What would have been a permissible way to raise this topic? April 12, 2013 1:02 PM   Subscribe

I attempted a FPP with this post that was pretty swiftly deleted because something had purportedly been "debunked". What would have been a permissible way to make a FPP regarding the current trial of Dr. Kent Gosnell?

A search showed no FPP about this case. I do not think the subject matter is Things We Don't Talk About. Is there a "debunked" standard? I would be surprised to learn this is the case based upon FPPs past.
posted by Tanizaki to Etiquette/Policy at 1:02 PM (243 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I presume you've already asked restless_nomad/the mods?
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 1:08 PM on April 12, 2013


I think adopting the RedState/NRO framing of "Media coverup!" was generally unhelpful.
posted by PMdixon at 1:08 PM on April 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


"Debunked," to me, would mean that there was in fact a lot of mainstream press coverage of this trial. Instead I saw lots of links to articles written two years ago when the allegations first broke, long before the trial began.

I can see it being deleted because the mods don't want to deal with an abortion debate, but the debunked claim is dubious.
posted by BurntHombre at 1:08 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, there has been sufficient media on this trial, and the idea that there hasn't been is sort of a "pro-lifer" conspiracy.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:09 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Honestly? Very, very carefully, and in a way that doesn't sound like a conspiracy theory or accuse an entire political alignment of hypocrisy. The "why aren't liberals talking about this?" angle is a non-starter, especially since it's not particularly true. It starts a fight on top of the inherent abortion fight, and two concurrent fight-starting topics in a single post is not going to work out.

Op-ed columns are iffy to begin with; op-ed columns on heated subjects are unlikely to work as the basis of a post. If you want to make a post about the case in general, starting from facts rather than opinions is going to work a lot better.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:11 PM on April 12, 2013 [13 favorites]


Perhaps not using an inflammatory editorial by Fox News' go-to anti-choice axe grinder would be a good start. And not asserting that the story has gotten little to no attention in the media when a 2 second google search proves otherwise.
posted by zarq at 1:11 PM on April 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Your post wasn't about the trial of Gosnell; your post was about how the liberal media is refusing to cover the Gosnell trial -- a patently untrue accusation that's been widely debunked -- because they aren't interested in covering "horror stories of abortionists."

You framed it in just about the most incendiary possible way. Either you deliberately used clear misinformation to make your point, or you just pulled from conservative websites and didn't even google for recent coverage, because that would have pulled up the spate of responses to the USA Today op-ed that spurred the current bout of "WHYYYYYYYYY isn't the liberal media covering this?"

Here NYMag on the (lack of) partisan bias covering Gosnell:
The truth is that, while you could certainly argue that the Gosnell story deserves more attention than it's received, the volume of coverage from national media outlets hasn't followed a partisan pattern. While the Post was ignoring Gosnell entirely, the New York Times ran four articles about it — three around the time Gosnell was arrested, in 2011, and one when the trial began last month. The Wall Street Journal has mentioned Gosnell five times, but not once since January of 2011.

On TV, according to a Nexis transcript search, CNN has mentioned Gosnell on eight separate occasions prior to this week's media uproar, compared to nine for Fox News — hardly a difference. Gosnell's name has never popped up on Fox News Sunday, but made it into two reports on CBS Evening News.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:12 PM on April 12, 2013 [19 favorites]


In case anyone wasn't aware, the author of the first link, Kirsten Powers, is a regular on Hannity and O'Reilly on FoxNewschannel, where she only talks about one topic: abortions. Usually about the evils of late-term abortions.
posted by zarq at 1:13 PM on April 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


What would have been a permissible way to raise this topic?

MetaFilter is not for "raising topics." So if the content of the links aren't up-to-snuff (such as making unsupported claims on hot-button topics), they aren't worth posting to the front page. What is permissible is good links to good content.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:15 PM on April 12, 2013 [15 favorites]


Funnily enough I just read the linked Conor Friedersdorf article. He is a writer I like and respect a lot and almost always agree with, but I wasn't quite sure what he was getting at in this case.

Why *should* or would I *need* to hear about this, more than any other grisly criminal trial? They happen all the time and, unless it's right in my neighborhood or something huge like Newtown, I tend to ignore them.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:17 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter is not for "raising topics"

QFT.


zanni's rule of thumb:

This is cool; other people will want to see it == Good post
This is important; I want other people to see it == Bad post
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:22 PM on April 12, 2013 [18 favorites]


What would have been a permissible way to make a FPP regarding the current trial of Dr. Kent Gosnell?

By linking to interesting articles that discuss things that are interesting about your topic of choice.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:22 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


My question was, "What would have been a permissible way to make a FPP regarding the current trial of Dr. Kent Gosnell?" I appreciate the comments of "this is what was wrong", but my question wants to know what would have been the right way. I think this trial is a story of note. Unless it is not a story of note, I should think there is a way it can be the subject of a FPP.

MetaFilter is not for "raising topics."

This has not been my experience in the slightest. Is a story about a fast food restaurant's kid's meal toys your idea of "good content" that is "up to snuff"?

Why *should* or would I *need* to hear about this, more than any other grisly criminal trial? They happen all the time and, unless it's right in my neighborhood or something huge like Newtown, I tend to ignore them.

The response is that it's notable as Newtown or Aurora. In my mind, certainly more notable than a story about local politician who makes a stupid comment that then becomes national news.
posted by Tanizaki at 1:25 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am glad this MeTa got posted. I wouldn't have seen the FPP otherwise. "It rained fetuses." Fetuses from the SKY! It's like cats and dogs, except far, far messier.

In seriousness, though, Occams Razor says there's a simpler reason why this hasn't gotten media attention: because the guy who engaged in these practices (whatever the morality of them) is dead, and the trial is presumably about his murder, not whether or not you'd take him home to Mother.
posted by corb at 1:26 PM on April 12, 2013


the current trial of Dr. Kent Gosnell?

Kermit Gosnell, not Kent.
posted by KathrynT at 1:28 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think this trial is a story of note. Unless it is not a story of note, I should think there is a way it can be the subject of a FPP.

Metafilter is not about stories of note. It is about interesting things that can be linked to on the internet. Find those things and give us links to them.

N.B.: lies are almost never interesting
posted by shakespeherian at 1:28 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Uh, the guy is the one on trial for murder.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:28 PM on April 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, the Gosnell trial itself is interesting, much like the push for/against Chick-Fil-A was. Spinning it to fit a narrative about the media, not so much.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:29 PM on April 12, 2013


Tanizaki, what about it do you think is notable or interesting, other than "horrible person does horrible things" or the partisan axe-grinding that you went with? It's certainly lurid, but that doesn't necessarily make for a good metafilter post.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:29 PM on April 12, 2013

In seriousness, though, Occams Razor says there's a simpler reason why this hasn't gotten media attention: because the guy who engaged in these practices (whatever the morality of them) is dead, and the trial is presumably about his murder, not whether or not you'd take him home to Mother.
Occam's Razor tells me you didn't read the article.
posted by BurntHombre at 1:30 PM on April 12, 2013 [14 favorites]


if you don't understand why your chosen links got the blood boiling and your post deleted, you might be a bad person to make the post.
posted by nadawi at 1:30 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


"What would have been a permissible way to make a FPP regarding the current trial of Dr. Kent Gosnell?"

If you want to make a post about the trial, the best way to do that is to make a post about the trial, and not - as your post was - about the suppose lack of coverage of the trial.

So what did you want? Did you want to make a post about the trial, or about the quote unquote sickening lack of coverage? Because you made the latter, not the former.
posted by rtha at 1:32 PM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Dude---

You come across as a shit stirrer. That post, to me, read like a chip on a shoulder. It is the exact same shtick you pulled in the 'Shalizi-Debunking' thread, where you set yourself up as the unpleasant teller of truths to the benighted liberals.

And lo, your wisdom shall fall on deaf ears. And lo, you shall try to tell them that they are out of touch with reality and like unto creationists. And lo, shall you tell them of the evils of abortion. And yet shall they stop their ears and cast imprecations at thee.

Or something. The point is, it reads like you're starting a fight. Not just that: You're starting a fight over a topic that everywhere on the internet leads to gasoline fires.

"I challenge you thus!" does not make for a good post, generically speaking. And as someone else asked, beyond "horrible person does horrible things," or the conspiracy frame you went with, what other aspects of this shitshow do you think are FPP-worthy?
posted by PMdixon at 1:34 PM on April 12, 2013 [22 favorites]


Metafilter is not about stories of notes. It is about interesting things that can be linked to on the internet. Find those things and give us links to them.

This is comical. Perhaps you missed the weeks in July and August when MetaFilter was Chick-Fil-A Breaking News Update.

What do you think an obituary thread is for? There is nothing interesting about someone dying (at least to me) unless they did it in a novel way. An obituary thread reports the death of a person of note. Or at least, a person of note to certain demographics. (a lot of times, it's some artist type whom I've never heard of)
posted by Tanizaki at 1:36 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I attempted a FPP with this post that was pretty swiftly deleted because something had purportedly been "debunked"

Did you even read the reason? Here it is again, with emphasis added:
This appears to be a thoroughly-debunked angle
As others have pointed out, this would have taken a minimal amount of Googling to find out. The fact that the article was based entirely on a editorial makes it even worse, which is then further compounded by the axe-grinding within. And not to put too fine a point on it, this is the conservative blog/social media event du jour, which makes this post seem less "this is interesting and will generate a discussion" and more "HEY EVERYBODY HERE'S SOMETHING INFLAMMATORY DOZENS OF PEOPLE LINKED TO ON FACEBOOK."

My question was, "What would have been a permissible way to make a FPP regarding the current trial of Dr. Kent Gosnell?" I appreciate the comments of "this is what was wrong", but my question wants to know what would have been the right way. I think this trial is a story of note. Unless it is not a story of note, I should think there is a way it can be the subject of a FPP.

You know what would have been an interesting way to post this? Doing the aforementioned Google search that others who commented on the post had done that showed that

1) The media, liberal and otherwise, had actually covered the case contra to your post's (single) source several years ago
2) That liberals and feminists were as much if not more incensed when the story originally broke
3) This story is much more an indictment of nasty retaliatory anti-choice law than it is of abortion itself

But you chose to go with a poorly-sourced op-ed from Fox News without expending even minimal effort in research. If I was being conspiracy-minded, this seems exactly like the thing to either stir the pot or raise the chorus here on MeTa about suppressed viewpoints and the hivemind.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:37 PM on April 12, 2013 [14 favorites]


...the quote unquote sickening lack of coverage?

Yeah, framing an FPP around an OpEd pull quote like that still counts as editorializing within an FPP, which is bad enough in stuff that isn't controversial.
posted by griphus at 1:37 PM on April 12, 2013


MetaFilter: some artist type whom I've never heard of
posted by neroli at 1:38 PM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


There is nothing interesting about someone dying (at least to me)

*lights flash, sirens wail*
posted by shakespeherian at 1:38 PM on April 12, 2013


What do you think an obituary thread is for? There is nothing interesting about someone dying (at least to me)

But, as has been noted before, obit threads are great for introducing parts of [dead] people’s lives that many MeFites may not know anything about. Often there are wonderful links of interest that are rarely seen, good discussion about the person’s achievements and talk about how the [dead] person changed the world.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:38 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


"What would have been a permissible way to make a FPP regarding the current trial of Dr. Kent Gosnell?"

Here's a tip, bro. Don't try to turn a shitty op-ed into a LIBRUL CONSPIRACY on a Friday afternoon. And if you do, at least try to get the first name of your gol-danged defendant right. I mean, Christ, put a little effort into your trolling.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:39 PM on April 12, 2013 [30 favorites]


bringing up threads from nearly a year ago doesn't exactly strengthen the position that you're coming at this in an open minded way. what does chick-fil-a have to do with late term abortion rights?
posted by nadawi at 1:40 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


oh god don't ask what's in the chicken
posted by shakespeherian at 1:40 PM on April 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


Yeah, as soon as I saw the post, I assumed the purpose of it was to get it deleted and start a Metatalk about how it was unfair ("comical" even!) that it got deleted. I certainly didn't think it was a post in good faith; I assumed what you're getting in this Metatalk was the purpose of making the post. Apparently I'm happy to oblige.

I also note that you've responded to things you can fight with but not to my direct question: what about it do you think is notable or interesting, other than "horrible person does horrible things" or the partisan axe-grinding that you went with? (Maybe you have not yet had time.) That is how you will find an "angle" to make an FPP.

I'm also interested in why you framed it as being about the poor liberal media coverage of the case if what you actually want to talk about is the case. Because this really does come across as trolling, and I assumed it was trolling as soon as I saw it. And I don't really get into it on metafilter, but I generally identify as pro-life, so I'm more likely to be sympathetic to your point of view on this case than most people at metafilter, but even I immediately judged your post as deliberately incendiary trolling. If that's not your goal, you really need to rethink how you're approaching this.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:43 PM on April 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


You know what's also not a good reason to post? LOLIBERALS this retribution for Chikfila!
posted by zombieflanders at 1:44 PM on April 12, 2013


I like how Tanazaki's rebuttal to 'Metafilter is for interesting things' is 'Not it isn't' instead of 'This was interesting.'
posted by shakespeherian at 1:45 PM on April 12, 2013 [19 favorites]


You know what would have been an interesting way to post this? Doing the aforementioned Google search that others who commented on the post had done that showed that

1) The media, liberal and otherwise, had actually covered the case contra to your post's (single) source several years ago


A fair point. Here's another fair point about a news story that is local to me: The Trayvon Martin case got a few mentions in the national news. Do you think that means Zimmerman's trial isn't going to get covered because hey, we covered that at the time?
posted by Tanizaki at 1:46 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought it was interesting.
posted by BurntHombre at 1:46 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was saying Boo-urns.
posted by sweetkid at 1:47 PM on April 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


I like how Tanazaki's rebuttal to 'Metafilter is for interesting things' is 'Not it isn't' instead of 'This was interesting.'

I think the point is that "interesting", besides being one of the least useful adjectives, is subjective. I do not doubt that there are things of great interest to me that could not be of less interest to you. I am also sure the inverse is true, also.
posted by Tanizaki at 1:47 PM on April 12, 2013


Do you think that means Zimmerman's trial isn't going to get covered because hey, we covered that at the time?

Your post was about a supposed lack of media attention around a trial, which was quickly countered. If someone makes an FPP about the supposed lack of coverage of the Zimmerman trial I will bet you a week's groceries it'll get deleted just as quick as your post.
posted by griphus at 1:48 PM on April 12, 2013 [15 favorites]


I kind of feel like making a really really good Gosnell murder trial post, just to prove that it's very doable and that There's No Cabal, but it's friday afternoon and I probably have better things to do.

hey, we covered that at the time?

What? The Gosnell trial is being covered in the news. Someone could even make a post here about it, if it met Mefi standards. Your post was not that post.
posted by muddgirl at 1:48 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd imagine the answer is hivemind echo chamber groupthink liberal hypocrisy etc, because the site gave airtime a year ago to a dipshit thing Chick-Fil-A did, which actually happened, and not to a media coverup, which didn't.

I was hoping to go at least another couple weeks without having the scales cruelly torn from my eyes and having the unvarnished truth blasting me in the face and exposing my mindless hypocrisy, but here we are.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:48 PM on April 12, 2013 [24 favorites]


Tanizaki: I think this trial is a story of note. Unless it is not a story of note, I should think there is a way it can be the subject of a FPP.”

On the contrary, the FPP you posted makes it sound distinctly like you don't think that the trial of Kermit Gosnell is a "story of note."

Just reading the FPP, it sounds like you think the "story of note" here is that "national political reporters are, by and large, socially liberal." If that isn't the story you meant to emphasize, I would gently suggest that you made a mistake in constructing your post, because that is the "story of note" you seem to be trying to communicate in it.

Important things are difficult to talk about because so many of us take them personally. It's not easy to make a post about something like this without taking it a bit personally and thereby making some assumptions about other people and turning it into a more political story than it is. Because, in the end, what happened here is bigger than any one political agenda; and reducing it to a political agenda means robbing it of some meaning and significance.

As for this specific topic, I guess I'll just say that Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic did a much, much better job of not politicizing and personalizing this story than the two sources you focused on as headline stories.
posted by koeselitz at 1:50 PM on April 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


I'd imagine the answer is hivemind echo chamber groupthink liberal hypocrisy etc, because the site gave airtime a year ago to a dipshit thing Chick-Fil-A did, which actually happened, and not to a media coverup, which didn't.

The spicy Chick-Fil-A sandwich is pretty good.
posted by Tanizaki at 1:51 PM on April 12, 2013


Here's another fair point about a news story that is local to me: The Trayvon Martin case got a few mentions in the national news. Do you think that means Zimmerman's trial isn't going to get covered because hey, we covered that at the time?

If you wrote an FPP during the Zimmerman trial about how Trayvon Martin's death wasn't covered in the national media, it would have been deleted because the editorial would be ridiculous. You framed an FPP on the trial about its lack of media coverage.

The Gosnell trial is interesting, but I read a lot about it two years ago, and I don't want to go back and read all those horrible details again to make an FPP now. If you weren't paying attention and find all of this new, it's not because the media didn't cover it.
posted by gladly at 1:52 PM on April 12, 2013


If that isn't the story you meant to emphasize, I would gently suggest that you made a mistake in constructing your post, because that is the "story of note" you seem to be trying to communicate in it.

Yes, that is not what I wanted to emphasize. I appreciate your comments.
posted by Tanizaki at 1:53 PM on April 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Linking to past instances of FPPs that in your opinion might not have met the general standards is not an argument for why your FPP that doesn't meet the general standards should be allowed to stand. You asked what would have been permissible and we answered: making an FPP with quality content rather than as an excuse to drive a conversation is the best way to meet that bar. It isn't a guarantee, any more than making a lower quality FPP is a guarantee of deletion. But it is much more likely to stand.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:54 PM on April 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


i think it's super easy to see that the people behind your links and the anti-choice outrage is just trying to use this for political football - every outraged article or tweet seems to include something about sandra fluke, or gun control, or chick-fil-a, or facebook icon changes, or obama drinking a beer - like it's being used as this huge gotcha to "prove" some bigger, shitty, point.
posted by nadawi at 1:55 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


You asked what would have been permissible and we answered: making an FPP with quality content rather than as an excuse to drive a conversation is the best way to meet that bar.

I am afraid that saying, "make it quality" is not very instructive since I did not intentionally make an attempt at low quality. If it were you, how might you have worded it?
posted by Tanizaki at 1:55 PM on April 12, 2013


Yes, that is not what I wanted to emphasize.

Well, there you go. That's why your post was deleted: it was badly written, with confusing framing. Question answered.
posted by KathrynT at 1:55 PM on April 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


I mean, here's a potentially worthwhile angle:

Why were women going to Gosnell, given just the physical descriptions on the facilities?

I mean, when I go to a doctor, if there's cat shit, I'm walking out. So why, given the attested awfulness, would women get medical attention from this man?

(Hint: Because babies or lack thereof is a big deal, and options are slim because of restrictive legislation?)
posted by PMdixon at 1:56 PM on April 12, 2013 [20 favorites]


If it were you, how might you have worded it?

This is kind of a hard question to answer because the problem was not just in the wording, it was in the content. In order for a post on this subject to stay up, both the framing and the links need to be reasonably substantial and not inflammatory-for-inflammation's-sake. People might go do your homework for you and find substantive articles on the subject, but it's kind of a lot to ask, especially since you've been super vague about what you actually want to talk about here. Just "the trial" isn't going to cut it - as many people have noted, posts on Metafilter aren't just for bringing up topics, they need to have content in and of themselves.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:59 PM on April 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is kind of a hard question to answer

I am sure you are up to the job. I am not asking you to find specific links, just describe what sort of links conceivably might have met the bar.
posted by Tanizaki at 2:05 PM on April 12, 2013


The spicy Chick-Fil-A sandwich is pretty good.

You know what else is pretty good? Fucking pancakes.
posted by IvoShandor at 2:06 PM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


If I were making the post, I might have pulled a couple of less-heat-more-light links about what he was charged with. Then I might have pulled together some pre-Roe history links, and some links about barriers to care that exist for poor women and women of color.
posted by rtha at 2:06 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Tanizaki, are you going to answer my question, or is there a reason you're not answering it? What about it do you think is notable or interesting, other than "horrible person does horrible things" or the partisan axe-grinding that you went with?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:07 PM on April 12, 2013


You know what else is pretty good? Fucking pancakes.

Do you recommend maple syrup or whipped cream or both for that?
posted by never used baby shoes at 2:07 PM on April 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Your post appeared to be covering two topics: the very much still alive Kermit Gosnell, and how National political reporters are, by and large, socially liberal, who won't approach disturbing topics like Gosnell's case. Which was your focus? If it wasn't about the socially liberal news coverage, why include the pull quote below the break?

I, for one, heard about Gosnell on NPR. But searching for Gosnell NPR, the first link for me was "NPR Finally Covers Story of Kermit Gosnell Jabbing Babies’ Necks" -- except that story was a published a month after the NPR article, and as you can probably tell, it's from a strongly anti-choice website, which doesn't really scream "balanced coverage." Oh, and the NPR article is titled "Murder Case Puts Spotlight On Abortion Clinic Rules," and there's NOTHING in the article about "jabbing babies' necks."

In short, coverage of Gosnell is VERY heated. With that, you really have to be careful about what you post if you want a chance at getting a conversation instead of a flame war.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:07 PM on April 12, 2013


I find one thing that helps avoid personalizing or politicizing a post is adopting a strictly narrative or forensic style. For example, in this case, hardly any articles have just given a brief timeline; but that would be helpful as a Metafilter post, I think. Like: "In 2010, Dr Kermit Gosnell was arrested for X. It was found that he Y and Z. The details are a bit lurid, but can be found at link. Below the fold, please find reactions from the right and from the left."
posted by koeselitz at 2:07 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know what else is pretty good? Fucking pancakes.

Not enough protein for me - I'd be hungry an hour later.
posted by Tanizaki at 2:07 PM on April 12, 2013



You know what else is pretty good? Fucking pancakes


What you do in the privacy of your home, man...
posted by sweetkid at 2:07 PM on April 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


Do you recommend maple syrup or whipped cream or both for that?

I use both. But only when I am (eating) fucking pancakes. Regular (eating) pancakes I just smear with whatever is in the fridge.
posted by IvoShandor at 2:09 PM on April 12, 2013


What would have been a permissible way to make a FPP regarding the current trial of Dr. Kent Gosnell?

Keep your FPP concise. Link to factual news articles, and plenty of 'em. Skip op-ed columns, or at least bury those beneath the fold. Be very sparse about quoting; let the links speak for themselves. Try to find and focus on the most detailed, in-depth articles.

Basically? Think about what, in your opinion, creates a really good NewsFilter post. Because unless I'm grossly misunderstanding you, that's what you're aiming for. Understand (1) that many people disapprove of NewsFilter, (2) that abortion is a touchy subject, and (3) that most people on MetaFilter align hotly on one side of that subject. Understand your audience, and bend over backward to present this FPP to them in simple, fair, factual terms.

That's how I'd write it. I like to see primary sources wherever possible, and otherwise, secondary sources written by journalists who have done actual research and reporting. Op-ed columns aren't even a distant third.
posted by cribcage at 2:09 PM on April 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


When I was a kid, my mom would put red caviar on pancakes (not, like, blini, but good ol'-fashioned fluffy pancakes.) So good.
posted by griphus at 2:09 PM on April 12, 2013


I am not asking you to find specific links, just describe what sort of links conceivably might have met the bar.

You are always welcome to send a draft through the contact form for review.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:10 PM on April 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


- You know what else is pretty good? Fucking pancakes.

- Do you recommend maple syrup or whipped cream or both for that?


What, whipped cream? Why not slather them with butter! Blech, do you want to overdose on sugar, or enjoy well-made pancakes.

- Not enough protein for me - I'd be hungry an hour later.

Two words: peanut butter. Seriously, it's great. Pancakes, real maple syrup, and crunchy peanut butter is great. Getting the balance right takes a bit of work, because you don't want your pancakes turning to mush due to too much syrup, or having trouble chewing due to too much peanut butter.

If peanut butter's not your thing, try maple syrup and good apple sauce. It's sweet but not too sweet, and healthy.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:10 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I was a kid, my mom would put red caviar on pancakes (not, like, blini, but good ol'-fashioned fluffy pancakes.) So good.

This sounds interesting. I think my go to when I find myself without syrup has just been strawberry jam.
posted by IvoShandor at 2:11 PM on April 12, 2013


Folks, please do not derail the thread. If you don't want to talk about the topic, it's a big site, find another thread.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:12 PM on April 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'm honestly surprised that salty/savory things aren't considered for pancake toppings more often than they are. The sweetness of pancakes is subtle enough that it isn't like a crazy clash of flavor when you throw something that isn't sweet on top.
posted by griphus at 2:13 PM on April 12, 2013


Folks, please do not derail the thread. If you don't want to talk about the topic, it's a big site, find another thread.

Yes because we wouldn't want to derail such an important and pertinent thread. Please, this post, like the post it talks about is not done in good faith - I can't be the only one that thinks this.
posted by IvoShandor at 2:14 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't be the only one that thinks this.

You are not.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:15 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


If it were you, how might you have worded it?

Yeah, restless_nomad's comment is pretty much the answer from the site's perspective. Speaking purely for myself, the answer is that I wouldn't have made that FPP. I don't mean that in a judgmental way, though, I mean that in the honest sense that I rarely make FPPs at all, precisely because I rarely come across content on the Internet anymore that meets my own quality bar. "Wow, that thing I just read about is really shitty, and I want to talk about it," is never a post I'm going to make. Sometimes FPPS like that get made and stand, but the bar for them should be set really high. The fact that some exceptions make it through doesn't really make the case for more exceptions, though. It makes the case for fewer exceptions. In my opinion.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:16 PM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


"not made in good faith" is a bad reason to disregard the rules about staying on topic and not turning every metatalk thread into a food post.
posted by nadawi at 2:16 PM on April 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


What would have been a permissible way to make a FPP regarding the current trial of Dr. Kent Gosnell?

This presupposes that having such a post is desirable at all. It is up to you to figure out how to make a good post, not the mods or anyone else to make it for you. But the very fact that it requires careful framing indicates that it is less likely to be a good post for MetaFilter. The best posts have content that stands on its own.
posted by grouse at 2:17 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tanizaki, are you going to answer my question, or is there a reason you're not answering it? What about it do you think is notable or interesting, other than "horrible person does horrible things" or the partisan axe-grinding that you went with?

I thought I had answered it previously (that is the reason), but I will give you special attention. I am sorry that you had to wait more than 38 minutes to receive it. As I mentioned before, which you seemed to have missed, is that what is interesting is largely subjective. Videos of cats or articles about chewing gum art are not interesting to me, but someone obviously thinks they meet the bar because I seem them on the front page. I don't think that I get to tell someone else that what interests them is objectively not interesting.

To me, the story is of interest (and yes, I read the grand jury report when it came out in 2011) because of how it happened. This wasn't the typical "bad person does bad stuff". This went on for years in a facility open to the public and subject to state regulation. Maybe you think that is not enough to interest you, but I do not see how you can argue that it is not of interest to me. It is.

You are always welcome to send a draft through the contact form for review.

Thank you. I was not aware of that. I will bear that in mind from here on in. Since I think that is the ultimate answer, you can probably shut this thread down. Thank you.
posted by Tanizaki at 2:17 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Who is Kent Gosnell?
posted by shakespeherian at 2:17 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do you think that means Zimmerman's trial isn't going to get covered because hey, we covered that at the time?

Interestingly, the Dave Weigel link you provided in the post we're discussing actually goes into this:
I flew down to Florida last year to cover the Trayvon Martin story; I don't think the comparison is apt. Martin was shot on February 26, 2012. George Zimmerman was questioned by police, but not charged. That was what pulled in the national media, what spurred the resignation of the local police chief, and what turned the story into a discussion of "stand your ground" laws. Once Zimmerman was charged, the press largely looked elsewhere for stories.
In fact, that entire article is a wealth of information that you could have covered, had you chose to do so. On the "liberal media" angle, for instance, contained in an update:
People are conflating liberals, many of whom wrote about Gosnell when the case was fresh, and the "MSM," which fancies itself unbiased and in-it-for-the-story, but hasn't piled on to cover this story.
Or how about the pro-choice angle:
If you're pro-choice, say, and you worry that the Gosnell story is being promoted only to weaken your cause, you really should read that grand jury report. "DOH could and should have closed down Gosnell’s clinic years before," write the investigators. Why wasn't it? Were state regulators nervous about igniting a political fight about abortion? Is the regulatory system incompetent or under-funded? And are there other states where the same could be said?
If you couldn't be arsed to read one of your own sources and come up with good content, that says a lot.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:18 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


cribcage: “I like to see primary sources wherever possible, and otherwise, secondary sources written by journalists who have done actual research and reporting. Op-ed columns aren't even a distant third.”

I agree on the whole, although I think there is a right way to include op-ed columns: briefly, at the very end of the post, below the fold, and correctly labeled as something like "reactions" or "views" or something like that, preferably with biases labeled ("a reaction from the leftist blogger X," "a view on this from the conservative journalist Y," etc.)

IvoShandor: “Please, this post, like the post it talks about is not done in good faith - I can't be the only one that thinks this.”

First of all, this is Metafilter, where we assume good faith until it's absolutely impossible to do so. This is just a custom we have, and one worth preserving.

Second, I don't really give a crap if "how do I make a good post?" is a question asked in good faith. It's worth answering, and it can't do any harm to answer it, so I'm damned well going to answer it.
posted by koeselitz at 2:18 PM on April 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


This went on for years in a facility open to the public and subject to state regulation.

If that's why it was interesting, why didn't you write a post about that?
posted by KathrynT at 2:20 PM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


This wasn't the typical "bad person does bad stuff". This went on for years in a facility open to the public and subject to state regulation. Maybe you think that is not enough to interest you, but I do not see how you can argue that it is not of interest to me. It is.

That does sound interesting. But you didn't make that post, as has been pointed out, and you have sort of acknowledged.
posted by rtha at 2:20 PM on April 12, 2013


but I will give you special attention. I am sorry that you had to wait more than 38 minutes to receive it.

seriously? you might try taking it down a notch if you want actual conversation and not just a place to wave your arms around.
posted by nadawi at 2:21 PM on April 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


Second, I don't really give a crap if "how do I make a good post?" is a question asked in good faith. It's worth answering, and it can't do any harm, so I'm damned well going to answer it.

You're entitled to your opinion, and me to mine. I assumed good faith. Until I read the thread, and then I didn't. Regardless, there isn't anything about this thread that couldn't have been answered through the contact form anyway.

Maybe talking about food is bad. Maybe it isn't. But I don't think feeding trolls is much better.
posted by IvoShandor at 2:21 PM on April 12, 2013


Telling people the best ways to interact with this site is not feeding trolls, no matter what context it happens in.
posted by koeselitz at 2:23 PM on April 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Second, I don't really give a crap if "how do I make a good post?" is a question asked in good faith. It's worth answering, and it can't do any harm, so I'm damned well going to answer it.

If you believe that the question was in bad faith then you are rewarding bad behavior.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:23 PM on April 12, 2013


I will give you special attention. I am sorry that you had to wait more than 38 minutes to receive it. As I mentioned before, which you seemed to have missed

Also, WOW, that is snide and hostile.
posted by KathrynT at 2:23 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


This went on for years in a facility open to the public and subject to state regulation. Maybe you think that is not enough to interest you, but I do not see how you can argue that it is not of interest to me. It is.

And it was of great interest to liberals and feminists at the time, as well. How you managed to read the 2011 report at the time it was released and not see any of that or the media coverage at the time, and your attitude towards other MeFites and outside sources that expressed that interest seems...odd, to say the least.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:25 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you believe that the question was in bad faith then you are rewarding bad behavior.

If you believe the question was in bad faith, then either talk about that, talk to the mods privately, or leave the thread alone. Don't waste my time and everyone else's passive-aggressively expressing disdain by posting random sidebars.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:25 PM on April 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


You are always welcome to send a draft through the contact form for review.

Mods are the "Filter" in MetaFilter.
posted by resurrexit at 2:26 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


"This went on for years in a facility open to the public and subject to state regulation. Maybe you think that is not enough to interest you, but I do not see how you can argue that it is not of interest to me. It is."

I did not argue it was not of interest to you. I asked WHY it was interesting, other than the "bad person does bad things" (which is frequently deleted) or the partisan axe grinding (which seems fighty, and is frequently deleted). In point of fact, I think the "how did it go on for so long without anyone speaking up?" is the most interesting angle of the story as well. There may be a FPP in that -- how PA responds to complaints about medical facilities, how regulation of reproductive clinics differs from other medical clinics, why women going to this clinic, their friends and partners, or the staff there didn't report for years.

I asked you the question because I have observed that "newsfilter" topics seem to do better when they're framed as "here is an angle of this story that I find particularly interesting, that I have researched for your better background understanding" rather than "here's a thing that's happening that interests me for unspecified reasons."

If that is what interested you about the story, why did you frame it as being about the lack of liberal media coverage?

I also realize I have been a little hostile in this thread, and I'm sorry for that, but I don't think your rudeness and snideness is really helping your case that you're trying to make a good post and not just stir people up. You don't need to apologize to me, my feelings aren't hurt, but in case you're not aware, as you seem to frequently take an unnecessarily snide or hostile tone with people, that tone is part of why people think you're trolling and are interpreting some of your actions as being in bad faith.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:28 PM on April 12, 2013 [18 favorites]


If you believe the question was in bad faith, then either talk about that, talk to the mods privately, or leave the thread alone. Don't waste my time and everyone else's passive-aggressively expressing disdain by posting random sidebars.

Oh brother. I didn't mean to waste your time. Actually, I was just responding to someone's love of Chick-Fil-A spicy chicken with my love of pancakes, and MeFi culture. There were a few comments about said topic right after that (what maybe, five, and I couldn't resist). Forgive me if I ruined your day.
posted by IvoShandor at 2:29 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eyebrows McGee, I am sorry that my comment to you was uncharitable.

I have received some comments on my "tone". I agree that one should not be snide or hostile, which is why I try to mostly stay on AskMeFi since that is where there is the least tolerance for discourtesy and I do try to be as helpful as possible there. However, my experience on the blue is that snark is rewarded.

Like I said in my last comment, I think my question was answered so I don't feel the need to comment here further unless someone really thinks I need to. Otherwise, there is always MeMail.
posted by Tanizaki at 2:34 PM on April 12, 2013


- Just reading the FPP, it sounds like you think the "story of note" here is that "national political reporters are, by and large, socially liberal." If that isn't the story you meant to emphasize, I would gently suggest that you made a mistake in constructing your post, because that is the "story of note" you seem to be trying to communicate in it.

- Yes, that is not what I wanted to emphasize. I appreciate your comments.


If political reporters being socially liberal wasn't your topic of primary interest, why did you tag this thread with "media" and "msm" along with "abortion"? Perhaps you're conflating media coverage and the murder trial of a doctor who performed late-term abortions. If so, I suggest you do your best to cut out the "media coverage" side of the story as best you can, because that will add confusion and chaos to the already heated topic. As others have pointed out, there are a lot of aspects to Gosnell's case that could make for an interesting, and more focused, post.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:37 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


It always kills me when I hear Limbaugh or someone on Fox go on about how the mainstream media is ignoring a topic. Like Fox is some kind of radio free America (but a TV station) and Limbaugh is a pirate station broadcasting out of Uzbekistan fighting terrorist propaganda. If you want to talk about what an alternative to msm is I would say NPR or the CBC or Blaze.

I yell at the TV when I hear O'Rielly complaining about the msm, "You are the main stream media!" Of course, that's changing with the current Fox ratings.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:47 PM on April 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


restless_nomad: " You are always welcome to send a draft through the contact form for review."

I've done this once and found the input quite helpful.

But something to keep in mind: Mod standards on touchy subjects are rather high, with good reason. I assume posts on abortion would be looked at pretty closely.
posted by zarq at 2:50 PM on April 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


However, my experience on the blue is that snark is rewarded.

My experience on the blue is that snark about the topic is rewarded, but snark about other posters is distastefully tolerated at best. It's a fine distinction and it took me a while to get a handle on.
posted by KathrynT at 2:53 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


After Spending 21 Minutes Covering Arias Trial, Fox's The Five Attack Media For Covering Arias But Not Gosnell
The April 12 episode of The Five is the first time the Gosnell trial, which began March 18, has been mentioned on the program. By contrast, the hosts havecovered the Arias case over seven episodes for a total of 21 minutes and 33 seconds, according to a Media Matters review of Fox's programming.

Bolling's complaints echo those of the News Corp. owned New York Post, who complained about the "liberal media" ignoring the story while failing to cover it themselves. Salon.com's Alex Seitz-Wald has noted the conservative media's pattern of criticizing the mainstream media for not covering the trial even as they have only begun to mention the case over the past few days.
Just putting that out there.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:56 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tanizaki, if you wanted to make a post on this and have it stick, I would have recommended you do it on a Monday or Tuesday. The chances the mods would want to babysit what would arguably a very contentious thread on a weekend night were...well, I don't really blame them THAT much.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:58 PM on April 12, 2013


St. Alia of the Bunnies: "The chances the mods would want to babysit what would arguably a very contentious thread on a weekend night were...well, I don't really blame them THAT much."

Yes. But the post was a goner because of the way it was put together, not just its topic.
posted by zarq at 3:01 PM on April 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


The chances the mods would want to babysit what would arguably a very contentious thread on a weekend night were...well, I don't really blame them THAT much.

This is less true than it used to be - this is my regular shift, so it's not like anyone has to neglect their social life to watch a contentious thread. It is true that people are much less around to tag in should I need backup, but that's not a huge issue. I am confident that this thread would have gotten deleted any day of the week.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:03 PM on April 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Here's the Salon article mentioned in my link above, BTW:

On Gosnell “blackout,” where were conservatives before this week?
A search of TVEyes finds that Fox News mentioned the case just a handful of times. Special Report With Bret Baier included brief updates on the trail in its roundup of the day’s news on several nights over the past month, while Mike Huckabee aired a taped segment followed by a panel discussion on his weekend show late last month, but it’s hardly been leading news. The “Obama phone” got far more coverage.

A search of the National Review’s website shows it’s written little on Gosnell, while the Weekly Standard has done three pieces (the magazine has run six stories on Justin Bieber). To its credit, Breitbart.com, which decried “a full-blown, coordinated blackout throughout the entire national media” has written plenty about Gosnell. But Twitchy, the Michelle Malkin-backed conservative Twitter-activism site that has been haranguing the media for not covering the case, didn’t offer its first real mention until March 19.

And I couldn’t find anything from Fox contributor Kirsten Powers on Gosnell from before this week. She kicked off this whole conversation with a USA Today Op-Ed.

Regardless of whether the Gosnell case should be getting more attention, it’s difficult to take complaints seriously from people who haven’t used their own public platforms to push a story they think others are now ignoring.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:05 PM on April 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think the post should have stayed up, or at least not been deleted on the basis of "debunked". Gosnell is a local story for me so I have been following it. It's pretty horrifying and involves children and a controversial topic and that seems like a recipe for more national media attention than it has received.

Now, I of course don't agree that the "liberal media" is responsible since it doesn't really exist, but I don't think an opinion piece suggesting socially liberal people in the media don't want to cover this has really been debunked. It's an opinion on why the story has not gotten a subjective level of attention and you don't debunk that with a subjective opinion that it has. Controversial op-eds get posted sometimes and if they are notable and interesting, that isn't editorializing. It's just presenting an interesting point of view.

Now, it's more valid that the post may have not met quality standards necessary for inflammatory topics and should have been deleted on those grounds but debunked doesn't sit right for me. Opinion pieces are a part of Metafilter, and we should be careful not to judge them as inherently less worthy of being posted just because we disagree with the point of view and it gets us angry.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:16 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


restless_nomad: " This is less true than it used to be - this is my regular shift"

*rubs hands together*

Challenge Accepted!
posted by zarq at 3:22 PM on April 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Now, I of course don't agree that the "liberal media" is responsible since it doesn't really exist, but I don't think an opinion piece suggesting socially liberal people in the media don't want to cover this has really been debunked.

Except for the many socially liberal people in the media that have been covering this plus the many socially conservative people in the media that haven't, which was even mentioned in one of the links from the original post.

It's an opinion on why the story has not gotten a subjective level of attention and you don't debunk that with a subjective opinion that it has.

If you want to try and start an objective level of attention, good luck. Is it five mentions? Ten? Who gets to determine ideological slant? Which gets more weight, a factual article or an op-ed? Methinks the mods would have to hire an extra couple dozen people to make this judgement call for every single post.

Controversial op-eds get posted sometimes and if they are notable and interesting, that isn't editorializing. It's just presenting an interesting point of view.

The op-eds in this case weren't even attempting to present an interesting point of view, though. They were factually incorrect, and in the case of the leading link, made by someone who hadn't bothered to cover the case themselves. Op-eds that get discussed on the blue are AFAIK rarely poorly- or unresearched, and almost always cover ground that the author has covered before.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:27 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now, it's more valid that the post may have not met quality standards necessary for inflammatory topics and should have been deleted on those grounds but debunked doesn't sit right for me.

My impression is that the Mefi Mod position has always been that deletion explanation reasons are not really auditable, in that they are not meant to be comprehensive reasons why a post has been deleted. There is a long history of MetaTalk posts on this subject.

and we should be careful not to judge them as inherently less worthy of being posted just because we disagree with the point of view and it gets us angry.

That is reading a lot of motivation on restless_nomad's part based on just a couple of words.
posted by muddgirl at 3:27 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


In case anyone wasn't aware, the author of the first link, Kirsten Powers, is a regular on Hannity and O'Reilly on FoxNewschannel, where she only talks about one topic: abortions.

I'm not against the deletion; there were clearly good reasons for it. But the fact that an article was written by someone who often writes about abortion is not a good deletion reason. And I don't see why it matters whether that person's opinion is different from the opinion of most people who read this site. The link should be judged based on its content, not based on who wrote the content (unless the author is so well-known or fascinating that s/he inevitably becomes the focus of attention, which I don't think is the case here).
posted by John Cohen at 3:33 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


John Cohen, I think the point was that Powers is a plant, if you will, for the pro-life, Faux News movement. It's propaganda.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:38 PM on April 12, 2013


The comment you're quoting is a follow-up to this one, which points out that using that source was only part of the problem.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:38 PM on April 12, 2013


If you want to try and start an objective level of attention, good luck.

That's precisely my point. Claiming it was debunked is an objective claim that you seem to be sticking with, so good luck with it.

My impression is that the Mefi Mod position has always been that deletion explanation reasons are not really auditable, in that they are not meant to be comprehensive reasons why a post has been deleted. There is a long history of MetaTalk posts on this subject.

I know, which is why I added that the further reasons were more valid.

That is reading a lot of motivation on restless_nomad's part based on just a couple of words.

"We" and "us" are used there for a reason.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:58 PM on April 12, 2013


I encourage preemptive deletion simply so it does ruin some mod's Friday night.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 4:00 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is cool; other people will want to see it == Good post
This is important; I want other people to see it == Bad post


This is old; I still want to eat it == AskMe post
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:02 PM on April 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


There is nothing interesting about someone dying (at least to me) unless they did it in a novel way.

Obits are usually about how someone lived, or what they did in life, only very rarely are they about how someone died. That can be interesting or not, in different ways to different people. Sometimes obits are there just to say: hey, instead of sending flowers, please make a donation to the local food bank, it's what she would have wanted.

I think you're right, you'll almost never be interested in obits if you hope to satisfy a morbid curiosity. I miss my mom. Since she died I've made and read a lot more obit posts. I don't yet know why this is.

In lieu of sending me an email, please make a donation to your local food bank. It's what she would have wanted.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 4:29 PM on April 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


The link should be judged based on its content, not based on who wrote the content

Content never exists free from context, especially in the case of an opinion piece. Who wrote something and where they're coming from is as important as what they say; is in fact a completely inseparable part of what they say.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:48 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


partial post abortion
posted by banshee at 4:48 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm watching Anderson Cooper on CNN. He and Jeffrey Toobin are discussing the trial ... and the right-wing critics dubious claim that 'main stream media' have not been covering the story/trial.
posted by ericb at 5:17 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here's some helpful advice, though it should be mostly ignored if you want to make good posts.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:18 PM on April 12, 2013


I think the post should have stayed up, or at least not been deleted on the basis of "debunked".

I am not a mod, but I bang this drum often, the reason stated is not meant to be engraved in stone. It's not something handed down from the gods. It's a bit of guidance. This was a crap post, so I don't care what the reasoning is. Stated reason could be, "Stars aren't in alignment for this at this time." I guess you could argue that the stars truly are alignment, but seems like a waste of your time.

Stop the rules lawyering.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:23 PM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Stop the rules lawyering.

and start reading to the end of comments before responding to them.

My impression is that the Mefi Mod position has always been that deletion explanation reasons are not really auditable, in that they are not meant to be comprehensive reasons why a post has been deleted. There is a long history of MetaTalk posts on this subject.

I know, which is why I added that the further reasons were more valid.

posted by Drinky Die at 6:36 PM on April 12, 2013


I mean, it's a local story for me too, but I don't think attention has been lacking-- I'm not a huge Philly.com fan, but it is the face of a bigger newspaper, and they've certainly been covering it throughout the whole period. I too would like to read more stories on how such a terrible mockery of a clinic could have continued to exist, and why women continued to go there for IUDs and other procedures. The building is still there, the outline of the little people on the outside. It's creepy as hell, and as a lady in PA who sees doctors, I sure do want to know if there are other places which abuse the lax oversight system and running shady clinics for any kind of medical procedure.

This just wasn't informative or the start of a good dialogue about the case or the media coverage.
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:07 PM on April 12, 2013


3801 Lancaster -- Watch the documentary.
posted by ericb at 8:13 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is cool; other people will want to see it == Good post
This is important; I want other people to see it == Bad post


By that argument, what percentage of posts tagged with abortion are "good posts"? Why is the subject ever on the front page?
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 8:40 PM on April 12, 2013


Cool is definitely not the right word. I might go with something along the lines of interesting.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:44 PM on April 12, 2013


Yeah, for those of us in Philadelphia, we've been a bit inundated with coverage, actually. There are actually quite a few interesting angles to this story (needless to say, they're all tremendously sad and dreadful and horrible in different ways).
posted by desuetude at 8:49 PM on April 12, 2013


This is cool; other people will want to see it == Good post
This is important; I want other people to see it == Bad post
By that argument, what percentage of posts tagged with abortion are "good posts"? Why is the subject ever on the front page?


Dunno. Why are any of the other bad posts on the front page?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:17 PM on April 12, 2013


What about it do you think is notable or interesting, other than "horrible person does horrible things" or the partisan axe-grinding that you went with?

I thought the post was interesting. These days, a lot of the posts I consider interesting get moderated out of existance.

Why did I think it was interesting? I thought it was an important story that I knew nothing about. Although the poster missed a trick by not providing adequate background, that's hardly unusual, choices around those things are pretty subjective anyway and that background was rapidly provided by commenters long before the post was deleted. As for the framing -- it seemed to me that that just reflected the framing taking place in the media.

People were well behaved, not behaving in an outraged or shitty way. Discussion was really useful and edifying. In short, the whole thing seemed to me to be precisely the kind of thing I come to Metafilter for, and if this Metatalk hadn't already been posted, I probably would have posted it myself.

I am curious about whether this one got a lot of flags, or was the deletion a pre-emptive strke by the mods?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:08 AM on April 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


So why, given the attested awfulness, would women get medical attention from this man?

Perhaps the most illuminating answer to this question that I saw (and wouldn't have, had it not been for the post) came from Metafilter's own Jeff Deeney
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:25 AM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


It got a lot of flags quickly, and was also discussed among mods.

We've had endless pro/anti-newsfilter battles over the years, and the question of "neat stuff on the web" versus "interesting current events topic we want to discuss" has always been a difficult balance to maintain, and probably the single most thorny issue for moderation. Contentious posts about hot button topics are often poison for the site. They require more active constant moderation than we are actually comfortable with, inspire grudges and bitterness between users that sometimes last for years, affect interactions all over the site, result in members leaving the site, and spawn angry Metatalk posts where everybody gets a second chance to be hateful toward each other, more people end up closing their accounts, and moderators are bitterly blamed for any choice.

There is no upside to flamebaity outragefilter posts for the site: they stretch our resources to the limit, are psychically and physically exhausting for mods, frequently damaging to the community culture, and don't help support Metafilter financially since we don't use a "clickbait" model of content for advertising.

The only reason to allow politics/news posts at all is to (ideally) allow people to learn more and get background and insights on difficult issues that they won't learn by skimming the headlines, and have the (ideally) intelligent discussion that a lot of people really, really want to have. Posts on hot-button topics that, for whatever reason, stand little chance of achieving either of those goals are more likely to be deleted.

So we have some of these posts because people want to have them and when they are thoughtful and well-done – and people are willing – they can be worthwhile and enlightening. Yet because they are so often toxic resource hogs (where the resource is time and effort by everyone on staff, and the patience and goodwill of the entire user base), there are limitations. We ask for a higher bar on hot-button topics. We ask that people not editorialize; we ask that people not just post Op/Eds; we ask that people not frame posts in the most inflammatory way possible, we ask that posts bring more light than heat, we ask that sources be high-quality, we ask that people not do cut-n'-paste headlines ripped from the news but bring something with more depth; we ask that people do not approach posts as "Here's Something Horrible: Discuss!"; we ask that people not use posts to sharpen their axes, pursue grudges, and extend arguments. And we reserve the right to moderate these sorts of posts for these reasons and others. We are going to be more strict when there have been a glut of same-y outrage-of-the-day sorts of things, or in instances where there's been heated discussion of a problem issue, and then people start posting a lot of inflamed offshoots of that topic. We've been pretty straightforward in saying that we cannot handle a lot of angry, outraged threads, but beyond that, the site itself cannot survive it.

There isn't a way to make ironclad guidelines that cover every possibility or combination of conditions, so we try to respond here in Metatalk about the various deletions or non-deletions as they occur in order to give people a better idea of the bigger picture. And it's hard, because people are so angry, so often. Some people would like Metafilter to be the platform for their activism, some people just really enjoy fighting with people online, some people want to express their outrage, and some people just want to be able to intelligently discuss whatever's in the news with their favorite community... but this wouldn't be anyone's favorite community if we didn't keep a pretty tight reign on how such topics are presented here, and what sort of balance is maintained. Moderation efforts in aid of that balance is where we get pushback on nearly every decision, and demands that guidelines and deletion reasons be comprehensive, bulletproof, and strictly consistent – but dynamics on the site don't fit within such a narrow framework that any of those things are possible to the degree that some would prefer, and our decisions are almost always holistic.

We can't separate what affect an outrage topic might have on the site from what has been happening on the site in recent days, for example, or how many other angry threads are in progress. In some cases, part of the process with deletions (not just for newsfilter) has to do with aspects that are very situation-specific. We might be more proactive about deleting posts from someone we have real reason to suspect is using the site to promote self- or work-related links, but we haven't yet found the smoking gun, for example. Sometimes it's obvious to us that certain posts are made as an effort to extend another fight, bait people, prove a point, or is part of a continuing pattern of shitstirring or soapboxing. Sometimes we've just been overrun with a certain topic. If it's otherwise a really great post some posts that are problematic in one of these ways may stand, but they are often more likely to be deleted for many reasons, including the fact that it happens to be particularly bad for Metafilter at that time... and all these considerations (and more) are not criteria that lend themselves to an easily digestible set of reliable rules that will satisfy all parties all the time, though we do try to get the main stuff down in the FAQ or guidelines page, and reiterate our criteria for what makes a good news or politics post here in Metatalk... and pretty much every post that meets the "high bar" described above does stay.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:26 AM on April 13, 2013 [25 favorites]


Thanks for your response, taz.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:51 AM on April 13, 2013


Come on. We are being trolled so hard here.
posted by spitbull at 3:55 AM on April 13, 2013


Tanizaki: Yes, that is not what I wanted to emphasize.

The post: "Haven't heard about these sickening accusations? It's not your fault. ... There is a bubble. Horror stories of abortionists are less likely to permeate that bubble than, say, a story about a right-wing pundit attacking an abortionist who then claims to have gotten death threats."

So you say you didn't want to emphasize that angle, but that's the only angle you acted upon. When people's actions depart from their statements, they are either significantly mistaken about them, or deliberately stating inaccurate information. What other possible motivation could there be, since there were a lot of words from you about "notable" and "interesting" but no action.

Oh, this one: "delighting in progressive hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:38 AM on April 13, 2013


Are we being trolled? I honestly can never tell.
posted by josher71 at 5:47 AM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


What do you think an obituary thread is for? There is nothing interesting about someone dying (at least to me) unless they did it in a novel way. An obituary thread reports the death of a person of note. Or at least, a person of note to certain demographics. (a lot of times, it's some artist type whom I've never heard of)

An obituary post (not thread - post) is interesting when it's well-written, particularly when it's about someone you've (generic you) never heard of, because it allows you to discover that person, and their work (whatever it may be). All the musician obituary threads I can recall have had youtube links to performances, all the writer obits I can recall have had links to their writing, and so on. It's not just about their death - that's more a spur for a post about the person. The fact that you (specific you) don't find a particular topic or person interesting doesn't mean that the community doesn't.
posted by Dysk at 6:20 AM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Uh, the guy is the one on trial for murder.

Oh, my bad, I was confusing this with another thing. You're right, though, I totally found no interest in the actual links posted other than the one that talked about fetus rain.
posted by corb at 6:32 AM on April 13, 2013


You come across as a shit stirrer. That post, to me, read like a chip on a shoulder. It is the exact same shtick you pulled in the 'Shalizi-Debunking' thread, where you set yourself up as the unpleasant teller of truths to the benighted liberals.

This is a general MeFi archetype. Usually middle-aged white man with children who decides he's going to strut into Metafilter and shower all the young single MeFites who don't know a thing about life what's what.

My take on things: MeFi is not the place to promote what are essentially talking points from right-wing email forwards. The Gosnell story is just the latest in a long line of little outrages the right is upset about, starting roughly with ACORN and Solyndra before moving on to Fast and Furious and Benghazi. MeFites already generally receive plenty of email forwards from their cranky Republican uncles, so posting those little outrages-of-the-day in the blue seems redundant.
posted by deanc at 8:11 AM on April 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Are we being trolled? I honestly can never tell.

I can never tell either. And it doesn't usually bother me. I tend to take things on face value and not worry too much about the motivation of the poster. If it's interesting, I'll read it, if it isn't, I'll move on. Very occasionally, if I notice an egregious breach of the guidelines, I'll flag it.

But after reading tmotat's comment, I did wonder if this bit of taz's response was applicable here:

Sometimes it's obvious to us that certain posts are made as an effort to extend another fight, bait people, prove a point, or is part of a continuing pattern of shitstirring or soapboxing.

I don't pay enough attention to have a view one way or the other on the OP.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:13 AM on April 13, 2013


Usually middle-aged white man with children who decides he's going to strut into Metafilter and shower all the young single MeFites who don't know a thing about life what's what.

You have to watch out for those middle-aged white men with children. (you forgot "married" and "cis"). There goes the neighborhood.

If you ever start thinking that the young single MeFites are super duper smart, you might want to stop by AskMeFi sometime.

My take on things: MeFi is not the place to promote what are essentially talking points from right-wing email forwards.

Yes, they would crowd out the left wing red meat.
posted by Tanizaki at 8:27 AM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Looking through my old MeTa history, I re-discovered this excellent comment on what is likely to get flagged.
posted by deanc at 8:46 AM on April 13, 2013


taz: "There isn't a way to make ironclad guidelines that cover every possibility or combination of conditions, so we try to respond here in Metatalk about the various deletions or non-deletions as they occur in order to give people a better idea of the bigger picture. "

I, for one, appreciate the mods' recognition of the fact that rules can't cover every possibility, and that you guys are pretty steadfast in your refusal to engage in rules lawyering but rather stick to your insistence on flexible standards applied by fallible but good-faith human beings. I know it's a more difficult way to moderate a message board, but I really do think it makes for a higher-quality community. I also appreciate your willingness to put those decisions out here, again and again, for people to discuss and debate, because that is freaking exhausting.

On maybe two occasions I have said to myself, "Man, that was a bad deletion," but I have kept it to myself because I am willing to accept that the flexibility that keeps this place cool sometimes means there are mistakes or disagreements in how those flexible guidelines are applied, and I really appreciate how you guys are willing to say "this is our decision and here is why" even when I disagree with the decision rather than "these are The Rules and we must apply them equally in order to be fair even when the outcome is clearly unjust or bizarre, there is nothing we can do about it!"

Anyway. I just wanted to say I see what y'all are trying to do and I appreciate it, even on the occasions when I disagree with the outcome of it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:56 AM on April 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


You have to watch out for those middle-aged white men with children. (you forgot "married" and "cis"). There goes the neighborhood.

you know, if you're going to apologize for being snide, it helps make the apology stick if you don't turn right around and immediately start being snide again.
posted by KathrynT at 9:09 AM on April 13, 2013 [12 favorites]


Yes, they would crowd out the left wing red meat.


Is "red meat" a slang term for something? (Honestly, I googled to try and find out.)
posted by BibiRose at 9:19 AM on April 13, 2013


"Red meat" in a politics context means low-meaning but high-emotion content used in rhetoric, generally to excite and rile up one's base. The connotation is that of throwing raw bloody meat to lions, or chum to sharks. It's sort of a more bloody-minded framing of "preaching to the choir" but leaning more on the knee-jerking emotional side of possible sermon tones.

It's part of what makes "OutrageFilter" framings of things problematic; people tend not to think very critically or talk calmly or in good faith when they're all het up about things.
posted by Drastic at 9:36 AM on April 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


It didn't work for me despite that I think it's something people shouldn't forget. Similarly, I thought about posting the insanely gruesome results of the state health inspection of our area clinic. But, nothing good would come of the discussion and there would be nothing for a member to take away from it except "okay, I'll keep that in mind and possibly ask my own state health department to inspect the clinic near me." And anyone browsing years later would not find the post or the discussion interesting because it had no timelessness. That is not what Metafilter is about. I can't stand OutrageFilter and update/issue posts like these are just that but for a small minority of MetaFilter members.
posted by michaelh at 10:01 AM on April 13, 2013


Yes, they would crowd out the left wing red meat.

The issue to me is that you don't really seem to like it here, and this seems to manifest itself by you being occasionally churlish not just to individuals but sort of dissing on MeFi culture generally. Which, hey, you're welcome to do that, but it does sort of raise the "If you dislike it so much why are you here?" question in my mind. Which then goes doubly so when you make a post that seemed to all the mods to be pretty deleteworthy and then open this MeTa thread that seems to exist in many ways for you to take potshots at the community. So we're more than happy, really, to help you learn to make better posts. But sort of less psyched about just having you making post-metatalk combo shitstorms for fun. So, again, if you have sincere things you'd like to know and learn about, just let us know. Otherwise we don't really want to play this game here and we'd appreciate if you'd maybe not do that whether it's something you do on purpose or not.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:06 AM on April 13, 2013 [17 favorites]


"If you dislike it so much why are you here?" question in my mind.

I have a similar feeling about Tanizaki and have the same question in mind.
posted by sweetkid at 10:13 AM on April 13, 2013


I'm not great about remembering usernames, but I've noticed Tanizaki's. Generally I really like what Tanizaki contributes. He/she has struck me as someone who reads the links (on MeFi) or questions (on AskMe) and is genuinely responding to the individual facts, rather than answering with blanket stereotypes or using a post/question as an opportunity to segue into a different pet topic. In other words, I've gotten the impression that Tanizaki is somebody who genuinely enjoys engaging with the material on MetaFilter. That's why I've enjoyed his/her contributions so much.

Also, I don't know about the phrasing "left wing red meat" but I agree with what I perceive to be the sentiment behind it. Tanizaki was responding to a comment that said, "MeFi is not the place to promote what are essentially talking points from right-wing email forwards." I agree with that statement, yet I can't help reading it without thinking how often MeFi is the place where I'll see talking points from left-wing email forwards.
posted by cribcage at 11:24 AM on April 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


He/she has struck me as someone who reads the links (on MeFi)

I think Tanizaki makes it pretty clear on this site which gender he identifies with - do you really not know?
posted by sweetkid at 11:30 AM on April 13, 2013


"If you dislike it so much why are you here?" question in my mind.

This reminds me a lot of the "If you hate the US so much, why don't you just leave?" thing said to a lot of anti-war protesters. People who vocally dissent to something they see as problematic, but stick around, do not do so because they dislike it. They do it because they think that the thing they love could be better.
posted by corb at 11:40 AM on April 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


This reminds me a lot of the "If you hate the US so much, why don't you just leave?" thing said to a lot of anti-war protesters.

Except most anti-war protesters weren't protesting America or even the military, they were protesting their government's actions. If he just professed displeasure with the mods disregarding the wishes of large parts of the community, maybe you'd have a point. But what jessamyn seems to be talking about is someone who comes here more or less to be a shit-stirrer, acts offended when said shit-stirring is pointed out to them, and then proceeds to stir more shit...all for the sake of stirring shit. And Tanizaki seems to be doing his level best to reinforce that impression, what with the MRA posturing and the constant changing of stories and the demands that the mods write a post for him that he approves of yet also lets him grind his axe.

People who vocally dissent to something they see as problematic, but stick around, do not do so because they dislike it. They do it because they think that the thing they love could be better.

Are you not aware of the phenomenon of internet trolling? More seriously, if Tanizaki really thought that Metafilter could be better, he wouldn't be posting things that he admits were at best not very well thought out and then defending them by basically pulling the "why you liberals gotta be so sensitive" shtick. And it's something he does in a lot of the threads he posts in, often from the very first comment he posts.

He/she has struck me as someone who reads the links (on MeFi) or questions (on AskMe) and is genuinely responding to the individual facts, rather than answering with blanket stereotypes or using a post/question as an opportunity to segue into a different pet topic. In other words, I've gotten the impression that Tanizaki is somebody who genuinely enjoys engaging with the material on MetaFilter.

Yeah, a quick review of posting history doesn't really support this, especially in threads related to women's issues (abortion and body image in particular) and race, of which the current intelligence thread is a prime example.

Tanizaki was responding to a comment that said, "MeFi is not the place to promote what are essentially talking points from right-wing email forwards." I agree with that statement, yet I can't help reading it without thinking how often MeFi is the place where I'll see talking points from left-wing email forwards.

I'd love to see proof of this that doesn't try so painfully hard to conflate top-level posts with comments.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:07 PM on April 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


They do it because they think that the thing they love could be better.

Please trust that I understand that. My point in case I was not being clear is that I do not see any indication that Tanizaki actually likes it here. Unlike a nationality which has a lot of associated good and bad things associated with it, as well as being a tricky thing to just shed, affiliation with a website is 100% voluntary even for the mods. So if people show up here and act like they basically have disdain for the mods and the users and the way the place works, and since it's available to read to anyone whether they have a membership or not, I often wonder what the value of membership is to people who seem to dislike it and yet stick around.

I have a lot of critiques of the US and its politics. So much so that I actually did leave, moved abroad for a year. It was really difficult in some ways, terrific in others, and I came back to the US with a renewed sense of why I'd still like to be a citizen here. I actually think it's valid to ask people who seem to hate the US what the things are that are valuable to them, that keep them here. It can help people understand dissent and it can help dissenters understand non-dissenters.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:53 PM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Yes, they would crowd out the left wing red meat."

The food is terrible and such small portions.
posted by klangklangston at 12:57 PM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Yes, they would crowd out the left wing red meat."

Regarding meat, I just learned today (from listening to 'Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me') that the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Pork Board have announced new names for more than 350 different cuts of meat.
posted by ericb at 1:01 PM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tanizaki was responding to a comment that said, "MeFi is not the place to promote what are essentially talking points from right-wing email forwards." I agree with that statement, yet I can't help reading it without thinking how often MeFi is the place where I'll see talking points from left-wing email forwards.

I'd love to see proof of this that doesn't try so painfully hard to conflate top-level posts with comments.


Left wingers don't really use the e-mail forward method. The comparable thing would probably be left wing stories that spread on Facebook or via memes, but they usually have a higher level of content than the forwards. Red Meat was a better term, as the Gosnell story is a step above e-mail forwards anyway. Sometimes pretty thin posts with nothing but red meat like a pro-Obama political ad appear. I have no desire to examine if that is a trend or not, but it happens sometimes at least. I can't really think of any examples of pure conservative red meat here, but I think that owes to the limited conservative userbase and the desire for well framed posts that deal with controversy rather than any political bias. It's worth thinking about though, because little biases can sneak in sometimes when you aren't careful.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:12 PM on April 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


If it does, the lowly "pork chop" will be gone. Instead, grocery retailers could be stocking stacks of "porterhouse chops," "ribeye chops" and "New York chops." The pork butt - which actually comes from shoulder meat - will be called a Boston roast.

"One of our biggest challenges has been the general belief among consumers that a pork chop is a pork chop," said Fleming. "But not all pork chops are equal, and not all pork chops are priced equally."


Worst news I've heard today. How about cheap pork chop, regular pork chop, and better pork chop?
posted by michaelh at 1:36 PM on April 13, 2013


When is it ok to start calling someone a troll?
posted by OmieWise at 3:12 PM on April 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pretty much never in the blue, but in MetaTalk, discussing someone's apparent sincerity comes with the territory. It's very seldom productive, mind you.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:14 PM on April 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I agree that both the original FPP and this Meta appear to have been posted in bad faith. So perhaps this is an odd place to defend Tanazaki, but I kind of hate the idea that anyone who consistently holds an opinion which runs counter to the generally accepted Mefi view is immediately thought of as a troll. It always comes off as odd to me when opinions that are actually pretty mainstream (whether I happen to agree with them or not) and that I hear more or less everyday in my non-Mefi interactions are thought to be so crazy here that the only possible reason one could be expressing them is for kicks and giggles (since nobody could sincerely hold such a belief?).

I've read enough of Tanazaki's contributions on Mefi to where I believe questioning his overall sincerity to be a false accusation. I don't always agree with his opinions and he could definitely use to be a little kinder in some of his interactions, but I've never felt like he being less than genuine (except for portions of this thread, actually).
posted by The Gooch at 5:06 PM on April 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


Apparently I haven't read enough of his contributions to spell his username right. Sorry, Tanizaki.
posted by The Gooch at 5:08 PM on April 13, 2013


I've read enough of Tanazaki's contributions on Mefi to where I believe questioning his overall sincerity to be a false accusation.

This is why calling someone a troll is usually counterproductive. It's possible for someone to be completely and totally sincere in their beliefs, and yet be duplicitous or generally shit-stirring in their behavior, and "troll" is used to describe both insincerity of belief and insincerity of motive. It's not specific, and it's not helpful.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:27 PM on April 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


So perhaps this is an odd place to defend Tanazaki, but I kind of hate the idea that anyone who consistently holds an opinion which runs counter to the generally accepted Mefi view is immediately thought of as a troll.

I absolutely agree, The Gooch.

The issue to me is that you don't really seem to like it here, and this seems to manifest itself by you being occasionally churlish not just to individuals but sort of dissing on MeFi culture generally. Which, hey, you're welcome to do that, but it does sort of raise the "If you dislike it so much why are you here?" question in my mind.

Not to speak for Tanizaki (who could very well think I am one of those stupid young people on Ask), but only for myself, because I get really frustrated with MeFi culture sometimes, despite not being far off from the prevailing view on most topics.

There are not many places online where you can have really substantive, intelligent discussions on so many different topics with such a large and diverse number of people. In fact, I don't know of any others at all. (There are subreddits I really like but they are small and really focused). I like that people aren't allowed to troll, call names, or behave badly in those kinds of ways.

BUT, it is really frustrating to watch when a person who is saying something that other users strongly disagree with or just don't want to hear is deemed to be behaving badly, just because they continue to think what they think instead of capitulating to what everyone else thinks they should think.

That is a feature of MeFi culture and sometimes it makes it feel pointless to participate here, for me. I don't seek out other people to talk to online just so I can have my own opinions echoed back to me and be in a happy bubble. There are many times when I look for opposing opinions and thoughts because I already am familiar with my own opinions and thoughts and what they are. There are times when I search out the experience of having someone who is much smarter than I am absolutely take apart something that I was sure I was completely right about. I'm not sure I would find that here on most topics, not because I am so smart but because the smart people who disagree with me on those topics wouldn't hang around here, I don't think.

You can dislike a lot about the way the culture operates here sometimes, and how certain people think, and still find much to enjoy about it, and still try to nudge it back in the other direction.
posted by cairdeas at 9:34 PM on April 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


BUT, it is really frustrating to watch when a person who is saying something that other users strongly disagree with or just don't want to hear is deemed to be behaving badly, just because they continue to think what they think instead of capitulating to what everyone else thinks they should think.

While this does happen from time to time, overall I think people are deemed to be behaving badly because they are behaving badly.

There are areas where I land pretty far out of the Metafilter mainstream. On occasion, although not always, when threads touch on those topics I comment. Two or three times in the 10 years I've hung around this place I've been accused of trolling, but I've never once been called a troll.

Let me share with you two insane beliefs I have:

1) The question of when human life begins is completely philosophical and the "somewhere between between zero and six months" measure that the pro-choice side seizes on is every bit as arbitrary as the "glint in the daddy's eye" measure that the pro-life side uses.

2) (this is the really insane part) With care and respect it is possible to discuss my point of view in a thread on Metafilter.

Abortion is a deeply emotional topic around here. You can't just leap in -- in fact it's vital *not* to come out of the gate swinging. There is, no doubt about it, a heavier onus on people who have controversial opinions and want to be heard. But it can be done and it is being done on a regular basis.

Where people get into trouble is when through either lack of knowledge or inclination they go plowing right into a sensitive area. Not only do they not get heard but they also piss a bunch of people off in the process.

When that happens so often that the person actually becomes known for it is when the troll accusations come out.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:18 PM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree with your overall point, but "controversial" is a relative term; what's controversial in one community, isn't in another. Let's be honest about MetaFilter: There is a heavier onus here on people who have pro-life opinions and want to be heard.
posted by cribcage at 10:22 PM on April 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm willing to be honest about that. There's a commonly held position on metafilter about abortion. It's not hard, even as a new user to divine that position. It's pretty much out there for all to see. If you want to discuss that position, especially to challenge it, you have to do so on the community's terms.

Tanizaki knew he was writing a post that would be unpopular on Metafilter, when he could have created one that would have actually sparked the conversation he wanted to have. All his feigning innocence in this thread hasn't fooled anyone. He knows what this website expects. And yeah, if he doesn't like it, he should leave.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 10:29 PM on April 13, 2013


If you want to discuss that position, especially to challenge it, you have to do so on the community's terms.

I think that's accurate. But if I understand the point that cairdeas and Tell Me No Lies were making, the trouble is with what the community's terms are. For example, let's say you do want to discuss a controversial opinion—pro-life, opposed to gay marriage, whatever. Here's what will happen.

Your first comment will elicit many responses. Assuming you want to actually converse, you have two choices: Try to answer everybody, or pick and choose. It doesn't really matter which path you take, because each additional comment you post will elicit many more responses. The thread will, by sheer volume, become about you. This is a bad thing, so moderators will tell everyone—you included—to knock it off.

The next time the subject comes up, you chime in with your opinion (relevant to the FPP, we'll assume), and the cycle repeats. And again. Now it becomes known around MetaFilter that when you participate in threads about [topic], the thread becomes about you. So members accuse you of trolling, and moderators ask you to stay out of threads about [topic].

This is how MetaFilter quashes dissent.

And for the record, I don't mean to suggest that the moderators' role is malicious or partisan. It genuinely is a problem when threads become entirely about one person's opinion, and I don't think there's an easy solution. In general, I think moderators should be heavier about telling the crowd not to gang up and lighter about telling the dissenter to back off, but I don't know how easy that is to do and I don't know how effective it would be. I'm not sure it's possible to do without substantially increasing the degree of moderation that happens here.
posted by cribcage at 11:17 PM on April 13, 2013 [14 favorites]


cribcage wrote...
The next time the subject comes up, you chime in with your opinion (relevant to the FPP, we'll assume)

The situation you're mentioning here is what was on my mind when I wrote:

On occasion, although not always, when threads touch on those topics I comment.

There definitely is some reputation management to be done. I have an opinion, but I don't want to be that guy who will always show up with a predictable response when a topic is mentioned.

In all though I do agree with you about natural tendency of the one person with an outlying opinion to become the focus of a thread and I think you've described the mechanism pretty well.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:54 PM on April 13, 2013


I don't want to be that guy who will always show up with a predictable response when a topic is mentioned.

(unless you post a metatalk bitching that your social-injustice-o-the-day post was taken down in which case I will be there with zanni's rule of thumb. Every time. I can't stop myself. It's a thing.)
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:57 PM on April 13, 2013


There's a commonly held position on metafilter about abortion. It's not hard, even as a new user to divine that position. It's pretty much out there for all to see. If you want to discuss that position, especially to challenge it, you have to do so on the community's terms.

But not all of us in the community insist that others discuss or challenge our positions or ideas "on our terms." So people are not being held to "the community's terms." People are being held to the terms of a subset of community members who happen to be part of the majority view, and insist that things can only be talked about in the way they want, or ideally not at all.

He knows what this website expects. And yeah, if he doesn't like it, he should leave.

If everyone who "doesn't like" the commonly held position on a given topic has to only talk about it on controlling people's terms or leave, then they will all leave (a ton of them already have!). When that happens, "conversations" on most topics will be nothing more than mutual masturbation, and I will leave too.
posted by cairdeas at 11:58 PM on April 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


"This is why calling someone a troll is usually counterproductive. It's possible for someone to be completely and totally sincere in their beliefs, and yet be duplicitous or generally shit-stirring in their behavior, and "troll" is used to describe both insincerity of belief and insincerity of motive. It's not specific, and it's not helpful."

hi my name is bevets would you like to touch my bible
posted by klangklangston at 1:41 AM on April 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Your first comment will elicit many responses. Assuming you want to actually converse, you have two choices: Try to answer everybody, or pick and choose. It doesn't really matter which path you take, because each additional comment you post will elicit many more responses. The thread will, by sheer volume, become about you. This is a bad thing, so moderators will tell everyone—you included—to knock it off.

I have quite a lot of views and opinions that can evoke this response. When it happens, I've tended to find that the best way of dealing with it is making a single comment that deals with the most important and most critical responses, and then retiring. At most, I might make one additional follow-up comment -- most often for clarification.

I'm resigned to the fact that I'm unlikely to change anybody's mind, and continuing to argue the same stuff gets repetitive and boring -- for me, as well as for any poor sap who happens to be reading my nonsense.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:58 AM on April 14, 2013


I've sometimes seen the one comment method be attacked as a "hit and run" type derail attempt. Not lately though, which is a good sign.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:14 AM on April 14, 2013


Sorry, I meant I'd make a single follow-up comment, not just making a single comment and not staying to defend it or expand on it.

Once you get into trying to answer everything, you either look defensive, or like your hogging the conversation and neither are good.

But I agree that even single comments shouldn't be regarded as a derail. People have lives outside the internet. Some of the time, anyway.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:50 AM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


So members accuse you of trolling, and moderators ask you to stay out of threads about [topic].

We're very very cautious about doing this, actually. We have, to the best of my knowledge only asked people in advance to "please stay out of threads on X topic" less than a handful of times, ever. What we do say is "Hey it seems like X topic is sort of a hot button one for you. It's sort of important that threads about X topic not turn into you fighting with everyone about your own personal views on the subject and everyone else interrogating you about them. So it's important to be mindful of your place in the discussion so that the threads don't always becomes $THE_USERNAME show. You can manage this on your own but if you can't we'll have to manage it for you."

We do almost no pre-chilling the way people think we do; we do an awful lot of "Hey you seem to be getting sticky on this topic in this thread and it might be a good idea to dial it back some" stuff (with people whose opinions are all over the map in terms of aligning with whatever a MeFi-centrist viewpoint might be) and we very often tell people "You are being aggressive/hostile/jerkish in this thread and need to be a little less so, maybe give the thread a rest for a bit and come back"

With most people suggestions are either met with "Oh okay" or "I don't really see it that way" or "What about the other people doing the same thing?" but in some cases they're met with "Oh yeah YOU'RE part of the problem and RARARARARR" sorts of responses. Keep in mind, these are non-public discussions we're having where we're privately trying to talk to people about how they can continue their interactions in the thread, not generally telling them to step off. If this sort of thing doesn't work or if stuff is moving too quickly for us to have time to do that, pretty much only then will we make a public "Hey cool it" statement in a thread. This is rare, this is usually when we're tried a number of other things, and this is something we'd prefer not to do. But someone, anyone, making the thread all about them is ungreat community behavior.

The fact that some people's opinions are more likely to start this sort of snowball effect in other users is one thing, but we have many many people with opinions that aren't middle-of-the-road here and most of them manage to not have this thing happen. And we have some people who manage to do this take-on-all-comers thing frequently, sometimes showing up with talking points that aren't even seemingly the topic of the thread (seemingly) just so they can argue points with the community. And I get that for some people really vigorous "let's scrap about this" debate is really fun and lively and we try not to get in the way of anything that isn't basically turning into name calling and/or a pile-on.

However it's my deeply held belief that people can hold whatever opinions they want here and still find ways to interact with the community as a non-homogenous community not as a group of jerks who need to be taught a lesson/schooled/whatever. The fact that a few people don't seem to be able to effectively do that here has more to do with their style of interaction and less to do about whatever opinions they hold. The people who have opinions that seem non middle-of-the-road here AND who have this problematic way of having discussions about them are the ones that attract the most attention, but there are a bunch of other users who have opinions all over the map who manage to engage in discussions here without getting everyone mad.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:35 AM on April 14, 2013


If everyone who "doesn't like" the commonly held position on a given topic has to only talk about it on controlling people's terms or leave, then they will all leave

I'd just like to restate that this is not my experience as someone who doesn't like a number of commonly held positions.

In any case I think you may be conflating talking in people's terms with agreeing with them. They are very much not the same thing. The first is a matter of language: "Do these people speak French, German, or Spanish?" The second is a matter of content: "No matter what language they speak, soccer is still the most boring sport on the planet."

Each side of the abortion debate has a very rich dialect that reflects history and attitudes and presuppositions. Words take on whole different meanings. They're basically different languages.

What all this means to me is that if you show up on the largely pro-choice Metafilter and insist on speaking the pro-life dialect you are doubly screwed:

1) you're going piss some people off, but more importantly
2) you're speaking German to a bunch of Spaniards.

So not only have you pissed people off, you've done so in a way such that 90% of them won't really understand what you were trying to say anyway.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:49 AM on April 14, 2013


I'd love to see Tanizaki or any of the folks who still think there was a liberal conspiracy of silence on the Gosnell case address the point raised in zombieflanders' link to this Salon article: On Gosnell “blackout,” where were conservatives before this week?

It seem pretty clear that the local Philly press, a handful of concerned activists on both sides of the political spectrum, and an equally small number of reports in 'conservative' and 'liberal' national outlets covered the case before last week. Where's the evidence for a liberal conspiracy of silence when the silence from conservative media outlets was exactly as obvious?

I'm glad Powers wrote her screed if that's what it took to get this horrific story to my immediate attention, and more reporters digging into the complete, disgusting failure of oversight on the part of Pennsylvania authorities. But Powers clearly makes accusations that aren't supported by reality, and Tanizaki's post unquestioningly accepting Powers' ridiculously partisan framing of a deeply troubling news story was a terrible move. Gosnell's many victims deserve better.
posted by mediareport at 8:59 AM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shorter version: if Fox News had been hammering on the Gosnell case since the trial's opening statements on March 18, you can bet CNN and MSNBC would have quickly followed. Fox wasn't hammering, though.

Why not? Why the conservative conspiracy of silence on the Kermit Gosnell case?
posted by mediareport at 9:03 AM on April 14, 2013


> I kind of hate the idea that anyone who consistently holds an opinion which runs counter to the generally accepted Mefi view is immediately thought of as a troll.

But that's not true. I have frequently defended members who hold "an opinion which runs counter to the generally accepted Mefi view" (and to mine, usually); I think it's important to have as many points of view as possible represented and force everyone to think about objections to their own, often lazily held, views. But just holding an unpopular view doesn't automatically make you a fine MeFite; people are objecting not to Tanizaki's views but to his jerkish behavior, which he seems completely uninterested in modifying.
posted by languagehat at 9:12 AM on April 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


I have quite a lot of views and opinions that can evoke this response. When it happens, I've tended to find that the best way of dealing with it is making a single comment that deals with the most important and most critical responses, and then retiring. At most, I might make one additional follow-up comment -- most often for clarification.

This is related to my "repeat myself three times" rule. I can't emphasize how much that rule has improved my enjoyment of the site.
posted by immlass at 9:22 AM on April 14, 2013


you're speaking German to a bunch of Spaniards

One thing I think that people have a hard time grasping is that MeFites (and others) have likely heard the spiel over and over again to the point where they know it well and the reintroduction of said spiel is no more compelling than, "HAVE YOU HEARD THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST?" I feel the same way about people who feel the need to chime in with libertarian talking points when he topic comes to stories about treatment of employees, as if they are providing some huge revelation to us that there are people on the side of wealth and power. Everyone would agree that responding to posts or creating FPPs that all focused on how the REAL answer is converting to the One True Faith that I Am Going To Tell You About would be poor form on MeFi. These sort of talking point outbursts are no different.

There has to be some aspect of newness here. Some pro-lifer's talking points are not really valuable. They are perceived by their advocates as "breaking through the echo chamber" but are actually things that readers are already quite familiar with and have had enough of-- their repetition does not add anything new.

The Gosnell case is actually being hashed out this week on a few conservative blogs I read. Like most conservatives, they were uninterested in this case until this week. Discussion of, "the liberal media is covering this up!" is the sort of discussion that needs to go on among their readership because that is the sort of thing their readership enjoys. Less so here on MeFi, whose identity is less wrapped up in "what the liberal media is hiding from you" kind of stories that you see from conservatives. There are plenty of blogs that fulfill that niche, so I don't see why MeFi is specifically obligated to work within that niche subculture as well.
posted by deanc at 10:18 AM on April 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


The most insightful observation about the problems with media coverage of this story I've seen comes from Philly Weekly's Tara Murtha: "These journos ignored #Gosnell story same reason DOH, hospitals, inspectors, etc. ignored his crimes: victims poor brown & black women."
posted by sudama at 10:28 AM on April 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


More: "If you’re surprised that in the face of politicized stigma, lack of public funding or good information, and a morass of restrictive laws allegedly meant to protect women, the vacuum was filled by a monster — well, the most generous thing I can say is that you haven’t been paying attention."
posted by sudama at 10:31 AM on April 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd love to see Tanizaki or any of the folks who still think there was a liberal conspiracy of silence on the Gosnell case address the point raised in zombieflanders' link to this Salon article: On Gosnell “blackout,” where were conservatives before this week?

That's definitely an example of something that would be worth discussing in the blue if the post had remained.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:13 AM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are plenty of blogs that fulfill that niche, so I don't see why MeFi is specifically obligated to work within that niche subculture as well.

I don't know about obligated, but I definitely would rather belong to a community where everything (handled respectfully) is fair game.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:38 AM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Drinky Die, you or anyone else is free to make a post about the story without the opinionated partisan framing that came with the first attempt.
posted by mediareport at 12:17 PM on April 14, 2013


I agree, folks who want to discuss their opinions on this matter should consider making such a post.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:19 PM on April 14, 2013


However it's my deeply held belief that people can hold whatever opinions they want here and still find ways to interact with the community as a non-homogenous community not as a group of jerks who need to be taught a lesson/schooled/whatever. The fact that a few people don't seem to be able to effectively do that here has more to do with their style of interaction and less to do about whatever opinions they hold.

I've got to completely disagree, Jessamyn. I have seen over, over and over that on certain topics, one user is calmly and civilly stating a non-majority view, while users with the majority view fall all over themselves to school that person, and let them know what a jerk and a piece of shit they are. If the person with the non-majority view tries to sincerely engage those people, it is met with more of the same, and then the person is blamed for making the thread all about them and asked to dial it back! I've seen quite a few instances where there is *NOTHING* the person could have done to change their "style of interaction" and avoid the pile-on. If pile-ons are bad, the people doing the piling should be the ones asked to dial it back. I've seen that request made a few times, but always in combination with asking the person with the minority view to cool it - even when there has been nothing problematic about the *way* that person has stated their thoughts, only that they continue to participate in the thread while continuing to hold their minority view.
posted by cairdeas at 9:05 PM on April 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


If the person with the non-majority view tries to sincerely engage those people, it is met with more of the same, and then the person is blamed for making the thread all about them and asked to dial it back! I've seen quite a few instances where there is *NOTHING* the person could have done to change their "style of interaction" and avoid the pile-on.

One thing I've learned is that, by trying to address each and every person who addresses my opinion, I am indeed making the thread "all about me." The thing I can do to avoid that is state my opinion and accept that it is in the minority, and not try to give my minority opinion equal weight in the discussion by explaining it over and over. It doesn't work, and it is disruptive.

Another thing I've learned is that a person who holds a majority opinion has just as much right to express it here as I do. If there are more of them, it will be expressed more often. They have no obligation to commune before-hand in some Majority Opinion Forum to decide who gets to express that opinion and who doesn't. Such individual actions might feel like a pile-on to me. But it seems to me like the only other option is outright moderator action to give "equal time" to all opinions, and that doesn't seem fair or in the spirit of Metafilter.

(Given that I'm a bleeding-heart liberal, some may be surprised that I ever hold a minority view here, but it does indeed happen!)
posted by muddgirl at 9:13 PM on April 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I agree with you too, muddgirl.
posted by cairdeas at 9:15 PM on April 14, 2013


All that being said, my impression is that the number of people, no matter their politics, who have been asked to sit out of a thread is very, very low. People aren't asked to sit out of a thread just for repeating an unpopular opinion and drawing a pile-on.
posted by muddgirl at 9:26 PM on April 14, 2013


Poster wrote in comment #1068354">> If you ever start thinking that the young single MeFites are super duper smart, you might want to stop by AskMeFi sometime.

Oh good grief, it's not a zero sum game or a competition or a mutually exclusive dichotomy.
posted by desuetude at 9:30 PM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The fact that some people's opinions are more likely to start this sort of snowball effect in other users is one thing, but we have many many people with opinions that aren't middle-of-the-road here and most of them manage to not have this thing happen

I think there may be manymany people with opinions that "aren't middle of the road", but that doesn't really go far enough in expressing just how deeply some people's opinions are not just disagreed with, but outright loathed, to the extent that even stating them calmly is enough to make a lot of people see red. Even if these opinions are, in fact, quite normal in the non-Metafilter world. Metafilter may have many views, but it does not have many strong libertarians, evangelicals, or strong pro-life or conservative religious voices, for example.

I think there's a real difference between people who sort of vaguely think there may be something to these more conservative ideals - Blue Dog Democrat type stuff - and people who firmly and strongly hold very conservative views, or views considered to be much more conservative than the general spectrum of MeFites. The former it seems that MeFites can tolerate quite well and even sometimes companionably. But the latter, it seems that often there is a position taken of, "If you can't convert, demonize."
posted by corb at 11:10 PM on April 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


One thing I've learned is that, by trying to address each and every person who addresses my opinion, I am indeed making the thread "all about me."

And if you don't address each and every person, those whom you have not blessed with a response will proclaim, "why don't you respond to me? ah ha!"
posted by Tanizaki at 6:31 AM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


As a general phenomenon, people expecting a take-on-all-comers dynamic to continue after someone's established an inclination to participate is totally a thing, yes, and it's problematic on both sides. My advice to folks in that position is to accept that sometimes people will end up pressuring you in aggregate to respond even when it's better that you walk away, and to just be okay with walking away anyway. If someone's a little bit of a jerk about you not responding when you probably shouldn't be responding, that's a bummer but oh well.

In the specific example cited, it was actually a pretty on-point question that Eyebrows McGee had that you had in fact kind of conspicuously not responded to in a thread here that you started specifically in theory to address your dissatisfaction about the subject they were asking you to elaborate your thoughts on. So it's an exceptionally poor example of what you're using it as an example of.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:44 AM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


it was actually a pretty on-point question

I have no idea what the adjective "on-point" is supposed to mean here. Since you have taken up the defense of Eyebrows, in what what do you think her question was so "on-point" that I hadn't already addressed it? I am in the question and answer business, and "asked and answered" exists. You have to do better than "but you didn't answer MY question!"
posted by Tanizaki at 6:51 AM on April 15, 2013


It is, however, a pretty great example of the actual use of this MeTa, and Tanizaki's divergence from his stated goals.

Oh man! When people don't do what they say they are doing, it is very confusing! I had better not think about why someone would mis-state their reasons for doing something, that's dangerous territory.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:54 AM on April 15, 2013


Tanizaki responded to a question about why someone would need to hear about this by comparing it to other cases of mass murder like those at Newtown and Sandy Hook. Though why he finds it interesting is a slightly different question, I think we could easily infer the answer. In that context, I don't think McGee's repeated questions, including repeated accusations of bad faith and rudeness, really needed direct answering if Tanizaki was trying to avoid a hostile taking on all comers atmosphere.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:01 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have no idea what the adjective "on-point" is supposed to mean here.

It means "relating to the point or topic of the discussion". You started a Metatalk in response to the deletion of a post you made; Eyebrows was asking for a clearer picture from you of what your goals were with the idea of posting compared to what came across in the post you made.

I appreciate that you feel like you'd already answered that question. It was not at all clear to me, though, that you had really answered it clearly, and since the disconnect between the framing of the post you made and the notion of your interest in other aspects of the story than the ones you framed your post around seemed pretty central to the discussion I can understand Eyebrows asking.

That's pretty much the whole thing: this wasn't someone buttonholing you on some obscure hobbyhorse, it was someone trying to understand your basic and not really clarified-to-people-outside-your-head sense of your goals for a notional post that would work better than the one you actually made, in the thread you started to talk about that situation. It's completely okay for you to feel like it's something you'd answered sufficiently; it's completely okay for someone else to disagree; sometimes people will just not see eye to eye on something like that and that's fine as far as it goes; but as an example of a larger phenomenon of a group of people unreasonably collectively demanding personal responses from someone it's just not a very good example, when you brought it up basically as an example of that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:06 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know I've also faced a "Why didn't you answer X person's point? Are you cleverly trying to avoid addressing it?" sort of stance, though I'd have to dig through a lot of threads to find specific examples. And it is, indeed, really hard to both respond to people's questions, /and/ to try to make sure you're posting in a "restrained" manner so as to avoid being tagged with a "take all comers" attitude. If fifteen people make different statements, it is impossible to respond to each and every one of them without hopelessly diverting the thread.

I think people are often asked to walk away, as without their presence, people can't (or shouldn't) continue attacking them, but that also does lead to less of those particular views, as whenever they return, it's like a fight that has only been put on pause. (For example, this thing about Tanizaki, where people are referencing past experiences with Tanizaki that are obviously unresolved)
posted by corb at 7:14 AM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh good grief, it's not a zero sum game or a competition or a mutually exclusive dichotomy.

Not to mention selection bias: presumably the people who are extremely professionally clueful about their goals and adept at managing their relationships with family and romantic partners are not coming to AskMe. And it is an inability to understand how selection bias works that is a red flag indicating a lacking in smarts.

Certain times, someone says something that really does make me see red and I get all fighty ("go for a walk" is probably good advice for me, here). For the most part, unless I can contribute some kind of insider perspective on an issue, the truth is that no one really needs to hear my special snowflake beliefs on every single matter.

"Outrage filter", when it makes it past the mods, is a place for people to express their feelings of outrage with each other. If I'm not outraged for feel their outrage is misplaced, I don't necessarily feel I need to come in and say, "I am not outraged by this, and I am offended at all of you for thinking you should be outraged, which you would realize, too, if you were a smart, mature grownup like I am!" If you think a MeFi topic is dumb and that MeFites are dumb for expressing their (liberal) beliefs about one thing or another, generally it's best to let them be.
posted by deanc at 7:29 AM on April 15, 2013


it does sort of raise the "If you dislike it so much why are you here?" question in my mind.

I am curious to know how you square this comment with the previous advice you gave me to "be the change I wanted to see on MetaFilter". I took your advice seriously. You can decide for yourself how well that advice works in practice.

It has been mentioned in several comments but I thought this was perhaps the most eloquent. While some will deny it to their dying breath, there is an accepted Standard Model here. That in itself is not a problem. Where it become a problem is that the slack one is cut depends on one's adherence to the Standard Model. Forget about "churlish" - one can be outright nasty if one is in keeping with the favored orthodoxy. On the other side of this coin, an unorthodox position had better be stated with eyes deferentially cast down unless you want to be warned about "tone". Snark is rewarded so long as one has staked the orthodox position, as the favorite counts bear witness.

This latitude applies to the content of the post as well. I congratulate this website, for howtofinddealer is now a MeFi tag. What took so long?
posted by Tanizaki at 7:30 AM on April 15, 2013


Tanizaki responded to a question about why someone would need to hear about this by comparing it to other cases of mass murder like those at Newtown and Sandy Hook. Though why he finds it interesting is a slightly different question, I think we could easily infer the answer.

Except that's not at all what Tanizaki was talking about, nor what Eyebrows McGee was asking for. Here's EC's question:
Tanizaki, what about it do you think is notable or interesting, other than "horrible person does horrible things" or the partisan axe-grinding that you went with? It's certainly lurid, but that doesn't necessarily make for a good metafilter post.
and the answer:
To me, the story is of interest (and yes, I read the grand jury report when it came out in 2011) because of how it happened. This wasn't the typical "bad person does bad stuff". This went on for years in a facility open to the public and subject to state regulation. Maybe you think that is not enough to interest you, but I do not see how you can argue that it is not of interest to me. It is.
And yet, the post isn't talking about the case per se, it's talking about the supposed "liberal media" response. And while the MeTa seems to just be asking why it was deleted, the tags are "media abortion msm" and therefore muddies the waters significantly. Combine that with the various digressions into Trayvon Martin and Chik-fil-a and a dose of extremely snide MRA talking points (none of which are directly comparable, as was pointed out to him), the inference is far less "I have a stance but made a poor post about it" and more "I don't care about the post's content anywhere near as much as I do raising a stink."
posted by zombieflanders at 7:34 AM on April 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


This latitude applies to the content of the post as well. I congratulate this website, for howtofinddealer is now a MeFi tag. What took so long?

If you have issues with the fact that people ask questions about marijuana on Ask MetaFilter, just say that and we can have a discussion about it. Otherwise, again, you seem to me to be acting like my neighbors in Seattle who would look out the window every morning and say "Raining? AGAIN??" as if they expected the place to be different than what it is and were in a state of continual disappointment. If you are being the change you want to see on MetaFilter, that's terrific. That's not how it's been looking to my eyes.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:43 AM on April 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


my neighbors in Seattle who would look out the window every morning and say "Raining? AGAIN??" as if they expected the place to be different than what it is and were in a state of continual disappointment

Oh man I know those people.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:46 AM on April 15, 2013


Except that's not at all what Tanizaki was talking about, nor what Eyebrows McGee was asking for.

I believe I accurately paraphrased both of them. You have to understand that McGee assumed immediately before even participating here that the purpose of the FPP was a bad faith effort intentionally posted so it could be deleted to bring over to Meta. This was reflected in an accusation that he was possibly intentionally using misinformation to make a point prior to the question we are discussing even being asked.

I'm not saying it was not worthwhile to get to the bottom of exactly what Tanizaki was going for, just that if you are trying to avoid hostility when talking with the Mefi crowd it can be a good idea to skip over questions coming from a hostile source that is, at best, skeptical of your good faith.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:49 AM on April 15, 2013


More to the point, its our job here to try to set people's expectations. So people who come and complain about swearing on the front page on MetaFilter or Ask MetaFilter and who ask for moderator or community remedies for that may be told "That's actually not likely to happen, but here are some ways you could mitigate the situation so that it worked better for you personally"

Questions about marijuana are allowed and we have some loose guidelines about the limits on those which we'd be happy to talk about if you asked. If you think they should not be allowed, come here and have an open conversation about it. Making shirty sideways comments linking to something you appear not to like just makes you seem like 1) you're not acting in good faith 2) you're as snarky as the next person, if not more so 3) you don't really like it here. There's no way to give a direct response to that sort of comment and yet as a moderator it's sort of my job to try to ascertain what your issue is and try to help out with it even if it's just saying "Well what you want is unlikely to happen"

I don't care about your politics personally. I do care about how people act, particularly in Ask MetaFilter. If folks want to be helpful and give people advice, whether that advice reflects their own slant on the issue that may be different from what other people are offering, that's fine. What people can't do is offer sneering dismissing lectures that call the OP names and then act like we have an issue with the content of their comments. That's simply not the case.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:54 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Where it become a problem is that the slack one is cut depends on one's adherence to the Standard Model. Forget about "churlish" - one can be outright nasty if one is in keeping with the favored orthodoxy.

As I pointed out earlier, however, you yourself are acting in a sort of archetypal fashion within the Standard Model, one which you are self-consciously and purposefully adopting-- the character of the foil, the brave truthteller, the "adult in the room", etc. There were those who played that role before you came here, and there will be others to replace you in that role after you're gone.

One thing I've learned from MeFi is that there are a lot of people who simply aren't like me and more to the point they're not looking for my advice about how to become more like me. They're people just trying to live their life the best they know how within the parameters of their own identity and lives. jessamyn is on point here-- if you want to have a discussion more friendly to middle aged conservatives where people's problems and questions are more in keeping with the problems and questions faced by middle aged conservative professionals with families who live in the suburbs, hang out there!
posted by deanc at 7:58 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you have issues with the fact that people ask questions about marijuana on Ask MetaFilter, just say that and we can have a discussion about it.

Please allow me to be more direct with you. I do not understand how "help me find a drug dealer"is not violative of the policy against "questions asking how to do things that are illegal or borderline illegal". A good hint was that the OP said "I know this is illegal so please do not lecture me about that". Whether or not marijuana should be legal or at least decriminalized in the United States is a topic upon which reasonable minds can disagree. However, there is no disagreement about the fact that right now, it is illegal. While I am not a fan of questions to the effect of "hey, what are some good munchy foods to eat with my weed", this was a question that was specifically about trafficking. To take your rainy Seattle analogy to its conclusion, do you expect that "how to" questions about drug trafficking are common here? What other sorts of contraband trafficking questions are common?

I would expect a question "help me find a drug dealer" to receive the same treatment of "help me find a dealer in guns with the serial numbers filed off". In other words, deletion, unless "illegal" means something different than what I think it means.
posted by Tanizaki at 8:04 AM on April 15, 2013


I would expect a question "help me find a drug dealer" to receive the same treatment of "help me find a dealer in guns with the serial numbers filed off". In other words, deletion, unless "illegal" means something different than what I think it means.

Please refer to Eyebrows McGee's excellent comment:
I, for one, appreciate the mods' recognition of the fact that rules can't cover every possibility, and that you guys are pretty steadfast in your refusal to engage in rules lawyering but rather stick to your insistence on flexible standards applied by fallible but good-faith human beings. I know it's a more difficult way to moderate a message board, but I really do think it makes for a higher-quality community. I also appreciate your willingness to put those decisions out here, again and again, for people to discuss and debate, because that is freaking exhausting.

On maybe two occasions I have said to myself, "Man, that was a bad deletion," but I have kept it to myself because I am willing to accept that the flexibility that keeps this place cool sometimes means there are mistakes or disagreements in how those flexible guidelines are applied, and I really appreciate how you guys are willing to say "this is our decision and here is why" even when I disagree with the decision rather than "these are The Rules and we must apply them equally in order to be fair even when the outcome is clearly unjust or bizarre, there is nothing we can do about it!"
I think it also helps, particularly if you have a conservative temperament, to realize that essentially "life is unfair." Sometimes that means that one person lives in bonecrushing, soul-destroying poverty and means that their work destroys their spirit and their body while someone with a similar work ethic and intellect lives his life healthy and wealthy, though neither person did anything "wrong." And in some cases it may mean that questions about the social etiquette of finding someone to sell you marijuana get left to stand while questions about how to engage in illegal arms dealing and fraud are deleted. We all have our crosses to bear.
posted by deanc at 8:08 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


chick-fil-a has nothing to do with abortion and smoking a little weed has nothing to do with buying illegal firearms. it's like you're allergic to making a clear point and sticking with it.
posted by nadawi at 8:21 AM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


unless "illegal" means something different than what I think it means.

That's our loose guideline for AskMe: "Questions may be deleted if they're asking how to do something that's illegal" However there's a wide range to what we do and do not allow and the ultimate decision point is "Is this likely to cause the site, and specifically Matt, a lot of problems" so we're pretty hardass about disallowing stuff like "Help me find and download cracked software" questions but we're a lot more relaxed about "Help me figure out this visa/INS situation" and, yes "Help me figure out how a person who is not in college buys weed"

Any anon question has specifically been vetted by a mod (barring after the fact anonymized questions which we're pretty careful with) so the fact that it's been approved means that it's okay with at least me and more likely most of us. Again, I get that the "loose guidelines enforced by humans" way we do things here may not be to everyone's liking but we're very very accessible so if people have issues with things we'd prefer they just asked about it and didn't just take swipes at the community in general.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:28 AM on April 15, 2013


As I pointed out earlier, however, you yourself are acting in a sort of archetypal fashion within the Standard Model, one which you are self-consciously and purposefully adopting-- the character of the foil, the brave truthteller, the "adult in the room", etc. There were those who played that role before you came here, and there will be others to replace you in that role after you're gone.

Hear, hear!
posted by sweetkid at 8:38 AM on April 15, 2013


I do not understand how "help me find a drug dealer"is not violative of the policy against "questions asking how to do things that are illegal or borderline illegal".

Well, for one thing, marijuana isn't illegal everywhere. It isn't illegal in my state, for example, but the exact legalities around buying and selling (as opposed to using) are still being hashed out, and the specifics are changing every day. So if I wanted to acquire some marijuana -- which, again, is perfectly legal -- I might Ask Metafilter what the best way is to do that in my state right now.
posted by KathrynT at 8:40 AM on April 15, 2013


I know one thing that oughta be illegal and that's moving the damn goalposts all over the damn place.
posted by rtha at 8:44 AM on April 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


It isn't illegal in my state, for example

Because of the federal laws the sale is still illegal everywhere in the US. Moderator discretion for this sort of thing is definitely a very positive feature.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:45 AM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Questions may be deleted if they're asking how to do something that's illegal

Emphasis specifically on may. It's a point of confusion that as Jess has suggested comes up sometimes from people having differing expectations about what is and should be allowed on the site, but the issue is more that stuff that lands in legally tricky territory is also often, but not always, stuff that's just not a good idea for Ask, either as a workable question or something we feel comfortable having around from a site liability point of view.

Related but from the flip side, we'll pretty routinely remove questions that are primarily of the form "help me plot revenge on someone" regardless of whether that notional plot would be presumably totally legal or whatever. The nature and context of the request is a more primary factor in most of this stuff than the question of possible illegality per se.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:50 AM on April 15, 2013


Agreed on the goalpost moving, and I'm sorry I contributed to the derail. I still have no idea, hundreds of comments later, what Tanizaki hoped to accomplish with his now-deleted post, only that he has reluctantly disavowed the only reasonable interpretation and is grumpy because sometimes people ask questions that he finds icky.
posted by KathrynT at 8:53 AM on April 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Tanizaki wanted to know why his post about XYZ was deleted; people pointed out that he actually made a post about ABC; he acknowledged that he had not made the post he says he intended to make. So maybe this can be closed up?
posted by rtha at 9:12 AM on April 15, 2013


[Marijuana] isn't illegal in my state, for example, but the exact legalities around buying and selling (as opposed to using) are still being hashed out

Wait. I get it! :-)
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:40 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


if you want to have a discussion more friendly to middle aged conservatives where people's problems and questions are more in keeping with the problems and questions faced by middle aged conservative professionals with families who live in the suburbs, hang out there!

Is this site not supposed to be friendly to middle aged conservative professionals with families who live in the suburbs? I mean, my rough read is that the site often reads slightly younger than and urban, but there are plenty of questions about suburbs and families and professionals and middleaged people. There are a few about conservatives. But I thought we were actively trying to be a diverse community?
posted by corb at 10:52 AM on April 15, 2013


'More' is a relative term.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:14 AM on April 15, 2013


"Please allow me to be more direct with you. I do not understand how "help me find a drug dealer"is not violative of the policy against "questions asking how to do things that are illegal or borderline illegal"."

Man, you just don't get the moderation ethos here, do you? Is it because you're a lawyer, so you can't imagine that hard and fast rules don't really exist (outside of "don't spam, don't self-link")?

I've talked about this before, but the way that I've found best to conceptualize it is thinking about it as a probability — each contravention of a guideline increases the probability that your post or comment will be deleted. But it's not really certain (though since we've got more mods now, it's more apt to happen).

Whatever, dude, sometimes your DM isn't gonna roll from the appropriate encounter table and you're gonna have to face some kobolds with hardly any loot.

(It's also not your fucking job to be worrying if other people are trying to break the law except to the reasonable extent of likely negative impact on the site. Is trying to buy a little pot in NY gonna bring the feds down? No. Get some perspective.)
posted by klangklangston at 11:15 AM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Is this site not supposed to be friendly to middle aged conservative professionals with families who live in the suburbs? I mean, my rough read is that the site often reads slightly younger than and urban, but there are plenty of questions about suburbs and families and professionals and middleaged people. There are a few about conservatives. But I thought we were actively trying to be a diverse community?"

The focus of the site is sharing cool stuff from the web with the rest of the members as a community weblog. Diversity is part of making sure there's cool stuff and a healthy community to share it with. So asking if it's not supposed to be for MACPWFitS is missing the point. It's not supposed to be, per se, though plenty of 'em find their ways here, just like how it's not for young urban professionals who play ukelele at filk fests, but they find it too.
posted by klangklangston at 11:19 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


But I thought we were actively trying to be a diverse community?

We-as-mods value having a diverse community and are willing to do the work to try to maintain that, up to a point. At the same time, having a diverse community does not always mean that all viewpoints are tolerated equally and we've had to draw the line on a few notable occasions when we'd much prefer that individuals and the community self-moderate.

This is a difficult topic and one we're happy to discuss at length but it's complicated and hard to sum up in comment-box sized explanations. We're a little bit more protective of things that are not choices (gender, race, age, and sexual orientation, as examples) versus things that are choices (political and religious beliefs, as examples) with the understanding that there is an awful lot of grey area there (nationality? hair color?) and it's important that we be mindful of people's different cultural contexts.

Not every member of MeFi feels the same way, however, and this is also an issue that is constantly being debated: how tolerant to be of diverse viewpoints and when those viewpoints or the way they are presented are becoming problematic in a variety of ways. However, anyone who spends a lot of time here and seems to spend a lot of that time complaining loudly about the other people here or the moderation here is going to be questioned, by us or by the community, about what exactly they are doing here and what they get out of this place. We have people from all over the political spectrum who have this particular tic which is why we focus a lot more on the behavior ("don't be an asshole") and a lot less on the beliefs ("If you didn't vote for Obama, we don't care what you think")

Add to this that there are some certain broadly-based generalities about this community. It tends to be majority American, pretty ambivalent about religion at best, descriptive grammarians, very pro choice, very pro marriage equality, centrist to left-leaning, non-xenophobic, pretty ambivalent about marijuana laws, that sort of thing. Some things are more all over the map opinion-wise on this site (bike/ped/car politics is a notable one) These are just tendencies, and they even shift over time, a little. So if you want to interact and if this is one of your chosen communities, you have to accept that that's how the community is. There are others, that's how this one is and pretty much has been. And if you come from a different direction on some of those topics, that's going to mean certain things for community discussions on that topic.

As I said before we have many many people who have minority opinions in a lot of these directions. I am one of them in some ways. The fact that I hold certain political opinions doesn't in any way necessitate me getting into political threads and telling everyone they're wrong according to me. I see people being wrong on the internet all the time and just let them be and don't say nasty things about them as if I have cornered the market on truth. More to the point if a thread starts being about me and my opinions and not about the topic of the thread (a thing that is a little easier to see when you're a mod because people will sometimes be all "What do YOU think about this...") I'll say my piece and bow out. Other people will either come along and talk about what I was going to talk about, or if no one else shares those ideas, maybe those ideas shouldn't have been central to a thread on something else.

Wanting a diverse community doesn't mean putting up with disruptive behaviors. People always have a choice in how they express themselves here, no matter what their beliefs are.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:21 AM on April 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Is this site not supposed to be friendly to middle aged conservative professionals with families who live in the suburbs?

It's friendly in the sense that on MeFi you will certainly find interesting topics to read about and discuss. But if you want want to replicate the suburban BBQ of middle aged parents who stand around and complain about taxes and the number of people on welfare and how young people today are just lazy, and, by the way, did you catch that segment on Hannity last night? then, no, MeFi isn't going to be your kind of place.

Culturally, there are lots of reasons MeFites aren't my exact "tribe." That is totally OK as I am not looking for MeFi to be my tribe. If I want someplace that it going to reflect my personal lifestyle and belief system, I will go hang out at that place. A diverse community doesn't mean the people reflect your own beliefs and culture. It means that whatever your beliefs and culture are, you have a chance to participate and find something interesting about it.

The thing is that because we're a diverse group of people, you shouldn't necessarily expect your own beliefs and thoughts and behaviors to be considered "the norm", even if you went on most of your life thinking they were. So if you're hoping that MeFi will be that place, you will be disappointed, and it doesn't really bother me that MeFi isn't that place. There are other places for that.
posted by deanc at 11:35 AM on April 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


This wasn't in the news because it happened to poor people. Duh.
posted by delmoi at 9:07 AM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


But if you want want to replicate the suburban BBQ of middle aged parents who stand around and complain about taxes and the number of people on welfare and how young people today are just lazy, and, by the way, did you catch that segment on Hannity last night?

I live in a *really* different suburb than you do...
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:21 PM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Man, you just don't get the moderation ethos here, do you?

I think I understand it quite well. Since you are a writer, I would not expect that I need to explain what subtext is to you.
posted by Tanizaki at 1:36 PM on April 19, 2013


Well, for one thing, marijuana isn't illegal everywhere. It isn't illegal in my state, for example, but the exact legalities around buying and selling (as opposed to using) are still being hashed out, and the specifics are changing every day.

Please tell that to the nice man whose jacket says "DEA" on the back.
posted by Tanizaki at 1:40 PM on April 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


As I pointed out earlier, however, you yourself are acting in a sort of archetypal fashion within the Standard Model, one which you are self-consciously and purposefully adopting-- the character of the foil, the brave truthteller, the "adult in the room", etc. There were those who played that role before you came here, and there will be others to replace you in that role after you're gone.

You are quite probably correct in this respect. I wonder what conclusions you will draw if you extend this analogy further.
posted by Tanizaki at 1:42 PM on April 19, 2013


"I think I understand it quite well. Since you are a writer, I would not expect that I need to explain what subtext is to you."

Good to see you came back to MeTa to be a dick.

And since your comment had no subtext, just a misunderstanding of the moderation here, well, hey, glad to see you focusing on the substance of the comment instead of making snide cracks.

Keep speaking truth to power, you noble beast you.
posted by klangklangston at 1:56 PM on April 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Please tell that to the nice man whose jacket says "DEA" on the back.

My home address is on the internet. There is probably weed somewhere in my living room. Send them over and I will be happy to have a chat with them. This is the way AskMe is going to go on marijuana questions. You can do what you like with that information.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:58 PM on April 19, 2013 [13 favorites]


Uh... Where in your living room should I look first?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:03 PM on April 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


jessamyn, if I still smoked weed, and I were you, and I were in access of that living room, the chances of any weed being left at this point in this week would be pert near zero. The same for any chocolate chip cookie dough laying around.

(full disclosure, it has probably been over three decades since I have even SEEN any weed. But still.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:18 PM on April 19, 2013


Yeah I was just going to say I'm guessing that the mods all got issued baggies of weed and handles of Jim Beam with their paychecks for this week.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:20 PM on April 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Please tell that to the nice man whose jacket says "DEA" on the back.

My home address is on the internet. There is probably weed somewhere in my living room. Send them over and I will be happy to have a chat with them. This is the way AskMe is going to go on marijuana questions. You can do what you like with that information.


I'm out of favorites today but anyway I just want to say that this comment is pretty boss.
posted by sweetkid at 2:22 PM on April 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm guessing that the mods all got issued baggies of weed and handles of Jim Beam with their paychecks for this week.

Just the JB, mathowie doesn't know where to find a dealer...
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:26 PM on April 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


He's in Portland.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:28 PM on April 19, 2013


mathowie doesn't know where to find outside
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:29 PM on April 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


A dealer, not a giver. Portland's beyond your capitalist marijuana strictures, man.
posted by klangklangston at 2:30 PM on April 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Anyway, JB's fine but I'm actually cracking into some Templeton Rye.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:46 PM on April 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm making sazeracs if any y'all wanna drop by.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:48 PM on April 19, 2013


You and me both! Found a dusty bottle of rye at the store.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:51 PM on April 19, 2013


For me, it's all about the refreshing home-infused lemon gin and tonics. God bless the good ship alcohol and all that sail on her.
posted by klangklangston at 5:40 PM on April 19, 2013


I got a big ole glass of bourbon and soda with a little Peychauds in it. Lemme know if any of y'all want one.
posted by rtha at 5:46 PM on April 19, 2013


*raises hand

I want one! Oops! Looks like I already had a drink in that hand. Damn!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:12 PM on April 19, 2013


Last night after everything was winding down, I made a refreshing fizzy drink consistng of 2 shots of Peabody Jones vodka, 1 shot of raspberry shrub, and soda water over ice in a highball glass, garnished with fresh mint. It was delicious, I feel like it should have a name. Any thoughts?

it was also very easy to drink extremely quickly, which didn't seem like a problem until I had to stand up.
posted by KathrynT at 1:08 PM on April 20, 2013


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