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A short-lived long guide to History Is A Weapon
January 5, 2013 12:56 PM   Subscribe

A deleted post you may want to bookmark - a guide to History Is A Weapon

I feel fortunate to have seen Blasdelb's awesome post, an index with abstracts of History Is A Weapon, "a left counter-hegemonic education project."

This is really not to complain about the deletion or to invite others to do so. I understand the reason. But the post made me aware of a wealth of collected material that I'm interested in exploring, and the abstracts provide an overview that is more appealing to me than clicking my way through the website's interface. Others may want to check it out.

I appreciate the time Blasdelb puts into lengthy - and wonderful - posts, including six of the top ten longest posts of 2012, according to zarq's 2012 Datawankery. Makes me wonder what other great Blasdelb posts may have been deleted??
posted by Snerd to MetaFilter-Related at 12:56 PM (160 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

It's kind of funny how except for jb all of the reactions are of dropped-jaw awe at the scope of the post, when if not for all the copy and paste it's a single link post (albeit a good one).
posted by adamdschneider at 1:07 PM on January 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


That's a great website that was linked in a less-impressive post already. Blasdelb's post, bless their heart, was less about the History Is A Weapon website and more about itself. A good deletion.
posted by carsonb at 1:08 PM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


We really don't want to encourage people copying massive portions of the source material into posts, however well-indexed. It's a neat site but a link and a little bit of context would have been much more appropriate.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:11 PM on January 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


I'm not thrilled by the idea that "more links = better FPP." For me, more links usually means that I am going to skip the whole thing, rarely having hours to explore a single FPP. I'd much rather have an explanatory link or two, plus some "best of" examples. With this small amount of groundwork, I can find other material on the web; it's not that hard to search. Sadly, given that this particular case could have directed me to the site with one link (perhaps with some supporting links to establish credibility), I got tired for no reason at all just scrolling toward the comments.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:21 PM on January 5, 2013 [49 favorites]


Probably a good delete, yeah. No real need with that specific link to pull so much of the content out and into the post.

That said, Blasdelb, you are one of my favorite users and I am glad you are here. Thanks for your contributions to the site.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:29 PM on January 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Thanks-I would have missed that. Totally worth bookmarking.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:30 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I built the post the way I did because it presented the fantastic array of resources collected on the site in a different way that was a lot less blind for the older more obscure texts, catered to what seems like the plurality of mefites who don't click on links they don't already know they will be interested in much less be willing to click through a site architecture towards unknown good, and at worst could always just be scrolled through after using the site's own architecture for exploring its materiel. (On preview I also suspect metafilter's own history is a weapon will not be so upset at the idea of their well collected work getting more attention) Of course "more links ≠ better FPP" but they are different FPPs and I think that can be ok.

That said, its not really a hill I'd want to die on or anything, but I did put a lot of thought and work into making that, am pretty sad to see it trashed, and am probably done making big posts for a while.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:32 PM on January 5, 2013 [15 favorites]


catered to what seems like the plurality of mefites who don't click on links they don't already know they will be interested in

I'm not really sure that including these big chunks of text is going to solve that problem though. I appreciate that you put a lot of work into that post, but we spent a lot of time debating whether it was stunty or just for-some-reason purposefully outside the general bell curve for how posts work on MetaFilter.

We've suggested a few times that the sort of posts you seem to like to make are very well suited for your own blog and somewhat less suited to MetaFilter. No big deal and we value all of your contributions here, but a lot of posts that have non-standard formatting are going to skirt the line of being deleted. We're more than happy to give suggestions for how to avoid deletion if that is your goal, but we're not really sure that it is.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:45 PM on January 5, 2013 [12 favorites]


I think it would have been best to let the original post stand, myself. Normally I hate a bunch of links in a post but Blasdelb's explanation makes great sense.


I mean, is the purpose of this place to show us neat stuff, or to preemptively delete a cool post because of its (rare) length? Did we really think a ton of people would go forth and do likewise? I almost never think a deletion is arbitrary but in this case, yeah, I disagree.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:46 PM on January 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


(on preview, does EVERYTHING have to be standard? Do we get fined if we color outside the lines? Really?)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:47 PM on January 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's kind of funny how except for jb all of the reactions are of dropped-jaw awe at the scope of the post, when if not for all the copy and paste it's a single link post (albeit a good one).

If something is a good single link post, make a single link post.
posted by Artw at 1:52 PM on January 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


Do we get fined if we color outside the lines? Really?

Posts occasionally get deleted for being cryptic, stunty, or otherwise problematic even if they link to something cool. Thanks to the datawankery MeTa thread, we know that Blasdelb has written "six of the top ten longest posts this year, and three of the top ten of all time" This is his style. That's fine. However, at the same time this post was almost 11,000 words long. Almost all the text of the post was on the website that was being linked to. The "filter" part of MetaFilter is important. We indicated that in the deletion reason.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:55 PM on January 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


I thought the find was excellent - a site good for linking.

I thought the post was excessive - attempting to recreate a site in MetaFilter is not how I envision the "filter" part.

catered to what seems like the plurality of mefites who don't click on links

I am having a hard time expressing how little I care for people who don't click on links.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:06 PM on January 5, 2013


Thrilled to be introduced to the site but I'd preferred a single link or a paragraph or two.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:10 PM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't envy the mods on this one. It's obvious that a lot of work went into that post, yet it's also pretty clear that FPP went waaaaay beyond just "coloring outside the lines." (By the way, I'm not your lawyer and this isn't legal advice, but generally speaking website moderators are not empowered to fine you.) I think deleting it was the right call, but it's gotta suck to axe somebody's massive effort like that, notwithstanding whatever behind-the-scenes history may exist.
posted by cribcage at 2:16 PM on January 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Recontextualizing is also filtering.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:26 PM on January 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, it always sucks a little to have to nix something that clearly took a lot of time and effort. That said, that's not a reason to not nix something, so, here we are. I think a much more concise post that pointed to the site, ran briefly over the kinds of stuff on it, and pointed out a couple of superb examples or provided some general navigational/discovery hints as necessary would be really great as a compromise approach.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:27 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Posts occasionally get deleted for being cryptic

For the record, I generally love cryptic posts.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:28 PM on January 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


I built the post the way I did because it presented the fantastic array of resources collected on the site in a different way that was a lot less blind for the older more obscure texts, catered to what seems like the plurality of mefites who don't click on links they don't already know they will be interested in much less be willing to click through a site architecture towards unknown good, and at worst could always just be scrolled through after using the site's own architecture for exploring its materiel.

1. Faulty logic. All I got was "hey there's some stuff." I would have gotten more out of it with a catchy title and a single link to the site.

2. If "the plurality of mefites" don't click on links, I don't know what we are doing here.

3. I got sick of scrolling down, which defeats your entire purpose.

Just something to think about. I'm not saying I don't appreciate how much effort you put into it, because that is beyond obvious.
posted by DoubleLune at 2:29 PM on January 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


Sometimes you can have too much food on your plate and it ruins your appetite. This is a metaphor.
posted by tigrefacile at 2:38 PM on January 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sometimes you can have too many beans on your plate. This is not a metaphor.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:40 PM on January 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sometimes things seem more mean-spirited in grey and white than they felt before you typed them and hit Post Comment and then you feel bad.
posted by tigrefacile at 2:48 PM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would have preferred to have a "hey this is the most important bit" link, then a two or three "these are also good" links, and that's it -- if I want to read more, well, I can poke around that site on my own. The post, as it was, was overwhelming for me and my skimming ways.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:52 PM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sometimes, dead is better.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:54 PM on January 5, 2013


I loved learning about the site and would have loved the post more if it had left me wanting more. As it was, I felt my eyes glaze over.
posted by rtha at 2:57 PM on January 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, that post was like being beaten up by a gang of research librarians.
posted by elizardbits at 3:22 PM on January 5, 2013 [32 favorites]


I'm glad Snerd posted this, because I would have missed it completely, but I'm perfectly fine with the deletion.

Given Blasdelb's celebrated history of making lengthy posts, I will say that a post from Blasdelb that basically said, "there is a lot of great stuff in here, but these two or three things, you just shouldn't miss"-- that kind of a post would make me sit up and take notice. Seriously.
posted by ambrosia at 3:27 PM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Yeah, that post was like being beaten up by a gang of research librarians."

Maybe I'm just kinky that way, but who wouldn't want this?
posted by Blasdelb at 3:27 PM on January 5, 2013 [28 favorites]



"Yeah, that post was like being beaten up by a gang of research librarians."


I know, it's kind of a nice fantasy
posted by lakersfan1222 at 3:28 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Look, sometimes one wants just some candlelight, a nice meal, and wry, plying conversation with just four or five laid-back research librarians.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:29 PM on January 5, 2013 [20 favorites]


my safeword is [citation needed]
posted by elizardbits at 3:30 PM on January 5, 2013 [45 favorites]


I think what we've seen here is that Blasdelb's normal style of long, link heavy with abstracts posting doesn't quite work outside his normal domain of science/biology. What was lacking here was a concrete narrative, other than that provided by the original site, which Blasdelb's science posts do have, a reason for why these links were presented in this manner. It all being from one site, which I didn't realise at first, pushes it over the edge.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:36 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


jessamyn: "I appreciate that you put a lot of work into that post, but we spent a lot of time debating whether it was stunty or just for-some-reason purposefully outside the general bell curve for how posts work on MetaFilter.

We've suggested a few times that the sort of posts you seem to like to make are very well suited for your own blog and somewhat less suited to MetaFilter. No big deal and we value all of your contributions here, but a lot of posts that have non-standard formatting are going to skirt the line of being deleted. We're more than happy to give suggestions for how to avoid deletion if that is your goal, but we're not really sure that it is.
"

I've made posts to share things I think are neat or interesting or valuable with people I generally like, that is about the whole of it. I'm having trouble imagining what kind of stunt you could be thinking I'm pulling but somehow I doubt that spending an afternoon on data entry intending for it to be thrown away so that one can participate in a MeTa about all the ways it could have been done better is just about anyone's idea of fun. I guess this is the internet and my imagination is often inadequate for the shit people like, but really? I'm really appreciating all of the criticism in this thread, and if I ever do get around to making more posts will put it to good use, but I really resent the idea that I'm just making posts to frustrate you, or whatever it is that you are implying here.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:38 PM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


For clarity, these are the 6 posts that I made that were among the 10 largest this year:
65816 Coronet Instructional Films 122 favorites
53227 Annotated Filmography of all of Charlie Chaplin 173 favorites
46517 Animating Medicine 52 favorites
34040 Deciphering the Tools of Nature’s Zombies 58 favorites
28456 Provirophages and transpovirons as the diverse mobilome of giant viruses 56 favorites
22224 You know what every kitchen needs? A Bloonderbooss or a Boomashootn, and Swedish Chef shows us why. 154 favorites
posted by Blasdelb at 3:41 PM on January 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Here was another awesome, very lengthy post.
posted by odinsdream at 3:43 PM on January 5, 2013


Indeed, of the top 20 posts of all time half were more than 1000 words long, which is way past average, and most of those were significantly more.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:49 PM on January 5, 2013


"Yeah, that post was like being beaten up by a gang of research librarians."

A gang of research librarians would only beat you up exactly as much as you needed; that's part of the job. At it wouldn't be a gang, not since the budget cuts.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:50 PM on January 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


I really resent the idea that I'm just making posts to frustrate you, or whatever it is that you are implying here.

Well, I definitely don't think it was the former, but if you're not sure what it is, why are you offended? I think: "Your posts read like things that would do better posted on your own blog, rather than on this community site," is a pretty clear conversation point. You seem to want to take that personally, but that metric applies to many people who are not you. Linking to your posts and then touting the number of favorites makes your argument less credible, rather than more credible. "Stunt post" =/= post that one hopes will get deleted. It can also mean post made for the purposes of favorite gathering. It can also just mean, "Let me see how long I can make a post." The Treaty of Westphalia was a site-meme for a reason.

It's a great site you linked to, but you certainly made it seem like too much to tackle. Had you taken the time to select the parts that you thought were most germane and or spectacular, you would have provided me with an entree that would have sent me toward the site. I make a lot of links to encyclopedic sites, and find that selecting highlights really improves people's engagement
posted by OmieWise at 4:08 PM on January 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, I personally use favorites a lot to express admiration or agreement, but with big long posts with a lot of content, I use them as bookmarks. I hadn't realized it until now, but I almost never bookmark sites that I have been directed to through MetaFilter in my normal bookmarks (browser-based or Pinboard). For some reason I bookmark them in-site exclusively. So I don't think you can extrapolate approbation from those favorite counts.
posted by OmieWise at 4:15 PM on January 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


"So I don't think you can extrapolate approbation from those favorite counts."

I tend to see favorites as a measure of notability, which is really the only thing the many uses of favorites have in common, but in any event I suspect most posters would be happier with a bunch of folks 'bookmarking' their post for later use than any amount of superficial approbation.
posted by Blasdelb at 4:23 PM on January 5, 2013


I love long posts, and hope Blasdelb keeps making them. If this latest was arguably something of a misfire, ok. But is anyone really arguing that the fully annotated "Nature's Zombies" special issue of The Journal of Experimental Biology was an inappropriate post for Metafilter? I sure hope not.

It was different, sure, and maybe a special case that should remain relatively special. But damn was that a great post.
posted by mediareport at 4:29 PM on January 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


We've suggested a few times that the sort of posts you seem to like to make are very well suited for your own blog

Would this be an appropriate time or place to ask for a link to blasdelb's blog? Or was that just a cruel taunt: haha, there is no heaven, you rot when you die
posted by nathan v at 4:31 PM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


At first I thought it was an interesting, if daunting post, with many links that would be worth checking out. Then I realized that it was all links to a single site and that's where you lost me. History is a Weapon may very well be the best of the web, but linking to all it's sub pages is not, and quite frankly, is a bad way to make the argument that it is the best of the web. Still, I'm really glad I caught it before it's deletion, but it's deletion wasn't really a surprise to me.
posted by Meeks Ormand at 4:32 PM on January 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Then I realized that it was all links to a single site and that's where you lost me.

Ah, I dunno. I always prefer a few deep links to get me started instead of just a single link like: History is a Weapon is a great history site. To me that would tend to be a lazy post. Again, there's lots of reasonable middle ground here, and if the mods are saying Blasdelb moved too far in one direction with this latest, fine. That might be reasonable. But I really, really appreciate someone taking the time in a front page post to point out good stuff at a rich site, and will kinda firmly insist that's always been not just ok here, but goddamn preferred by a lot of members.
posted by mediareport at 4:39 PM on January 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


When a post reaches a certain size it starts to feel like someone dodging the self-linking rule by posting their entire web page instead.

And regardless of motivation it definitely skips the filter part of MetaFilter.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:49 PM on January 5, 2013


Disagree with the deletion. I love, and increasingly often miss, the zany, unpredictable side of MetaFilter. Gargantuan posts and cryptic posts are more than fine by me.

Then again, there's no reason why the post could not have also been the main link plus five-ish highlights.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:52 PM on January 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ah, I dunno. I always prefer a few deep links to get me started instead of just a single link like: History is a Weapon is a great history site.

I absolutely agree. This was not that, since for me the operative phrase is "a few."
posted by OmieWise at 4:55 PM on January 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Reading about lock boxes is chilling after what happened with Occupy NY and various similar national break-up incidents, many of which used excessive force. The almost naive way the author talks about police not wanting to hurt protesters out of fear of lawsuits seems completely at odds with the way our militarized police work now in concert with a public more than willing to turn a blind eye to injustices and extreme reactions on the part of authority.
posted by odinsdream at 4:55 PM on January 5, 2013


Its about 2am around my parts and I'm going to bed before I fall asleep in my chair, but if anyone would like a crack at remaking the post however you like, please feel free. Incidentally, if anyone would like to use links to a hundred odd excellent hour+ long documentaries on infectious-disease/microbiology related things or much of a post on Transmissible Infectious Tumors memail me.
posted by Blasdelb at 4:56 PM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


mediareport: I always prefer a few deep links to get me started instead of just a single link like

See, that post already exists for this particular link. It was the Previously link in Blasdelb's post. empath's post did exactly what folks are requesting of a good post to a huge amount of material in this thread—it filtered down the huge site to several good links, gave decent context, and provided a swell launchpad for exploring History Is A Weapon.
posted by carsonb at 4:58 PM on January 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


if the mods are saying Blasdelb moved too far in one direction with this latest, fine.

That is basically all we are saying, yes.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:06 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, I just want to say for the record that I really appreciate Blasdelb's posts and hopes he keeps making them. I regularly make posts that get just a few comments and a few more favorites. I do it because I truly think what I link to is interesting, and I am routinely reminded that a few other people do too. It's fine with me that every post is not a blockbuster. My interests are in the long tail, and pretty much always have been.
posted by OmieWise at 5:06 PM on January 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is totally the kind of thing I love to see, but I agree with the deletion. It's a great wealth of information and is awesome - but seeing it all at once in the post feels kind of like a first date where they tell you every last thing about themselves.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:44 PM on January 5, 2013


I built the post the way I did because it presented the fantastic array of resources collected on the site in a different way that was a lot less blind for the older more obscure texts, catered to what seems like the plurality of mefites who don't click on links they don't already know they will be interested in much less be willing to click through a site architecture towards unknown good, and at worst could always just be scrolled through after using the site's own architecture for exploring its materiel.

Dude, I love you, but that sentence about your post was too long. The post itself was like having someone read me that sentence in several different languages.
posted by Etrigan at 6:02 PM on January 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


Ah, I dunno. I always prefer a few deep links to get me started instead of just a single link like: History is a Weapon is a great history site. To me that would tend to be a lazy post.

As with most things, tastes differ. That, to me, would be a perfect post, and the way I'd personally post a link to that site. Nothing lazy about it, and the very idea that a post consisting of a basic link to an interesting site might be 'lazy' is, I think, counterproductive.

But I am an outlier to some extent, perhaps, because I can't remember in more than a decade here more than a handful of times I've followed more than one link from a post, no matter how megaposty it might have been.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:13 PM on January 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


Blasdelb, I really, really like a lot of your posts (as I may have mentioned before). I agree that the previous post wasn't sufficient, it doesn't provide even a taste of the content and doesn't really motivate me to click through. But your FPP this time was just overwhelmingly and intimidatingly long, so I really do understand the deletion.

You have a real talent for picking the right excerpts, and that's what makes so many of your FPPs excellent. I would love to see a new version of this post with just two or three of the best quotes or articles, as judged by you.
posted by vasi at 6:17 PM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Agree with what vasi said. Upwind of 10,000 words is just too long, and it reminds me of Pascal's famous "I am sorry to have written you such a long letter, but I lacked the time to write a shorter one."

Part of curation--perhaps the harder part--is deciding what to leave out.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:39 PM on January 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


I know that sounds like saying "Bring us fewer delicious cookies" but it really would be better to bring us fewer delicious cookies. I am no foe to reading a lot, but MeFi is a tapas place at its best.

Jesus Christ, I must be hungry tonight.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:42 PM on January 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


... the very idea that a post consisting of a basic link to an interesting site might be 'lazy' is, I think, counterproductive

I agree. One of the things that shows MeFi at its best is to watch a thread unfold with people adding new links, new insights and new perspectives to a topic. That is the sort of thing that is likely to happen with a 'teaser' post linking to at site, I think. Tying to put ALL THE LINKS in the post itself is just too much for my feeble mind and I ended up not following any of them. I don't think this should be seen as a criticism of Blasdelb generally - this one was just a bit of an over-reach, that's all.

is it just me that thinks stavros likes the site because of the sideways scrolling?
posted by dg at 7:04 PM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


> ...somehow I doubt that spending an afternoon on data entry...

Concision can be harder and more time consuming than verbosity. What readers don't see, aside from the unnecessary words, is the time spent on editing.
posted by ardgedee at 7:11 PM on January 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't get how it's so bad if that posts stays up. Who or what is harmed? And by the way, the post for all and sundry to mock the lousy book covers is fine and dandy?
posted by ambient2 at 7:22 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, I just want to say for the record that I really appreciate Blasdelb's posts and hopes he keeps making them. I regularly make posts that get just a few comments and a few more favorites. I do it because I truly think what I link to is interesting, and I am routinely reminded that a few other people do too. It's fine with me that every post is not a blockbuster. My interests are in the long tail, and pretty much always have been.

Because Omiewise said it better than menotaswise.
posted by infini at 7:31 PM on January 5, 2013


So, looking at Blasdelb's other posts, I think jessamyn's right - these seem very much like posts for his own blog. Not Metafilter.

The Coronet Films one proves that Blasdelb can google, but at least the above the fold post gives context. And, frankly, that's all that post needed.

The Charlie Chaplin post proves that all of Charlie Chaplin's films are availabe on YouTube. Yes, all of them are annotated, but again - is that the purpose of MeFi?

The others all seem like they would have been more digestible if they'd remained above the fold with a couple of deep links.

In general, I'm not a fan of big posts of this magnitude, since even if the subject matter is to my interest, I will likely favourite it as a bookmark... and then never wade through it anyway. I don't think it's lazy to want people to link to highlights of the subject matter.
posted by crossoverman at 7:56 PM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, it's not like he can un-make those posts, so...
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:00 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't get how it's so bad if that posts stays up. Who or what is harmed?

There's no serious harm if the post stays up. There's also no serious harm if it's deleted.
posted by grouse at 8:08 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sometimes, posts are awesome because they do the googling for you and better than you would. For example, the post about Beate Sirote Gordon - the main link is an obituary I read in the NYT, thought, "Wow! She sounds awesome! I should look up more information about her," and promptly got distracted. And then I came to metafilter and someone had already found all that interesting information and put it in the same place!
posted by ChuraChura at 8:09 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

There's also no serious harm if it's deleted.
Except that a prolific participant is now discouraged from participating. I prefer to err on the side of not deleting stuff because of...um...what guideline was violated here? The new mod didn't think it was cool enough? or something?

This is why Metafilter sucks these days.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:30 PM on January 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Meta Anchoring Clusters of Introspection.

Thanks for coming out.
posted by vozworth at 8:41 PM on January 5, 2013


grouse: “There's also no serious harm if it's deleted.”

MrMoonPie: “Except that a prolific participant is now discouraged from participating. I prefer to err on the side of not deleting stuff because of...um...what guideline was violated here? The new mod didn't think it was cool enough? or something? This is why Metafilter sucks these days.”

If you hate us so much, why the hell are you here?
posted by koeselitz at 8:50 PM on January 5, 2013 [14 favorites]


This is why Metafilter sucks these days.

But just yesterday a smart, handsome, great, neat person made a metatalk post stating otherwise, and her proofs seemed pretty logically sound.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:50 PM on January 5, 2013 [18 favorites]


The length of that post made my eyes glaze over. From my personal perspective it would have been far better as a single link or with some judiciously curated examples.
posted by unSane at 9:06 PM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe I'm just kinky that way, but who wouldn't want this?

"For a good time check out HQ79."

I'm unlikely to have followed most or even many of those links, but if it had been up to me I'd have let it live, if only as a salute to one man's obsession.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:11 PM on January 5, 2013


In general, I'm not a fan of big posts of this magnitude, since even if the subject matter is to my interest, I will likely favourite it as a bookmark... and then never wade through it anyway. I don't think it's lazy to want people to link to highlights of the subject matter.

That's my take as well. When I saw the intro, I was pretty excited, it sounds like a site pertinent to my interests. Then I started scrolling. Well, holy shit, what is to be done with this much information? I can't read it all, not right now anyways. Nobody can. I'd love to talk about it, but what to say? Are we all going to read the same thing? The first comments were all "ooh, wow" and "holy shit, huge"... and yeah, not much else to be said eh?

Editing and focus. Maybe one overview / historiography focused link and then your top eight articles, with a pithy, edited, one sentence lede to draw us in. That would rock.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:12 PM on January 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


The new mod didn't think it was cool enough? or something?

Well, unfortunately, the mods don't really give reasons for deletions right under the content of the thread when it is deleted, nor do they explain their reasons, repeatedly, in relevant MeTa threads. I mean, if there's one thing that's super-opaque around here, it is why things get deleted. So, yeah, it's a totally fair assumption that the reason this particular thread was deleted was because one of the mods went rogue. It's a damn shame mathowie doesn't program them better.
posted by griphus at 9:17 PM on January 5, 2013 [20 favorites]


ooh, it's the Blame The New Mod game! what fun this shall be.

hammotherfuckingburger
posted by elizardbits at 9:18 PM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Link padding is killing Metafilter.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:19 PM on January 5, 2013


Link padding is killing Metafilter.

No, metafilter's doing fine. It's just a little wet, it's still good, it's still good.

Single link youtube posts are also not killing metafilter, but I die a little inside when I see them.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:36 PM on January 5, 2013


The new mod didn't think it was cool enough? or something?

The mod on duty had misgivings about it, talked to a bunch of other mods who agreed with those misgivings, and took pretty normal how-this-place-works action after some discussion.

You are, I think we have acknowledged multiple times at this point, very much on the record that you feel that Metafilter is comparatively terrible these days and that moderation being a thing that happens is core to that perceived terribleness, but you are not in this case actually even presenting a coherent or informed case for that perception. If you're going to be shitty to us for the nth time at least be sure you know what you're talking about while you do it instead of just taking some weird blind cheap shot at LobsterMitten.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:36 PM on January 5, 2013 [21 favorites]


stavrosthewonderchicken: But I am an outlier to some extent, perhaps, because I can't remember in more than a decade here more than a handful of times I've followed more than one link from a post, no matter how megaposty it might have been.

Dude! You invented the megapost =)

For the record, my personal ideal is that a post has the smallest number necessary of links to introduce the material, so I'm right with you, stav.
posted by Kattullus at 9:52 PM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


This feels part and parcel of moderation being all over the place (and often inconsistent with mods' stated goals.

LOL(something) posts are not good, except when they're okay.

At least one mod has related dissatisfaction with "the same old lulzy people..." who keep doing the same lulzy stuff, apparently haven't been told to throttle it back. There is a "noise" flagging option, which presumably reflects a view that it's undesirable, and a serious percentage of comments are noise.

So, mods, are you cool with the usual suspects spewing drivelsnark upwards of 10x/day?
posted by ambient2 at 10:27 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's too long and it needed editing to be more concise.
posted by J. Wilson at 10:37 PM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


A lack of pronouncements of various phenomena killing Metafilter is what's killing Metafilter.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:44 PM on January 5, 2013


Ambient2, I would say that our moderation style is not what you would do if it were your site / if you were moderating the site, but you don't represent the majority based on flags, feedback, and discussion, and your preferences aren't Matt's preferences, for that matter. If you would like to talk about specific comments that you believe should have been deleted, or just make a case for more comment deletion, feel free to open a Metatalk post for the purpose of that discussion rather than repeatedly dropping these "have you stopped beating your wife yet?" comments directed towards us in unrelated Metatalk threads.
posted by taz (staff) at 10:54 PM on January 5, 2013


I would just like to ask, with all the due respect and acknowledgement of what it takes to put posts together with multiple links, and how that often is more fun than whatever the outcome, whether

the issue is about multi links from ONE single source, that too one that has been FPP'd before

OR

the issue is about megaposty multi paragraph stuff like what kliuless has done at times, for example only, this is not a call out

Because, to me, visually, these types of posts all look alike

Dude! You invented the megapost =)

/hang on, I invented the multi link posts and got called out for them too, so there *sticks tongue out*
posted by infini at 11:08 PM on January 5, 2013


Blasdeb's presentation was worthy and worthwhile. I was pissed that it got cut. Reading the mod's position here in this thread, I believe I understand why it was done. It was an editing issue.

Complexity and depth are not easily presented. History Is A Weapon runs against the grain. It doesn't quite stop short of revolutionary rhetoric. I haven't been so pleasantly stupified since back in the sixties, when I thought (for a brief time) that the people who care about stuff were going to make a difference. The site is a complex mine of inspiration and history, and it deserves all the shoutouts it gets. For personal and intellectual reasons, I share a bit of Blasdeb's enthusiasm for it.

If I read the mods correctly, the presentation ought to have been edited into fewer representational links, with a brief editorial by the OP, and maybe a few (by that I mean fewer) pithy lines enticing the reader to delve into that part of the site that's fed his favorite dogs or demons.

Nobody likes to have his work edited--sometimes even if he's asked for it. I hope Blasdeb reconsiders this action by the mods. I believe their intentions were well founded. They seem to want the post only to be edited into a more comprehensible format. Those who don't have the time or inclination to deal with stuff that's not in the WWWW news format won't read it anyhow. The rest of us will do as I do: follows the links that interest us.

In any case, thanks, Blasdeb, for turning me on to HIAW. Gotta be one of saving graces out here in the electronice wasteland.
posted by mule98J at 11:28 PM on January 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Damn, mods. That's a remarkable post and represents exactly what Metafilter should aim for: great content that has been filtered and presented in a usable way.

Sheesh, honestly not sure how anything bad could have come out of letting it stand.

Rough. But good on ya, blasdelb.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:34 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I should say, too, maybe, that I personally am totally good with megaposts being done, and much respect to the folks who spend so much time putting them together. They're just usually not my cup of tea, is all.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:54 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Damn, mods. That's a remarkable post and represents exactly what Metafilter should aim for: great content that has been filtered and presented in a usable way.

How is finding a great site and then linking to every page on the site with some choice quotes for some FILTERED?
posted by crossoverman at 12:11 AM on January 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Basically others above have explained my rationale for the deletion. The linked site is great, and Blasdelb works hard on posts and is a valued member of the site. But it's problematic to basically copy that whole website into a post (linking to every text, reproducing the site's organization of the texts and their introductory abstracts). And it's also problematic for the post to be SO very long, for all the reasons discussed above.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:24 AM on January 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


This post was Ulysses. Very impressive, but only a liar says he managed to read it all.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:36 AM on January 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I feel bad for this horse but it really needed to be taken out back.
posted by deo rei at 12:59 AM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


LobsterMitten: “Basically others above have explained my rationale for the deletion. The linked site is great, and Blasdelb works hard on posts and is a valued member of the site. But it's problematic to basically copy that whole website into a post (linking to every text, reproducing the site's organization of the texts and their introductory abstracts). And it's also problematic for the post to be SO very long, for all the reasons discussed above.”

Also, aside from everything else, it was a double post – I think it still counts as a double post even if you include the entire contents of the site in the new post.
posted by koeselitz at 1:01 AM on January 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


it was a double post – I think it still counts as a double post even if you include the entire contents of the site in the new post.

The first post was in May of 2008. It's been four and a half years. Is there a time limit on double posting?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:14 AM on January 6, 2013


It's usually fine to post about newer content on a site that has been posted before, especially if it's been a few years. Sometimes it's not easy to tell what is new if you don't read the site all the time, but History is a Weapon does have a blog that posts updates when new stuff is added.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:26 AM on January 6, 2013


I'm a bit suprised at the idea that Blasdelb's posts in general "are very well suited for his own blog" rather than MeFi, as clearly, long ass multilink exhaustive posts have a long tradition here. Some people like them, some don't, but that goes for almost every post. But it's not that he invented them, is it?

"Long post is long" is IMO never a good reason for deletion either: it's all hidden below the fold, you don't need to read it if you have to and unless it puts an undue strain on the server or whatever, where's the harm in keeping it up?
posted by MartinWisse at 1:41 AM on January 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Blasdelb: “I built the post the way I did... catered to what seems like the plurality of mefites who don't click on links they don't already know they will be interested in much less be willing to click through a site architecture towards unknown good.”

Hm. That's an interesting way to see it; and I have been frustrated at times by the unwillingness of Mefites to click through unless they know 100% precisely what they're going to see on the other side of a link. However, I think on some level that isn't a problem you can solve for people. It seems like you just have to put stuff out there, summarize it briefly and clearly as possible, and let people do what they will.
posted by koeselitz at 2:00 AM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


where's the harm in keeping it up?

What would be the harm of keeping the next one up? The line's gotta be somewhere.
posted by fleacircus at 2:03 AM on January 6, 2013


Is there a time limit on double posting?

I think it depends on the topic. And the nature of the post. For eg., the Chagos Islands story is a quadruple post, technically, yet not quite a double, whereas say a link to a video (a SLYT) that was done before is an obvious double.

This was an interesting situation, that's why I framed my earlier comment so - whether it was a double kind of AND its format, or just one or the other.

Of course, it could also depend on whether History is a steady state subject matter or a dynamic one.

Was it highly flagged?
posted by infini at 2:24 AM on January 6, 2013


Well, the site had been linked before, so just linking to the site would probably be a double, though reintroducing the site and linking to some of the new stuff definitely wouldn't be, but individually linking to every article on the site (around 250 links) using the same text from the site, but rearranging it a bit isn't really what Metafilter is for.

The notes on the sections are here on the original site, for example, and the brief intros included on some of the articles are on the article pages. So this was basically a rejiggering of the site's own navigation and TOC more than a post pointing out new, great stuff on a site that had been posted before, which would have been fine.

I think maybe the sheer size makes it a bit confusing about what's going on there? Instead of linking to a cool site with an explanation of what the site is about, and pointing out some of the newer things that have been offered since the last time the site was posted, it's making a link to every single page on the site, when the site already has its own presentation for that. I think it was enthusiasm, as in "wow, this whole site is great, and people should look at everything!" but this is a firehose more than a filter, and the site itself already has those links to its articles, and those explanations of its categories.

There were not a lot of flags at the time it was deleted, but there was a lot of discussion on the moderation end.
posted by taz (staff) at 3:06 AM on January 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


"Ambient2, I would say that our moderation style is not what you would do if it were your site / if you were moderating the site, but you don't represent the majority based on flags, feedback, and discussion, and your preferences aren't Matt's preferences, for that matter. If you would like to talk about specific comments that you believe should have been deleted, or just make a case for more comment deletion, feel free to open a Metatalk post for the purpose of that discussion rather than repeatedly dropping these "have you stopped beating your wife yet?" comments directed towards us in unrelated Metatalk threads."

Heh, for an interesting time capsule check out the very beginning of the previously thread for yet another example of the same damn user shitting in a thread in the same damn way that continues unabated but four years ago.

For clarity that is my brother baiting him not me
posted by Blasdelb at 3:25 AM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Heh, for an interesting time capsule check out the very beginning of the previously thread for yet another example of the same damn user shitting in a thread in the same damn way that continues unabated but four years ago.

It's comforting to know that I'm not the only person who notices these things.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:47 AM on January 6, 2013


Hilarious.
Waking up to this thread while woozily drinking theraflu is a great way to start one's day.
I both understand the deletion, as a regular mefite, and appreciate the kind words throughout this thread about our project (though the implicit criticism of our navigation, offered in timeline form as well as roughly by category, made me wince a little bit). We're always trying to spread the word to attract more and more people to, imho, the best website on the Internet. Every little bit helps.

As a quick aside, we were nervous the guide was something it wasn't. And can we ask one question while we're here? Do any of you know JSON and jquery enough to help us with a new secret project? We're slowly making something beautiful.
posted by history is a weapon at 5:08 AM on January 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


all of the reactions are of dropped-jaw awe at the scope of the post

Speaking for myself, it's because on first glance I thought Blasdelb had compiled it from many sources at first, and I was excited about the many history topics the subcategories gestured to. I admit to saying "WOW [radical history trove ahead, awesome!] without delving into links.

Upon learning it was all one site, I agreed with the deletion. A much more concise guide to highlights makes sense in that case. In other words, this was a lengthy summary, not a synthetic piece, and it doesn't make sense to read both the lengthy summary and the site linked, because the content is redundant.
posted by Miko at 6:10 AM on January 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


This post was deleted for the following reason: The linked site is terrific, but reproducing the entire table of contents plus abstracts at unreadable length here is not a good way to make a Metafilter post. It would be great to post this again, just linking to the main site (which has all this ToC info and the abstracts) or picking a few select highlights.

The post deletion reason was shitty for the following reason: the post was terriific, but quibbilng over tl;dr/you could have formatted this differently than you did is not a good way to run Metafilter. It would be great to delete this post again, just mentioning it's a double.
posted by 3.2.3 at 6:13 AM on January 6, 2013



Heh, for an interesting time capsule check out the very beginning of the previously thread for yet another example of the same damn user shitting in a thread in the same damn way that continues unabated but four years ago.


I said zero, zilch and nil in that thread, Blas. Git yer history straight?
posted by ambient2 at 6:36 AM on January 6, 2013


Maybe you've missed the big steaming turd right there at the beginning that was not left there by you but by the same user who leaves more or less the same turd over and over again like you were just complaining happens?
posted by Blasdelb at 6:41 AM on January 6, 2013


The post deletion reason was shitty for the following reason: the post was terriific, but quibbilng over tl;dr/you could have formatted this differently than you did is not a good way to run Metafilter. It would be great to delete this post again, just mentioning it's a double.

Which would most likely have lead to a Metatalk (a) noting that it had been years since the previous mention and a bunch of new content had gone up since then so is it reaaaally a double and (b) suggesting that we hadn't considered any of the other stuff involved in the construction and scope of the post or made it clear whether it was okay to rework and repost.

Deletion reasons can't be encyclopedic and pretty much the only way to get a through discussion of what went into the reasoning for a deletion is to write to us at the contact form or start a Metatalk thread, but we try with the tricky stuff to address what's going on in brief, and what was going on here was the stuff mentioned in that reason and discussed in here far more than it was the question of doubleness.

It makes sense that people like the HIAW site (it is great!) and that people appreciate Blasdelb pointing to it (totally worth doing) and I dig that some folks had no problem with the extremely longform post Blasdelb made to do so, but the post, specifically, as it was specifically constructed in this case, does not seem to us like a great way to get eyes on the site or like a good model for post construction on Metafilter in general.

Sometimes mefi posts take a couple drafts. Sometimes that happens live. That's a normal and long-running part of the overall community dynamic here. A more concise do-over (which at a tenth the length would still be long and link-rich compared to the median post) is explicitly welcome and would, like we've said a few times now, be a great compromise outcome on this.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:14 AM on January 6, 2013


MetaUnfiltered doesn't seem quite right. The curation that goes into an FPP's links—not only organization and presentation but also selection and editing—is what separates MeFi from the rest of the web.

And yes, I confess that I had drafted a much longer post in response to a lot of what had been said many times in this passionately argued thread, but just because I'm writing without an editor or a word count these days doesn't mean I should indulge my natural prolixity. ... Oh hell, I've done it again, haven't I?
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:10 AM on January 6, 2013


I understand trying to be equitable cortex, but yall tried too hard in this thread to give all the information about the deletion, which could have just read--"This is too much copy and paste of every piece of copy from this site, try again with a bit more filtering tomorrow!" and left it at that.

Bringing up publicly in this thread that blasdelb didn't start that somehow his contributions are viewed as problematic by the mods (tho posters obviously disagree) was bad form in my opinion.

I hope Blas. never gets his own blog, and that someone tries this post again with about 1/3 of the pasting.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:25 AM on January 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Doctor Zed: you make me glad I read about the cntrl/scroll method.

Carry on.
posted by mule98J at 8:27 AM on January 6, 2013


FWIW, I have kept the deleted post open in a tab to pull from as time allows. I find accessing the material easier from the accustomed Metafilter format rather than the actual site. So thank you Blasdelb for creating this post.

History is a weapon, I salute you. I love the site and will pass it along to friends and relations who love history as much as I do.WOW
posted by readery at 8:28 AM on January 6, 2013


Re-reading the deletion reason, that's exactly what Lobsterm did, so I'm confused by the conflicting responses ITT.

I think the post would work best without any pasted quotes but with the same number of links. I may make this later this morning, unless someone else wants to.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:29 AM on January 6, 2013


Miko (why it's a good deletion) & Potomac Avenue (everything else) vocalize my thoughts better than I could have.
posted by absalom at 8:32 AM on January 6, 2013


I feel like linking to every single subpage on someone's perfectly functional website is sort of...disrespectful of their work and their conception of their site. I'm not sure exactly what it is, but it makes me really uncomfortable and it doesn't seem like a good use of metafilter.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:34 AM on January 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


To be clear that's in response to PA saying he would remake the post with the same number of links.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:35 AM on January 6, 2013


Yes, for clarity, please do not remake this post still linking every subpage.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:39 AM on January 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm 100% sure the people who operate the site would disagree entirely guys (as they have here already) but OK, since LM says so I'll cut out about 1/3 of the links.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:41 AM on January 6, 2013


We'll just have to agree to disagree about what someone wincing means! Teach the wincing controversy!
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:45 AM on January 6, 2013


Potomac Avenue: are you going to read everything you link to first? Why not filter it a little bit, point us to a much more select group of stuff that YOU have actually read and think is good?
posted by Meatbomb at 10:02 AM on January 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


There were not a lot of flags at the time it was deleted, but there was a lot of discussion on the moderation end.

Sounds like you guys dropped the ball on this one. Great post horrible deletion. Just my 2 cents. For the record I don't think Metafilter is dying, but it could stand for the mods to quit being so aggressive. Again just my opinion/impression and not backed up by anything other than that.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:05 AM on January 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


YRR: Hmm yeah OOPS I misread that comment, I thought he meant the criticism in this thread, not in the make-up of the post. Maybe he winced because he feels bad his site is hard to navigate?

I dunno, I've run websites before and someone deep-linking to every single one of our posts and encouraging people to click them all would be...pretty ideal for SEO and UV purposes. You can argue its an unreadable awkward post for MF, but I really can't see any downside for a website owner.

Meatbomb: Why do you care?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:06 AM on January 6, 2013


Yeah, to be crystal clear, we're fine with someone making a post about this but it should be mindful of the fact that the site itself has been linked a few years previously [so something more than "here is a great site" would be useful] and that creating a MeFi-post-as-site-index is not such a great idea.

If there are things that you think are cool because you've looked at them and think that MeFites would like to discuss them, please make a post about them.

Sounds like you guys dropped the ball on this one.

While I agree that this is a "reasonable people may disagree" situation we're in here, I don't really understand how "dropping the ball" comes into it. We made a decision, not everyone agreed with it, we're talking about it here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:07 AM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why not filter it a little bit, point us to a much more select group of stuff that YOU have actually read and think is good?

To do anything less would be stunt posting, and would also be ignoring what struck me as fairly clear guidance from a moderator about what a good repost would look like:

A more concise do-over (which at a tenth the length would still be long and link-rich compared to the median post) is explicitly welcome and would, like we've said a few times now, be a great compromise outcome on this.

posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:08 AM on January 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hmm, how about guys just dictate to me the exact number of links I'm allowed to include and I'll do that.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:12 AM on January 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


42
posted by wheelieman at 10:13 AM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't really understand how "dropping the ball" comes into it.

drop the ball (American informal)
to make a mistake, especially by doing something in a stupid or careless way. ex: "For god's sake don't drop the ball - we're relying on you."


Hence the the root of the whole disagreement part. Either way you guys do a bang up job 95% of the time so there's that.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:29 AM on January 6, 2013


Potomac Avenue, we have talked a lot above about the value of filtering, selecting a few notable items, etc. It seems stunty at this point to declare you want to remake this post with mainly the same approach of linking nearly everything there. (Maybe that isn't your intention but that is how it's coming off to me.)

"I don't like this site's navigation, let me copy all the links from the site into the format of a Mefi post because I prefer to browse them that way" is not a good way to make a post. The point is not that you need to include a specified number of links, but demonstrate some good-faith effort to choose the ones you think are most notable. If you want to link to the comprehensive resource (i.e., all of the essays) you can do that by just linking to the site.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:31 AM on January 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Meatbomb: Why do you care?

Well, as I explained above I skipped this post despite it being in my area of interest because there was too much to read, by two or three orders of magnitude. If we get a do-over I would love to read, say, eight or ten links that I know will be common ground for discussion with the folks here.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:31 AM on January 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


The topic has been picked over, but that has never stopped me from weighing in. For me, whether a mega post is multiple sources or one source is a key issue here. I agree with those who say a filtered selection of pointers would be the best approach -- and much more likely to get me to engage or check it out. If the navigation is difficult or if the poster thinks the navigation does not do the site justice, talking about that and putting a few examples to persuade me to dig deeper would seem to me a better approach.

Megaposts are almost always something I save for later just because they are so massive. And when I do return - if I do return, best intentions notwithstanding - if I find that the entire post is really just one site and not a variety of culled sources on the topic, I feel disappointed and sort of tricked: "Wait - it's all just links to just one site? Damn, I could have found those myself." That feels like beating me over the head with a link.

While on the topic of megaposts - ranging further from this one in particular - I definitely appreciate an occasional mega post, particularly on a quirky or specialized topic, but I am not as enamored with an "everything you ever wanted to know about X topic" type of post, which seems more like a research exercise than a post. While they are often good as bookmarks, yes, they stake out a turf in a way that makes them hard to engage with now or to discuss in any meaningful way. Plus, they make it more difficult for future posters to engage the overall topic in any other way because the "definitive" post happened already - and who has time to check all those links & tags to prevent duplication?

I like variety and appreciate the varied styles mefites bring to the front page. But because Mefi's posts are ephemeral in nature, short bursts work best for me.
posted by madamjujujive at 10:40 AM on January 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


I winced because I don't think the navigation for our project is bad.
I appreciate the sentiment behind the argument that the massive numbers of links will help History Is A Weapon's SEO, but I've hated every SEO meeting I've ever been to and if I have to choose between metafilter being a good web resource and improving HIAW's SEO by .000002%, well, that's no choice at all: throw metafilter under a bus (just kidding, obviously, I'd go for the former).

That said, a few of you have since tweeted about History Is A Weapon and we always appreciate people sharing it in anyway they can, but if this thread continues, we'd love there to be more discussion along the lines of kinky research librarians and less centered around "Metafilter used to be better before..." We're strong believers in the movement to Keep The Internet Weird, but repetitive criticism of the metafilter mods seems like yelling at the projectionist that the movies these days are terrible. But we still love all of you.
posted by history is a weapon at 10:43 AM on January 6, 2013 [25 favorites]


For the record, hiaw, I think your navigation is straightforward and your information well-presented.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:44 AM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's the place of the moderators to limit the number of links that a user thinks is notable from a site based on the mod's conception of what works best for metafilter. Anything less than the entire site is, by definition, a filter. Not wanting long blocks of copy-written text makes sense to me, but if someone wants to link to a large % of the most notable essays or entries on a single site it seems like both historically and functionally an acceptable way to make a post here. As far as I know there's never been a post deleted before for linking too many times to a single site.

I wanted to help out by re-posting this since many users seem to be saying they liked it and wanted it to return, and because what I've read of the site so far it seems really great. I'm not going to take the time to edit it down if it's just going to be deleted as a stunt post because I haven't read everything enough to know which exact 10 links to post. That's the recommended number isn't it? 8-10?

I skipped this post despite it being in my area of interest because there was too much to read

That doesn't make sense, it's just one site. Click on it and browse around, or save it for later if you want a selection (albeit large) of places to start. Nobody has to read every post, or read an entire post in one sitting. I never make superlong posts, because I am lazy, but I always appreciate the effort it takes to do it and favorite them to come back in a month or two to peruse.

HIAW: Fair enough, I tend to approach the web from a business perspective more than as an archivist. Duly noted that my attitude isn't universal among site-owners.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:51 AM on January 6, 2013


Plus, they make it more difficult for future posters to engage the overall topic in any other way because the "definitive" post happened already - and who has time to check all those links & tags to prevent duplication?

This is something I've been curious about but never enough to ask. If a post shows up as a double because of some secondary link, does re-framing that as a post of its own really count as a double - particularly if no discussion was made of that particular link in the original post?
posted by Lorin at 10:52 AM on January 6, 2013


repetitive criticism of the metafilter mods seems like yelling at the projectionist that the movies these days are terrible

Some people may be saying that, I am not. I don't think this deletion was terrible at all. Our little friendly (I hope) disagreement is that, if re-posting is allowed, as was stated in the deletion reason, it shouldn't have to be on their terms only. I also think calling out Blasdelb as if his efforts on this site should go elsewhere was uncool. I also am on a January diet so I may just be cranky because I want pancakes.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:57 AM on January 6, 2013


If you're reposting a bunch of links that were recently the subject of a MetaTalk thread and you cannot honestly say, "Yes, I have personally read all these links and I think each is worth sharing," then I feel like you're probably in stunt-FPP territory.
posted by cribcage at 11:03 AM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The post was too long. The only thing memorable about it was its size, which is unfortunate considering the quality of the linked material. The format of the post actually detracted from people engaging with the content and then being able to discuss it as a community. The discussion would be too fractured due to the enormity of possible choices of things to read.

Potomac Avenue, your stated intentions to repost this in a similar manner make it sound like it is more about you challenging the moderators than an actual desire to help the community. This was an editing decision by those who run the site. They've given clear indications of what would be acceptable. They are not setting a high bar. MetaFilter is not intended to be a Site Map for another website.
posted by Roger Dodger at 11:04 AM on January 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Incidentally, if anyone would like ... much of a post on Transmissible Infectious Tumors memail me.

No-o!

Blasdelb, please make that post-- I'm begging you.
posted by jamjam at 11:08 AM on January 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


The post was too long. On mobile, I simply gave up scrolling to the bottom. And what were people supposed to do anyway, except praise the OP for their effort?

It was too long and too unfocused, so there wasn't much chance to discuss it. Good deletion.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:15 AM on January 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Potomac Avenue, your stated intentions to repost this in a similar manner make it sound like it is more about you challenging the moderators than an actual desire to help the community. This was an editing decision by those who run the site. They've given clear indications of what would be acceptable. They are not setting a high bar. MetaFilter is not intended to be a Site Map for another website.

Sup dawg. Nah, I just disagree that their bar should be set where it is on this post. I think super-long posts that give a ton (though not all) the links to a particular post are great, and many agree here it seems. I'd be happy to edit Blasdelb's awesome rundown of the best stuff available on it to something that would be acceptable if I knew what that was. Or someone else can take a shot at it, or nobody. I'm going to go grab a salad though. Catch yah later homies!

Transmissible Infectious Tumors

For the record I am pretty pleased this post will never be made. YIKES>>>
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:16 AM on January 6, 2013


Potomac Avenue, your stated intentions to repost this in a similar manner make it sound like it is more about you challenging the moderators than an actual desire to help the community.

Which is, coincidentally, the best definition of 'stunt post' I've seen so far.
posted by carsonb at 11:16 AM on January 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is something I've been curious about but never enough to ask. If a post shows up as a double because of some secondary link, does re-framing that as a post of its own really count as a double - particularly if no discussion was made of that particular link in the original post?

In that sort of case it's usually fine to make a new post and it's not something we'd be likely to delete as a double. There's grey area stuff of course, but in general I think a good approach is to ask these questions:

- was the previous link a pretty significant part of the previous post?
- was there substantial discussion of the content of the link in the previous ensuing thread?
- is the content of the site pretty much what it was last time it came up?
- did people get into a predictably crappy conversational dynamic over the link last time?

If the answer to all of those is a pat no, and the link itself is interesting beyond being just an "oh and ANOTHER thing" continuation of the previous thread, there's probably zero issue with making a new post around it. If you're coming up with some yes answers, that might be problematic and it's worth thinking hard about the upsides of the post.

As always, it's totally fine to pick our brains at the contact form as well for a no-risk opinion.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:16 AM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


> I'm not going to take the time to edit it down if it's just going to be deleted as a stunt post because I haven't read everything enough to know which exact 10 links to post.

Then don't make the post. Jesus, is it so hard to figure out that if you can't be bothered to read enough to know which links to post, you shouldn't be posting it?

Also, a comradely salute to history is a weapon, who has been a total mensch in this thread and gives me hope for the radical movement.
posted by languagehat at 11:31 AM on January 6, 2013 [25 favorites]


Thanks for the list, that answers all my questions!
posted by Lorin at 11:35 AM on January 6, 2013


A cautionary tale about posting links without reading them.
posted by griphus at 11:36 AM on January 6, 2013


(Well, less "cautionary tale" and more "precedent that it very well may get deleted so perhaps not the best idea.")
posted by griphus at 11:37 AM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, the whole solar disk thing is still a go?
posted by clavdivs at 11:47 AM on January 6, 2013


I built the post the way I did because it presented the fantastic array of resources collected on the site in a different way that was a lot less blind for the older more obscure texts, catered to what seems like the plurality of mefites

bad deletion for the record. But this presumes alot about obscure texts and mefis. Alot of these texts are seminal to historical studies esp. ones concerned with the left (whatever that means)
also the title is catchy but old and already used, heck I wrote a paper on "Poetry as a weapon" though that is a differnent kettle of fish. The sources are good and varied and am glad H. rap brown was included.
as for the metafilter? It seems quite clear that political stuff is rare as it should.

The very selection of which histories to teach in a society shapes our view of how what is came to be and, in turn, what we understand as possible.
from the deleted post.

Again true, but to what extent and which criteria, which seems the gist of the post, is used to determine that history as a "weapon", this is why I included the solar disk...Akhenaten (as played by charleton heston) I find this dude very relevant today.

but your post is on american history, written mostly by americans. To me, there is more data to study.

keep up the good work.

love,
Ay, Clavdivs.
posted by clavdivs at 12:10 PM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


stavros: the very idea that a post consisting of a basic link to an interesting site might be 'lazy' is, I think, counterproductive.

You're right, I phrased that badly. I was thinking that at this point I'd consider *myself* a bit lazy if all I did was link to a home page. It's wrong to imply laziness for anyone else.

madamjujujive: I am not as enamored with an "everything you ever wanted to know about X topic" type of post, which seems more like a research exercise than a post. While they are often good as bookmarks, yes, they stake out a turf in a way that makes them hard to engage with now or to discuss in any meaningful way. Plus, they make it more difficult for future posters to engage the overall topic in any other way because the "definitive" post happened already...

Those are good points, but I'm not sure I agree with the last one. New sites about "X topic" crop up all the time, and folks seem to be able to make posts about them easily enough.
posted by mediareport at 12:52 PM on January 6, 2013


The site is called Metafilter, not Metalinkdump. We filter with an eye for the best links on the web, not to catalogue or even mirror it. Good deletion.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:52 PM on January 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


history is a weapon: “I winced because I don't think the navigation for our project is bad.”

On the contrary, it's awesome. I winced because (no offense, Blasdelb) it translates really poorly to Metafilter plaintext, which made it labyrinthine and obscure to me.
posted by koeselitz at 3:04 PM on January 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I thought hiaw had pretty decent navigable links and is a really interesting site - so i'd have been ok with just a brief outline - it might be better just to let these things stand if theyre epic and send a note to the effect of the next one would be deleted if it was equally long etc etc.

We should have some sort of moratorium on stunt posts, cause they're not all bad - lets not be oppressing the stunt posts. The good stunt posts i mean.

Anyway, Ive got this great idea for a mefi tshirt:
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:14 PM on January 6, 2013


Once in a former iteration I linked to a bunch of photos from the same photo archive and a bunch of jerks were all "Hey all these photos come from the same site, couldn't you just give us a link to the index?" But then some cool people came along and said how much they liked the pictures, especially the lunch lady one.

That was only vaguely similar to this deletion non-controversy, but I've wanted to call those people jerks for about ten years. Sheesh!
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:56 PM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The site is called Metafilter, not Metalinkdump.

That's a cute slogan, but it ignores the simple fact that long multi-link posts that explore a single topic have been an integral and much-loved part of MeFi history since, well, forever. I suppose one can try to pretend that's not the case, and ignore the facts on the ground about the various kinds of posts users here have made and enjoyed since the site began, but damn that would be a huge revisionist undertaking.

Good luck with it.
posted by mediareport at 10:46 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I suppose one can try to pretend that the objection to the deleted post is simply that it is a long multi-link post, but damn that would be a huge tiny, but still silly, revisionist undertaking.
posted by languagehat at 10:56 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


languagehat, I wasn't talking about the deleted post, but rather trying to speak to what I saw as Blazecock's attempt to generalize from this deletion to the whole site. As I think is clear from my earlier comments, I have no problem with the deletion.
posted by mediareport at 11:03 AM on January 7, 2013


About super-long and otherwise outlier megaposts:
Note, speaking for myself, and speaking in general, not about any specific post or user:

It's one thing to have a 1000 word post with 25 links. It's another thing to have a post ten times that long, with ten times that many links. There is a point of diminishing returns where cutting will clearly improve a post, IMO.

We talked above about the suggestion to get one's own blog: Again IMO, some megaposts are more in the format of a blog entry than a Mefi post. For example, posts that are some combination of: very long, very technical, lots of original content ("I have written a ten page essay on this subject and I'm adding some links to it"), or copying large amounts of text from other sites to create a comprehensive resource on a subject within the FPP.

If a mod suggests that such a post belongs on someone's own blog, it's not a criticism of the member who made the post, or disrespect for their effort. Some megaposts are bigger/more technical/etc projects than Mefi posts are meant to handle, and it would be better to collect them on a blog and post it to Projects.

(Obviously it's a fuzzy line between "good for Mefi" and "better suited for your own blog", but I'm not saying there's a clear dividing line; I'm talking about the general fact that some posts are really beyond the scope of Mefi.)

This connects to what madamjujujive aptly says about megaposts above. MetaFilter is primarily about curated links to great content, presented in a way that can foster discussion among a general audience. So, to my way of thinking, a great Mefi post: is curated (picking a few choice links is a core function; we all know how to google if we want to find every possible link out there), is about links (rather than mainly about lengthy original content or reproducing large volumes of reference material here), and ideally presents things in a way that could reasonably lead to a discussion of the linked material rather than just generic comments on the topic area.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:05 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


There is a point of diminishing returns where cutting will clearly improve a post, IMO.

I agree. Finding that point is the hardest part of making a good multi-link post.
posted by mediareport at 11:38 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


> languagehat, I wasn't talking about the deleted post, but rather trying to speak to what I saw as Blazecock's attempt to generalize from this deletion to the whole site. As I think is clear from my earlier comments, I have no problem with the deletion.

Oops, sorry! The snark-filled atmosphere of the site has gotten to me. (That, and the titles. I hate the titles!)
posted by languagehat at 12:40 PM on January 7, 2013


That's a cute slogan, but it ignores the simple fact that long multi-link posts that explore a single topic have been an integral and much-loved part of MeFi history since, well, forever.

There was no exploration here. Exploration implies curation, or filtering. This was a cut-and-paste job, basically, by lifting the ToC. Come on.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:07 AM on January 8, 2013


A great Blasdelb post up on the front page today. Unfortunately he gets into some passive-agressive grousing after someone comments "nice little post ;)".

There is a lot of awesome shit there to get lost in clicking on the related links to the right where the number of views is a poor indicator of quality, especially in the raw unanimated lectures, but if you want it all organized you have to do it yourself.

See, this is the sort of thing you say in the post to encourage people to explore the site you're linking to. I'm pretty sure someone's done a post about the RSA before, so linking to a single, previously-unfeatured video is appropriate in this case and there's not much room to do another big linkfest. But anyway, there's nothing wrong with writing up your post to both feature the video/topic/single-link-in-a-big-site and also encourage exploration of the site beyond that. It doesn't have to be either the encycolopaedic restructuring of the entire site's contents or a dinky link to one particular thing.

There's middle ground; it just takes a different sort of effort to attain it. Anyway, I don't mean to come down hard on Blasdelb, and I'm certainly glad to see that they haven't given up on posting to the front page of MetaFilter. I just hope that the resentment dissipates and the middle ground gets found. I imagine when that happens the result will be just as excellent as anything previously posted by that user.
posted by carsonb at 12:53 PM on January 12, 2013


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