on in the other threads.

Maybe we should try to make an effort to only directly discuss the article at hand in these things, and keep the general conversation to the megathread?

I was guilty of doing this in that thread, but probably shouldn't have given in to the urge to respond to a problematic comment, since it was only tangentially related to the FPP.

In any event, there's probably not a good way to do this from a moderation perspective, so it might be best if these threads are just deleted and folded back into the megathread....
posted by schmod at 1:06 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe add the stuff from the post that got pulled into the existing thread that's already open and discussing it?
posted by Solomon at 1:07 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


It would be nice to be able to close the thread but not delete it from the front page, like the way you do in MetaTalk. That way the post could stay: the links are good, it was the discussion that was redundant.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:11 PM on December 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


I believe "Amerika" was actually used in that thread. Not much legal nuance being brought up.

Feels repressive to me too. But I thought of responding to a sorta technical question and couldn't see a point to it. Hell, I like fighting about this stuff. But it'd be pointless to bring relevant, or even accurate, information to the table...er, thread, if there's no coherence at all.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:36 PM on December 23, 2012


Similarly annoyed. Yes, there was always going to be similarity of conversation, but that was a good post on a worthy subject.
posted by Artw at 1:44 PM on December 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Good thread, bad deletion.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:44 PM on December 23, 2012 [13 favorites]


I thought some good points were made (e.g., the analogy between guns and illegal drugs), but they were also off-topic in the given context. Based on some of the comments, everything above the fold could have been replaced with any generic news about guns in America. However, there were people trying to discuss that specific topic, but it may have been too tempting for others to get on their tangential soapbox and generalize the conversation.

Aside from combining the comments into older threads and maintaining access to the FPP's links (which are both good suggestions), can you be sure to post a link to the open threads whenever that's given as the excuse for closing a thread? That should at least streamline the discussion and make it a bit easier for people to find the droids they're looking for.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 1:48 PM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


General advice: If you are feeling repressed by the Internet, stand up and go outside.
posted by carsonb at 1:49 PM on December 23, 2012 [21 favorites]


The discussion seemed to all about whether or not requiring gun owners to buy insurance would be a good idea or not, and almost not at all about the inability of public health agencies to study the problem, thanks to the NRA. I think the insurance discussion has already come up in the other thread, so why not continue it there?
posted by rtha at 1:50 PM on December 23, 2012


I don't feel repressed, but I do get the sense that discussion is being shut down. But, hey, thanks for jumping in with the condescension, that's quite helpful and not obnoxious at all.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:50 PM on December 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


I'd like to just call out decathecting for their excellent comment, so good I'm going to quote it:

Unfortunately, I can't think of a solution to this problem that doesn't lead to justifying ever-greater violations of the civil liberties of the poor and minorities. Because as a society, when we make things illegal, we don't go after middle-class white people who do those things, even when those middle-class white people are causing the most harm by their actions. No, we go after the poor, and then when we arrest them and lock them away and ruin their lives, we pat ourselves on the back because we've "done something" about our problems. I don't know what the solution to this problem is. But I know that I'm very uncomfortable with what I suspect this solution is going to look like in practice.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:52 PM on December 23, 2012 [14 favorites]


Like capital punishment, if you monetize the problem, guns come up short and pretty much decide the issue on costs because it's subsidized mayhem. It's a problem that can be solved by gun insurance, which is a privatized way of registering and tracking problem guns. States can make it illegal to have an uninsured gun.
posted by Brian B. at 1:54 PM on December 23, 2012


Seems like we shouldn't have a gun debate in this thread too.

I think we've reached a point of diminishing returns on "debating" these subjects amongst our like-minded selves (even within the range of like-mindedness we exhibit). If you care about this issue now is the premium ultra-best gotta get on it moment to be directing your efforts to the public sphere of policy debate. Instead of posting to metafilter, write your congresspersons and sign petitions.

Here we just end up getting mad at each other and tossing straw men on the rhetorical bonfire.
posted by spitbull at 1:58 PM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


We definitely shouldn't have that debate in this thread, thanks.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:59 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I very much agree with the request to link to the open threads with similar discussions in the deletion reason. (And, if someone could link them here as well, that would be great - I know what one is, not sure what the other is).

I'm also wondering why it is that the thread stayed open for 57 comments / about a hour and a half, then got deleted - it seems a lot more frustrating that way than if it had been shut down within, say, 15 minutes.
posted by insectosaurus at 2:03 PM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hey gang. This was my post. I understand the reasoning behind the deletion, even if I don't necessarily agree with it.

I will take the opportunity to request the pony!

The mods, in the reason for deletion, should include a link to the existing open thread they believe the conversation should go instead. That way those participating in the now closed thread could just click over and continue the chat upon refreshing and seeing the closure.
posted by leotrotsky at 2:10 PM on December 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


Yeah, good point, I'll go do that now.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:21 PM on December 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


But, hey, thanks for jumping in with the condescension

i don't think he was talking to you. it seemed pretty obvious to me that carsonb was responding to the topic which says I feel like we're being unnecessarily cautious about the gun control discussion, in a way that feels a bit repressive.
posted by nadawi at 2:22 PM on December 23, 2012


Smedleyman: "I believe "Amerika" was actually used in that thread. "

This was the comment when I said "there's nothing to do but close this thread, it's all downhill from here."
posted by boo_radley at 2:26 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


oh man i thought you guys were kidding about "amerika."
posted by Bookhouse at 2:29 PM on December 23, 2012


I don't think that there is per se a huge problem with discussing hot button issues which MeFi comes down predominantly on one side of, as long as you're not rehearsing the same boring hot button argument in an echo chamber.

If you're discussing something like this appeared to be: a new perspective on a tired issue, which can be tightly constrained, then it could be worth presenting. Perhaps at a time when there's no contentious open threads on the subject, and when the mods aren't hoping to have relaxing holiday times with loved ones.
posted by ambrosen at 2:35 PM on December 23, 2012


While we're on the subject, what's the preferred method for accessing closed threads? I can only think to use RSS feeds and aggregate websites that link to them regardless.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 2:40 PM on December 23, 2012


I use the Greasemonkey script, Johann Georg Faust.
posted by SMPA at 2:43 PM on December 23, 2012


Seconding SMPA. One caveat that can be confusing: If the deleted thread would be the top thread on a homepage, the script won't display it until there's another FPP made.
posted by carsonb at 2:45 PM on December 23, 2012


or the deleted threads blog

if i know about where a deleted thread was on the page i'll sometimes just count back/forwards with thread numbers until i find it.
posted by nadawi at 2:46 PM on December 23, 2012


Excellent. Thanks for indulging my Internet grave-keeping.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 2:57 PM on December 23, 2012


The post also was editorializing.

Oh also, when you open a complaint thread about a deletion in MetaTalk please include a link to the original thread.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:01 PM on December 23, 2012


In that it mentioned a shitty thing some shitty people do in the hope of nobody asking questions about another shitty thing? Whatevs.
posted by Artw at 4:04 PM on December 23, 2012


"Please don't talk about facts" is what got us in this shitty state of affairs.
posted by Artw at 4:07 PM on December 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


OP, I agree with you (but I usually think MeFi is WAY over moderated). The "already open" thread was 10 days ago, has thousands of comments and is impossible to read on a mobile device.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:09 PM on December 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


The open thread is about the massacre. The closed thread was about the gun lobby's control of public research into firearm deaths, and special legislative protection for gun manufacturers. Yes, it's a particularly timely post, but it's also a very distinct one and it's worth reading even for people like me, who are not interested in reading about the massacre at Sandy Hook. If it had been appended to the old thread I'd never have seen it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:23 PM on December 23, 2012 [29 favorites]


"Please don't talk about facts" is what got us in this shitty state of affairs.

Are you sure? I thought it was "Please at least loosely attempt to follow the guidelines of internet forums" that did it. Road straight to hell, that.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:26 PM on December 23, 2012


What Joe said. I understand the motivation but it was a bad deletion that didn't serve the site well. I'm totally not following the other thread. Posting a link to it in the deletion reason doesn't help anyone who never saw the deleted post in the first place and isn't following the ongoing thread.
posted by unSane at 4:32 PM on December 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Tell me no lies: you do recognize that the only person behaving poorly here is you, right?
posted by leotrotsky at 5:03 PM on December 23, 2012


Not sure I can make any promises there.

Tell Me No Lies - you know damn well what I was talking, but what in the fuck are you talking about? What has broken what rules where?
posted by Artw at 5:11 PM on December 23, 2012


I don't feel repressed, but I do get the sense that discussion is being shut down

I'm honestly okay with that call even if the only reason it's being shut down is that the mods do not want to have to moderate a predictably high-volume, high-contention, long-lasting thread over Christmas.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:12 PM on December 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Let's just shut down Metafilter over Christmas, then.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:18 PM on December 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: "Let's just shut down Metafilter over Christmas, then."

Let's just not.
posted by boo_radley at 5:21 PM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


It *IS* always weak and disappointing when a decision is made on that basis.
posted by Artw at 5:28 PM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's impossible to create a unique gun control thread. You start out with unique links, and within a few comments the same conversation starts, over and over and over again. The Newtown post, which came as a result of a community demand for an immediate post on the subject, didn't really provide any insights whatsoever into what happened at Newtown. It was just an opportunity for two sides to repeat the same talking points over and over and over again.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:49 PM on December 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


What Joe In Australia said. I saw the post and noted to myself that I wanted to read it when I had time but, now I will not get the chance. It'd be great if the thread was still around but closed to commenting or someway that I could get to the links that were posted.
posted by bz at 6:31 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there a way to see the deleted thread on a mobile device?
posted by bz at 6:37 PM on December 23, 2012


Here.
posted by Artw at 6:42 PM on December 23, 2012


Tell Me No Lies - you know damn well what I was talking [about]

Apparently not.

but what in the fuck are you talking about? What has broken what rules where?

I thought you were responding to my comment about the post being editorializing (and therefore a good deletion) with a pissy comment accusing me of trying to stop people from discussing the facts.

From your response I'm guessing that was not the case. Or that is the case and we can just be pissed at each other.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:49 PM on December 23, 2012


MetaFilter: Best of the Webongoing discussions of hot-button topics.
posted by davejay at 6:59 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks, ArtW.
posted by bz at 7:02 PM on December 23, 2012


Gun culture in general has gotten me more heated than usual as of late. I've been a fringe part of it for so long, buying into it at least partway on the libertarian side... I'm pretty angry and upset when it comes to guns, gun culture, and the people and philosophies behind it. Sandy Hook leaves me feeling betrayed and foolish. I've been a chump and a loser. I feel I've been sold a phony bill of sales, and now, even in an infinitesimal way, I'm to blame for it happening.

I would really much rather we have fewer of these debates, as I feel silly getting so emotionally invested in them... but I also feel we should be having them more often and more loudly. I dunno.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:34 PM on December 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


The post also was editorializing.

How so?
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 7:38 PM on December 23, 2012


I'm honestly okay with that call even if the only reason it's being shut down is that the mods do not want to have to moderate a predictably high-volume, high-contention, long-lasting thread over Christmas.

I can't speak for the other mods but really "This shit, over Christmas??" is not really part of our general calculus. That said, having another thread where the same people have the same arguments and barely read or discuss the linked stuff from the post is just not-great-MeFi to begin with. There is some good discussion going on in the overlong posts and we've made some tweaks to have them be not quite as assy on mobile devices but "long thread is too long" is never going to be a great reason to open up a new thread.

We can talk about how to better deal with newsy difficult topics in a way that threads don't become quickly toxic, but the shooting thread [yes, now ten days old] is still sort of a "sit in it and keep people from starting a flame war" status which is sort of suboptimal from a mod perspective only because there are more modly things we'd like to be doing than babysitting a few touchy threads.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:53 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I get all that but it's kind of crappy that a rather good post about an important subject which is pretty much where the public debate is at right now wasn't seen by the majority of members because there was ten-day-old thread still kicking off that the majority of members had long forgotten about, no?

Meantime we had that eyebrow post so, huh.
posted by unSane at 8:03 PM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Having another thread where the same people have the same arguments and barely read or discuss the linked stuff from the post is just not-great-MeFi to begin with.

I agree with this. I also think that deleting the post was a bad call. It seems that the bad behavior was on the part of the people commenting in the thread, not on the part of the original poster.

How could that be fixed? Here is a suggestion that I don't especially like but that I like better than simply deleting threads like the one under discussion: early severe moderation of new threads that have similar content to older hot-button threads, with a note from the mods to the effect that comments need to stick closely to the actual content of the links in the post.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 8:09 PM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


The post also was editorializing.
How so?


Well we can talk about general tone and such, but the most direct item is the superfluous quotes around the word "misuse". The post title ("guns are special") also reads very much as a sardonic statement expressing the author's opinion.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:14 PM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I guess it kinda comes down to the never-ending links vs discussion debate. If MeFi is about the links, that thread should remain open. If it is about discussion, then perhaps it should be closed.

Of course in reality, it is a hybrid between the two, and not an 'either or', so judgement calls always have to be made. If the anticipated discussion hullabaloo worth having a decent set of links up about? I guess this time it wasn't although, yes, it was ino, a good FPP.

"long thread is too long" is never going to be a great reason to open up a new thread.

I totally get where this comes from, but all things considered I don't think the second was really about about the first being too long, but rather there was new, interesting data regarding a topic that also intersects that first thread that could benefit people who no longer are following the first thread...

Anyways, for the going-through-the-motions of it I will say that I think the FPP should have stood. Perhaps, if mods are feeling too put upon, or busy, right now, it could have been removed and with the poster's agreement re-posted in a week's time or so.
posted by edgeways at 8:18 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well we can talk about general tone and such, but the most direct item is the superfluous quotes around the word "misuse". The post title ("guns are special") also reads very much as a sardonic statement expressing the author's opinion.

This is silly.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:20 PM on December 23, 2012


Hmm ... seems a little thin to me. The quotes around "misuse" are plausibly mimicking the style in the link from that sentence, which has the following passage:
Under the act, lawsuits against firearm manufacturers or sellers “resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a qualified product by the person or a third party” may not be brought in federal or state court.
And then goes on to mention several words or phrases by using quotation marks because those words are importantly open to interpretation.

So, while it is possible that the post was using quotation marks in a sneering way, which would be editorializing (although pretty mild editorializing, yes?), it is plausible that the OP simply wanted to avoid confusing use and mention with respect to a particularly contentious word in the act under discussion.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 8:28 PM on December 23, 2012


Tell Me No Lies.. I'm sure you and I will disagree about it, but I think you are reading things a little too fine there.

By your standards there are a lot of posts on the front page right now that fail the editorializing threshold.

if you have not yet had your fill (and then some) of holiday music

>obviously a bias against traditional Christmas music

well, just check 'em all out. You won't be disappointed.

> advocating for a particular person

...a 26 minute documentary is a fascinating account of...

> Promoting the subject, rather than descriptive.

...includes many interesting videos of his work...


> Don't tell me what is interesting!!!

December 21st came and went and somehow humanity's still here

> Defeatist! anti human!!!


Anyways... I think you are either being hyper sensitive to the topic, or picking a too fine nit.

cheers
posted by edgeways at 8:30 PM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sorry, I should have linked to the deleted post; it just slipped my mind.

I guess I am a little bothered because I am very much on the pro-gun control side of the debate, and recently I've been perceiving statements by public figures to the effect of "we must wait until emotions have died down to discuss this" and "we shouldn't be engaging in a fraught debate that can never be resolved" and even "such and such is not the appropriate time/place/format for the gun control discussion" as common tactics of the anti-gun control interests to just quash discussion outright until people forget about recent events and go on with their lives.

I don't think that was the moderators' motivation for shutting down the post in this case, but I am a little unsettled all the same. We certainly have had multiple posts relating to the election within a ten-day period; I'm pretty sure we've had multiple postings on other controversial topics (reproductive rights come to mind) with short turnarounds. I just don't think we should prohibit a new FFP because somewhere back in the stack there's an open thread on a closely related topic.

Slap*Happy, I'm pretty exhausted and sad too. Still I'd rather be the one to say "time to turn off the internet and walk away for a while" than have the moderators decide for me. But there probably is a point where it all devolves into shouting in all caps. I just hadn't thought we'd reached it yet.
posted by daisystomper at 8:38 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let's not act like all FPPs are (or should be) held to the same standard. If you're going to make a post about a contentious topic, the onus is on you to make it a really exceptional post. That doesn't guarantee the usual suspects won't show up to cause trouble but it definitely seems to help with the signal to noise ratio in the comments.
posted by anifinder at 8:48 PM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


tldr; but Metafilter is not your soap box.

I saw the same story linked in the deleted post. I thought "this is important; people should know about it; people on Metafilter would be interested in it; I can share it via metafilter."

Now maybe that would have been fine if there wasn't an open thread on the subject. But there is.

Unfortunately, posting it to the current open thread doesn't spread the word nearly as effectively as an FPP. But that's the breaks. Metafilter is not your soap box, or my soap box.
posted by alms at 8:56 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Alms, I thought the FPP was interesting, not important. I had no idea that the CDC's work was politicised that way, or that a politician would use such a humiliating and petty tactic to punish scientists for conducting politically-incorrect research. I learned a lot from those articles, and I hope that someone reposts them in a different FPP sometime.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:13 PM on December 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


The contents of the deleted post were already linked and discussed in the Newtown thread. It's a long thread, but there are some really excellent discussions inside, and it's not too hard to find them.
posted by Pudhoho at 9:16 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's impossible to create a unique gun control thread. You start out with unique links, and within a few comments the same conversation starts, over and over and over again.

Yeah -- I had a much-favorited comment in the deleted thread, but you know what? It had nothing to do with the FPP. It could have been in any gun control thread, and the same goes for everything in the thread. I shouldn't have posted my comment, and I say it's a good deletion.
posted by escabeche at 9:24 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now maybe that would have been fine if there wasn't an open thread on the subject. But there is.

If I'm not mistaken, and please correct me if I am, there's an open thread on the subject of some guy shooting a whole bunch of babies and some adults? And then I'm guessing there's a separate thread about how the NRA thinks that guns shouldn't be regulated and there should be gun-toting people in every single school everywhere (since that's how the NRA feels about school shootings). Is there another thread that is actually about the crazy ways in which the gun industry has manipulated and played the US government? Because if I missed that thread, I want to go comment in it.
posted by inigo2 at 9:43 PM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well we can talk about general tone and such, but the most direct item is the superfluous quotes around the word "misuse". The post title ("guns are special") also reads very much as a sardonic statement expressing the author's opinion.

Well fuck, of that's too blunt for you I really have no idea how you manage any Metafilter post ever. I suppose you could always balance things out with a post showing the positive side of industry lobbiests getting legislation passed to block research and remove legal culpability.
posted by Artw at 10:10 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I learned a lot from those articles, and I hope that someone reposts them in a different FPP sometime.

Maybe in the event of 30 days passing between shootings it can be posted then.
posted by Artw at 10:11 PM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I suppose you could always balance things out with a post showing the positive side of industry lobbiests getting legislation passed to block research and remove legal culpability.

I guess I would if I thought that Metafilter was a debating society.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:12 PM on December 23, 2012


I'm also wondering why it is that the thread stayed open for 57 comments / about a hour and a half, then got deleted - it seems a lot more frustrating that way than if it had been shut down within, say, 15 minutes.

I was on duty when it was posted. I felt it was a borderline situation - there's an existing thread with a huge sprawling gun control discussion in it (this is a very strong reason to delete), but this post had interesting links that I thought could have opened a new avenue of discussion, possibly leaving behind a lot of the stuff from the other thread (this is a reason to keep). I let it ride to see how it would go. I probably should have deleted it immediately, and indeed, after an hour and change, much of the discussion was a rehash of what's been discussed in the Newtown thread all week. Then we had a shift change and restless_nomad came on, and we discussed it and she deleted it.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:27 PM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Tell Me No Lies.. I'm sure you and I will disagree about it, but I think you are reading things a little too fine there.

Fair enough. If the OP popped up and clarified it as neutral I would certainly believe them.

By your standards there are a lot of posts on the front page right now that fail the editorializing threshold.

I think the editorializing threshold is particularly important on threads that are likely to descend into an acrimonious argument. Starting off a thread about Israeli "settlements" is very different from starting off a thread about Justin Bieber's "music".

Basically, IMHO posts on hot button topics can and should be held to tighter standards.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:27 PM on December 23, 2012


Of course in nine out of ten of these socalled hot topic issues it's an asshole minority who actually hold these topics hostage because they can't behave themselves, not so much the topics themselves. It sometimes feels like being at Thanksgiving dinner with nutty old uncle Arnold, when you can't mention Obama without a twenty minute rant from him.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:58 AM on December 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


but "long thread is too long" is never going to be a great reason to open up a new thread.

Moving away from the immediate context of this deletion, I respectfully disagree. No, it shouldn't be the only reason to open up a new topic, but in cases where a) there is an existing thread on the subject which has scrolled off the front page, is still active but too big for new readers to get into and b) the new post is related but not the same as the original post, I'd say err on the side of allowance.

If there's a heated debate going on about the merits of English soft cheeses which has evolved into a more general debate of cheese, then somebody posts the top ten list of French blue cheeses, that latter post need not be deleted, does it?
posted by MartinWisse at 3:03 AM on December 24, 2012


daisystomper: “I don't think that was the moderators' motivation for shutting down the post in this case, but I am a little unsettled all the same.”

I find it unsettling, too. Why do we have more than one thread open about this issue? We're muddying the conversation and destroying whatever cohesive structure a Metafilter discussion could have by splitting it across four or five different spaces.

If we actually care about this subject and want to have a real conversation about it, we should nuke all but one thread. Otherwise, everything is just a confused mishmash that goes nowhere.
posted by koeselitz at 3:48 AM on December 24, 2012


MartinWisse: “If there's a heated debate going on about the merits of English soft cheeses which has evolved into a more general debate of cheese, then somebody posts the top ten list of French blue cheeses, that latter post need not be deleted, does it?”

If the point of these cheese threads were to have a conversation about cheese rather than post good links about cheese, both of them would have been deleted anyway. So the comparison doesn't really apply at all.
posted by koeselitz at 3:49 AM on December 24, 2012


There's a ton of good commentary, analyses, and links in the original thread... and it is almost all about gun control, which is what we figured would happen there, because even if the post is about Newtown, people want to talk about gun control. So that conversation is happening. A new thread that focuses on one aspect of gun control policy will be a conversation that is all about gun control; it won't just be about the CDC/guns, or other specific focus. It will repeat and bifurcate the discussion in the existing conversation, and, yes, be another thread that we will have to babysit 24/7 for a month.

People have an existing thread to have this discussion here, and there are other places online that are mainly news or politics sites where there is a lot more opportunity; I'm seeing a ton of gun control threads over at Daily Kos, and TPM. But we're never going to be able to offer people who want that much saturation on political items what they would like from the site, because we aren't a politics/news site. We handled OWS, the election, Aurora, and Trayvon Martin (for a few examples) the same way: kept the conversation mostly contained to one or two threads at a time.

The information in the deleted post was brought up five or six days ago in the open thread, and there has been a lot of ongoing discussion of it there. People can start here, if they'd like to check that out, and/or search CDC there. We aren't keeping people from discussing it, people are already discussing it.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:31 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


This doesn't get over the problem that if you're not even aware of the existence of the other thread or the fact that it's still active, you never see it. I can see wanting to corral discussion into the existing thread but maybe there is some kind of pony that would help other people see it?
posted by unSane at 6:24 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you make it illegal for threads to be about about guns, then only criminals will make posts about guns. Or something.
posted by item at 6:39 AM on December 24, 2012


Is there another thread that is actually about the crazy ways in which the gun industry has manipulated and played the US government? Because if I missed that thread, I want to go comment in it.

As taz just noted, that has been discussed at length in the original Newton shooting thread, yes. That's part of the difficulty with the "but that older thread wasn't about x" thing: it has in fact been sprawling in terms of angles and topics discussed, very much including the hemming in of CDC research on gun issues.

This doesn't get over the problem that if you're not even aware of the existence of the other thread or the fact that it's still active, you never see it.

But that is true of every post ever. We do not have a mission statement that says "always a visible link to a hot-button discussion on the front page of Metafilter"; posts get made, posts scroll out of sight, and if you want to find out if there's discussion about something in the giant pile of threads that are still open but weren't made in the last 24-36 hours, you use the search function or hit the tags page or so on.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:27 AM on December 24, 2012


LobsterMitten, thank you for explaining why the thread stayed open for a while and then was deleted, that makes sense, and I appreciate that you all are always so open about what goes on behind the scenes.
posted by insectosaurus at 8:04 AM on December 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


So, basically, another thread got derailed, the derail didn't get cleaned up, and so we can't have a perfectly fine post about what the derail was about, which only a few knew about who were following the derail in the derailed thread.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:29 AM on December 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Are people actually concerned that there isn't enough discussion about gun control here? A few thousand comments isn't enough?
posted by Melismata at 8:53 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry to see this important thread shut down. Hopefully it can reposted in a couple of weeks, if the problem is just that the school shooting thread is still smoldering at the moment.
posted by washburn at 9:48 AM on December 24, 2012


I don't think it's fair to expect the mods to hover over a thread all Christmas just to keep it from blowing up.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:00 AM on December 24, 2012


Just got around to reading the post and thread and just wanted to cast my vote. Good post, mostly good discussion, bad deletion.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:02 AM on December 24, 2012


Melismata: "Are people actually concerned that there isn't enough discussion about gun control here? A few thousand comments isn't enough?"

Do you have some finite number of words in mind that will clear up this issue for everyone? Cause that'd totally be sweet. What about Israel and Palestine? Or Apple vs PC?
posted by Big_B at 11:11 AM on December 24, 2012


Anyone looking for evidence of a true Christmas miracle this year please go forth into those threads and locate a person who's mind has been changed in any substantial way by them.

"And lo, three wise men came from the west, bearing with them ad hominems and a raft of anecdotes and poorly understood statistical data..."
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:23 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, basically, another thread got derailed, the derail didn't get cleaned up

There is a level expectation expressed in this that is not reasonable. Cleaning up an errant, unexpected derail in a random thread is a normal part of moderation on Metafilter, and it's something we do all the time. Camping all day long in a thread touching directly on a hot-button issue that folks are already especially inflamed about to make sure people don't talk about the stuff they are basically guaranteed to talk about is not so much.

It's something we will make an extraordinary effort on sometimes, when possible and when unusually justified; "I would have liked to discuss this in a newer thread instead of the old one where it's already being discussed" is not really a good example of those extraordinary circumstances.

I appreciate the desire to see a post about something you'd like to discuss (or read a discussion about) stand, but that desire doesn't overrule the practicalities of how people are reacting to gun stuff right now or undercut long-standing site practices of trying to corral discussions to fewer threads where doable. There is no magical font of moderator attention that makes it unproblematic to just kick off yet another venue for a gun-control argument and then micromanage it into something other than said gun-control argument.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:33 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I specifically skipped the original shooting thread because I had no desire to dwell on that topic at all. I'm fine with diving into a thread that's really about legislative policy, and even better if it's actually divorced from discussion of the Newtown shooting.
posted by afiler at 11:37 AM on December 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


afiler: “I specifically skipped the original shooting thread because I had no desire to dwell on that topic at all. I'm fine with diving into a thread that's really about legislative policy, and even better if it's actually divorced from discussion of the Newtown shooting.”

I totally get this sentiment, and it's part of why I've avoided these threads entirely; but it seems kind of impractical to expect people to steer clear of the Newtown subject entirely in any thread about gun control policy.
posted by koeselitz at 11:42 AM on December 24, 2012


I don't expect it to be steered clear of entirely, but at least it would be clear that discussing details of the shooting that don't have anything to do with legislative policy regarding guns would be veering off-topic.
posted by afiler at 12:05 PM on December 24, 2012


It's astonishing that a thread with a recurrent "being repressed" theme still contains not a single Holy Grail quotation. I blame the violence inherent in the system.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:54 PM on December 24, 2012


It's astonishing that a thread with a recurrent "being repressed" theme still contains not a single Holy Grail quotation.

That's nothing. I don't know how this post went so long without one mention of cylons.
posted by radwolf76 at 1:06 PM on December 24, 2012


That sounds like something a cylon would say.
posted by ODiV at 2:01 PM on December 24, 2012


Only my mirrored ceiling knows for sure.
posted by radwolf76 at 2:03 PM on December 24, 2012


Another one bites the dust (deservedly this time IMO).
posted by unSane at 7:26 PM on December 24, 2012


Do you have some finite number of words in mind that will clear up this issue for everyone? Cause that'd totally be sweet. What about Israel and Palestine? Or Apple vs PC?

847,883,110, 1,215,599,271, and 391,420,606, respectively, not counting duplicates, Google caches, languages other than English, or preaching-to-the-choir words.
posted by michaelh at 8:09 PM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


General advice: If you are feeling repressed by the Internet, stand up and go outside.

Even outside, the internet courses through my body and mind. Through receptors in my fingernails and nose hairs I pick up on Metafilter threads, and when they are deleted my sense of loss is like an enormous black cloud of sadness that hangs over me, blinding me to any other pleasures of life. For me there is no respite from this ruthless repression, this taking away of the sustenance I crave. Even in sleep, I dream of closed threads, and comments lost forever, and I wake up sobbing in the morning. I fear that even death will offer no peace: in some afterlife the Metafilter mods will continue to keep me from the links and comments I so desperately need. It is an unimaginable cruelty: this site has made my life and even my potential afterlife an absolute hell.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:43 PM on December 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Hay guys there's a Firefly marathon on SCIHD and Serenity starts in 3 minutes on SyFy how about that.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:57 PM on December 24, 2012


I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That's my dream. It's my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor … and surviving.
posted by Pudhoho at 9:03 PM on December 24, 2012


Hay guys there's a Firefly marathon on SCIHD and Serenity starts in 3 minutes on SyFy how about that.

A fleshed out discussion of gun control in the Firefly universe would probably cause Metafilter to explode.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:10 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bravo, flapjax!
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:11 PM on December 24, 2012


Some of the nocturnal commenting on MetaTalk seriously disturbs me.
posted by Wordshore at 9:35 PM on December 24, 2012


There was one last year too is this an official thing?
posted by nathancaswell at 9:45 PM on December 24, 2012


Bad deletion. This was a very informative post.
posted by Brocktoon at 2:13 AM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


As taz just noted, that has been discussed at length in the original Newton shooting thread,

So can we start deleting obituary posts now, because the dot has been done at length in every other obituary thread that's ever been posted.

Perhaps we should just have one big monthly obituary thread where everyone who feels the need can post their dots?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:20 AM on December 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


The reason the main gun thread is so long and heated is because everybody isn't allowed their own gun threads. The more gun threads we have, the less dangerous the angry gun threads will be.

That's just logic.
posted by zoo at 2:44 AM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


When gun threads are outlawed only outlaws will have gun threads.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:25 AM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Brocktoon: “Bad deletion. This was a very informative post.”

Is "informative" really a post benchmark? I don't think it should be. People say this all the time, I know, but this isn't a news site.
posted by koeselitz at 4:02 AM on December 25, 2012


I kind of hate how if I miss a thread about a particular subject, I miss all the MeFi discussion on that subject for like a month. The idea of "there's an open thread" is a stupid one on a site where active threads aren't being kept readily visible.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:23 AM on December 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


I mean, if this were, say, Something Awful, which uses a heavily modified version of vBulletin, every new comment would return the thread to the top of its subforum, keeping it in view. On Metafilter, however, every new post pushes all previous posts down, and the fact that there was a post about something two days ago is completely meaningless to anybody who doesn't log in for a couple of days.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:36 AM on December 25, 2012


For that specific use case you could use the Posts with Recent Comments page.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 5:49 AM on December 25, 2012


I mean, if this were, say, Something Awful, which uses a heavily modified version of vBulletin, every new comment would return the thread to the top of its subforum, keeping it in view.

Part of what I love about the internet is how it's sort of easy to find the specific interface and community that you want, most of the time. I hear your frustration that it's tough to tell where the conversation is going on, but this is actually something that is true about how MetaFilter has always been, always. We have a few tools to help you get at the conversations you want to have (Recent Activity is my personal favorite but Posts with Recent Comments is really good too) but some of these are just flat-out design decisions.

It's fine if you think that's stupid, but the reason it is the way it is isn't because we can't figure out how to make it be otherwise, it's because there are a bunch of different conflicting priorities that come with optimally running a site like this one and whatever is at the top of our list may not be at the top of everyone's. We'd like to set expectations accurately, however, which is why we-as-mods have been trying to let you know what goes into our decision-making process with these sorts of things.

The more gun threads we have, the less dangerous the angry gun threads will be.

I clearly have gun-analogy fatigue but I can't tell if this is a joke or not.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:33 AM on December 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have no strong feelings on this deletion, or deletions like these in general. But in this thread, there's clearly a tidal wave of regular users who believe that a week+ old post on a topic should not preclude a new thread that is tangentially related to that topic and might elicit a similar conversation. I understand that there are rules that have been enshrined on metafilter since time immemorial, but just like the nature of the web have changed almost completely in the 14 years this site has been around, maybe it's time for a rule shift on this as well. It seems like everyone wants it except the mods, and I still don't wholly understand the reasoning. I get that fighty threads about contentious topics are tough for moderation over the holidays, but that, to me, doesn't feel like a big enough reason to have deleted this thread, which was well crafted, but on a somewhat sensitive topic. As far as I know, gun control doesn't yet fall into the dreaded "things metafilter doesn't do well" category, so why delete it out of hand?
posted by to sir with millipedes at 7:59 AM on December 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


> there's clearly a tidal wave of regular users who believe that a week+ old post on a topic should not preclude a new thread that is tangentially related to that topic and might elicit a similar conversation.

Those people are wrong. A "similar conversation"? Who the hell needs that?

> It seems like everyone wants it except the mods

This is very, very wrong, and apparently you have not even been reading this thread, let alone all the previous similar conversations. I, and I assure you many other people, are fully supportive of this decision. (And happy holidays to the poor mods who have to deal with these constant accusations of stupidity, conspiracy, selfishness, and the Baby Jesus knows what all!)
posted by languagehat at 8:03 AM on December 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Part of what I love about the internet is how it's sort of easy to find the specific interface and community that you want, most of the time. I hear your frustration that it's tough to tell where the conversation is going on, but this is actually something that is true about how MetaFilter has always been, always. We have a few tools to help you get at the conversations you want to have (Recent Activity is my personal favorite but Posts with Recent Comments is really good too) but some of these are just flat-out design decisions.

My complaint is mostly that we are not a community where it is easy to discover if a particular conversation is going on, yet people are subject to being yelled at if they duplicate an existing conversation. That's unfair to people who don't spend 24 hours a day on the site.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:55 AM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


It seems like everyone wants it except the mods

I'm really unclear how you came to that conclusion.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:33 AM on December 25, 2012


yet people are subject to being yelled at if they duplicate an existing conversation

i must have missed where someone was yelled at. also, a cursory search of tags being put in a new post is often what you need to find out if a previous post is still discussing it.


It seems like everyone wants it except the mods

that's not true. i appreciate the way the mods deal with this issue. it's one of the reasons i've been coming back for over 10 years. when you get fatigue because the entire internet is discussing the same things, metafilter always has something new.
posted by nadawi at 10:38 AM on December 25, 2012


It seems like everyone wants it except the mods

Were we under the impression Metafilter is run by popular vote?
posted by DarlingBri at 2:43 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


This deletion may be warranted, but the catalog of hoary old metasnark being fucktrucked into the end of this thread is as tired as I am.

It's just plain dicky.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 6:29 PM on December 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


I mean, if this were, say, Something Awful,

Play him off, Keyboard Cat. (Second time tonight I've had to use that phrase. I'm pleased.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:45 PM on December 25, 2012


My complaint is mostly that we are not a community where it is easy to discover if a particular conversation is going on

Unlike almost every other site I've run into, the search function actually works here.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:53 AM on December 26, 2012


I'm rather late to the "party," having been on the road for a week and only now doing Internetty things again. I don't really have an issue with mega threads, even though I can't really read them while on the go despite having a relatively recent phone with a generous amount of memory. Annoying, but not really something that should have anything done about it.

What does annoy me is how "live" threads turn into the only place we can have a discussion on a subject, so if it's missed initially, one has to read/skim through hundreds of breaking news-type comments that are no longer relevant to get to any discussion. Don't get me wrong, I like it when people keep the rest of us informed, it just becomes unwieldy and a bit weird a week later.

It seems to me that a roundup of what is actually known and what the issues are after a couple of days ought not be considered inappropriate.
posted by wierdo at 10:09 AM on December 26, 2012


This was a perfectly good post; and a really dumb deletion. Moderation was required in the comments; it sucks when lazy one-liners get the thread deleted.
posted by spaltavian at 12:53 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also late to the party. Given the potential volatility of the issue and the stress it might place on mods over the holiday, I am fine with this deletion. I appreciate the job the mods do and think they should be able to take a break to enjoy the holidays with friends and family. But for the record, except for the timing, I think it was a legitimate post and I agree with many who have expressed concern about issue-clumping long threads rather than new posts.
posted by madamjujujive at 3:03 PM on December 29, 2012


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