Hey, do you know what an unproductive comment looks like? February 28, 2013 2:52 PM   Subscribe

Can we have less comments like this, please? It doesn't really add anything to the discussion, and I'm glad that most people ignored it, but I'm having trouble just letting it go.

1. Content of the post aside, R. Schlock may indeed have some good and enlightening points (and if he wants to articulate them in this thread I'm all ears) but the tone is just so condescending, and 2. the comment, to me, is like the MetaFilter equivalent of "FIRST!!1!1". I made that FPP because I was curious to see what the community had to say about that issue, and it was a little disheartening to see that as the very first comment. So just to be clear I'm not saying "how dare you call me sexist!", but rather "if you're going to call me (or something I created) sexist, I would prefer that you not self-righteously talk down to me". Be the honey that you wish to catch flies with in the world. Thank you.

And yes, I already thought of "MetaFilter: I'm having trouble just letting it go".
posted by MattMangels to MetaFilter-Related at 2:52 PM (62 comments total)

Well, speaking from the moderator prospective, it didn't get flagged much. You flagged it at first, but that was about it, and it's a couple days old now and the thread went on.

but the tone is just so condescending

Though you found the tone a little condescending in the comment, the post making a big deal out of the "first pregnant CEO" was a weird aspect that put way more importance on her being female when it shouldn't have been in the original post at all. "Internet company CEO says no to telecommuting" should have been the message of the post, it doesn't really matter if she is a woman, or has children, and I think that's what that first comment is speaking to. I found it interesting and I saw a lot of people in the media explored that angle as well, saying that Yahoo/Meyer were getting way more flack than most companies since she was a woman.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:05 PM on February 28, 2013 [22 favorites]


Fair play, but 41 favorites seems to imply that while no one took that ball and ran with it, they sure as heck didn't ignore it!
posted by Kitteh at 3:05 PM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]




ahem.
posted by R. Schlock at 3:07 PM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think we need more comments like that. It makes a powerful point in one short paragraph.
posted by COD at 3:17 PM on February 28, 2013 [10 favorites]




Just dropping to let you guys know, if you need to contact me, I can be reached at my Yahoo Mail. I hadn't touched it a while, but all of a sudden this week it's way way better than Gmail. Bravo, Marissa!
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:19 PM on February 28, 2013


Can we have less comments like this, please? It doesn't really add anything to the discussion, and I'm glad that most people ignored it, but I'm having trouble just letting it go.

Reality is so subjective sometimes.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:20 PM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]




I considered becoming the CEO of a major company while 7 months pregnant to be an accomplishment worth mentioning, sort of like if you were making an obit post about someone not-that-well-known you would want to list something they'd done so that people might go "oh, that person". It does read a little awkwardly, but as I said now I know for the future.

Now, the way I assumed when I wrote this MeTa that R. Schlock was a "he", you could probably argue that that was indeed sexist, or at least an oversight. If the mods could change that "he" to a "she" that would be cool but I know it's not your job to make me look like less of a fool. Sorry! I'll read your linked post promptly, Schlock.
posted by MattMangels at 3:21 PM on February 28, 2013


I think there are some real problems with condescending and insulting posts on the blue. And I think there is a problem with, every time says someone about people being assholes, someone quoting the hoary old "Tone argument" canard.

However, that comment you've cited is not the hill to die on.
posted by corb at 3:22 PM on February 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


My mom always said: "You can catch more flies with piss than you can with vinegar."
posted by Floydd at 3:22 PM on February 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I had a feeling someone would characterize this as a tone argument, and honestly maybe it is. But a common strain of thinking I see on MeFi is confusing how things should be with the way things actually are. Should the way you express your comment matter? No. But does it actually matter? Yes. It's a question of what you want. If you want to just be right, well, then go ahead. It's fun to be right about stuff. But if you want to convince and persuade people, your tone does matter. It's something I've learned through many political discussions.
posted by MattMangels at 3:26 PM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I didn't write that. And I have a penis. Also a child. And an employer with a fairly generous family leave policy.

Look, I'm sorry you thought I was drive-by snarking at your post. From my perspective, I thought it was badly framed in a way that made Mayer look like a monster. So my post was intended to restore a little balance by reminding everyone that, were she a man, nobody would have said much about her decision.

My link above shows that, in the days since the leak of the memo, this is indeed something that people have been picking up on.

I was acting in good faith. Metafilter isn't your personal dinner party. Threads are gonna do what threads do.
posted by R. Schlock at 3:28 PM on February 28, 2013 [20 favorites]


I am outraged by something that happened on metafilter; I must be heard!
posted by dfriedman at 3:28 PM on February 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Though you found the tone a little condescending in the comment, the post making a big deal out of the "first pregnant CEO" was a weird aspect that put way more importance on her being female when it shouldn't have been in the original post at all. "Internet company CEO says no to telecommuting" should have been the message of the post, it doesn't really matter if she is a woman, or has children, and I think that's what that first comment is speaking to.

I thought the connection was that when Mayer was hired, a lot of people made extremely sexist hay out of the fact that she was pregnant and how much maternity leave she would take and if women were REALLY ready to be CEOs when they also have a uterus at the same time and might want to care for a child once in a while, and now Mayer has ended one of the most common accommodations mothers ask for in the workforce. Like, maternity leave and telecommuting are both basically family policy issues.

That's really neither here nor there though I guess.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:30 PM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's hard lettings threads go sometimes, emotionally speaking. I have had sleepless nights over pretty obscure comments in mefi threads.

It's really more of an emotional issue versus the comments actually doing anything objectively wrong. I suggest reading the comic adaptation of the writings of Lao Tzu.
posted by GuyZero at 3:31 PM on February 28, 2013


Or...exactly what people said in the thread like two comments below the Comment In Question. Never mind, moving along now.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:32 PM on February 28, 2013


I don't know why I assumed that was your personal blog. My mistake.
posted by MattMangels at 3:33 PM on February 28, 2013


This is the part of the thread where, if we were physically co-located, I'd buy you a beer and we'd talk awkwardly about baseball for a half-hour or so until one of us got a text message and had to go home to take care of something "really important."
posted by R. Schlock at 3:35 PM on February 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


People pull out that "hoary old canard" because 97% of the time it directly applies to the complaint. "People being assholes" is not the same as "people expressing themselves forcefully", even though it might feel that way sometimes. I'd bet you a shiny penny that the majority of asshole comments on the blue get deleted by the mods very quickly.

But if you want to convince and persuade people, your tone does matter.

Not really, though. If you want to sell someone a used car or get them to vote for you, sure, tone matters. But this ain't a used car lot. The only real way to convince anybody of anything is to hit them on the head with reality over and over and over until it sinks in.

All that being said it sounds like this was just a bit of a misunderstanding, so let's all hug.
posted by Doleful Creature at 3:37 PM on February 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like hugs. They say everybody needs one.

The question is, does everybody want one?
posted by MattMangels at 3:42 PM on February 28, 2013


Yeah, this is the part of the evening where I'd buy us a bunch of beers and we'd find common ground about something else to be mad about together and then part friends.
posted by josher71 at 3:43 PM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd bet you a shiny penny that the majority of asshole comments on the blue get deleted by the mods very quickly.

That is not true, and they have said in other MeTas that it is not true. Asshole comments stand if someone has responded to them, the thread has moved on, or it doesn't seem to directly start a fight, to mention a few. And there are a lot of asshole comments that happen all over the blue, where people are directly calling each other names or otherwise being jerks, but happening to append it to actual opinion. It sucks.

Again, I don't think this comment was that, but I do want to stress that it's not okay to just call "tone argument" every time someone calls someone else on being a jerk.
posted by corb at 3:43 PM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


The only real way to convince anybody of anything is to hit them on the head with reality over and over and over until it sinks in.

It is almost always better to let reality do the work itself.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 3:44 PM on February 28, 2013


Is this because it's a first comment and/or just 10 minutes after the original FPP? It's another reason for, as soon as you put up your FPP, going off and doing something else for a while. If someone else has quickly put a most unseemly or uncouth comment up on the thread (as the first, or near-first, comment), then it's probably turned into an argument or discussion with following comments. Which is fine.

From his comment on this MetaTalk thread, Mr Cortex had a nice post on his blog about this (I commented on it with my amended approach, which seems to work when FPPing). Basically, post then immediately go away for a while. Never hang around to read the first comment. If that first comment is annoying, then there may be comments visible after it that disagree. Or, if they all agree with that first comment, then the MetaFilter consensus is against you. Such is life :)
posted by Wordshore at 3:49 PM on February 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


That's good advice Wordshore. The first few minutes right after posting an FPP, much like the moments right after sex, are very vulnerable ones. MetaFilter's standards being what they are I always feel a little bit on edge; is it gonna get deleted, is someone gonna say "this sucks", etc.
posted by MattMangels at 4:00 PM on February 28, 2013


That's good advice Wordshore. The first few minutes right after posting an FPP, much like the moments right after sex, are very vulnerable ones.

Ah, perspective.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:04 PM on February 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


The only real way to convince anybody of anything is to hit them on the head with reality over and over and over until it sinks in.

No, it isn't. And being a jerk is in fact counterproductive to changing peoples minds.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:05 PM on February 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


fewer
posted by mimo at 4:11 PM on February 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Holy crap! Yahoo still exists?!
posted by 4ster at 4:13 PM on February 28, 2013


Do you know what a good test for spotting sexism is? If you switch the gender and the statement falls apart, then it was sexist.

"This one time at summer camp, he got hit in the balls with a frozen Snickers bar."
"This one time at summer camp, she got hit in the balls with a frozen Snickers bar."

Yep. Sexist.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:17 PM on February 28, 2013 [10 favorites]


I found it interesting and I saw a lot of people in the media explored that angle as well, saying that Yahoo/Meyer were getting way more flack than most companies since she was a woman.

It's interesting and newsworthy precisely because Mayer and her publicity team (and she has a publicity team, like all high-profile CEOs) made her pregnancy a focus of initial stories in the wake of her hire. These stories, such as Mayer building a nursery (which was a news item months ago), don't ever come out of thin air. They're carefully cultivated by PR.

Then you have this PR-calibrated image contrasted to this other, organic image, one where the same person makes a move that's arguably hypocritical.

So Mayer can't have her PR cake and eat it, too. That's makes the coverage equal in my book.

Besides, the real story here isn't the work-from-home angle. It's the stealth layoff angle. Yahoo PR is probably happy that the CEO is taking flak about Mayer being anti-mom, so that no one notices this other angle.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:28 PM on February 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


In the future, perhaps first comments should be only nice things, like "I love this FFP!" so people don't get disheartened.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:28 PM on February 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


I actually agree that being a jerk is counterproductive to changing minds. R.Schlock's comment doesn't read as jerky to me. Does it read that way to you?
posted by Doleful Creature at 4:30 PM on February 28, 2013


Doleful Creature: "The only real way to convince anybody of anything is to hit them on the head with reality over and over and over until it sinks in."

I would tend to disagree with you.
posted by boo_radley at 4:53 PM on February 28, 2013


If you want to sell someone a used car or get them to vote for you, sure, tone matters. But this ain't a used car lot. The only real way to convince anybody of anything is to hit them on the head with reality over and over and over until it sinks in.

Ouch, your reality is hurting my head with its neutral tone. It's super effective!
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:57 PM on February 28, 2013


Oh, great. If we're going to be banning useless and dumbshit comments then I want my multiple deposits of five dollars back (I need to buy a screaming bucket).
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 5:00 PM on February 28, 2013


R.Schlock's comment doesn't read as jerky to me. Does it read that way to you?

I'll go ahead and say that I thought R. Schlock's comment was a bit jerky. And I don't really buy his contention that all he was doing was trying to "restore a little balance." Because it doesn't seem to me that this was all he was trying to do. Rather, it seems to me that he was also trying to do it in a snarky way that made him look clever. If all he was doing was trying to restore a little balance, I don't believe he would have used the sarcastic rhetorical questions or framed his reply in a way that seems to be calling MattMangels a sexist. R. Schlock seems smart and well-spoken enough to have made the same point in a collegial way even while pointing out that he thought the framing of the post had some sexist elements. For example, "I'm not sure what being a pregnant woman CEO has to do with this. I'm sure you didn't mean it that way, but it comes off a bit sexist IMO. Anyway, [contribution to the dialogue]." But, of course, that wouldn't have been clever and snarky.
posted by slkinsey at 5:03 PM on February 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


In the future, perhaps first comments should be only nice things, like "I love this FFP!" so people don't get disheartened.

HA!

maybe a pony request: hold back all comments until someone posts F1RST!!!11!!1 and then let the comments go, then we can all have a nice chuckle over the trolls ruining the internet and THEN get on with the discussion?
posted by chasles at 5:07 PM on February 28, 2013


Rather, it seems to me that he was also trying to do it in a snarky way that made him look clever.

You say that like it's a bad thing.
posted by R. Schlock at 5:27 PM on February 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


R.Schlock's comment doesn't read as jerky to me. Does it read that way to you?

I can see it. The same case could be made without so much obvious condescension - the link between being a woman who has given birth and a man who has fathered a child is more direct than the link between a woman who is actually pregnant and a man who has fathered a child.

That said, my experiences in corporate America don't lead me to think that a man who fathers an unborn child will be treated the same as a woman who bears an unborn child (And in my mostly male-privileged employment, I've recently been disappointed that a highly trained and important woman chose to stay at home with her newborn child rather than stay at work and have her husband care for the children, so I get awarded no points for the answer). I get the gist of the comment. Maybe it's just a matter of presentation? Maybe it's just me thinking back on how I've had more female bosses than male, and how I've observed the differences.

Also,

Cool Papa Bell: "This one time at summer camp, she got hit in the balls with a frozen Snickers bar."

It may be because I haven't had a solid hour of sleep in the past 2 days, but I don't see the sarcasm needed here. I've known 2 different women (self-identified) who have balls. Maybe that's above or below normal? I dunno. It is a real thing - and it directly relates to how people are treated (and, you know, the topic at hand). I don't believe that you meant to judge gender identity issues in relation to the comment in question, but any given person can be hit in the balls, 'she' or 'he' notwithstanding.
posted by timfinnie at 5:31 PM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't have seen the comment without this MeTa. I favorited it.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:40 PM on February 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


The advice to walk away from an FPP for a few hours after it's posted is good. Once it's live, it develops a life of it's own.
posted by arcticseal at 6:48 PM on February 28, 2013


Hey, do you know what an unproductive comment looks like?

"Fewer"
posted by pompomtom at 6:51 PM on February 28, 2013


OMG, did I really just get my wrist slapped for a balls joke?

OMG, am I absolutely certain that there's no point in talking about getting one's wrist slapped for a balls joke? Yes, I'm certain that this path ends only in frustration, and I'm so, so very tired of it.

I keep taking breaks from MeFi because otherwise I spend hours happily goofing off. Turns out the joke's on me.

Bye.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:53 PM on February 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


there are a lot of asshole comments that happen all over the blue, where people are directly calling each other names or otherwise being jerks, but happening to append it to actual opinion. It sucks.

Stop being an asshole, then. As for Mayer, well, I'd have thought one Meg Whitman was enough.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:39 PM on February 28, 2013


but any given person can be hit in the balls, 'she' or 'he' notwithstanding.

Get some more sleep, man.
posted by MattMangels at 7:43 PM on February 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Cool Papa Bell: "Besides, the real story here isn't the work-from-home angle. It's the stealth layoff angle. Yahoo PR is probably happy that the CEO is taking flak about Mayer being anti-mom, so that no one notices this other angle."

Two words: Constructive Dismissal.
posted by pwnguin at 8:25 PM on February 28, 2013


Boy, this sure seems like a thread that could use a good clean closing.
posted by rollbiz at 9:49 PM on February 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm here from the the internet to clean this thread. You may all go home now.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 10:59 PM on February 28, 2013


The first few minutes right after posting an FPP, much like the moments right after sex, are very vulnerable ones.

There are many possible replies to that, but many of those would be deleted, and some would generate a harsh email from the mods or a ban.

Being English, we are educated to know that the proper and courteous thing to do right after sex is to go and make a new, fresh pot of tea for the two of you. A similar activity may be advisable right after posting an FPP.
posted by Wordshore at 12:17 AM on March 1, 2013


Also:

No matter how annoying the first comment on your FPP is, it's a lot better than the first comment on that video you posted to YouTube...
posted by Wordshore at 12:19 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


What's annoying, I think, is the focus on the first comment of the thread overlooks the second comment of the thread which takes the first comment to task:

"Flipping things around is generally not a very good test, in fact."

Which is true and put both the first comment and the FPP in a new context - it might be weird to focus on the fact the CEO was pregnant/a mother, but the second comment makes it clear that it's not so easy to flip the genders. And because of that balance, I think the thread discussion has been very interesting.
posted by crossoverman at 12:45 AM on March 1, 2013


I think it's a really good comment. It's pleasingly barbed while making a good point.

Also, fewer comments like this, not less.
posted by Decani at 7:51 AM on March 1, 2013

The "less for countables is ungrammatical" thing was totally made up. It was totally made up in like the late 18th century or early 19th. Out of whole cloth, by one person. We even know who that person is. It was totally contrary to the actual usage of English in the thousand years or so of English that preceded it being made up. It was totally contrary to the actual usage of English at the time that it was made up. It has been totally contrary to the actual usage of English in the few hundred years after it was made up. It is totally contrary to the actual usage of English today.

posted by Flunkie at 9:33 AM on February 24 [13 favorites −] [!]
posted by Elementary Penguin at 8:33 AM on March 1, 2013


Two words: Constructive Dismissal.

From personal experience, I can tell you that constructive dismissal is extremely difficult to prove for the vast majority of wronged employees. You'd have better luck with "workplace bullying".
posted by KokuRyu at 11:18 AM on March 1, 2013


The first few minutes right after posting an FPP, much like the moments right after sex, are very vulnerable ones.

So, roll over and go to sleep.
posted by y2karl at 12:18 PM on March 1, 2013


I would just be happy if there were fewer negative comments about people who work at Yahoo, considering that I am one of those people.
posted by davejay at 7:25 PM on March 1, 2013


I met my wife thanks to Yahoo!, so you're a good egg in my book, davejay.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 10:59 PM on March 1, 2013


Hmm. I thought it was a perfectly fine and succinct comment.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:08 AM on March 3, 2013


Tone apples:

When
"I would prefer it if you framed your complaint in a more civil way."
and
"Don't talk down to me."

meet on the street, they decide not to have coffee and talk things over. I can't say that I blame them.

If I were the former (and if it rained) I probably would drown on account of having my nose stuck so high in the air. If I were the latter I'd probably take off my shoe and hit him on the forehead and get arrested, therefore validating his wet dreams.


Sometimes a boss is just a goddam boss.
posted by mule98J at 8:09 AM on March 3, 2013


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