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Informative answer deleted April 26, 2013 5:24 AM   Subscribe

I would like to know why my answer was deleted from this AskMeFi thread:

In response to the question of "is there anything that can be done to stop this asshole of a doctor from ever again coming near a child with gender-identity issues?", I stated that the answer was no because the doctor's behavior did not demonstrate that he was impaired, incompetent, or unethical in violation of any state licensing regulations. That was all I said in two or three sentences. I did not snark, riff, or make a wise crack.

I said this in a perfectly matter-of-fact manner. Based on working in a similar regulated profession (law) as well my experience with professional medical defense, I think that my comment was factually correct and answered the question. As of right now, the answers that do exist are largely about complaining on Yelp or otherwise taking action that in no way impairs a physician's ability to practice medicine even though that was what the OP asked about doing.

The question was "is there anything that can be done to stop this asshole of a doctor" and I answered it with an opinion that I believe to accurate based on my professional experience. What is the problem with an answer that is polite and factually accurate?

As I read the FAQ, my answer did not fall within the categories of "wisecracks, derailing/ranting/axegrinding, picking a fight with or heavy chastising of the question asker, single word posts (yes, no, DTMFA &c.) and other non-answers that should probably be brought to MetaTalk." While I realize that list is probably not exhaustive, I do not understand the reason for the deletion. When I have had an answer deleted, it did cross the quoted categories in most cases, but I am confused in this instance. I understand that the OP's question is about a very sensitive topic, and I wrote my answer with that in mind.

Let me be clear: this is not an attempt to make a fork from that AskMeFi thread and I do not think any discussion of the merits of the OP's question is needed. I am trying to determine why an answer that is not a wisecrack, rant, chastising of any kind or the like was removed and why it might be removed in other instances. Thank you very much.
posted by Tanizaki to Etiquette/Policy at 5:24 AM (1165 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

Did you use the contact form?
posted by arcticseal at 5:30 AM on April 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


Oh do you work in law?
posted by shakespeherian at 5:32 AM on April 26, 2013 [33 favorites]


Your comment was:
is there anything that can be done to stop this asshole of a doctor from ever again coming near a child with gender-identity issues?

No. He did not commit malpractice, engage in unethical conduct, or otherwise violate model state licensing provisions. He is not impaired, incompetent, or unethical.
which would be okay if you had said something like, "In my opinion, no, not unless he committed malpractice, engaged in unethical conduct, or otherwise violated model state licensing provisions, or was impaired, incompetent, or unethical."

You don't know if the doctor had a five-martini lunch, was otherwise impaired, or acted unethically, unless you were there. If you want to link to information specific to Texas that might apply in this case, that would probably be even better.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:32 AM on April 26, 2013


Obviously the answer was Tanizaki's opinion, based on the info given in the question. C'mon.
posted by ryanrs at 5:36 AM on April 26, 2013 [114 favorites]


which would be okay if you had said something like, "In my opinion,

Isn't every answer the poster's opinion? Do we all have to go around qualifying everything we say as such?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:36 AM on April 26, 2013 [101 favorites]


Please tell me how I can buy all the moderators a beer or something, jesus.
posted by odinsdream at 5:38 AM on April 26, 2013 [35 favorites]


Do we all have to go around qualifying everything we say as such?

No, he could have said "Unless he committed malpractice, engaged in unethical conduct, or otherwise violated model state licensing provisions, or was impaired, incompetent, or unethical, there's no legal action you can take." Or any one of many other ways of phrasing it that don't seem to be claiming some omnipotent knowledge.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:42 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


is there anything that can be done to stop this asshole of a doctor from ever again coming near a child with gender-identity issues?

Possible courses of action:
1) permanent incarceration
2) kill him

These are the only two possibilities, right? Revoking his medical license won't permanently keep him away from kids.

Maybe it's a bad question.
posted by ryanrs at 5:43 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


I fail to see why that response was inappropriate. Yeah, duh, it was his interpretation of the facts as presented. That's way better than a good 75% of AskMe responses wherein the response ignores the facts as presented.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 5:43 AM on April 26, 2013 [64 favorites]


oh, I almost forgot:

3) kill everyone except the doctor
posted by ryanrs at 5:44 AM on April 26, 2013 [12 favorites]


It is one of the great injustices of the world that being an asshole isn't illegal. The people I would arrest!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:47 AM on April 26, 2013 [14 favorites]


Based on working in a similar regulated profession (law) as well my experience with professional medical defense, I think that my comment was factually correct and answered the question

Doctors of MetaFilter, I'd like to know your opinion on this line of reasoning.
posted by griphus at 5:48 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can see how your totally matter-of-fact answer might be seen as kind of enforcing the insult the doctor made in the first place. It seems like a borderline nuke to me, but like an answer that can easily be interpreted as "I totally agree with the doctor and think he did nothing wrong. That child is a freak and his freakishness should not be accommodated."

Now, that's obviously me reading into the matter-of-fact tone of it all, and I shouldn't do that, and I should offer you more charity in interpreting your intent. But that's how I'd read it.

If you'd said something like "Unfortunately, Texas doesn't recognize gender identity issues as a medical problem, so his state licensing board will not consider him to have been unethical, etc" that would be softer and make it seem more like you were simply relaying the info, and not one that makes it seem like you might agree with the doctor that the kid's problems are all in her head.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:51 AM on April 26, 2013 [24 favorites]


My assumption from reading your reply would be that you think the doctor was correct in forcefully diagnosing the child as having a psychological problem ("all in your head") with no regard for the diagnosis the child received in Arizona.

Is that actually your opinion?
posted by lydhre at 5:55 AM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


taz: which would be okay if you had said something like, "In my opinion

You have got to be kidding me. This standard is not applied to any other repsonse. Obviously it is his opinion, and you don't force anyone else to go around tripping over themselves to throw in obvious caveats.

You deleted the comment because you disagreed with it.

jacquilynne: but like an answer that can easily be interpreted as "I totally agree with the doctor and think he did nothing wrong. That child is a freak and his freakishness should not be accommodated."

That's a mendacious interpretation of the comment that reveals the reader's desire to axe grind. Profressionals can do stuff that you disagree with, wihout rising to the level of something a review board would do anything about.
posted by spaltavian at 5:58 AM on April 26, 2013 [90 favorites]


Tanizaki is entirely correct. Real life and the opinions you read on the internet are two separate worlds. I think the doctor acted unprofessionally but medically speaking, he is entirely within the local standard of care to NOT refer out and is more likely to be formally censured if he did.

Now the question of whether or not that's a good thing is entirely different, which is why when I read that question I decided not to touch it with a ten foot pole.

This is one of those things metafilter doesn't do well. Trans children are a real hot potato in the medicolegal world. A lot of the traditional approaches in the formal medical literature, even though they might be old or cherrypicked or whatever, focus on studies that show a lot of these kids commit suicide or regret their decision.

Medicine is a very, very conservative field in both senses of the world. And a lot of the time it's not even up to the doctor. This stuff isn't going to be cheap and it's sure as hell not covered.

Bottom line? It's gonna be basically impossible for a medicaid patient in Galveston to find a doctor to do this. But yes, what he said and did was wrong. Even if it happens literally every day across America.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 6:00 AM on April 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


Hmmmmmmmmm, not sure about this one taz.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:00 AM on April 26, 2013


...in your opinion?
posted by Drinky Die at 6:02 AM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


no i think we should go back to ryanrs' suggestions.
posted by elizardbits at 6:06 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Be nicer" seems like a perfectly good reason to delete that comment.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:08 AM on April 26, 2013 [41 favorites]


Peoples gonna have bad feelings bout this, no matter the reason or answer.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:12 AM on April 26, 2013


"Be nicer" seems like a perfectly good reason to delete that comment.

Just to be clear: the person writing the comment could have expressed the same advice, there is nothing to do, but if they had hedged it around with "unfortunately" or "my guess is" it would have been A-OK.
posted by shothotbot at 6:13 AM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just because Tanizaki wasn't explicitly sympathetic to the asker doesn't mean their answer "wasn't nice".
posted by ryanrs at 6:14 AM on April 26, 2013 [91 favorites]


Really? IN MY OPINION, that comment is matter of fact, not mean. Is it really that difficult to take a step back and say, "you're right, we read something into this comment and made a bad deletion here."

Related question: has there ever been a deletion that, in retrospect, you think was perhaps unwarranted, or is Metafilter batting 1000 IN YOUR OPINION?

Seems like there might be some ostrich in the sand going on here.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:14 AM on April 26, 2013 [29 favorites]


It looks like a erroneous deletion. The comment should be restored. (I hope I said that nicely enough.)
posted by pracowity at 6:16 AM on April 26, 2013 [36 favorites]


Christ on a stick, was the contact form broken? Or did someone need to A) stir shit and/or B) feel the need to get people on his "side"?

Bunny Ultramod's comment from one meTa down is excellent on this: I am not sure it is to the benefit of this site for people to open MetaTalk threads so frequently when they have a comment removed. Can I put forward a suggestion that, if it is about a specific comment, that discussion happen via the contact form, and MeTa threads be reserved for site-wide concerns -- and "I think there are too many deletions because my comment got deleted" has been addressed and re-addressed, so let's not use that as a pretext for opening a MeTa because your comment got deleted.
posted by rtha at 6:17 AM on April 26, 2013 [48 favorites]


"Be nicer" seems like a perfectly good reason to delete that comment.

I must disagree with you in this case -- not because I think that the deleted response sounded "nice" (or anything other than terse, really) but because it seems to me that anyone who believes it was shitty is simply inferring that without substantiation.
posted by mr. digits at 6:18 AM on April 26, 2013 [15 favorites]


Seems like the issue is that your answer comes off as agreeing with the doctor, even if you don't intend to. I think as a deletion it's a bit unusual - most of the mods wouldn't probably draw the line right there - but taz is still relatively new and I don't think it's a big deal to give each mod a) their own style and b) time to figure out exactly what that style is going to be.

Your answer got deleted - so what? Was anyone harmed by the loss of your one sentence answer? Were you? I'd say, let it go.
posted by latkes at 6:18 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you're going to post a comment challenging a person's question, especially in a contentious thread (this one was both about children and transgender issues, doubly touchy subject matter), try and be understanding, show a bit of empathy, and then share the legal reality if it's going to be challenging. "Be nicer" in responses is just a way to sum that up.

This comment quoted the most contentious part of a comment and gave a gruff, dry legal reading. What's the old saying about a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down? That.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:19 AM on April 26, 2013 [31 favorites]


"No. He did not commit malpractice, engage in unethical conduct, or otherwise violate model state licensing provisions. He is not impaired, incompetent, or unethical."

I personally see a problem in this response in that engaging in unethical conduct is very different than being unethical. The former can be true, while the latter is a judgement. It also implies that this issue falls into the territory of ethics (not impairment or incompetence) and yet does not qualify as an actual issue of ethics (which *would* be a problem for the doctor, and as Tanizaki has stated it only one of three possible problems. Therefore, no issue here). It implies that Tanizaki agrees with the doctor's judgment. I'm not saying that's what Tanizaki actually thinks, but that's one read of it, which is a problem for the AskMe guidelines in not being helpful or answering the question.
posted by iamkimiam at 6:20 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Another thing not mentioned above: it was the very first comment in the thread. That tends to set the tone for the whole thread.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:21 AM on April 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


Christ on a stick, was the contact form broken? Or did someone need to A) stir shit and/or B) feel the need to get people on his "side"?

If there is some amount of disagreement on if the deletion was the right choice, and this seems to be a case where there is a decent amount, it's a benefit for the site for the moderators to receive that feedback even if they ultimately stick by their guns.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:21 AM on April 26, 2013 [15 favorites]


I just. I get that we're supposed to sort of treat AskMe (and I guess the rest of metafilter) like we're dealing with inadmissible courtroom evidence or something, and as such no past unrelated information should be used to make judgment calls on the value of comments/posts/interactions/etc. But, idk. It's fairly difficult for me to remain objective when various users have previously expressed their various prejudices in a clear and forthright manner. So yeah, that comment read as pretty shitty to me.

(as always i am and shall remain not in charge of anything ever.)

And yeah, since the contact form works fine, this reads as kind of soapboxy.
posted by elizardbits at 6:22 AM on April 26, 2013 [27 favorites]


A related pet peeve I've been having about ask lately:

Why do people who know little about the subject matter feel the need to comment on stuff so much? There's a newly come out bi woman question on the front page now, and several answers that start with, "I'm straight but..." Not to pick on those folks in particular; it seems not uncommon for folks to answer questions with, "I have no personal or professional experience in this subject area, but..."

Human nature I guess.
posted by latkes at 6:22 AM on April 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


which would be okay if you had said something like, "In my opinion, no, not unless he committed malpractice, engaged in unethical conduct, or otherwise violated model state licensing provisions, or was impaired, incompetent, or unethical."

That's splitting too fine a hair. If it's offered without insult and with the seriousness the question requires, it needs to stand, even if it's an answer you or I or the asker disagrees with. The answer was not presented as legal advice.

You don't know if the doctor had a five-martini lunch, was otherwise impaired, or acted unethically, unless you were there.

This is way out of line. If those were factors, they would have been brought up in the question... there is no need to account for them. Not a good deletion on those grounds.

"Be nicer" seems like a perfectly good reason to delete that comment.

Be respectful yet honest seems like a perfectly good reason to let the comment stay - as that's what it was.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:23 AM on April 26, 2013 [37 favorites]


You don't know if the doctor had a five-martini lunch, was otherwise impaired, or acted unethically, unless you were there.

it seems to me that if the poster of the question didn't mention any suspicion that the doctor was drunk or impaired that it's reasonable to assume he wasn't

seriously, would you let a comment like, "the doctor must have been drunk to say things like that and you should report him as a drunkard" stand as a good answer to the question?

it's clear to me you let your personal opinion on the subject sway your moderation of the answer, which seemed to be factual, as the poster understood the facts

---

"Be nicer" seems like a perfectly good reason to delete that comment.

is this a "tone" argument? - i seem to remember that there have been complaints that "tone" arguments are a way of dismissing someone's viewpoint - or does that just apply with certain subjects?
posted by pyramid termite at 6:24 AM on April 26, 2013 [31 favorites]


It rightly only applies to certain subjects where it is commonly used as a dishonest derailing tactic. Nobody believes tone can never be out of line.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:25 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can see what taz and Matt are getting at here, but surely every answer on AskMe has an implied "In my opinion and based on the available information" prefaced to it. That's just inherent in the nature of AskMe, and it's the bargain askers make with the site, if they at all understand how to use it correctly.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:26 AM on April 26, 2013 [17 favorites]


If there is some amount of disagreement on if the deletion was the right choice,

Which we only know about because of this meTa, so that argument seems kind of circular. I'm re-reading the question here and trying to see where it needs the input from the wider community right off the bat rather than starting with the contact form. If Tanizaki were still confused or in disagreement after off-site discussion with mods, then fine: meTa.
posted by rtha at 6:27 AM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


latkes: Why do people who know little about the subject matter feel the need to comment on stuff so much?

As it was, so shall it ever be. Trust me, it used to be so. Much. Worse.

I know because I used to do it.

Drinky Die: If there is some amount of disagreement on if the deletion was the right choice, and this seems to be a case where there is a decent amount, it's a benefit for the site for the moderators to receive that feedback even if they ultimately stick by their guns.

Yeah, but the first approach should be the Comment Form. If the person whose comment was deleted is not happy with the rationale supplied via email, then they can take it to MeTa.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:28 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


In the spirit of rtha and BU above: Considering there is always a mod on shift, and how rarely MeTas come out, would it be a ridiculous thing to ask for a permanent MeTa queue in the same sense that there's a permanent anonymous question queue?

(rtha and Bunny Ultramod have not endorsed this message.)
posted by griphus at 6:29 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


It rightly only applies to certain subjects where it is commonly used as a dishonest derailing tactic. Nobody believes tone can never be out of line.

and again, assumptions are being made about intent that aren't necessarily so - and if tone can be out of line, it can be out of line on those certain subjects, too

it seems to me in borderline cases, people should be given the benefit of the doubt
posted by pyramid termite at 6:31 AM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


The tone thing is tough, because it can be used by people who absolutely mean to be insulting as a thing to hide behind. Both false positives and false negatives are high when it comes to snark detection in written text, and people take advantage of that all the time.

So, to some extent, yes, I think people are owed some benefit of the doubt on this stuff. But if there's a history of the poster being nasty, or if the question is a sensitive one, where a bad snarky answer is likely to be particularly upsetting, then sometimes that there's not so much benefit in the doubting, and it's better to take something down.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:37 AM on April 26, 2013


Based on working in a similar regulated profession (law) as well my experience with professional medical defense, I think that my comment was factually correct and answered the question.

Then you should have included enough supporting material-- like maybe your credentials and experience and some reasoning-- so that people would know you weren't just guessing and maybe also reading the OP's account through some filter of prejudice. As it is, I almost want to say your answer was misleading, but I can't imagine anyone looking at that answer and accepting it as definitive.

At the same time, I think framing the question as an issue of permanently stopping that doctor from seeing certain patients did invite negative answers.
posted by BibiRose at 6:37 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I see nothing wrong with that answer, and I don't feel it is that different than a million other askme responses. The lack of "In my opinion..." in the answer is not reason for deletion.

For example, I posted this response to a question the other day, very similar, obviously my opinion without any godlike knowledge of the individual being discussed.....

This is a pretty slippery slope.... lets not loose our footing...
posted by HuronBob at 6:38 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Delete delete delete. No, nothing is different around here, why would you ask?

Of course it was a solid answer and of course it was deleted because a mod disagreed with it and it violated groupthink norms around here.

Modfilter is what this has become, as in the mods are basically approving comments, not just deleting the few that truly violate any stated community standard.

And it's capricious. It really depends who you are as much as what you say, as well as the personal biases and dislikes of each mod.

Something has definitely shifted in the culture of MeFi with the expansion of moderation in the last year or so. There is a lot less room to say anything true but discomf
posted by spitbull at 6:40 AM on April 26, 2013 [34 favorites]


And yeah, since the contact form works fine, this reads as kind of soapboxy.

I read that as kind of saxophony (four martinis last night, sorry) and now I want particularly look-at-me-ish MeTa threads to be equated with Kenny G for all time.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:40 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is a pretty slippery slope.... lets not loose our footing...

Loose footing on a slippery slope sounds dangerous.

I support this deletion. Whatever the intended meaning, the phrasing and the fact it was the first answer would have caused a massive derail/argument.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:42 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


There was absolutely nothing wrong with that answer. It was short, to the point, civil and clear. The excuses given by the mods for this deletion - especially the first one - represent a new low in absurdity and censorious excess. It's almost getting surreal. Mods: I'll say to you what has been said to me in the past: you really need to dial it the hell back. Seriously.
posted by Decani at 6:42 AM on April 26, 2013 [50 favorites]


I think if the question is about the rules and norms, and not so much about the special snowflake answer, then it's actually a valid question for MetaTalk. I'm saying that as someone who has more than a fair share of deleted comments and answers and have been perfectly fine using the contact form.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:42 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've seen much worse answers than this remain in a lot of threads. Tanizaki didn't show the greatest bedside manner, but I don't see that as justification for deletion.
posted by Longtime Listener at 6:43 AM on April 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


Sorry doubled up by accident
posted by spitbull at 6:48 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't fault the answer.
posted by Wolof at 6:48 AM on April 26, 2013


For such an important lawyer man, you sure bawl like a little baby IN MY OPINION.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:49 AM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


mathowie: If you're going to post a comment challenging a person's question

It didn't challenge the question. It answered it. The question was "Other than changing providers, though, is there anything that can be done to stop this asshole of a doctor from ever again coming near a child with gender-identity issues?"

"No and here's why" is a valid answer to the question.
posted by spaltavian at 6:49 AM on April 26, 2013 [50 favorites]


Then you should have included enough supporting material

Oh, god, if that's the bar for letting an answer stand, AskMe will shut down overnight. Mods are going to need way more delete keys on their keyboard.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:50 AM on April 26, 2013 [25 favorites]


Man, the "mods are evil" chorus that shows up in every comment-deletion thread sure makes me feel gross for ever expressing any reservations about their decisions.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:51 AM on April 26, 2013 [40 favorites]


Good deletion, I'm afraid. An answer that can be seen as giving legal advice or a legal opinion, written in a definitive and authoritative tone, needs to be qualified. (Acronyms like IANAL and IAALBIANYL get used for a reason, folks.)
posted by mcwetboy at 6:52 AM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Mods--listen. Don't get reflexively defensive and circle the wagons. Listen. You were wrong. Restore the comment, learn a lesson.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:53 AM on April 26, 2013 [35 favorites]


I've seen much worse answers than this remain in a lot of threads.

I see that as a valid argument for more deletions, not less. I detest definitive legal/medical answers that aren't justified by any sort of actual experience in the matter. Is Tanizaki a docter operating in the state of Texas? A lawyer specializing in medical claims in the state of Texas? Does he have personal experience with doctors that refuse to provide medical care to children with diagnoses that they don't believe in? Any of this would be good to know. Indeed, for a resource like AskMe it is vital for answeres to give basic explanations of their expertise so that askers can evaluate the soundness of their answers. I wish there were more deletions in AskMe threads of answers that give definitive-seeming legal or medical advice without any justification, not fewer.

"No and here's why" is a valid answer to the question.

That's not what he said. He just said, "No." The "here's why" part seems like pure speculation to me, absent any justification. Might as well just put a poll up and solicit yes or no answers.
posted by muddgirl at 6:54 AM on April 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


Then you should have included enough supporting material-- like maybe your credentials and experience and some reasoning

My "supporting material" in particular was the AMA Code of Medical Ethics. In particular, Article 9. There was a reason why I used the phrase of "impaired, incompetent, or unethical" - it tracks Rule 9.031, which governs such behavior and the reporting of same. The reason I did not link to the AMA Code is because I predicted that other commenters, who will almost always have zero experience with professional regulation, would start combing through the rules and giving out guesses, "hey, I think this rule works! report him under the rule!" That would not help answer the OP's question.

***IN MY OPINION***
posted by Tanizaki at 6:54 AM on April 26, 2013 [37 favorites]


I tend to agree that the deletion was kind of iffy, but also feel it isn't that big a deal in the overall scheme of things. I do disagree with the answer, however: He is not impaired, incompetent, or unethical. As a physician myself I have to say that refusing to treat a patient and then mocking them for their condition (which is how the scenario described comes across to me) is very unethical. An appropriate way for the physician to have responded would be for him to say that he is not able to treat gender disorders, not comfortable treating them, or something similar, then try to find a referral to a physician who could treat the patient appropriately.
posted by TedW at 6:55 AM on April 26, 2013 [37 favorites]




Man, the "mods are evil" chorus that shows up in every comment-deletion thread sure makes me feel gross for ever expressing any reservations about their decisions.

Aw, let the chorus enjoy their stopped clock moment.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:56 AM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


What we're really coming down to is this:
No. He did not commit malpractice, engage in unethical conduct, or otherwise violate model state licensing provisions. He is not impaired, incompetent, or unethical.
vs
I don't think so. He did not commit malpractice, engage in unethical conduct, or otherwise violate model state licensing provisions. He is not impaired, incompetent, or unethical.
The first one kind of begs that we know something about the poster. It sort of is an appeal to authority and we don't know what their actual authority in this matter is.

And it's the first comment in a thread (if I understood that correctly). It kind of is a conversation ender which is fine if it definitely 'the right answer' and I don't think we're sure of that.
posted by mazola at 6:57 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


There is a lot less room to say anything true but discomf

A shot rang out. The echoes in the alley confounded my ears, and by the time I could figure out where it came from, the car was already speeding away, too far for me to spot a license plate.

Who would want spitbull silenced? And why? None of it made sense. Perhaps he had gotten too close. Perhaps the trail I was following would bring me too close as well. But there was nothing for it at this point. There was no way through it but forward.

"Aw, spitbull," I said, drawing down his eyelids. "You poor, sweet kid." This wasn't about the Clutterbuck heiress or her emeralds anymore. This was personal now.

On a case like this, there's one simple rule: Follow the money. The money would certainly lead me to June's Lounge, where the movers and shakers moved and shook. I pondered all this as I opened the trunk of my car and took out Sarah Jane, my old but well-maintained revolver. Loading it was muscle memory - sliding the ring of bullets into the cylinder, whirrr, click. I hadn't fired her since...well, since Vegas.

Ellie would be singing torch songs tonight at June's, oh yes Ellie in her sleek red dress and lips like a waterlily, but if the hoods there didn't sing sweet for me, it'd be Sarah Jane playing her greatest hits.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:59 AM on April 26, 2013 [55 favorites]


So, in my opinion, this was an edge case deletion. I understand the mods wanted to facilitate conversation.

Hopefully a note was issued to the poster to qualify their response and repost.
posted by mazola at 6:59 AM on April 26, 2013


Oh and happy birthday cortex.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:59 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's too bad that the information in the comment wasn't in the thread, if it's factually accurate, but the imperative for answers is that they be helpful and I think it's pretty clear that a quick contact form query after the deletion would have produced a very slight change of framing that moved the answer from seeming unhelpfully passive aggressive to actually being information the poster could use. Nobody's saying we should censor the information; what we're discussing, IMO, is what constitutes being helpful to the question as written.
posted by Mngo at 6:59 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh and happy birthday cortex.

I hope you like crap!
posted by mazola at 7:00 AM on April 26, 2013 [40 favorites]


Tanizaki: "The reason I did not link to the AMA Code is because I predicted that other commenters, who will almost always have zero experience with professional regulation, would start combing through the rules and giving out guesses, "hey, I think this rule works! report him under the rule!" That would not help answer the OP's question."

You didn't link to the potentially informative resource because you didn't think other mefites were qualified to look at it? That strikes me as extremely arrogant. And besides, setting other commenters aside, wouldn't it have been helpful to the OP, as part of a complete answer to their question?
posted by secretseasons at 7:02 AM on April 26, 2013 [49 favorites]


No results found for "ascii crap with a ribbon on it".

welp
posted by elizardbits at 7:03 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


That's a mendacious interpretation of the comment that reveals the reader's desire to axe grind. Profressionals can do stuff that you disagree with, wihout rising to the level of something a review board would do anything about.

I have no axe to grind here, I promise. I have no recollection of ever encountering the poster of either the question or this Meta before, though I'm terrible at remembering usernames so it's certainly possible that I have, I don't have gender issues, etc.

I did admit that I was reading the comment uncharitably, and I'm not claiming it was factually wrong. I just think the tone here was really, really unfortunate in a sensitive question. If someone is talking about a member of a marginalized group being treated super poorly, I don't think it's asking too much of the *community* to make a tiny effort to not also treat them poorly, even if by accident.

I also think Taz's explanations for the reason for the nuke are a bit weirdish and don't make a tonne of sense. Mathowie's make more sense to me, though I gather Taz is the one who actually nuked it.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:03 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


If responders qualify their comments with their expertise, we can trust the OP to be able to evaluate this expertise and weigh some comments more highly than other comments. That's why stating such expertise is crucial. It's why whenever I have personal but not professional experience with a question, I always state that (along the lines of "I am not a lawyer BUT when my own child was refused medical care for gender dysphoria, I spoke to a lawyer who told me X and I did Y.")
posted by muddgirl at 7:03 AM on April 26, 2013


In my opinion, this was an objectively crappy deletion. I do respect that the mods are willing to come out and say they deleted it just because it wasn't nice enough.

Is this a standard we can expect to see enforced throughout the rest of the site?
posted by BurntHombre at 7:04 AM on April 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


I am (1) basically okay with pretty much all the deletions that get brought to Meta, and (2) sick of seeing people whining about deletions in Meta. But even so, this one seems obviously over the line for me. It answered the question, was on topic, and didn't throw any insults at the poster. Any other standards suggested to make it an okay deletion (assumes omniscience, wasn't qualified with "in my opinion," etc. etc.) would end AskMe as we know it if consistently enforced. This really does look like a classic vase of groupthink, and while it's not the end of the world (that happens when my stuff gets deleted), it is troubling.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:05 AM on April 26, 2013 [92 favorites]


Bunny Ultramod's comment from one meTa down is excellent on this: I am not sure it is to the benefit of this site for people to open MetaTalk threads so frequently when they have a comment removed. Can I put forward a suggestion that, if it is about a specific comment, that discussion happen via the contact form, and MeTa threads be reserved for site-wide concerns -- and "I think there are too many deletions because my comment got deleted" has been addressed and re-addressed, so let's not use that as a pretext for opening a MeTa because your comment got deleted.

Honestly, I thought it was terrible comment and was dismayed to read the mod comments saying they totally agree. There's a subtle shift to keeping issues users have to private communications, rather than public. That shift is troubling. While it's probably done with the best intentions, I see zero reason for this to be occurring, as public records of shifts in standards or procedures is important and should be noted.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:06 AM on April 26, 2013 [42 favorites]


What is the problem with an answer that is polite and factually accurate?

I think you may have confused polite with "not being a jerk" But really, it's fine that you made a non-jerk comment in the thread. I can also see why taz deleted it as the first comment in a "We are really upset about this, is there something that can be done?" sort of AskMe. And I should be clear, I feel that questions that start with the assumption that everyone is going to agree with the premises can often be set-ups for this sort of conflict and they can be problematic from the get-go. However, we're a community (as mathowie likes to call it, a social network for non-friends) and there's always been a "read the room" aspect of how we suggest people interact with people in the community, treating the place like a community, and so forth. Some people are better at this and some people are less good at it.

Tanizaki, if I can be plain: you do not seem to like it here. We've mentioned this in other recent threads in MeTa that you have been the subject of. That's fine, not everyone needs to like it here. However, I think what people in this thread may be missing and which may be the missing data point here are the sheer number of answers you've had deleted from AskMe, often for attacking the OP or other commenters. This is a thing we would never bring up unless there was a problem, but there seems to be a problem or some sort of mismatch of expectations. And I don't think this is a tone argument so much as it's a "benefit of the doubt" argument. Your comment looked to us like you were "doing that thing again" which was basically inserting irritable "I disagree with your morality" comments in a gender/orientation thread where they weren't helpful and didn't belong. Feel free to rephrase and post again and if you have stuff to cite as you did in your comment above, please do that, it would be helpful.

You give a lot of helpful advice in AskMe. You also sometimes appear to just use it for spleen venting, or possibly it's just a style issue and the style of your answers goes against the grain of how AskMe works from time to time. And we've had a lot of conversations with you about it and they don't seem to go anywhere. Which, again, no big deal some people just interact that way with the community, but this deletion didn't come out of left field. We're happy to talk to you in public or in private about how you can be a better AskMe contributor, but we may disagree about some fundamental "What is AskMe for?" concepts that may result in this continuing sort of dissonance.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:07 AM on April 26, 2013 [91 favorites]


Since the original poster referred to the AMA's medical ethics policy, this seems relevant:

Opinion 9.12 - Patient-Physician Relationship: Respect for Law and Human Rights
The creation of the patient-physician relationship is contractual in nature. Generally, both the physician and the patient are free to enter into or decline the relationship. A physician may decline to undertake the care of a patient whose medical condition is not within the physician's current competence. However, physicians who offer their services to the public may not decline to accept patients because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other basis that would constitute invidious discrimination. Furthermore, physicians who are obligated under pre-existing contractual arrangements may not decline to accept patients as provided by those arrangements. (I, III, V, VI)

Issued July 1986. Updated June 1994 and June 2008 based on the report "Modification of Ethics Policy to Ensure Inclusion for Transgender Physicians, Medical Students, and Patients," adopted November 2007.



Also:

Opinion 10.05 - Potential Patients
(1) Physicians must keep their professional obligations to provide care to patients in accord with their prerogative to choose whether to enter into a patient-physician relationship.

(2) The following instances identify the limits on physicians’ prerogative:

(a) Physicians should respond to the best of their ability in cases of medical emergency (Opinion 8.11, "Neglect of Patient").

(b) Physicians cannot refuse to care for patients based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other criteria that would constitute invidious discrimination (Opinion 9.12, "Patient-Physician Relationship: Respect for Law and Human Rights"), nor can they discriminate against patients with infectious diseases (Opinion 2.23, "HIV Testing")...

posted by TedW at 7:07 AM on April 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


This really does look like a classic vase of groupthink

Yes. Late Tang, I'd say.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:08 AM on April 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


Look, we already know the mods inject their own political views into their deletions. It's come up dozens (if not hundreds) of times in past Metas, so unless much of the userbase is insane, it needs to be recognized that this is a Thing. Generally I'm inclined to believe that this is subconscious, unintentional, and not at all malicious on their part, so we should try not to hold it against them too much.

What's frustrating isn't that mistakes happen, it's that the mods refuse to ever admit to them. They admit to mistakes in the general sense - ie, "we're human and sometimes make mistakes" - but how often do you ever see a mod admit to a specific mistake? (ie, "I was wrong in this specific instance.") Almost never. Instead, they band together and form a "wall of blue" to support each other and use all kinds of logical shortcuts to justify the bad decision. In my opinion, this adds substantially to the impression that mods can be arrogant at times. Maybe if they were required to actually own their mistakes (instead of the George W Bush strategy of doubling down and never admitting they were wrong) they'd be less likely to condescend to users. After all, it's easier to criticize others when your own mistakes never need to be acknowledged.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 7:08 AM on April 26, 2013 [23 favorites]


I've seen much worse answers than this remain in a lot of threads.

I see that as a valid argument for more deletions, not less.


I'd love to see all the bad answers deleted from AskMe threads, but that's simply beyond the abilities of the mods. And, as we've seen here, there will be much disagreement about which answers are bad enough for deletion.

If you are asking 10,000 strangers on the Internet to weigh in with an opinion on your problems, you have to expect that some answers will be illogical, poorly expressed, misconstruing the question, and 20 other kinds of bad. The mods do a fine job of cleaning out the worst of it. This time they were a bit too quick on the trigger. It happens.
posted by Longtime Listener at 7:10 AM on April 26, 2013


AMA's code of medical ethics
posted by TedW at 7:10 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Then you should have included enough supporting material

Oh, god, if that's the bar for letting an answer stand, AskMe will shut down overnight. Mods are going to need way more delete keys on their keyboard.


I'm not saying that's a bar for letting the answer stand. Just why save your explanation for a Meta like this?

I still don't believe that anyone, including Tanizaki, could be certain from reading the OP whether or not a doctor was incompetent-- that's the one point I have particular trouble with at least. But stated as an absolute certainty with no reasons given, it's going to cause arguments. He could have partly mitigated this effect, I think, by stating that he had some experience and reasons to have this opinion. And also, some awareness of the limitations of his opinion.

I don't have a serious judgment about the deletion. I do think that, coming first in the thread, Tanizaki's post invited various kinds of derails in ways that could have been avoided.
posted by BibiRose at 7:10 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


"No and here's why" is a valid answer to the question.

He didn't say why, though. His answer was a slightly gussied up version of DTMFA with the same problems. He baldly states that the doctor's behavior wasn't unethical or malpractice without including any explanation or reasoning. As a lawyer, he should really know better than to make unsupported conclusory allegations like that. It wasn't delete-worthy, but it wasn't a remotely helpful answer.
posted by Mavri at 7:12 AM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


I see worse answers than that in both tone and accuracy every day. I'm not at all defending Tanizaki or their opinions but that deletion really did seem capricious. If it was wrong it should have been left for other users to correct it in thread.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 7:13 AM on April 26, 2013 [12 favorites]


Instead, they band together and form a "wall of blue" to support each other and use all kinds of logical shortcuts to justify the bad decision.

"With wolfdreams01 as Serpico, in Serpico, the story of an honest commenter."
posted by octobersurprise at 7:15 AM on April 26, 2013 [17 favorites]


You didn't link to the potentially informative resource because you didn't think other mefites were qualified to look at it? That strikes me as extremely arrogant.

No, I do not think that is arrogant. I also do not think that it is arrogant on the part of doctors that some pharmaceuticals are only available by prescription. What is arrogant is for people to speak upon matters where they are not qualified. One recent example from my personal experience is here, where someone was amazed by something that I knew to be professionally true. Good thing I had a few references to back it up when challenged.

I am glad that a physician has appeared and appears to have some difference of opinion. I am always happy to stand corrected. Of course, the reason given for deletion was not that "the advice is inaccurate".
posted by Tanizaki at 7:15 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pater Aletheias: "I am (1) basically okay with pretty much all the deletions that get brought to Meta, and (2) sick of seeing people whining about deletions in Meta. But even so, this one seems obviously over the line for me."

This, a thousand times this. I am in general agreement with the level of moderation around here, and see it as an improvement from the olden days. I think people are way too sensitive about comment deletion, and prone to framing everything as SILENCING ME FOREVER. But this one was too far.

The tone was not unacceptable-dry, maybe, but not critical or harsh. And the "qualification" thing is baloney. It would have been nice to have put "in my opinion" in there, but pretty much every AskMe comment ever should have that in front.

Bad deletion, let's learn from this and move on.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:16 AM on April 26, 2013 [24 favorites]


Tanizaki, if I can be plain: you do not seem to like it here.

We're at the love it or leave it portion of the case.
posted by spaltavian at 7:17 AM on April 26, 2013 [20 favorites]


[The tone argument] rightly only applies to certain subjects where it is commonly used as a dishonest derailing tactic.

It is being used as a dishonest derailing tactic here.

I support the deletion. It was a comment rooted in intolerant beliefs about trans people that I disagree with. I believe that the mods also disagree with those beliefs, and that is why they deleted the comment. I wish they were not so invested in the idea that form is the only legitimate thing about a comment that can make it delete-worthy, so that they did not have to come up with these (IMHO) transparently specious rationalizations about tone and phrasing and hairsplitting about what is an "opinion" to justify deletions that they are actually making for reasons of substance, not form.

If the mods were able to acknowledge that it is legitimate to moderate for content, and that some opinions are off-limits here, I think the moderation would be much more honest and transparent and it would be a lot easier for people to understand what really is and isn't allowed here.
posted by enn at 7:17 AM on April 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


Look, we already know the mods inject their own political views into their deletions.

Oh now don't you start too.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:18 AM on April 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


I'd love to see all the bad answers deleted from AskMe threads, but that's simply beyond the abilities of the mods. And, as we've seen here, there will be much disagreement about which answers are bad enough for deletion.

So if the mods can't delete all bad answers, they shouldn't delete any bad answers, using their best judgement and information that the rest of us don't have to triage answers that are particularly bad?

I don't really get the point of continuing to use a community where a user doesn't trust the moderators to do their job correctly most of the time, particularly when the stakes if they get it wrong are so low.

If it was wrong it should have been left for other users to correct it in thread.

How do you correct an opinion? If Tanizaki had provided the evidence he'd provided here, then other users could have corrected him, but he didn't, and his stated reason for not doing so was that he didn't want to be corrected.

What is arrogant is for people to speak upon matters where they are not qualified.

Yes, that is a problem with the format of AskMe. Many professionals have declined to offer their professional opinions here for that very reason. But offering context-less advice doesn't solve anything - it makes the problem worse.
posted by muddgirl at 7:19 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was too flippant in my last comment. What I mean is, this is about a comment that was deleted and what that means for site policy. A lot of other posters have agreed with the complaint; much more so than unsual.

What sense does it make to make this about the original poster and how they maybe should just leave? It's not going to fix this issue.
posted by spaltavian at 7:21 AM on April 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


Tanizaki: "I also do not think that it is arrogant on the part of doctors that some pharmaceuticals are only available by prescription."

So... linking to valuable information that may answer a question, and from which OP and others might learn, is like handing out drugs without a prescription?

In your opinion?
posted by secretseasons at 7:25 AM on April 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


You didn't link to the potentially informative resource because you didn't think other mefites were qualified to look at it? That strikes me as extremely arrogant.

No, I do not think that is arrogant. I also do not think that it is arrogant on the part of doctors that some pharmaceuticals are only available by prescription. What is arrogant is for people to speak upon matters where they are not qualified. One recent example from my personal experience is here, where someone was amazed by something that I knew to be professionally true. Good thing I had a few references to back it up when challenged.


One might almost think you had a habit of deliberately holding supporting material back in your initial posts so you'd have an ace in the hole ready for the so-inevitable ensuing argument. If one didn't know otherwise.
posted by BibiRose at 7:28 AM on April 26, 2013 [26 favorites]


It's not going to fix this issue.

Sure it will. If you don't agree with a community, don't waste your time hanging around with them.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:28 AM on April 26, 2013


I don't think the mods delete too many comments; I have long wished the moderators were more aggressive with their deletions. I also basically never agree with Tanizaki, and am not surprised at all to hear that he has had a lot of deleted answers in the past.

So this is a first for me. It's a first for me to say "I agree with Tanizaki [in posting this MeTa]", and to say "this was a bad deletion". Who'da thunk it.
posted by Jpfed at 7:28 AM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


basically inserting irritable "I disagree with your morality" comments in a gender/orientation thread where they weren't helpful and didn't belong.

This is something that you have made up in your head. My answer was as "just the facts" as it gets. I stated my opinion based on my professional experience, which sometimes involves doctors who get in trouble. I never stated or intimated whatever opinions I might have as to any underlying moral issues. You are speculating and then arguing as if your speculation were true. (if you want my opinion, I think the doctor acted unprofessionally, but the facts stated by the OP are not going to get a prior restraint slapped on his practice, which is what the OP wants to get)

Thank you for your suggestion that I leave. As always, you did it in the nicest way possible. However, if I were to evaporate right now, do you think it would forever end bad moderation decisions?
posted by Tanizaki at 7:29 AM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


What sense does it make to make this about the original poster and how they maybe should just leave?

I do not think Tanizaki should leave, even if he dislikes it here. However I'd like it if we felt that he was interested in working towards a compromise given the way he prefers to interact with the site and the way we prefer users interact with the site are somewhat at odds. We have a bunch of users here who post a lot of stuff that gets deleted frequently in AskMe. The thinking seems to be "Okay I'll post what I want and you delete it when it's not appropriate and we'll just carry on that way" It's not our favorite plan, but it's totally an acceptable way of interacting here.

But when that gets changed to "Okay I'll post what I want and you delete it when it's not appropriate and then I'll come to MeTa as if we haven't been having this discussion for years and complain loudly about it as if it's the first comment I've ever had deleted" we just sort of wonder what's going on, what's the goal state? Is this about having fewer comments deleted? Is this about being mad at the mods? Is this about truly not understanding about how AskMe works? Is this about wanting to be a better contributor? Is this about wanting to change the way AskMe works? Is this about wanting to change the way MeTa works?

My goal is to help everyone who wants to stay at MetaFilter to be able to stay here and interact with the site in a way that the community and the mods can abide by. But sometimes I don't know where the disconnect is, at all, and so I ask. There have been, in the past, people who seem like they really just shouldn't be here, that they don't seem to want to interact with a community that operates the way this one does. But Tanizaki doesn't seem to be in that camp, or at least I don't think so. But it's been a long time and I still don't really know and that's unusual.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:30 AM on April 26, 2013 [17 favorites]


So if the mods can't delete all bad answers, they shouldn't delete any bad answers, using their best judgement and information that the rest of us don't have to triage answers that are particularly bad?

Muddgirl, perhaps you missed the part a little further on where I said, "The mods do a fine job of cleaning out the worst of it." I just don't happen to think that Tanizaki's answer was even close to being the worst of it. Given their history with Tanizaki, I can see why they may have read it differently than I did. I happen to think they overreacted. And, hey, it happens. I'm not bent out of shape about it.
posted by Longtime Listener at 7:30 AM on April 26, 2013


Tanizaki's tone is ALWAYS direct. That is who he is and how he sounds online.

He was deleted because his tone was read as agreeing with the doctor. Now, that is a matter of opinion, because of course, tone can't really be read with words on a screen. But come on. If he had been expressing a direct opinion that happened to correlate with the opinions of 80 percent of Metafilter's readership the comment would have stood.

Having said that, on one hand I am sure the deletion was aimed at preventing a crapstorm, which on this subject in particular would most certainly been a real possibility. On the other hand, more and more this place feels like a place where one has to selfcensor and use language really really really carefully in order to express a thought or opinion that does not mirror the majority.

Those of us who have to do that are constantly evaluating whether or not that is worth the price of participation here. This is a privately owned site and mods can run it however they please. That doesn't mean it's right, just or fair, but it doesn't HAVE to be right, just or fair.

But it is worth considering whether or not it might be worthwhile in a general sense to try to deal with dissenting opinions in a better way. We all have a great deal to learn from each other, and it does no one any good at all to try to pretend opposite views don't exist.

But back to the original deletion? I think it was in error, and unfair to Tanizaki. Even if it read as jarring and unpleasant to some. Heck, his tone is grating to me even when he is in agreement with me on other threads, but that is just his personal tone, and he is entitled to it.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:30 AM on April 26, 2013 [59 favorites]


...linking to valuable information that may answer a question, and from which OP and others might learn, is like handing out drugs without a prescription?

Found nailed to the front door of MeTa:
...
Thesis 76: FPPs where every letter is a link are an eyestrain.

Thesis 77: Most of us are literate and intelligent and, as a group, are capable of interpreting complex information to the extent that it does not have to be interpreted and read to us with the original source withheld for our protection.

Thesis 78: More sodas in the breakroom

Thesis 79: TITLES ARGH
posted by griphus at 7:31 AM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


This was a fine deletion.

Primarily because Tanizaki seems to be misreading the portion of the question s/he was brusquely responding to.

There's a significant difference between "is there anything that can be done to stop this asshole of a doctor from ever again coming near a child with gender-identity issues" and "is there anything that can be done to stop this asshole of a doctor [from practicing medicine]?"

The comment probably would have been fine if it had been prefaced by "You probably don't have much recourse through official channels since, according to statute, ..."
posted by nobody at 7:31 AM on April 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


what's going on, what's the goal state? Is this about having fewer comments deleted? Is this about being mad at the mods? Is this about truly not understanding about how AskMe works? Is this about wanting to be a better contributor? Is this about wanting to change the way AskMe works? Is this about wanting to change the way MeTa works?

The real obvious one left off this list of potential goal states is having the comment undeleted.
posted by carsonb at 7:32 AM on April 26, 2013 [15 favorites]


Sometimes I agree with Tanizaki, but often I don't. This time I agree with him. I also usually don't have a problem with most comment deletions here, but this one is unwarranted and a bit surprising to me. I think this was a bad deletion.
posted by thereemix at 7:34 AM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


If "be nicer" is going to be a standard for deletion, I could spend my lunch hour every day flagging dozens and dozens of responses that could be rephrased nicer. DTMFA isn't nice. People who crap their lulzy one-liners all over good discussions aren't nice.

As for this: You don't know if the doctor had a five-martini lunch, was otherwise impaired, or acted unethically, unless you were there.

The OP of the original question wasn't there. The whole situation was relayed over the telephone to OP's wife by the child's mother, who also could have a five-martini lunch, was otherwise impaired or acted unethically by lying to OP's wife. Should OP have not asked the question to begin with?

Casting aspersions on people isn't nice either, even if it's a close-minded doctor.

I think the comment should have stood.
posted by kimberussell at 7:37 AM on April 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


And, as sympathetic as I am to the mods, the comment should have stood. It was a bad deletion.
posted by mazola at 7:40 AM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Stating a legal opinion as fact is not good because non-lawyers don't necessarily have the skills to say, well, that's a legal opinion, as opposed to fact.

For example. I never practiced criminal law, but my opinion is that the Boston Bombers are guilty of crimes. Most people would be like, yeah, give him the trial but he's toast.

But if it's a grey area, that's where you need qualifiers. You can't diagnose malpractice over the internet, as you don't know all the relevant facts. But if you say X is what reality is to a layperson, a layperson might assume that the legal interpretation is as air-tight as saying the B. Bomber is guilty of a crime.
posted by angrycat at 7:40 AM on April 26, 2013


I've seen much worse and much less useful comments than Tanizaki's allowed to stand in AskMe (frequently, a literal "DTMFA"). I think this deletion happened because it was weighed against Tanizaki's history with the mods instead of the worthiness of the answer, and that makes me pretty uncomfortable.
posted by fight or flight at 7:40 AM on April 26, 2013 [39 favorites]


In my opinion, the issue is that new mods are chosen, in part, on the basis of their alignment of viewpoint with the other mods. Which makes perfect sense--the mods work together, MeFi is a business, and finding compatible people is, I think, essential to making a good hire.

The result is that the mods have mutual self-reinforcement--and, to be fair, they align with a good chunk of the userbase. But not with everyone, either due differences in tone or viewpoint.

MeFi is, more or less, the only place I go on the internet other than news sites, and I'm on the site, more or less, all day. I've been here for coming on nine years. I have not been silenced all my life. I have not had it up to here with modsanity, or whatever. But it would be nice at some point to feel like the mod staff is perhaps more reflective of the site as a whole. Again, I think the mods already represent a significant majority, or at least plurality, of the userbase. But now that there are however many--10,000?--active users, I'd love to see some different viewpoints represented on the mod staff. I think it could make the site even more rewarding.

If you don't agree with a community, don't waste your time hanging around with them.

I don't think this is right perspective. I think Jessamyn put it well above. Tanizaki is part of the community. He's not cuddly, but he's smart, he's here, and he makes some valuable contributions. I don't want MeFi reduced to just an echo chamber.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:42 AM on April 26, 2013 [36 favorites]


Bunny Ultramod's comment from one meTa down is excellent on this: I am not sure it is to the benefit of this site for people to open MetaTalk threads so frequently when they have a comment removed. Can I put forward a suggestion that, if it is about a specific comment, that discussion happen via the contact form, and MeTa threads be reserved for site-wide concerns -- and "I think there are too many deletions because my comment got deleted" has been addressed and re-addressed, so let's not use that as a pretext for opening a MeTa because your comment got deleted.

I'm re-reading the question here and trying to see where it needs the input from the wider community right off the bat rather than starting with the contact form. If Tanizaki were still confused or in disagreement after off-site discussion with mods, then fine: meTa.



Most of these why was my comment deleted MeTas aren't actually about why was my comment deleted. They are more about "I disagree with deletion, I want the mods to justify it publicly and I want to know if the rest of Metafilter agrees with them." The last two parts can't be done over the contact form. I think that is a fine use of MetaTalk. Nobody makes people read comment deletion threads. If you don't like them, scroll on.
posted by nooneyouknow at 7:43 AM on April 26, 2013 [15 favorites]


But come on. If he had been expressing a direct opinion that happened to correlate with the opinions of 80 percent of Metafilter's readership the comment would have stood.

This is a problematic area, to be sure, but I don't know that it's inappropriate to have some bottom-line unacceptable answers on AskMe on ethical and moral grounds because they touch on fundamental community norms. I think answers that don't fundamentally recognize the legitimacy of sexual orientation and gender identity questions are such an area. I'm not saying this answer falls under that standard, but I also don't think you can simply defend an answer by saying it was only deleted for being an "unpopular" opinion.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:45 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Nobody makes people read comment deletion threads.

Who leaked the plot of SAW XX?
posted by carsonb at 7:45 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'd love to see some different viewpoints represented on the mod staff.

Like what?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:45 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think this deletion maybe a little borderline, but I also saw that comment when it was still the only comment in the thread, and I thought it was incredibly insensitive. I thought about flagging it, but just shut down my computer instead. The poster was hurt and distraught after a medical professional behaved appallingly to their child and was asking "what can I do?" Tanizaki's comment essentially said "Nothing. The doctor did nothing wrong." It's not an insta-delete, sure, but I also don't think it was some great injustice done to Tanizaki.

As for people saying that it's ridiculous that the answer would have stood with more qualifications and elaborations - why? You can tell someone to dump their significant other, if you elaborate on why you think that is, why it would be helpful to them, and in general are considerate of their plight. But single-line DTMFAs get deleted all the time. This isn't a new standard; "be nicer" is absolutely an edict in the Green.
posted by Phire at 7:46 AM on April 26, 2013 [30 favorites]


I'm sorry for doing an "if this situation were different would the outcome have been different" thing, but I'm curious: if the same comment had been posted by someone who did not have the type of user history that Tanizaki has, would it still have been deleted?

Just wondering what role history has in this, in light of what Jessamyn is saying. Personally, I'm not overly bothered if that really is at the heart of things but if so it would have been nice to hear that right off the bat ... I usually think the mods here do a good job in both deciding what to delete and in explaining those decisions when asked, but to me there seems to be a bit of uncharacteristic rationalizing early on in this thread.

Either way, I think the definitive-yet-unsupported nature of the comment in question was kind of crappy in a case where we don't really know all the details, but MeFites are generally pretty good about calling that sort of thing to task in AskMe, and it might have been useful to hear mitigating responses in the thread itself ... I guess that puts me on the side of "not a great comment, but not a great deletion, either."
posted by DingoMutt at 7:46 AM on April 26, 2013


but DTMF is not a legal opinion
sorry to be all "BUT IT'S THE LAW" but what if we had some user say
"Don't go to the ER, your searing abdominal pain will be gone in two days." That would be a bad thing.
/signed, retired lawyer. sorry.
posted by angrycat at 7:47 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Anybody who thinks of the issues raised in the question are 'political' or on some sort of 'liberal/conservative viewpoint' spectrum that we need to balance out with different mods really needs to evaluate the way they look at the world. In my opinion.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:48 AM on April 26, 2013 [16 favorites]


Taz's reason for the deletion is completely bizarre. Having to qualify a statement with "in my opinion" is silly and then presupposing the doctor might have had five martini lunch makes me wonder if she had the liquid meal.

Then Matt writes the condescending "be nicer" as the reason justify the deletion. Later he expands on that, asking for empathy, understanding and legal cites in contentious thread. Then he notes it was the first comment in the thread.

Jessamyn chimes in that Tanzaki is problem user and sorta kinda not really suggests that he leave the site, later clarifies she doesn't actually want him to leave, while asking what his goal is.

Not the mods' finest thread.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:51 AM on April 26, 2013 [121 favorites]


I'm not entirely sure it should have been deleted, however I also feel it wasn't actually accurate. (I'm aware that wasn't the reason given.) A correct answer would be "According to the AMA Code of Ethics, there's no way to stop the doctor unless he commits malpractice, engages in unethical conduct, or otherwise violates model state licensing provisions. Based on your description he doesn't seem impaired, incompetent, or unethical."

Not linking to the Code of Ethics because we're all unqualified to handle such a complex truth is some bullshit on a stick.
posted by mrmorgan at 7:51 AM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


Not the mods' finest thread.

Again, where do I send beer money.
posted by odinsdream at 7:52 AM on April 26, 2013 [15 favorites]


I think the mods had a really shitty two weeks and we should cut them some slack.

I think the members had a really shitty couple of weeks and we should cut each other some slack, and the mods should cut us some slack.

I have had a really shitty few weeks and would also accept slack.

Basically, everyone needs a hug. The nice thing about giving people who need a hug the hug they need is that you end up getting a hug, too.

So if you need a hug, consider giving one.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:53 AM on April 26, 2013 [23 favorites]


Those of us who have to do that are constantly evaluating whether or not that is worth the price of participation here.

How many accounts have you had here? 3? 4? Surely, you aren't suggesting that the operators of this forum haven't spent a decade bending over backwards to accommodate you?
posted by octobersurprise at 7:53 AM on April 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


Just wondering what role history has in this, in light of what Jessamyn is saying.

Certainly sounds like Tanizaki is not getting the close calls, which is actually fine. We have strong identities here and our histories should be taken into account by users and mods.

I also have a secret identity. I've said too much...
posted by shothotbot at 7:53 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd love to see some different viewpoints represented on the mod staff.

Like what?


I love the idea of a hardboiled rogue mod who plays by no one's rules but his own but, dammit, he gets the job done.

mathowie: xBongzilla69x, you posted a contentious thread, made a MeTa about your participation in it, caused a shitstorm in the MeTa, and then timed out everyone who said anything.
jessamyn: Every user on our "watch" list has been banned. Even the ones we ask to try to use their spellchecker more often.
pb: THE SERVER IS ON. FIRE.
xBongzilla69x: Problem solved (dusts off hands, walks into sunset.)
posted by griphus at 7:54 AM on April 26, 2013 [25 favorites]


Jessamyn's follow-up is interesting, because it suggests that there is actually a pretty strong backup for reading the post as intentionally problematic. Benefit of doubt is a great thing to offer someone when you've got a feeling something might be wrong, but it could go either way. When you've got a feeling something might be wrong and a bucket full of history to suggest that it probably is, then it's not benefit of doubt anymore, it's willfully blinding yourself to the reality that some people are jerks on the internet.

This isn't a jury trial where someone's facing jail time such that we need to be sure beyond a reasonable doubt that the person was being a jerk before the mods delete something. For deleting a comment -- especially a comment with potential to derail a discussion before it even gets started -- knowing there's a pretty good chance the person was being a jerk is more than a high enough bar in my mind.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:54 AM on April 26, 2013 [17 favorites]


The poster was hurt and distraught after a medical professional behaved appallingly to their child and was asking "what can I do?" Tanizaki's comment essentially said "Nothing. The doctor did nothing wrong."

There was a whole 'nother degree of Kevin Bacon between the OP and the question, Phire, which has added a layer of complexity to the issue. Giving good answers to a question like that that's been filtered through the emotions of a distraught mother in a parking lot, through a cellular satellite connection to space and back, and then again through a sympathetic spouse before being typed up and posted to the internet is really hard! It's like the most difficult setting possible if we were playing telephone instead of trying to solve people's problems in real life on AskMe.

In that light, Tanizaki's answer is a pretty good one. But because of the touchy topic matter, Tanizaki's particular history with the moderation on this site, and also because of taz's moderation style (flag-heavy, standards/rules-dependent, my opinion of course) and the tendency of the more experienced mods to show up and back up their team, it was basically doomed. It's a lot to expect the moderation team to re-evaluate under public scrutiny like this, but I don't think it's out of the question.

This is a situation that really desperately needs careful reading and commenting.

Not that I'm a shining example of that, I haven't even seen a single SAW movie.
posted by carsonb at 7:56 AM on April 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


Shakespeherian, I'm not sure what form it would take. For the avoidance of doubt, I'm a Boston liberal, so, personally, I'm not looking for a conservative pro-life anti-gay viewpoint or something. But at the same time, I look at the mods and never feel "Oh yeah, that's my mod--that's the mod that thinks like me." I'm sure others feel the same way, though I don't presume everyone who feels that way wants the same thing in mods.

Or perhaps more transparency to show how the individual mods are thinking? By the time we get a MeTa, it feels like the wagons are already circled. xBongzilla69x for mod!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:56 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Given that the mods have much more visibility into the history with this commenter than any of us do, I'm inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt on this one
posted by COD at 7:56 AM on April 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


Can some one help me reconcile this

I support the deletion. It was a comment rooted in intolerant beliefs about trans people that I disagree with.

with this

In response to the question of "is there anything that can be done to stop this asshole of a doctor from ever again coming near a child with gender-identity issues?", I stated that the answer was no because the doctor's behavior did not demonstrate that he was impaired, incompetent, or unethical in violation of any state licensing regulations. That was all I said in two or three sentences. I did not snark, riff, or make a wise crack?

Taz's initial reason for the deletion is a classic example of adding facts. What if the doctor was drunk? Then than would be a different case. Would it be a good response to an AskMe to propose a bunch of solutions to a different question than was asked?

Tanizaki could have included some qualifiers, like 'not without more facts' or 'from what I see here' or some such, but the comment has a basis in law and in the poster's professional experience and expertise and I think that's a much higher bar than many AskMe responses reach.

On preview, angrycat's reservations about the too-certain phrasing of the response seems to be the the only real objectionable aspect of Tanizaki's comment.

Apologies if there's some subtext related to running comment history and deletions here, but I'm not sure that needs to be taken to account in something as abbreviated as "on these sparse facts, nothing actionable" if the only complaint is that the word "probably" is missing.

And, what BB said.

Not linking to the Code of Ethics because we're all unqualified to handle such a complex truth is some bullshit on a stick.

I don't agree with the sentiment and always try to post links to (freely accessible) authorities when I make a comment like that. But, on the other hand, Tazinaki did point towards the licensing regulations for people who wanted to know where the comment was coming from. And I think if anyone wanted more info to provide a better answer, asking for it would have been considered acceptable cross-talk. (no?)
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:57 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


So if you need a hug, consider giving one.

i tried - i knocked my monitor over and now the keyboard is 4239u0uy0ihvh0d
posted by pyramid termite at 7:57 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't want MeFi reduced to just an echo chamber.

Neither do I, and I never said Tanazaki should leave, but I don't belong to communities where I actively disagree with the rules and norms. That's the point of "maybe you would be happier elsewhere".
posted by P.o.B. at 7:57 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


especially a comment with potential to derail a discussion before it even gets started

This was an Ask.me answer thread, not a discussion that was supposed to get started.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:57 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Oh yeah, that's my mod--that's the mod that thinks like me."

Oh man, I am way over-represented on the mod-staff. Goddamn privilege: everywhere I turn people keep stuffing things in my invisible backpack!
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:58 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


This was an Ask.me answer thread, not a discussion that was supposed to get started.

Okay, fine, I shouldn't have resorted to a cliche turn of phrase anyway:

...especially a comment with potential to start a huge derailment before the question got more than one answer.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:00 AM on April 26, 2013


"Be nicer" seems like a perfectly good reason to delete that comment.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:08 AM on April 26 [−] Favorite added!


People, behave in your host's homegrown playground.
posted by infini at 8:05 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Look, we already know the mods inject their own political views into their deletions.

Oh, to hell with this question-begging crap. What we know is that a few people are readily willing to insist that the only and obvious reason we'd make some of the decisions they don't like is because of ideological bias, but that's not that same thing as that actually being known and I get so tired of hearing this mindreading axe-grind bullshit from the same handful of people every time a Metatalk comes around to the question of how on earth something they wouldn't have deleted still got deleted somehow. This blithe assertion that clearly it's the injection of our personal/political/ideological motivations rather than the things we actually say it is, that the simplest and clearest answer is that we're pursing an agenda and then trying to cover it up rather than actually doing and thinking the things we are really, really open about talking about doing and thinking.

You will be hard-pressed to find a moderation team as transparent and communicative of their actual process as we are, a team as thoroughly engaged with, as steeped in and comfortable with the basic user culture of a site, as Mefi's. I get tired of the Stop Circling The Wagons shit and the Clearly You Just Didn't Like It stuff because we manifestly are not some standoffish group of hired-in moderators just scrapping for a paycheck and a sense of authority.

But beyond that, we don't have the goddam time or energy to even gin up a good conspiracy; we spend that time actually talking, in public and in private all day long, about what we do and why and trying, somehow, to make a place with ten thousand or so active users keep working as well as it can for as many of those people as it can as possible. Not everybody is going to agree with everything we do, and we know and acknowledge and understand and sympathize with that as a matter of course; it's fine, it's part of being here and it's part of working here. "I don't think that should have been deleted, and here's my reasoning" is 100% okay and a valuable part of the metatalk deal, and suggestions to the contrary it's actually something we actively listen to and try to understand even if we don't end up agreeing or taking direct action on it in a given case.

But this endless refrain of shitty accusations about our motivations or our mindset as a team is not so fine. The people in here willing to inform us that they know what we're thinking better than we do, that they know why we really deleted this or that comment, is galling, to me. It's uncharitable as hell and we don't even have the luxury of sitting back and enjoying the asymmetrical lack of responsibility here that comes with leveraging that sort of accusation because we actually have shit to do here in the meantime. Go armchair quarterback a football game or something if you need to holler at something for not actually doing something as well as you imagine you'd do it yourself.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:11 AM on April 26, 2013 [179 favorites]


If you believe that posters have no history on Metafilter and its subsites, if you believe that each post by a user stands separate and individual, then yes, I think the deletion wasn't a good one.

If, however, you think of posters as having a history on the site, of past behaviour having an impact on current posts, comments and so on, then I can absolutely see it as being a fair deletion. Even excluding his deleted contributions, it takes very little memory and/or digging to see why such a comment by Tanizaki can be thought of as worth removing.

As someone with a memory, I'm heartily on team Mod for this one.
posted by gadge emeritus at 8:12 AM on April 26, 2013 [21 favorites]


No. He did not commit malpractice, engage in unethical conduct, or otherwise violate model state licensing provisions. He is not impaired, incompetent, or unethical.

As a law-type person, that is incredibly close if not over the line of "offering legal advice without getting all the facts." I could see a person relying on that statement, especially if they know the commenter is a lawyer, to their own detriment.

Whether or not it would cause problems for the site (super-unlikely if not impossible) or the commenter (unlikely), I would personally consider it a violation of my ethical requirements as a lawyer.

No idea what the ethical requirements for lawyers are outside of my province, of course.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:12 AM on April 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


Gotta say, big fan of this deletion. Actually big fan of every deletion. I think deletions should be increased, not decreased. And someday, MetaFilter will go no-comments, and all will be peaceful and quiet: no flames, no trolling, no thread-sitting or thread-shitting. A perfect, orderly world.

Also, "benefit of the doubt" assumes "doubt" about a poster. And a note for pb: the contact form is too hard to find, suggest redirecting the "new post" link to the contact form.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:13 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, "benefit of the doubt" assumes "doubt" about a poster.

Nah, it's doubt about a specific comment.
posted by nobody at 8:15 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think taz's original explanation was bizarre at all.


Your comment was:
is there anything that can be done to stop this asshole of a doctor from ever again coming near a child with gender-identity issues?

No. He did not commit malpractice, engage in unethical conduct, or otherwise violate model state licensing provisions. He is not impaired, incompetent, or unethical.


which would be okay if you had said something like, "In my opinion, no, not unless he committed malpractice, engaged in unethical conduct, or otherwise violated model state licensing provisions, or was impaired, incompetent, or unethical."


The re-phrasing with "not unless" gets right to the problem. We could add, "And we don't know that he did, or was." We don't know one way or another.

The "in my opinion" part isn't really necessary, nor is the part about the martinis. But it's a perfectly logical explanation.
posted by BibiRose at 8:15 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I could see a person relying on that statement, especially if they know the commenter is a lawyer, to their own detriment.

He never said he was a lawyer though (until this MeTa), nicely avoiding that problem but also making his answer useless as we have no idea what he is basing his answer on.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:16 AM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


And a note for pb: the contact form is too hard to find,

I'm firmly Team Mod on this one, slash I agree with the above.
posted by angrycat at 8:16 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I get so tired of hearing this mindreading axe-grind bullshit from the same handful of people every time a Metatalk comes around to the question of how on earth something they wouldn't have deleted still got deleted somehow. This blithe assertion that clearly it's the injection of our personal/political/ideological motivations rather than the things we actually say it is, that the simplest and clearest answer is that we're pursing an agenda and then trying to cover it up rather than actually doing and thinking the things we are really, really open about talking about.

So, are you saying that it's frustrating for you when people make assumptions about your motivations and engage in all sorts of mindreading about your views? And that it's really difficult when people don't accept your words at face value and instead read all sorts of sinister beliefs into them?

This thread is fascinating.
posted by BurntHombre at 8:17 AM on April 26, 2013 [53 favorites]


Muddgirl, perhaps you missed the part a little further on where I said, "The mods do a fine job of cleaning out the worst of it." I just don't happen to think that Tanizaki's answer was even close to being the worst of it. Given their history with Tanizaki, I can see why they may have read it differently than I did. I happen to think they overreacted. And, hey, it happens. I'm not bent out of shape about it.

That's why I don't like Metatalk posts like this. I don't really know why we should take a user poll on comments that the mods think are delete-worthy, especially on AskMe which has a much higher standard for commenting. My personal opinion is that there are questions that Tanizaki's comment would answer perfectly well. This was not that question. I trust the moderators to get it right most of the time, even if I don't know their reasoning for it, and when they get it wrong it doesn't seem like anyone is actually harmed by it. If there ever came a point where I didn't trust the moderators, I'd stop using Metafilter, as others have done before me, because what's the point of wasting time and energy in a social space that makes me unhappy?
posted by muddgirl at 8:17 AM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


carsonb - yeah, I remembered that about 4 minutes and 45 seconds into my edit window and didn't want to leave another comment just to correct myself. The level of separation does make the question more complex, but I think my basic point of being careful of the poster's emotions still stand - if they're anything like me, they get more upset at injustices done to friends than at injustices done to themselves. (Relevant comic.)

"Oh yeah, that's my mod--that's the mod that thinks like me."

That's an interesting point, snuffleupagus, because I've never really thought this about any of the mods, nor has it really occurred to me that it's something people think. (Which is not to say that this isn't how people relate to the mods - just that it hasn't been my personal experience.) Their non-mod activity is so sparse that the only real political belief I would be able to pin down for them is "gay marriage is good, gun violence is bad, the war on drugs is ineffective, and we should try to not be racist/sexist/homophobic/ableist"...which maybe conforms loosely to a center-left viewpoint, but it's incredibly moderate as far as those things go. They seem to try incredibly hard to select neutral and non-polarizing users as new mods, and they're very mild with their own political opinions when they do voice them.

I do agree that the userbase skews left, so that when things are deleted because they cause incredible disruptions in conversations it feels like the mods are enforcing an agenda when they're just managing community dynamic as best they can. But I think it's important to keep in mind that Metafilter also more small-c conservative than a lot of users give it credit for, so it's doubly absurd when people are vocally upset about political agendas in the modding decisions or whatever because Metafilter really isn't that liberal.
posted by Phire at 8:18 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bunny Ultramod's comment from one meTa down is excellent on this

Worth mentioning that this was a MeTa that was also about a Tanizaki comment deleted from MetaTalk, that we emailed with him about. We've all had a bumpy few weeks, to be sure. One of our parts in that is noticing when some people are using up a disproportionate amount of mod resources and trying to find a way to mitigate that. This is actually sort of difficult.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:18 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think the mods do a great job and make the site better, I think most complaints about deletions are either wrong or borderline, I think whining about borderline deletions is generally a waste of time because who cares, I think any deletion complaint thread brings out the MeFi parade of horribles who love to bitch and moan and impugn the moderators with scant evidence and it poisons the site - BUT, this is one of the only cases ever where I agree that the deletion was not only unwarranted, but kind of egregiously wrong - and the scattershot justifications of the various mods highlight the egregiousness (even though I believe that all the mods are being truthful and forthright).
posted by Falconetti at 8:20 AM on April 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


Y'all need to learn to communicate in the MeFi style desired by the mods, or learn to STFU because writing honestly and authentically as your natural self isn't compatible with the site.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:20 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


On the other hand, more and more this place feels like a place where one has to selfcensor and use language really really really carefully in order to express a thought or opinion that does not mirror the majority.

Y'all need to learn to communicate in the MeFi style desired by the mods, or learn to STFU because writing honestly and authentically as your natural self isn't compatible with the site.

These lines of "reasoning" are tedious and tie into a widespread misapprehension that this privately owned website is supposed to be some sort of free speech sandbox in which there are no consequences for disregarding others' feelings.
posted by liketitanic at 8:21 AM on April 26, 2013 [21 favorites]


> writing honestly and authentically as your natural self isn't compatible with the site

Natural assholes haven't been shown scientifically to be any healthier than synthetic assholes. And don't even get me started on GM assholes.
posted by gilrain at 8:22 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


And a note for pb: the contact form is too hard to find

We link it as the first bullet point on the New Post form for metatalk specifically to try and make it plenty visible for situations where the contact form is a better fit. Making it more visible elsewhere on the site is worth thinking about for folks who aren't already contemplating the Metatalk workflow and it's something we've chewed on before, but as a visiblity-to-prevent-gun-jumping-metatalks thing it's hard to see how we improve on the current plan where it's right there at the top of he posting page short of doing something obnoxious like a pop up "are you suuuuure you don't want to use the contact form instead?" alert when someone goes to preview.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:24 AM on April 26, 2013


Y'all need to learn to communicate in the MeFi style desired by the mods, or learn to STFU because writing honestly and authentically as your natural self isn't compatible with the site.

I think learning to communicate in a style that fits in with Metafilter is really edifying. If you do it right, it will improve you as a person. I am 100% serious about this. Your "natural self" is not immutable, and if you want it to, it may grow to include discretion.
posted by Jpfed at 8:25 AM on April 26, 2013 [34 favorites]


If we're using this meta partly to gauge site consensus, Pater Aletheias summarized my position more eloquently than I would have, and it's worth reposting:

I am (1) basically okay with pretty much all the deletions that get brought to Meta, and (2) sick of seeing people whining about deletions in Meta. But even so, this one seems obviously over the line for me. It answered the question, was on topic, and didn't throw any insults at the poster. Any other standards suggested to make it an okay deletion (assumes omniscience, wasn't qualified with "in my opinion," etc. etc.) would end AskMe as we know it if consistently enforced. This really does look like a classic vase of groupthink, and while it's not the end of the world (that happens when my stuff gets deleted), it is troubling. -Pater Aletheias
posted by pseudonick at 8:25 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

The real obvious one left off this list of potential goal states is having the comment undeleted.
I remember one deletion-related MetaTalk thread wherein the mod who did the deletions wound up agreeing that the deleted comments shouldn't have been deleted. They still refused to undelete these comments that the deleting mod agreed shouldn't have been deleted.
posted by Flunkie at 8:26 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know what Tanizaki's backstory is with the moderators. There was another recent MeTa that indicated there was one, which surprised me because Tanizaki has struck me as a great contributor here; but I don't read every thread so I figured he was problematic on some topic I don't pay attention to, like maybe I/P or certain political threads. If Jessamyn feels the need to have a conversation with Tanizaki about participating here, I trust that. I have a lot of respect for her moderation.

However. This was a pretty questionable deletion, and the initial reasonings given by Taz and Matt were pretty lame. This thread would be going a lot better if any moderator had said, "Granted, that deletion was borderline and we didn't do a great job of explaining it. That was our mistake. Now, here's some backstory and why we may have interpreted Tanizaki's comment in a way others didn't..." Talking about how Tanizaki doesn't seem to like it here may be fair and relevant, but in this case it wasn't especially well timed.

Separately, I'm sorry to hear that the moderators have had a bumpy few weeks. I made a conscious decision not to participate in the threads that (I assume) contributed to that, so I probably don't have a great perspective on exactly how bumpy it's been, but I hope things smooth out—for everybody, incuding Tanizaki, who I hope stays and continues to contribute in the threads where I've enjoyed his input.
posted by cribcage at 8:29 AM on April 26, 2013 [14 favorites]


oh I see didn't remember/see the contact form bullet point on the metatalk post. that makes (even more) these kinds of posts seem like the student sitches I've had where in front of the whole class, it's like posture posture, one on one, they eat out of your hand. not to knock the idea of your grievance, op, but it does sort of promote that lynching crowd dynamic. which I resent because this is my internet stomping ground, and I hate to see a good thing tormented by factors that in part make it a good thing (here, the ability to make public grievances in which 10k people can way in with whatever motivation they have for making comments.

Me, my secret motivation is that I really hate this thing I'm proofreading right now.
posted by angrycat at 8:31 AM on April 26, 2013


It was a baby ox.
posted by hawthorne at 8:33 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


This thread would be going a lot better if any moderator had said, "Granted, that deletion was borderline and we didn't do a great job of explaining it. That was our mistake. Now, here's some backstory and why we may have interpreted Tanizaki's comment in a way others didn't..."

Which is why the contact form is usually the better first stop on stuff like this. Because part of why that wasn't the first thing out of the gate is, I think, taz and Matt trying to be polite and take the "let's talk about context and framing" thing rather than the "you have a consistent problem with how you phrase your answers and get a ton of shit deleted as a result and we're really beyond benefit of the doubt on the borderline stuff at this point" thing since it sucks to feel like we're just going after folks in public if we can avoid it. Of course, that paid off pretty much backward in this case, lucky them for trying to take the gentler approach.

Over email we can have a more personal and more direct discussion about problems and constructive approaches to them without it being likely to feel like some public exhibition. It works really well in general, and seems to mostly be a lot more comfortable for folks, but ultimately taking something public vs. direct conversation with the mods is a user's call to make, and here we are.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:35 AM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm going to start this off with a good deletion that happened to me today. I posted a boneheaded Ask answer - I completely somehow failed to see the OP's followup and asked a question about the very followup the OP had given.

Taz deleted it, and then memailed me to let me know what had happened, and included the original comment so that I could rewrite it - which I did, and was very happy about it.

I don't think all the deletion decisions the mods make are bad. But I do think that sometimes, mods delete things from their gut - "this feels wrong" and then justify it later. And I think that people's biases do play into how their guts react, and these things cause problems like this one.
posted by corb at 8:37 AM on April 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


I remember one deletion-related MetaTalk thread wherein the mod who did the deletions wound up agreeing that the deleted comments shouldn't have been deleted. They still refused to undelete these comments that the deleting mod agreed shouldn't have been deleted.

Wait a minute - I think maybe we've stumbled across something bigger than we expected. Have you ever considered that maybe the reason mods refuse to undelete comments... is because they can't?

Let me explain where I'm going with this. Have you ever seen Joss Whedon's "The Cabin in the Woods" where a government agency secretly sacrifices teenagers to ancient sleeping demons so that they don't wake up and destroy everything?

Well, maybe mathowie has something like that going on, but instead of sacrificing teenagers, he sacrifices comments. Maybe right now, even as we reflect on this, he's desperately explaining to the dark entity Vowelzebub that he needs that comment back, because the userbase is getting restless. But Vowelzebub is all like "THE SACRIFICE HAS BEEN CLAIMED. THE COMMENT IS MINE NOW!"
posted by wolfdreams01 at 8:38 AM on April 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


As a law-type person, that is incredibly close if not over the line of "offering legal advice without getting all the facts." I could see a person relying on that statement, especially if they know the commenter is a lawyer, to their own detriment.

Whether or not it would cause problems for the site (super-unlikely if not impossible) or the commenter (unlikely), I would personally consider it a violation of my ethical requirements as a lawyer.

No idea what the ethical requirements for lawyers are outside of my province, of course.


The thing is, the question wasn't posed about individual recourse against the doctor, or alternatives for the child. It was, in effect, about how to prevent the offensively transphobic doctor from practicing medicine. Since there's no way to forbid a doctor from coming into contact with a patient with a particular combination of gender and biology. And while again the response seemed to certain, that question is more hypothetical and less ethically fraught.

Although, as above, this aspect of the response was the most questionable part of it in my view as well.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:39 AM on April 26, 2013


I really try to resist the temptation to precede answers with "IAAL, IANYL, TINLA." I feel it's a cheap statement of authority. Complicated answers should show their work. If I can explain why I came to a conclusion or provide a helpful link, it shouldn't matter that I'm a lawyer because the answer is authoritative on its own. "IAAL" is just saying, "Just take my word for it, I know what I'm talking about." And that seems like posturing, it seems kind of arrogant, and it also seems pretty unhelpful to a poster who very well may want to use the answer as a starting point for further research.

So I'm of two minds about this deletion. On the one hand, it should be obvious that nothing posted on AskMe is legal advice, and everything is just the poster's opinion. I don't think everyone should have to qualify every post with "in my opinion" or "I don't think..." or God forbid, "IAAL, IANYL, TINLA." No one on Metafilter is our lawyer.

On the other hand, I think Tanizaki should have shown his work. As written, the comment was a conclusion without any supporting evidence. And Tanizaki has made clear in this MeTa that he had evidence but didn't post it because he didn't want others to try to parse it, which seems like the worst possible way to interact with the community.
posted by payoto at 8:40 AM on April 26, 2013 [32 favorites]


FOOLISH MORTALS
posted by Vowelzebub at 8:41 AM on April 26, 2013 [18 favorites]


And I think that people's biases do play into how their guts react, and these things cause problems like this one.

I have never heard this named as a problem the moderators are trying to avoid, and I don't really think it's a problem at all. Even HAL-9000 has independent will.
posted by liketitanic at 8:43 AM on April 26, 2013


Look, we already know the mods inject their own political views into their deletions.

What is this "we" bullshit. Oh, it's bullshit, duh.

/goes for more coffee, and also homemade chocolate chip cookies that someone evil brought in for bagel day.
posted by rtha at 8:46 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have never heard this named as a problem the moderators are trying to avoid, and I don't really think it's a problem at all. Even HAL-9000 has independent will.

Well, I don't think the moderators have ever said "we go with our guts, it is possible our guts are prejudiced with our biases". There's been a lot of talk about how they are completely unbiased - which I think is actually really difficult for humans, period. We all have our biases that it's a struggle to overcome, imho.
posted by corb at 8:46 AM on April 26, 2013


I find myself wondering if mods should simply close all "why was my comment deleted" MeTas in which the poster hasn't first contacted mods via the contact form.
posted by mediareport at 8:47 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


The thing is, the question wasn't posed about individual recourse against the doctor, or alternatives for the child. It was, in effect, about how to prevent the offensively transphobic doctor from practicing medicine.

And, now that I look again, many of the answers ignore the ask and go to alternative providers. Much of the thread is non-responsive in the narrowest sense. But my preference has always been to allow some departure from the ask when appropriate....

>shrug<
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:49 AM on April 26, 2013


I find myself wondering if mods should simply close all "why was my comment deleted" MeTas in which the poster hasn't first contacted mods via the contact form.

Yeah, I can't get behind a MeTa approval queue, but I could support a pre-post contact requirement for deletion complaints so the mods have a chance to prevent these tempests in a teapot. Then if the user is unsatisfied, let them air their grievance.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:50 AM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


rtha: "also homemade chocolate chip cookies that someone evil brought in for bagel day."

If they brought them in for bagel day, office law requires you make a sandwich out of them with cream cheese.

It is known.
posted by boo_radley at 8:50 AM on April 26, 2013 [15 favorites]


Maybe right now, even as we reflect on this, he's desperately explaining to the dark entity Vowelzebub

That's almost a display of humor, Mr. Wolf-Robot.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:50 AM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


make a sandwich out of them with cream cheese.

>HURLS ON THE KEURIG<
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:51 AM on April 26, 2013


test

Not bad, but not near your best. I'd suggest a bit less auxiliary information and focus more on the main subject.

B-
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:51 AM on April 26, 2013


If they brought them in for bagel day, office law requires you make a sandwich out of them with cream cheese.

It is known.


COOL WHIP IS COMING
posted by prefpara at 8:52 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


If they brought them in for bagel day, office law requires you make a sandwich out of them with cream cheese.

do you have a webcam in our office I think you must
posted by rtha at 8:52 AM on April 26, 2013


The mods have at least sometimes fought back against Vowelzebub. In the thread that I mentioned (where they wouldn't undelete deleted comments that they agreed shouldn't have been deleted in the first place), there was a mention from cortex about having undeleted deleted comments at some points in the past.
posted by Flunkie at 8:54 AM on April 26, 2013


Well, I don't think the moderators have ever said "we go with our guts, it is possible our guts are prejudiced with our biases".

We've acknowledged as much on a bunch of occasions. None of us imagine we are pure, rational objective people incapable of having our thinking colored or swayed by our personal perspectives on the world or anything like that.

But we're also all aware that this is Metafilter, not WhatWePreferfilter, and that it's explicitly not our job to try and make the site into our personal space, so we are basically constantly examining our individual and collective decision-making to insure as much as possible that "I don't personally like it" isn't a driving factor in the moderation work we do. We all take that pretty seriously, and actively work to make it as much of a non-issue as we are capable of. It's accusations to the contrary that tend to get up my shirt, especially given that we're regularly accused of having all sorts of imagined specific biases by people who have no idea what they're talking about. It comes with the territory to some extent but it's still super duper obnoxious and trying.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:55 AM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


There's been a lot of talk about how they are completely unbiased - which I think is actually really difficult for humans, period.

We don't think we're completely unbiased. We try to keep our biases out of our moderation. Which is impossible but something we try to work towards. We have MeTa to balance this and to try to help us correct things if others don't see things the same way we do.

In some ways I think we can go too far in the other direction sometimes where, fearing we're being biased in our approach, we try to defend or protect people with unpopular opinions (ones that are not shared by us) even if they're sometimes seeming to be made by people directly fucking with the community or doing otherwise deleteworthy things. Or where we shy away from deleting a thing because the deletee is a known MeTa axe-grinder (or in-thread mod arguer) and we have to balance leaving a problematic comment (and dealing with "WTF are you doing?" email and possibly a thread gone awry and maybe a MeTa anyhow) versus spending the entire day in MeTa defending the deletion. Leaving these sorts of comments is not a neutral, unbiased move either.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:56 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


payoto: "I really try to resist the temptation to precede answers with "IAAL, IANYL, TINLA." I feel it's a cheap statement of authority. Complicated answers should show their work. If I can explain why I came to a conclusion or provide a helpful link, it shouldn't matter that I'm a lawyer because the answer is authoritative on its own. "

I don't think it's cheap. It's informative. Ethics and conduct codes can vary from profession to profession. Being able to say "I am an electrical engineer, but IANYEE. Now, here's what I think..." has a different value than "I am a dog on the internet and using my own internal definitions of 'ethical' and 'medical'. Now here's what I think." There's value and clarity in understanding who's communicating to you.

Tanizaki's answer reads tersely, but not rude or dismissive to me.
posted by boo_radley at 8:57 AM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


You guys are the best mods on the Internet. When most of us get our backs up, it's because of the sense of investment in and importance of MeFi--and those feelings are reliant on the quality of the moderation you provide. So even when people get wound up over modding, I'd encourage you to take it as a kind of a compliment. I know that sounds weird, maybe.

But seriously. Best mods on the Internet.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:00 AM on April 26, 2013 [21 favorites]


If Tanizaki didn't have such a history on this site of making terrible comments with regard to gender issues, or have so many conversations with the mods about his terrible comments, then maybe the deletion would have been a head-scratcher and this MeTa would make sense. But since he does, the deletion is A-OK in my book, and since he has, the fact that he opened a MeTa without contacting the mods via the form is pretty suspicious.

Tanizaki is a smart guy, smart enough to know how his language and presentation will affect the tenor of the responses that come after him, and smart enough to know what effect opening Metatalk after Metatalk to complain about deletions will have on the mods. If he were a dummy, maybe this could be considered in good faith -- as a stretch -- but he's no dummy.
posted by KathrynT at 9:04 AM on April 26, 2013 [41 favorites]


You know, people who post trans questions to AskMe are doing so because they're out of other options. Metafilter's a terrible place for advice on trans issues. 17 people will tell you how you/your friend isn't trans, or how trans people don't exist, or whatever. Someone will post something demonstrably false. Then a bunch of totally unhelpful stuff. ("I know nothing about trans issues, but you'll never find a doctor in Corpus Christi.") Then maybe you might get a useful answer, but sometimes even the better answers are useless. So, it's a safe assumption that anyone posting such an AskMe who's been around for more than 30 seconds doesn't have better resources and they're hoping lightning strikes. I don't really know where I'm going with this, except that Tanizaki is deluding himself if he thinks his answer was in the "better answer" category. Saying "Your recourse is X, Y or Z, but you're unlikely to succeed for reasons A, B and C. If your friend wants to pursue it, they should do W." is the 'better answer' version.
posted by hoyland at 9:04 AM on April 26, 2013 [13 favorites]


This thread would be going a lot better if any moderator had said ...

Hawkeye: Why didn't you tell me?

Potter: Because when you become a colonel, they take the bone out of your head that makes you explain orders.
posted by Melismata at 9:05 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


corb : "Well, I don't think the moderators have ever said "we go with our guts, it is possible our guts are prejudiced with our biases"."

I believe they have. It doesn't explicitly get mentioned as often as it might, but they do.

This is tangential to what you're saying, and references some other people's thoughts throughout this thread, but if it's possible to believe that any askme answer carries an implicit "This is just my opinion", then it's easy to suppose any mod statement would have an implicit "I'm trying to make the best decision I can given the information I have at this time."
posted by boo_radley at 9:06 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


It'd be fun if we somehow got a coupled set of "World's Best Mod" and "World's Worst Mod" coffee mugs for each of the staff members. They could drink from whichever mug they felt in their hearts was appropriate for that day. Shame on you mods, slash great job mod team!
posted by gilrain at 9:07 AM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


If Tanizaki didn't have such a history on this site of making terrible comments with regard to gender issues, or have so many conversations with the mods about his terrible comments, then maybe the deletion would have been a head-scratcher and this MeTa would make sense.

That'd be true if it had been the reason initially given for the deletion. But the reason given by the person who actually did the deleting was that he didn't state it was his opinion and that he appeared to be "claiming some omnipotent knowledge." Which made it back into a head-scratcher.
posted by Jahaza at 9:07 AM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


With regard to the issue of the effect of phrases like "in my opinion" and whether it should be obvious that our comments are our opinions without explicitly saying so, some views in the field of pragmatics suggest that explicit statements do have an effect even if in retrospect they seem obvious.
The listener presumes that the speaker is being cooperative and is speaking truthfully, informatively, relevantly, perspicuously, and otherwise appropriately. If an utterance superficially appears not to be conform to this presumption, the listener looks for a way of taking the utterance so that it does conform. He does so partly on the supposition that he is intended to. The speaker takes advantage of this in choosing his words to make evident his communicative intention. Because of their potential clashes, these maxims or presumptions should not be viewed as comprising a decision procedure. Rather, they provide different dimensions of considerations that the speaker may reasonably be taken as intending the hearer to take into account in figuring out the speaker's communicative intention.
Given the limitations of context in an online discussion such as this, the occasional "in my opinion" or qualification can help avoid such "potential clashes."

"Speech Acts and Pragmatics," Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Language, Michael Devitt and Richard Hanley, eds. (2003)
posted by audi alteram partem at 9:08 AM on April 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


gilrain: "It'd be fun if we somehow got a coupled set of "World's Best Mod" and "World's Worst Mod" coffee mugs for each of the staff members."

Or those thermo-active mugs -- when it's cold, it says "World's worst mod". Pour coffee in it and BOOOM! "World's best mod".
posted by boo_radley at 9:08 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Tanizaki's answer reads tersely, but not rude or dismissive to me.

The dismissiveness is in its use of "unethical." Without qualifiers to indicate that it's solely referring to the legal valence of the term w/r/t rules governing doctor behavior, it's totally dismissive.
posted by nobody at 9:09 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


They could drink from whichever mug they felt in their hearts was appropriate for that day.

Just need one mug, print each slogan on one side and go southpaw if you need to switch it up. Or one of those color-changes-with-heat ones!
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:09 AM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh look, another deletion thread, who could have guessed we'd have one on friday.
posted by iamabot at 9:10 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


> Just need one mug, print each slogan on one side and go southpaw if you need to switch it up.

This has the benefit, if we print the World's Worst Mod on the southpaw side, of negatively reinforcing bad mod behavior. You go southpaw, spill the coffee down your chest, and just shake your head as you stare at the mug: "I deserve this. I am the worst."
posted by gilrain at 9:11 AM on April 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


I wonder if it would be better to be living in that alt-universe Metafilter where this thread would have gone something like this.

"Tanizaki, you're being annoying again. I think I'll just close this up."
posted by philip-random at 9:11 AM on April 26, 2013 [14 favorites]


I don't think it's cheap. It's informative. Ethics and conduct codes can vary from profession to profession. Being able to say "I am an electrical engineer, but IANYEE. Now, here's what I think..." has a different value than "I am a dog on the internet and using my own internal definitions of 'ethical' and 'medical'. Now here's what I think." There's value and clarity in understanding who's communicating to you.

The best practice is clearly both. In fact, I'd be just as leery of giving a complete, studied and supported evaluation of someone's personal legal issue WITHOUT the IANYL disclaimer as I would be giving an too-short answer with a professional claim of authority.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:12 AM on April 26, 2013


oh, i have a better idea - a remote controlled mug that in normal mode, simply holds the beverage - but when it's in bad mod mode leaks all over the mod in question through a clever internet controlled mechanism

i'm a bad person, i know ...
posted by pyramid termite at 9:13 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


jessamyn: "Or where we shy away from deleting a thing because the deletee is a known MeTa axe-grinder (or in-thread mod arguer) and we have to balance leaving a problematic comment (and dealing with "WTF are you doing?" email and possibly a thread gone awry and maybe a MeTa anyhow) versus spending the entire day in MeTa defending the deletion."

Worth noting as well that the mods have taken action and deleted comments in direct response to user input. There have been a couple of times that I can remember where a mod has responded to a "Why wasn't this deleted" question raised in Meta with "I didn't see anything wrong with it" and then had their mind changed by the ensuing discussion.
posted by zarq at 9:18 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


We've acknowledged as much on a bunch of occasions. None of us imagine we are pure, rational objective people incapable of having our thinking colored or swayed by our personal perspectives on the world or anything like that.

But we're also all aware that this is Metafilter, not WhatWePreferfilter, and that it's explicitly not our job to try and make the site into our personal space, so we are basically constantly examining our individual and collective decision-making to insure as much as possible that "I don't personally like it" isn't a driving factor in the moderation work we do. We all take that pretty seriously, and actively work to make it as much of a non-issue as we are capable of.


For what it's worth: I really appreciate this answer, cortex - for its honesty and for the meat of it. I know that I don't always agree with deletions, but speaking for self, I'd like to make it clear that it's never that I think the mods have a Deliberate Agenda. It's almost always that I think the mods just aren't conscious of a particular bias that may be cropping up and influence their judgment, or don't see it as a bias because it's such an unquestioned part of their judgment and thought patterns.
posted by corb at 9:20 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, for what it's worth, and without in any way intending to suggest that the mods are doing anything other than their level best at a difficult job, in public, and with more transparency than a lot of people have to live under, I think this was a bad deletion. I don't think this is evidence of bad faith or an agenda or a bunch of other things that folks seem to latch on to. And maybe my own expectations aren't calibrated well to the rest of the community here, but to the extent that I'm a part of the community as well, the deletion doesn't sit right with my own understanding of acceptable AskMe answers. Thanks for listening.
posted by gauche at 9:27 AM on April 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


Why was Brandon Blatcher's similar question about a deletion closed and this one being allowed to devolve into people dredging up Tanizaki's posting history, history with the mods and "terrible" answers?
posted by kimberussell at 9:27 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


t's almost always that I think the mods just aren't conscious of a particular bias that may be cropping up and influence their judgment, or don't see it as a bias because it's such an unquestioned part of their judgment and thought patterns.

That's why "biased" is an antonym of "impartial." The mods have explicitly acknowledged that they are not always impartial, more than once. Metafilter is a community not a tribunal.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:28 AM on April 26, 2013


MetaTalk on the other hand....
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:30 AM on April 26, 2013


He never said he was a lawyer though (until this MeTa).

Yes he has.
posted by Gygesringtone at 9:32 AM on April 26, 2013


The difficulty I see, especially in light of Brandon's timeline, is that the appearance is more of closing ranks versus supporting a good decision. I understand the need for it in certain situations, but I also understand the visceral reaction to it as well.
posted by Mooski at 9:34 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why was Brandon Blatcher's similar question about a deletion closed...

Plain and naked Brandonism. The NAABP will hear of this.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:34 AM on April 26, 2013 [12 favorites]


MeTa is trial by ordeal. Put everybody's hand in the fire and see if it burns.

The deletion might be borderline, but given that my first thought on seeing who posted this MeTa was "oh axe-grinding at it again", I can understand the mods' hesitation to let that comment stand as the first thing in what was likely to be a contentious thread.
posted by immlass at 9:35 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


kimberussell: "Why was Brandon Blatcher's similar question about a deletion closed and this one being allowed to devolve into people dredging up Tanizaki's posting history, history with the mods and "terrible" answers?"

One was a joke about bras (apparently) and this is about information in ask me can be presented and retained.
posted by boo_radley at 9:36 AM on April 26, 2013


Plain and naked Brandonism. The NAABP will hear of this.

Brandon I know you don't do favorites, but I favorited this hard. And I snorted at my desk. :)
posted by kimberussell at 9:36 AM on April 26, 2013


Everybody makes great points. Personally I am with Tanizaki on this one, but I can't help but to notice that Taz hasn't spoken up a bit more. Her orginal defense made her, not the mods, look weak.

Let's all agree that MeFi is "The Best of the Web", give Taz a break, since she is the overnight mod, and Lord knows what kind of night she had, what with Greek-Nazi's and all, (she is in Athens) cut everybody some slack, and if the mods feel that some policy needs to be added, changed, or deleted, then they know where to post that.
posted by It is better for you not to know. at 9:36 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


dredging up Tanizaki's posting history, history with the mods and "terrible" answers?

Are people doing this? I am skimming poorly maybe but I don't see it.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:36 AM on April 26, 2013



I personally thought that comment was fine, though I was unaware of any backstory on the poster via a via gender, and I can see where that changes things.

In a larger sense, however, this I found a little troubling:

"Be nicer" seems like a perfectly good reason to delete that comment

Ultimately, this is Matt's site and he can delete whatever the fuck he wants for whatever reason he wants.

For myself, I think having the bar be "comment was not nice" is too high. I agree that personal attacks on the poster are obviously deletion-worthy. I know that AskMe troubles tend to be more on the harshness side than the too-gentle side.

But overall I would worry that, given that the majority of posters on MeFi tend to share a fairly narrow band of opinions across a wide range of subjects, deciding that certain things aren't nice to say and are therefore not allowed tends to create an environment where dissent from that baseline is unwelcome.


If dissent is unwelcome, MeFi will tend to become more insular, echo-chambery and extremist in its views; that's just what happens to groups where dissent is unwelcome. This I would not like to see.
posted by Diablevert at 9:37 AM on April 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


Everybody makes great points. Personally I am with Tanizaki on this one, but I can't help but to notice that Taz hasn't spoken up a bit more. Her orginal defense made her, not the mods, look weak.

She works the over-night shift. She's probably having a well deserved fermented beverage.
posted by Gygesringtone at 9:38 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Brandon doesn't do favorites! What!
Why?
Do you mean, he doesn't click on "+" or he hates all people?
posted by It is better for you not to know. at 9:38 AM on April 26, 2013


Christ on a stick, was the contact form broken? Or did someone need to A) stir shit and/or B) feel the need to get people on his "side"?

I have had plenty of AskMe answers deleted for (what I thought) were dubious reasons, and I never thought it was a travesty and marched over to MetaTalk. Jeeze, guys, it's just the internet.

Tanizaki is a smart guy, smart enough to know how his language and presentation will affect the tenor of the responses that come after him, and smart enough to know what effect opening Metatalk after Metatalk to complain about deletions will have on the mods.

Yes, there's really no excuse for someone who is as smart as Tanizaki and has as long of a commenting history as he does to throw a shit fit like this. Take a chill pill, dude.

Ultimately, this is Matt's site and he can delete whatever the fuck he wants for whatever reason he wants.

Yup.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 9:40 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: "Plain and naked Brandonism. The NAABP will hear of this."

Maybe they'll tell you to put on some pants, Mister Plain and Naked.
posted by boo_radley at 9:42 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is better for you not to know.: " Do you mean, he doesn't click on "+" or he hates all people?"

He rarely favorites comments or posts.
posted by zarq at 9:42 AM on April 26, 2013


With regard to the issue of the effect of phrases like "in my opinion" and whether it should be obvious that our comments are our opinions without explicitly saying so, some views in the field of pragmatics suggest that explicit statements do have an effect even if in retrospect they seem obvious.

I have had to wrestle with this as an arts critic. We're taught that we never need to include the phrase "in my opinion," because it's an opinion piece, so of course it's our opinion. Editors will even take the phrase in my opinion out of some stories, finding it redundant.

I have found this to be absolutely at odds with how readers read the pieces, and have repeatedly found that readers are often turned off by what they feel sounds like authoritarian, voice-of-God, stating-opinions-as-facts writing.

So now, when something is my opinion, I try to state it clearly and forthrightly, and it has had an enormous effect on how my writing is treated by readers and the subjects I am writing about. A little bit of public acknowledgement of opinion, and a little bit of the humility that suggests, goes an awful long way.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:44 AM on April 26, 2013 [12 favorites]


Yes, there's really no excuse for someone who is as smart as Tanizaki and has as long of a commenting history as he does to throw a shit fit like this. Take a chill pill, dude.

His tone seems rather more calm than "throw[ing] a shit fit."
posted by Jahaza at 9:47 AM on April 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


If the true reason for the deletion of the comment was Tanizaki's history here, it would have been nice if the first two mod comments purporting to explain the deletion would have just said so. If the idea is that they were trying to save Tanizaki face or be gentler, I think this is a terrible reason for concealing the actual reason for the deletion. Tanizaki posted the MeTa, after all. He and the community should be told the actual reason, up front.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:50 AM on April 26, 2013 [15 favorites]


Just need one mug, print each slogan on one side and go southpaw if you need to switch it up.

you are such a luddite. the clear answer is right in front of you. sheesh
posted by lampshade at 9:52 AM on April 26, 2013


***batteries not included
posted by lampshade at 9:53 AM on April 26, 2013


It's no secret I generally prefer less moderation to more moderation. That said, I hope it's also clear that I tend not to comment much in these kinds of threads because the "SILENCED ALL MY LIFE!!!!11!!1!!" stuff does nobody any favors and is usually complaining about perfectly legitimate deletions. But in this case I'm surprised because this doesn't even seem like an edge case, it seems like an unambiguously okay answer. Maybe not the answer the OP was hoping for but a plainly stated and possibly correct response to the OP.

The "it didn't say In My Opinion" stuff is just a non-starter.
posted by Justinian at 9:54 AM on April 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


To emphasize: I think these threads are usually stupid and whiny. This doesn't seem one of those.
posted by Justinian at 9:54 AM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


If you have a "problem user" that you want to get rid of, ban them instead of doing this passive aggressive nonsense.
posted by L. Ron McKenzie at 10:02 AM on April 26, 2013 [17 favorites]


I think the mods have a Deliberate Agenda. It's almost always that I think the mods just aren't conscious of a particular bias that may be cropping up and influence their judgment, or don't see it as a bias because it's such an unquestioned part of their judgment and thought patterns.

See, I think the latter is actually a MUCH less charitable assumption than assuming they have "an agenda."
posted by liketitanic at 10:02 AM on April 26, 2013


The deletion was bad enough, but the justifications offered:

1. You should have said this is just your opinion-- and how do you know the doctor wasn't drunk anyway?

2. You weren't nice enough.

3. We don't think you like us, and besides, what are you doing here in the first place?

call the integrity of the whole deletion process into question.
posted by jamjam at 10:06 AM on April 26, 2013 [18 favorites]


Wow folks are pretty bad at reading.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:08 AM on April 26, 2013 [14 favorites]


Happy Birthday Cortex, we all got together and got you this big box of bad faith. Hope you like it.
posted by lrobertjones at 10:11 AM on April 26, 2013 [43 favorites]


How many accounts have you had here? 3? 4? Surely, you aren't suggesting that the operators of this forum haven't spent a decade bending over backwards to accommodate you?

Thank you for proving my point.

Have we ever stopped to think that maybe, just maybe, Metafilter is filled with people with differing points of view? That this site is so full of wonderful stuff much of which is apolitical and/or pushes no hot buttons and is enjoyable by people on both sides of whatever?

And YET because of the culture here and how "minority" opinions are treated, many of those either do not post at all or just keep their proverbial mouths shut on certain topics?

Look, I understand the mods' desire not to have to moderate the meta version of world war hoppity mop every time they turn around. I DO. But the reason that threads turn contentious in my humble opinion is not that contrary opinions are expressed, but that the majority constantly loses its collective bowels when they see something that offends them. You know, if seeing things that offend you were fatal, my obituary thread would have been on here years ago. I'm saying that being here to have MY views challenged and stretched, if not necessarily changed, has been a good thing. And I am saying that this could be good for the site as a whole IF people would simply choose to be grownups and discuss ideas instead of throw ideological pressure cooker bombs at each other.

Okay, back to Tanizaki. We all know he is incredibly conservative (probably more than me) and he is also a lawyer. So in my head, I know that when he comments those comments are coming from that place. I might like his replies to be more nuanced, but he is not ME and he doesn't post or react the way I do. And people, that is OK. It isn't fatal, and it serves to remind all of us that everyone in life has differing perspectives, and that it just might be a fine idea to understand that, and to hear them out.

Even if that means we strongly disagree, and we have Strong and True and Right reasons for disagreeing, and the other poster is full of manure, and so forth. If my opinions are valid, THEY WILL STAND UP TO CHALLENGE and to want to shut down those other voices is wrong.

And in my humble opinion, cowardly.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:13 AM on April 26, 2013 [27 favorites]


We have a bunch of users here who post a lot of stuff that gets deleted frequently in AskMe. The thinking seems to be "Okay I'll post what I want and you delete it when it's not appropriate and we'll just carry on that way" It's not our favorite plan, but it's totally an acceptable way of interacting here.

I am one of these people. It is actually a great approach for interacting with a very insular website that has a lot of complicated history. And where no matter what, there is someone who has time to respond to even the smallest of legit points with an unlimited number of paragraphs.

So my advice to Tanizaki: Continue to post in good faith. Continue to share your knowledge and perspectives. But stop trying to argue balls and strikes. Let the 80-90% of your posts that remain speak for themselves. Please think about it.
posted by 99percentfake at 10:14 AM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]

Have we ever stopped to think that maybe, just maybe, Metafilter is filled with people with differing points of view?
Yep.
posted by dfan at 10:18 AM on April 26, 2013


ideological pressure cooker bombs

Reconsider using this phrase ever again.
posted by cribcage at 10:21 AM on April 26, 2013 [40 favorites]


ideological pressure cooker bombs
Reconsider using this phrase ever again.

I think you meant NEVER again.
posted by It is better for you not to know. at 10:27 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Look, I understand the mods' desire not to have to moderate the meta version of world war hoppity mop every time they turn around. I DO. But the reason that threads turn contentious in my humble opinion is not that contrary opinions are expressed, but that the majority constantly loses its collective bowels when they see something that offends them.

I think threads turn contentious when people act like assholes, whichever opinion they hold.
posted by liketitanic at 10:31 AM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd like to know what specific wording I need to use when I answer AskMe questions, so that I don't get my answers deleted, regardless of whether my answer is correct or incorrect. I contribute a lot and the idea that my answers could be deleted out of capricious accusations of bad faith, as was done here, seems troubling. I'd hate for one of my science answers to be deleted, for example, because of tone. What phrases should I insert to make the tone sufficiently pleasant enough to get past such an automatic association?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:32 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


If my opinions are valid, THEY WILL STAND UP TO CHALLENGE and to want to shut down those other voices is wrong.

And I think the narrative that "your opinions" have been the source of your troubles here is myopic at best.

Still love you and RALLLLLLLPH though.
posted by liketitanic at 10:32 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


And this is why lawyers and doctors should never read askme.
posted by empath at 10:32 AM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Question: Why does Tanizaki and all these other folks even care?

I think I've had posts deleted, I'm sure I could find out. If I'd posted a 5-7 paragraph discussion that I'd researched for an hour, perhaps I would. But one or two lines? It seemed to be pretty generic information. Was there a hidden undercurrent of importance? If there was perhaps there was more reason for a delete? Is there a deeper set of undercurrents in this thread (liberal vs conservative)? But really, I get the bean plate and low level ocd of many participants, but what is going on here?
posted by sammyo at 10:33 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe they'll tell you to put on some pants, Mister Plain and Naked.

We are proud and free people.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:34 AM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd like to know what specific wording I need to use when I answer AskMe questions, so that I don't get my answers deleted

You get relatively little deleted from Ask proportional to your volume of answers—nothing at all so far this year, for example—so you seem to have figured things out pretty well by observation and instinct, which is good because that's really the only practical approach. There is no, and can be no, canonical list of Good And Bad Phrases and asking for one seems like sort of crappy sarcasm to toss our way.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:36 AM on April 26, 2013 [20 favorites]


Okay, back to Tanizaki. We all know he is incredibly conservative (probably more than me) and he is also a lawyer. So in my head, I know that when he comments those comments are coming from that place.

You know that. I know that. There are thousands of users here, and new folks coming along every day. I don't think it's helpful to expect that certain facts about any given poster are to be widely understood. As a "social network of non-friends" things work better when we respect the power of our words.

I am struck that if Tanizaki had prefaced his deleted answer with the background he provided here in this thread, his answer likely would have stood. As a lawyer he probably already knows that being technically correct is useless if his client doesn't hear what he has to say because the client took offense at a brusque tone.

In this context, where the question was directly related to the brusque and dismissive manner of the physician, a brusquely dismissive response, while technically correct, was probably not the best way to start off the thread.
posted by ambrosia at 10:47 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm kind of curious to know if deletion objections raised by mefite members who are lawyers make for more contentious metatalk threads.
posted by zarq at 10:53 AM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


If Tanizaki didn't have such a history on this site of making terrible comments with regard to gender issues

Even if I grant you I am somehow a "bad guy" in this respect, it has nothing to do with the comment's ability to answer the OP's question.

To my recollection, I have commented on transgender issues on this site zero times.

Metatalk after Metatalk to complain about deletions

I think I have done that twice, including this thread.
posted by Tanizaki at 10:55 AM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


You get relatively little deleted from Ask proportional to your volume of answers—nothing at all so far this year, for example—so you seem to have figured things out pretty well by observation and instinct, which is good because that's really the only practical approach.

This seems to give a different impression (problems in the past) from what Jessamyn said above:

You give a lot of helpful advice in AskMe. You also sometimes appear to just use it for spleen venting, or possibly it's just a style issue and the style of your answers goes against the grain of how AskMe works from time to time. And we've had a lot of conversations with you about it and they don't seem to go anywhere.

Which seemed to me to suggest that there was an ongoing problem.
posted by Jahaza at 10:57 AM on April 26, 2013


Oh wait... I see. That's responding to BP, not to Tanizaki.
posted by Jahaza at 10:58 AM on April 26, 2013


I think it's fair to say you're a known quantity with regard to LGBTQ issues.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:58 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Something has definitely shifted in the culture of MeFi with the expansion of moderation in the last year or so. There is a lot less room to say anything true but discomf

Yeah, it's like expanding the moderators to meet the demands of an expanding site have resulted in moderators being better at keeping threads running A-OK.

Look I get as bothered by moderation of anything as anybody does, because I am a free bird and something something wings, but at the same time I think the moderation of MetaFilter is what makes it a uniquely good place on the Internet. The things that mods do that piss me off are things which I'm convinced make the site better for the majority of users that are not me. And I haven't yet seen an instance of moderation that didn't come from a "this is going to probably be a good thing for the site" point of view.

There have been fewer threads, at least on the Blue, that dissolved into piles of absolute sludge since the moderation team has expanded than there were on what seemed like a weekly basis in years past. We just got through the winter, which has been a rough time for MetaFilter every single year I've read it, with fewer meltdowns than ever before in my memory. We've had an unprecedented number of really long-ass threads about shit and they've all seemingly done really well.

I was going to say that I, too, wish that sometimes the moderators would at least admit to there being some discontentedness with their policies, and that often I am bothered by how supportive the mods are of each other, but after applying even a smidgen of thought to the way this site runs I want to say FUCK THAT. The mods are incredible at their jobs, as anybody who's used any other forum of any size ever can attest to. Even when I disagree with their decisions, I can appreciate the logic behind them. And as easy as it is for any community member to go, "Oh, the mods are shutting own our party, I wish this place was more meant for meeeee," I think that the diversity of users who are allowed to flourish on this site is pretty tremendous, as much as it is sometimes immensely frustrating.

(I do regret that we've lost a bunch of good users because of perceived moderator abuse, and I know of a couple people in particular who I miss quite a lot. More overtures to making them all come back, please!)
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:59 AM on April 26, 2013 [18 favorites]


I wonder if the comment would have stood if it hadn't been the first response in the thread? I agree that it's a perfectly good answer, but as the first answer there was the possibility it could provoke responses that would derail the thread.

Is there any precedent for deleting a comment and suggesting that the member repost it a few minutes later?

On balance, though, I'm with those who think this should have stood.
posted by alms at 10:59 AM on April 26, 2013


If my opinions are valid, THEY WILL STAND UP TO CHALLENGE

Opinions are always "valid," which means they are always useless. Tanizaki deliberately did not link his "opinion" to any basis, in order to avoid "challenge." You make a good point, but like Matt Yglesias's, it is not suported by the available evidence.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:00 AM on April 26, 2013


I am struck that if Tanizaki had prefaced his deleted answer with the background he provided here in this thread, his answer likely would have stood.

So, something like this:

Look, I'm a lawyer with a pretty fair grasp of the issues here. Sorry, but the answer is no. He did not commit malpractice, engage in unethical conduct, or otherwise violate model state licensing provisions. He is not impaired, incompetent, or unethical.

In which case, I agree. That's a way bet answer even though it doesn't delete a single word from the original, just adds a preface for context, and thus tone. Which yes, is a big part of how communication works. Jimmy Page is not revered as a guitar player just because of the notes he played. The tone he used is a huge factor, as it is in any art, and conversation/discussion is definitely an art.
posted by philip-random at 11:05 AM on April 26, 2013 [16 favorites]


Is there any precedent for deleting a comment and suggesting that the member repost it a few minutes later?

Not in those specific terms, but we've certainly told folks many times when they've asked that reworking a deleted comment and reposting the revised version is fine. It's vanishingly rare that the problem with a comment is the fundamental notion behind it; usually some reframing or tweaking can go a long way in turning something likely to get a bunch of flags and derail a thread into something that'll sit in a thread totally fine.

And I think that'd have worked okay here; Tanizaki has done a much better job of outlining his reasoning in here than he did in the original terse assertion, and presented as such—more as "here's what I'm thinking and what external stuff I'm referencing in that thinking" rather than just "this is so" as a pat assertion—then it'd have been a non-issue. Which is pretty much what we'd have have told him in a contact form email if it'd gone that way.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:06 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


That was very nicely put, philip-random.
posted by zarq at 11:08 AM on April 26, 2013


I think it's fair to say you're a known quantity with regard to LGBTQ issues.

And what quantity do you know? I believe I have commented on those issues very infrequently. I am quite confident that I have never commented on transgender issues. A quick search shows that I did say to a teacher who wants to start an LGBTQ support group that her intentions were admirable.

I suspect that you have drawn your conclusion regarding me in this regard, so I would be interested to learn it since like most people, I am sure I am never so blind as when I look in the mirror.
posted by Tanizaki at 11:10 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


It would probably be that time you compared being gay to having Down's Syndrome, and idly opined that if there was an actual "gay gene" that many many more people would be very interested in eugenics.

I mean, maybe.
posted by elizardbits at 11:12 AM on April 26, 2013 [24 favorites]

A recent theory is that the societal norming of homosexuality has the effect of reducing the number of gays, with the operative effect being that where gays previously might have tended to remain closeted, married, and breed, they are much more likely to live openly gay and never breed.

I predict that when genetic engineering of babies becomes mainstream, no matter how tolerant the parents, the gay population will be about the same size as the current Down Syndrome population.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:15 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't believe that got deleted. I can't believe taz's bullshit explanation. And I really can't believe that mathowie has defended it. It's so obviously a deletion based on personal disagreement with the answer. I've never seen comments in AskMe held to the kind of standard, or with the sort of enforced caveats, that taz is trying to suggest are necessary.

I'm afriad that "Team Mod" has really started to see itself as one Team, and the site's userbase and the opposing team. That the mods are casting about for some rationale that would justify this deletion is a terrible, terrible sign of an inability or unwillingness to recognize when one of your Team is in the wrong, and own up to it. It's a sign that arbirtrariness is going to be defended, on invented grounds, if necessary (not empathetic enough? Give me a fucking break).

Question: Why does Tanizaki and all these other folks even care?

Usually, there's a defensible rationale for deleting a comment. This is such utter bullshit, and the mods' defence of it such self-serving, circle-the-wagons crap, that it makes the whole site a less inviting and rewarding place to hang out. If this kind of answer can be deleted, then why bother commenting? You're entirely at the mods' whims. That's not the sort of community I want to contribute to.
posted by Dasein at 11:16 AM on April 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


Even if I grant you I am somehow a "bad guy" in this respect, it has nothing to do with the comment's ability to answer the OP's question.

Except that it does, because it comes with the baggage of your posting history.

To my recollection, I have commented on transgender issues on this site zero times.

Possibly, but 1) gender =/= transgender, and 2) boy oh boy do you seem to have problems with gender issues. There's very few people on Metafilter who fit the aggrieved (straight, white) men's rights advocate profile, but you seem to be one of them.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:16 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


It would probably be that time you compared being gay to having Down's Syndrome, and idly opined that if there was an actual "gay gene" that many many more people would be very interested in eugenics.

I mean, maybe.


I did not compare being gay to having Down Syndrome. I stated an prediction of how I believe society would behave in respect to a potential technological capability. I stated no opinion about what I would think of such a practice. If you must know, I think it would be an abominable practice.
posted by Tanizaki at 11:18 AM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


elizardbits: "It would probably be that time you compared being gay to having Down's Syndrome, and idly opined that if there was an actual "gay gene" that many many more people would be very interested in eugenics. "

What the fucking fuck?
posted by zarq at 11:18 AM on April 26, 2013


Excellent first-post deletion, and hugs all around. There are a lot of people here that seem to be genuinely trying to learn each other and make a better community, and that's worth a lot.
posted by introp at 11:19 AM on April 26, 2013


It would probably be that time you compared being gay to having Down's Syndrome, and idly opined that if there was an actual "gay gene" that many many more people would be very interested in eugenics.



Here's the comment in question, which isn't quite as elizardbits described it.


What the fucking fuck?

Indeed, elizardbits.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:21 AM on April 26, 2013 [16 favorites]


What the fucking fuck?

Indeed.

Also, CABAL etc, whatever. I plan on getting cortex hammered and figuring out the secret handshake.
posted by iamabot at 11:21 AM on April 26, 2013


Inside the box of bad faith was another, tinier box of bad faith.
posted by boo_radley at 11:22 AM on April 26, 2013 [26 favorites]


It would probably be that time you compared being gay to having Down's Syndrome, and idly opined that if there was an actual "gay gene" that many many more people would be very interested in eugenics.

What an offensive misrepresentation of that comment.
posted by Dasein at 11:23 AM on April 26, 2013 [22 favorites]


I can see why people who are saying they are disturbed by the deletion of a factually-correct and dry comment feel that way, but I have to say that I think there's always been an implicit (or maybe even explicit) norm that AskMe answer have to be helpful to the asker. In 99.9% of the cases, being factually correct is going to mean that you're being helpful to the asker but there are definitely that 0.1% of answers where that's not the case and it's clear to me at least that the comment in question falls into that bucket.

I mean, if someone posted a distraught question about being 2 weeks out from giving birth and feeling they didn't love their baby, and wondering what to do, and the first answer out of the gate was "You're mentally ill, get help" I don't think most people would have a problem with that deletion. Despite the fact that the answer may be factually correct (postpartum depression is a type of mental illness), tone is an important aspect of what makes an answer helpful--or totally unhelpful / a slap in the face--to an asker.
posted by iminurmefi at 11:24 AM on April 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


I stated no opinion about what I would think of such a practice.

that was a mistake - if you're going to deal with dangerous and provocative ideas like that, you need to make it clear that you disapprove of them so you don't get mistaken for someone who is advocating them
posted by pyramid termite at 11:25 AM on April 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


boo_radley: "Inside the box of bad faith was another, tinier box of bad faith."

Note to self: "Bad Faith Argument" == roller derby dolls name???
posted by boo_radley at 11:26 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


What an offensive misrepresentation of that comment.

What's the 'mis' part of the representation?
posted by shakespeherian at 11:28 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tanizaki: "I did not compare being gay to having Down Syndrome. I stated an prediction of how I believe society would behave in respect to a potential technological capability. I stated no opinion about what I would think of such a practice. If you must know, I think it would be an abominable practice."

Whoa, yeah. elizardbits' description wasn't accurate.

But I can also see how she might have made that mistake.

Between that comment and the one that was deleted here, perhaps additional context is needed so people don't react badly to the concepts you're raising.
posted by zarq at 11:28 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


shakespeherian: " What's the 'mis' part of the representation?"

He didn't compare being gay to having Downs.
posted by zarq at 11:29 AM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


This has sorta gone sideways, the original question was answered, the deletion reason was provided, now we're going to beanplate whether that deletion reason was good enough while we see how ungenerously we can read peoples comment histories and generally speaking, be outstanding assholes to each other.
posted by iamabot at 11:29 AM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


that was a mistake - if you're going to deal with dangerous and provocative ideas like that, you need to make it clear that you disapprove of them so you don't get mistaken for someone who is advocating them

This is great advice! Sometimes when I write about certain things relating to my profession, I have to make it very, very clear I'm being Descriptive and not Prescriptive. Otherwise talking dispassionately about "Exactly How We Achieve National Policy" makes people outside that specific frame upset.

Somebody much smarter than me has already written about this.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:30 AM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


He didn't compare being gay to having Downs.

No, he said that the desirability of having a gay child is roughly equitable to the desirability of having a child with Downs.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:30 AM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


now we're going to beanplate whether that deletion reason was good enough while we see how ungenerously we can read peoples comment histories and generally speaking, be outstanding assholes to each other.

Double dumb ass on you!
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:31 AM on April 26, 2013


that was a mistake - if you're going to deal with dangerous and provocative ideas like that, you need to make it clear that you disapprove of them so you don't get mistaken for someone who is advocating them

That may be true. However, I think "making it clear" might have opened up more problems. For example, if I made it clear that fiddling with genetics to make a non-gay baby was as abominable to be as aborting a baby that is likely to have Down Syndrome, I can only imagine the abortion derail and perhaps one about reproductive technology as well.
posted by Tanizaki at 11:32 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


now we're going to beanplate whether that deletion reason was good enough while we see how ungenerously we can read peoples comment histories and generally speaking, be outstanding assholes to each other.

That's just the sort of thing a Communist sympathizer would say.

No, he said that the desirability of having a gay child is roughly equitable to the desirability of having a child with Downs.

Nope, he said the size of the gay population would be equal to those with Down's Syndrome. I'm puzzled by your reading of that comment.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:33 AM on April 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


No, he said that the desirability of having a gay child is roughly equitable to the desirability of having a child with Downs.

Wrong again. I stated a prediction about how American society would act given certain technological capabilities. In case I have not been clear enough, I find the current practice (which informed my opinion) to be as abominable as the predicted behavior.

I do not talk about the ontological "desirability" of human beings, ever.
posted by Tanizaki at 11:33 AM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Note to self: "Bad Faith Argument" == roller derby dolls name???

More like Culture ship name. Probably a Rapid Offensive Unit.
posted by shothotbot at 11:34 AM on April 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


That may be true. However, I think "making it clear" might have opened up more problems. For example, if I made it clear that fiddling with genetics to make a non-gay baby was as abominable to be as aborting a baby that is likely to have Down Syndrome, I can only imagine the abortion derail and perhaps one about reproductive technology as well.

The thing is -- there is another option. You don't have to say every awful thing that is thought.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:34 AM on April 26, 2013 [18 favorites]


I mean, if someone posted a distraught question about being 2 weeks out from giving birth and feeling they didn't love their baby, and wondering what to do, and the first answer out of the gate was "You're mentally ill, get help"

But the situation isn't that. It's the issue of "[a] distant friend of mine," not a direct response to a person in mental health crisis. Telling the distant friend of someone with postpartum depression that the person should get mental healthcare is different.
posted by Jahaza at 11:35 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Shouldn't this thread be closed. It seems to have descended into chaos and name calling and is far removed from the original "why was this answer deleted" policy question, which has long since been answered.
posted by humanfont at 11:37 AM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


He didn't compare being gay to having Downs.

No, he said that the desirability of having a gay child is roughly equitable to the desirability of having a child with Downs.


IN THE FUTURE
posted by It is better for you not to know. at 11:38 AM on April 26, 2013


I did not compare being gay to having Down Syndrome.

You said "I predict that when genetic engineering of babies becomes mainstream ... the gay population will be about the same size as the current Down Syndrome population." If you weren't reaching for some kind of parallel, then why did you choose that comparison? There are plenty of ways to make a point about genetic engineering without putting sexual orientation and Down Syndrome in the same sentence. I'm sure a smart guy like you knows how to do that.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:38 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


But the situation isn't that. It's the issue of "[a] distant friend of mine," not a direct response to a person in mental health crisis. Telling the distant friend of someone with postpartum depression that the person should get mental healthcare is different.

Sure, but if someone says "This bad thing happened to my friend, what can they do about it?" the appropriate response isn't to tell them nothing bad happened. The comment wasn't "That's awful, but I don't think you/they have recourse," it was "No problem that I can see" with, if one is feeling sensitive, an unspoken "and your friend's kid doesn't deserve any better."
posted by hoyland at 11:39 AM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


A distant friend of mine recently moved to Corpus Christi, Texas. She has been using me as a resource because I'm the first trans person she's met.

Don't overlook that the OP is trans, so even if the friend is "distant" the issue certainly is not.
posted by ambrosia at 11:41 AM on April 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


Wrong again. I stated a prediction about how American society would act given certain technological capabilities. In case I have not been clear enough, I find the current practice (which informed my opinion) to be as abominable as the predicted behavior.

Upon rereading that thread, I am now wondering why you did not take the opportunity to clarify this issue there, despite many people's objections to that comment.
posted by elizardbits at 11:42 AM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


In fact, you did compare the "gay gene" and Down Syndrome. You're just trying to argue now that it wasn't an offensive comparison.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:43 AM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you weren't reaching for some kind of parallel, then why did you choose that comparison?

Because I think that is the most striking and visible example of how American are currently engaging in jury-rigged genetic engineering. (or rather, the notable lack of visibility attests to how Americans have acted in this regard) I am not aware of any other pre-natally screened trait that Americans might be using for selective abortion to such an extent. Do you? Maybe it exists, but I do not know about it.
posted by Tanizaki at 11:43 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can see why people who are saying they are disturbed by the deletion of a factually-correct and dry comment feel that way

It wasn't even factually correct, as TedW helpfully pointed out above. I know wrong answers aren't necessarily deleteworthy, but I cannot get exercised over the deletion of a comment that was wrong, unhelpful, and written in a shitty, dismissive tone by a commenter who frequently starts derailing arguments in AskMe by presenting his opinion as unbiased fact.
posted by gladly at 11:44 AM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


It just really blows my mind that people care this much about deleted comments.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 11:45 AM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Upon rereading that thread, I am now wondering why you did not take the opportunity to clarify this issue there, despite many people's objections to that comment.

Because Cortex and Jessamyn both explicitly told him to drop it?
posted by Jahaza at 11:45 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


this is going nowhere fast - time to call it over
posted by pyramid termite at 11:46 AM on April 26, 2013


If you GO to fullscreenweather.com, it looks like a really nice day OUTSIDE in most of the US. Hardly any rain, temperatures mostly in the 60s and 70s. Some thunderstorms around Memphis, but that's about it.
posted by desjardins at 11:46 AM on April 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


This is 100% not sarcasm: could I gently suggest that Tanizaki tell us a bit more about how he feels about issues? It seems like it would go a long way towards soothing communications between all parties involved. I think for a lot of us cut-and-dried statements (whether they are speculation or fact) often carry an implicit endorsement of what is being stated, unless the poster specifies otherwise. "I think eugenics is reprehensible, but it wouldn't surprise me if mainstream genetic engineering had X effect on the size of the gay population" or "I think that doctor behaved reprehensibly, but you don't have any recourse here" are a lot less provocative and combative while being no less true.
posted by Phire at 11:46 AM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


Upon rereading that thread, I am now wondering why you did not take the opportunity to clarify this issue there, despite many people's objections to that comment.


Sheesh, what did Tanizaki do to hurt you so bad?

Anyway Cortex asked people to knock it off.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:47 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


presenting his opinion as unbiased fact.

The subset of people who do this is...rather large.
(In my opinion.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:47 AM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


It seems to have descended into chaos and name calling and is far removed from the original "why was this answer deleted" policy question, which has long since been answered.

If only people improved their tone.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:48 AM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sure, but they didn't open MeTas asking about their comment deletion.
posted by gladly at 11:49 AM on April 26, 2013


It seems like in both controversial comments, you have elided any sense of compassion when addressing controversial issues. So it may be a communication issue that could easily be improved.

I completely understand elizardbits and shakes interp of it. I think the burden rests with the commenter to distinguish one's position from what one is describing in controversial situations
posted by angrycat at 11:49 AM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


it's my understanding that zumba can help with tone
posted by pyramid termite at 11:49 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jahaza: "Because Cortex and Jessamyn both explicitly told him to drop it?"

Gosh, they told everybody to stop:
* [Folks, if you flag please move on. Don't use this thread to grind your same old axes please.]
* [I am not exactly hot on the potential of this thread in the first place but if it's gonna work one thing it needs to not do is turn into some sidebar argument about parents culling gay babies or whatever. Drop it, thank you.]

Huh.

Huh.

"Don't use this thread to grind your same old axes". Punchy, don't you think?
posted by boo_radley at 11:50 AM on April 26, 2013


Don't overlook that the OP is trans, so even if the friend is "distant" the issue certainly is not.

ambrosia brings up a good point too. The thing is, from a totally neutral perspective, I understand Tanizaki's argument against the deletion. The question asks "is there anything that can be done..." and the deleted answer was "No..." But it seems to me from the framing of the question and the passion of the OP, if not the exact question itself, that the actual question is "what can be done to prevent this from happening to somebody else?"

Yes, that's not what was on the page, so it might seem unfair. But it's a tricky situation and that's where the moderation comes in. And this is the type of thing I meant when I said earlier "You don't have to say every awful thing..." I don't mean it in a SILENCED ALL MY LIFE way; I mean it in a "time and place" way.

That's why I'm glad we have human moderators who do go with their gut. I might not always agree, but it's much, much better than a strictly rule based system.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:50 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


About the original comment which is our subject in this thread -- I think philip_random's rewrite is exactly on target.

That kind of small tweak really is the difference between a totally fine comment and one that comes off as a dismissive or even testy "the doctor did nothing wrong" (which is not much of an answer, and all but guaranteed to start a fight if it's the first comment in a thread). iminurmefi also gives a nice case where a bit of extra tact in answers to an upset asker goes a long way.

Something to be aware of is the effect of excessively formal diction. I think you sometimes run into this, Tanizaki, although you're not the only one. (Eg, never using contractions, just as one quick example) It can make a seemingly-neutral comment sound really patronizing or scolding; it invokes the same feeling as "if you would just sit up straight, you sloppy hippie, you would see that..." kind of thing. I am very willing to believe that you don't intend your comments in that spirit. But you have an uncommonly formal written style, compared to the general run of styles around here -- and it's worth being aware that it disposes the audience to read comments a certain way.

If you keep that style of diction, it might be helpful to make a conscious effort to counter the unintended reading -- for example, by adding phrases like philip_random did.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:50 AM on April 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


Jahaza, I wasn't trying to say the situations were exactly the same, just putting an example out there of another situation where I can imagine a factually-correct answer being deleted with a mod admonishment to "be nicer" and couch things more in terms of opinions. In other words, being correct is not the same thing as being helpful to someone, and this is particularly true when someone comes to metafilter very upset or emotional about a problem they or a loved one are dealing with.

The mods are a lot more restrained than I would be in deleting "tough love" AskMe answers that I think are really unhelpful or unnecessarily confrontational to askers, and I suspect the reason for that is that they err on the side of assuming good intentions on the part of people answering questions even when the tone of that advice is not-great. When they see one of those borderline answers that is challenging the asker's premises in a not-helpful or not-kind way, and it's posted by someone whose history means they've lost that benefit of the doubt about being motivated by a sincere desire to help, it doesn't seem wrong to me for them to decide to delete the answer and to tell the person to try again.
posted by iminurmefi at 11:51 AM on April 26, 2013


Sheesh, what did Tanizaki do to hurt you so bad?

He ate the last donut in the breakroom.
posted by elizardbits at 11:51 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Because I think that is the most striking and visible example of how American are currently engaging in jury-rigged genetic engineering.

So, contrary to your protestations, you were making a comparison, weren't you?
posted by octobersurprise at 11:51 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


In fact, you did compare the "gay gene" and Down Syndrome. You're just trying to argue now that it wasn't an offensive comparison.

I did nothing of the sort. I certainly never said "gay gene" because that term is meaningless. (since you will speculate, yes, I accept that sexual orientation is largely genetic) There is not a "tall gene", either. That is not how genetics works.

I observe now that the initial justifications for the deletion have been shot down to a fair extent, we are now conducting a referendum of my past comments and flat out misrepresenting some of them to see really how much of a Bad Guy I am. I used to see this on the People's Court a lot (and now in real court). Saying "My neighbor is an asshole, therefore he trashed my car" is a lot easier than "My neighbor trashed my car, therefore he is an asshole".
posted by Tanizaki at 11:51 AM on April 26, 2013 [14 favorites]


Long time lurker, haven't had time to party on MeTa lately, just want to say I read through the thread and Tanizaki's earlier comments and want to add $0.02 that it was a bad deletion and his comment was not malicious. It was a dry, factual read and read just like that. Moo. Have a nice day.
posted by cavalier at 11:52 AM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


we are now conducting a referendum of my past comments

You asked me why I feel I know what you're bringing to the table in conversations about LGBTQ issues. This is a question that I answered.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:54 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think the burden lies with the reader not casting a comment in the most uncharitable possible fashion. All the more so when the comment is dry and factual.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:54 AM on April 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


You asked me why I feel I know what you're bringing to the table in conversations about LGBTQ issues. This is a question that I answered.

"Mom! Tanizaki hit me back!"
posted by Etrigan at 11:55 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I generally agree with something like 0% of what the OP has to say, but I don't care for this deletion.
posted by mintcake! at 11:57 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Mom! Tanizaki hit me back!"

I'm sorry but I do not understand what you're talking about. Jessamyn and others in this thread have alluded to Tanizaki's history. Tanizaki said that he's never said word one about gender issues. I said that even if that is specifically and technically true, he has a decently-well-known position on LGBTQ issues, based on his commenting history. He asked me how that could be true and that he would be interested to learn what I think and why.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:59 AM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Am I wrong in thinking that a big part of what's causing the problem here is the ambiguity around the word "unethical" when talking about a doctor? It can mean "contravening the AMA code of ethics" or it could mean "doing something that normal people consider unethical." Isn't the issue just that the first one would be an ok answer, but the second one wouldn't?
posted by Ragged Richard at 12:00 PM on April 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


Yeah, I think that's a big part of it. A lawyer-type interpretation of the word "unethical" differs greatly from what most people think of as ethical and unethical, and again, if the comment had a bit of qualifier that that's where the use of the term was coming from (like in phillip-random's rewrite), it would make the context clear.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:03 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


phillip_random's rewrite is exactly on target precisely because phillip_random's rewrite includes some very important information that the writer laments the fact that the doctor did something horrible and now a poor kid is hurt.

That lament was not implicit in Tanizaki's deleted comment.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:03 PM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


Except that it does, because it comes with the baggage of your posting history.

Only if you think the mods should be deleting comments due to grudges they have against a user.

The comment stands on its own. "You said this but I think you really mean something else because of my opinion of you" is exactly what Corext was complaining about when he flipped out on wolfsdreams. But everyone is happy to do it against Tanizaki.

phillip_random's rewrite is exactly on target precisely because phillip_random's rewrite includes some very important information that the writer laments the fact that the doctor did something horrible and now a poor kid is hurt.

It's totally irrelevant whether he laments it or not, the comment answered the question without being rude.
posted by spaltavian at 12:03 PM on April 26, 2013 [13 favorites]


So, contrary to your protestations, you were making a comparison, weren't you?

No, I was not making a comparison of those states of being. I will try to explain it very carefully now. I suspect that you are now being deliberately obtuse but I will give you the benefit of the doubt:

Given the ability to learn pre-natal information about their babies, Americans sometimes use this information to abort those pregnancies. The most noticeable example (as far as I know) is Down Syndrome in that at least the high 80%s of pregnancies with Down Syndrome fetuses are aborted. This fact is not in dispute. If 95% of left-handed fetuses were being aborted, I would have used that as the basis for my prediction. I don't think any baby would be aborted for being left-handed, but if before getting pregnant a couple could choose the handedness of the child, I think that left-handedness would be less prevalent than it is now. (LET ME BE CLEAR THAT I THINK THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING LEFT-HANDED AND I THINK THAT "SINISTER" IS AN OFFENSIVE WORD FOR THIS REASON)

I still don't understand why people keep pushing this point. The objection seems to be based upon, "you said being gay is as bad as having Down Syndrome!" No, I did not say that. How could I? Neither being gay or having Down Syndrome is "bad". The assumptions behind the repeated challenges on this point frankly are betraying something about themselves that is not very nice.
posted by Tanizaki at 12:03 PM on April 26, 2013 [28 favorites]


Am I wrong in thinking that a big part of what's causing the problem here is the ambiguity around the word "unethical" when talking about a doctor? It can mean "contravening the AMA code of ethics" or it could mean "doing something that normal people consider unethical." Isn't the issue just that the first one would be an ok answer, but the second one wouldn't?

The problem is that a doctor has pointed out that using the first definition to say the doctor behaved ethically would be misrepresenting the AMA ethics code. So Tanizaki has told us we're too dumb to read something he apparently either misread or couldn't be bothered to read.
posted by hoyland at 12:04 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'll concede I'm reading between the lines of TedW's comment a bit. He did not explicitly say Tanizaki misrepresented the ethics code. He quoted the relevant part.
posted by hoyland at 12:06 PM on April 26, 2013


Nobody wants to work on a Friday afternoon.
posted by mimo at 12:07 PM on April 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think the burden lies with the reader not casting a comment in the most uncharitable possible fashion. All the more so when the comment is dry and factual.

Depending on the context, "dry and factual" can be read as being in someway inappropriate (e.g. uncaring or antagonistic) without either the reader being uncharitable or the writer intending any negative implicature. There are limits to charitable readings, especially in a low-context communicative situation, and misunderstanding doesn't necessarily result from a lack of good will.
posted by audi alteram partem at 12:08 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Only if you think the mods should be deleting comments due to grudges they have against a user.

I think there would be a lot less words on this here website if that were something that happened.
posted by PMdixon at 12:08 PM on April 26, 2013


He ate the last donut in the breakroom.?

For fuck's sake, it was just a raspberry creme, not worth it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:09 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Only if you think the mod's should be deleting comments due to grudges they have against a user.

The issue wasn't deleting it because of the user, it was because the user's tone very often comes across as confrontational, both when presenting fact and presenting opinion, and that appearance here combined with it being the very first comment of the thread, where standoffishness (or the appearance thereof) has an long-established history of Not Being OK on Metafilter.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:09 PM on April 26, 2013


Only if you think the mod's should be deleting comments due to grudges they have against a user.

"Grudges" is an over-statement, but isn't this pretty much acknowledged policy at this point? The same comment that is problematic and deletable when posted by a user with perceived history X is fine and acceptable when posted by a user with perceived history Y (or no history).
posted by 0 at 12:09 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Mom! Tanizaki hit me back!"

I'm sorry but I do not understand what you're talking about. Jessamyn and others in this thread have alluded to Tanizaki's history.


I'm sorry, I'll amend it.

"Mom! Tanizaki hit me back after someone else hit him first and then he hit some other person and then I hit him!"

This thread has indisputably become a referendum on Tanizaki's posting history, egged on by moderators using that history as a justification for deleting a comment. Which I think is (somewhat) acceptable, but you can't pretend that the referendum isn't happening.
posted by Etrigan at 12:12 PM on April 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


The same comment that is problematic and deletable when posted by a user with perceived history X is fine and acceptable when posted by a user with perceived history Y (or no history).

[citation needed]
posted by zombieflanders at 12:12 PM on April 26, 2013


"Grudges" is an over-statement, but isn't this pretty much acknowledged policy at this point? The same comment that is problematic and deletable when posted by a user with perceived history X is fine and acceptable when posted by a user with perceived history Y (or no history).

I think the difference between "history exists and will be considered" and "GRUDGEBANHAMMER!" is one of kind and not degree.
posted by PMdixon at 12:14 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


And I guess I'm kinda shruggo on the deletion itself, but this thread is going to hell in a bucket. (Handbasket too small.)
posted by PMdixon at 12:15 PM on April 26, 2013

The same comment that is problematic and deletable when posted by a user with perceived history X is fine and acceptable when posted by a user with perceived history Y (or no history).
My understanding is more like "The same comment that is problematic and deletable when posted by a user with perceived history X is problematic but acceptable when posted by a user with perceived history Y (or no history)."
posted by dfan at 12:15 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


... Given the ability to learn pre-natal information about their babies, Americans sometimes use this information to abort those pregnancies ...

And all of that might have a place in a discussion of the ethics of genetic engineering and it might even be regarded as banal and inoffensive. But when the topic of discussion is the exclusion of gay boys and men from the BSA and someone suddenly pipes up with "I predict that when genetic engineering of babies becomes mainstream ... the gay population will be about the same size as the current Down Syndrome population," then the connotation starts to look a little different.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:20 PM on April 26, 2013 [15 favorites]


But this endless refrain of shitty accusations about our motivations or our mindset as a team is not so fine. The people in here willing to inform us that they know what we're thinking better than we do, that they know why we really deleted this or that comment, is galling, to me. It's uncharitable as hell and we don't even have the luxury of sitting back and enjoying the asymmetrical lack of responsibility here that comes with leveraging that sort of accusation because we actually have shit to do here in the meantime. Go armchair quarterback a football game or something if you need to holler at something for not actually doing something as well as you imagine you'd do it yourself.

I've said this before some time ago, but the reason a lot of places on the internet – Ta-Nehisi Coates's blog, Teresa Nielsen-Hayden's blog, TWOP – have gotten away with heavy-handed moderation is that those sites are their shows: people go there to see what they, the website authors, have to say, everyone knows what their motivations & personalities are, and the commenters are very secondary. In short, they are being led from the front.

Metafilter is your site, but as currently constituted it is not your show. I would totally read a Metafilter Mod group blog, but that's not what the site is. So when you moderate comments heavily like this, it's going to generate a lot of armchair speculation about where you are coming from and what you are thinking and are you all masters of puppets blah blah blah and that's going to be a large source of tension on the site. Ten thousand commenters can't all read where you're at when you aren't the ones doing most of the talking, and when where you're at shifts, more misinterpretations. It may be infinitely sustainable, it may be infinitely annoying, but I don't see that changing as long as the power-to-voice balance (does that even make sense?) is what it is around here.
posted by furiousthought at 12:21 PM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Etrigan: " egged on by moderators using that history as a justification for deleting a comment"

I'm not sure they've been egging anybody on about anything. Jessamyn wrote,
"You give a lot of helpful advice in AskMe. You also sometimes appear to just use it for spleen venting, or possibly it's just a style issue and the style of your answers goes against the grain of how AskMe works from time to time. And we've had a lot of conversations with you about it and they don't seem to go anywhere. Which, again, no big deal some people just interact that way with the community, but this deletion didn't come out of left field. We're happy to talk to you in public or in private about how you can be a better AskMe contributor, but we may disagree about some fundamental "What is AskMe for?" concepts that may result in this continuing sort of dissonance.
That summary does seem to be egging.
posted by boo_radley at 12:21 PM on April 26, 2013


Brandon has just informed me via secret, previously-arranged signal that there are, in fact, free donuts for everyone in the breakroom!

Everyone in this thread is a bright and shining star in a joyful cosmos of wonders and may you all have delightful weekends.
posted by elizardbits at 12:22 PM on April 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


IGNORE THE INFIDEL LIZARD
posted by Vowelzebub at 12:25 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


"egged on by moderators using that history as a justification for deleting a comment"

I'm not sure they've been egging anybody on about anything.


"Egging on" may have been a trifle too strong. But they're certainly allowing it to happen after having brought it up.
posted by Etrigan at 12:26 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


dredging up Tanizaki's posting history, history with the mods and "terrible" answers?

Are people doing this? I am skimming poorly maybe but I don't see it.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:36 PM on April 26 [+] [!]


You may have skimmed over it before 12:36pm (Ctrl+F and search for "history" and "terrible" to start) but it's really bubbling over now. With examples of much angrier and confrontational tones than the OP's original deleted answer carried.
posted by kimberussell at 12:26 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I also should say as an addendum to what I said above:

AskMe is not a place for scolding people, or giving someone a piece of your mind, or taking pleasure in pointing up where someone is ignorant or wrong. Being helpful, yes. Scolding, no. This goes for people on all sides of issues. Answerers should consider their own motivations honestly, and refrain from commenting, as needed.

Softening one's answers appropriately is good practice, but it doesn't override this point.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:26 PM on April 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


I don't think I've ever asked if a thread can be closed before, but could this thread maybe get closed?

See, while I can appreciate, on a purely professional level, the technique of saying dogwhistly things and then playing dumb when asked about it (no offense, Big T, but game recognize game), the end result of it is pretty much just this thread, where someone links to stuff that's gotten said and then the poster in question gets to invite the caller-out to point to more concrete things, which aren't there because that's how dogwhistle rhetoric works.

And if that's how people want to spend their time on either side of that, more power to them, but there isn't really an issue to be thrashed out here and there's probably a better place for it to happen.

The only real new information that could be added would be along the lines of, "here are comments you've made in the past which we deleted and which informed the decision to delete the comment referred to in this MetaTalk thread," and I'm not really seeing how that's such a hot idea either; in-thread it causes more problems than it solves and I'm willing to take a mod at their word that the history exists and was a factor, rather than drag that shit out.

I mean, keep it open if there's something useful or remotely positive (other than free donuts in the breakroom) that's likely to happen here, but that's my take on it.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:29 PM on April 26, 2013 [16 favorites]


with it being the very first comment of the thread, where standoffishness (or the appearance thereof) has an long-established history of Not Being OK on Metafilter.

I considered the fact that it was the first comment might have been the reason as perhaps a sort of "thread-shitting". However I do not understand how that applies because how many less-right answers do there need to be before there is a more-right one? I think of a famous AskMeFi thread where the first answer to a relationship question was "run". (which was highly favorited because it was excellent advice). I do not say that my advice was excellent, but I posted it in the belief that it was correct regarding the remedy that the OP sought.

Sometimes the answer is "no". To use a ridiculous* example, there might be a question to the effect of "I would like to fly by flapping my arms. How can I do this." A few people might start commenting, "you can't do that. stop trying". Then a mod might then chime in to say, "[the OP didn't ask if it is possible. He wants advice about how to fly. If you cannot answer that question, you can feel free to move on]" Then we can see more answers like, "I am also trying to fly by flapping my arms. have you tried eating marshmallows? they are light and airy and I think they are helping me" or "this must be so frustrating. please remember that you are a beautiful person and I am so sorry that you are going through this."

The marshmallow comment will be voted "best answer".

*no, I do not think the OP's question at issue here was ridiculous at all. However, I do think that based on the facts provided, the answer to the OP's question was "no". The state medical board was not going to institute a prior restraint. I have seen some questions that are pretty close to the flying one, though.
posted by Tanizaki at 12:30 PM on April 26, 2013 [13 favorites]


that's how dogwhistle rhetoric works.

I frankly don't understand how it works because I had never heard the term before joining this website. Also on the list of words I learned at MetaFilter: "gaslighting".

As far as I can tell, "dogwhistle" is a word to use when you want to say that someone said something that they in fact, did not say. Have I got it right?
posted by Tanizaki at 12:32 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'll say this: The mods have, on occasion, deleted comments or answers of mine. Most of the time, I've seen the wisdom in the deletion and simply accepted it. On the few occasions when I've thought the deletion was unwarranted, I've contacted the mods to ask what the rationale was. Of those times, I've only come away from it once or twice still thinking the mods were wrong to make the deletion. But on those occasions, I was able to have a nice, calm discussion with the mods about the issue and restrain myself from making a MeTa about it. The mods have a hard job. Sometimes they make mistakes. I'm not going to weigh in as to whether I think this was one of those times. Because it doesn't matter.
posted by The World Famous at 12:33 PM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


(also, I am not your lawyer, and that comment of mine wasn't legal advice)
posted by The World Famous at 12:33 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


The marshmallow comment will be voted "best answer".

"Best Answers" are assigned by the OP; they're not voted on.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:34 PM on April 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


'dogwhistle' is when someone say something that, to an outsider, has little meaning, but to an insider, means means something much more.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:35 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, and sometimes people say things are dogwhistles when they aren't. But the sad thing is there's no way to prove it to the accuser.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:36 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


This blithe assertion that clearly it's the injection of our personal/political/ideological motivations rather than the things we actually say it is, that the simplest and clearest answer is that we're pursing an agenda and then trying to cover it up rather than actually doing and thinking the things we are really, really open about talking about doing and thinking.

OF COURSE you have a political viewpoint that informs your deletions. We've hashed it out here over more than a decade, on issues as diverse as race, gender, disability, war, operating systems, bike builds, cats, fedoras, charity, anonymity, drones, etc. One very important kind of politics that is supported by the moderators here is a sensitivity to those who are vulnerable because of their gender and sexual identity, which you have acknowledged informed this particular deletion, at least implicitly, at least in the sense that extra care and niceness was required here and not elsewhere. You only have to look at other sites to recognize that these are contested views and that Metafilter has a definite politics that goes well beyond elections and the US partisan divide, which is enforced through moderation and community policing. And you know what? That's GOOD.

I love your politics. If you all didn't have the politics you do, a lot of users wouldn't be here. Even Tanizaki would have moved on to some other site, I'd bet.

I just think taz made a mistake in this case. I have looked and looked at the stated reasons taz gave for deleting the comment, not to mention the supporting reasons given by jessamyn and mathowie, and they just don't look like good reasons.

A lot of other folks in this thread have done close analyses of those reasons and also found them wanting, while others have disagreed. If you notice Pater Aletheias is disagreeing with you, I think it's worth reconsidering your position. Just this week you all told us that we shouldn't pay so much attention to tone, that sometimes the mods are in a hurry and don't have time to slow down and put a little extra softness into their correspondence. You can't have it both ways: it's either "Are we clear?" and Tanizaki's formal diction, or you can offer the same tone you insist upon. Otherwise, we've got mods demanding treatment that they don't dispense, which is clearly opposed to the politics this place is founded on, the politics that usually guides deletion, and the politics that keeps us all here and calling ourselves Mefites (ee, aɪ, damnit!)

The OP got a lawyer with directly relevant experience as their first answer. That's about as good as it can get, I should think: they've since gotten at least one doctor with directly relevant knowledge. I mean, by any measure that question is a slam-dunk in terms of what AskMe can do. Together, their combined education is worth half a million dollars at today's tuition rates. The rest of the internet-question-world has spent serious money trying to manufacture that kind of access, and you've got people lining up to pay $5 to participate and fighting to keep their contributions from being deleted rather than walking away to see paying patients and clients.

What makes the place work is the moderation and the existing userbase. Let's try to keep both.

One thing that would help is if every so often you'd say, "You know what, you're right. Sorry about that." You don't have to do it every time, or even a tenth of the time, but it's rare enough that I can't remember the last time it happened. And this seems like a good opportunity.
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:36 PM on April 26, 2013 [59 favorites]


I frankly don't understand how it works because I had never heard the term before joining this website. Also on the list of words I learned at MetaFilter: "gaslighting".

As far as I can tell, "dogwhistle" is a word to use when you want to say that someone said something that they in fact, did not say. Have I got it right?


Honestly I'm not sure how you could read what I just wrote and then still think this would work on me, but please allow me to help you: it will not, though I do respect the effort.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:37 PM on April 26, 2013 [22 favorites]


Tanizaki: ""dogwhistle" is a word to use when you want to say that someone said something that they in fact, did not say. Have I got it right?"

No. A dogwhistle is a term or euphemism used by a group to communicate tacitly. To outsiders, dog whistling terms sound like normal ideas or phrases, but have additional weight or meaning to those inside the group.

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Dog_whistle_politics
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_strategy
posted by boo_radley at 12:38 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Basically, a dogwhistle is a unit of plausible deniability.
posted by boo_radley at 12:38 PM on April 26, 2013 [23 favorites]


I frankly don't understand how it works because I had never heard the term before joining this website. Also on the list of words I learned at MetaFilter: "gaslighting".

As far as I can tell, "dogwhistle" is a word to use when you want to say that someone said something that they in fact, did not say. Have I got it right?


Here, this might help.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:39 PM on April 26, 2013


Yeah, and sometimes people say things are dogwhistles when they aren't. But the sad thing is there's no way to prove it to the accuser.

Well, if Tanizaki floats when we throw him in the lake, he's not a witch. Or is he supposed to sink? I can't remember. He did eat those donuts in the breakroom.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:39 PM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


No, I was not making a comparison of those states of being.

Then God knows why you even brought up genetic engineering and Down Syndrome in a discussion of the Boy Scouts of America. I guess you could just be a man with an obsession and a really shitty grasp of rhetoric.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:39 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


The original and best description of dog whistles, per Lee Atwater.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:41 PM on April 26, 2013


Aside from all the noise in this thread and the OPs history, this was a bad deletion. It answered the question, and ideally would have been followed up with a single response to the effect of: "As a (lawyer/doctor/concerned party) I disagree that this didn't break any ethical laws. Bring the issue before whatever governing board is above this doctor and let them decide!" If it started a fight, that's not the answerer's fault.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:48 PM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


If it started a fight, that's not the answerer's fault.

See, this is the part that I think is causing trouble: While a very commonly held sentiment, this is basically 180 degrees (Maybe only 120?) from the moderating ethos at Metafilter as I understand it.
posted by PMdixon at 12:50 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Doglighting Gaswhistles. Free band name for anyone who wants it.
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:51 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


What the OP is doing isn't dog-whistling, it's wannabe-Socratic Ludwig V. Mises mind-expanding by asking questions that deny a new premise whenever possible. In this case the mods could see this sub-texual activity though nobody else reading the question, I don't think, would have seen it.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:52 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


zombieflanders: “with it being the very first comment of the thread, where standoffishness (or the appearance thereof) has an long-established history of Not Being OK on Metafilter.”

Tanizaki: “I considered the fact that it was the first comment might have been the reason as perhaps a sort of 'thread-shitting'. However I do not understand how that applies because how many less-right answers do there need to be before there is a more-right one? I think of a famous AskMeFi thread where the first answer to a relationship question was 'run'. (which was highly favorited because it was excellent advice). I do not say that my advice was excellent, but I posted it in the belief that it was correct regarding the remedy that the OP sought.”

Reread zombieflanders' bit above and note that it wasn't primarily about your comment being first. It was about your comment being "standoffish."

I appreciate that you probably don't feel that way, and I don't doubt that it was a sincere answer. It was just a very cold answer that didn't express any personal opinion and didn't make any attempt to really connect with the person who asked the question. It's funny, because I know a number of lawyers and I get the impression this is something the legal profession encourages – direct answers which avoid any mention of person feelings or debateable emotions and don't leave a lot of loose ends. That works well in law, I think, but a lot of non-lawyers react harshly to it, reading it as antipathy.
posted by koeselitz at 12:54 PM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'll take gaslighting dog whistles over lightly whistling dog-gas any day ...
posted by DingoMutt at 12:56 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


If it started a fight, that's not the answerer's fault.

This seems to perpetuate the common misunderstanding that having a comment deleted is a punishment. As far as I can tell, it's not. It doesn't matter whose fault it is -- the point is to avoid a fight.
posted by neroli at 12:57 PM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


Potomac Avenue: “Aside from all the noise in this thread and the OPs history, this was a bad deletion. It answered the question, and ideally would have been followed up with a single response to the effect of: 'As a (lawyer/doctor/concerned party) I disagree that this didn't break any ethical laws. Bring the issue before whatever governing board is above this doctor and let them decide!' If it started a fight, that's not the answerer's fault.”

PMdixon: “See, this is the part that I think is causing trouble: While a very commonly held sentiment, this is basically 180 degrees (Maybe only 120?) from the moderating ethos at Metafilter as I understand it.”

Well, not to continue debating the ethos of the moderators or anything, but while I disagree with Potomac Avenue on whether this comment should have been deleted, he's right at least on whether it's the "answerer's fault" if a fight starts.

The point is that it doesn't matter whose fault it is if a comment is going to start a fight. If a comment is going to start a fight, then it should be deleted, regardless of the commenter's intent. In those cases where the intention is good, the commenter can avail themselves of moderator help and repost their comment in a way that isn't likely to start fights.

It's totally unnecessary and even unhelpful, I think, to bring in fault here. Fault is irrelevant.
posted by koeselitz at 12:58 PM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


If Taz would have said she was sorry, this wouldn't have happened.
"Mom, Taz hit me first!"
posted by It is better for you not to know. at 12:59 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think Ask MetaFilter can afford to set the bar higher when providing answers involving gender identity, sexual orientation, sexism, violence, etc. I don't think "be nice" is necessarily the best way to put it (in my opinion). I think I would say, instead, "be considerate, be compassionate." The least we can do is take extra care in how we present our answers so that it is absolutely clear that we are not judging, we're not trying to add to the negativity, but we think that maybe the actual answer to the question is [answer]. And here's how we came up with that answer, so that you have an idea of how to process the advice.

The goal of AskMe is, above all else, to be useful. So when presenting information, it helps the usability to provide at least enough context to persuade the reader to consider our advice. "Tone" is also a dogwhistle, and not what I'm getting at. I'm getting at "audience." In order to be most useful, we should write for our audience. And sometimes, just sometimes, that means taking extra care to show our work. Demonstrate that we are answering in good faith, empathy engaged, even if we don't have good news.

It's not a slippery slope, it's just the high ground. People are worth the extra effort to climb there. MetaFilter is worth the extra effort. I hope.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:00 PM on April 26, 2013 [35 favorites]


In all honesty, I'll take Talk over Filter anyday.
posted by It is better for you not to know. at 1:00 PM on April 26, 2013


"Best Answers" are assigned by the OP; they're not voted on.

You are right. I have posted AskMeFi question before and should have used the proper word.

(more generally, I do not understand why the OP gets to choose the best answer(s). If the OP knew the best answer, they probably would not have posted a question in the first place)
posted by Tanizaki at 1:01 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was just a very cold answer that didn't express any personal opinion and didn't make any attempt to really connect with the person who asked the question.

Doesn't that make it an ideal AskMe answer? I thought chatty things like "connection" were out of place in AskMe.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:01 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


This seems to perpetuate the common misunderstanding that having a comment deleted is a punishment. As far as I can tell, it's not. It doesn't matter whose fault it is -- the point is to avoid a fight.

Metafilter mods have said over and over that they do not disallow all dissension, only Offtopic fighty subjects being brought up tangential to the course of the discussion, and overly heated responses to difficult subjects being discussed.

If the point is to merely avoid a fight, delete all dissent from the commonly held opinion.

For instance, if the question was about a relative who was going to a chiropractor, and the first response was: "You should not dissuade them from going to a chiropractor, it is a medically recognized form of treatment for your relatives ailment". I would hope this would stand as it is factually true as follow-up answers carefully disagreed about the medical viability.

All disagreements are not fights.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:03 PM on April 26, 2013


I heard a smart man once say "I believe, sometimes, the high ground is nothing more than the riverbank."
posted by It is better for you not to know. at 1:03 PM on April 26, 2013


If the OP knew the best answer, they probably would not have posted a question in the first place)

Asking a question generally means that you don't know the answer. But it doesn't mean you can't recognize the answer (perhaps in retrospect, after trying a few answers).
posted by Jpfed at 1:04 PM on April 26, 2013


As far as I can tell, "dogwhistle" is a word to use when you want to say that someone said something that they in fact, did not say. Have I got it right?

And now I feel like a jackass for having spoken up in defense of your answer earlier in the thread. You clearly enjoy trolling, and are very good at it.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:04 PM on April 26, 2013 [21 favorites]


Tanizaki, do you feel as though you have a better understanding of what a dog whistle is?
posted by boo_radley at 1:05 PM on April 26, 2013


My point about the "fault" of the answerer was put badly. "What I mean to say is this: Any answer given that dissents from commonly held opinion or sentiment, if given in good faith and on-topic, should be allowed to stand as a viable answer, despite any consequences of uncharitable or emotional reactions to that answer further down the thread."

If this was on Metafilter I would have less of a problem with the deletion.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:06 PM on April 26, 2013


"Just this week you all told us that we shouldn't pay so much attention to tone, that sometimes the mods are in a hurry and don't have time to slow down and put a little extra softness into their correspondence. You can't have it both ways: it's either "Are we clear?" and Tanizaki's formal diction, or you can offer the same tone you insist upon."

I understand what you're saying, anotherpanacea, but the situations are not quite parallel.

This is vexing to me, because I am a compulsive reviser, but mod comments need to be made fast (in most cases), and then they need to stay as-is, not get revised. Changing the phrasing of a mod comment after-the-fact to make it softer - or to fix whatever the problem is - is dicey, because people will feel as if you're trying to rewrite history or "cover up your mistake". Plus, comments made in mod voice are heard with a different ear than member comments - so if a mod says something that is blunt, it sounds a lot harsher than a regular member saying the same thing. Mod comments require extra tact and softening to just sound normal... and they often need to be made (a mod on duty can't just choose not to engage), at the most heated moments, to someone who is already mad at you. Not complaining, but just detailing some of what I have been thinking about since coming on board -- the discursive position of mod comments is tightly constrained in some ways I didn't really realize. Writing a good pithy in-thread mod comment or deletion reason, quickly, in a way that will convey your reasoning and not get people's backs up, is extremely tricky.

But member comments are made under no time pressure (in this AskMe example anyway), they are optional (i.e, you have the option to disengage), and if one gets deleted there's a good chance it can be revised into a perfectly fine comment and reposted a few minutes later. Immediate do-overs are available in a way they aren't for mod comments.

I mean, I absolutely support charitable reading for both types of comments, and ideally both kinds of comments would be made with appropriate softening and so on. I just think there is some reason to treat the two differently.

In both cases I think MetaTalks where we pick apart phrasing (of a mod comment/deletion reason or a member comment) are not super-useful if we take them in the spirit of "confess your error in using this phrase!", but they can be useful for forward-looking advice about how certain sort of phrasings affect the reader.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:07 PM on April 26, 2013 [13 favorites]


The issue wasn't deleting it because of the user, it was because the user's tone very often comes across as confrontational

They wouldn't have to resort to bringing up their disagreements with the poster if the tone of that comment was bad enough to delete.

A user in high esteem will have a comment deleted if it's confrontational in AskMe. At least several of the mods here have conceded the tone was merely "dry" or "factual". The effect is that Tanizaki is on some weird probation where he's on such a high scrutiny that we can't risk him having even a neutral tone.
posted by spaltavian at 1:07 PM on April 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


As far as I can tell, "dogwhistle" is a word to use when you want to say that someone said something that they in fact, did not say. Have I got it right?

Nope. You're describing a straw man argument, as well as displaying a straw man argument with your own question. Well done, and ick.
posted by palomar at 1:07 PM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


There's a difference between between being a troll and being a literalist. I never noticed Tanizaki prior to this thread, but from his comments here I'd call him more of the latter than the former. Of course, people who take things (and say things) very literally can often rub others the wrong way, as people appear to generally be aware of.
posted by alms at 1:08 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


You clearly enjoy trolling, and are very good at it.

I know that going in, but it doesn't make this deletion less bad. If Tanz. is allowed to remain they should be able to post without being scrutinized for the hidden meaning of their posts. If you're going to have to read every statement in AskMe for subtextual clues as to whether a poster is trolling or not, screw it just ban them!

Seriously. Deleting reasonable answers makes things worse for the other users of this site. Banning a troublesome user does not.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:09 PM on April 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


I think it was a great deletion, sorry. A medical provider who treats a child like that, especially a child dealing with serious gender issues, is actually doing harm, and providing unethical treatment.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:15 PM on April 26, 2013 [22 favorites]


Mods with a free hand to check their guts and delete problems while they are still in some stage of larval potentiality are what keep this place from being swallowed in a blood-dimmed tide of anarchy and chaos etc

MeTa threads like this where we can have a little postmortem discussion of possibly worthy comments that got shot down in the fog of a sensitive topic help us understand and define our community standards and prevent the slide into insular homogenous groupthink (cf. the Buddy Bears)

In short, everything is working as it is supposed to.

Pollyanna OUT [drops mic]
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:16 PM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think it was a great deletion, sorry. A medical provider who treats a child like that, especially a child dealing with serious gender issues, is actually doing harm, and providing unethical treatment.

No, this is a black and white issue and my comment was factual and WAAAAAH!

Just kidding. You are totally right.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 1:17 PM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: (not) a blood-dimmed tide of anarchy and chaos
posted by corb at 1:20 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


the point is to avoid a fight.

well, that worked out, didn't it?
posted by pyramid termite at 1:21 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


:(
posted by batmonkey at 1:23 PM on April 26, 2013


Folks, Yeats's The Second Coming was not a list of suggestions!
posted by benito.strauss at 1:23 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


well, that worked out, didn't it?

Since the fight was here rather than in the green...yeah, it did.
posted by neroli at 1:23 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


AskMe is not a place for scolding people, or giving someone a piece of your mind...

Some of the people who answer questions most frequently come across as thinking otherwise.
posted by ambient2 at 1:24 PM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yes, I meant that comment quite generally.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:27 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


And on an unrelated matter, fair play, I guess (?), that a mod touches on a poster's history in this context, but the width, breadth and words in the long-ish post struck me as slamming the guy.

It read like, "Take issue with us about something in the place we've created for you to do it? I'll hammer you in front of everyone."
posted by ambient2 at 1:28 PM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


Seriously. Deleting reasonable answers makes things worse for the other users of this site. Banning a troublesome user does not.

But there isn't widespread agreement about what makes an answer reasonable.

For a long time, I've basically felt that silence on the site equals consent, you know, kind of a silent majority thing. But then there are huge MeTas like this over someone's one-sentence comment that they spent, what, three minutes thinking about and composing, along with a huge time suck of a thread arguing about whether the mods are destroying the community by deleting a comment that not everyone on the site would have deleted, and I kind of feel like more people should weigh in.

I think the deletion was fine and I think the mods do a good job at a mostly-thankless task. Even if the mods had justified the deletion by saying, "neener neener today is opposite day all the good comments are deleted and the bad comments go on the sidebar!," the stakes here were so low as to be undetectable in laboratory conditions. This is a lot of agita over one comment in one thread. Maybe AskMe isn't the right part of the site for you to comment on. You can still comment on the Blue and listen to songs and read the gossip-y MeTas and go to meet-ups. Not everyone can do well in every thread.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 1:29 PM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


I believe the deletion was an error of judgement, which is fine as far as it goes; hell, I make errors of judgement with a regularity that gives me fits.

It bugs me, though, that the reasons given seem to be after the fact justifications in order to avoid admitting error on the part of a mod who's probably already asleep. I know and understand the desire to not hang a moderator out to dry, but I've never read such weak and internally inconsistent rationalizations for a deletion before.
posted by Mooski at 1:30 PM on April 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


Deleting reasonable answers makes things worse for the other users of this site.

This, but made worse because of disagreement with the answer — and doubly so when done out of bearing a grudge against the person giving the answer.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:30 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think it was a great deletion, sorry. A medical provider who treats a child like that, especially a child dealing with serious gender issues, is actually doing harm, and providing unethical treatment.

It was a great deletion because the answer was incorrect? That can't be the standard.
posted by brain_drain at 1:34 PM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


I wish we could talk about moderation without being all fighty. It just makes the mods want people to STFU when they're being so aggressive and annoying.

Sorry mods.
posted by Justinian at 1:37 PM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


At first this thread left me wondering why we always wait until somebody complains before we really dig into their history. We should be less passive. Explore the possibility of impaneling a committee to really look into some of the commenters here.

Then I realized the real problem is one of discoverability. We have all the info we need, just no central knowledge base. Why should I have to read 1000 comment metas all the time just so I know who hates who. Why are there a million electric razor review sites but no people review sites.

We need people.metafilter.com. Modeled after Amazon reviews, 0-5 stars and a short blurb. We also hide reviews written by people you downrate. Give someone 0 stars? You never see their reviews either.

This also synergizes with askme. Each answer can be clearly tagged with the answerer's rating.

Add some simple stats and boom, dating.metafilter.com. What is a better metric for dating than hating the same people.

This is win win guys, time to get on the stick.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:39 PM on April 26, 2013 [12 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: " This, but made worse because of disagreement with the answer — and doubly so when done out of bearing a grudge against the person giving the answer."

I'm not seeing where people are bearing a grudge. Lasting impressions of a member gleaned from a single comment (or even many comments) are not necessarily grudges. Even if said comment was misinterpreted.
posted by zarq at 1:41 PM on April 26, 2013


:(
posted by batmonkey at 4:23 PM on April 26 [+] [!] No other comments.


*cowering in corner* Mom and Dad, stop fighting. Please. Stop it. Please. Stop screaming. Please.
posted by Melismata at 1:49 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I haven't read this whole monster thread, but I'd basically agree with ryanrs comment right at the beginning. You should not qualify everything to spare the offense masturbators. Metafilter is not Wikipedia. That said, this comment wasn't witty or detailed enough for me to care about.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:52 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]



UH THIS WAS A HUGE SPOILER FOR THE CABIN IN THE WOODS WTF:

Have you ever seen Joss Whedon's "The Cabin in the Woods" where a government agency secretly sacrifices teenagers to ancient sleeping demons so that they don't wake up and destroy everything?
posted by sweetkid at 1:56 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


jeffburdges - you should scan through the staff tags where it becomes clear that this is a repeated issue with a specific user, not wholly about the wording of one deleted comment.
posted by nadawi at 1:57 PM on April 26, 2013


jeffburdges - you should scan through the staff tags where it becomes clear that this is a repeated issue with a specific user

While I am always happy to be corrected, I have commented on transgender issues zero times on this site so I do not see how it is a "repeated issue". Even in this case, my comment was not about transgender issues but a matter of professional regulation.
posted by Tanizaki at 2:00 PM on April 26, 2013


I actually think the point that alms made up above, about literalists vs. trolls, is a good one.

If the moderation of this site does have a bias, it is toward those who value (and to some extent, are skilled at) what might be called "social graces." This is pretty uncommon in web-comment-land.

Literalists do tend to have a tough time here. Jessamyn has referred repeatedly to "reading the room" -- this makes instant sense to me, but I get the feeling there are others who either don't get the concept at all, or don't think it should apply to online communication.

So: people who have trouble with nuance, people who want hard-line rules, people who are uncomfortable about situational judgment, people who think worrying about the feelings of strangers is ridiculous, people who think softening their language robs them of their true self, people who think gentle language is pointless window dressing, people who think being right justifies any mode of expression -- these are the folk who come into conflict with moderation policies over and over again.

Personally, my own temperament is very much in sync with the dominant mode here, but I can sympathize with people who find it terribly aggravating. What I don't understand is how these folks can still expect things to change to meet their expectations, and who view every Meta thread as an excuse to parade their aggravation.
posted by neroli at 2:03 PM on April 26, 2013 [20 favorites]


I have commented on transgender issues zero times on this site

I don't think this is true. I know I've seen you comment on at least one transgender thread, although your comment was deleted pretty quickly. But it's hard to point to a deleted comment as a user.
posted by KathrynT at 2:05 PM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Tanizaki

You said that what the doctor did was not unethical.

You did not say that an investigative board would rule that the doctor was acting unethically.

I think people who took issue with your comment believe that you were stating that the doctor did nothing wrong.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 2:09 PM on April 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


I have commented on transgender issues zero times on this site so I do not see how it is a "repeated issue"

i didn't mention trans issues or indicate that was the repeated issue i was speaking of.
posted by nadawi at 2:10 PM on April 26, 2013


UH THIS WAS A HUGE SPOILER FOR THE CABIN IN THE WOODS WTF:

Have you ever seen Joss Whedon's "The Cabin in the Woods" where a government agency secretly sacrifices teenagers to ancient sleeping demons so that they don't wake up and destroy everything?


And good on you to repeat it for anyone who missed it instead of just linking to the comment. The only rule about spoilers on Metafilter is no spoilers on the front page of the blue and I think the green. If running into random spoilers is a huge issue, then Metafilter might not work for you.
posted by nooneyouknow at 2:17 PM on April 26, 2013


Personally, my own temperament is very much in sympathy with the dominant mode here, but I can sympathize with people who find it terribly aggravating. What I don't understand is how these folks can still expect things to change to meet their expectations, and who view every Meta thread as an excuse to parade their aggravation.

I, too, sympathize a lot. At the same time, there's got to be compromise. We accept that there are a lot of people here who comment bluntly and possibly tactlessly and aren't doing anything wrong. At the same time, that doesn't mean that such comments may not sometimes be deleted or push other people's buttons. And if these two things are in conflict [i.e. people who both want to be able to comment bluntly and also not ever have a comment deleted or a MeTa started about them] then we're at an impasse. The site doesn't really allow anyone, even mods, to get to be exactly how they want to be here.

People looking for a letter-of-the-law "Tell me exactly why this happened" response from the mod team are going to probably not be satisfied with the talk-it-out way we tend to do things here. Our explanations sound like after-the-fact rationalizations or are described as "weak" or "lame" because we're actually responsible for how we come across and it's our responsibility to speak in measured tones even if people aren't speaking that way to us.

I have commented on transgender issues zero times on this site

This is not true.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:21 PM on April 26, 2013 [27 favorites]


UH THIS WAS A HUGE SPOILER FOR THE CABIN IN THE WOODS WTF

Relax, the part about the Virgin fighting Sigourney Weaver at the end was left out, along with the guest appearance by the Reavers from Firefly.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:23 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


It read like, "Take issue with us about something in the place we've created for you to do it? I'll hammer you in front of everyone."

I completely disagree with this deletion and the moderation trend in general and think taz deleted the comment out of bias and not "mod guidelines", but I did not truly appreciate until just now that the mods can't win.

If the mods had said at the beginning: "Given the history the mods have with user (which is different then the history users have with him), the comment looked trollish", they would've gotten flack for not giving details. Give details and they get flack for giving too many. Try to sugarcoat it and not mention user history at all and they catch flack.

I had been thinking of this as a customer service position, where dealing with jerks and people you don't like is expected, but I didn't realize that the jerks don't leave like at a store and the mods rarely kick them out, so they are always there, annoying one. Regular users can ignore them, but mods can't. There is never a time when one can just relax and chill because there's always someone who is upset. That must suck.

Note: I don't think Tanizaki is jerk. Nor do I think the mods think he is a jerk. Jerk in this comment is just a shorthand way of saying "a person, who for whatever reason, rubs you the wrong way, personally or professionally."
posted by nooneyouknow at 2:24 PM on April 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


If the mods had said at the beginning: "Given the history the mods have with user (which is different then the history users have with him), the comment looked trollish", they would've gotten flack for not giving details.

I can't recall the specific instances, but they've done this in the past, with the offer to provide more details via the contact form.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:26 PM on April 26, 2013


While I am always happy to be corrected, I have commented on transgender issues zero times on this site so I do not see how it is a "repeated issue". Even in this case, my comment was not about transgender issues but a matter of professional regulation.

I say this without snark: These two sentences in this order tell me that you have a vastly different meaning of "commented on [X] issues" than most other people are working with.
posted by PMdixon at 2:26 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


The problem was an aggressive framing of a particularly skewed legal perspective. To say no with legal authority is to shut down a thread for a lot of people who might offer solutions otherwise (which is what is happening in the thread). This is, of course, assuming that the rule of law in the US has unfair rhetorical power and that the ideal user of AskMe isn't someone with a JD.

But even then it is his opinion because it is his perspective. This is the kind of case that the ACLU would love to to publicize in order to bring attention to and change the laws governing medical providers. To say no with authority because the laws are as is is an opinion and one that's not far removed from the writers of the Volokh Conspiracy or Antonin Scalia (one which Dworkin has commented on and Posner too).

So is it a good deletion? Sure! Unsourced paraphrasing from the AMA Code of Medical Ethics unnecessarily skews the discussion towards legalese and it's easy to see how it could, one, turn it into an issue of appellate matters, something that isn't asked for in the question (when you're a hammer everything looks like a nail) and two, it could hold the HyperGooglers at bay because someone with such mistaken authority has opined on the matter.

While I am always happy to be corrected, I have commented on transgender issues zero times on this site so I do not see how it is a "repeated issue". Even in this case, my comment was not about transgender issues but a matter of professional regulation.

In /r/lawschool, a lot of the commenters have this bad habit of semantic trolling whereby they almost seem to purposefully misunderstand a small part of someone's opinion in order to make them go on tilt. It's hard to assume good faith on your behalf because you write like them and you reason like they do. It's very difficult in this day and age when there are so many examples of this sort of semantic bludgeoning in the media and online to assume that you are acting as you would, say, when you're around acquaintances and clients.

If I were you, I'd listen to the MetaFilter podcasts and get to know the mods a little bit more because it's helped me, at least, in not dropping a drama bomb every time I strongly disagree with the majority of the users in a thread. They're nice people! They're so goddamn nice, it's ridiculous.
posted by dubusadus at 2:27 PM on April 26, 2013 [18 favorites]


Something to be aware of is the effect of excessively formal diction. I think you sometimes run into this, Tanizaki, although you're not the only one. (Eg, never using contractions, just as one quick example) It can make a seemingly-neutral comment sound really patronizing or scolding; it invokes the same feeling as "if you would just sit up straight, you sloppy hippie, you would see that..." kind of thing. I am very willing to believe that you don't intend your comments in that spirit. But you have an uncommonly formal written style, compared to the general run of styles around here -- and it's worth being aware that it disposes the audience to read comments a certain way.

Holy shit, so writing with "excessively formal diction" is a red flag to the mods? Not using contractions? I know you are not saying that "excessively formal diction" is a deleteworthy offense, but the fact that you are even citing his "diction" in an official role as mod is highly disturbing. When you say "the audience" here, you certainly don't speak for me. And if I did find a comment to be patronizing or scolding, believe me, I can live with that feeling just fine. I don't need the mods to preemptively save me from reading it.
posted by Wordwoman at 2:31 PM on April 26, 2013 [16 favorites]


Jesus Christ, with the shit storm that seemingly every 10th deleted comment brings, do people really think the mods are sitting all Macbeth witches style, cackling and plotting up new arbitrary reasons for deletion?

Tone has always been a subject of moderation. Writing style/diction/whatever is part of tone.
posted by PMdixon at 2:35 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I meant to be making a suggestion about how, if he feels like his comments are being misread, there might be a systematic reason why that's happening that he could do something about.

It's just my own theory. It's not a mod pronouncement or a command or anything of the sort. I was trying to be helpful.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:36 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


And if I did find a comment to be patronizing or scolding, believe me, I can live with that feeling just fine. I don't need the mods to preemptively save me from reading it.

I think it's less about saving us from reading it and more about saving the AskMe thread from being poisoned with responses to it.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:37 PM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


I have commented on transgender issues zero times on this site

At this point in the thread your pants must be flaming.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:38 PM on April 26, 2013


Tanizaki, I was going to highlight a specific comment from this thread but I'm not sure that actually clarifies my point at all, so here it is as general advice: Speaking lawyer to lawyer, a lot of the argumentative strategies you employ are perfectly fine when you're arguing with other lawyers (whether in court or for fun at the pub), but when you use them in mixed company, it comes across as jackassery. Other people who do not argue or deconstruct arguments for a living have a lot more emotionally invested in the process. You hurt people's feelings. If you're like many lawyers, you do it on purpose because you know that getting someone emotionally wound up is a good way to make them lose the argument and can undermine their position very effectively. Then you act surprised that someone got upset when you said something upsetting, because they should know that keeping your cool in the face of emotionally upsetting attacks is part of the game of arguing.

You engage in a lot of discussions here like you are trying to WIN the discussion, not HAVE the discussion. You litigate small points, you refuse to engage with a main point until all the side points have been decided in your favor, you do reductio ad absurdum, etc. You're good at it. I do not doubt you're good in a courtroom because you're fast on your feet with argument strategy. You are probably annoying as fuck to the opposition's counsel because of the way you argue, and I mean that as a compliment.

But this is why a lot of lawyers get divorced, and this is why a lot of lawyers don't have friends who aren't lawyers: A lot of lawyers (especially litigators) are FREAKING ASSHOLES when they argue and they don't know how to turn it off when they're not being paid to be argumentative assholes. You don't win the discussion by keeping your cool while everyone else goes up in emotional flames; you get branded an asshole and people hold grudges. You don't win points by structuring your argument to give you the best chance of "winning" (holding back the AMA code so people wouldn't pick at it); it makes you seem disingenuous and appears that you are arguing in bad faith.

I get that an awful lot of your personal identity is wrapped up in being a lawyer, and being successful at it. But the strategies that make you successful in law are not going to make you successful at Metafilter. They are going to get people's backs up. Even if you "win" on logical grounds, people who are angry with your words or tone or tactics are still going to be angry. You can't logically argue people out of being angry (in fact, it tends to make them angrier). You are going to have to use different discussion strategies that respect that other people are not arguing as lawyers, do not argue just for fun, and many have highly emotional personal stakes in the issues being discussed, especially around gender identity issues. It is not abstract; it is personal. Your approach has to respect not JUST the arguments but also the people engaged in the discussion.

Regardless of how you feel about gender identity issues, this is someone's suffering child, with a suffering, frantic parent, and an anxious friend. A little kindness would not go amiss.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:40 PM on April 26, 2013 [284 favorites]


UH THIS WAS A HUGE SPOILER FOR THE CABIN IN THE WOODS WTF:

No, it's the central conceit of the movie, established in the first few minutes.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:43 PM on April 26, 2013


Holy shit, so writing with "excessively formal diction" is a red flag to the mods?

No, it's not. As we've said a few times, sometimes people really have no idea why the things they say are taken so differently from how they say they are intending it. As mods one of the things we try to help people with is understanding ways that they may be speaking here that sound different enough that people may be interpreting them in ways they are not anticipating. For a more obvious example, saying "bitches" to mean like general friends instead of women you dislike can really set some people off. Some people don't think of this. Some people find refusing to use genders for animals and calling them "it" to be really troubling, others don't care or wouldn't notice. We know what gets flags from people. We know what inspires people to take things to MeTa. We try to help people sort of model the community in their minds more, so that they can give better answers and help people solve problems. The community is the whole organism, not any one person.

People who are concerned with how they are being interpreted but who are having a hard time figuring out why this sort of thing continues to happen are going to get advice from many people including the mods. LobsterMitten's advice is helpful and on point.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:43 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Unsourced paraphrasing from the AMA Code of Medical Ethics unnecessarily skews the discussion towards legalese and it's easy to see how it could, one, turn it into an issue of appellate matters, something that isn't asked for in the question

Please forgive me, but that is exactly what was asked for in the question. The OP asked, "is there anything that can be done to stop this asshole of a doctor from ever again coming near a child with gender-identity issues?" Assuming that the OP wants suggestions that are not illegal such as killing the doctor or sending him into exile, I assumed the question was one about what recourse can be sought from the state licensing authority. To the extent that several comments recommended reporting this doctor to the state licensing authority, I think I was correct in that conclusion.

I still think that no, the described facts are not going to lead the state medical licensing authority to stop the doctor "from ever again coming near a child with gender-identity issues". And like it or not, I guarantee you that any disciplinary proceeding is going to be all about the "legalese".
posted by Tanizaki at 2:44 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


You hurt people's feelings. If you're like many lawyers, you do it on purpose because you know that getting someone emotionally wound up is a good way to make them lose the argument and can undermine their position very effectively. Then you act surprised that someone got upset when you said something upsetting, because they should know that keeping your cool in the face of emotionally upsetting attacks is part of the game of arguing.

Holy shit. You just explained my father-in-law.
posted by PMdixon at 2:46 PM on April 26, 2013 [28 favorites]


I would just favorite Eyebrows McGee's comment a thousand times if such a thing were possible.
posted by ambrosia at 2:48 PM on April 26, 2013 [19 favorites]

For a more obvious example, saying "bitches" to mean like general friends instead of women you dislike can really set some people off.
Using it to mean women you dislike can set some people off too.
posted by dfan at 2:50 PM on April 26, 2013


I flagged that comment due to the combination of all of the following reasons:

The answer was framed in a way that make it seem like the only possible answer, offering a strict legal interpretation (where legal means "via court action" rather than unlawful actions, or commercial or social pressure), authoritatively stating that there was nothing the OP could do in that situation. The comment writer did not offer any supporting links or bonafides which might support their answer or otherwise distinguish it from opinion.

However, the OP did not specify that they were seeking legal recourse. While it would be reasonable for those reading the thread to assume legal channels might be part of what the OP is seeking, the framing of the answer in addition to its position as the first answer in the thread made the comment read more as a way to shut down further answers by reframing the OPs question as strictly a question of legality.

Finally, it was an unnecessarily brusque answer—one that read as opinion rather than substantiated fact—to a question where the OP and the people the OP were representing were clearly hurting.

We can be kinder than this, it costs each of us nothing.
posted by jamaro at 2:51 PM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


The stakes are 0. But all the stakes on this site are 0. And I think there should be a fight for this 0.

The mind set of Tanizaki's comment was coming from someone who believes that encouraging a 11 yo who is going through the pubes would be harmful for the boy.
(I agree. I do not believe that we, as humans, are not free of our genders.)

What Eyebrows McGee just said. IANAL & I don't see anything he did that would have emotionally wounded her. I don't see him as a JackAss. If anything, I view people who are over emotional, and have to tie their emotions onto every damn thing under the sun as bigger Jackasses.

Be Emotionally Neutral Man!

There are some people on this site that are truly Meta. Pater Aletheias said was right on.
I learned a lot about a lot of users today. Thank you for that. This is one of my +.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 2:52 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Would it be possible to make Eyebrows McGee's comment appear anybody types "lawyer" or synonym in the occupation field on their profile? That's how awesome it is.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 2:52 PM on April 26, 2013 [14 favorites]


It's generally true. People spend 8 hours a day at work, many spend more. The majority of their lives will be in work mode. It it no surprise when they act that way outside of work. I struggle all the time not to just go into explanation mode when I'm talking to friends or family.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:54 PM on April 26, 2013


If you're like many lawyers, you do it on purpose because you know that getting someone emotionally wound up is a good way to make them lose the argument and can undermine their position very effectively.

In my professional experience, if anything, the opposite occurs. I am very direct and matter-of-fact. There is a reason no one ever uses one of my mean emails as an exhibit to their motions - the reason is that I do not send mean emails. I have found that being unemotional can actually cause other people to become more emotional and irrational. This is not a strategy but merely something I have observed.

People talk a lot these days about how people need to be "more in touch with their emotions". I have said it before, but I think people are too in touch with their emotions. (note: this is not an excuse to be cruel to people) When I read the newspaper, I do not think that cold, logical rationality is an epidemic sweeping the planet.

But this is why a lot of lawyers get divorced, and this is why a lot of lawyers don't have friends who aren't lawyers

It pleases me to buck this trend. Married for 12 years with two kids (and maybe a third, we'll see). Most of my friends are not lawyers, somewhat for reasons you mentioned in your comment.

I get that an awful lot of your personal identity is wrapped up in being a lawyer, and being successful at it.

Then I think you have really misread me in this regard. I think I have spoken to mind very strong disagreement with the modern idea of vocation as the source of identity several times, here and here, for example. Remarkably in the second case, the very next comment suggested that one's job should be what they are. That is so sad to me.

I did favorite your comment, though.
posted by Tanizaki at 2:55 PM on April 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


"What makes the place work is the moderation and the existing userbase. Let's try to keep both.

One thing that would help is if every so often you'd say, "You know what, you're right. Sorry about that." You don't have to do it every time, or even a tenth of the time, but it's rare enough that I can't remember the last time it happened. And this seems like a good opportunity.
"

Honestly, given the flare ups over the last couple days, I think this is right on point. I think that the deletion of Tanizaki's comment was the wrong call on an edge case, but I'm not to het up about it. However, the reasoning given and retrenching makes the mod team — most of whom I like very much, the others I don't actually know that well — seem tone-deaf to the underlying concerns of a large part of the membership.

I understand that this is complicated by the BLAME MODS FIRST cohort that comes streaming in, banners raised, and yeah, a lot of those folks are just dicks who (to me) read as unable to distinguish between mods as customer service and mods as comembers of a community.

But to me, giving a deserved apology and then working to fix the situation garners more effective authority than reacting defensively and dismissing concerns over the disagreement.
posted by klangklangston at 2:57 PM on April 26, 2013 [16 favorites]


You engage in a lot of discussions here like you are trying to WIN the discussion, not HAVE the discussion.

I wanted to call out this sentence of Eyebrows McGee's excellent comment specifically as being awesome and on-point. Not just for Tanizaki, either; every time I find myself trying to win a discussion instead of having it, on Metafilter as well as elsewhere, it has not resulted in me being happier.
posted by KathrynT at 2:58 PM on April 26, 2013 [16 favorites]


Did you just... argue all of Eyebrows' minor points while neglecting to address the major one?
posted by gensubuser at 2:58 PM on April 26, 2013 [55 favorites]


Tanizaki: you deliberately obscured your source. You lied in this thread. You lied in your only other MeTa. Why should anyone believe you?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:59 PM on April 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


Did you just... argue all of Eyebrows' minor points while neglecting to address the major one?
posted by gensubuser at 4:58 PM on April 26 [+] [!]

(enlighten me)
posted by QueerAngel28 at 3:00 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


People looking for a letter-of-the-law "Tell me exactly why this happened" response from the mod team are going to probably not be satisfied with the talk-it-out way we tend to do things here.

The problem in my view is that the "talk it out way" is never the "you know, after talking it out, we made a bad call. we are sorry about that way".
posted by Tanizaki at 3:01 PM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


I still think that no, the described facts are not going to lead the state medical licensing authority to stop the doctor "from ever again coming near a child with gender-identity issues". And like it or not, I guarantee you that any disciplinary proceeding is going to be all about the "legalese".

You know, the question wasn't actually "Is there anything I can do to get the state medical licensing authority to stop the doctor." There is plenty the OP can do outside of official channels to express her frustration with the doctor and discourage other parents with similar concerns from having to deal with that doctor. Online complaints have had enough of an effect that doctors have sometimes tried to sue people who have done them. The New York clinic that was mistreating gay patients during the early years of the AIDS crisis was targeted by a Kiss In and changed their policy; indeed, the entirety of the film How to Start a Revolution shows queer activists challenging a medical establishment and winning, none of which involved contacting the state medical licensing authority.

Lets' revisit the original question:

Is there anything that can be done to stop this asshole of a doctor from ever again coming near a child with gender-identity issues?

And let's revisit your answer:

No. He did not commit malpractice, engage in unethical conduct, or otherwise violate model state licensing provisions. He is not impaired, incompetent, or unethical.

So you were actually answering the wrong question with a wrong, unhelpful answer, and the phrase "he did nothing wrong" isn't a statement of fact, but a value judgment that suggests that there is nothing inappropriate about misbehaving toward a parent of a trans child. It was the first comment in the thread, unsourced, and was likely to create a fight. And there is not merely your past involvement on MetaFilter to consider with this question, but also recent arguments about trans issues, which you didn't consider when you made the comment, but the mods have to deal with whenever the subject comes up.

It was a thoroughly unhelpful answer -- perhaps if you had phrased it to say that one avenue would not work, and so others would have to be explored, you might have been helping the OP. But the way you phrased it, it's easy to parse as saying "There is nothing to be done and the doctor wasn't wrong."
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:03 PM on April 26, 2013 [27 favorites]


I've been debating if I should post this or not, but you know, all this talk about how this deletion was because the mods don't like Tanizaki runs exactly contrary to the experience I just had.

There was a recent askme where some of the answers made me angry. Very, very angry. So angry that I got up out of bed, and sent the Mods a note asking they look at it and delete those answers. I got a very nice note back saying that they were aware of the thread, but they weren't going to do anything unless something changed about how the thread was going. I think that was probably the right decision. A good chunk of what set me off was my own history, and there didn't seem to be any storm brewing in the answers, and there was a decent argument that they were answering the question. So, good call mods.

The reason that story's at all relevant is because one of the comments in question was by Tanizaki. So yeah, I'm bit bewildered by the claim this was deleted because HE said it, or because of the mods don't like him, or have different political views from him, or for any reason other than what was stated. Now, I think this was a borderline deletion. But even if I do, I do have faith that the Mods aren't taking out some secret vendetta because of their political beliefs, or dislike of one particular user. Because they've proved to me they don't work that way.

And let me just say, Tanizaki, everything I've ever experienced, observed, or heard others say about the mods has lead me to believe that if you really want to know the reason something was deleted, you should use the contact form. That's what it's there for. They're really great about getting back to you. I bet you could've hammered out a draft they approved in like 10 min. got the answer up, and actually helped the person you were trying to help. Maybe that's a little more work than you'd like to put into askme, but hey that way you get to actually do the thing you started out to. This didn't accomplish that at all.
posted by Gygesringtone at 3:03 PM on April 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee: “Other people who do not argue or deconstruct arguments for a living have a lot more emotionally invested in the process. You hurt people's feelings. If you're like many lawyers, you do it on purpose because you know that getting someone emotionally wound up is a good way to make them lose the argument and can undermine their position very effectively. Then you act surprised that someone got upset when you said something upsetting, because they should know that keeping your cool in the face of emotionally upsetting attacks is part of the game of arguing.”

Tanizaki: “In my professional experience, if anything, the opposite occurs. I am very direct and matter-of-fact. There is a reason no one ever uses one of my mean emails as an exhibit to their motions - the reason is that I do not send mean emails. I have found that being unemotional can actually cause other people to become more emotional and irrational. This is not a strategy but merely something I have observed.”

It's pretty obvious that you've misread Eyebrows McGee's comment here. This is exactly what she said – that it's easy to speak utterly unemotionally and coldly and thereby hurt their feelings, making them more emotional. She said that was what you were doing, and it is what you were doing. You say you've "observed" this, and you claim that it's not a strategy, but I don't really think it matters what your strategy is. If you've observed that something you do is making people more emotional and "irrational," it's probably a good idea to stop doing it.

Maybe more to the point: you may believe that, by being unemotional, you are being rational and logical. Nothing could be further from the truth. Emotions aren't generally rational, but neither is denying them; and there is such a thing as attempting to appear rational while failing to actually be rational. I'll point your attention, for instance, to your repeated insistence that you've never commented on gender issues on Metafilter, when we've all seen that you've made no less than three comments in a thread about homosexuals being accepted into the Boy Scouts. You may wish to redefine "gender issues" so that gay rights have nothing to do with them, but it's pretty clear that that's a disingenuous definition.

“The problem in my view is that the ‘talk it out way’ is never the ‘you know, after talking it out, we made a bad call. we are sorry about that way’.”

Here's another irrational thing you've said here. On what basis do you say this? Those of us who've been around for a while know that the moderators here have admitted fault and undeleted comments and posts many, many times. This is one of the chief values of Metafilter's moderation team: they don't bring their egos to these things. If you really believe that these discussions brook no possibility of changing minds, I suggest you read through some old metatalk threads and maybe stick around and watch for a while and see how it happens. Only observing this from the hotseat is bound to give you a skewed perspective.
posted by koeselitz at 3:06 PM on April 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


There is plenty the OP can do outside of official channels to express her frustration with the doctor and discourage other parents with similar concerns from having to deal with that doctor.

Perhaps, but the question wasn't "help us express our frustration and discourage other parents." The question was "Is there anything that can be done to stop this asshole of a doctor from ever again coming near a child with gender-identity issues?" (emphasis added because it appears needed)

Posting a bad review on Yelp does not accomplish the OP's stated goal.
posted by Tanizaki at 3:06 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Based on Tanizaki's own acknowledgement and acceptance (in the original post) of previous deletions, I kind of get the feeling that this Meta would still exist even if the contact form had been used.

I do appreciate how transparent the mods are here by allowing these kinds of Meta threads, but if deletions are never undeleted, why do the mods even allow these kinds of threads in the first place? Everyone gets all fighty and nothing good comes from them.

Tanizaki brought up what he, and many other users (looking at favorites*) feel was a poor deletion and as the thread devolved, his specific posting history is brought up (which I didn't think people were allowed to do) and thrown back in his face, and people are getting fighty, and yet the thread remains open. I don't understand all this trouble when nothing is ever undeleted.

I dunno, maybe "Deleted Posts" should be added to the list of "things MeFi doesn't do well" and just not be allowed?

*I know many people use favorites as different things, but in threads like this, I think a fair reading of them is that they show support of a comment, not so much to bookmark it to read later or that the comment was one they want to remember - which is not to say some aren't, but of all the "why did I get deleted" threads lately, this one has a lot more community support than the others.
posted by NoraCharles at 3:08 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


to your repeated insistence that you've never commented on gender issues on Metafilter

This is not accurate. I said that, to my recollection, I have never commented on transgender issues. While I welcome correction, that has not happened yet in this regard.
posted by Tanizaki at 3:08 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


In my current job, I annoy people from time to time, because I occasionally have to be the bad guy and prioritize things differently than they would like, or say "No, you can't do that because (financial reason here)." I get compliments, to be sure, but at the same time I get heavy criticism when people disagree with my decisions. Occasionally I've had people go over my head and actively try to get me fired, or attempt to pin the blame for their own errors on me. I've also been in high-stakes situations where any potential screw-up on my part would result in a lot of people becoming very unhappy with me and would have had grave consequences. For example, in some presidential campaigns a certain amount of my time involved spending millions of dollars of the candidate's money. You want to know what was stressful for me? For me, stress was the worry that if I messed up, the newspapers would be mocking one of the presidential candidate's campaigns and it would be all my fault. (Not to mention how bad it could look on my resume.)

I don't intend this as a "Pity Wolfy, his life is so hard" type of comment but simply to highlight that I feel this type of conversation occasionally goes a little overboard in terms of emphasizing how hard the mods jobs are and how stressful it is and how painful it must be to get this criticism from users. (From what I can see, the criticism has all generally been pretty mild and constructive, at least in this thread.) You know what? Everybody has stressful moments at work. For example, Tanizaki is a lawyer and I certainly can't imagine that being an easy career path. I like the mods (with one notable exception) and I wish them the best, but seriously it seems like anytime they get even the slightest bit of constructive critique there's all this outpouring of love along the lines of "It's so hard, I don't envy them their jobs, it must be so stressful" - which is sweet, but a little unrealistic. Personally, I would love to have a job where I could literally tell the clients "If you don't like it, maybe you don't belong here" and a manager who would have my back 100% on this, as Mathowie does. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for being nicer to people in general (mods included) but this "stress thing" needs a little more consideration and perspective.

I apologize if it seems like my example was "making this about me." I'm only using my life as an example to offer a point of comparison, since I don't know enough about other people's lives to comprehensively articulate the point I'm trying to make. The mods have made some valid points here and apart from Cortex's outburst, they've generally done so in a level-headed way, but I personally feel like a bit of perspective might possibly be needed when the "pity-party" rhetoric runs a bit high.

Please don't take this the wrong way, mods. You're doing a great job and I respect you. But if we offer constructive criticism in a friendly way in the forum that is desidned specifically for that purpose, then it rankles a bit when we are treated as if we are bad people for putting such a "burden" on you, whereas that assertion comes from Cortex or the rest of the userbase.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 3:08 PM on April 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


I know you're in strictly literal mode right now, but "anything" can be parsed a variety of ways, and the way I read it isn't "Give me an absolute that will utterly stop this man" but "give me any tool that can assist in preventing this from happening."
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:09 PM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Looks to me like a case of some people being upset with reality and killing the messenger. Tanikazi was just stating facts. What has mefi come to if we're deleting statements of fact because we don't like the facts?
posted by luke1249 at 3:09 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


if deletions are never undeleted, why do the mods even allow these kinds of threads in the first place?

I have seen deletions undeleted. I have seen entire threads reappear.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:10 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Tanizaki: “This is not accurate. I said that, to my recollection, I have never commented on transgender issues. While I welcome correction, that has not happened yet in this regard.”

But the question we're talking about was about transgender issues. How on earth can you say it isn't?
posted by koeselitz at 3:10 PM on April 26, 2013


Tanizaki: "The problem in my view is that the "talk it out way" is never the "you know, after talking it out, we made a bad call. we are sorry about that way"."

Your join date is 2010. This site has existed since 1999.

Unless you've read literally every single MetaTalk ever posted in its entirety, you cannot use never and be accurate.

I'm just being coldly logical about this.
posted by scrump at 3:11 PM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


While I welcome correction, that has not happened yet in this regard.
I would refer you to this comment, Tanizaki, you liar.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:11 PM on April 26, 2013


luke1249: “Looks to me like a case of some people being upset with reality and killing the messenger. Tanikazi was just stating facts. What has mefi come to if we're deleting statements of fact because we don't like the facts?”

This is not true. Tanizaki said that the doctor in question wasn't unethical. This was argumentative and moreover contradictory of the facts of the question, and it's silly to claim it wasn't. Tanizaki seems to define "ethics" as "whatever is legal," in which case I would ask him whether lying or cheating on an exam are ethical even though they are often legal.
posted by koeselitz at 3:12 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


wolfdreams01: "But if we offer constructive criticism in a friendly way in the forum that is desidned specifically for that purpose"

And all of us look forward to the time when you do that.
posted by scrump at 3:12 PM on April 26, 2013 [13 favorites]


I would refer you to this comment, Tanizaki, you liar.

That is a comment by a mod (unsourced, I might add). How does it prove me a liar?
posted by Tanizaki at 3:13 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like strong, intelligent, conservative voices because I am sometimes happily surprised to be persuaded by intelligently argued conservative viewpoints, and when not persuaded I do enjoy engaging with conservative ideas intelligently argued.

A problem is that the sort of engagement between progressive and conservative ideas that I enjoy has been branded on this site "derailment" more and more often, too the point that I think commenters are meant to police their opinions based on their deviation from Mefi mainstream opinion, or have their potential flag-producing derailments nipped in the bud, no matter how respectfully and carefully they state their probably contrary opinions.

I hope that Tanizaki does like it here, because I like him here.
posted by General Tonic at 3:15 PM on April 26, 2013 [25 favorites]


Tanizaki seems to define "ethics" as "whatever is legal," in which case I would ask him whether lying or cheating on an exam are ethical even though they are often legal.

In this regard, I defined "ethical" as defined by the AMA's Code of Medical Ethics, which is the likely template for the relevant state's medical licensing authority. I defined it that way because that it the standard the licensing board would use if the OP were to seek relief from it.
posted by Tanizaki at 3:15 PM on April 26, 2013


Posting a bad review on Yelp does not accomplish the OP's stated goal.

I'm going to go ahead and disagree with this as well. The TG community, in a lot of places, is small and tight-knit, and word gets around pretty quickly when there's an abusive doctor. A single online review can get word out quite quickly. And, again, there is plenty that can be done, which cumulatively could have the same effect as the thing you insist couldn't work at all.

I would be very cautious about speaking authoritatively, as you have; this does not seem to be an area in which you have any real authority.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:16 PM on April 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


The problem in my view is that the "talk it out way" is never the "you know, after talking it out, we made a bad call. we are sorry about that way".

My experience has been different than yours.
posted by asterix at 3:17 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tanizaki, I think it's good you raised this issue. I disagree with the deletion of your original answer on AskMe. I also think that your experience on MetaFilter might be a lot better if you stop participating in the thread for a while.
posted by MoonOrb at 3:17 PM on April 26, 2013


The problem in my view is that the "talk it out way" is never the "you know, after talking it out, we made a bad call. we are sorry about that way".

We do that frequently. We totally hear that there are a lot of people who don't like the way this decision went. Even though we think it was the right decision at the time, it's clear that a lot of people didn't. We'll take that into account next time, moving forward. I'm sorry that people feel that the way we approach this and other situations sometimes feels "dug in" and like not apologizing in the way we feel that we should be apologizing. Sometimes what we feel is best to do is say "I hear what you're saying and we'll take it into account next time"

While I welcome correction, that has not happened yet in this regard.

I mentioned it before and I'll say it again. You have made comments about transgender issues that have been deleted. I am not interested in making a thing about this at all, but since it's a thing you keep mentioning I just want to set the record straight. I am actually a primary source.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:18 PM on April 26, 2013 [35 favorites]


How does it prove me a liar?

You made a claim that you had "commented on transgender issues on this site zero times." This was directly contradicted by the mods, who have memories. Even if we exclude them, the comment you so helpfully re-posted at the top of this thread does indeed "comment on transgender issues."

In your previous MeTa, you not only misstated the subject of the FPP, but misstated the content of one of the links. You are not so stupid as for this to be accidental.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:19 PM on April 26, 2013


I would be very cautious about speaking authoritatively, as you have; this does not seem to be an area in which you have any real authority.

I admit that I am not an authority on Yelp. I have only recently joined it to get a free hummus appetizer after church.

However, I would be surprised to learn that a Yelp review accomplished the goal of "stop this asshole of a doctor from ever again coming near a child with gender-identity issues". He might get less traffic from such patients, I will grant you, but it doesn't stop him from ever having a transgender child patient again.
posted by Tanizaki at 3:19 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


General Tonic: "A problem is that the sort of engagement between progressive and conservative ideas that I enjoy has been branded on this site "derailment" more and more often, too the point that I think commenters are meant to police their opinions based on their deviation from Mefi mainstream opinion, or have their potential flag-producing derailments nipped in the bud, no matter how respectfully and carefully they state their probably contrary opinions."

I am really seriously struggling to understand this mindset, because it just does not match, in any way, my observation of how moderation actually works here, and how the community actually works.

Conservative ideas, like all ideas, are welcome here if they can stand on the merits and the facts. Very often, ideas branded as "conservative", though, cannot stand on either the merits or the facts. And, when people point out that, hey, what you just wrote is factually wrong, it gets characterized as "censorship".

It is not groupthink to demand that you back your shit up with actual facts and references. And, if you find your ideas catching a lot of flak, maybe your ideas are bad ones.
posted by scrump at 3:20 PM on April 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


Tanizaki, I think it's good you raised this issue. I disagree with the deletion of your original answer on AskMe. I also think that your experience on MetaFilter might be a lot better if you stop participating in the thread for a while.

Thank you. With that in mind, I will take a break from this thread for a while. I am sorry to specifically announce it, but I do not want people to speculate why they have not received replies from me in the interim.

I have maxxed my favorites, anyway.
posted by Tanizaki at 3:21 PM on April 26, 2013


jessamyn: " I am actually a primary source."

MLA? APA?
posted by scrump at 3:22 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


However, I would be surprised to learn that a Yelp review accomplished the goal of "stop this asshole of a doctor from ever again coming near a child with gender-identity issues". He might get less traffic from such patients, I will grant you, but it doesn't stop him from ever having a transgender child patient again.

Well, considering that my suggestion wasn't "Only post a review on Yelp and that will solve everything," is seems that rather than addressing my point, which is that there are an awful lot of additional things that can be done, you have instead decided to reduce it to a single action that you think, without authority, would be ineffectual.

This is not a very good way to make your case, because it does not seem like you are engaging with an actual discussion, but instead cherry picking it for absurdity. If you are not doing that deliberately, please be aware that, even if accidentally, this is what you have done. If you are doing it deliberately, please stop, because it's a sucky way to engage a discussion.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:22 PM on April 26, 2013 [12 favorites]


I admit that I am not an authority on Yelp.

I had some sympathy earlier, but given the conversation that lead to this response, there is no interpretation here other than: you are a total fucking asshole.
posted by neroli at 3:24 PM on April 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


THINGS METAFILTER SHOULD STAND AGAINST: GROUPTHINK & CENSORSHIP.

I have always been told that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all. Personally I don't believe that. I have nothing nice to say about your last comment.
Personally, I don't think Meta anything should adopt that policy either.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 3:25 PM on April 26, 2013


I have seen deletions undeleted. I have seen entire threads reappear.

I've seen snowflakes on fire off the shoulder of Orion.

I would respectfully suggest that the best way to persuade Tanizaki that he would be more successful here if he spent less time trying to win all the side arguments and worked a little harder at framing his main points in a less calculatedly cold manner is probably not to continue to argue every side point with him. Not because he's right and we're wrong. Because that strategy isn't working any better for us than it did for him.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:25 PM on April 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


Tanizaki: “In this regard, I defined ‘ethical’ as defined by the AMA's Code of Medical Ethics, which is the likely template for the relevant state's medical licensing authority. I defined it that way because that it the standard the licensing board would use if the OP were to seek relief from it.”

That's a wholly irrational and disastrously incomplete way to define 'ethical.' I thought I made this clear with my example, but I'll go into it further, since you seem to need further explanation.

If laws and justice were the same thing, then laws would never change. But because we recognize a difference between laws and justice, in a democratic society we aim toward changing the laws when we notice that they are not in accord with justice. Some forms of unethical behavior cannot be legislated against (as I said, lying and cheating on exams) so they aren't illegal; but some forms of ethical behavior which should be legislated against are not currently.

We're talking about an evolving situation, a situation where societal ideas of justice are shifting. We're talking about transgender politics. And in this realm, on some very, very important questions, there are a lot of standards being rewritten, and lots of people are working hard to shift the way the system works in order to protect those who need and deserve protection.

In this environment, when someone comes in and insists flatly that those wronged have no recourse, unequivocally and without qualification, that insistence is not only factually incorrect and misguided; it amounts to a denial that those who work for justice on behalf of the transgendered are doing the right thing at all. This is how laws change and standards become more just: people in these situations stand up, publicize them, find legal recourse, and, if they cannot, litigate through other means. (You are aware that there are many, many avenues of litigation, right? Because it was quite odd to see a lawyer insistently make the untrue claim that there aren't.)

People have said that you don't seem to know much about this. They are right. You claim to be a lawyer; that's fine. You are clearly not a social justice lawyer specializing in transgender issues; if you were, these things would be clear to you.
posted by koeselitz at 3:25 PM on April 26, 2013 [24 favorites]


At this point, I wish the whole thread could be deleted. The question was about revenge, not actual information, and most of the answers weren't actually on target.
Contrast and compare the answers in the HERF DERF BUTTER EATER ask thread back in 2005.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:27 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe we could all try to cut each other a little slack? If Tanizaki's only contributions to transgender threads are deleted ones, it would be hard for him to look back and see them. He may honestly believe he never commented on a single transgender thread - but at the same time, mod's experience is certainly there from the deleted statements.

I think it's possible for everyone to be trying to be truthful here, and still talking at cross purposes.
posted by corb at 3:27 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I know MeTa is a bit looser with stuff, but if we can refrain from directly calling each other names things will go more smoothly.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:28 PM on April 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I don't know that the conversation is forwarded by calling somebody a liar.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:28 PM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's Raining Florence Henderson: “Because that strategy isn't working any better for us than it did for him.”

On the contrary, I have no doubt that he's quite happy with the outcome. And he's demonstrated his proficiency in this regard: whenever anyone here asked a fundamental question, he ignored it and addressed an unimportant question instead. For instance: why on earth didn't he just use the contact form and work this out with the moderators? He's completely ignored that question, to his great success. Here we are, still arguing about it.
posted by koeselitz at 3:29 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Especially in the top half of this thread, there are a lot of allegations about particular biases or political agendas being pushed by both site users and site moderators, and complaints that certain "opinions" tend not to go over well. I pay attention mainly to gender issues threads, so my interpretation of this could be wrong, but one of the people alleging this in particular I know to be extremely unfriendly to trans people. I would find it helpful if people claiming there is a PC/political/etc. agenda were to specify what they mean.

Specifically, I read the OP's comment to be supporting poor treatment of the trans child, and as such I support its removal. I seem not to be alone in this reading. Now, here, there are people objecting to the fact that their opinions aren't received well. This has been brewing for a while, apparently, with an increase in awareness of trans people and their problems, and I have participated in a MeTa addressing how moderation approaches trans issues. But if acknowledging the existence and validity of trans people is bias in the system, all I can say is good.
posted by Corinth at 3:29 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Here's the thing: This whole MeTa mess could have been avoided if Tanizaki had e-mailed the mods to ask why the comment was deleted and then, based on their comments, re-written it so that it was more polite and more clear. It was, quite frankly, poorly written. As I see it, that's the comment's only real sin here. The whole problem with the term "unethical" is that, in the context of legal analysis, that term means something different than it does in colloquial speech. The comment could have been rewritten to better explain what it meant. It would not have been difficult. Lawyers are used to having their written work product commented on and marked up and then re-writing for greater clarity. It's really no big deal.

So I think that's the lesson here. If you have a comment or answer deleted and you think it should not have been, just contact the mods and ask why it was deleted. Ask them if a rewrite would be OK, and work it out. Then post the rewritten comment or answer. The asker will have your outstanding answer - in a better, more understandable form. The mods will be happy. And you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you are contributing to the site, that your views and advice are being heard, and that nobody thinks you're an idiot for whining about it in a MeTa.
posted by The World Famous at 3:30 PM on April 26, 2013 [21 favorites]


In this regard, I defined "ethical" as defined by the AMA's Code of Medical Ethics, which is the likely template for the relevant state's medical licensing authority. I defined it that way because that it the standard the licensing board would use if the OP were to seek relief from it.

You misrepresented that code of ethics!
posted by hoyland at 3:35 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


The World Famous: “So I think that's the lesson here. If you have a comment or answer deleted and you think it should not have been, just contact the mods and ask why it was deleted... And you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you are contributing to the site, that your views and advice are being heard, and that nobody thinks you're an idiot for whining about it in a MeTa.”

Your assumptions about what will give Tanizaki satisfaction are, in my view, incorrect. Specifically, I think it'd be wrong to assume that "this whole MeTa mess" doesn't give Tanizaki satisfaction.

L. Ron McKenzie: “If you have a ‘problem user’ that you want to get rid of, ban them instead of doing this passive aggressive nonsense.”

I have no idea where the mods are on this, and honestly it's really between Tanizaki and them and whomever he harasses in Ask. But at this point I agree.

Tanizaki ought to be banned at the next opportunity.
posted by koeselitz at 3:35 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


"I would refer you to this comment, Tanizaki, you liar."

I know when I make comments like this, it can feel like I'm slamming a point home, but upon reflection, it can really make me come across as a dick, especially when I'm pulling out big guns over something that seems so petty and tangential.
posted by klangklangston at 3:37 PM on April 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


I agree, The World Famous, that there would have been a way for Tanizaki to answer the question in a way that didn't result in its deletion. But what troubles me about the deletion is that, in my view at least, the answer was well within the range of ways to acceptably answer a question without worrying that it would be deleted.

I think this MeTa isn't so much about "Hey, let's help Tanizaki communicate better so he doesn't run into this problem again" as "Hey, wait a minute--the standard for AskMe answers is so high that even this answer gets deleted?"

I think the contact form is fabulous for the first question, but the MeTa is better for the second issue.
posted by MoonOrb at 3:37 PM on April 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


I don't like hurling liar accusations either, but I don't like passive-aggressiveness as well, and I think the only polite thing to say is that Tanizaki seems to be have been disingenuous in a way that would be difficult for other users to prove. This is frustrating because a) It seems more likely that the answer in the askme was phrased as was because of a particular world view, rather than a lack of interaction skills and b) this metatalk seems like a bit a of taking the piss out of the mods. Sorry if I abused that last one; in the midst of In the Thick of It. Why is it you Brits are so fucking funny?
posted by angrycat at 3:38 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


in the midst of In the Thick of It. Why is it you Brits are so fucking funny?

You wouldn't think so if you saw the earlier version, In the Thicke of It, starring Alan Thicke.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:40 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


You misrepresented that code of ethics!

On the Internet, no one knows you're possibly a really crappy lawyer.
posted by neroli at 3:42 PM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Your assumptions about what will give Tanizaki satisfaction are, in my view, incorrect.

Perhaps. My intention was to speak to MeFi users generally, maybe particularly those who also happen to be lawyers, and not only to Tanizaki. But yeah, I think you're right, since I notice that Tanizaki has not posted a revised version of the answer in the AskMe thread, which could easily have been done well within the parameters set forth by the mods in this thread.

Bottom line for me is this: I disagree with the deletion. I don't think the answer crossed a line, and I think it actually was a pretty good answer in general terms. I do think the answer assumed a lot about the law and probably was overreaching and likely gave not the best advice in terms of legal analysis. I practice in that area to a significant extent, and it's not the advice I would have given - but lawyers can differ in their analysis, and there's nothing wrong with that. And I think the answer was poorly written and didn't communicate very well what it appears to me it was trying to communicate.

I think the people here who view the answer as offensive or dismissive of trans issues are misinterpreting the answer. But that's because I'm a lawyer and I'm reading the answer as a ham-fisted, poorly written bit of not very good legal advice, and I'm interpreting the term "unethical" as having its typical meaning in a legal setting, which means it refers to specific canons or rules of ethics, and not to the casual colloquial meaning of the term. And I think the answer is so poorly written that it's actually not unreasonable for people to misinterpret it as offensive.

So why didn't Tanizaki rewrite the answer? I'm going to choose not to read too much into it. But if I wanted to, I could read a lot into it.
posted by The World Famous at 3:46 PM on April 26, 2013 [14 favorites]


You wouldn't think so if you saw the earlier version, In the Thicke of It, starring Alan Thicke.

Well, sure, but that's the Canadian version, so duh.
posted by The World Famous at 3:48 PM on April 26, 2013


when the topic of discussion is the exclusion of gay boys and men from the BSA

Everyone thinks of surfers as laid back and easygoing, but when I consider this alongside their opposition to wave energy I have to start thinking they are a bunch of wankers.
posted by biffa at 3:48 PM on April 26, 2013


The World Famous: “I think the people here who view the answer as offensive or dismissive of trans issues are misinterpreting the answer. But that's because I'm a lawyer and I'm reading the answer as a ham-fisted, poorly written bit of not very good legal advice, and I'm interpreting the term 'unethical' as having its typical meaning in a legal setting, which means it refers to specific canons or rules of ethics, and not to the casual colloquial meaning of the term. And I think the answer is so poorly written that it's actually not unreasonable for people to misinterpret it as offensive. ”

I agree somewhat. I would say, however, that I think the bar for strictly legal advice on Ask (as on the rest of the internet) ought to be much, much higher – for reasons that I think most lawyers probably understand. And moreover, as I tried to say above, this is a realm in which the "strict legal definition" and the "actual human moral definition" of "ethical" are inextricably related, to the point where we really can't talk about one without the other. We're not talking about a settled and static realm of law here; we're talking about a dynamic one where breaches of actual ethics are common enough that many people are fighting to make changes to the legal definitions.

“So why didn't Tanizaki rewrite the answer? I'm going to choose not to read too much into it. But if I wanted to, I could read a lot into it.”

Indeed. And now, it seems, we'll never know, since the star player in our little drama has chosen to exit stage right.
posted by koeselitz at 3:52 PM on April 26, 2013


I would say, however, that I think the bar for strictly legal advice on Ask (as on the rest of the internet) ought to be much, much higher

I absolutely agree.

And moreover, as I tried to say above, this is a realm in which the "strict legal definition" and the "actual human moral definition" of "ethical" are inextricably related, to the point where we really can't talk about one without the other.

I agree. Had I written that answer, I would not have used the words "ethical" or "unethical" at all, but would instead have said (if I held the same opinion as Tanizaki) that it did not appear to me, based on the available information, that the physician's conduct was in violation of the specific codified ethics rules applicable in that situation.
posted by The World Famous at 3:56 PM on April 26, 2013


Another thing not mentioned above: it was the very first comment in the thread. That tends to set the tone for the whole thread.

This is really, really important info right here. This should have been brought up immediately, or maybe even by tanizaki.

Isn't it a fairly established standard here that the first/very early comments in a thread can and will get canned if they're overly harsh or seem like they could derail the whole thread? This isn't some sudden new rule or concept.

Personally, i feel like this MeTa should have been closed pretty much right after that was established. The hair sawing that's gone on in here since then is a bit ridiculous when i think it's pretty damn hard to deny that this would have very likely cocked up the thread.(on a seriously controversial/contentious subject, nonetheless)

But if I wanted to, I could read a lot into it.

And if you looked at his posting history, you could read a whole hell of a lot more. He can be, er, oppositional.
posted by emptythought at 4:00 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


This isn't some sudden new rule or concept.

I've never heard it applied to AskMe before (and logically, it shouldn't matter as much to AskMe, because the answers are much more independent of one another than comments in a post to the blue).
posted by Jpfed at 4:04 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


It doesn't come up nearly as much in AskMe, because the sort of offhand snark that is generally the problem on the blue is flatly disallowed, but it's likely to add some weight to the deletion side of a borderline call.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:06 PM on April 26, 2013


And if you looked at his posting history, you could read a whole hell of a lot more. He can be, er, oppositional.

Look, I'm a fan of the Big Lebowski myself, but "You're not wrong, you're just an asshole" can't be the reason things get deleted.

In my opinion, that is.
posted by Mooski at 4:07 PM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


In a fairly recent meTa, Tanizaki asked why his post about XYZ had been deleted. A number of people pointed out that he'd made a post that was actually about ABC, and he eventually acknowledged that that was so. There seems to be a disconnect for him, and it's not all down to "well, different people read things differently."
posted by rtha at 4:09 PM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


I agree with that, but i don't think this was said in a particularly nice way either. I agree with matt that if this has been presented as "Well hmm, i have some legal experience and this seems like it doesn't meet this qualifications" is a LOT different than "You're boned, sorry" which is the way this was presented.

When someone has a history of presenting things abrasively like this, i feel like you have a lot less of a reason to give them the benefit of the doubt, no? This is compounded by the fact that a lot of times, even if he is in fact commenting in good faith.. it really doesn't always come off that way. It generally really comes off as a bit fighty and "My opinion is the one right one and it is fact"

On preview, what rtha says is true as well.
posted by emptythought at 4:11 PM on April 26, 2013


Also, you know what, i realized i don't entirely agree with that. Why should we allow people to be assholes just because they're right? aren't we aiming for pleasant, interesting discourse here?

There's no reason to be an asshole. There's some cases where it's needed to slap some sense in to someone, but when you're just assholing along for the sake of it then why?

I mean, i think this could be another "you may be right, but you don't win anything for being right" situation where being an asshole isn't a value-add.
posted by emptythought at 4:12 PM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Look, I'm a fan of the Big Lebowski myself, but "You're not wrong, you're just an asshole" can't be the reason things get deleted.

Change that to "you're behaving like an asshole," and that's exactly the reason things get deleted. AskMe is not and cannot be moderated on the basis of factual correctness - if we were able to determine the factual truth of every answer to every question asked, we wouldn't need to have commenters at all. And the calculus around "is this assholish behavior" does take into account past behavior, because that's part of the context.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:13 PM on April 26, 2013 [13 favorites]


This comment quoted the most contentious part of a comment and gave a gruff, dry legal reading. What's the old saying about a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down? That.

So, you guys are now seriously deleting correct answers because they're not 'nice enough'?

This place has lost its collective mind.
posted by Malor at 4:14 PM on April 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


It wasn't a correct answer: feel free to read the rest of the thread when you have a chance.
posted by gladly at 4:15 PM on April 26, 2013 [23 favorites]


I've never heard it applied to AskMe before (and logically, it shouldn't matter as much to AskMe, because the answers are much more independent of one another than comments in a post to the blue).

I have the sense that answers of the form "Your premise for asking this question is wrong and you shouldn't have asked" get deleted more readily if they're the first answer. I noticed a bunch of answers get deleted seemingly for this reason like two days ago, but I can't for the life of me remember what the thread was. I am obviously of the belief that Tanizaki's answer was of that form, though it was a little more stealthy than most because of his appeal to his professional experience.
posted by hoyland at 4:16 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


and now, it seems, we'll never know, since the star player in our little drama has chosen to exit stage right.

The meta was posted almost 11 hours ago. He's not obliged to stay in the thread for ever.
posted by Jahaza at 4:19 PM on April 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


Malor: “So, you guys are now seriously deleting correct answers because they're not 'nice enough'? This place has lost its collective mind.”

For the billionth time, the answer was not correct. Which would be okay if it had not been combative and hadn't contradicted the person asking the question. That was mathowie's point: sure, you can be wrong in AskMe, whatever, but if you're an asshole and wrong, why leave an answer like that up?
posted by koeselitz at 4:20 PM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Something's troubling me about this idea that this answer was more problematic because it was the first answer in, the implication being that it would derail the Ask and lead to all sorts of in-thread fightiness:

The green is much less likely to result in derails because the norm on the green is that derail-y, off-topic answers/fighting with other answerers just gets deleted. Not nearly as true on the blue where there is much more freedom to comment. On the blue, I can see a case for mod intervention on first-in, threadshit-style comments that might wreck the thread before it starts: sort of a pre-emption, or a type of prophylactic measure against potential derails. On the green, I see less of a risk--off-topic non-answers pretty much get deleted, period. So if Tanizaki's answer had actually been off-topic and derail-y, deletion would have been appropriate. But it was on-topic, even if it was wrong, and even if it was not diplomatically delivered.

So to the extent one of the justifications for the deletion is that it was to preempt potential derails, I don't think that strategy is as appropriate for the green as on the blue. I think the solution would have been to let the comment stand, and, if any derail-y answers came up as a result later in the thread, just delete them.
posted by MoonOrb at 4:21 PM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


me: “... and now, it seems, we'll never know, since the star player in our little drama has chosen to exit stage right.”

Jahaza: “The meta was posted almost 11 hours ago. He's nobliged to stay in the thread for ever. t”

I didn't say he was obliged to stick around. I was merely alluding to the astounding and somewhat suspect feat he's pulled off: he posted a metatalk thread and then proceeded, over eleven hours and two dozen separate comments, to completely avoid the fundamental question raised by the metatalk thread, though it was asked of him many, many times. That kind of misdirection is a real achievement.

But no, I was definitely not expressing a hope that he'd come back and talk some more.
posted by koeselitz at 4:25 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


So, you guys are now seriously deleting correct answers because they're not 'nice enough'?

This place has lost its collective mind.


You see, it's exactly comments like this that perplex me. As has been pointed out above, viewing the comment as unambiguously "correct" is wrong, and viewing the ways it fell short as "not nice enough" is condescendingly inaccurate.

But in some way, you're right. In Meta after Meta, the point is made: THIS IS A PLACE WHERE KINDNESS MATTERS.

Why -- Malor, and others -- is this constantly shocking to you?
posted by neroli at 4:27 PM on April 26, 2013 [26 favorites]


For the billionth time, the answer was not correct.

That was not the reason given for deleting the comment. That was not, at least initially, the reason given for leaving it deleted.
posted by Jahaza at 4:29 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


So to the extent one of the justifications for the deletion is that it was to preempt potential derails, I don't think that strategy is as appropriate for the green as on the blue. I think the solution would have been to let the comment stand, and, if any derail-y answers came up as a result later in the thread, just delete them.

As I understand it, when someone posts a jerky wrong answer, or just a jerky answer, and someone says "This is a jerky answer and here's why", both the original answer and the response get deleted. Certainly I've had answers deleted from AskMe in that pattern. Wrong answer X and "X is wrong because Y" both stand. So if Tanizaki's answer was going to be deleted when someone called him out, why not pre-emptively delete it?

It's entirely possible I've misunderstood the norms of AskMe when it comes to speaking up about bad answers. Personally, I hope the effort on the part of the mods of deleting the calling out of a bad answer is worth not having the bad answer go unchallenged.
posted by hoyland at 4:29 PM on April 26, 2013


Malor: "This place has lost its collective mind."

From where I'm standing, the mind-losing doesn't appear to be a problem on MetaFilter's side.
posted by scrump at 4:32 PM on April 26, 2013


Very often, ideas branded as "conservative", though, cannot stand on either the merits or the facts.

That is true about all sorts of ideas, not just conservative ones. When there are two views on a topic, each view will by definition see the other view as wrong.

But the real truth there are always, ALWAYS more than two views.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:34 PM on April 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


No, there aren't.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:36 PM on April 26, 2013 [15 favorites]


Well, maybe not losing its mind, but clearly something weird is going on. Both the people I agree with in this thread and the people I disagree with are very different sets than I am used to.
posted by ryanrs at 4:36 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would like to bring up something I just thought of.
I am pretty sure that there were multiple threads in the past that got derailed, and WITHOUT the mods help, the community itself corrected the thread, and nipped it in the butt.

I should show an example.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 4:37 PM on April 26, 2013


I don't think any baby would be aborted for being left-handed, but if before getting pregnant a couple could choose the handedness of the child, I think that left-handedness would be less prevalent than it is now

Have you been tested for lead exposure recently? Your comments draw a graph that seems to exhibit the symptoms of exposure.
posted by humanfont at 4:38 PM on April 26, 2013


St. Alia of the Bunnies: "But the real truth there are always, ALWAYS more than two views."

You are conflating opinions and facts.

"Views" are not facts. They are opinions. As the man says, you are entitled to your own opinions. You are not entitled to your own facts.

And, if your opinions are predicated upon things that are factually incorrect, and you get called on them being factually incorrect, it is the height of disingenuousness to start screaming OMG GROUPTHINK CENSORSHIP.
posted by scrump at 4:38 PM on April 26, 2013 [17 favorites]


For the billionth time, the answer was not correct.

it's not comprehensive and i have to wonder about him saying the doctor wasn't "unethical", but i'm not sure i'd say it was "not correct" - he's probably right that formal action wouldn't be effective

it certainly wasn't insightful or deeply informative
posted by pyramid termite at 4:39 PM on April 26, 2013


I am in no position to say whether Tanizaki's Ask comment was factually right or wrong, but it seemed like an honest attempt to answer the question. The comment shouldn't have been deleted.

On the other hand, I very much agree with Eeybrows McGee's observations about OP's general commenting approach, in this thread and several others.
posted by Dumsnill at 4:39 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Look, I'm a fan of the Big Lebowski myself, but "You're not wrong, you're just an asshole" can't be the reason things get deleted.

This MeTa is about a comment on Ask, though. My impression is that for as long as I've been here, Ask has had a much higher bar for deleting answers that come off as impolite or too aggressive than the other sections of the site.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:39 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am pretty sure that there were multiple threads in the past that got derailed, and WITHOUT the mods help, the community itself corrected the thread, and nipped it in the butt

Your example is from 2006, which is in Metafilter time a very long time ago, plus that is not an AskMe thread. AskMe and Metafilter proper are moderated very, very differently.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:39 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bud. Nipped it in the bud. Nipping in the butt would be unlikely to slow the fighting.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:39 PM on April 26, 2013 [19 favorites]


One thing that's always cool about MeTa is how before too long it quickly turns into so many people quickly finding a way to relate the issue in the thread to whatever particular axe they want to grind with MetaFilter generally.
posted by MoonOrb at 4:40 PM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


I knew I set somebody up for that one
posted by QueerAngel28 at 4:42 PM on April 26, 2013


My axe is made of candy.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:42 PM on April 26, 2013


This place has lost its collective mind.

I have it on authority that pretty soon offensive comments will be targeted by drones.
posted by octobersurprise at 4:42 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's Raining Florence Henderson: "My axe is made of candy."

And my sword!

</Fellowship of the Candy Ring>
posted by scrump at 4:43 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Thanks for the correction Restless. All I really did was close my eyes and point my finger, and three comments down was that example. My bigger point , which wasn't stated, my bad, was that Metafilter is a community. We are all mostly adults, and in those moments were someone isn't an adult, the community as a whole can, is able to correct itself. That's one of the many beauties of MetaFilter. It's a garden, but the roses will keep out the weeds.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 4:49 PM on April 26, 2013


That's a charming and enthusiastic sentiment that does not in any way correspond to my professional experience.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:51 PM on April 26, 2013 [27 favorites]


There's no reason to be an asshole.

I agree wholeheartedly. And you know what? The comment's deleted, I just realized I don't have a magic ball to determine anyone's motivations, there is wine to be drunk, and I still love you all, 'cause you collectively make this place awesome.

Apologies for adding my stick to the shit-stirring, mods.
posted by Mooski at 4:52 PM on April 26, 2013


Have you been tested for lead exposure recently? Your comments draw a graph that seems to exhibit the symptoms of exposure.

Anybody know how I can make sure nobody ever visits Dr. Humanfont again?
posted by Drinky Die at 5:00 PM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


MORE GRAR FOR THE GRAR GOD
posted by Vowelzebub at 5:02 PM on April 26, 2013 [18 favorites]


it's not comprehensive and i have to wonder about him saying the doctor wasn't "unethical", but i'm not sure i'd say it was "not correct" - he's probably right that formal action wouldn't be effective

Sure, but anyone with a passing familiarity with trans issues, like, say, the person who asked the question, would know that any formal action would have a good chance of going nowhere. (Of course, that doesn't mean they should't do it. Someone sometime has to do it and if the OP's friend is the person with the time and energy, then all the more power to them. If they're not, that's okay too.) I don't think that he happened to be right about something the OP almost surely already knew redeems the answer.
posted by hoyland at 5:06 PM on April 26, 2013


Just to put things in perspective firefighter resuscitates mom cat while baby cat looks on anxiously.

There are firefighters out there resuscitating cats people.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:07 PM on April 26, 2013 [13 favorites]


MORE GRAR FOR THE GRAR GOD

Great. Who left the Hellmouth open?
posted by octobersurprise at 5:10 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am going to assume that cat is going on to live a long and decadent life of cream and salmon and sun on her tummy and anyone who tells me otherwise can expect A SWITCHBLADE IN THEIR BELLY. Are we clear?
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:11 PM on April 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


This place has lost its collective mind.

Careful with that tone, Eugene!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:17 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm a dog person myself, but I don't mind if the cats people get resuscitated.
posted by found missing at 5:18 PM on April 26, 2013


cats people was a horrible movie, luckily Bowie and Stevie Ray Vaughan resuscitated it with fire
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:19 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am going to assume that cat is going on to live a long and decadent life of cream and salmon and sun on her tummy and anyone who tells me otherwise can expect A SWITCHBLADE IN THEIR BELLY. Are we clear?

No need to worry! Here's the actual caption for the image:

Bowling Green, Ky., fire department Capt. Levy Davis uses oxygen to revive a cat as one of its kittens watches after they were rescued from a house fire Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2004. Firefighters rescued three cats from the blaze that gutted a home. All three animals were taken to the Bowling Green/ Warren County Humane Society. (AP Photo/Daily News, Joe Imel)

Here's 15 more pictures of cats rescued by firefighters.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:22 PM on April 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


I not going to sweat the small stuff, like proper punctuation nor grammar! as long as no cats people goes unresuscitsted.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:24 PM on April 26, 2013


"Mom! Tanizaki hit me back after someone else hit him first and then he hit some other person and then I hit him!"


FOOD FIGHT!!!


(The path this thread is taken somewhat demonstrates Taz may have been on to something)
posted by sammyo at 5:24 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yes. He committed malpractice, engaged in unethical conduct, and violated model state licensing provisions. He appears impaired, incompetent, and/or unethical.

Would this have been deleted?
posted by milarepa at 5:25 PM on April 26, 2013


What goes unmentioned in all but one of those instances is that it is always the cat who started the fire.
posted by found missing at 5:25 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Would this have been deleted?

That wouldn't have been an answer to the question. So, yeah, most likely.

Contrafactuals are generally useless in this kind of conversation. They elide far too much context.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:33 PM on April 26, 2013


disemvoweling used to be a boing boing thing ... is Vowelzebub a false god here at Metafilter?
posted by secretseasons at 5:37 PM on April 26, 2013


Disemvoweling is a practice we do not follow here, no.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:40 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bunny Ultramod: "Here's 15 more pictures of cats rescued by firefighters."

You can call your local fire department to find out if they have pet oxygen masks on their trucks and, if not, it costs $75 to donate a kit with three sizes of mask and various training material! My neighbors' dog was rescued from a housefire by a pet-oxygen-equipped truck and administered oxygen. They also carried a leash that attached to a D-ring on the truck to restrain the dog from running back in (which is how he inhaled the smoke in the first place), and a bowl so they could give him water. And probably some other stuff I didn't get to see. He got to ride to his vet's office to get checked out (and to check in for boarding 'til the people figured out where they were staying) afterwards in the back of a squad car so, exciting dog day all around.

This is your contentious thread public service announcement for the day.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:48 PM on April 26, 2013 [42 favorites]


Disemdiphthonging is, I understand, currently being considered as an intermedte msure.
posted by furiousthought at 6:05 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


DIPTHONGEGOG IS AN INFERIOR DEITY
posted by Vowelzebub at 6:11 PM on April 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


MetaFilter: You're not wrong, you're just an asshole.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:12 PM on April 26, 2013


DIPTHONGEGOG IS AN INFERIOR DEITY

you don't seem like a very consonant god at all
posted by pyramid termite at 6:23 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


there is no deletion god but Deletion God and AngryVICTIM was her prophet
posted by secretseasons at 6:27 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


octobersurprise: "MORE GRAR FOR THE GRAR GOD

Great. Who left the Hellmouth open?
"
Honestly. Were you people raised in a Hellbarn?
posted by boo_radley at 6:30 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wow. This thread is incredible.

I've had the opportunity to experience a comment deletion, as well as private and public requests to be less wordy and more direct in my responses. It didn't take much for me to see the reasoning behind this, or the logic, which I view as valid. And so I take such requests in consideration, you know, because I'm part of this community, and try to be more aware of what I write and how I write it.

At the same time, it's also made me feel like posting less often, or aborting a post in mid-reply, because man, sometimes the possibility of being stifled is stifling enough.
eg: this is my third rewind/rewrite of a reply to this thread. I suppose I could've just simply said: "Yeah, I think if you've got a history of having your comments deleted, you should be able to learn why and tailor your response accordingly. Versus: yeah, that's cool, but there's the risk of losing out on the participation of X/Y/Z members.

Anyway, as I see below, I'm noting that "everyone needs a hug." Here: have one. It's safe: I've put hand sanitizer on my cheeks.
posted by herrdoktor at 6:34 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


MY FACE. I MEANT MY FACE. STANDARDHUG NOT BUTTHUG.
(There's an AskMe about getting less sick, hands, and cheeks.)
posted by herrdoktor at 6:39 PM on April 26, 2013 [21 favorites]


Basically anyone who has ever disagreed with me on mefi should be deleted randomly and thwarted for all time and we'd all have a much better site.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:39 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Perhaps the mods could learn something from this too. If one can recognize controversial topics as well as they clearly can and know what gets flagged and tends to result in these kinds of threads, a gut instinct to handle a borderline "factual but offensively neutral"-type answer such as that one the way it was handled may have predictable and tedious results.

Given the topic, if the answer was so close to being passable, at least in retrospect from where I’m sitting there would be more peace and harmony in the world had the mod either left it as is or preemptively contacted the commenter and explained how to fix the comment. Why roll a dice and hope they contact you? The AskMe poster has been spared zero offense by the deletion now.

it’s my understanding that zumba can help with tone

This is actually what I really want to talk about. Somebody explain why I am all of a sudden hearing this z-word seemingly once per day to me. What the hell is going on? This is beyond the noticed-a-novel-thing-and-now-I-see-it-everywhere thing.
posted by floam at 6:40 PM on April 26, 2013


I think 'deleted' along with 'caramelized' would make a great euphemism for 'drunk.'

"Hey dude, I'm fuckin' deleted, gimme a lift home.."
posted by jonmc at 6:40 PM on April 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


MY FACE. I MEANT MY FACE.

For some reason that made me literally laugh out loud.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:42 PM on April 26, 2013


jonmc makes me happy - look at that user number, its a thing of beauty.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:44 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Zumba? Or tone?

If it's tone, it's because of something called the "tone argument," which particularly shows up in feminism threads, but will show up any time somebody in a disadvantaged position speaks forcefully about their disadvantage to somebody with privilege. Rather than address the argument, the person in privilege will instead simply complain that they don't like the tone of the complaint, and then dismiss it outright.

Keep in mind, nobody is saying that tone is unimportant. But different people have different standards about what is an appropriate tone, and you'll see those standards suddenly become unreachable in some of these circumstances -- in this instance, the tone argument is used to ignore the critique.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:47 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Hey dude, I'm fuckin' deleted, gimme a lift home.."

You don't have to close your account, but you can't post here.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:49 PM on April 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


Zumba. Out of nowhere all these people are fucking "at Zumba" now and mentioning this fictitious class passively like I should know about it by now and Zumba is just how people have always had fun. I feel like the subject of an intricate and carefully orchestrated psychology study to see how I react.
posted by floam at 6:55 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Zumba.

Oh that. Every so often an exercise fad reaches critical mass, where every single fitness club and YWCA feels obligated to offer it, and then, typically, the exercise is discovered to actually be bad for you or the founder turns out to be a creep, and then they move on to the next fad.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:00 PM on April 26, 2013


floam is onto us! floam is onto us! Switch to Qumba!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:01 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


LobsterMitten draws a distinction bewtween terse mod comments and terse user comments because: mod comments need to be made fast... [b]ut member comments are made under no time pressure (in this AskMe example anyway),

In my opinion, that's not correct.

Users who answer AskMefi questions are answering at the opportunity cost of doing something else. Most of us have jobs, families, pets, and other obligations.

So we users, just like mods, are under pressure: if an askMefi can be answered quickly, tersely, we figure that that does essentially the same service to the asker and the site, at minimum time cost to us, the answerer. Sometimes that time cost is necessarily high; I've spent over an hour on some answers. But if it can be kept down, all the better, I have more time for the other duties or hobbies in my life.

Because of those, sometimes we have the choice to answer a question quickly or not at all. Unlike mods we're not being paid to do it, and we don't have an eight hour shift to do it in. We're doing it out of our own generosity, "stealing" the time from doing something that puts money in our pockets or from our leisure time. (Indeed, our free work answering questions generates the page views that pull in the ads that pay the money that funds the site and ultimately goes to paying the mods. In a very indirect but real way, users' freely given time pays the mods' salaries.)

***

Which by the way, is why some people get annoyed at deletion of their answers, so annoyed they want to raise the issue publicly. They've freely given of their time, and of their expertise (acquired at far greater time cost), without any recompense, and now a mod has decided to throw that donation into the trash.

Your time is already spent, you spent it trying to help the questioner, and now your time is gone and the questioner hasn't received the benefit. Time which you'll never get back, has been wasted.

That leaves you a bad feeling, even if your answer wasn't so great.

But if that decision to throw away what was generously donated also seems an arbitrary decision based on a mod's ideology or perceptions, or past dealings with the donator, it's all the more galling. Your good time went into a good answer, and still, your time and effort is lost, without the questioner benefiting, for what (in your opinion) had nothing to do with the merits of your good answer.

We've all encountered the homeless guy who tells us he's hungry, asks for our money, but spurns or even curses us when we instead offer him a free sandwich. Now imagine what we'd feel like if it was a third party who stepped in to tells us that our sandwich sucks, give money instead.

That's approximately what having a good answer deleted feels like, and that's why people get incensed by it: they already spent their time, they were trying to help, and they got told, your help (or you, because we know from past dealings you're a bad person) isn't good enough.

Maybe it wasn't a good answer (in this case I think it was, but in other cases it won't be). At the very least, the mod deleting the comment should consider the time and effort put into the answer, and for that reason, have the grace to spend enough time to not be terse, or condescending, in removing the answer or communicating the reason for removal.

That's just good "business": answerers can and will take their donations of time and effort elsewhere.

Cortex, above, has told us how it feels to be a mod, I'm telling you how it feels to be modded.
posted by orthogonality at 7:02 PM on April 26, 2013 [55 favorites]


Welcome back, orthogonality.
posted by jamjam at 7:07 PM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


maybe optimus chyme will be next. What a thread.
posted by boo_radley at 7:11 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whoa, orthogonality. Welcome back.
posted by Phire at 7:19 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


maybe optimus chyme will be next

that boat has already sailed and sank at least once that I know of.
posted by elizardbits at 7:31 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is actually what I really want to talk about. Somebody explain why I am all of a sudden hearing this z-word seemingly once per day to me. What the hell is going on?

i don't know, but it worries me - every time i drive around i see a new tim horton's and i DON'T LIVE IN CANADA

and now we have zumbas

and bucket lists

we live in strange, ominous times
posted by pyramid termite at 7:38 PM on April 26, 2013


Your time is already spent, you spent it trying to help the questioner, and now your time is gone and the questioner hasn't received the benefit. Time which you'll never get back, has been wasted.

That leaves you a bad feeling, even if your answer wasn't so great.


By "you" you mean you, right? Because I've been, uh, modded and don't think I've ever felt this way.

We're doing it out of our own generosity, "stealing" the time from doing something that puts money in our pockets or from our leisure time.

This is not why or how I do it. And it's totally a choice, so if you feel like your generosity is being taken advantage of, you're not required to offer it.

Welcome back.
posted by rtha at 7:41 PM on April 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


Hi. I've been modded, too.

People with strong opinions on many things often feel put upon, told to "calm down" or "lighten up"... and then we are shocked and embarrassed when we realize these aren't platitudes or attempts to repress our spirit, but actual requests from upset and concerned people. Well, some of us are shocked and embarrassed. Others see it as weakness, an opportunity for a "kill" - well, guess what. The mods are hired to stand between you and your kill.

While the reasons for the deletion of the offending comment have been utter bonkers bullshit - it's easy to see they're acting on instinct, here. There is a troll who likes hurting people with rhetoric, and glories in the attention heaped upon it with each cold, clear, concise post. It's hard to put a finger on why it's wrong, because it's so exceptionally good at wriggling clear of the consequences for its statements.

So, here it is. The mods were wrong to delete the comment because of the way it was framed, the tone it was written in, the gender politics of the one who answered, and the general contrary outlook on things it may have held.

The mods were right to delete it as a slimy troll-dropping designed to sew discord and chaos based on the answerer's history.

The mods are our battle-llamas, interwoven with the culture of the site to be of us, and empowered to kick to death any wolves or coyotes or wildcats who try to mess with this business.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:44 PM on April 26, 2013 [16 favorites]


Fundamentally, the question as asked assumes that the doctor had acted unethically, at least as the asker would see it, and at least in the ordinary, common sense of the word; Tanizaki's answer errs insofar as it baldly declares that that doctor had *not* acted unethically.

With sufficiently charity it would be *possible* to read this as non-confrontational -- for example, presuming that what was meant was that "...and, finally, 'unethical' has a rather narrowly-defined, highly-technical definition in this context, and at least as-described so far the doctor's behavior is unlikely to qualify as 'unethical' in that specific, legal sense of the word" (or equivalent) -- but it's hard to justify extending that much charity to someone exhibiting no obvious evidence of an attempt at kindness or sympathy...and thus it's hard to fault someone not extending it that much of a charitable reading.
posted by hoople at 7:44 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


The deletion of Tanizaki's answer was bullshit. That is all.
posted by exogenous at 7:50 PM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm telling you how it feels to be modded.

What? I've had perfectly good but poorly written comments deleted in MetaFilter and AskMe. I've had FPPs deleted off the front page (FPPs I spent a lot of time on!) I've been told to cool it in MeTa. The way you describe does not match how I've felt about having my own comments deleted.

That's approximately what having a good answer deleted feels like,

I would advise every single person reading this to understand that our late returnee does not and cannot speak for everyone, and as for myself, his experience of having comments deleted is completely different than mine.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:50 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


hoople, the asker didn't ask if it was unethical or not, but whether or not they could prevent him from interacting with children with gender-identity issues. His answer to that is "No." The rest lists why that is.
posted by floam at 7:51 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


The deletion was right. It was a crappy first comment for a transgender-related AskMe.
posted by roboton666 at 8:02 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I had a comment deleted yesterday (from the blue), and it pissed me off way more than deletions usually do; the small mod comment also felt really personal.

I was having a spectacularly shitty day at work, so that didn't help. I started to fill out the contact form; typed, deleted, typed some more, closed the tab and took a short walk. Came back and still kind of cared, in an irritated way, but figured that the contact form wasn't going anywhere, while my feelings about the deletion probably would. Woke up this morning feeling quite different about the deletion - which is: eh.

No one else is required to feel this way, but that is my feeling on being modded. Eh.
posted by rtha at 8:02 PM on April 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


floam: I did not say that the question was "is this unethical?", I meant exactly what I said: the question as asked assumes that the doctor had acted unethically, at least as the asker would see it, and at least in the ordinary, common sense of the word.
posted by hoople at 8:05 PM on April 26, 2013


I can't say I found the answer especially informative. It amounted, essentially, to "Nope."

Had the answer been to the effect of "No, probably not, because this bit of the AMA Code of Medical Ethics [source] explains that to rise to the level of unethical, he needs to have done X, Y, and Z.", then I'd be annoyed by the deletion. But as it was? Not so much.
posted by MissySedai at 8:06 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


So, Mods, what say y'all to a direct request to reinstate the deleted comment as a demonstration of recompense for what was a muffed and muddled play, all 'round?

Many, many well-respected, calm, fair, sober, and level-headed users -- not just the predictable malcontents or anti-authority grousers -- have weighed-in in this huge thread to say that this was handled poorly. This is plain truth and I suspect it's entirely uncontroversial; I'm sure that every moderator on the site would agree with this statement.

Count me among those who stridently believe that the following two statements are simultaneously true: 01.) MetaFilter's moderation is peerless among any contemporary online community that I know of, and 02.) MetaFilter's moderation has dropped the ball on this one, specific issue, and has not indicated to us in any tangible way why they have responded to it in the confusing way that they have.

I love y'all and don't envy your workload, and sympathize with tough policy decisions... but will you undelete the originally contested response because, in the final analysis, it is the right thing to do? The deletion was weak and the response to earnest questions by respected members has been obscurantist and tight-lipped and occasionally ugly. As a member in good standing for 5+ years, I ask that you reinstate it because -- with respect -- y'all made the wrong call. No shame in it, whatsoever, and (with all sincerity) keep up the great work.
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj at 8:18 PM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


Reinstating it at this point would do weird things to the flow of the thread. Tanazaki is welcome to consider the feedback given here and post a new comment in a similar vein. Posting the exact same comment, when it obviously got such a mixed reaction, would strike me as more stunty than anything, to be honest.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:22 PM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Clear enough for ericb, I suppose.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:32 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


We've all encountered the homeless guy who tells us he's hungry, asks for our money, but spurns or even curses us when we instead offer him a free sandwich. Now imagine what we'd feel like if it was a third party who stepped in to tells us that our sandwich sucks, give money instead.

What a terrible analogy! How is this even close to people who, in a moment of desperation, ask for intelligent help against that of someone who, living in a horrible place for an extended period of time seeks the smallest altruism?

Your time is already spent, you spent it trying to help the questioner, and now your time is gone and the questioner hasn't received the benefit. Time which you'll never get back, has been wasted.

This assumes that the answer was beneficial, that the answerer put in a large amount of time in the answer, and that people are answering not in good faith but for the pursuit of self-aggrandizement. You keep stating 'cost' this, 'cost' that like the rule of law on AskMe is financial or even legal but it's not; it's a social enterprise dependent on social capital. It's what you would call a community who answer on the behalf of the asker. The way you've framed it, the person asking the question is secondary to the responder. That's an incredibly selfish presentation of AskMe and it's not one that I've ever seen played out except for maybe in that damn hat thread.

Many, many well-respected, calm, fair, sober, and level-headed users -- not just the predictable malcontents or anti-authority grousers -- have weighed-in in this huge thread to say that this was handled poorly. This is plain truth and I suspect it's entirely uncontroversial; I'm sure that every moderator on the site would agree with this statement.

Why are you telling us what to think? And how is this, in any way, even close to how this thread has played out?
posted by dubusadus at 8:33 PM on April 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


We've all encountered the homeless guy who tells us he's hungry, asks for our money, but spurns or even curses us when we instead offer him a free sandwich.

Yes but the homeless guy has some perfectly good reasons for that. The free sandwich is not as helpful as you think it is.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:37 PM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

>Reinstating it at this point would do weird things to the flow of the thread.
I very honestly grok your concerns about the "stuntyness" of such a gesture, and I do see that as one weakness in reinstating it.

For what it's worth, though, doing so would not do a single thing to the "flow of the thread".

Also for what it's worth: it's the right thing to do (one person's opinion). Maybe a discussion at the next mod pow-wow. I don't think it a matter of grave concern, and I'm entirely gruntled and have been listened to all my life, so I won't presume to dictate where it should rate on the mod agenda, but I think y'all might should hash it over.
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj at 8:38 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


jjjjjjjijjjjjjj: “Many, many well-respected, calm, fair, sober, and level-headed users -- not just the predictable malcontents or anti-authority grousers -- have weighed-in in this huge thread to say that this was handled poorly. This is plain truth and I suspect it's entirely uncontroversial; I'm sure that every moderator on the site would agree with this statement.”

Have you read this thread at all?
posted by koeselitz at 8:40 PM on April 26, 2013 [21 favorites]


(I mean, honestly, jjjjjjjijjjjjjj, I understand how tough this moment must be for you. You just posted a completely incorrect comment. Tell you what – here's my recommendation: post a complete apology and retraction. I suspect this would be totally uncontroversial, and moreover it's the right thing to do.)
posted by koeselitz at 8:41 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have read this entire MeTa and nobody has yet given the context they've danced around: trans people are told every day, including in comments, here, on MetaFilter, right here in River City, (and often by doctors - we had a thread on #transdocfail, if you'll remember) that we are $gender, it's obvious, just look in the fucking mirror, what's wrong with your head. This is almost literally what the doctor told the child (as has been revealed to us). Any response that validates the doctor's actions ("the action of telling a child their gender is absolutely determined by their genitals, just look at them you mentally unwell piece of shit, is totally okay and ethical") with no qualification or equivocation is crappy as hell and I don't want to read it whether that makes people feel silenced or not. I exist. Trans kids exist. Men with vaginas exist and women with penises exist and This Is A Thing. I'll apologize for existing (you think we don't know we make you uncomfortable, or that you "disagree" and want your opinion "respected?") but I won't stop existing.
posted by Corinth at 8:43 PM on April 26, 2013 [63 favorites]


I'm a bit surprised at how whiney we've become - the poster should have just used the contact form (as many have said above) and foregone the public drama. Deletions are not the end of the world. Metafilter is the better for having a group of great mods, who may not be perfect, but keep this place the sort of site I want to return to every day.
posted by nightwood at 8:43 PM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


The answer was not appropriate given the emotional triggers and issues that arise with transgender issues related to children.

This is a sensitive topic people, and while you may find it annoying to have to exercise additional sensitivity and tact in regards to this specific subject, I assure you, doing so will not harm you in any way.
posted by roboton666 at 8:44 PM on April 26, 2013 [9 favorites]

>Have you read this thread at all?

(I mean, honestly, jjjjjjjijjjjjjj, I understand how tough this moment must be for you. I mean, you just posted a completely incorrect comment. Tell you what – here's my recommendation: post a complete apology and retraction. I suspect this would be totally uncontroversial, and moreover it's the right thing to do.)
I've read the entire thread, yes, and my reactions were heartfelt and earnest and shared by many other people (as I'm sure you've seen... having also read the thread).

I also read what you just wrote, but I can't discern much about what it is you're saying, past "I disagree" and "I have a penchant for glibness".
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj at 8:50 PM on April 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


I'll apologize for existing

Don't ever!
posted by elsietheeel at 8:52 PM on April 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


jjjjjjjijjjjjjj: “Many, many well-respected, calm, fair, sober, and level-headed users -- not just the predictable malcontents or anti-authority grousers -- have weighed-in in this huge thread to say that this was handled poorly. This is plain truth and I suspect it's entirely uncontroversial; I'm sure that every moderator on the site would agree with this statement.”

To be maybe less snarky:

This is remarkably presumptuous of you, and it's weird how you're completely ignoring the dozens of people in this very thread who have agreed with the moderators and said that the deletion was a good deletion. More to the point – how in the world do you come to the conclusion that the moderators all agree that it was a bad deletion? Not one of them has said this. They are not the types to lie about this kind of thing. Apparently you're imagining that secretly they're just very embarrassed about the whole thing, and therefore sort of afraid to address it here; and you're here to offer them the helpful advice that if they just own up to their "mistake" and undelete the comment, things can all get better.

restless_nomad: “Reinstating it at this point would do weird things to the flow of the thread.”

jjjjjjjijjjjjjj: “For what it's worth, though, doing so would not do a single thing to the ‘flow of the thread’.”

This is what I mean: restless_nomad told you one thing, and you flat out told her she was wrong, without even an argument – just a bare assertion, in the tone of advice given to one who doesn't know any better. And what's more in that very comment that you're replying to she said quite clearly that Tanizaki would have to "consider the feedback given here" before posting a new comment. Translation: the old comment was worthy of deletion.

Sorry I was a bit brusque above, but again, it seemed kind of presumptuous to explain to someone how you think they should apologize for something that they don't believe they should apologize for.
posted by koeselitz at 8:53 PM on April 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


(I guess I'm in the category of "predictable malcontents"? I don't think I'm an "anti-authority grouser," am I? I'm just trying to figure out what category I'm in that got me disqualified from being considered a normal user who has come here and said I thought the comment was worthy of deletion. For whatever reason, you've ignored all of us who have said that.)
posted by koeselitz at 8:56 PM on April 26, 2013



"UH THIS WAS A HUGE SPOILER FOR THE CABIN IN THE WOODS WTF:

Have you ever seen Joss Whedon's "The Cabin in the Woods" where a government agency secretly sacrifices teenagers to ancient sleeping demons so that they don't wake up and destroy everything?

And good on you to repeat it for anyone who missed it instead of just linking to the comment. The only rule about spoilers on Metafilter is no spoilers on the front page of the blue and I think the green. If running into random spoilers is a huge issue, then Metafilter might not work for you."

posted by nooneyouknow at 5:17 PM on April 26 [+] [!]


hey, so this was weird because it was just a joke. I've seen the movie which is how I knew it was a spoiler? sometimes people just make little jokes in contentious threads. Thanks for letting me know "Metafilter isn't for me" though, think I'll stick around all the same.
posted by sweetkid at 8:59 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


elsietheeel: Don't ever!

Easy to say, hard to do. I agree with you in principle, though. Thank you.
posted by Corinth at 9:00 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Orthogonality said: "Which by the way, is why some people get annoyed at deletion of their answers, so annoyed they want to raise the issue publicly. They've freely given of their time, and of their expertise (acquired at far greater time cost), without any recompense, and now a mod has decided to throw that donation into the trash.

Your time is already spent, you spent it trying to help the questioner, and now your time is gone and the questioner hasn't received the benefit. Time which you'll never get back, has been wasted.

That leaves you a bad feeling, even if your answer wasn't so great.

But if that decision to throw away what was generously donated also seems an arbitrary decision based on a mod's ideology or perceptions, or past dealings with the donator, it's all the more galling. Your good time went into a good answer, and still, your time and effort is lost, without the questioner benefiting, for what (in your opinion) had nothing to do with the merits of your good answer
....
Cortex, above, has told us how it feels to be a mod, I'm telling you how it feels to be modded."


Welcome back, ortho. It's been a while. Good to see you.

To the small chorus of people who say you're not speaking for them, I'll add my two cents. I'm glad you qualified your opinions as "some people" because they don't describe my experiences at having comments or posts deleted. Which is fine, of course, and I do not intend to diminish your personal feelings about it. But they don't fit mine. Your description is not how I feel when an answer has been deleted.

I've had around a dozen posts deleted from the Blue (the mods could confirm that) and assume I've probably had a couple of dozen comments or more combined deleted across MetaTalk, Metafilter and AskMe. I've had posts deleted that I worked on for days and hey that happens. Life goes on. But comments? For heaven sakes ortho, we're posting our opinions on a website forum. They're a time investment, sure. But our deleted AskMe comments aren't precious, vital pearls that are being maliciously denied a needy OP, like keeping food from a starving man. To me at least, that carries the analogy way too far.

Deletions aren't an attack on our ego or opinions. They're not a criticism of us personally, and the time used may be a constructive lesson for the future. I don't view deletions as the mods being arbitrary or saying, "You're wrong." Because that's not what's being 'said.' Comment deletions on Ask are generally done because people aren't being helpful. They either
a) aren't answering the question
or
b) are being potentially (or actually) disruptive in some way
or
c) they're violating a guideline.

In many cases the same information can be posted in a different form and not be deleted. The comment from tanizaki that we've discussed here is a good example. He could have phrased it differently and with more context and simultaneously been more helpful and potentially less disruptive. Wouldn't that have been better all-around for the OP? Ultimately, isn't that what's most important here?
posted by zarq at 9:01 PM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


For whatever reason, you've ignored all of us who have said that.)

Not really. He hasn't said that everyone agreed that the deletion was bad, he's said that he suspects all the mods will agree that it could have been handled better, which is not the same thing.
posted by Jahaza at 9:02 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


That is to say... it's not just about the deletion but about the handling of the deletion. Even if it should have been deleted... so the chorus of "but it was wrong" etc. isn't the key point.
posted by Jahaza at 9:04 PM on April 26, 2013


This was a poor deletion by the mod who has, in my subjective opinion, a history of contentious deletions from almost his/her first day with mod powers. I have absolutely no insight into how the other mods feel but my God if I was a mod I'd be tired of being dragged into MeTa to circle the wagons and defend yet another iffy deletion which tarred me with the same brush. If Tanaziki's posting history is a fair game, so is Taz's deletion history. I have absolutely nothing against him or her personally -- I daresay I agree with 95% of their opinions -- but the arbitrariness of the deletions with their flaky ex-post-facto justifications ('be nicer', 'say it's your opinion') makes me very very much not want to continue to be part of Metafilter, despite there being to much good about the site and the overall light-handed, judicious and very good moderation. I know, don't let the screen door hit my ass on the way out, but there it is.
posted by unSane at 9:05 PM on April 26, 2013 [20 favorites]


Taz is a woman.
posted by zarq at 9:05 PM on April 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


MetaFilter's moderation has dropped the ball on this one, specific issue, and has not indicated to us in any tangible way why they have responded to it in the confusing way that they have.


I still don't see how they have. I feel like matt covered this VERY early in the thread.

Tanizaki: why was this removed?

Matt, other mods: tone, timing, context.

case closed

Many, many people(and yes, i've read the thread) seem to be ignoring the fact that this particular guy who posted this is the type of person who is not only a lawyer, but lawyers everything. He always posts something that is strictly within the letter of the rules, and will argue to the death that it's as such. Very often the tone, context, or timing of is er... not the best. Ignoring this, or the fact that his comments regularly cause derails or fighty discussions almost strikes me as fingers in ears type stuff.

Far too many people in here seem to be playing the same game and going "but similar examples! rules!"

Read corinths post. seriously. If you're about to respond again, read it again. maybe even a third time. Then scroll up and read every similar post.

Some people seem to seriously be ruffled that some issues need to be handled differently than others, and that this type of reply or this reply would have stood in another thread. And you know what, maybe it would have. But if it stood in another thread about this type of issue then that was a bad call.

Jahaza also has it right here. It doesn't matter whether the info was right or wrong, that never should have been a discussion in the first place. Even if it was irrefutably right it came off as tone deaf.

I seriously think everyone defending the crap out of this should go review some other situations like this tanizaki has been involved in. Hell, go read a whole bunch of his MeTa posts(and i don't mean threads, replies) and also quite a few of his posts on the blue. He's not a troll, but this strikes me as a weird hill to die on. No one, especially him, should be surprised that a comment like this by him got deleted. Both because it's him, and because i can't really see any other prolific mefite crafting a post quite like this.
posted by emptythought at 9:08 PM on April 26, 2013 [14 favorites]


UnSane, I'm not trying to be an ass by mentioning that, by the way. I've called so many female users 'him' and male users 'her' over the years that I might as well put a big blinky sign up on my profile that says, "I'M A SCHMUCK WHO CAN'T TELL WHAT GENDER PEOPLE ARE."

And then there are users like 'Marisa Stole the Precious Thing' who are just blatantly screwing with my mind. :D
posted by zarq at 9:10 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


rtha wrote: "By 'you' you mean you, right? Because I've been, uh, modded and don't think I've ever felt this way."

Later, rtha added, about a post of hers that was deleted, "I was having a spectacularly shitty day at work, so that didn't help. I started to fill out the contact form; typed, deleted, typed some more, closed the tab and took a short walk. Came back and still kind of cared, in an irritated way, but figured that the contact form wasn't going anywhere, while my feelings about the deletion probably would. Woke up this morning feeling quite different about the deletion - which is: eh."

So I think we're not too far apart on this: you were agitated enough by the deletion that you started to complain, revised your complaint, deleted it without sending, walked it off, and only finally felt uninjured after sleeping it off.

You spent some time writing the original post, then most of a day to get to a point of feeling not good, but just "eh" about what had happened.

If I'm reading you right, it cost you a good deal of time, and some minor emotional upset. And I'm sorry for that, it wasted your time.

I'm not saying that no comment should be deleted. LobsterMitten's original argument, which I was responding to, was that because of time constraints it's ok for mods to be terse, but that such time constraints don't exist for users, who should therefore not be terse. My point was, maybe the "constraints" don't apply to users, but that certainly the costs do.

And I think your comments, above, reinforce my point, and additionally point out the motivational cost. Your deleted post cost you a bad day. You're a balanced person, so you got over it, but the time you spent is time gone forever.

Thanks to those welcoming me back. If you're wondering why I haven't been around, well, it's in part for the reasons I've just been discussing with rtha.
posted by orthogonality at 9:10 PM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Jahaza: “Not really. He hasn't said that everyone agreed that the deletion was bad, he's said that he suspects all the mods will agree that it could have been handled better, which is not the same thing... That is to say... it's not just about the deletion but about the handling of the deletion. Even if it should have been deleted... so the chorus of 'but it was wrong' etc. isn't the key point.”

Maybe I misread this:
jjjjjjjijjjjjjj: “Many, many well-respected, calm, fair, sober, and level-headed users -- not just the predictable malcontents or anti-authority grousers -- have weighed-in in this huge thread to say that this was handled poorly. This is plain truth and I suspect it's entirely uncontroversial; I'm sure that every moderator on the site would agree with this statement.”
My reading of this was 'the statement that this was handled poorly is an uncontroversial statement, and every moderator on the site would agree with it.' That seems like the most likely reading to me; and in calling this statement "uncontroversial" it does seem to ignore the people who feel as though it is controversial. Also, the assumption that moderators all agree (and are apparently too embarrassed to say so) is pretty bold.

But: it is possible that jjjjjjjijjjjjjj meant that 'the statement that many well-respected users have said this was handled poorly' is uncontroversial. And that, I guess, is true. It doesn't mean much – well-respected users can be wrong – but at least it's true.
posted by koeselitz at 9:11 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


A deletion of one AskMe comment that results in a 600 (and growing) comment Meta is pretty much the definition of handled poorly. If there'd been a less confusing reason given at the top of the thread as to what was happening, we probably wouldn't still be going all the way down here.
posted by Jahaza at 9:13 PM on April 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


I might as well put a big blinky sign up on my profile that says, "I'M A SCHMUCK WHO CAN'T TELL WHAT GENDER PEOPLE ARE."

You're not alone there. I'm not great with remembering usernames at all, and certainly not much more detail. In a recent thread I thought I was politely referring to a user as "him/her" when somebody immediately jumped in with skepticism that I could possibly not know the user's gender. I guess it's hard for some people to imagine, but yeah, I'm with you. For the most part I try to read and respond to the comment, not the person.
posted by cribcage at 9:21 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think the fact that it was the first post in the thread really clears it up for me. Tone, timing, context, exactly.

I mean it's reading the room, exactly. Most of us know how to do it and we get comments deleted on the few times we get it wrong. This is just how it goes. If you have questions, you use the contact form. The fact that 600 people or whatever commented on this post doesn't make the rules more complicated than they are.
posted by sweetkid at 9:22 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Jahaza: “A deletion of one AskMe comment that results in a 600 (and growing) comment Meta is pretty much the definition of handled poorly. If there'd been a less confusing reason given at the top of the thread as to what was happening, we probably wouldn't still be going all the way down here.”

No reason was given. No reason is usually given for the deletion of a single comment, particularly in ask.metafilter. And I think that, given his reaction to the mods' reasons here, it seems unlikely that Tanizaki would have been content with any brief deletion reason given in the thread itself.

The problem doesn't really lie with the mods for not putting some comprehensive deletion reason in the thread. The problem lies in the fact that Tanizaki decided to start this thread in the first place without even trying to talk it out with the moderators or ask them why his comment was deleted. He's not unintelligent, which is why I spent some time above musing over whether perhaps this was an intentional move on his part, maybe as an attempt to build up a large thread of "evidence" in support of his belief that deletions here are unfair, or maybe just as an engaging diversion near the end of a long week.
posted by koeselitz at 9:24 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Jahaza is talking about the reason given at the top of this thread.
posted by unSane at 9:26 PM on April 26, 2013


Closing these MeTa threads early would probably benefit the community. Leaving them open appears to just end up with half the users loathing the other half, and vice-versa. It's like a game of asshole, with everyone trying to be king. The end result is bad feelings all around, and that's not healthy.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:27 PM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


[ there's never a 600+ MeTa when my comments get deleted ]

* fap! *

posted by mazola at 9:29 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh and

MetaFilter: It's like a game of asshole, with everyone trying to be king
posted by mazola at 9:29 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


unSane: “Jahaza is talking about the reason given at the top of this thread.”

Ah. Well, even more so. This thread should never have existed in the first place.
posted by koeselitz at 9:33 PM on April 26, 2013


If there'd been a less confusing reason given at the top of the thread as to what was happening, we probably wouldn't still be going all the way down here.

If the OP had used the contact form before starting the Meta we wouldn't even have one comment. It says "For specific, personal and/or immediate problems, please use the the contact form. MetaTalk is not the most efficient or the quickest way to contact an admin." when you go to post a new MeTa, it's the first thing, even before telling you to read the faqs.

How is taz's explanation confusing? You may not agree with it, but I just read it, and it's pretty straight forward. That comment would have stood if he gave it as an opinion rather than a ruling. And, if Tanizaki WAS confused by the answer, well he never asked for clarification. Instead he argued that it wasn't just his opinion, it was Fact. A fact, that it turns out is at the very least up for interpretation (at least so other lawyers say), and maybe even wrong. Which doesn't really matter, because it wasn't deleted for being wrong, right, or some unknowable piece of eldritch lore sure to drive those who glimpsed it unprepared mad. It was deleted because it was weirdly final and authoritative, and out of place as the first answer in a thread about a touchy subject.

All of which could have been explained to the OP if he had used the contact form.
posted by Gygesringtone at 9:38 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


dubusadus replied to me, "This assumes that the answer was beneficial,"

No, just that the answerer in good faith thought it was.

dubusadus went on, "that the answerer put in a large amount of time in the answer,"

No, I think you misread me. LobsterMitten's argument was that answerer (unlike mods) have no excuse to be terse.

The reason for an answer being terse is that it takes less time to write.

dubusadus: "You keep stating 'cost' this, 'cost' that like the rule of law on AskMe is financial or even legal but it's not"

It's opportunity cost: I can spend a lot of time on a non-terse answer, or I can spend the same amount of time on a terse answer and on work that pays me money (or playing with my cat, or chatiing with friends, or..._)

Thus, it's in my interests to be terse, because I can spend the same time and get more results (and answer for the questioner, money to buy food for my cats).

Answering askMe questions is work that's pro bono publico; I want to do good for people, but I also want to put food on the table and have "me time".

Given that you have a good answer to give, if you have to spend additional time and effort to make it "un-terse" (to add qualifications or citations, as various people complained Tanizaki did not), that comes at an additional (time and effort) cost to you, yes? That additional cost may be enough to make answering "uneconomical" for you.

That, and that alone is my entire point: contra LobsterMitten, users do not always have the time to be un-terse. Mods' tiime is paid for, users' time is not, and in fact it's users' time that pays for the site. (User contributions -> page views -> ads on the page -> site revenue -> mod salaries.)

For many users who are busy, who have demanding jobs, who work long hours, who have family or hobbies, the choice may be a terse answer or no answer at all.

Time ain't free. We all have a strictly limited amount, and we can't buy more if we run out.

If someone is putting in the effort to give of his/her time and expertise for free for an askMefier, we should give him or her the benefit of the doubt. Saying we'll only do so for un-terse answers pretty much guarantees that the busiest and most expert answerer will take their answers elsewhere.

And that's all the time I can afford on this subject.
posted by orthogonality at 9:57 PM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


"Terse" has a specifically negative connotation, to me. If commentors are encouraged to avoid being terse, I find that to be quite understandable. I don't think that I'm having a hard day at work/I just want to finish this stupid internet argument and go kiss my husband/I would rather be painting a model airplane are reasonable excuses for being a jerk, especially when thirty seconds can be the difference between jerk and helpful.
posted by Corinth at 10:04 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Someone's got too much time on their hands...
posted by mazola at 10:06 PM on April 26, 2013


that'd be me.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 10:09 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


/me walks away
posted by roboton666 at 10:10 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


and only finally felt uninjured after sleeping it off.

You spent some time writing the original post, then most of a day to get to a point of feeling not good, but just "eh" about what had happened.

If I'm reading you right, it cost you a good deal of time, and some minor emotional upset. And I'm sorry for that, it wasted your time.


You totally missed the parts where I was having a spectacularly shitty day at work, and that my reaction to this one deletion was strong enough for me to notice. I sometimes notice other deletions I've gotten and sometimes not. My reaction yesterday was an outlier.

I chose to focus my feelings of grar on the deletion, because it was safer than writing (and not deleting) a snippy letter to my boss.

Wanna know how important it was? I can't remember what it said. It was a one-line snipe, and I don't even remember who I was sniping at, or what thread I was in. I could find it, because I do remember which mod left the comment, but otherwise? Yeah, I don't remember.
posted by rtha at 10:11 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


If someone is putting in the effort to give of his/her time and expertise for free for an askMefier, we should give him or her the benefit of the doubt. Saying we'll only do so for un-terse answers pretty much guarantees that the busiest and most expert answerer will take their answers elsewhere.

I feel like you're making a lot of assumptions in this one paragraph that aren't necessarily accurate.

1) That the mods aren't giving people the benefit of the doubt. They literally see hundreds of threads on AskMetafilter a year which garner thousands of comments. Do you really think that at this point they a) aren't allowing the vast majority of comments to stand in good faith, and b) don't have a reasonably accurate idea of what sort of comments at the top of a thread tend to cause problems? Do you really think it's a good use of their time to see something that is typically a problem and say, "Well, maybe this time it'll go differently?"

2) The problem isn't "terse" or "unterse" answers. Several people in this thread rewrote tanizaki's comment and added the context it most likely needed, with a similar number of words.

This is what he said:
"No. He did not commit malpractice, engage in unethical conduct, or otherwise violate model state licensing provisions. He is not impaired, incompetent, or unethical."
That's 23 words. Here are a few other options which were presented in this thread:

Taz (26 words): "In my opinion, no, not unless he committed malpractice, engaged in unethical conduct, or otherwise violated model state licensing provisions, or was impaired, incompetent, or unethical."

Taz (28 words): "Unless he committed malpractice, engaged in unethical conduct, or otherwise violated model state licensing provisions, or was impaired, incompetent, or unethical, there's no legal action you can take."

Jacquilynne (25 words): "Unfortunately, Texas doesn't recognize gender identity issues as a medical problem, so his state licensing board will not consider him to have been unethical, etc"

mazola (27 words): "I don't think so. He did not commit malpractice, engage in unethical conduct, or otherwise violate model state licensing provisions. He is not impaired, incompetent, or unethical."

Finally, your third assumption is that "the busiest answerers" are also the "most expert answerers." I highly doubt this is the case.
posted by zarq at 10:17 PM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: *fap*
posted by P.o.B. at 10:17 PM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


hey, so this was weird because it was just a joke. I've seen the movie which is how I knew it was a spoiler? sometimes people just make little jokes in contentious threads. Thanks for letting me know "Metafilter isn't for me" though, think I'll stick around all the same.

Sorry, man. I've been in way too many spoiler wars, here and other places, to see your comment as joke. I don't think I'm only one who took it seriously.
posted by nooneyouknow at 10:18 PM on April 26, 2013


SPOILER

The fifth element is love
posted by mazola at 10:32 PM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


The claim that the mod workload is so heavy and intolerable strikes me as bizarre. I'd love to get paid to read metafilter and delete comments I didn't like. Funny how now that we have 27 mods (or whatever) that we hear constantly how hard a job they have. The user base hasn't increased proportionately to the increase in moderators that I've noticed.

Let the brown nosing resume, however.
posted by spitbull at 10:33 PM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Spitbull: respectfully, are you drunk?
posted by mazola at 10:35 PM on April 26, 2013


Which is to say, I read MetaFilter non-professionally and I still find it stressful and periodically intolerable.
posted by mazola at 10:37 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I used to be a real ass in internet discussion forums. I'd get frustrated when people were so stupid as to misunderstand my clear expertise, my brilliant wit, my obvious sarcasm, or whatever other gift I would bestow upon the community. It got to the point where I decided that if I was just going to be misunderstood anyway then there was no point in making any effort to avoid sounding like an ass. I used to love stirring up shit, and I'd actively seek out gray areas in the forum rules where I could force the moderators to take action and then challenge them when they did. I won't suggest that that's what happened here, but I will say that I would have considered this thread to be a wild success if it were my game.

Eventually I grew up a little bit and realized that the problem wasn't the forums, it wasn't the rules, it wasn't the moderators, and it wasn't the other community members. The problem was me. Plenty of people had tried to tell me that, but I had to figure it out for myself. I'm glad I finally did.
posted by Balonious Assault at 10:40 PM on April 26, 2013 [16 favorites]


So it's settled, Balonious Assault is the problem.

I keeed!
posted by mazola at 10:44 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Here's the thing: This whole MeTa mess could have been avoided if Tanizaki had e-mailed the mods to ask why the comment was deleted and then, based on their comments, re-written it so that it was more polite and more clear.

i think this is typically just not done, and amounts to a procedural censorship. the idea is just put as many road blocks to saying something until they give up. i can't say i've felt any comment SO IMPORTANT to rewrite in a minor way.

this whole thing boils down to: i didn't like it, so i'll delete and say they didn't cross their 't's and dot their 'i's. but feel free to resubmit it again. thanks!
posted by cupcake1337 at 10:53 PM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I bet you wouldn't love people calling your decisions bullshit or being insulted by people day after day. It's not brown nosing to say that the mods' work is not only appreciated but actively welcomed.

In Askme there is a contingent who do the tough love and/or just-the-facts thing. In this textual community we are part of, the way we write our thoughts matters a great deal. It shouldn't just be dismissed as a 'tone argument' to say that brusque comments that ignore the emotional component part of a question run the risk of coming across as condescending and designed to completely dismiss an important part of the question therefore word your comments with care.

Having an emotionally fraught question or comment greeted by a Spock-like response can feel incredibly insulting. A flat 'no' can feel like a slap in the face. Personally, being deleted but encouraged to re-try a comment doesn't seem like a bad thing, although I understand how irritating being deleted can be.

This is mostly to do with Askme; I consider the blue and the grey to be the Wild West and deal with my emotional reactions to comments that annoy the ever-living shit out of me accordingly. It often gets ugly but I'm on this side of the screen so you can't see my teeaars :'(
posted by h00py at 11:23 PM on April 26, 2013 [13 favorites]


Oh, and just to be blatantly obvious, the shit stuff is remembered far more than the nice stuff. That goes for everyone on all sides of the equation.
posted by h00py at 11:27 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, after reading this entire thread — one half before the meet-up where I just got to meet jessamyn for the first time, and the second half just now since I got home — I don't feel any clearer about this than I did about it after reading the first hundred or so comments.

Here are what I think it all boils down to:
  • Tanizaki's answer was, on its face, well within the basic guidelines ruling answers.
  • Tanizaki's answer was, however, challenging the premise of the question, which we've all come to learn needs to be done delicately because, otherwise, it disrupts the thread and upsets the asker — who, after all, we're supposed to be helping and in that context it does matter how we phrase things because that's the difference between offering helpful advice that's taken and offering helpful advice that's ignored.
  • Tanizaki's answer was the first answer in the thread, which makes the previous issue more of a concern.
  • Taz's explanation of the deletion in this thread was unsatisfactory. (Not to some, but to enough to be a concern.)
  • Tanizaki has a history of an unusually high rate of deletions of AskMe comments, which is relevant for the mods in determining how to interpret this particular example.
  • Tanizaki also has a related long history of exchanges with the mods concerning his deletions and his participatory style, without any consequent change in his style — this also is relevant in determining how they interpret this particular comment.
  • Tanizaki has a history with the rest of the community which (as attested by numerous people) partially validates the claim that his commenting style causes problems and, more to the point, bears upon how other AskMe commenters will approach that particular thread given this particular example and that it was the first answer. (In other words, per some of the above points, this answer would have likely caused some problems had it come from a completely unknown user, but coming from Tanizaki, the potential for trouble is greatly amplified.)
  • The correctness of his answer, whatever any of us think of it, is not relevant.
In my view, the result of the sum of the above list is ambiguous. Were Tanizaki's history not part of the equation, I think I'd tend to the "maybe shouldn't have been deleted, but arguably was justified" opinion. With his history involved, it tilts in the other direction, but not unambiguously.

For me the biggest problem here is what someone else already discussed: our experience and the mods' experience are not congruent. Our view (minus what the mods have told us about their history with Tanizaki), I think, slightly tilts in Tanizaki's favor, even accounting for the opinion of those who are familiar with his history (but many/most aren't!).

The mods' view tilts the other way.

I don't know how this can be reconciled within the context of arguing about it here because those of us who are inclined to take the mods' judgment about his history seriously are going to do so while those who aren't, will not. Those who think this was bad judgment on the mods' part are implicitly already discounting the value of their judgment. I don't see any resolution to this.

I think that Tanizaki and others will appreciate the legal adage that hard cases make bad law. Part of why we hash this stuff out here is to, in some vague sense, make MeFi law. That is, decide on community standards (which includes push-back or approval for moderation decisions). But this and some similar posts are especially ill-suited to accomplish this purpose because they're so ambiguous. That doesn't imply, of course, that the totally unambiguous cases are well-suited, either! What this process works well for are hashing out moderately difficult cases where the issues can be relatively clarified and some consensus can be reached. I don't think this is one of those cases.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:51 PM on April 26, 2013 [20 favorites]


SPOILER

The fifth element is love
posted by mazola An hour ago



CORRECTION

Its the 12th platform.
posted by infini at 12:00 AM on April 27, 2013


In principle, this is a very important thread, concerning tonality in a silent medium. In lieu of tone, I would suggest a feedback mechanism visible to both mods and the poster alike. This could simply be the current widget offered, with at least one agreement option to complement the many flags.
posted by Brian B. at 12:30 AM on April 27, 2013


I don't want to go on with this too much, but - Ivan Fyodorovich: one thing you didn't mention that I think is important is that Tanizaki's comment purported to be legal advice from a person who is open about the fact that he's a lawyer. I agree that there are a lot of factors here, but that's one of the factors that made the comment cross the line for me.

I still maintain, incidentally, that given the momentousness of the subject matter the way Tanizaki's comment challenged the premises of the question counted as deletion-worthy combativeness.
posted by koeselitz at 12:35 AM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


cupcate1337: i think this is typically just not done, and amounts to a procedural censorship. the idea is just put as many road blocks to saying something until they give up. i can't say i've felt any comment SO IMPORTANT to rewrite in a minor way.

I'm okay with moderation putting road blocks in the way of abrasive, unhelpful (and easily readable as prejudiced) comments. Call it censorship if you must, but even given such semantic games I'm on board.

mazola: Spitbull: respectfully, are you drunk?

I'm drunk. Not too far removed from tonight's (beer and pizza after the) softball game in which I got patted on the boobs by the shortstop on the other fucking team because they though I looked enough like a guy for slapping me on the chest to be a compliment for a solid single instead of something totally weird. Ask me anything!
posted by Corinth at 12:37 AM on April 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


Corinth, I don't have anything to ask, but I want to say thank you for being present in this conversation. Your comment above was essential, and reminded me why these issues are important.
posted by koeselitz at 12:41 AM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


there is no interpretation here other than: you are a total fucking asshole.

I am genuinely suprised that - even in loosey-goosey metatalk - a comment like this is being allowed stand, especially when held up against the standard that was applied, for better or for worse, to Tanizaki's comment.

Posting history or no, I thought it was pretty much a bright line rule that we didn't insult other users here, and the we especially didn't tell them to get fucked, or that they're arseholes.

Big thread, you guys may have missed it, but it's not a great look to leave that up and cut the askme with no profanity or explicit judgment...

Spitbull: respectfully, are you drunk?

Please. There's nothing "respectfully" about that; it's just patronising and silly. You, like me, may disagree with spitbull's argument and phrasing, but is insulting other users really gonna produce anything productive - at any point, let alone this one? If you can't disagree respectfully (which, for all of the attacks on the motives and private beliefs of Tanizaki, he's certainly managed to do in this thread), I think it would behoove you not to post.

More broadly, for the little it's worth, I did find the deletion disconcerting. I have seen far, far, far more insensitive and "mean" comments than that left up on the green - heck, I've made some myself.

I feel this was probably all about the posting history of Tanizaki - obviously I haven't seen all that so I'm not qualified to opine on it - I think that's a fine enough reason, if you need a reason.

But to defend the deletion of the answer, as an answer, is a long bow. We see meaner stuff than that all the time. I once posted an anon askme, and many (not all, or even most) answerers were so quick to leap to judgment I found myself facing accusations that hurt like the dickens at a time I was especially vulnerable. They stayed; and I've seen many, many other more egregious examples stay.

I am not very much like Tanizaki. He is very religious and seemingly conservative at least in that sense. I am... not. I have seen his brusque and, yes, judgmental comments on askme. I have also seen many other users with manners at least, if not more, combative and certainly at least as judgmental (the recent "am I being inappropriate with my daughter?" question is a rich hunting ground for this, on both sides).

However, I've also seen reasonable, thorough, and thoughtful comments from him.

I don't know, I grant the mod's have a very different job to me, but in my own interactions as a mefite, I try to play the comment/argument, not the user behind them (I regularly fail in at least one case... Possibly more). I always thought that by and large the mods would, too.
posted by smoke at 1:16 AM on April 27, 2013 [28 favorites]


smoke: "If you can't disagree respectfully (which, for all of the attacks on the motives and private beliefs of Tanizaki, he's certainly managed to do in this thread), I think it would behoove you not to post."

Respect isn't just about tone. It's about whether you treat people as ends in themselves, rather than means to an end. The disrespectfulness of Tanizaki's blithe and measured disregard for the thoughts and feelings of others has very little to do with the tone part of it. I mean: he said above that he "observed" that his approach to these threads tends to hurt people and make them emotional; he said this didn't even rise to the level of strategy for him, it was merely an observation. This was accompanied by a strident claim that he ought to be allowed to continue this approach as much as he likes. He's very good at breaking this into parts and dodging the central questions so that people don't put it together, but the larger picture isn't that nice.

Also, there are different standards in Metatalk than there are in Ask. I agree that calling anybody a "total fucking asshole" is out of line; but, at least historically, Metatalk has been relatively anything-goes. I'm not sure where we are on that at this moment, but I doubt that that comment was simply missed.
posted by koeselitz at 1:27 AM on April 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


I think we can disagree or agree about the levels of Tanizaki's respectfulness, whilst still agreeing that accusing someone (and their opinion) of being fueled by alcohol - when the likelihood is that they are not drinking - is disrespectful and really just unnecessary noise at the end of the day.
posted by smoke at 1:32 AM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm totally drinking. Anyone is welcome to accuse me and my opinions of being fueled by alcohol. Maybe I'm not trans, just drunk! Or maybe I'm not drunk, and just an asshole. Choose your own adventure because the effect of my text is the same on you either way.
posted by Corinth at 1:40 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Those comments were initially deleted then undeleted with a follow-up comment from restless_nomad asking people to stop calling people names, probably because of a combination of responses to them already made, and an effort to keep from having another Metatalk right now asking why comments in this thread were deleted. I think that there's a productive conversation that could be had about what should/shouldn't be deleted from a Metatalk thread at this point, but the middle of this thread is probably not the best place to do that (and would ideally happen non-weekend when more people are around).
posted by taz (staff) at 1:42 AM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


koeselitz "still maintain[s], incidentally, that given the momentousness of the subject matter the way Tanizaki's comment challenged the premises of the question counted as deletion-worthy combativeness."

I'm assuming that this proceeds from the way that Tanizaki use of the of the word "ethical"?

Or perhaps you are also objecting to the "terseness"?

His used "ethical", In my opinon, to mean "according to the canons of the (Texas) medical profession" rather than as lay people use it, as a near-synonym for "moral" or "right".

Why do I think that?

Because Tanizaki, a lawyer, is responding to a question from QuantumMeruit, who is also a lawyer!

As such, QuantumMeruit would understand from the context (a discussion of available legal remedies) that Tanizaki was necessarily using "ethical" in the legal sense, to mean "professional canons"

And lawyer to lawyer, being less terse would border on condescension, spelling it out for a not-so-bright colleague. Professionals usually communicate in a telegraphic fashion, heavy on terms-of-the-art that are implicitly understood as not being used in their lay senses.

When I tell my colleague to "find the parent and destroy all its children", he doesn't think I'm a bloodthirsty infanticide. When I tell one of my programmers that "your insert will produce a degenerate tree", it's not a comment on his sexual proclivities or the tree's moral standing. Even though a lay person might so interpret it.

You have these professional terms in what you do to, and you know some of what you say to a professional colleague could be easily misinterpreted by the lay public.

Tanizaki wasn't "challenging the premises of the question", he wasn't speaking to the general public

Tanizaki was using professional jargon, to an asker in the same profession. (Maybe it was even a gentle warning, "hey colleague, you of all people ought to know -- you don't have a legal remedy here, stop thinking with your personal outrage, starting thinking with your professional training.")

Once you see this as one lawyer to another, it has a whole different and more benign complexion.

I'd be very interested to know if QuantumMeruit was among the flaggers of Tanizaki's comment.
posted by orthogonality at 1:44 AM on April 27, 2013 [16 favorites]


Thanks for the follow-up, Taz. I disagree that it should stay, but that's why I, thankfully, am not paid the big bucks to moderate!
posted by smoke at 1:55 AM on April 27, 2013


The "low moderation" ethos and the "this is where difficult stuff is hashed out" function are at odds with each other, unfortunately. The mods can't resolve this.

We can.

There is a very strong causal relationship between shitstorm MeTa threads and people closing their accounts and people being rude and angry with each other. This functional aspect of MeTa can't work well with the kinds of comments that smoke is objecting to, but this particular context paradoxically creates especially strong impetus for precisely such comments. Somehow, we have to resist this.

Doing so — actively doing so — should be seen as a sort of community prerequisite for participating here because MeTa serves a vital community function. It really does.

The character of MeFi moderation and thus the very nature of MeFi in general is absolutely dependent upon this function (among others) of MetaTalk. Its ability to function well in this regard is exquisitely sensitive to good or bad behavior here. Therefore, because this is so and because this is the one area where the mods (rightly) are required to only lightly moderate, it's especially important that the community form and nurture a good behavior ethos here.

This will strike many people, I suspect, as dismayingly wrongheaded, as that contingent sees the almost-anything-goes nature of MeTa to be a good in itself. I don't think it is. I think there are extremely good reasons to disbelieve that. MetaTalk serves a number of important functions for MetaFilter in general, and the ability to call other people assholes is not among them.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:55 AM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


*hastily shifts gaze to navel*
posted by infini at 2:16 AM on April 27, 2013


In my view, the result of the sum of the above list is ambiguous. Were Tanizaki's history not part of the equation, I think I'd tend to the "maybe shouldn't have been deleted, but arguably was justified" opinion. With his history involved, it tilts in the other direction, but not unambiguously. ... Our view (minus what the mods have told us about their history with Tanizaki), I think, slightly tilts in Tanizaki's favor

Wow, so wait, you make that entire list of reasons why his comment should be problematic and then conclude this? You think his history makes it tilt that way?

I mean, i read your entire comment and figured the conclusion would be pretty much the opposite. I'm a bit miffed, actually, that you could write it out so concisely and then come to that conclusion. Completely baffles me.

As i said about the list, you have a pile of reasons for the first conclusion then lean towards the second? i'm just failing to understand this here.

orthogonality's explanation is the only plausible one that would make me lean towards keeping the comment. Everything else, and especially his history has me firmly in the first camp.
posted by emptythought at 2:19 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean, if someone posted a distraught question about being 2 weeks out from giving birth and feeling they didn't love their baby, and wondering what to do, and the first answer out of the gate was "You're mentally ill, get help" I don't think most people would have a problem with that deletion.

I thought that was the stock answer to all AskMe questions, from 'My boyfriend and I no longer make the sweet, sweet love we used to enjoy. How can I fix his ass?' through 'Should I eat this hog bung calimari?' all the way down to 'Does my bum look big in this?'

Oh sure, it's couched as 'See a therapist', but that's just a polite way of saying "You're mentally ill, get help."
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:21 AM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


smoke: "I think we can disagree or agree about the levels of Tanizaki's respectfulness, whilst still agreeing that accusing someone (and their opinion) of being fueled by alcohol - when the likelihood is that they are not drinking - is disrespectful and really just unnecessary noise at the end of the day."

Uh - well, maybe we'll just end up disagreeing about this. I do not agree that we can say that "the likelihood is that they are not drinking," given the uncharacteristic and kind of confusing rudeness of spitbull's comment. I mean, spitbull is usually a pretty great commenter here. It seemed totally out of left field for spitbull to say that the moderators should stop complaining because "I'd love to get paid to read metafilter and delete comments I didn't like." But the math at the end of the comment makes me think maybe it was all sarcastic - I guess perhaps I'm just slow, on this late Friday night, but in general I found that comment confusing.

Apologies if the implication that someone might be drunk is offensive; I don't know. It just seemed weird is all, and I guess I didn't get what was going on.

PeterMcDermott: "Oh sure, it's couched as 'See a therapist', but that's just a polite way of saying 'You're mentally ill, get help.'"

Whereas the general message in Metatalk is "we're all mentally ill here, but you're a lot worse, so get stuffed."
posted by koeselitz at 2:25 AM on April 27, 2013


"Wow, so wait, you make that entire list of reasons why his comment should be problematic and then conclude this?"

I think on its face it's well within guidelines and the other things, not including his history, mitigate that and put it right up against the line, maybe okay and maybe not okay. Add his history and it goes a distance into the not okay side.

There's a lot of marginal comments in general, you don't want to err on the side of deleting them all, and as I understand AskMe, it's those explicit guidelines which weigh very heavily there. It seems to me that's a kind of double-edged sword — those very explicit and strongly enforced rules, which have an explicit rationale behind them (this is for answering the questions and not discussion), are rightly the first, second, and third metrics upon which comments are evaluated. I think it passed that test.

The stuff it didn't pass is relatively much more ambiguous. I think all that stuff should correspondingly be weighted notably less heavily. So, for me, because I do think the comment is, on its face, well within guidelines (I do recognize that others disagree) it starts out pretty far in the direction of okay. The ambiguous stuff, minus the history, bring it right to the edge of not okay.

And then the history pushes it over that line and a bit further.

I don't think this is a completely idiosyncratic analysis that has no relevance. I won't go as far as jjjjjjjijjjjjjj, but I also don't think koeselitz is quite right, either — there's a bunch of people who seem to have a lot of trouble with the idea that there's anything wrong with the comment, and only a portion of them are the usual suspects who say that in every case. That weighs in my judgment, too.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:33 AM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Apologies if the implication that someone might be drunk is offensive; I don't know."

koeselitz, it's offensive because it's dismissive: "You're drunk, so what you're saying is merely drunk ramblings we don't have to consider, answer, or refute" or even worse "What you're saying is so nonsensical that only a drunk person would say it."

It also implies that the person is addicted to alcohol, or can't control himself, and is this "morally degenerate" or weak-willed.

It devalues the comment and it devalues the person making it. It labels them and their argument as beneath contempt, not worthy of an answer. And it's generally seen as being designed to do that.

It's as if I said "we don't have to even read koeselitz's arguments because he's a ________".

It's the sort of thing that turns an opponent into an enemy, and it's just not nice. I've haven't read mefi much lately, but I thought remembered you as better than that.
posted by orthogonality at 2:40 AM on April 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


"Is there anything that can be done to stop this asshole of a doctor from ever again coming near a child with gender-identity issues?"

"No because the doctor's behavior did not demonstrate that he was impaired, incompetent, or unethical in violation of any state licensing regulations."

The answer was acceptable within the context of the facts provided. It's only problematic because the question was problematic.

The question was not "is there anything that can be done to stop a child with gender-identity issues from ever again coming near this asshole of a doctor?" If it had been, all those "Yelp" type questions would have been relevant.

There are things that can be done to warn patients with gender-identity issues against coming anywhere near this shitty doctor. But that wasn't the question. The asker wanted to know if the doctor could be constrained from seeing patients with gender-identity issues.

Answering "no" to that question does not in itself warrant deletion since it is a valid response to the question that was actually asked. The response appears to have been deleted because it failed to helpfully answer a question that was implied but not actually asked.

It also appears from this thread that the response was deleted in part because the mods consider the responder to be an asshole. This is a poor rationale, insofar as it assumes the asker is as familiar with the responder as the mods are and would therefore be adversely affected by that responder's history on Metafilter. The content of this particular comment (assuming it is portrayed accurately) does not in itself reflect whatever objections the mods have regarding the responder himself.

Given the question that was actually asked, the only valid objection to Tanizaki's answer would be if it were factually incorrect. Even then, unless I am mistaken, comments on AskMe are not typically deleted for being incorrect.

While the response was unhelpful in terms of the underlying motivation of the question (this doctor was an asshole; how can I respond), he did answer the question as presented. Unless "insufficient sympathy" is now grounds for deletion, he did not respond in a manner that warranted deletion of the comment.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 3:09 AM on April 27, 2013 [20 favorites]


For the billionth time, the answer was not correct.

And as others have also pointed out, if incorrectness was a reason for deletion, all of the moderators time would be taken up with deleting stuff over there.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:09 AM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


"This is a poor rationale, insofar as it assumes the asker is as familiar with the responder as the mods are and would therefore be adversely affected by that responder's history on Metafilter."

That's too narrow of a context. History does matter. Not so much within the narrow context of how the asker will interpret the answer †, but within the context of the fact that a lot of comments are marginal and, when they're marginal, history is both a reasonable and necessary basis upon which to decide the issue. The only alternatives are to always err on the side of deletion or always on the side of retention for marginal comments. Or, well, flip a coin.

I suspect you might argue that if it's marginal then it should be retained because it's not that bad, being marginal. But that's not quite right, really. There's so much ambiguity in written language and what people intend and how people react. The truth is that the "marginal" range is actually pretty broad; a "marginal" comment can be self-evidently indefensible to one group of people and self-evidently acceptable to another. As we abundantly see proved in this thread. So the range of uncertainty isn't confined to a "no big deal either way" limit. It's unfortunately more broad than that. And that's where history can be quite relevant in deciding which direction to go. I think it's therefore an entirely appropriate pragmatic in this context.

† Though that's possible — remember that there's evidence that the community-visible history of Tanizaki influences how members of the community will interpret his answer, the asker is a member, and the other answerers are influenced by answers that precede theirs, especially when they push buttons.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:33 AM on April 27, 2013


If Tanaziki's posting history is a fair game, so is Taz's deletion history.

Agreed, though admittedly it will be tough for this point to cut through the sycophantic noise.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:38 AM on April 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


Having such diverse talents as tanizaki, St Alia, Decani and Brandon Blatcher on the same side of the table reminds me of this.

(Pass the hummus.)
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:45 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


(on the left hand side)
(unclean filthy)
(oh god not again)
GRAR



*pokes you*
posted by infini at 4:36 AM on April 27, 2013


"Is there anything that can be done to stop this asshole of a doctor from ever again coming near a child with gender-identity issues?"

"No because the doctor's behavior did not demonstrate that he was impaired, incompetent, or unethical in violation of any state licensing regulations."

The answer was acceptable within the context of the facts provided.



If that had been the totality of the answer, I would have agreed (and frankly, the rephrasing makes it come off less... harsh as well). The real problem lies with "He is not impaired, incompetent, or unethical."
posted by Dysk at 4:42 AM on April 27, 2013


I'm very bad with names so was unfamiliar with Tanazaki's reputation around here and I thought that was a strange and harsh deletion. The subsequent reasons given also gave me a bad vibe and unconvincing compared to past examples. I usually agree with the mod decisions in these types of threads but this time feels different somehow. It's really terrible that the mods used a reason like "this poster tends to cause trouble" and then it opened up other people dredging out dirty laundry from the past. Dunno, felt a bit unfair but I get it that mods are better at names than me and of course their experience with a person would colour their judgement.

But still.

I think Peter Alathias (sorry if misspelled, told you I was bad with names) summarised my feelings pretty well. That said, I think Tanazaki would do well to heed the words of Eyebrows McGee too.
posted by like_neon at 5:18 AM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


As long as we're talking about history, it's worth noting again that Metafilter has had an-often horrible history with trans issues, one that's gotten better over time but is still not great and depends largely on trans members and their allies being willing to go over Trans Issues 101 again and again and again - which they do, again and again and again. A dismissive, curt first answer in a trans thread *should* set off mod alarms, and there *should* be a lower threshold for deletion for early comments in trans threads across the site.

Matt's suggestion that commenters in trans threads "try and be understanding, show a bit of empathy" is absolutely on target, and to me, the fact that this was a trans issues question cuts taz a lot of slack. I do think (contra cortex's suggestion that taz and mathowie were "trying to be polite" and avoid the perception that mods are "just going after folks in public" if they note a user's long history of deleted answers) that it would be much better for mods to be bluntly honest rather than coy in future situations like this. taz's first explanation was latched onto and criticized for good reason.

(Also, I don't give a fuck if some people think this opinion counts as "sycophantic noise.")
posted by mediareport at 5:18 AM on April 27, 2013 [45 favorites]


There is a very strong causal relationship between shitstorm MeTa threads and people closing their accounts and people being rude and angry with each other.

I disagree. If a grown ass adult wants to pack up their tent and go home, that's their choice, not something they were forced to do.
posted by liketitanic at 5:27 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


unSane: If Tanaziki's posting history is a fair game, so is Taz's deletion history. I have absolutely nothing against him or her personally -- I daresay I agree with 95% of their opinions -- but the arbitrariness of the deletions with their flaky ex-post-facto justifications ('be nicer', 'say it's your opinion') makes me very very much not want to continue to be part of Metafilter, despite there being to much good about the site and the overall light-handed, judicious and very good moderation.

Spot fuckin' on. I stopped contributing here back in September after seven years because of a back end disagreement I had with taz over one of her many deletions of mine. I very politely requested she send me my comment that she had just deleted and she asked me why. I told her because a) it's mine, and b) that's site policy. She still refused, but another more level headed mod did end up sending it to me. Anyway, I'm not going to say I'm unhappy about my decision; it's led to my life being a lot more productive and I am back focusing on the things in life that actually matter. For other people's sake, I hope this shit gets fixed; this website can be a great place.
posted by gman at 5:32 AM on April 27, 2013 [23 favorites]


Hello there Ortho, nice to see you and thanks for the points you made.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:33 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


the fact that this was a trans issues question cuts taz a lot of slack.

mediareport, what other special issues should cut mods slack to delete factual, non-insulting answers that simply fail to sufficiently "affirmatize" the asker?

I'm not being rhetorical; if you believe that some issues should have different rules applied for them, it's only fair --and prudent -- to let potential answerers know that now, so they care be extra affirming in answering, or simply avoid answering questions about those issues.

Only by knowing what these special issues are upfront can we avoid repeats of Tanizaki's feeling of being treated unfairly and these subsequent long threads of indignation.

Should the special tules apply only to aslMefis aboyt trans issues, any thread about trans issues regardless of subsite, or to....

Or perhaps the mods should simply delete most if not all trans threads, as they do with most threads about Israel, because the user base can't handle those threads?
posted by orthogonality at 5:37 AM on April 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm an avid follower of metatalk, and the only weird Taz thing I've seen was in that climate change thread where the gallows humor was deleted. Which was copped to, and that seemed to be fine.

I do dislike these charges of sycophantic noises and the sort of TAKE BACK THE METAFILTER vibe that comes in these threads.

How about this: Try not to be a dick. If you have some upset person dealing with an issue that society usually is dick about, try doubly hard to be a dick. If you have got into hot water on this site over X issue, try not to engage with those issues unless you can make clear in your comment that you are not trying to be a dick.

Why would this be controversial?
posted by angrycat at 5:40 AM on April 27, 2013 [16 favorites]


if you believe that some issues should have different rules applied for them, it's only fair --and prudent -- to let potential answerers know that now, so they care be extra affirming in answering, or simply avoid answering questions about those issues.

No. What I'm saying, ortho, is that the *usual* rules for AskMe - which have *always* included "try and be understanding, show some empathy" - should be applied with rigor to trans issues threads.

I'm not even gonna touch your Palestine/Israel stuff, because I already know we agree on that one.
posted by mediareport at 5:44 AM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Insufficient sympathy" does not equal 'phrased in a way and uttered in a context that experience shows can derail a thread.' Pragmatics is part of language. The way we talk and the context in which we talk (e.g. the first post responding to an OP) has an effect on the direction our conversations take. To agree that moderation choices should reflect these issues, as I do, is not to condemn any member for a lack of sympathy but to describe how conversations might be made more productive.
posted by audi alteram partem at 6:13 AM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Tazinaki's answer wasn't even helpful.

Even if the asker had wanted to buy Tanizaki's answer, wanted perhaps to explain to the kid's parents why they had no recourse, he had nothing. Tanizaki declined to cite either a source or credentials.

A terse uninformative unhelpful bald opinion post from a poster with a history of being dismissive of LGBT and gender issues that is the very first reply - good deletion IMO. Tanizaki's answer smacked more of Ask Yahoo than Ask Metafilter and the community has lost nothing by its loss.
posted by Salamandrous at 6:17 AM on April 27, 2013 [24 favorites]


Count me in as another person that's been deleted by Taz, and quite upset about it.

I really don't think her moderation policies are a good match for the site. She has an itchy trigger finger, and seems to have an idea in her head of 'how a thread should go', instead of letting it develop organically.

She seems to think of user content as a topiary garden to prune, instead of a slightly wild, wooly, and unpredictable place. I resent very much having good comments removed because they "weren't on topic". This was a problem I never really had before taz started here.

She, by herself, has deleted more of my comments than all other Metafilter staff combined.
posted by Malor at 6:19 AM on April 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


The claim that the mod workload is so heavy and intolerable strikes me as bizarre. I'd love to get paid to read metafilter and delete comments I didn't like. Funny how now that we have 27 mods (or whatever) that we hear constantly how hard a job they have. The user base hasn't increased proportionately to the increase in moderators that I've noticed.

The site was understaffed before and now operates, from what I can see, on a minimum crew. Since the site is open 24/7 and modding tends to be intensive customer service style work, you need a lot of people if you actually want to cover everything both at the front and back of the shop. It's easy to burn out from modding, even (and perhaps especially) on sites that you really like. You don't have leisure to read just what you're interested in, and there are times you just don't want to keep reading or dealing with something crappy that has come up, and a 15 minute break is not enough. But if your shift is not over you're going to keep at it until you're done whether you want to or not, like any other job. It's easy to believe that becoming a mod is all about being part of the powerful inner circle who gets to do what they want with impunity, but communities where that would be true don't last 10+ years at a steady state.
posted by zennie at 6:20 AM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


And I'm reasonably sure I've lost more comments in the last year than in all the previous seven.
posted by Malor at 6:20 AM on April 27, 2013


Wow, y'all deleted infini's lame joke? What the hell?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:27 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The fact that this was a trans issue, that the comment was the first in the thread, and that the user had a history of being sort of tone deaf on difficult subjects makes a difference to me, personally.

People are sort of up in arms over how participants feel when their comment is deleted, but I think it is also valid to consider the feelings of the trans kids who come here from an Internet search and find the voice of god pronouncement that nothing the doctor did was unethical, and that it is perfectly okay for a doctor to be dismissive and cruel about their gender identity.

I am bewildered by the people who are now gunning after taz like it is their job. Imho this as ugly as Metatalk has ever gotten, and I have been around long enough to see some pretty ugly stuff in Metatalk. I guess I am impressed that we can exist like this, with all of these strong, opinionated people disagreeing with one another. I wish we could be kinder to each other, as Matt suggested originally.
posted by onlyconnect at 6:45 AM on April 27, 2013 [34 favorites]


Dudes, making this a group vs. Taz thing isn't really cool unless your specific examples line up with the themes in this thread. I know I've been on the side of deletion from the start, but whatever the deal is, it doesn't read (to me) like the protestations of citizens in distress; it's more blood in the water -- unless you can make some pretty specific parallels.
posted by angrycat at 6:51 AM on April 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


The comment from infini was joking I think, but it was along the lines of what restless_nomad asked not to do, and which people were complaining about (also something that can easily set off a big fight, which I'm really sure she didn't want to do).

Malor, I'm not sure why you think that; I looked over the last year and it looks like I deleted 6 out of 19 comments from you since April 27, 2012. One of those was just a complaint that a post should get a warning, which I added.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:57 AM on April 27, 2013


People are sort of up in arms over how participants feel when their comment is deleted, but I think it is also valid to consider the feelings of the trans kids who come here from an Internet search and find the voice of god pronouncement that nothing the doctor did was unethical, and that it is perfectly okay for a doctor to be dismissive and cruel about their gender identity.

I think that is an unfair reading of Tanzaki's comment - he did not indicate he was the "voice of god" or that it was "perfectly ok".

Members should consider everyone's feelings, not just a particular subset of people.

Also, there are a lot of things in this world that aren't right; that doesn't mean they don't exist and shouldn't be acknowledged. For all anyone knows, someone may have read that post and thought, "Wow, really? That's not cool, we should do something about that!"
posted by NoraCharles at 6:58 AM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Blood in the water is how I'd describe the atrocious turn this thread took yesterday as posters dragged out the OP's posting history and picked at it like vultures, seemingly at the mods' invitation.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:58 AM on April 27, 2013 [15 favorites]


I think it is also valid to consider the feelings of the trans kids who come here from an Internet search and find the voice of god pronouncement that nothing the doctor did was unethical

So you're saying "Won't somebody please think of the children?!”

I guess life really does imitate art.
posted by orthogonality at 7:00 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Blood in the water is how I'd describe the atrocious turn this thread took yesterday as posters dragged out the OP's posting history and picked at it like vultures, seemingly at the mods' invitation.

Really? It read to me like the mods really didn't want to discuss the specifics of Tanizaki's posting history, and other users only alluded to it, until Tanizaki demanded specifics.

Going back through the thread, it still reads that way.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:10 AM on April 27, 2013 [15 favorites]


Once you see this as one lawyer to another, it has a whole different and more benign complexion.

I'd be very interested to know if QuantumMeruit was among the flaggers of Tanizaki's comment.


Is there somewhere where it's evident or explicit that Tanizaki knew the OP of the ask is a lawyer, and so was knowingly using jargon with a colleague?
posted by rtha at 7:20 AM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


NoraCharles, as others here have noted Tanzaki did nothing to indicate that his pronouncement that the doctor had done nothing unethical was based solely on the legal definition of the term. So his statement that the doctor did nothing unethical actually does read as though he is opining that the doctor did nothing wrong. Unethical means wrong, literally.

orthogonality, your comment stings me a bit and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I guess that's what you were aiming for. In a question concerning the medical treatment of trans children I don't think it is bad faith to ask the community to think about how trans children googling trans issues will react to the responses. I don't think that's why the mods deleted the comment, but I think that is something we might want to keep in mind as a community when we answer trans questions, i.e., people who don't participate will read and be affected by the answers we give.
posted by onlyconnect at 7:22 AM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I guess life really does imitate art.

You know, the question actually was about trans children and AskMe does have a pretty big Google profile.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:23 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


If your comments are being deleted with increased frequency maybe you should consider finding ways to express your views without coming across like an obnoxious jackass to your mods and fellow site members.
posted by humanfont at 7:28 AM on April 27, 2013 [13 favorites]


Whoa, whoa, WHOA!

Things are getting a bit heated, what y'all need is something guaranteed to bring hours of laughter.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:39 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


maybe you should consider finding ways to express your views without coming across like an obnoxious jackass to your mods and fellow site members

Agreed, it would have been nice if you hadn't suggested a fellow site member suffered from cognitive impairment and mental retardation as a result of lead exposure.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:40 AM on April 27, 2013 [17 favorites]


We just haven't analyzed this hard enough. I think it's getting close. Both sides need just 12 or so more licks in on this one and consensus will be reached and the mods will come back to apologize, hat in hand. All the people who use MetaFilter the "wrong" way will start expressing their views in a manner all agree is reasonable. Spitbull will join AA and those we will have mutually agreed have cognitive impairments will start occupational therapy.
posted by floam at 7:42 AM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Seriously, why was the MeTa about Brandon Blatcher's deleted comment shut down to new comments in a little over an hour yet Tanizaki's MeTa has been left open for over a day, allowing it to devolve into a public pillorying?
posted by kimberussell at 7:43 AM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Is this about truly not understanding about how AskMe works?"

This "how askme works" phrase seems to be pretty transparent code for "don't post answers the asker won't want to hear."
posted by luke1249 at 7:44 AM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


What's the old saying about a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down?

"Don't sugarcoat it."

Some people need coddling. Others find it condescending.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:48 AM on April 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


I've had some regretfully obtuse and rude comments deleted from metatalk -- directly insulting other users, describing the masturbatory thrill they get from trolling -- and I recently commented about how back in the day (before the place was well-moderated) people would constantly accuse other posters of being drunk.

I thought some sort of guideline had developed regarding that sort of thing, and I certainly didn't think deleting my transgressions was out-of-line. Thus the continued presence of " you are a total fucking asshole," "* fap! *," and "respectfully, are you drunk?" are all a somewhat confusing element in this whole scene.

I'm sure there's a way to justify their preservation, but since we're talking about standards here, it bore mentioning.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:53 AM on April 27, 2013


orthogonality, your comment stings me a bit and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I guess that's what you were aiming for.

No, I wasn't. I'm not trying to hurt your feelings.

But when I read your comment, I immediately heard "Helen Lovejoy's" voice. I thought it was funny -- indeed at first I wondered if you were taking the piss.

I think that is something we might want to keep in mind as a community when we answer trans questions, i.e., people who don't participate will read and be affected by the answers we give.

That's a nice sentiment, but -- unless you want to limit this only to trans questions -- it's a very slippery slope. This isn't a site for kids, trans or otherwise. Hell, I seem to remember Jessamyn once posting a picture of someone having sexual relations with a chicken.

Many askMefi questions concern issues not for kids, and I don't recall (maybe it's changed lately) that we censor posts or comments because of how a kid might (mis-)handle reading them.

In your comment and in mediareport's, their seems to be special pleading* regarding trans issues. Is it limited to trans issues only? What defines a trans issue?

Tanizaki thought,, and (I can understand his reasoning, and the counter-argument too) that he wasn't making a trans-specific comment, but a one about law, medicine, and the canons of a licensed profession.

Are trans issues so uniquely different as to require rules and sensitivities that no other subject requires, or do other groups get to special plead too?

Or (to paraphrase myself**) do Mainers, lesbians, Christians, BoingBoing fans, and Purple People Eaters get to assert that anything that "somebody said on the internet that I disagree with!" is "terribly offensive, harmful to kids, and must be zealously moderated"?

* Just in case someone takes offense, "special pleading" is a specific term-of-the-art, with a specific meaning. It's not a slur or an attack. That I feel I have to make this disclaimer to the generally well-educated mefi audience is, in my opinion, an indication of how far we've gone down the rabbit hole. (No offense rto rabbits, or holes.)

**With all due respect to Mainers, lesbians, Christians, BoingBoing fans, and Purple People Eaters, there's a difference between "terribly offensive" and "somebody said something on the internet that I disagree with!"

Ands it's troubling to me to see several Metatalk posts lately that essentially come down to people asking either that their opinions be group-validated, or that opinions they don't like be removed by the mods.

I don't want a clean, inoffensive, sanitized Metafilter where comments are policed or worse, self-censored for fear of provoking a callout. Sure, remove direct personal insults ("User X is a knob!"), but this "you were insensitive to my kind of people" crap is getting out of hand.

If you disagree with someone's opinion, refute them in the thread or don't read the thread -- but please stop asking for the mods to protect you from reading things you disagree with.

posted by orthogonality at 7:55 AM on April 27, 2013 [19 favorites]


*gives up and pulls out the one hitter*
posted by infini at 7:58 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


This isn't a site for kids, trans or otherwise.

It's also not solely for lawyers talking to other lawyers (which I still haven't seen demonstrated is a thing T. knew when he gave his answer); in general, mefite lawyers answering legal-type questions in the green are quite good at being explicit that they are A) lawyers and B) not the OP's lawyer and C) this is not legal advice, but from a legal perspective, their thoughts are blahblahblah. None of which Tanizaki did in this instance.
posted by rtha at 7:59 AM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


This isn't a site for kids, trans or otherwise. Hell, I seem to remember Jessamyn once posting a picture of someone having sexual relations with a chicken.

You might note that she hasn't done that for seven years, was just a link, and was explicitly identified as NSFW.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:00 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


And, huh, doing a search for "IAAL" on the green turns up lots and lots of comments using that abbreviation, many of them made by Tanizaki. So it's not as if it's a convention he's unfamiliar with.
posted by rtha at 8:03 AM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


whoa mom did what
posted by angrycat at 8:05 AM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's also not solely for lawyers talking to other lawyers

No, the site isn't, but the exchanges that occur inside an individual AskMe thread are happening in a particular context: You're talking directly to the OP. So for that moment, if the OP happens to be a lawyer and you happen to be a lawyer...well, then that's the dynamic you have. Speaking as a lawyer myself, in general I always try to go the extra length to make sure my legal-information answers are plainly spoken. If I knew I was talking to another JD, I may not bother and I might indeed just toss off term-of-art language like "not impaired, incompetent, or unethical."

It's nice if lay readers can understand and appreciate the answers in an AskMe thread, but it's not crucial. I'm trying to help the OP.
posted by cribcage at 8:19 AM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]



And, huh, doing a search for "IAAL" on the green turns up lots and lots of comments using that abbreviation, many of them made by Tanizaki. So it's not as if it's a convention he's unfamiliar with.


Lawyers do that little dance with non-lawyetrs, because someeone without a legal education might construe legal infomation (term-of-art) with legal advice.

They have an obligation (or at least, it's in their interest) to do this with non-lawyers, basically so the non-lawyer doesn't end up deprived of life liberty or property because he or she relied on that non-advice or because s/he thought that lawyer was representing his or her interests.

They DON'T' do this with other lawyers, because someone else who is admitted to the bar is presumed to have the legal education necessary to know that a casual conversation doesn't create an attorney-client relationship.

You do something with red tailed hawks, I think. If you nad I came across an injured hawk, you'd carefully explain to me that I can get into a lot of FPMITA trouble if I try to "adopt" it. You wouldn't carefully explain this to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, because yu know they already know it.

Frankly, this just convinces me all the more that Tanizaki knew that responding to a question from QuantumMeruit, who is also a lawyer!

Which can be easily discovered by clicking on QuantumMeruit's profile page, or her blog, and I think was mentioned in her recent reddiit IAMA.
posted by orthogonality at 8:20 AM on April 27, 2013


In your comment and in mediareport's, their seems to be special pleading* regarding trans issues. Is it limited to trans issues only? What defines a trans issue?

Possibly because in recent months, a lot of the truly awful stuff in both the blue and the grey has revolved around posts about trans* issues. Try reading this thread and the associated MeTa for how reprehensible some members (and one in particular) were being towards trans* people, and later how defensive they got about being called out on it, and then how they refused to accept anything but their own personal concerns regarding the issues. I think that's why a lot of trans* posters have become especially sensitive, and the fact that the same people are basically siding against them with comments and favorites here has got to be pretty distressing.

Personally, I think that's a poster-specific issue rather than a Helen Lovejoy issue, but that goes full circle into the whole argument about posters and their history, which has been retread multiple times here already.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:20 AM on April 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


I think this whole one-lawyer-talking-to-another-using-jargon-that-the-general-public-might-not-understand thing is a pretty big stretch, but even assuming that it is what happened the comment is still worthy of deletion because that's just not how AskMe works. There is a long-held standard that when you answer a question in AskMe you are not just speaking to the asker, you are contributing to a resource for future askers of the same question.

It's important to know your audience and to be able to read the room. It's also important to put at least as much effort into being helpful as in being right. It really comes down to just making the effort to be decent to other people, and it's not all that difficult to do, but some people just struggle with it. I know I do.
posted by Balonious Assault at 8:23 AM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


This "how askme works" phrase seems to be pretty transparent code for "don't post answers the asker won't want to hear."

I don't believe that to be true at all.

'How it works' (in my opinion, as it were) is to attempt to mimic how you might act in a group in real life. If someone is asking a question about a sensitive issue, you are likely to put in at least a minimal cushion if delivering an answer to them that is 180° from what is expected.

When more people join the conversation and the discussion is between the other participants, less of a cushion is needed as they are not as emotionally invested.

In this particular case a first response to the question that basically just says 'No' to the OP just seems socially awkward, even if it is factually correct (and that is an 'if').

Saying something really awkward right off the bat can set the tone for the rest of evening. Saying something awkward after dynamics are established less so. Cutting the awkward comment can seem more preferable (and less work) than trying to manage the fallout throughout, so I see the appeal to the moderator. It's like giving the thread a 'do-over' for a good start. It's something that can be done in a thread and cannot be done in real life.

Should we delete socially awkward comments from first responses? Threads have a life span beyond when they are posted, so there is an appeal to cultivating productive threads. I don't think MeFi has the responsibility to be 'the website of record'. I believe MeFi to be a community with certain expectations from its members with a belief that, operating a certain way, good and useful things are produced.
posted by mazola at 8:24 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seriously, why was the MeTa about Brandon Blatcher's deleted comment shut down to new comments in a little over an hour yet Tanizaki's MeTa has been left open for over a day, allowing it to devolve into a public pillorying?

Sometimes, you just gotta let the inmates blow off steam.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:25 AM on April 27, 2013


If we're going to be all lawyerly here, then - despite not being a lawyer - I would like to see some actual evidence that backs assertions that Tanizaki knew he was speaking to a colleague and so was using colleague-speak. I don't care about your (general your) feelings or interpretations. Those are not evidence in this situation.
posted by rtha at 8:26 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


i don't think someone's history should have any affect on if a post is deleted or not. that decision should only be made based on the specific post in question.
posted by cupcake1337 at 8:26 AM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]



Sometimes, you just gotta let the inmates blow off steam.


Long as its not you getting shanked, eh ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:29 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


i don't think someone's history should have any affect on if a post is deleted or not. that decision should only be made based on the specific post in question.

By that standard, the comment should have been deleted because we would not know that the author had any expertise in the law.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:30 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


By that standard, all answers to that question should be deleted, because no one (else) in that thread is a lawyer.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:33 AM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


There is a long-held standard that when you answer a question in AskMe you are not just speaking to the asker, you are contributing to a resource for future askers of the same question.

No, I don't think there is any such standard. I think we all agree that's the ideal, but it isn't the standard imposed for AskMe comments—according to my experience and participation here. After all, the flip side of the coin is that when you post an AskMe thread, the understanding is that you have an actual question. If your AskMe is premised on, "It would be neat to have a resource-thread for people who wonder about this question," then it will be deleted as chatfilter. Accordingly, answers are directed at the OP. It's great if they also help other people but that definitely is not the standard.

I would like to see some actual evidence that backs assertions that Tanizaki knew he was speaking to a colleague and so was using colleague-speak.

Just to be clear, because maybe I wasn't, if we're still batting back-and-forth the rightness of Tanizaki vs Taz, that's not really a conversation I'm interested in having. As far as I'm concerned, that's been hashed out and Tanizaki has left the thread. I was responding in the spirit of talking more generally about AskMe etiquette/policy.
posted by cribcage at 8:34 AM on April 27, 2013


do Mainers, lesbians, Christians, BoingBoing fans, and Purple People Eaters get to assert that anything that "somebody said on the internet that I disagree with!" is "terribly offensive, harmful to kids, and must be zealously moderated"?

Well, I don't know about Mainers, but I've definitely seen the mods make comments asking that people not say things along the lines of "the entire American South and everyone in it is a worthless piece of crap" and "can't we just get rid of Texas" and things like that, because that attitude is overly-prevalently directed toward that specific part of the country (there isn't an ongoing problem with people going "fucking Rhode Island let's just get rid of it we don't need or want any of those people around here") and it's really hurtful toward perfectly decent metafilter users who happen to live there.

And I think metafilter doesn't need too much reminding not to talk about lesbians like they're sub-human; Christians could probably use some protection against getting lumped in together as Bad People in religion-related threads, I don't have any specific thoughts or examples here but it's definitely something I've noticed on other websites; BoingBoing fans and Purple People Eaters are not in any way a society of people who experience massive ongoing persecution on- or off-line as far as I'm aware, and thus seem particularly unlikely to need special consideration of the sort that oppressed groups might warrant.

I assume "somebody said something on the internet that I disagree with therefore it's terribly offensive and harmful to kids and must be zealously moderated" is oretty obviously an overreaction/exaggeration (I'm having a bit of trouble remembering the precise word I want here) just as throwing a 1950s novelty song in there as a possible group of people was, so obviously I don't think that literally responding to such an extent is logical
posted by titus n. owl at 8:37 AM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Can someone give me a list of who we are/are not required/allowed to be sensitive/oversensitive to?


Let me be plain. I myself have absolutely no desire to hurt anyone's feelings, ever.

Over the years, I have watched as some groups are handled with kid gloves (mind you I am not saying inappropriately necessarily) while other groups are insulted freely. I have seen some people insulted to their (virtual) face even.

I have been a member of several groups on either side of this equation, so I am not necessarily looking for an ox to gore here. Just wondering if there can either be equality OR a happy medium where things can be discussed plainly without either insulting someone unnecessarily or without coddling their tender wittle feelings (again, I am not trying to mock anyone here. I want to assume we all have thick enough skin to deal with different viewpoints without having our pet group be a sacred cow.)

(Now having said that I do understand why for example dealing with trans issues would need to be done more delicately particularly with dealing with children and with groups at severe risk of suicide. No matter what your view on this topic, we are dealing with real human beings in real pain, and anyone who posts here is old enough and smart enough to grok that. )
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:38 AM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


There is a long-held standard that when you answer a question in AskMe you are not just speaking to the asker, you are contributing to a resource for future askers of the same question.

Then I've really failed on some of my programming and database answers. Even as prolix as I am, you can't stuff years of experience into a question and simultaneously make it accessible to lay persons.

Same for the questions about "how do I do such and such in my bio lab", and arguably any number of car and home repair questions. And arts/music questions.

So is the standard that a right answer that the asker can understand should be deleted if you don't have the background to understand it? Or only in cases of trans? Or if children might google it?

I swear, this is like I've fallen into Gulliver's Travels. Which end of egg gets mod-deleted?
posted by orthogonality at 8:41 AM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Many askMefi questions concern issues not for kids, and I don't recall (maybe it's changed lately) that we censor posts or comments because of how a kid might (mis-)handle reading them.

I actually am not suggesting that mods should or did delete comments to make the site friendly for trans kids, but that we as posters should consider who is reading when we answer questions about trans kids.

I'm not expecting everyone to do this, but I think it makes the site kinder if you do. Some of you don't want the site to be kinder, and that's a legitimate viewpoint. If that's you, keep being you. Some people have nothing against more kindness and haven't thought about nonmembers googling and reading their AskMe answers, and my comment applies more to them than you.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:46 AM on April 27, 2013


rtha, are you suggesting the comment is okay if it is proven to your satisfaction that Tanizaki knew quantum meruit was a lawyer prior to answering the question? If so, I suppose you could MeMail Tanizaki and just ask, which would seem more productive than inviting him back into the thread at this point to answer the question. Alternatively, you've tasked those you've challenged to trawl through the posting histories of Tanizaki and quantum meruit in order to find some sort of evidence sufficient to convince you that Tanizaki was speaking "lawyer to lawyer" as it were. If it turns out that being so convinced will change your opinion about the deletion, maybe it's a worthwhile endeavor, I don't know. But if not, maybe it is a sort of derail that could be avoided?

For what it's worth, I knew that quantum meruit was a lawyer. Also "quantum meruit" is a legal term of art. So it would at least appear to be reasonable to think that Tanizaki either knew or suspected that quantum meruit was a lawyer. But, just because I know this and believe the user name itself provides a reasonable basis for Tanizaki to have believed as much doesn't provide anything in the way of proof. At any rate, I just wonder if this seemingly small point is one that needs further exploration if even finding the proof you're asking for would be insufficient to change your mind.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:50 AM on April 27, 2013


By that standard, all answers to that question should be deleted, because no one (else) in that thread is a lawyer.

No one else was offering explicitly legal advice.

Listen, either be benefit from the persistence of our online persona, or we might as well all just be anonymous. When Languagehat speaks about language, I know there is a degree of insight coming from years of study that others may not possess. When The Straightener was here, I knew that his direct experience with in-need communities gave him the qualifications to speak meaningfully about the subject. There wouldn't be much value to AskMe if it were a bunch of know-nothings spouting uninformed opinions -- the value of AskMe is that we are a large community with a lot of people who have actual experience in things that can be applied to questions.

This persistence of persona is important to MetaFilter as well because it means that we are accountable for our behavior over time. Every single comment isn't just a drive-by by some stranger, but it is part of a history we build for ourselves here. It also means that the behavior of users will impact how people respond to their participation. Something that might be innocuous from one user, because it is a one-time event, can be quite meaningful from another user when it is an ongoing issue. Which, as the mods have pointed out, is an issue here. That seems entirely fair to me -- we reap a lot of benefits from persistence of our online persona, and, from my point of view, one of those benefits is that the mods can tailor their interaction with this site to specific users, because a lot of decisions on this site must be made on a user-by-user basis.

Can someone give me a list of who we are/are not required/allowed to be sensitive/oversensitive to?

I suspect you already know the answer to this is no. And, as someone who has stood up for your rights on this site, and rejected the idea that asking people to be fairer to members who are religious, I find it more than a little disheartening that when somebody wants to extend those same courtesies to a group that you are not a part of, you recast it as treating them with kid gloves, rather than basic respect.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:50 AM on April 27, 2013 [20 favorites]


Now having said that I do understand why for example dealing with trans issues would need to be done more delicately particularly with dealing with children and with groups at severe risk of suicide. No matter what your view on this topic, we are dealing with real human beings in real pain, and anyone who posts here is old enough and smart enough to grok that.

Honestly, I don't think we can say that at all. Mostly, sure, but not completely, and not just about trans* issues. A lot of the stuff getting hashed out and rehashed in MeTa revolve around posters who seem to have a pronounced lack of empathy or sympathy for the topics at hand, and prefer to engage in what they believe is coldly logical deductive thinking that often ends up mainly being cold but neither logical nor deductive (and often based on wildly inaccurate research and readings).
posted by zombieflanders at 8:52 AM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


rather than basic respect

There seemed to be no disrespect in the deleted answer and the question itself seems to be your basic karpman drama triangle fodder - the parent themselves didnt pose the question.
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:53 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


There seemed to be no disrespect in the deleted answer and the question itself seems to be your basic karpman drama triangle fodder - the parent themselves didnt pose the question.

I disagree about this. The mods did too. As do a number of people in the thread.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:58 AM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Corinth I really appreciate your comment upthread, and I think it's true that we need to keep in mind that this is particularly sensitive to the readers of AskMe who consider it a safe place where their gender identity won't get smirked at or belittled. However: Opinions like this doctor's exist, and just because people who aren't prejudiced disagree with them, doesn't mean there is anything illegal or technically unethical or actionable about a doctor holding and pronouncing them. If that's offensive, it's the law or the rules that govern medical ethics that are offensive and should be changed. But a poster giving their opinion about the efficacy of getting a doctor punished should not be deleted, they should be contradicted by positive advice in the other direction from experience, OR agreed with if in fact it turns out that there is sadly nothing effective the poster can do to punish this doctor for being an asshole.

I believe that this type of deletion will make many people with dissenting opinions less likely to answer in a thread asking for advice. It makes AskMe less useful to me, where, if there's a potential ambiguity in what path to take, I would like hear reasoned opinions on both sides. And it makes me less likely to answer when I think my own understanding of a situation contradicts the prevailing direction of the thread. Is that what we want as a site to happen?

On the blue, discussions are not there to be useful, so "trimming" deletions like this don't really matter, and in fact are long-standing traditions.

In summary I think the answer should be undeleted, and then Tanizaki should probably be banned at least from the green. If he or she can't be trusted to answer in good faith, and is testing the mods ability to make calls about their on-the-face reasonable answers, why put up with them? We should be able to trust that an answer is merely the opinion of the answerer and has no metafilter-rules-testing subtext.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:06 AM on April 27, 2013


The thing is, lawyers should well know that offering legal advice without referring to legal standards and, inmho, either or both emphasizing what they don't know or their basis for their expertise, is bad behavior.

For example, I never did medical malpractice but I do not know if the AMA standard is the only law in play. What about a tort case based on emotional harm to the child? That's why as a legal answer it's very lacking; we don't know Tanzaki's creds or the basis of his opinion.

As a former lawyer from a fancy law school and now a bum community college teacher/writer, I know that we give lawyers some significant respect -- and rightfully so, if the lawyer is well-credentialed in terms of knowing the law at stake.

Add to that the problematic posting history (which, there's no way answers can exist in a complete vacuum, c'on) plus the fact that transgendered folks are currently fighting civil rights battles and the question touched on these battles -- I mean, jesus, of course it was deleted.
posted by angrycat at 9:08 AM on April 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


Whew. I read the whole thing.

Having gotten annoyed just two days ago with a (different) comment made by Tanizaki which I felt was overly pedantic and widely missing the point, this discussion is interesting. Particularly Eyebrows McGee's comment, which not only perfectly explains what was happening there but also what was happening years ago when I used to argue with a former-lawyer about MFA program rankings on the internet.

Funny thing is, I've gotten in trouble in other communities for arguing in an overly pedantic way before: for picking apart incorrect phrasing or criticizing data sets in arguments about sexism on the internet, I've been called antifeminist. And past the point of initial shock and annoyance, I've realized I really wasn't doing myself--or the movement--any favors by having a stick up my butt about minutiae. It doesn't matter if I'm technically correct about a small detail. No one wants to agree with an asshole who is ignoring other people's justifiably strong emotions because herp derp LOGICS. So I've worked on being more compassionate and fewer people seem to think I'm an asshole now, which is good.

Mostly, I'm saddened that the calls for compassion here have largely been ignored. I think we can always be more compassionate. And I do not think compassion is the emotion that we read about so often in the news. Let's not throw the baby out with the emotional bathwater.

Also, so much respect for the mods. I know that they've never deleted a comment of mine which didn't deserve it. I also know that when they have deleted my comments, I was usually derailing, arguing too much with other members, often to the detriment of people seeking help on ask.metafilter. So I've tried not to do that anymore. There are more important things than being right.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:10 AM on April 27, 2013 [23 favorites]


Can someone give me a list of who we are/are not required/allowed to be sensitive/oversensitive to?

Yes. You, yourself, and each one of us, can. Making the list starts with a principle.

Our every action has repercussions beyond the moment and our intent. Though the effects of our actions may be removed in place and time from our immediate surroundings, once we recognize that our actions have lasting and widespread consequences, it is incumbent on us to mitigate the negative effects of our actions. We can do this by striving to always act with kindness and compassion.

In short, we change the world with every thing we do, so we should try to change it for the better.

Constantly attempting to choose kindness and compassion is bound to fail. We are human and there will come inevitable lapses, or times when we are confused or frustrated or simply tired, and we act in a way that makes the world worse for ourselves and others. This is just fine; in fact, it is to be expected.

When we fail to control our temper, when we act without empathy or loving-kindness, we usually know what we've done. There are times, however, when we don't. Whatever the case may be, the only solution we have when we fail is to return to trying. It's simple: there's no need for regret or recrimination -- we haven't sinned and if there is to be retribution we are helpless before it -- our only course of action is to simply pick ourselves up and return to being kind.

With this in mind, making that list should be easy, something we can each do ourselves. Hopefully we will stick to our principles, but if we don't, it's understandable. We can all benefit by allowing ourselves to be human, to occasionally miss our goal, just as we understand that everyone else is human, too. Their understanding in turn helps us, and the lists we make, were we to ever compare them, begin to converge as we discover the same thing about all of us.

Even if your basic system of morality doesn't jibe with mine, there is room for us to be kind to each other. If we all lead by example, we leave no one behind.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 9:14 AM on April 27, 2013 [20 favorites]


St. Alia of the Bunnies: "Can someone give me a list of who we are/are not required/allowed to be sensitive/oversensitive to? Let me be plain. I myself have absolutely no desire to hurt anyone's feelings, ever. Over the years, I have watched as some groups are handled with kid gloves (mind you I am not saying inappropriately necessarily) while other groups are insulted freely. I have seen some people insulted to their (virtual) face even."

I appreciate where you're coming from, Alia, and I even think I agree with you. There are times when people are treated well here, and other times when people from other groups are treated poorly. I don't think other situations have any bearing on this situation, but that doesn't matter much; we both agree, nobody should be treated poorly, in this or any other situation.

My sense, however, is that the solution to the general problem of disparity is that (a) in this situation we choose compassion, and (b) in every situation we confront henceforth we try to do the same. If you see someone getting insulted or talked down to and allowed to get away with it, say something; it's worth bringing up. If you feel weird about saying something, let me know about it so I can say something myself. I'm serious - you're right that we shouldn't let these things slide, and that's something that should be fixed.
posted by koeselitz at 9:21 AM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


After nearly 700 comments, perhaps it should be clear that this specific comment deletion was enough of an edge case that it oughtn't be used as the basis for a site-wide policy discussion.

One's reading of this situation comes down to whether #1) you interpret the initial question as asking exclusively about legal recourse, and #2) you interpret Tanizaki's comment as specifically offering advice on the legal ramifications and not, more broadly speaking, on the ethical and/or practical ones as well.

If you intuit Yes for #1 [as, apparently Tanizaki him/herself did], then #2 becomes irrelevant and you probably think this was a bad deletion. (i.e., the question was simply answered in a definitive manner, however brusquely, whether correct or incorrect.)

If you go with No for #1 (as I did, as most of the other answerers did, and, I assume, as the mods did), and also a No for #2 (as I did), then you probably think the deletion was fine. (i.e., Tanizaki's comment was overly dismissive, maybe even hostilely so, shutting down the entire ethical/practical question, missing half the point.)
posted by nobody at 9:26 AM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Serious question: why do the mods even need to know who is making a comment? Maybe their screens should hide user identities, so that they can stay impartial.

I mean this sincerely. Biases go both ways, and I am sure some of us get a little more leeway because we have been here a long time, and maybe we shouldn't.

I can't be the only one who is sitting here stunned and appalled at how many users seem to have this axe-grindey personal grudge going on. It's like they are sitting on comments or posts for weeks, months, years, just to trot it out as "evidence" that a poster has an Agenda they disagree with.

I've said before that I have played devil's advocate in threads before where I may not agree 100% with a commenter but feel that commenter is being unfairly attacked personally. This has been taken to mean that I try to stir up controversy or am being fighty because I argue for a stance I persimaliy disagree with, but that is NOT AT ALL what I meant and this is as good a time as any to clear that up, so:

if you are arguing with the commenter rather than arguing the merits of specific comments, and all your justifications flow from that mindset, I have a problem with that. If you don't like a person, don't like the way the person phrases things, think that person is too direct or mean-spirited or disagree with a person's opinion, that BY ITSELF should not make the person's comment get deleted, full stop.

I don't care whether you are a noob, longterm user or even a mod, If the COMMENT is not breaking the site guidelines, that's your issue to deal with, not the site's.

People change their opinions over time. I know i have. We also, being (mostly) complex beings, have nuanced views that don't always translate precisely to anti- this and pro- that.

Assuming someone is "anti-trans" because they once said soemthing you disagreed with in a thread about the Boy Scouts discriminating against gays is just as prejudiced as assuming a child who identifies as trans is just "confused". They are two sides of the same coin, people!
posted by misha at 9:26 AM on April 27, 2013 [16 favorites]


Ands it's troubling to me to see several Metatalk posts lately that essentially come down to people asking either that their opinions be group-validated, or that opinions they don't like be removed by the mods.

Let me chime in my agreement with this point. I too have noticed a shift over the last 5 years I've been a member that the tone of the site and the interaction some members have with the mods is tending towards this direction. My own politics and social commitments are largely left of centre, as I would wager most of the userbase here is, but I really very much dislike the shouting down or mocking that occurs of those users who don't all sing from the same hymn sheet. I agree with those that have suggested certain mods are more prone to respond to howls of outrage by deleting said "offending" sentiments, and every time it happens, it a) provokes these kinds of threads and b) encourages more users in the future to demand the removal of opinions they find distasteful.

I like the generally tight moderation in Ask and MeFi, but this is a case where the mod got it badly wrong, and seemed to be responding more to a sentiment that the answer didn't accord with the prevailing sentiment, rather than whether or not it actually was a legitimate answer to the question asked. But it's reflective of a broader shift in the way the site is being run (unintentionally, I'd wager).
posted by modernnomad at 9:27 AM on April 27, 2013 [13 favorites]


This one is just for the mods:

Taz, I think you love Metafilter and want the site to be a great place to hang out, but you may just be a little over zealous sometimes in trying to force this to happen instead of letting messy situations play out naturally. This is not a knock on you personally; I have been around long enough to remember the same criticisms being laid against new mod cortex once upon a time. This, though, was a bad deletion based on that over-zelousness. Maybemjust try to relax and little a little more stuff go.

Cortex, Happy belated birthday! (Mine was last week, and my son's is tomorrow). Sorry you had to deal with this, and I get the frustration. I feel like you forget sometimes that we don't see everything you do behind the scenes, though, and I wish you would respond bearing that a little more in mind.

Jessamyn, you have the patience of a saint, and you really do try to work with everyone. I appreciate that, and am reminded of it every time a Metatalk comes up. Thing is, you also have this thing where you bring in past personal issues users have had with the mods, and I really wish you wouldn't. It leads to oersonal attacks--this whole thread has devolved into personal attacks--and while that may be cathartic for the participants, it's damned ugly to view from the sidelines.

LobsterMitten, you rock. Seriously, you are a natural at this modding thing. You are very human and sympathetic, and I think you are doing an awesome job.

Matt, I appreciate the way you stand behind team mod. I think every manager should go to bat for his team. But there comes a time when that defense becomes more about saving face than doing the right thing. This was a deletion based on taz's personal biases, and a bad call allowed to stand because the commenter has a history is still a bad call.
posted by misha at 9:28 AM on April 27, 2013 [21 favorites]


I can't be the only one who is sitting here stunned and appalled at how many users seem to have this axe-grindey personal grudge going on.

You're not. This MT thread is breaking new ground and maybe exposing something that has been bubbling under the surface for a while.
posted by lampshade at 9:29 AM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]




rtha, are you suggesting the comment is okay if it is proven to your satisfaction that Tanizaki knew quantum meruit was a lawyer prior to answering the question? If so, I suppose you could MeMail Tanizaki and just ask, which would seem more productive than inviting him back into the thread at this point to answer the question. Alternatively, you've tasked those you've challenged to trawl through the posting histories of Tanizaki and quantum meruit in order to find some sort of evidence sufficient to convince you that Tanizaki was speaking "lawyer to lawyer" as it were. If it turns out that being so convinced will change your opinion about the deletion, maybe it's a worthwhile endeavor, I don't know. But if not, maybe it is a sort of derail that could be avoided?

Short answer: No.

Longer answer: I am specifically challenging those who are stating as fact that T. knew that the OP of the ask was a lawyer, and that's why his answer was formed the way it was. I don't expect anyone to trawl through his posting history to try to discern this. This knowledge as been asserted as if it were obvious from the question as posted, when it was not obvious. That's it.
posted by rtha at 9:44 AM on April 27, 2013


So is the standard that a right answer that the asker can understand should be deleted if you don't have the background to understand it?

Clearly "standard" was a poor word choice on my part. It's more of an ideal than a standard, as cribcage pointed out. AskMe is ideally a topical resource for a wider audience than just the person who asked the question. Obviously there are going to be very specific questions that get very specific answers, and those will be of limited use to a wider audience. I stand corrected.
posted by Balonious Assault at 9:47 AM on April 27, 2013


[Ok, with the consent of those involved, I'm deleting the derail; thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:50 AM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


this thread is about one specific deletion, and about site policy issues -- it should not turn into a repeat of the same giant trans discussions we have recently had at length.


Well, it might be worth clearing up the question of whether this particular deletion involved trans issues in any way - which I think was mooted above, but not confirmed by a moderator.

I'd be surprised if it was, myself... a good/bad answer is still a good/bad answer, whether or not trans issues are involved (and indeed whether or not the person asking the question is a lawyer, which is another hypothetical being proposed).
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:51 AM on April 27, 2013


Got it rtha, thanks. I tend to think anyway that it doesn't matter a whole lot whether Tanizaki knew whether the Asker was a lawyer. I see where your comments were coming from now, thanks.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:52 AM on April 27, 2013


Ok, I am not deleting that comment :

I understand a rationale for deleting that comment because it would contribute to a derail, but otherwise I don't agree that comments like that should be deleted for their ignorance and insensitivity. Like modernomad said, the range of acceptable discourse here has narrowed here over the last five years. Voices like wolfdreams have been removed from the site. The community seems to have decided it's a good thing but it means there is less diversity overall.

There's probably a history with the mods I'm not aware of and a lot of other stuff going on, but I prefer metafilter with a little crazy in it. That's just me, though.
posted by vincele at 9:53 AM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is possibly a minority viewpoint but I'm pretty okay with blatant bigotry getting the axe, and if members who hold their blatant bigotry dear to their hearts find these repeated deletions cause them to want to leave, that shouldn't be on the rest of us.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:55 AM on April 27, 2013 [15 favorites]


And I prefer a Metafilter where it's not considered acceptable to tell a group of people that their lived experience is wrong and that they're "not nice people" simply for existing, and in fact they are control freak bigots by sheer dint of being trans. Diff'rent strokes, I guess.
posted by palomar at 9:55 AM on April 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


There's no great way to handle this, but if we're going to not get derailed, we need to not get derailed.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:57 AM on April 27, 2013


I am specifically challenging those who are stating as fact that T. knew that the OP of the ask was a lawyer, and that's why his answer was formed the way it was.

If you're referring to my comments, I don't think i "stated as fact" that Tanizaki knew Quantum Meruit is a lawyer. I said I thought it likely, because it's stated prominently on QM's profile page. cribcage, I believe, said it was possible that Tanizaki recognized QM's name is a legal term-of-art.

I also suggested (and I think cribcage as well?) that the very terseness of Tanizaki's comment, employing as it did terms-of-art used as such signaled that it was a message intended to for a fellow member of the bar.

If someone says life liberty and property, you figure they're quoting John Locke, and taking a Social Contract theorist approach, even if they don't say so. If someone says unity, justice and freedom, you figure they're probably German, while liberty, equality, fraternity implies a Frenchman. Proximal, distal, lateral, a doctor. "not impaired, incompetent, or unethical" sounds like a lawyer ticking off causes of action., and talking to a fellow specialist professional And in each case, you figure that probably they think their audience understands not just the denotation of these words, but their connotation and context. It's cant, jargon, term-of-art, in-group speech style.



But I do not know this for a fact, and I do not state it as fact.
posted by orthogonality at 10:03 AM on April 27, 2013


>I have only recently joined it to get a free hummus appetizer after church.

Troll is trolling.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:13 AM on April 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


If someone says ..., you figure they're ...

Knowing that someone else knows something is the basis of about half of AskMe questions, it seems.
posted by Etrigan at 10:15 AM on April 27, 2013


Tanizaki had ample opportunity here to state that he knows QuantumMeruit is an attorney. And he didn't. Which is not dispositive, but then again, if he knew, and yet intentionally held back the reference to supporting material, that makes his answer even less helpful than it was ostensibly meant to be.
posted by ambrosia at 10:21 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seriously, trying to divine what Tanizaki knew and didn't know when he answered the question is part and parcel with why there's contention surrounding this deletion in the first place. It would be cool if we could let answers stand on their merits rather than making efforts to infer some unstated intent. If it's not simple to discern the intent of a comment just from its face, and instead we're drawing on things like a user's posting history on threads on unrelated issues, or making assumptions that the poster is speaking "lawyer to lawyer" we're going further than is necessary. If the comment is sufficiently shitty, it shouldn't remain just because we could infer a possibility he was speaking "lawyer to lawyer," and if the comment is sufficiently unshitty that it wouldn't have been deleted had it been from another user, then it shouldn't be deleted, either.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:32 AM on April 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


I said I thought it likely, because it's stated prominently on QM's profile page.

I'm only speaking for myself here, but I pretty much NEVER check somebody's profile page before responding to their question, or any kind of comment at all. And if I should check, I'd like to think I'd reference it in my response if it's appropriate (ie: "I notice that you're a lawyer") ... because everything I post to MeFi/Ask etc, I have to assume it's NOT just for the person I'm addressing it to, it's also for the many (maybe thousands) of people who will be reading it.

This is public space here. If the desire is for one-on-one communication, I believe that's what the mail option is for.
posted by philip-random at 10:35 AM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


I stopped contributing here back in September after seven years because of a back end disagreement I had with taz over one of her many deletions of mine. I very politely requested she send me my comment that she had just deleted and she asked me why. I told her because a) it's mine, and b) that's site policy. She still refused, but another more level headed mod did end up sending it to me.

Wow. Did taz give any justification for withholding the deleted comment? taz, do you have any justification for doing so?

While I do agree with many of the individual deletion decisions, it's only after reading some of the stories in this thread that I see the pattern of people leaving the site because of the way taz treats ordinary users. I'm starting to wonder whether taz is really doing more good than harm here.
posted by grouse at 10:42 AM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wow. Did taz give any justification for withholding the deleted comment? taz, do you have any justification for doing so?

It was in the context of a larger conversation, and yes, we reserve the right to say "dude, what's the deal?" in situations where it's warranted. I would rather not get in to any particular details, but it was not some weird taz-only unilateral decision and I think it's actually quite shitty of gman to present it that way.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:49 AM on April 27, 2013 [18 favorites]


I very politely requested she send me my comment that she had just deleted and she asked me why. I told her because a) it's mine, and b) that's site policy.

Seriously? MeFi has how many registered users (over 100 thousand, I'm pretty sure), of which I'm guessing at least 10 percent are fairly active. Expecting the site to hop-skip-jump to the particular needs of 10 thousand users doesn't feel that functional.

Like any conversation, some stuff WILL get lost. If it's essential to you to not lose a word, I suggest you copy/paste everything to notepad (or whatever) as you go.
posted by philip-random at 10:49 AM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was in the 'this deletion was weird' camp at the beginning of this thread, even though I'm sort of aware of Tanizaki's commenting history and I don't like him very much, but we got this comment and this one from Tanizaki where he announces that he deliberately withheld information that would have made his his response more useful and informative for the asker, because he "predicted that other commenters, who will almost always have zero experience with professional regulation, would start combing through the rules" and it's "arrogant is for people to speak upon matters where they are not qualified". (Presumably he thinks it would be lost on the OP as well, who would also be too stupid to understand professional regulations.)

From his own description, he wasn't really trying to be helpful; the oddities of his phrasing weren't accidental omissions, and the contempt is real. So, on second thought, I think this was good deletion, and taz's intuition was right.
posted by nangar at 10:53 AM on April 27, 2013 [40 favorites]


philip-random: Expecting the site to hop-skip-jump to the particular needs of 10 thousand users doesn't feel that functional.

Don't be ridiculous. Sending a user a deleted comment has been the norm here for as long as I've been around; it's part of the so-called transparency of this site. taz was more than happy to take the time to ask me why I wanted her to send it to me; I responded, and she still refused.

restless_nomad: It was in the context of a larger conversation, and yes, we reserve the right to say "dude, what's the deal?" in situations where it's warranted.

As I asked you guys back then in my email, what reason could I have possibly given her for wanting a copy of my comment that would make it okay to not send it to me? I'd still love to know.

I would rather not get in to any particular details, but it was not some weird taz-only unilateral decision and I think it's actually quite shitty of gman to present it that way.

The not sending me my comment certainly was a unilateral decision made at a time of day when nobody else was around. As I said, a more level headed mod did in fact send me my comment. And anyway, you should be thankful I didn't post the rest of what occurred that day in our off-site emails.

grouse: Wow. Did taz give any justification for withholding the deleted comment? taz, do you have any justification for doing so?

No, she stopped responding after I told her why I wanted my comment. As it goes, other mods chimed in with a unified response.
posted by gman at 11:09 AM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


In short, we change the world with every thing we do ...

Ice Cream Socialist, I love you.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:16 AM on April 27, 2013


And anyway, you should be thankful I didn't post the rest of what occurred that day in our off-site emails.

Your perception of that conversation and mine differ significantly.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:16 AM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


It is literally impossible for us to glean any sense of appropriateness or inappropriateness of the deletion and Taz's interaction with you, or how it relates to this thread, when all we have to go on is your almost detail free complaining and a mod's insistence that you mischaracterized it. We do not know the content or the context of the deleted comment, the actual back and forth between you and Taz, or why other mods came in and interacted with you, or specifics about that interaction.

I guess I am not sure what you were hoping to accomplish by bringing this up. People who are predisposed to believing that the mods have a heavy hand in deleting and treat the user base unfairly are likely to believe this is an example of it; other are likely to believe to the contrary. And the only way this can actually change anybody's opinion is to actually post everything, which I don't think is what you or the mods want, and, personally, not something I want.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:16 AM on April 27, 2013 [15 favorites]


Warranted deletion imho. Sunny day outside, mods do a great job, MetaFilter continues to be interesting and informative, and I'm off to get an ice cream.
posted by parki at 11:22 AM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah, can this not be "beat up on Taz" day, plz? For the record I don't see one drop of difference between her moderating and everyone else's.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:26 AM on April 27, 2013 [14 favorites]


I suspect the issue with Taz is that she is the nighttime moderator where there used to be none. There is a userbase that mostly participates at what is nighttime for the American moderators, which, as someone who has sometimes been part of that crowd, used to be a pretty lawless time as the result of the absence of mods. I would be surprised if Taz deletes more than anybody else, but she's deleting where deletions didn't previously happen -- although sometimes in the morning whatever mod was on duty would have to play cleanup after something that happened overnight.

Taz is probably moderating pretty consistently with how the other mods do things, but she appears to delete more, because, for her time slot, there used to be no deletions, or they would happen rarely. Which, if I'm reading the situation right, makes this sort of criticism of her feel a little unfair to me.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:34 AM on April 27, 2013 [38 favorites]


restless_nomad: Your perception of that conversation and mine differ significantly.

Of course it does. Your perception would be identical to that of taz's. As anyone can see by mod comments in MeTa, the mod position is almost always one voice.

Bunny Ultramod: It is literally impossible for us to glean any sense of appropriateness or inappropriateness of the deletion and Taz's interaction with you...

You're the only one talking about whether or not the comment was appropriately deleted. I only brought up the fact that I asked for it twice and was declined by taz.

...all we have to go on is your almost detail free complaining and a mod's insistence that you mischaracterized it.

Shocking that a co-worker of taz's would state that I mischaracterized what occurred. I'm open to sharing the entire email chain with anyone that would like to take a look and decide for themselves.

I guess I am not sure what you were hoping to accomplish by bringing this up. People who are predisposed to believing that the mods have a heavy hand in deleting and treat the user base unfairly are likely to believe this is an example of it; other are likely to believe to the contrary.

I dunno. I guess something similar to those of you who feel the need to blindly defend mod actions as if they're gods. I was offering up one of my dealings with taz's abuse of power. But you're right, neither you or I are going to sway people. It's just time wasting circles writing this shit, isn't it.
posted by gman at 11:34 AM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Gman, you are welcome to open a separate MeTa if you really want to talk about this issue in depth. It's taking us fairly far afield here.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:36 AM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Yeah, can this not be "beat up on Taz anybody" day, plz?"

you were close...

This has become one of the most distasteful threads I've read here in a long time, and, my opinion (and IANAL) is that the conversation could have been closed down about 600 comments ago and everyone would have been better off.
posted by HuronBob at 11:42 AM on April 27, 2013 [16 favorites]


I wonder if the beauty of the day has to do with the tenor of the thread. Like, it is a day made for outdoor frolicking and some of us are doomed to be in shadowy places, in front of our screens.

I have some pretty good weed, so I'm coping. But if anybody mentions experiencing spring sexytimes, watch out, because I am dangerous in my jealousy.
posted by angrycat at 11:43 AM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


In other news I'm really starting to like beauty and a beat by Justin beiber.
posted by roboton666 at 11:44 AM on April 27, 2013


In other news I'm really starting to like beauty and a beat by Justin beiber.

Ah, man. When I first heard that song I hated it. I mean it should be Beauty and The Beat and also "Selener" really?!!. But the more I heard it, the more I liked it. Now I totally like it.
posted by nooneyouknow at 11:50 AM on April 27, 2013


Gman, you are welcome to open a separate MeTa if you really want to talk about this issue in depth. It's taking us fairly far afield here.

Considering that this thread is all about deletions that seem inappropriate, gman's concerns do not seem like a derail, at all.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:56 AM on April 27, 2013 [14 favorites]


This has become one of the most distasteful threads I've read here in a long time, and, my opinion (and IANAL) is that the conversation could have been closed down about 600 comments ago and everyone would have been better off.

Yes, it's distasteful but on the other hand I think a lot of this stuff had to get out at some point. I still don't like the pileup on Taz though.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:58 AM on April 27, 2013


Serious question: why do the mods even need to know who is making a comment? Maybe their screens should hide user identities, so that they can stay impartial.

Interesting idea Misha, I would have loved that when I was a mod somewhere else.

Any thoughts from the mods here? Implementation might be a challenge. And you'd have to be able to peek if you needed to.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 12:00 PM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


I still don't like the pileup on Taz though.

What would you know about pileups?

Don't throw that, I'm kidding.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 12:03 PM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


a lot of this stuff had to get out at some point

Really? Every other bloody thread in MetaTalk recently has been a "why was my stuff deleted" complaint; it's not like the disaffected have been short of opportunities lately to yell at the moderators.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:06 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Once again a transgender post causes a 700 hundred comment pile up in MeTa.

It's no wonder why I'm asking for some restraint and leeway on transgender posts, like "hey everyone, let's suck less at this particular thing" I'm not asking for a policy I'm asking for some awareness.

And oh yeah, I like have this guilty thang going on for Nicky manaj. that might have something to do with transitioning, I'm not sure...
posted by roboton666 at 12:07 PM on April 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


Considering that this thread is all about deletions that seem inappropriate, gman's concerns do not seem like a derail, at all.

Gman's talking about an incident that happened six months ago and bears very little resemblance to the issue at hand. As I said, he's welcome to open a new MeTa if he wants, but I want to keep this one sort of focused on the question of AskMe deletions/Tanazaki/lawyers/etc.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:08 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

I want to keep this one sort of focused on the question of AskMe deletions/Tanazaki/lawyers/etc.
Honestly, I wouldn't mind if the mods just closed this thread right now.
posted by yeoz at 12:13 PM on April 27, 2013


orthogonality: Ands it's troubling to me to see several Metatalk posts lately that essentially come down to people asking either that their opinions be group-validated, or that opinions they don't like be removed by the mods.

I don't want a clean, inoffensive, sanitized Metafilter where comments are policed or worse, self-censored for fear of provoking a callout. Sure, remove direct personal insults ("User X is a knob!"), but this "you were insensitive to my kind of people" crap is getting out of hand.

If you disagree with someone's opinion, refute them in the thread or don't read the thread -- but please stop asking for the mods to protect you from reading things you disagree with.


Even in small text I still find this quite distasteful, as I mentioned above. In this thread, specifically, what PC thought policing policies do you take issue with? There exists an opinion that trans people don't exist. It's wrong, but it exists. My "disagreement" with such an opinion is less of a this-side-vs-that-side thing and more of a state of being. Down the hill from there, there exist further disagreements that stem from the first: who I should be allowed to marry, whether a doctor can refuse to treat me for an unrelated issue, and the ping-pong of where it is appropriate for me to pee, among others. The problem with allowing bigotry and saying that it can be responded to when it happens is that it essentially turns every mention of trans issues into a first principles disagreement (and honestly we're not much better than this anyway). If we as a site can say that trans people exist and have valid identities or at the very least you should interact with others as if trans people exist and have valid identities, we open ourselves up to actual worthwhile discourse. Setting up a requirement that oppressed groups must have this much patience to ride the MeFi train is what stifles discussion, not your perceived PC gone mad.

So, to you, a social conservative view of LGBT people may be an opinion I disagree with. To me, the entire framing of my existence as an issue with two sides is disheartening and baffling.

As far as I've been able to tell, conservative positions on things other than people's identities tend to stand. I don't see complaining that Austrian economics advocates are being hunted down, or that supporters of a flat tax are being silenced by mods. So, really, every time I read something like what you've said (and there's been a lot of it here in this thread), it's always about social issues. It's always about people's identities. I think that we should, generally, expect respect for people's valid self-identification.
posted by Corinth at 12:13 PM on April 27, 2013 [39 favorites]


Serious question: why do the mods even need to know who is making a comment? Maybe their screens should hide user identities, so that they can stay impartial.

From a burnt-out ex-mod of three online communities: awful idea.

There'll always be people who will try and game the system, gain an advantage, troll and bait, fuck around with identities, smouldering grudge-settle, take out their real life anger, attack people - and mods - just for pyrrhic point-scoring or the "fun" of it or because there's nothing better going on in their lives for them. hmmmm

Removing data and information about people, identities, from the mods makes it more difficult, not less, for them to keep a handle on those people intent on deliberately disrupting the forum.

+ + + + +

This particular thread is the most unpleasant have seen on MetaTalk in the year have been on it. Some of the anti-Taz stuff on here is, unpleasantly, getting into borderline bullying territory.

And this ridiculous "abusing power" nonsense makes Taz out to be some kind of Dick Cheney or Bashar al-Assad figure, rather than just a normal person, doing the role of being a community mod and making lots of decisions, sometimes borderline, sometimes rapidly, about chunks of chatty text on a website in real time.

Anyway, there's a few minutes of sunshine left outside. Enjoying that seems a better way of spending time than further participating in another "Toys flung out of the pram" MetaTalk deletion wail.
posted by Wordshore at 12:20 PM on April 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


Any thoughts from the mods here? Implementation might be a challenge.

It would take about three hours max, assuming a not-stupid architecture.

Fifteen minutes if the mod UI ultimately accesses data through a view, and no one foolishly exposed arbitrary IDs to user view.

All you're really doing is replacing each user name with "some user", whilst retaining the user ID numbers.
posted by orthogonality at 12:21 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also jessamyn's comment a while ago:
We have a bunch of users here who post a lot of stuff that gets deleted frequently in AskMe. The thinking seems to be "Okay I'll post what I want and you delete it when it's not appropriate and we'll just carry on that way" It's not our favorite plan, but it's totally an acceptable way of interacting here.
This is acceptable? THIS HAPPENS?

It regularly amazes me how much shit the moderators here put up with; how much work a small fraction of the userbase causes them; and how long, and patiently, they tolerate and work with troublemakers rather than simply cutting their losses and banning them.

Some folks are getting a lot of value from their $5.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:21 PM on April 27, 2013 [20 favorites]


I want to keep this one sort of focused on the question of AskMe deletions/Tanazaki/lawyers/etc.

If MetaTalk is for talking about policy and etiquette, I'm not sure what would be gained by continuing to focus on one user and one AskMe deletion without discussing the broader context of people questioning Taz's deletions.

Why are we asked to continue to focus on Tanazaki, lawyers, and a single AskMe deletion? And specifically not discuss the policy as implemented by the moderators?

Or alternately, I think every mod has chimed in and said that they stand behind the deletion. So there are no remaining decisions to be made, regardless of what is posted here. So why do we keep this open?
posted by Houstonian at 12:24 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


what cornith said. on the one hand, you have the propensity to cause harm to living human beings vs. the burden on imposing restraint on oneself in terms of commenting. this is when it touches people's identities.

i would have no problem keeping a comment saying that a bomb-exploder should be put to death absent due process, even though I strongly disagree with such a comment as I believe all are entitled to due process.

But a comment that a bomb-blower upper should be treated differently because of their adherence to a certain faith/ideology, that's where I would say delete away. Because this second comment has the potential to cause emotional harm to those who share such identities

it's why I basically ran screaming out of a thread about prostitution for disabled people, because there were comments along the lines of, well, generally people who are disabled aren't sexually desirable, so that's a needed service. not to justify my flipping out one whit, but the reason those comments touched me deeply is because I am a middle-aged disabled woman who is sexually active. Comments that imply x group is y, or comments that reinforce such ideas, can be harmful.
posted by angrycat at 12:27 PM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


The idea that talking about lawyers is more "focused" for this thread than talking about other deletions that some consider heavy handed seems kind of strange, in my opinion.
posted by Flunkie at 12:27 PM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Misha: Serious question: why do the mods even need to know who is making a comment? Maybe their screens should hide user identities, so that they can stay impartial.

I mean this sincerely. Biases go both ways, and I am sure some of us get a little more leeway because we have been here a long time, and maybe we shouldn't.


I find this suggestion remarkably intriguing, and I am surprised that it hasn't received more attention.

Perhaps an interesting way to implement this would be to hide all usernames from the mods, but allow them a peek at said username through the click of an extra button. and such a peek would be logged. If a deletion occurs thereafter, it is flagged.

Of course, the only person with access to these logs would be Matt.

I should mention that throughout my time here, I have had only positive interactions with the mods and have found their humanity exemplary, even, or maybe especially, when I have, erm... stepped out of line.

I can't imagine the mods exuding whoops of glee while contemplating this, but I would hope that any of their arguments against this would consist of more than the natural instinct to resist any loss of power.

Alas, not much more than a passing thought, really.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Matt, of course!
posted by Zenabi at 12:34 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Potomac Avenue: However: Opinions like this doctor's exist, and just because people who aren't prejudiced disagree with them, doesn't mean there is anything illegal or technically unethical or actionable about a doctor holding and pronouncing them. If that's offensive, it's the law or the rules that govern medical ethics that are offensive and should be changed.

Um, yes? We're working on it.

I believe that this type of deletion will make many people with dissenting opinions less likely to answer in a thread asking for advice. It makes AskMe less useful to me, where, if there's a potential ambiguity in what path to take, I would like hear reasoned opinions on both sides. And it makes me less likely to answer when I think my own understanding of a situation contradicts the prevailing direction of the thread. Is that what we want as a site to happen?

Also yes. I would hope that the deletion of "dissenting opinions" on identity issues leads to fewer expressions of them, and I doubt that askers of trans questions find much utility in answers coming from people with these dissenting opinions.

(Again, my reading of the comment was with a non-technical interpretation of the words "ethical," "incompetent," and "impaired," so the deleted comment basically was stating that the unacceptable treatment of the child was actually acceptable. Too, my limited understanding of the Standards of Care and AMA/APA guidelines inclines me to suspect that the doctor's conduct may not have been technically ethical, and at least that the conduct isn't clearly, obviously ethical. Thirdly, regardless of the diagnosis, I think that's a horrible way for a doctor to talk to a child and is probably against the spirit of the profession if not Texas licensing boards.)
posted by Corinth at 12:37 PM on April 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


So why do we keep this open?

Because people still have things to talk about. We are generally slow to close MeTas without an obvious reason, and we tend to get a fair amount of pushback when we do.

The idea that talking about lawyers is more "focused" for this thread than talking about other deletions that some consider heavy handed seems kind of strange, in my opinion.

Gman's issue wasn't with a deletion, wasn't about AskMe, and took place entirely in email, which makes it hard to talk about anyway. Again, if he, or you, want to talk about the procedure for getting deleted comments emailed to you, or what happened there specifically, feel free to open a new thread.

Serious question: why do the mods even need to know who is making a comment? Maybe their screens should hide user identities, so that they can stay impartial.

Short answer: because the users can see other commenters' identities. Long answer: We make a very big deal here about persistence of identity - we don't allow anonymous commenting without specific mod intervention, we have a relatively strict sockpuppet policy, and we are absolute death on identity-related shenanigans, specifically so that when people see the byline of a comment or a post, they have context for it that adds value to that comment. Ignoring that part of the fundamental design of the site while moderating doesn't make the least bit of sense to me, and would seriously hamper our ability to predict the effect of comments on the flow of a thread - which is, after all, the heart of our job.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:38 PM on April 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


Removing data and information about people, identities, from the mods makes it more difficult, not less, for them to keep a handle on those people intent on deliberately disrupting the forum.

You'd still spot trouble. And maybe after you delete you get to see who it was.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 12:38 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


With all due respect to Mainers, lesbians, Christians, BoingBoing fans, and Purple People Eaters, there's a difference between "terribly offensive" and "somebody said something on the internet that I disagree with!

And you don't get to decide for those folks, or anyone else, whether something is terribly offensive to them. They get to decide.

Perhaps you find that notion "terribly offensive"?
posted by nacho fries at 12:38 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Gman's issue wasn't with a deletion, wasn't about AskMe, and took place entirely in email, which makes it hard to talk about anyway.
Perhaps I should have said that the idea that talking about lawyers is more "focused" for this thread than talking about deletion-related behavior that some consider heavy handed seems kind of strange, in my opinion.
posted by Flunkie at 12:40 PM on April 27, 2013


I have seen mods make incorrect assumptions of bad faith at times so hiding names is a tempting idea, but I don't think they could do their job without seeing the names up front. Some users have a history together and you need to keep an eye on them from the start if they are going back and forth in a thread, for one example.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:41 PM on April 27, 2013


(Now having said that I do understand why for example dealing with trans issues would need to be done more delicately particularly with dealing with children and with groups at severe risk of suicide. No matter what your view on this topic, we are dealing with real human beings in real pain, and anyone who posts here is old enough and smart enough to grok that. )

Not trying to be flip here. Really.

But, what's the point of the rest of your post then? Because I've spent quite a bit of time in various online communities, and people who say stuff like the entire first part of your post tend to not feel the second way sincerely at all. It's more of a "I think this group is getting unfair kid gloves treatment and being allowed to win any conflict. And that upsets my inner kid, who remembers hating this kind of unfairness when I was young".

That's fine, understandable even. But what I always think when I read a post like this is what does the community lose by treating people with extra care this way?. The issue isn't the groups treated with care, it's the ones that are openly ripped on, as you say. Groups that ended up in the former zone have later ended up in the latter and now we kinda try and pretend that didn't happen a bit.

I can't help but read, with your phrasing, that it kinda rubs the wrong way that they get this "special treatment", even with your modifiers afterwards in brackets. And I say this as someone who really respects your posts here generally, I think this is more of a problem with your mental approach to this kind of thing.

I mean, if these people get shit on everywhere in every day life. Why the fuck is it a problem if were nice and slap people a bit who aren't?

Blood in the water is how I'd describe the atrocious turn this thread took yesterday as posters dragged out the OP's posting history and picked at it like vultures, seemingly at the mods' invitation.

Really? Between this and the other comment about how mods shouldn't be able to see who posted a specific comment, how would this benefit the community at all?

So someone's history absolutely should not be up for consideration regardless of the circumstances here? Ignoring the fact that he himself brought it up ready to split hairs, and then when it didn't go his way the people siding with him essentially went "you're bringing it up in the wrong way! We didn't mean that stuff!", this approach in general would do nothing but create a wall to defend trolls.

We're not doing that catty "oh well you see foo and bar here, and now you're saying botz here. Which one is it?" Type stuff(and Jesus, I know that's a contentious point. A whole other 500 comment MeTa could be made on what constitutes that). It's almost the opposite.

People are saying "you have a consistent style and pattern of behavior, which this comment fits in to. Taking this in to consideration with the context of your post makes it clear how to interpret it and more clear what your intent was"

What's wrong with this? Is it really blood in the water to go "this person tends to say things in an XYZ way"?

Then there's also that post I can't even find again above, about the commenter pointing out that they used to act a certain way... Oh hey I found it!

It got to the point where I decided that if I was just going to be misunderstood anyway then there was no point in making any effort to avoid sounding like an ass. I used to love stirring up shit, and I'd actively seek out gray areas in the forum rules where I could force the moderators to take action and then challenge them when they did. I won't suggest that that's what happened here, but I will say that I would have considered this thread to be a wild success if it were my game.

Does no one else see this here, not even just a little bit? Because the grar at the beginning tripped my alarm for that kind of shit immediately.

Seriously, has no one else been that guy before and gets that vibe from this?

I can't escape the feeling that somehow, even if just a little bit, tanizaki kinda wants a fight here. He may rationalize it that he didn't start the fire or didn't want one, but after however many times of these types of situations popping up does it not get a little bit suspicious?

This is why the "singling someone out or looking at past behavior isn't fair!" Camp bugs me.
posted by emptythought at 12:50 PM on April 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think that we should, generally, expect respect for people's valid self-identification.

I agree. Do you agree that we should respect the self-identification of people who believe that transsexuality is wrong or fake or should be outlawed?

See, I believe that you can't force people to change their beliefs, and I believe that trying to force someone to change his beliefs, or even to publicly renounce his true beliefs for beliefs acceptable to those in power, is wrong.

Why do I think that?

Well, in large part because we tried it, and it didn't work out well. In fact, "we" have fought literal wars over this for centuries.

After the Protestant Reformation, the Germanies were convulsed by wars that originated in the policy that rulers should chose the religion of the ruled. Your Catholic prince dies and his Protestant nephew inherits? Now you have to give up your lifetime religion, and pretend to believe something else.

In England, wars, intrigues and rebellion raged from the time of Henry VIII's death to the "Glorious Revolution" when England's aristocracy invited a foreign ruler, William of Orange, to invade England to depose the Catholic monarch.

It wasn't until 120 years later that English Catholics were finally, grudgingly, allowed to vote and hold political office.

In Ireland, anti-Catholic legislation remained on the books until 1920, less than a century ago.

New England was settled by dissenting Protestants who also couldn't hold political power in England because they refused to renounce their particular beliefs.

The United States' passed the First Amendment to keep that from happening here. (Although that didn;t stop Congregationalist from harassing Baptists, or later keep Baptists from lynching Catholics.)

Trying to force people to have certain belieds, or throwing them out if they don't, doesn't change their minds. It cements their position, makes them martyrs, and causes pain division and unrest.

Not everyone shares your perspective on transsexualism. Forcing them to publicly claim to agree with you, on pain of expulsion from Mefi, won't change that. It wiull just make them despise you more.

What might change their beliefs is interacting with you, and seeing that you just want to live your life, without forcing them to live according to your rules or your beliefs.

As for me, I don;'t dislike transsexuals. I don't want to outlaw transsexuality, I don't think it's morally wrong. But I probably don't agree with you about its mechanism of action, and I certainly don't want you or anyone else to dictate to me my sexuality.

Is that enough common ground for you to accept me and agree to let me gold my beliefs, or will only be satisfied when I parrot your beliefs word for word?
posted by orthogonality at 12:51 PM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


I am going to reiterate LM's request that we not turn this thread into a general trans issue debate. Thanks.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:53 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ah, man. When I first heard that song I hated it. I mean it should be Beauty and The Beat and also "Selener" really?!!. But the more I heard it, the more I liked it. Now I totally like it.

No fucking way. It's an awful song, but the 'Selener" line turns in into an abomination. I'm generally okay to just let a bad song play, but there are exceptions. Gotta turn it before that line.
posted by justgary at 12:57 PM on April 27, 2013


;_;
posted by roboton666 at 12:59 PM on April 27, 2013


As anyone can see by mod comments in MeTa, the mod position is almost always one voice.

I don't see how this community could function if the mods behaved differently. You seem to suggest that this is a problem somehow. You're not the first person in this thread to hint or say outright that this is a bad thing. I'm not sure why. MetaFilter is a community, the mods are members of this community and at the same time it is their workplace. Support in public and dissent/criticize in private is standard professionalism. I don't see how MetFilter is any different in that respect.
posted by space_cookie at 1:03 PM on April 27, 2013


Malor, I'm not sure why you think that; I looked over the last year and it looks like I deleted 6 out of 19 comments from you since April 27, 2012. One of those was just a complaint that a post should get a warning, which I added.

The fuck? You guys deleted 19 comments of mine?

This place has gone off the rails. I work hard on those comments. I am both dismayed and shocked that nineteen of them have gone away without even the goddamn courtesy to tell me.
posted by Malor at 1:03 PM on April 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


Disemvoweling is a practice we do not follow here, no.

Slncd ll m lf!
posted by MartinWisse at 1:07 PM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I work hard on those comments.

?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:08 PM on April 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


I am both dismayed and shocked that nineteen of them have gone away without even the goddamn courtesy to tell me.

Doesn't seem like you missed considering how surprised you are...
posted by MartinWisse at 1:08 PM on April 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


when I used to argue with a former-lawyer about MFA program rankings on the internet.

brb just pitching my sequel to the Inferno
posted by escabeche at 1:11 PM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


restless_nomad: I didn't say that mods should not see usernames, ever. I merely suggested that such activity could, perhaps be logged with an extra mouse-click.
posted by Zenabi at 1:12 PM on April 27, 2013


If the biggest injustice you have in your life is having some comments deleted from a website, you seriously have nothing to complain about.
posted by palomar at 1:13 PM on April 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


Corinth: I think that we should, generally, expect respect for people's valid self-identification.

orthogonality: Do you agree that we should respect the self-identification of people who believe that transsexuality is wrong or fake or should be outlawed?

Are you kidding? "I am $SOMETHING" is self-identification. "I believe $SOMETHING" is your fucking opinion.
posted by tzikeh at 1:13 PM on April 27, 2013 [38 favorites]


Do you agree that we should respect the self-identification of people who believe that transsexuality is wrong or fake or should be outlawed?

This is such a ridiculous attempt at equivalency that I'm really surprised you tried to make it.
posted by rtha at 1:14 PM on April 27, 2013 [26 favorites]


And Malor has disabled his account. Fwiw, I don't think 19 comments in one year for such a prolific commenter is a very large number, and I wish he would return. Still, I think he overreacted.
posted by onlyconnect at 1:14 PM on April 27, 2013


orthogonality: I agree. Do you agree that we should respect the self-identification of people who believe that transsexuality is wrong or fake or should be outlawed?

I truly don't understand what you're trying to say. You're co-opting the language of social justice and trying to cram something in that doesn't fit.

See, I believe that you can't force people to change their beliefs, and I believe that trying to force someone to change his beliefs, or even to publicly renounce his true beliefs for beliefs acceptable to those in power, is wrong.

It's hard to speak truth to power about trans people because if you're not trans you kind of are the power. If you're trying to reference religious conservatives who feel persecuted by legal recognition of gay people, or libertarian business owners resentful of being told to install wheelchair ramps or whatever, I think that has been covered.

Not everyone shares your perspective on transsexualism. Forcing them to publicly claim to agree with you, on pain of expulsion from Mefi, won't change that. It wiull just make them despise you more.

I already explained how I feel about "perspectives" on being trans (namely how baffling it is for people to have firmly held opinions about my identity). People who "disagree" already kind of despise us, and as I said, I prefer not to read that and I think the site is better off without it.

I certainly don't want you or anyone else to dictate to me my sexuality.

I can't tell what this is either, and it's kind of out of left field. Who wants to know anything about your sexuality? Certainly not me, I'm sorry to tell you.

I'm not asking you to parrot my beliefs, just asking for you (and everyone) to respect people's identities and to extend, at the very least, the same courtesies to marginalized groups that you're inclined to extend to your own group or the dominant groups. I think that moderation in support of this goal is beneficial, which is why I support the deletion.
posted by Corinth at 1:17 PM on April 27, 2013 [21 favorites]


I merely suggested that such activity could, perhaps be logged with an extra mouse-click.

My point is that doesn't make any sense, because usernames factoring into moderation decisions is an inherent function of the site design. It would not generate meaningful data and would be an active roadblock to doing our routine tasks.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:17 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


As for the actual issue at hand: Tanizaki's comment seems fine to me. But there is no such thing as a system that gets every question right, all the more so when there's so much dissensus about what is right. What I can say for sure is this -- if the mods never deleted a comment they shouldn't have, it would mean they were deleting way too few comments.

I think it's nuts to say the place has gone off the rails. This is one of the most strictly moderated places I visit on the internet, and also one of the best, and I don't see that as a coincidence. I'm sure lots of my comments are deleted. I know I've had FPPs deleted, and in each case the deletion was fine with me. I work hard on mine too. So what? Most of what we work hard on comes to nothing.
posted by escabeche at 1:19 PM on April 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


So what? Most of what we work hard on comes to nothing.

Mods, please delete that. It is forcing me to confront the human condition.
posted by found missing at 1:22 PM on April 27, 2013 [24 favorites]


And Malor has disabled his account.

Wow. I was absolutely certain that Malor's rage was sarcastic. Because... does anyone else get a notification that their comment was deleted? 'Cause I never have.
posted by Etrigan at 1:22 PM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


I work hard on those comments. I am both dismayed and shocked that nineteen of them have gone away without even the goddamn courtesy to tell me.

If they are really that important to you it seems like you might have noticed before now that they were gone.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 1:23 PM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Because... does anyone else get a notification that their comment was deleted? 'Cause I never have.

No, we don't generally notify people. Everyone is always welcome to ask us about past deletions via the contact form if you're just curious.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:23 PM on April 27, 2013


I've had tons of comments deleted, usually because I was being a jackass. Sometimes innocent comments get deleted though because they were part of a derail. But either way who the fuck cares if there's fewer of my precious comments in the world?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:25 PM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Because... does anyone else get a notification that their comment was deleted? 'Cause I never have.

Nope. I expect I would be likewise amazed to discover how many comments I have had deleted, because I never notice. I imagine if they were deleted for some reason other than the normal reasons comments are deleted, and represented a larger, ongoing issue, the mods would contact me to tell me to cut it out. But I expect most of my deletions have come from me participating in a derail, in which case, well, there's no real loss.

I think I once had a nice comment fable disappear because the entire thread went away, which I was a little sad about it, but that's the only deletion I have had that I even noticed, and I barely remember what it was.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:28 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


⟂ity, I think you're conflating beliefs with actions. I heartily agree with you about the futility and past failure of enforcing beliefs. And face to face interaction is the best way to break down borders. But until such time as those borders are breached, I don't see how it's fundamentally wrong to proscribe certain actions, in order to limit the damage people do to each other in the mean time.

In short:
You must think this way --> Bad
We don't permit this behavior here --> Fine. And behavior includes speech.

This makes sense to me, as I've stepped away from thread muttering bad things about people and the comment they made, but realized that those things didn't belong on the site. And I really seems to me that that's the distinction the community here makes, generally. Do you believe otherwise?
posted by benito.strauss at 1:29 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are you kidding? "I am $SOMETHING" is self-identification. "I *believe* $SOMETHING" is your fucking opinion.

I believe. The Latin for that is "credo". As in the Nicene Creed: We Believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God....

Thousands have live and died for that belief. Would you take it from them, call it just an opinion?

It's not my belief, but I wouldn't take it from them by force. I'd find that immoral.

I believe. I believe they still move. Galileo said that, until he was forced to recant or burn as a heretic. Would you have threatened to burn him?

I believe. "...we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt." Martin Luther King Jr believed that, and in believing it made it true. But it was just a fucking opinion, so you'd take it from him?

I believe. Some people believe that despite their chromosomes and sex organs, they are in fact of the other gender. Is that just a fucking opinion? Would you take that from them, force them to proclaim publicly "no, no, I'm really the sex I was coercively assigned at birth"?

I mean, it's just their fucking opinion, right?

Are you kidding? "I am $SOMETHING" is self-identification. "I *believe* $SOMETHING" is your fucking opinion.

We are our beliefs. Our bodies change and whither, our opinions change, our light waxes then wanes, but we are our beliefs. Our beliefs are what make us, us.

Self identification and belief are one and the same.
posted by orthogonality at 1:29 PM on April 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


See, I believe that you can't force people to change their beliefs, and I believe that trying to force someone to change his beliefs, or even to publicly renounce his true beliefs for beliefs acceptable to those in power, is wrong[...]What might change their beliefs is interacting with you, and seeing that you just want to live your life, without forcing them to live according to your rules or your beliefs.

You know, when the whole "you can't force your beliefs on me so let me live my life no matter how fucked up it makes yours" BS comes up, it sounds like some folks just don't give a shit about other people or are just being contrary for the sake of it. You can't just come in and say that, if only those Negroes/trans*/gays/women/Muslims/etc weren't demanding they ought to have equal treatment and calling me a bigot because I resisted, I could possibly be convinced...and then expect to be taken seriously.

If you don't want to change your opinion of someone who's being shit upon just because they're not being nice to you, the problem is not on their end. It's the height of narcissism and in most cases a textbook case of intolerance.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:31 PM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


what the what
posted by agregoli at 1:31 PM on April 27, 2013


So, I must more weird than I originally thought, because I usually end up laughing SO HARD when my comments get deleted. It makes my day.

My process is: (laugh out loud) then think to myself "Ooooh! I GOT IN TROUBLE! I've been a BAD GIRL."

...On reflection maybe I have some kink issues to work out or something...
posted by roboton666 at 1:32 PM on April 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


We are our beliefs.

I disagree with this. We are our actions. I can never know what somebody believes, or how fully. They could be lying to me. They could be lying to themselves. Their beliefs can be justifications for actions after the fact. They can only be represented to the world outside through action; even speech is an action.

I don't want to police belief. People are free to think whatever they want and its no skin off my nose. However, how they act on those beliefs?

Well, if it affects me, I have some say in it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:33 PM on April 27, 2013 [11 favorites]


If you don't want to change your opinion of someone who's being shit upon just because they're not being nice to you, the problem is not on their end. It's the height of narcissism and in most cases a textbook case of intolerance.

But there's a lot of people who don't want to change their opinions of people being shit on, and we all disagree on who's being shit on, and whether or not they deserve it. I know I've felt shit on by you specifically because of my beliefs in an extremely personal fashion - would you consider that the height of narcissism and a textbook case of intolerance?
posted by corb at 1:35 PM on April 27, 2013


I'm terribly sorry , restless_nomad, but I fail to see how a single mouse-click and Java magic (username on/username off) could hamper mods to any significant degree.

The point of this exercise would be to garner data that could help dispel any accusations of mod bias. Id est, does any particular mod delete comments more often after having the knowledge of the poster's username, and if so, which username?

This idea is, perhaps, just as helpful for the mods as it is for the community.
posted by Zenabi at 1:35 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Self identification and belief are one and the same.

You are welcome to hold that opinion, but saying it like it's a fact is really weird.

I identify as a woman. Is that merely an opinion I hold, which you can try to argue me out of?
posted by rtha at 1:35 PM on April 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


But there's a lot of people who don't want to change their opinions of people being shit on, and we all disagree on who's being shit on, and whether or not they deserve it. I know I've felt shit on by you specifically because of my beliefs in an extremely personal fashion - would you consider that the height of narcissism and a textbook case of intolerance?

By "shit upon" I mean being an actively persecuted minority, not a disagreement on a web forum. Believing in expanding the 2nd Amendment or removing social safety nets or exclusively dynastic transfers of wealth does not fall under that category by any but the most paranoid mindsets.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:40 PM on April 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


I fail to see how a single mouse-click and Java magic (username on/username off) could hamper mods to any significant degree.

You might watch this video of Matt explaining some of their moderation philosophy and toolset that supports that philosophy. Maybe skip the first 8 minutes or so, but at about the 8 minute mark he starts to talk about how they remember our stories, they look for patterns, they keep notes, and so on. I'm skipping quite a bit, obviously, but my point is that the philosophy seems to be one of looking at things holistically/per person. So hiding the user names really makes that impossible.

I'm not sure I think it's right or wrong, but maybe it explains.
posted by Houstonian at 1:41 PM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


In fact, even if those were minorities, they're minorities who are succeeding wildly in the world at large, which is quite the opposite of persecution and being shit upon.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:42 PM on April 27, 2013


I WANT the mods to be able to see who we are. They are part of this community and they need to be able to keep up with who each username is and what they will say to one another just as much as, and in fact several times more than, the regular member does. Unless a mod is clicking through for the identity of most comments (which makes your system useless) you are asking for an interface that prevents the mods from knowing any of us. I think this is a truly terrible idea.
posted by onlyconnect at 1:44 PM on April 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


Zenabi: "The point of this exercise would be to garner data that could help dispel any accusations of mod bias."

This idea seems like it would be completely fruitless. Those who are capable of being convinced that the mods are evenhanded are generally already convinced. Those who are not convinced have shown no sign of coming around under any circumstance whatsoever. The whole thing would only serve as a capitulation to the interests of dissention and discord.

orthogonality: "Thousands have live and died for that belief. Would you take it from them, call it just an opinion?"

No, because religious belief and opinion are two different things. You are conflating them.

The general point is this: Metafilter is not a democracy. It's not a government at all. It shouldn't be a government; that would be strange and frankly unjust. Since it's not a government, it's entirely off base to say that anyone has fought for the right to express whatever opinion they want on Metafilter.

In fact, the imposition of a free-speech rubric on Metafilter actually runs entirely counter to the freedom of speech of mathowie and his staff. He owns this web site, and if he chooses, through the people he has hired, to forbid (for instance) hateful speech against transgender people, then even though that speech is legal under the US Constitution he is entirely within his rights to delete it forever from this website and to warn people that such comments will always be deleted.

Why can mathowie do that? Because he's based in the United States, and the Constitution of the United States gives people the freedom to control their own ventures and to limit voices which they themselves publish, voices which are thereby in a certain way an extension and representation of themselves.

On this foundation a community has been built, with a very useful and welcoming set of communal norms. One of those norms is that we don't do hateful speech against trans* people here. It's fine if a person wants to speak hatefully about trans* people; it's not nice, but in the US we have freedom of speech. But they can't do it here. And that's something I appreciate.

mathowie and his staff have also chosen to do something which I believe really fosters this community and makes it a healthier one: they are very open to feedback and input about how the site runs, and they listen attentively to any suggestions we have. They allow us users to have a pretty big hand in the shape this site takes. I think that's great. It does have this unfortunate side-effect, however: it often tends to encourage people to labor under the false perception that this website is some kind of absolute democratic republic where all must be allowed to speak their minds no matter what. That just isn't true; and as unsatisfying as it may seem, if people want to engage in hate speech, they can't do it here. The Internet is a big place and they're free to go elsewhere to do it.
posted by koeselitz at 1:49 PM on April 27, 2013 [17 favorites]


This was a poor deletion by the mod who has, in my subjective opinion, a history of contentious deletions from almost his/her first day with mod powers.

No, it's more like there's a small clique of malcontents who've gotten a hate-on for taz for reasons best known to themselves, with a slightly larger group of neverdowells who use any deletion thread to complain how Metafilter is going to the dogs. Their opinions are not representative from how well taz actually does her job -- certainly in my personal experience she has been going above and beyond the call of duty explaining why something got deleted.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:49 PM on April 27, 2013 [37 favorites]


The point of this exercise would be to garner data that could help dispel any accusations of mod bias.

It wouldn't work; those who have decided the mods are evil won't be convinced. And it would hamper actually modding, as a minute thought would make clear. Context matters and every user's personal history on the site is part of that context. Other posters judge what say not just on that one particular comment you've just posted, but also on what they know of your history previous to it. They will respond accordingly and what might be a minor issue coming from one poster, might inflame a thread when coming from another.

So if the mods don't see who posted, either the mods don't delete that comment and the thread degenerates into a flamewar or they pre-emptively delete everything that might be problematic...
posted by MartinWisse at 1:56 PM on April 27, 2013


I think it's nuts to say the place has gone off the rails. This is one of the most strictly moderated places I visit on the internet, and also one of the best, and I don't see that as a coincidence.

Remember when Metafilter described itself as "self policing"? If that's something that drew you to the site, then I could see why you'd think the community has gone "off the rails" over the last few years.

The Metafilter that Malor joined was quite different than the Metafilter of today.
posted by ryanrs at 1:57 PM on April 27, 2013 [20 favorites]


One of those norms is that we don't do hateful speech against trans* people here. It's fine if a person wants to speak hatefully about trans* people; it's not nice, but in the US we have freedom of speech. But they can't do it here. And that's something I appreciate.

If that were the stated standard of the mods, that would be one thing. But the thing is, they haven't done it. They have said we don't do hateful speech, period. And honestly, that is not always well enforced. There are certain people it's clear it is okay to do hateful speech against. Some of them are individuals - like Tanizaki. Some are belief systems (see zombieflanders above).

And that uneven enforcement is what some people (including myself) have a problem with. Not because Matt can't do what he wants with his community - of course he can! But because the stated standards are not being adhered to.

And it comes out in things like this, where an answer that would have been fine on any other subject, isn't okay in a subject that relates to trans issues. And so there's a lot of rigamarole used to justify it - you didn't say mother-may-I, it wasn't sympathetic, etc. And people are rightfully pointing out that if any of these were to be strictly enforced, it would really change the character of AskMe. Because those stated reasons don't appear to be the real reason. The real reason appears to be that there is a higher standard for trans-related threads, and since Tanizaki is perceived to not be sympathetic on trans issues (whether real or not, I actually can't remember what he said that was deleted on previous threads), mods didn't want him bringing his viewpoints to the thread.

I get that - but I don't get why they're not just being upfront about that. As someone upthread said, if there are areas that are special, they should be identified publicly, and not just in these threads - somewhere where people who don't dive through superthick MeTas can see it.
posted by corb at 1:57 PM on April 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


Self-policing means (to me) that I can flag stuff, I can tell someone in a thread that I disagree with something and they're off-base, that I can open a meTa, that I can use the contact form.

Self-policing is not solely "Let 'em fight about every goddamn thing in whatever thread they feel like fighting about." That is a definition that many people here seem to adhere to. I don't think it's a useful or accurate one.
posted by rtha at 1:59 PM on April 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


I identify as a woman. Is that merely an opinion I hold, which you can try to argue me out of?

Okay, so you believe you're a woman. Your "woman-ness" your female identity, forms a (the?) core of your world view, your personality, is the prism through which you evaluate the world, yes?

How is that not a core belief, a credo?

You seem to be arguing that no one could argue you out of that belief, and that no one should try.

Does that not make you feel that you should extend that same credence to others' beliefs, even if those beliefs are not in congruence with your own?

You feel oppressed by a society that dies not accept your transgenderism, but you want a society in which you can opress those whose views on transgenderism don't match yours?

Don't you see that that just means the tyranny of whatever group happens to hold transitory power? Where's the safety in that? How is that different from a German prince determine his subject's beliefs? How secure are you when the next prince, with potentially different beliefs, inherits power?

Only by upholding liberty of conscience for all can any minority be safe.
posted by orthogonality at 2:01 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Metafilter that Malor joined was quite different than the Metafilter of today.

Yeah. It's a lot more civil now. I'm also a lot more civil, or, at least, I try to be. I wanted to participate in this community with a lot less sarcasm, bad faith, name calling, and bellyaching. I still manage to say what I mean.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:02 PM on April 27, 2013 [13 favorites]


I think as a whole mefi contributors need calm down about their comments being deleted.

As I read these threads, it appears to me that people care more about their comments than the feelings of other human beings.
posted by roboton666 at 2:02 PM on April 27, 2013 [32 favorites]


Only by upholding liberty of conscience for all can any minority be safe.

This is a marvelous notion and I am unclear as to how it relates to this discussion.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:04 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


You feel oppressed by a society that dies not accept your transgenderism, but you want a society in which you can opress those whose views on transgenderism don't match yours?

Who the fuck is this "you" you keep talking to? Is it me, specifically? Is it anyone in this thread who has expressed a view about how we should talk to/about trans* people?

To be crystal fucking clear: I do not want a society in which I can oppress anybody. I want a MetaFilter in which it is not okay to tell trans* people right there in the thread that only people with the correct genitals can be allowed to call themselves male or female. For instance.

I want a MetaFilter in which it is not okay to call other users faggots or assholes. Does that mean I want to oppress them? To me, it means they don't get to use that language or express those views here. The founder of this site also seems to be of this belief re: namecalling and the like. So I guess if that's advocating for an oppressive society, take it up with Matt.
posted by rtha at 2:10 PM on April 27, 2013 [34 favorites]


This is a marvelous notion and I am unclear as to how it relates to this discussion.

That's glib, willfully obtuse, it panders to the crowd, it calls attention to your intentionally showy self-created public image, and it in no way advances the discussion.

So succinct, and in so many ways the quintessential Bunny Ultramod comment. Congratulations, man!
posted by orthogonality at 2:10 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Let me just be the umpteenth person to say that, while I usually agree with the deletions that come up in MeTa, this one did seem wrong to me, and still does after reading all the mod explanations so far.

And nathancaswell raised a question way upthread that I'm curious about too. When's the last time there was a MeTa that did result in a mea culpa from the mods and a deletion being reversed? Because if that actually happens occasionally, even if it's like once a year, I think it would put these kinds of threads in a different light.
posted by pete_22 at 2:10 PM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


corb: "And it comes out in things like this, where an answer that would have been fine on any other subject, isn't okay in a subject that relates to trans issues."

For the record: I don't think there's much disagreement in this thread except on this one point, which those who disagree with the deletion seem to be assuming is self-evident. I think all of us agree that a good comment from a crappy user shouldn't be deleted. I think all of us at least kind of agree that a civil answer on a contentious subject should generally not be deleted.

The disagreement is here: there are a lot of us who think Tanizaki's comment wasn't a good comment, wasn't civil, and would have been deletion-worthy no matter what the subject. We base this on a lot of things. I think (she may correct me if she wishes) that taz originally deleted the comment because it seemed combative and contemptuous. A ton of people have come in here to say that they disagreed with that reading. That's fine, but at the same time, quietly, Tanizaki has stated in no uncertain terms that he knew very well that people would be hurt by his comment before he made it, that he anticipated that people would take it the "wrong" way, they he had already observed that a comment like his would make people emotional and upset. On balance, and with a review of the evidence, it's pretty clear that taz was right; not only was the comment combative and contemptuous, but it was apparently intended to be combative and contemptuous.

So it seems to me that a discussion of whether comments should be deleted solely on the basis of the thread subject and the poster's name, instead of on the basis of their content, is beside the point. The content of this comment was bad.
posted by koeselitz at 2:11 PM on April 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


I for one am glad this thread remained open as my opinion has changed from "bad deletion" to "the mods have their hands full even more than I imagined and deserve some benefit of the doubt."
posted by brain_drain at 2:12 PM on April 27, 2013 [11 favorites]


If that were the stated standard of the mods, that would be one thing. But the thing is, they haven't done it. They have said we don't do hateful speech, period. And honestly, that is not always well enforced. There are certain people it's clear it is okay to do hateful speech against. Some of them are individuals - like Tanizaki. Some are belief systems (see zombieflanders above).

Tell me, corb, how often has a MeFite said that you not wanting non-military folks to have the same extended voting rights as the military meant that you shouldn't be able to vote? Or told you that you wanting expanded religious exemptions for not serving gays meant that you shouldn't get married? Or that you owning a gun or guns meant you shouldn't have access to certain types of health care? Or that your (IMO) overblown concern over a trans* person sharing a bathroom with you meant that you deserved to sit at a different table and eat different food then them? Or that just because you don't like taxes or governments supporting the most downtrodden in society that you yourself deserved no charity?

Please, describe the "hateful" speech here that isn't merely disagreement, sometimes strongly worded, that you have no freedom from. Because otherwise your concept of "hateful speech" has been defined down so low as to be fairly useless.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:13 PM on April 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


I agree. Do you agree that we should respect the self-identification of people who believe that transsexuality is wrong or fake or should be outlawed?

You can respect the right of someone to hold a belief without wanting to permit them to speak it in the context of a site like Metafilter. You have to balance your priorities, and I much prefer to accommodate transgender folks here even if the expense is losing voices that do not respect transgender individuals.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:14 PM on April 27, 2013 [19 favorites]


That's glib, willfully obtuse, it panders to the crowd, it calls attention to your intentionally showy self-created public image, and it in no way advances the discussion.

Actually, I was legitimately asking for more of an explanation. Sheesh. Welcome back, though.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:14 PM on April 27, 2013


I usually end up laughing SO HARD when my comments get deleted. ... My process is: (laugh out loud) then think to myself "Ooooh! I GOT IN TROUBLE! I've been a BAD GIRL."

...On reflection maybe I have some kink issues to work out or something...


So now I've got this freaky image of "MeFi cosplay + Rule 34" running through my head:

You're at your laptop. A (bespectacled man on a racing bike/Vermont-y woman with a card catalog - choose one) comes in. "I don't like the bad faith nature of your comments. I think you've been trolling, haven't you? You're going to get flagged, you are. Or maybe I should favorite you instead? What's it going to be? Let me check your Recent Activity."

Christ, I need a drink. Have fun, folks.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:15 PM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


orthogonality: "That's glib, willfully obtuse, it panders to the crowd, it calls attention to your intentionally showy self-created public image, and it in no way advances the discussion. So succinct, and in so many ways the epitome of a Bunny Ultramod comment. Congratulations, man!"

I think what Bunny Ultramod was getting at is the fact that moderators on Metafilter absolutely do not have any authority or ability to restrict or to leave free any "liberty of conscience," and as such it's kind of odd to ascribe that power to them or to bring it up in a discussion about moderation of a web site. I suspect that if you offered any of them such a ridiculously broad power, they would refuse it in a heartbeat. Nobody's liberty of conscience has ever been restricted by Metafilter.
posted by koeselitz at 2:16 PM on April 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


MetaFilter: the conversation could have been closed down about 600 comments ago and everyone would have been better off.
posted by mazola at 2:19 PM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Self-policing means (to me) that I can flag stuff, I can tell someone in a thread that I disagree with something and they're off-base, that I can open a meTa, that I can use the contact form.

Historically that's not what "self-policing" has meant on Metafilter. Flagging a comment or using the contact form is more like calling the police.
posted by ryanrs at 2:20 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


When's the last time there was a MeTa that did result in a mea culpa from the mods and a deletion being reversed?

Actual reversals are relatively rare, just because of the way the site is set up. By the time a MeTa is in full swing, it's usually too late to reinstate a deleted comment - the thread has moved long past it and it makes more sense to re-post it. Thread deletion reversals happen occasionally - it's much more common, I think, to have that happen without a MeTa though. I'm poking around the admin logs trying to figure out an easy way to spot them, although of course this one of mine sticks out in my memory.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:20 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Only by upholding liberty of conscience for all can any minority be safe.

liberty of conscience is a private matter unless you choose to make it public - with your own resources, you have the right to express that liberty as you choose - with someone else's, it's up to them
posted by pyramid termite at 2:24 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes, self-policing used to mean dragging someone by the ears into MetaTalk whereupon both the person being dragged and the person doing the dragging were roundly spanked and humiliated to the cheers of the madding crowd. Okay it wasn't that awful every time but it often was really awful. To me, anyway. I think the mods deleting comments before they get MetaTalked is a far preferable system. Ymmv, as evidenced by this thread.
posted by onlyconnect at 2:24 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Self-policing and the img tag are inexorably linked. You simply cannot have one without the other.
posted by found missing at 2:26 PM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


moderators on Metafilter absolutely do not have any authority or ability to restrict or to leave free any "liberty of conscience,"

Thank you for explicating that sincerely and without glibness.

Ok, so, let me ask you this: a user believes that eating meat is always wrong.

Should he be permitted to say that here?

I'd agree that he shouldn't be allowed to say "koeselitz is a bad person because he eats meat", but he can say, "I believe meat eating is always wrong"?

Yes or no?

A user believes that abortion is always wrong. Should she be permitted to say that here, if she's not personally attacking anyone for having an abortion?

Yes or no?

A user believes that people are always their genetic sex. Should that user be permitted to say that here?

Yes or no?

My point is, saying those things may make people who fervently dis-believe those things uncomfortable.

But they are that user's sincere beliefs. Is that user allowed to state his sincere beliefs, or must he hide them?

Must he pretend to be something other than he is, must he pretend to beliefs that are not in fact his beliefs, in order to remain here?

Must he be dishonest to himself to be part of this community?
posted by orthogonality at 2:32 PM on April 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


Benito.Strauss:

Um. Okay, I'm not going to lie, that scenario is making me blush a little.
posted by roboton666 at 2:34 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, self-policing used to mean dragging someone by the ears into MetaTalk whereupon both the person being dragged and the person doing the dragging were roundly spanked and humiliated to the cheers of the madding crowd.

Oh. There are private basement clubs in Birmingham where people allegedly pay large amounts of money for that kind of, um, "pleasure". And you get it on MetaFilter for free?! Thank you Matt!
posted by Wordshore at 2:35 PM on April 27, 2013


And you get it on MetaFilter for free?!

No, it's five dollars, same as in town.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:36 PM on April 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


Grump, it looks like while comments are clearly marked "undeleted," (and that happens all. the. time, pretty much invisibly, as we change our minds or misclick) posts that are undeleted show up as "edited." Which is not a useful search term. So I'll have to think of another way to approach it.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:36 PM on April 27, 2013


I'm not saying Metafilter was better back then than it is now. But if you were looking for a place with intelligent conversation that was also pretty rough and tumble, then the old Metafilter fit bill. It was a bit like Usenet in that regard. I can definitely see why some people miss it.
posted by ryanrs at 2:36 PM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


ryanrs: "Historically that's not what 'self-policing' has meant on Metafilter. Flagging a comment or using the contact form is more like calling the police."

This is true; but in fact I think the "self-policing" you mean for would actually limit the community and the input it has into how Metafilter works.

I mean, yeah - I've been here almost ten years now. Once upon a time it was kosher for me to post an utterly jokey question on Ask about Geddy Lee. Why is that not kosher anymore? For a number of reasons, but I think primarily because the Metafilter community came together a lot in those early years of Ask and hashed out what exactly we like about it and how we feel like it should run. These decisions ultimately rested with mathowie, but we had a part in them; we argued over them and thought over them and considered and reconsidered. And some very helpful and thoughtful people (it was primarily jessamyn doing Ask back then, I think) helped mold it to a subsite that matched the community standards and made sense. That was a fine achievement, I think.

Yes, in a simplistic sense, this means that Ask is "less self-policing." But it's only less self-policing in the sense that we as a community have had discussions about how we'd like things to go there and have entrusted those norms to the moderators who help uphold them.

In the same sense, yes, we are much more sensitive today to gender issues, to feminist issues, to trans* issues, than we were a few years ago. More comments will be deleted because of that. But why is that? It didn't happen in a vacuum; it wasn't any unilateral decision by the stff of this website, much to their credit. It happened because we had a large number of in-depth conversations about what these things mean, we hashed these things out at length and spent time thinking about what sexism and gender phobia and homophobia and racism and all those other things are in the context of a community web log. And we asked for new flagging categories, which we were given; we asked for closer moderation on certain issues, and that's what we got.

I appreciate that it does seem, to those of us who've been around for a while, that things are more restrictive now than they were. It's true; things are a bit more restrictive now. But the restrictions are there for a reason - and to simply jettison them and go back to a model where you and I have to argue endlessly with whoever stumbles into a thread and says something hateful would be to jettison the very real community decisions we have made surrounding these issues.

We've moved forward. All of us; this wasn't the mods making a change, it was Metafilter as a community. Moving backwards now would mean ignoring the progress this community has made.
posted by koeselitz at 2:37 PM on April 27, 2013 [15 favorites]


orthogonality: Ok, so, let me ask you this: a user believes that eating meat is always wrong. Should he be permitted to say that here? I'd agree that he shouldn't be allowed to say "koeselitz is a bad person because he eats meat", but he can say, "I believe meat eating is always wrong"? Yes or no? A user believes that abortion is always wrong. Should she be permitted to day that here, if she's not personally attacking anyone for having an abotion? Yes or no? A user believes that people are always their genetic sex. Should that user be permitted to say that here? Yes or no?

My point is, saying those thing may make people who fervently dis-believe those things uncomfortable.


You have conflated belief that an *action* is wrong (eating meat, having an abortion) with belief that some people's identities *don't exist*. There is no way that you can't see this.
posted by tzikeh at 2:39 PM on April 27, 2013 [11 favorites]


In ask.metafilter, when someone asks "What's the best way to cook my steak?", a post that says "I believe eating meat is always wrong" will likely get deleted.
posted by nightwood at 2:39 PM on April 27, 2013 [25 favorites]


You may fool all the people some of the time; ... some of the people all the time; but you can't fool all of the people all the time. --attributed to Abraham Lincoln but it might be apocryphal.

1.) The original poster has set off quite the shitstorm. This may be unfair, but in my opinion (!) it is likely this was purely intentional.

2.) Nevertheless, dredging their comment history for dirt is a low blow and I would argue it deserves to be classified as an escalation. Of course you could go even lower but I ain't going to give anybody any ideas.

3.) Anybody jumping on a perceived bandwagon here to air modding grudges is not helping their case. I'm sure there is a bettter way. One idea is you could start a subreddit metafilter_moderators_suck and you can knock yourself out with people who agree with you!
posted by bukvich at 2:41 PM on April 27, 2013


Must he pretend to be something other than he is, must he pretend to beliefs that are not in fact his beliefs, in order to remain here?

he can choose not to participate in those discussions - and that's not pretending anything, as we all choose not to participate in discussions on a daily basis here and nothing should be inferred by our lack of participation in them
posted by pyramid termite at 2:44 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


You have conflated belief that an *action* is wrong (eating meat, having an abortion) with belief that some people *don't exist*.

Someone saying that a transsexual persons is their coercively assigned sex at birth doesn't mean she believes they don't exist, it means that she doesn't believe they are the gender they claim (or identity as).

I understand that for you that may be as bad or worse than not existing, but it not equivalent.

If I say that a platypus is not a mammal (in fact, it is a mammal), the platypus still exists.

But ok, you want an action. Let's give you an action.

Eating meat is wrong. I can say that or not?

Geting an abortion is wrong. I can say that or not?

Getting sex reassignment surgery is wrong. I can say that or not?
posted by orthogonality at 2:49 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Must he pretend to be something other than he is, must he pretend to beliefs that are not in fact his beliefs, in order to remain here?

What on earth does that have to do with this deletion? It wasn't deleted because of what Tanizaki believed, it was deleted because of how he phrased it. I mean, taz said so explicately, Matt voiced his agreement, Lobstermitten noted some ways he might be coming across differently then intended. Just check out this comment by cortex, it's pretty much an open invitation to contact them and work out way to phrase the answer that won't get deleted. I don't think any of the mods has said "you can't express the view that there's nothing the parents could do."

So yeah, the whole idea that people are being told they can't believe certain things if they want to post on Metafilter is a bit of a red herring.
posted by Gygesringtone at 2:50 PM on April 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


orthogonality: "A user believes that people are always their genetic sex. Should that user be permitted to say that here? Yes or no? My point is, saying those things may make people who fervently dis-believe those things uncomfortable. But they are that user's sincere beliefs. Is that user allowed to state his sincere beliefs, or must he hide them? Must he pretend to be something other than he is, must he pretend to beliefs that are not in fact his beliefs, in order to remain here? Must he be dishonest to himself to be part of this community?"

I don't ascribe to the notion that expressing sincere beliefs is always harmless.

Regardless: yeah. If it's someone's sincere belief that gay people are going to hell, it's reasonable for us to ask that he not sit around in a thread telling gay people that they're going to hell. That is okay with me. If that means we're asking him to be dishonest, that's okay. He can choose to be dishonest and stay here; or he can go elsewhere on the Internet if he doesn't like that deal. In general, if "being honest" requires a person to engage in hateful speech, then yes: I am okay with Metafilter asking him (or her) either to be dishonest or to speak freely elsewhere.

Now - I suspect you know this, but the examples you gave aren't really examples of hateful speech. They aren't insults targeted at a person or group of people. They could easily become insults - there are many ways to turn the belief that "people are always their genetic sex" into something insulting - but that belief as it is isn't necessarily an insult in itself.

This is the difficult line the mods walk: they have to gauge constantly whether a difficult opinion crosses over into hateful speech. I don't envy them that job, and I respect the quality of their decisions. And in cases where a person's belief cannot be stated without hateful speech, I think they are correct to demand that that person either be "dishonest" or be honest elsewhere.
posted by koeselitz at 2:53 PM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


It wasn't deleted because of what Tanizaki believed, it was deleted because of how he phrased it.

tone argument ftw
posted by Sys Rq at 2:53 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thousands have live and died for that belief. Would you take it from them, call it just an opinion?

It's not my belief, but I wouldn't take it from them by force. I'd find that immoral.

I believe. I believe they still move. Galileo said that, until he was forced to recant or burn as a heretic. Would you have threatened to burn him?


I feel like we may be wandering off the point, here. I don't know if comparing deleting a post to Ask Metafilter to burning Catholics/Protestants is going to do much more than

(Sunglasses)

raise the temperature.

(Opening bars of "Won't Get Fooled Again".)
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:56 PM on April 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


orthogonality: "I can say that or not?"

It seems like you're trying to imply that there's no way to draw a distinction between hate speech and other forms of speech. Do you really believe that? I mean: is it really so impossible to delineate what it looks like when a statement is an insult to a person or a class of people?
posted by koeselitz at 2:58 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


But, what's the point of the rest of your post then? Because I've spent quite a bit of time in various online communities, and people who say stuff like the entire first part of your post tend to not feel the second way sincerely at all. It's more of a "I think this group is getting unfair kid gloves treatment and being allowed to win any conflict. And that upsets my inner kid, who remembers hating this kind of unfairness when I was young".


I guess my point is-while we are rightfully being kind to people who identify as transsexual, for example (because yes, that is a complicated issue and we are indeed talking about people's identities) I think sometimes that same kindness is not extended to people with other types of minority opinions. And as other posters have said, with more eloquence than me, comments on one side of an ideological fence seem to be pruned with way more vigor than those on the other. And by the way, it has always been my belief that this would be a better place if people felt safe to express -kindly-the full range of opinions and beliefs on a topic. But as things stand now, that would be very hard to impossible to do.

But I will say I think it is less impossible than it used to be, fwiw.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:58 PM on April 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


Sys Rq: tone argument ftw

No. "How he phrased it" refers to how Tanizaki presented his answer as inarguable fact--he is right, no one else's thoughts are worth sharing, might as well close it down. That is not even close to "the tone argument."
posted by tzikeh at 2:58 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


You can't phrase beliefs that negate someone's identity in a way that's kindly.
posted by agregoli at 3:01 PM on April 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


Now - I suspect you know this, but the examples you gave aren't really examples of hateful speech

Of course I know this :)

I carefully constructed the argument to say the person expresses his belief without personally attacking anyone.

I wrote:
> I'd agree that he shouldn't be allowed to say "koeselitz is a bad person because he eats meat", but he can say, "I believe meat eating is always wrong"?
> A user believes that abortion is always wrong. Should she be permitted to say that here, if she's not personally attacking anyone for having an abortion?


Wake up man! Get with it. ;) ;)

I injured my eye yesterday, I've been reading and typing all this blind in one eye for hours! I can barely see the type anymore, and I have it at 400% zoom!

Don't let me down man. Read my argument, and bring yours! We can do this!
posted by orthogonality at 3:03 PM on April 27, 2013


I think "be nicer" is a tone argument, but really all the decisions have already been made. It was deleted, it's not being reinstated, and the reasons for deletions have not changed. All this talk is really just talk.
posted by Houstonian at 3:04 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just thought of an example that might be a bit less charged...in the past, back when I needed to take medication on a daily basis for a biochemical imbalance, we would have threads where someone might pop in and say just how evil psych meds were and no one should take them. Which heck yes, I argued back vigorously. And fwiw I had to deal with a few ignorant Christians who thought meds for depression were always wrong and showed a lack of faith or all I needed was deliverance ministry, etc.

But it would not have been right to delete those posts by the antimed crowd. As much as it was a pain in the posterior, I still felt I was strong enough to argue back and give as good as I got because I KNEW who I was and it didn't matter what they thought.

Now when it comes to areas such as sexuality or abortion or matters of faith, things get a whole lot more charged on both sides, I understand that. But both here and in the real world I think we would all benefit if we could at least listen to each other and understand each other's views whether or not we ever could or would change our own. Because it is then we learn to treat others as human beings and not as The Other.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:06 PM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


"How he phrased it" refers to how Tanizaki presented his answer as inarguable fact...

I took it as the Tanizaki's opinion and perspective. Nothing more and nothing less. From the length of this thread it's obvious that different people take things very, and in some cases, extremely differently. The statement is really no different than many others on this site.
posted by juiceCake at 3:06 PM on April 27, 2013


But it's good that Taz deleted that comment. A real good thing.

And tomorrow… tomorrow's deletion thread's gonna be a… a real good deletion thread!
posted by Pinback at 3:07 PM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Apparently you can say those hateful things, or at least write them. Do you want to? Should you? What would the value of the hypothetical comments be to the community within the actual conversation in context? It is impossible for us to judge them in abstract isolation. Why should we have to read some stupid, hateful comment that delivers no value to the conversation or question at hand?
posted by humanfont at 3:07 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


All this talk is really just talk.

Fairly common on MetaTalk.
posted by juiceCake at 3:08 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think we should all treat each other nicely. I'm also comfortable with bigoted comments being "The Other" on Metafilter, and banished as such.
posted by agregoli at 3:08 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


BANISH THEM UNTO MY ELDRITCH SQL TABLES THAT I MIGHT GROW STRONGER
posted by Vowelzebub at 3:11 PM on April 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


orthogonality: "Don't let me down man. Read my argument, and bring yours! We can do this!"

Okay. We're still not talking at all about liberty of conscience in any way whatsoever. We're talking about whether comments get deleted on a web site. The fact that there is some discussion about which comments on the web site should get deleted and which should not does not indicate that this is about liberty of conscience. The fact that a person might need to be dishonest to prevent her or his comments from being deleted here does not indicate that this is about liberty or conscience. If I write a letter to the editor of the New York Times that's honest about my views of a few of their editorial staff, it will never get published; that is not a crisis of my liberty of conscience. It's just an editorial decision. If the New York Times is important to me, I may take their editorial decisions very seriously, but that still doesn't make them issues of my liberty of conscience.
posted by koeselitz at 3:16 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


tone argument ftw

Except that nobody's trying to silence any particular view. The mods are trying to run askme in a way where the most useful answers are posted with as few flame wars as possible. To that end, when figuring out which answers are likely to derail the conversation, they SHOULD take tone into consideration.

Especially since the people whose answers are deleted have the option of contacting the mods and working out an answer that would stay up.
posted by Gygesringtone at 3:17 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


So we just lost another valuable and prolific member (Skeptic left 2 months ago after a flameout, also on trans issues). I tend to think that the core issue here is one of scalability. The discussion model (one thread, one rail) that worked so well when MeFi was a relatively small community, and which is actually the reason why conversations here are much better than the usual (threaded) cesspools seen in other online communities, well, this model may not work with the current number of users. There are just too many people competing for a 1-dimension space (vs the fractal nature of threaded discussions) that has not changed since the creation of the site. It requires a lot of mod power to keep discussions on rail and prevent them from devolving in shitstorms. Indeed, the preemptive pruning of sensitive FPPs and disruptive comments is probably the only way to keep things manageable. If Tanizaki's comment had remained, we would probably have a 1000-comment long MeTa about why it was allowed to stay.
However, I can't imagine that this can be sustainable in the long term. We've had a number of MeTas about words and behaviours that members found offensive to them: in some cases the understanding of the offensiveness required not just "not being an asshole" but some serious knowledge in anthropology, linguistics, gender studies, minority studies, American social mores etc. A smaller community may be able to abide by this kind of evolving code but it's just not scalable, at least if we want to keep the community somehow diverse. More members = more potentially disruptive stuff = more potentially offended members = more preemptive mod action = more GRAR from everyone involved. Not optimistic.
posted by elgilito at 3:19 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let me amend that: nobody with the power to do anything about it on Metafilter is trying to silence any particular view.
posted by Gygesringtone at 3:19 PM on April 27, 2013


I know people have differing ideas about what is and isn't bigoted speech, and what should and shouldn't have a place on MetaFilter. I personally find a good yardstick for making these sorts of decisions to be looking at the relative social power of the groups of people being addressed.

There are people who are actually persecuted by the way our social structure is set up. Visible minorities, people living in poverty, people with disabilities, people who do not conform to heteronormativity or a binary gender structure, and yes, women, are often marginalized and harmed in real ways by their lack of social power. In those instances, I think it's important that we as a community don't contribute additionally to the burden they already have to shoulder.

That's not to say that I don't think we should be kind to everyone. I think we should extend courtesy in our speech as much as we can to everyone we speak to. But I think it's important to keep in mind what the offline realities of the people we're addressing are.

Someone who is trans* goes through so much utter bullshit and explicit systemic discrimination on a daily basis. When they come on Metafilter and are told their gender identity is not valid, that's an added wound from a society that already does not welcome them. On the other hand, telling someone transphobic that they are not allowed to express the viewpoint, on Metafilter, that trans* is a choice/imaginary, does not oppress or contribute to the oppression of that transphobic individual. They don't get beaten up for going to the bathroom. They are not the butt of jokes or slurred on major sitcoms. Context matters.
posted by Phire at 3:23 PM on April 27, 2013 [35 favorites]


if deletions are never undeleted, why do the mods even allow these kinds of threads in the first place?

I have seen deletions undeleted. I have seen entire threads reappear.

posted by Wordshore at 3:23 PM on April 27, 2013


I want a MetaFilter in which it is not okay to call other users faggots or assholes.

Ok I was with you up to here. I absolutely think that no one should be allowed to call someone a slur, ever.

But assholes? I don't want this to become some kind of thing where you have to tiptoe around someone being a fucking prick and go "I think you're being disingenuous/not all that nice/etc". Sometimes someone is being an asshole, and that needs to be said.

I mean on here id expect "and this is the way and reasons which you're being a bag of dicks" down below that, but this shouldn't be some gold standard of "and no one is ever allowed to angrily call someone out in this specific way" because that's fucking weird, and would frankly allow well, assholes, to feel protected.

I don't even know how we've reached this point in the discussion though. And Jesus, is this thread a mess now.
posted by emptythought at 3:49 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


No, it's more like there's a small clique of malcontents who've gotten a hate-on for taz for reasons best known to themselves, with a slightly larger group of neverdowells who use any deletion thread to complain how Metafilter is going to the dogs.

I agree with you, Martin, regarding the existence of these groups - and the relative merits of their arguments - but I disagree that such a characterisation captures the heterogenous nature of the discussion in this thread, in particular.

When they come on Metafilter and are told their gender identity is not valid, that's an added wound from a society that already does not welcome them.

I totally agree with your broader point, Phire, but I still don't really feel that Tanizaki's original comment would fall under the above descriptor - at least not without a fairly broad ascription of motive/past history etc, and I personally find the whole comment trawling business as evinced in this thread distasteful to the max, so am reluctant to engage in it with any commenter.
posted by smoke at 3:53 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Do you agree that we should respect the self-identification of people who believe that transsexuality is wrong or fake or should be outlawed?

In some ways it's of course a good thing that bigots now try to cloak themselves with social justice language, but that still doesn't mean there's a right to be a bigot, nor are you oppressed if people call you out as a bigot.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:56 PM on April 27, 2013 [14 favorites]


The smallest clique here are the ones who believe that nobody really thinks this is a bad deletion except for a couple people.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:58 PM on April 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


I disagree that such a characterisation captures the heterogenous nature of the discussion in this thread, in particular.

Well, yes and no. I was only commenting on the usual "let's moan about taz" pile-on, rather than the thread in general, but I'm not too impressed with the arguments coming from the camp that thought the original deletion was wrong either.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:59 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


So we just lost another valuable and prolific member

Yeah, but apparantly we got another one back, so erm, it all comes out in the wash.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:03 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm about a quarter inch from bailing myself.
posted by roboton666 at 4:04 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Phire's last comment nailed it for me.

I tried writing a response to the comment that went on about "fighting wars over this. Ireland had anti-Catholic laws in the 1920s. Telling people what to believe makes them hate you!", but I was physically unable to draw the words together to explain how weird I found it. Seriously, it read like something out of a mirror universe. "Ireland had anti-Catholic laws in the 1920s, we must preserve the right of Protestants to explain why Catholics are subhuman!!"

Ugh.
posted by knapah at 4:06 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


So we just lost another valuable and prolific member

Who?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:08 PM on April 27, 2013


orthogonality,

By reading your comments, it seems to me that you want SO BADLY for this place to be a place where you can freely tell trans* people that there is something seriously wrong with them. Why?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 4:10 PM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think elgilito was referring to Malor, though most recently roboton666 has also just left.
posted by onlyconnect at 4:12 PM on April 27, 2013


I've read metafilter for over a decade and agree that more hands-on moderation makes today's site better, esp. given the larger user base.

What's troubling is that even obvious downsides aren't acknowledged (e.g., this deletion), and I don't think that bodes well for ensuring active moderation remains a net positive.
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 4:14 PM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Is this an obvious downside? I mean Tanazaki could have sent a contact form email to the mods, who would have said "You phrased this too absolutely, you're welcome to repost it with this clarification/amendment". It could then have been reposted and we could have been spared this nightmare of a thread.
posted by knapah at 4:16 PM on April 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


knapah, I totally agree.
posted by onlyconnect at 4:18 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


It could then have been reposted and we could have been spared this nightmare of a thread.

No is forcing anyone to read or participate in this thread. The only people who absolutely have to read it are the staff.

If this thread is so horrible or such a nightmare, walk away, there's plenty of other threads on this site, tons to do on the web and shit ton of things to do in real life.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:18 PM on April 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


I think it has been a bad thread because as a direct result of it two users, one in favor of less moderation and one in favor of more, chose to disable their accounts. Nothing to do about it really, but to me it is not the optimal result of a MetaTalk thread.
posted by onlyconnect at 4:23 PM on April 27, 2013


>It could then have been reposted and we could have been spared this nightmare of a thread.

No is forcing anyone to read or participate in this thread. The only people who absolutely have to read it are the staff.

If this thread is so horrible or such a nightmare, walk away, there's plenty of other threads on this site, tons to do on the web and shit ton of things to do in real life.


This feels very much like a willful misreading of the comment. Is the site really better for the (now) 898 comments in this thread? It's not like we've resolved anything. Some people think Taz is a lousy mod for reasons unknown to me. Some people think there are way too many deletions. Some people think they have a god given right to be transphobes and we're all obliged to not object to their crap. Some people think the previous group are jerks (and they're right, btw).
posted by hoyland at 4:24 PM on April 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


They are not the butt of jokes or slurred on major sitcoms.

Except that's not actually true, that conservative/religious/what have you voices are not the butt of jokes/slurred on major sitcoms.

Gun owners - Robyn on How I Met Your Mother is viewed as a freak for having a gun in her bedroom.

Suburban dwellers - pretty much every major sitcom set in a city.

Jon Stewart/Colbert get a lot of good digs in.

Minority views are made fun of, pretty much the world 'round. I don't think that the world is better for some of the people making fun of minority views being other minorities.

Maybe we could, in fact, just all be decent to each other.
posted by corb at 4:27 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ok, slight hyperbole. I'm just suggesting that it wasn't exactly necessary, and even if someone thinks its necessary so that various issues get an airing, they're not being discussed in a particularly productive manner.

A thread that said, "I recently got a comment deleted from an AskMe post in what I consider to have been an overzealous act by the moderators. I think we should have a discussion about site moderation" would actually have a point to it. Asking questions about why specific comments have been deleted should be kept to the contact form.
posted by knapah at 4:27 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The shit that went down in the Coy Mathis thread alone shows that the moderation here "remains a net positive."
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:27 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Threads like this make it abundantly clear that my personal values are not in sync with quite a few members.
posted by zarq at 4:28 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: "Who?"

Malor.
posted by koeselitz at 4:28 PM on April 27, 2013


Except that's not actually true, that conservative/religious/what have you voices are not the butt of jokes/slurred on major sitcoms.

Okay, try this on for size. How many Christians were killed in the US last year because of their religion?
posted by hoyland at 4:29 PM on April 27, 2013


Threads like this make it abundantly clear that my personal values are not in sync with quite a few members.

*shrugs* Not everyone likes Kenny G.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:29 PM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I will be surprised if the recent rejoined members stick around for any great length of time. The things that drove them away in the first place haven't changed.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:29 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Geez, robotron666 left? Damn.
posted by koeselitz at 4:30 PM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hopefully robotron just needs a few days of people not acting like assholes.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:32 PM on April 27, 2013 [6 favorites]



Maybe we could, in fact, just all be decent to each other.


I agree. Which is why it's fantastic that this site, one of the few on the web, doesn't tolerate comments that negate or put into question someone's very identity.
posted by agregoli at 4:32 PM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


It could then have been reposted and we could have been spared this nightmare of a thread.

I've said earlier in the thread that I think there's a community issue here worth discussing; this isn't just about "how can Tanizaki be nicer and not have answers deleted?" (Because, Lord knows, that would be a super-easy fix for him. It's really not that hard).

But I've learned things in this thread that I did not appreciate before, certainly about how moderation works, and I've certainly learned quite a bit about more about how the community functions. I don't participate in these discussions too frequently, so maybe there's been more value in it for me than for others, but I've gained value from it.
posted by MoonOrb at 4:33 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


How many Christians were killed in the US last year because of their religion?

We sign them up and ship them overseas to die for their religion.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 4:37 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


A thread that said, "I recently got a comment deleted from an AskMe post in what I consider to have been an overzealous act by the moderators. I think we should have a discussion about site moderation" would actually have a point to it. Asking questions about why specific comments have been deleted should be kept to the contact form.

I have been sitting here wondering to myself what the unseen flaw is in this approach, because I think this is the right tack. At a minimum, if you want to challenge a specific deletion, you have to use the contact form first. If you can't work it out directly with the mods, then bring it to MetaTalk. I would be OK with the mods closing MetaTalk threads about comment deletions that haven't been run past them first. If it can spare all of us these massive threads of grar, on the whole that would be a good thing.
posted by ambrosia at 4:37 PM on April 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


readers of AskMe who consider it a safe place

The mods have made it clear that MeFi (and Ask) are not, and can not in a way that would work with the community, be a safe space in social justice terms. I am among the first to defend trans* issues on MeFi, but I definitely feel like it bears pointing out that this is not a safe space and questions on AskMe should be asked with this caveat in mind.

Yes, MetaFilter could stand to be better at a lot of identity politics issues, but it is not and will not be a safe space. That's not a criticism, IMO, just stating that it's not a goal of the community and if you need to have a conversation in a safe space, AskMe isn't going to meet that need.
posted by sonika at 4:50 PM on April 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


Heck, I'm hoping the next time a thread like this opens up that the first 10-20 comments are "What did the mods say when you asked them about this via the contact form?".
posted by benito.strauss at 5:07 PM on April 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


So: ericb gone. Malor gone. robotron666 gone. Hope this purge works out.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:08 PM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think we should have a higher bar for Metatalk threads on contentious issues such as this. I think it's important to talk about certain issues that need to be discussed, and I always learn a lot from those threads. This is not one of those threads. This thread was posted in bad faith by a user who knows better and is basically trolling. Which has created this weird and kind of nasty pile up on Taz and people deleting their accounts (another one I don't understand, why not just stop visiting a website if it's bothering you?) and a ton of little side fights. I wish it would have been closed up right away.

Throw my voice in there with the others who don't understand the level of anger over a comment getting deleted (I don't even know if I've had a comment deleted), but it's a good conversation to have for sure, because apparently a lot of people feel pretty strongly about it. This post is nothing but a great example of how a conversation should not be started (which is pretty much why the comment in question was deleted). The reason why Mefi is so good and so differentiated from the entire rest of the discussion spaces on the internet, which are 95% cesspool, is because we have such great mods, who act as a barrier between the users and the toxic nastiness we see everywhere else. Which I think lulls users into a false sense of goodness of comments/people about this site, which I think might be wrong. It's still there, this is still the internet after all, it's just that we don't see it. And I am pretty fine with that being the way things work here. I think Matt and the mods really go out of their way to make this a good place and a safe place from the racism, misogyny, transphobia, etc. that we see everywhere else, while at the same time doing their best to accommodate all different types of people. Maybe they make mistakes sometimes, but does that really matter that much in the grand scheme of things? A throwaway, one-liner comment that a person spent no time on and despite the title of this post, was not informative was deleted? That then causes a shitstorm of a post with all the nastiness and accusations flying around? Jesus. Not to be trite, but this is why we can't have nice things.
posted by triggerfinger at 5:16 PM on April 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


OK, enough. This is not the venue to espouse your gender theories, and I will be deleting them since asking nicely doesn't seem to be working.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:18 PM on April 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


Is this really the thread to take on specific trans* community issues? I'm asking before I respond to wolfdreams01 because... WOW.
posted by sonika at 5:18 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I understand the weird thing you're trying to set up, wolfdreams01, I just don't know why.
posted by Corinth at 5:19 PM on April 27, 2013


Thanks for deleting that, r_n. That was some pretty intense shit. I can't imagine where, exactly, would be a good place for that conversation but it certainly isn't here.
posted by sonika at 5:20 PM on April 27, 2013

Geez, robotron666 left? Damn.
posted by koeselitz at 7:30 PM on April 27 [+] [!]
Hopefully robotron just needs a few days of people not acting like assholes.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:32 PM on April 27 [1 favorite +] [!]
So: ericb gone. Malor gone. robotron666 gone. Hope this purge works out.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:08 PM on April 27 [1 favorite +] [!]
minor nitpick: As some who actually knows roboton666, and chats with her regularly, the misspelling of her nick really really bothers me.
posted by yeoz at 5:22 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm grateful whatever hateful crap that individual posted was deleted before I had to see it, because quite frankly having to encounter that crap makes me not want to come here anymore. So thank you, restless_nomad, for the swift action.
posted by palomar at 5:23 PM on April 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


So: ericb gone. Malor gone. robotron666 gone. Hope this purge works out.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:08 PM on April 27 [1 favorite +] [!]


I pray to God, purge wasn't really meant there.
Purge would imply that they were kicked out.
Where they kicked out?
I highly doubt that the mods are kicking out anybody that threatens to leave.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 5:23 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


This thread was posted in bad faith by a user who knows better and is basically trolling.

You don't - can't - know that, and it's more than a little ironic to be throwing out accusations of bad faith in such a way. It reads to me like Tanizaki will at least be considering a little more what he types before hitting "post comment" going forward. Maybe not far enough for some, but still, I'm assuming the meta and the comments that followed are genuine.
posted by smoke at 5:28 PM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


I highly doubt that the mods are kicking out anybody that threatens to leave.

Good call. They're pretty fantastic at what they do, and banning people when they're angry isn't the act of a moderator who's fantastic at what they do.

I find I don't agree with this particular situation, but Metafilter is what it is largely because of a symbiotic relationship between the community and its moderators. Both are awesome; therefore the community is awesome.
posted by Mooski at 5:28 PM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm assuming the meta and the comments that followed are genuine.

Available comments indicate otherwise.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:30 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess we'll have to wait and see what comes up on the Green, eh? Maybe I'll owe you a coke at the end of it all.
posted by smoke at 5:31 PM on April 27, 2013


Where they kicked out?

All of those three people left of their own volition, and are welcome back whenever they choose to return.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:32 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree that maybe it's a good idea to REQUIRE people to contact the mods first before starting a MetaTalk thread about a comment or thread deletion.

I feel like there should be grad school classes offered in Advanced Mod Theory or Internet Communities: The Effects of Alienating Speech on Community Cohesion that we could take online to learn about how to more confidently draw lines on these issues. But mostly I think it boils down to "be nicer and don't be an asshole."
posted by onlyconnect at 5:36 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


You don't - can't - know that, and it's more than a little ironic to be throwing out accusations of bad faith in such a way

Tanizaki started another Metatalk (Metata??) thread not three weeks ago asking why something had been deleted. He also participated in a meta thread complaining about mod heavyhandedness within the last three weeks. Which indicates to me that he understands this site very well and didn't seem to follow very reasonable rule number one of contacting the mods first when you have a question about things like this. I'm not sure how much leeway you think I should be giving him. It does seem to me that Tanizaki is pretty familiar with how things work around here from reading his comments in the past. His whole post here could have been put into an email and sent to the mods and if he didn't agree with the answer he could have then started a metatalk thread to discuss with the larger group. The fact that he didn't do that pretty much seems more like shit stirring instead of being motivated by a genuine desire to understand why his comment was deleted.
posted by triggerfinger at 5:55 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Boy am I glad I was drinking whisky in my building's hot tub instead of reading whatever nonsense that just was.

All of those three people left of their own volition, and are welcome back whenever they choose to return.
Seriously. I usually enjoy Blazecock's perspective whether or not it cottons with mine but that was unhelpful.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:56 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


minor nitpick: As some who actually knows roboton666, and chats with her regularly, the misspelling of her nick really really bothers me.

Aw fuck. That's not so minor in my view, in context. I value her contributions. Apologies to her and to you for going by the response rather than her comment. I should have remembered, or looked.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:58 PM on April 27, 2013


I feel like there should be grad school classes offered in Advanced Mod Theory

Or just make it systematic, where a lone mod deletion only becomes an option when flags reach a minimum threshold, for checks and balances.
posted by Brian B. at 5:59 PM on April 27, 2013


I agree that maybe it's a good idea to REQUIRE people to contact the mods first before starting a MetaTalk thread about a comment or thread deletion.

No, fuck this. I don't understand why people who hate comment deletion threads always feel the need to go into comment deletion threads and bitch about how much they hate comment deletion threads. 1/2 the reasons threads go this way is because of you. It takes two to fight. You don't to get to whine about how you don't like fighty threads when you are one of the groups that's fighting.

There's a shitload of stuff of the blue and grey that I can't stand. So I stay out those threads. It's not that hard. Try it sometime.
posted by nooneyouknow at 6:01 PM on April 27, 2013 [17 favorites]


Good for you. Now explain how the proposed mechanism is at all harmful, as its sole function is to allow the mods the opportunity to send you an email about your concerns before you post. You don't even have to respond to any form-initiated mod contact before posting, if you've completed the form. (As I understand the proposal.) Although I suppose the mods might point that out in any resulting meta. As they well should.

Again, show me the parade of horribles that will emerge from this if you would.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:04 PM on April 27, 2013


"If you don't like being slapped around, you can leave. Christ, what a whiner you are."
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:04 PM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Or just make it systematic, where a lone mod deletion only becomes an option when flags reach a minimum threshold, for checks and balances.

I'm pretty sure there are times where only one mod is on duty, which pretty much puts paid to that idea. Also, surely the point of having mods is that they are, well, able to moderate.
posted by hoyland at 6:04 PM on April 27, 2013


...and didn't seem to follow very reasonable rule number one of contacting the mods first when you have a question about things like this.

I missed the memo, when did this become "rule number one"?

Because while it may be good general idea, I don't see how it helps to have this as a concrete rule. Users shouldn't have justify reasons to the people who deleted their creation before being allowed to talk about it publicly.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:06 PM on April 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


Thank you for deleting WolfDreams' asinine bullshit, r_n.
posted by zarq at 6:07 PM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


The proposal is for notice to the mod team and an opportunity for private mod explanation, not some right of first refusal. I'd envision it as a warning that deletion threads may be deleted themselves if the poster hasn't filled out the contact form. Not if they've refused to engage in subsequent correspondence with the mods. I wouldn't support the latter policy.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:09 PM on April 27, 2013


I think I would support "contact the mods first" when your question is "Why was this deleted"? But I think we also should have one powerhouse for delete issues, rather than start thread after thread.
posted by corb at 6:11 PM on April 27, 2013


Brian B.: " Or just make it systematic, where a lone mod deletion only becomes an option when flags reach a minimum threshold, for checks and balances."

Why? Although I have no view behind the MeFi curtain, presumably Matt hired each mod because he trusts his or her judgment. And I'd bet money that since hiring, there have been multiple discussions about MeFi's orientation and moderation and philosophy and all the rest.

Given that, I see no reason why a mod's actions should be constrained because a post hasn't received "enough" flags (who defines "enough", anyway?) or anything like that.
posted by Lexica at 6:12 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


a powerhouse for delete issues

A subsite that collects deleted content kinda defeats its own purpose, no?
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:13 PM on April 27, 2013


I'm pretty sure there are times where only one mod is on duty, which pretty much puts paid to that idea.

Right now, we do not have overlapping shifts. There's only one duty mod at any given point, although we are all online an awful lot and frequently talk shop when not technically working.

We're not going to impose any sort of mechanical threshold for moderation decisions. All decisions are made on a case-by-case basis using our personal judgment, and that judgment is always open to examination. Strict rules and mechanical triggers alike run counter to that.

The proposal is for notice to the mod team and an opportunity for private mod explanation, not some right of first refusal.

That's what the MetaTalk queue does. We only use it when we're particularly stretched, although the subject of using it more often has come up in discussion. We don't have any particular plans to make it permanent, although if issues of scale in handling MeTas were to arise, it'd probably be our first option.

Given that MeTa is the place where we are held accountable to the community, there's some friction in the idea that we'd have more control over when and how we're held accountable, which is why we're in no hurry to impose restrictions except when logistics absolutely require it.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:16 PM on April 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


Or just make it systematic, where a lone mod deletion only becomes an option when flags reach a minimum threshold, for checks and balances.

Sorry that's not what I meant, I was imagining classes we the community members could take to learn about theories of responsible modding and responsible community membership. I don't think our mods need classes (I think they could teach them!) and I don't think we would be better served with some version of mandatory minimums, where communities that are underrepresented here won't necessarily get the required flags.

nooneyouknow, the main thing about this discussion that I think is bad is just that two members left. Not the conversation itself, just the fallout.
posted by onlyconnect at 6:17 PM on April 27, 2013


The proposal is for notice to the mod team and an opportunity for private mod explanation, not some right of first refusal.

What you're proposing would have mods deleting Metatalk threads about deletions because the user didn't contact the mods privately first. Which doesn't sound like it would ease tensions at all.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:18 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


A subsite that collects deleted content kinda defeats its own purpose, no?

Although if it's built I demand it be called MetaMute.

The proposal is for notice to the mod team and an opportunity for private mod explanation, not some right of first refusal.

That's what the MetaTalk queue does.


Interesting, RN. Thanks. I take it that is to suggest that you don't think the suggested mechanism is particularly useful?

(Which would be fine. It's just an idea.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:19 PM on April 27, 2013


I am fricking amazed at this flurry of "why was X deleted?" threads.

Know what you can do if your comment is deleted, but you feel compelled to provide your knowledge/experience/opinion? You can contact the mods and ask them to suggest a better way to word your post.

I have done this in the past, a simple "hey, I see that my post must not have fit with the guidelines of the community. Is there a way that I could re-frame it that would be more acceptable while still staying true to my opinion?"

Why is the default "the mods deleted my comment so I'm going to run to MeTa and FIGHT AGAINST SILENCE!!!!1" as if that was the only option?
posted by Shouraku at 6:19 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


What you're proposing would have mods deleting Metatalk threads about deletions because the user didn't contact the mods privately first. Which doesn't sound like it would ease tensions at all.

Presumably a boxed warning that says: WARNING if this is about a DELETION then you must DO THIS FIRST (and maybe even a checkbox that says "This is NOT about a deletion OR I have completed the form") would fix that.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:20 PM on April 27, 2013


Historically that's not what "self-policing" has meant on Metafilter. Flagging a comment or using the contact form is more like calling the police.

I feel like there's sort of a hazy revisionism in general about what self-policing really means/meant; the idea that it meant something like "mods aren't part of the process, the userbase solves its own problems" doesn't really work when you look at how the site was built—and actively managed and shepherded by Matt—from day one. Self-policing has always manifested here as a high degree of self- and group-awareness in the userbase in combination with the guiding hand of a mod or mods.

I wrote a couple paragraphs about this a while back.

Or just make it systematic, where a lone mod deletion only becomes an option when flags reach a minimum threshold, for checks and balances.

Oh gosh no. Like the "obscure usernames from mods" suggestion, I get the appeal of this as a thought experiment but in practice it's a big pile of complications and friction for just about zero practical benefit. That flags correlate to stuff that gets deleted is very, very different from some non-zero number of them being a necessary or desirable condition for deletion.

I missed the memo, when did this become "rule number one"?

This might be a restatement of the idea that the "hey, hit us up at the contact form maybe?" note is the first bullet on the Metatalk posting page. It is very much not a rule, but it's a pretty good suggestion which is why we have it there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:21 PM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


I take it that is to suggest that you don't think the suggested mechanism is particularly useful?

The queue is awesome - for us. I don't know that it's a slam-dunk for the community as a whole, except in that when we're less stretched, we have more bandwidth for the rest of our jobs. And most of the time, having one or two active MeTas is fine.

My personal position is that what really doesn't scale is the "we don't delete stuff in MetaTalk, anything goes" standard, which has in fact had to shift somewhat as the community has gotten bigger, and will probably have to shift farther. There are just too many people to start fights that could be avoided with a more civil standard.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:23 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, surely the point of having mods is that they are, well, able to moderate.
...
presumably Matt hired each mod because he trusts his or her judgment.

I'd rather have police come to my house on a complaint system, not on their whim. Everyone has prejudices too, in obscure areas they might not even know about, good judgment notwithstanding.

We're not going to impose any sort of mechanical threshold for moderation decisions. All decisions are made on a case-by-case basis using our personal judgment,

I suspect flags are involved anyway, hence my proposal, for consistency.
posted by Brian B. at 6:24 PM on April 27, 2013


Flags are the "come look at this!" trigger, not the "delete this!" trigger. If something never gets flagged, there's a chance (a very good chance, on the blue) that we'll never see it, but if it does get flagged, there's no particular guarantee that any action will be taken.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:25 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I go from marking Malor best answer in my networking question to finding out he's disabled his account thanks to the trend of which this bad deletion is a symptom. Glad I didn't ask tomorrow instead of today. Is this really a good trade to lose all of Malor's future good posts in exchange for deleting one post?
posted by michaelh at 6:27 PM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


but if it does get flagged, there's no particular guarantee that any action will be taken.

As I would have it.
posted by Brian B. at 6:30 PM on April 27, 2013


Malor didn't make the post in question, and has had his own fairly bumpy ride on MeFi, as he is admirably uncompromising w/r/t to his principles on contentious issues that arise fairly often. (Though I do often disagree, making him perhaps even more valuable to me). I will miss his voice until he (I hope) comes back, but there's more to his decision than this thread, as his comments in it made clear.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:31 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is "If I delete this, there might be a MetaTalk thread, and in that MetaTalk thread, people might learn information that leads them to decide to take their toys and go home" really the sort of calculus you want going into the decisions to remove things? Because by that standard, they'd never remove anything but spam.

Which I realize would make a certain percentage of the user base happy, but still.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:31 PM on April 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


My personal position is that what really doesn't scale is the "we don't delete stuff in MetaTalk, anything goes" standard, which has in fact had to shift somewhat as the community has gotten bigger, and will probably have to shift farther. There are just too many people to start fights that could be avoided with a more civil standard.

Even as someone who has taken advantage of the lax standards to vent my anger at times, yeah I think this would be a good idea. It's part of my general idea where I am beginning to think that when a person is angry it's not particularly productive to make them any more angry than you have to in order to communicate the problems.

If what Taz got was the verbal equivalent of "bullying" in this thread what Tanizaki got was the verbal equivalent of being taken out back and beaten to a bloody pulp. I just don't think some of the over the top comments really serve any productive purpose.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:34 PM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


"My personal position is that what really doesn't scale is the "we don't delete stuff in MetaTalk, anything goes" standard, which has in fact had to shift somewhat as the community has gotten bigger, and will probably have to shift farther. There are just too many people to start fights that could be avoided with a more civil standard."

I'll repeat that it is not impossible for a community ethos to evolve that would take care of this without requiring more moderation.

Right now, it's sort of accepted without much thought that the relative wild west nature of MetaTalk is just sort of a good thing on its face. But it's really not — it's good in that it serves an important function. That function is that it's a space for the community itself to work out these issues. And we have a lot of trouble working out these issues in proportion to how uncivil people are being. So I think it's possible for an ethos to be promulgated here that being civil is a necessary adjunct to a) that there's especially light moderation here, and b) this is where the community involves itself in working through contentious issues.

Anyone who's ever been regularly involved in trying to be productive in groups, including and especially within the context of working through thorny intellectual issues (which, weirdly, one or more people earlier attempted to argue that civility works against), knows that civility and sensitivity to others is absolutely essential. Otherwise, people just fight and nothing is accomplished.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:35 PM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


snuffleupagus, I agree and meant to communicate all that in my post in addition to the main point.
posted by michaelh at 6:37 PM on April 27, 2013

Is this really a good trade to lose all of Malor's future good posts in exchange for deleting one post?
Malor made the decision to leave, not anyone else. This sort of comment comes up often when someone quits and I really don't like the implication that the mods had some sort of premeditated choice to make between a) letting the comment stay or b) having a valued member of the community quit.
posted by dfan at 6:38 PM on April 27, 2013 [20 favorites]


Damn I don't even want to know how many of my babies have been drown. I'm unlikely to reproduce or create anything else of significance so these comments are my legacy,my gift to the universe. Luckily, even with bits and bobs snipped off by lesser minds taken as a whole they are such a staggering work of genius that any missing piece simply create negative space for future scholars to puzzle over. Really I should be thanking the mods, for introducing the defect so my work does not offend the gods with its perfection.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:45 PM on April 27, 2013 [11 favorites]

Is this really a good trade to lose all of Malor's future good posts in exchange for deleting one post?
I don't agree with the fundamental premise of a "trade" here, but taking it for granted:

He didn't quit because of the deleted comment under discussion in this thread. He quit because he just found out that nineteen of his own comments have been deleted in the past year.
posted by Flunkie at 6:45 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


A few hours ago, I was driving around town, and thinking of this thread.

What I concluded is that I, personally, not punish people who may not be informed of all the social cues. I certainty suffer from that. Everybody lacks social cues of some sort. I take all things in good faith, even if I already have classified the person as stupid or an asshole.
If someone does something against me in bad faith....I don't hold a grudge, but will maintain the appropriate distance for my safety.

Personally, I hate deletions, like I hate taxes, but can see why they are needed, and will support them, for the better good of this great community.

I guess the biggest thing that upsets me about all this is how the mods reacted.

TAZ"which would be okay if you had said something like, "In my opinion..."

Disturbing. It obviously is implied it's his opinion.

TAZ"You don't know if the doctor had a five-martini lunch, was otherwise impaired, or acted unethically, unless you were there."

JWOW! As I said prior, it makes her look weak, not the mods. Another, (clears throat), more sensible mod should have stopped it right there....

MATT""Be nicer" seems like a perfectly good reason to delete that comment.

There was nothing mean about his comment. That made it worse.
It was condescending, provoking, daring even.

"Another thing not mentioned above: it was the very first comment in the thread. That tends to set the tone for the whole thread."

I would rather someone state a logical unemotional honest answer to a question like that, instead of having the first 25 people go all say what the asker wanted to hear, then to have #27 say what he said and get unnoticed.

JESSAMYN"Tanizaki, if I can be plain: you do not seem to like it here."

Double JWOW! Jessamyn is a smart cookie, but this is highly offensive. I have never seen or heard of her doing anything that was in bad faith, or holding a grudge towards a user over their posting history. If the reverse is true, it's breaking headlines, obviously he likes it here.
He participates. (He may even get off on shit like this. I've linked him as a contact.)

COETEX"[If]Tanizaki has done a much better job of outlining his reasoning in here than he did in the original terse assertion, and presented as such—more as "here's what I'm thinking and what external stuff I'm referencing in that thinking" rather than just "this is so" as a pat assertion—then it'd have been a non-issue. Which is pretty much what we'd have have told him in a contact form email if it'd gone that way. "

He is under no obligation to actually contact you via contact form, as far as I know, before he post this MeTa. Personally, I consider it a niceness. I do it. Had he, it would have made his case stronger.

CORTEX""Over email we can have a more personal and more direct discussion about problems and constructive approaches to them without it being likely to feel like some public exhibition. It works really well in general, and seems to mostly be a lot more comfortable for folks, but ultimately taking something public vs. direct conversation with the mods is a user's call to make, and here we are.""

There are A LOT of mefites who know that CORTEX personally is willing to spend his time hashing out differences with you via email. I believe that.

But I go directly to these comments...


And Malor has disabled his account.

Wow. I was absolutely certain that Malor's rage was sarcastic. Because... does anyone else get a notification that their comment was deleted? 'Cause I never have.
posted by Etrigan at 3:22 PM on April 27 [4 favorites +] [!]


I work hard on those comments. I am both dismayed and shocked that nineteen of them have gone away without even the goddamn courtesy to tell me.

If they are really that important to you it seems like you might have noticed before now that they were gone.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 3:23 PM on April 27 [4 favorites +] [!]


Because... does anyone else get a notification that their comment was deleted? 'Cause I never have.

No, we don't generally notify people. Everyone is always welcome to ask us about past deletions via the contact form if you're just curious.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:23 PM on April 27 [+] [!]


CORTEX"But we're also all aware that this is Metafilter, not WhatWePreferfilter, and that it's explicitly not our job to try and make the site into our personal space, so we are basically constantly examining our individual and collective decision-making to insure as much as possible that "I don't personally like it" isn't a driving factor in the moderation work we do. We all take that pretty seriously, and actively work to make it as much of a non-issue as we are capable of. It's accusations to the contrary that tend to get up my shirt, especially given that we're regularly accused of having all sorts of imagined specific biases by people who have no idea what they're talking about. It comes with the territory to some extent but it's still super duper obnoxious and trying."

then you say

"I'd like to know what specific wording I need to use when I answer AskMe questions, so that I don't get my answers deleted

You get relatively little deleted from Ask proportional to your volume of answers—nothing at all so far this year, for example—so you seem to have figured things out pretty well by observation and instinct, which is good because that's really the only practical approach. There is no, and can be no, canonical list of Good And Bad Phrases and asking for one seems like sort of crappy sarcasm to toss our way.
"


It seams to me that answer was personally relating the quoted users posted history.
Was that trying to look up?




Last weekend Taz deleted one of my comments from a thread (whcih I still think was wrong). I was upset about it. I didn't contact her directly but did contact a mod, as another comment was deleted by somebody else. Nobody told me my comments were deleted, obviously. I noticed on my own.

I guess the real question here is SHOULD the mod, when making the deletion, send a message to the OP letting them know that the comment had been deleted, hell it could even be a default message, something that's automatic. (it SHOULD send the deleted post back to the user, as they own it.)

I think that would stop a lot of this. Hell the mods, because the are the nicest people on the web, if they wanted could add a personal message to the automatic one explaining why it was deleted, because we all know that the mods and the users are friends. they we have a history together. And we all want to still remain friends.

I hope those members that left, come back. I enjoyed them.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 6:47 PM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I feel like if someone here has such a deep attachment to their comments that they take any deletion as a personal attack and actually feel line they're owed a personalized notification upon said deletions, then what that person actually needs is their own blog.
posted by palomar at 6:57 PM on April 27, 2013 [30 favorites]


I was more proposing a way to end emotion shit like this the easiest, most logical way possible, aside from having everybody that feels that way from leaving.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 6:59 PM on April 27, 2013


Unless there is a solid team with the mindset of "Oh hell, they already paid their five bucks, so fuck 'em!"

I hope that team is small.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 7:04 PM on April 27, 2013


That's been talked about before.
posted by Gygesringtone at 7:04 PM on April 27, 2013


Automatically notifying everyone about their deleted comments would, IMHO, just make the people who don't care enough about their comments to compulsively check and recheck that they exist CARE and get upset about the deletions. It would cause more emotion and MetaTalk threads, I think, not less. Strongly disagree.
posted by onlyconnect at 7:08 PM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


I wonder if an automated message would eventually lead to fewer deleted comments.

My gut says no. Proportionally, people have few comments deleted and usually not with a degree of consistency and volume where there's a "you keep doing this problematic thing repeatedly" type issue for the vast majority of users. For the exceptions to that we pretty much end up dropping the user an email directly about whatever the issue is.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:03 PM on May 1, 2012 [+] [!]


I should have researched Cortex a bit more. I find it interesting that the mods would rather END UP sending a email because they are now forced to, vs. hey, let's do the nice thing and tell them that their fly is down prior to their dick hanging out.

If they are so good at seeing problems like this arise before hand, then surely they are good enough to figure out how to sidestep them.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 7:09 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Then do it on a base by base cases. Tanizaki had a history as a troubled user.
or so I have been told.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 7:11 PM on April 27, 2013


I guess I'm not understanding what's easier about asking the mods to take the time to send a personalized message every time they delete a comment, to assuage any hurt feelings regarding that deletion. It seems like it would be easier to expect users to be mature enough to handle the occasional comment deletion like an adult -- either they can monitor their own user history and use the contact form to message the mods if they see that a comment they left is now missing and they want more details, or they can potentially write a greasemonkey script to handle their comment history monitoring for them and then contact the mods. Requiring a notification every time a comment is deleted seems a bit much -- do other sites do this? I can't think of any other site where I'm a commenting member that ever notifies me when a comment of mine is deleted.

And frankly, I really do not want the hassle of getting a message every time I have a comment deleted. The reasons for comment deletions are so few, it's pretty simple to figure out why any given comment of mine was deleted: I was being a jerk to someone, my comment was part of a derail that was subsequently cleaned up, or in the case of AskMe my comment did not address the asker's actual question or was unhelpful in some other way. Often there's a helpful mod note in-thread that explains why some deletions happened, but if I have any questions, that's what the contact form is there for.

I'm not sure why this is so hard to grasp.
posted by palomar at 7:13 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


If they are so good at seeing problems like this arise before hand, then surely they are good enough to figure out how to sidestep them.

This implies that you believe the mods have an ability to control the behavior of other people, or that you expect them to do so.
posted by palomar at 7:14 PM on April 27, 2013


Then do it on a base by base cases. Tanizaki had a history as a troubled user.
or so I have been told.


How is that functionally different then what Cortex described doing?
posted by Gygesringtone at 7:15 PM on April 27, 2013


I had a comment deleted this morning. I replied to a comment that was deleted before I replied. I flagged my own comment and it got deleted. I definitely didn't need an email justifying that deletion, and I find it hard to believe anyone would require notification in such a scenario. Frankly, it would be annoying. So you probably don't want notifications in all cases, but then we'd just have people coming to Metatalk to complain about how they weren't notified of a deletion and then we'd have a fight about that and the deletion itself.
posted by hoyland at 7:25 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe not everyone who has a comment deleted wants to feel that they are also being drafted into some pow-wow with the mods. Maybe the mods shouldn't have the responsibility of intuiting which user is going to be so offended by a particular deletion that there should be some prophylactic email. Maybe I'm having trouble understanding QueerAngel's whole angle.

Actually, I'm pretty sure about that last one.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:25 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find it interesting that the mods would rather END UP sending a email because they are now forced to, vs. hey, let's do the nice thing and tell them that their fly is down prior to their dick hanging out.

Well, we'd rather end up sending the occasional email when it seems like there's an established, ongoing problem than send a much larger volume of emails about stuff that hasn't yet gotten to the point of seeming like a problem.

We've said (and likely in that thread, I haven't gone and reviewed but it's a point we commonly make) that initiating a "hey, we deleted your comment" discussion on every deletion would lead to a bunch of unnecessary extra conversations every day and likely push the buttons of at least one or two people among those who feel buttonholed by mod communication or by having a deletion pointed out to them. Not everyone reacts with a cheerful "hey, thanks for letting me know about my dick", and not everyone receives a "hey, we took this action because of what you did" email as a helpful neutral message even when it's delivered as such.

It's delicate work and reasonably speaking confining it to (a) when people specifically inquire or (b) when there's an exceptional situation or a pattern of behavior helps keep the amount of time and energy we have to spend on it manageable.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:30 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've had three deleted that I know of. The first was part of a back and forth with Joe Beese about Obama. Totally fine with that one. Second was a misclick where I meant to add a link about how to cook squirrel. Without the link it looked like I was being a total dick. Was just about to contact the mods when they deleted it. Still got some memail from other users telling me to quit trolling. Third was the parrot video, that one still haunts me.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:30 PM on April 27, 2013


All I meant was if a user has a history of being a shit-starter, they start MeTa's when things get deleted, then when you are going to delete one of their comments, maybe, maybe, reach out to them with an olive branch, then smack 'em.

I would like to know when my things get deleted, even if for no other reason than for me to reflect on what I did wrong, and try not to do it again, as I assume 99% of users can relate, and might use that information the same way. If it's an automated deletion notification, and that's all it is, that would be enough for me, and most others.

On the flip side, I have comments that didn't get deleted that I wish had.
How embarrassing.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 7:30 PM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]



All I meant was if a user has a history of being a shit-starter, they start MeTa's when things get deleted, then when you are going to delete one of their comments, maybe, maybe, reach out to them with an olive branch, then smack 'em.


This is already what happens.

As for wanting to know when your own comments are deleted, why not try managing that for yourself instead of expecting it to be done for you?
posted by palomar at 7:32 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Deleting comments has been part of the mechanics of this site for as long as I remember. By participating in this site, I suspect most people are aware there is a risk of their comment being deleted; at least, the possibility that it might happen doesn't seem to be news to anybody in this thread.

Ultimately, we are participating on somebody else's site, and they get to set the rules. There are a lot of things that don't fly here -- self-linking in an FPP, spamming, telling members of the community that you have died when you haven't, posting people's private information, etc. We are an online community, and so we participate in setting the community norms of this site, and there are things that we do that Matt has, in the past, expressed a personal distaste for (in-jokes, for one). But, at the end of the day, the mods will make their call, and we then must decide our comfort level with that decision. Some people won't like the decisions and may decide not to participate any more, and that's all right. I have left in the past and come back, and it was a much-needed break as I figured out how I wanted to participate in this community. In the end, I decided I was okay with certain things about the site that bother me, but not everybody is going to make that decision.

But, again, this has long been a site where certain types of comments stood a large risk of being deleted, and there has never been a policy in the place that users will be contacted when this happens. The biggest change I see isn't the sort of comments that are deleted, but that the usual sorts of comments are being deleted where previously they might have stood (overnight, for example, or in swiftly moving threads because of greater mod oversight), and that the users are more willing to take edge-case deletions into MeTa to complain about them. But if you cannot stand the idea that comments might be deleted and you might not know, well, that's how things have been here for a long while, the mods find this an effective tool for moderation, and, ultimately, they are the owners and staff of this site, and if we feel that the amount of influence we can exert over something we dislike is at an unsatisfying end, this site may not be a good match for our needs.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:36 PM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd envision it as a warning that deletion threads may be deleted themselves if the poster hasn't filled out the contact form.

Metatalk is not just a place to communicate with the mods, it's also a place to communicate with the metafilter community. Because of this, giving the mods veto power over whether a user can talk to the community is bad.

"If you don't like being slapped around, you can leave. Christ, what a whiner you are."

One highly recommend tactic of self-defense is avoidance. If there is place where a fight is likely to break out, and you don't want to get hit, don't go there. If you go there anyway and someone gets in your face looking for a fight, turn around and walk away. Avoidance is said to be incredibly effective. Another recommended tactic is de-escalation. The mods seem to be fairly good at that (not so much in this thread though, unfortunately), users not so much. Maybe the mods should offer a class.

I'm not talking about agreeing with comment deletion or not. This is about going into a thread arguing one side of the deletion or another and also complaining about how much deletion threads suck and how they are bad for metafilter/need to be stopped because people argue in them so much.
posted by nooneyouknow at 7:38 PM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


cortex: initiating a "hey, we deleted your comment" discussion on every deletion would lead to a bunch of unnecessary extra conversations every day and likely push the buttons of at least one or two people among those who feel buttonholed by mod communication

I dare say automatic notifications of comment deletions would make more work for the mods. But that's a bit like saying dashboard cameras on cop cars would lead to more frivolous complaints and police paperwork. They would, but it's still worth considering whether that's a price worth paying for transparency.

I think the inability of users to know if they're being deleted is a problem.

There's been a predictable parade of users coming in late in this thread and saying "oh I'm sure I've had hundreds of comments deleted and I'm sure it was all fully justified!" But how would you know if it was justified or not? How would anyone know, without writing their own Greasemonkey script, or laboriously checking back to see how every comment fared, hours or days later?

This isn't a huge deal for me personally, because I've got a lot of personal trust in the mods, and because I'm a casual user. But I can see why users like Malor would be super upset to find out 19 of his contributions had been removed without his knowledge. Would you be so happy to have other aspects of your online communication covertly deleted? What if you found out that 5% or 10% of your Facebook status updates, tweets, reddit contributions, Instagram pictures were being ninjabanned without any notification that you were breaking the guidelines? And you only found out a year later?

Other forums, stricter in their modding style, such as SRS on reddit, alert users to deletions as a matter of course.
posted by dontjumplarry at 7:54 PM on April 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


Extrapolating from the number of contacts a deletion alert message tends to generate, this is not something we could manage at our current staffing levels.

If you're concerned about your own deletions, you are always welcome to contact us and ask about them, and if you're not using Recent Activity I strongly recommend it.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:00 PM on April 27, 2013


There are a lot of anachronistic aspects to metafilter that are kinda grandfathered in. They are part of the charm.

It's like when you go to that dive bar with no sign you aren't going to have to deal with bartenders pushing wasabi soy buffalo wings and flavored vodka "signature" drinks. You get a bartender that knows what you drink and for the most part looks out for you.

I'm more than willing to put up with some humanizing foibles, and maybe a mistake or two, from mods that actually care about the community and the users if it means we have places other than Facebook and TGI Friday in the world.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:08 PM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you don't even notice that you've had comments deleted to the point where you're shocked, SHOCKED, at the number of deletions when you ask and are told...then I don't even.
posted by rtha at 8:21 PM on April 27, 2013 [14 favorites]


The way things currently work:
(correct me if I am wrong, cause I am wrong often)

User Post Comment/FPP

Mod Deletes it.

User has option, on their own to Contact Mod.

Once Mod as been contacted then Discussion can begin.

If sending out a Automated responce informing user that comment is deleted is oposed because you go from 0% of the users being notified to 100% of the user's being notified will increase the amount of work that the Mods have to doin the same amount of time, than I completely understand that. I support that.

I've got an idea.
I don't know nothing about Projects. I've checked it out a few times, and even voted on somethings. I am not the person to do this, as I am an idiot.

I may be wrong and an ass, but doesn't InfoDumpster is look into Meta's API?
I am not even sure what API stands for.

If it possible for someone to create something that would inform ANYONE about deleted post, then can someone create a script that the user can take the initiative to subscribe to that tells them of their deleted post, by username subscription.
Under this, I along with all other users could set ourselves up to be informed on every or any user's deleted comments.

If this were the case, I am sure the first 30 comments in this thread would have read something like "Hey, Did you sign up with X Free Service to inform you of Y"

If such a thing was there, [people] wouldn't have put their foot so far down their mouths, members wouldn't have left.

If the real issue here is that 100% of the mods are 100% against deletion notifications and there is no discussion to be had, then that moves me closer to the door as well.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 8:32 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know that I like this (trend?) of people threatening to leave in a 'I'm one step from the door'-type way. It reads like Ayn Rand with her Galt's Gulch scenario. "I'm going to leave, and then you'll all be sorry!"

There is no Rearden Mefi-comment. If this is your place, it's your place. If it's not, then it isn't. If there's things which we can change, we can work together on this. But this website is what it is through collaborative effort and a sense of community. So threatening to strike out on your own fractures that sense of community, even when sticking around.
posted by CrystalDave at 8:44 PM on April 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


QueerAngel28, posts and comments are handled differently. Front page posts (on the blue, not on other subsites) remain available through their URL even after they are deleted. They are all collected on the deleted post blog, if you're interested.

Comments are different. The API doesn't allow anything like tracking of comments, nor should it. Notification for deleted comments is a bad idea. It would just piss people off.
posted by koeselitz at 8:45 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Front page posts (on the blue, not on other subsites) remain available through their URL even after they are deleted.

They're all available via their URLs, it's just that the Deleted Posts Blog doesn't track any of the subsites.

Koeselitz is correct in that comments are handled differently and there's no way to make a user-specific notification using the Infodump.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:49 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing that I have in the front of my mind is Metafilter is marketed as a community. That is why I joined. I wanted to be a part of this beautiful wonder thing. I am invested in it. I want it to succeed, but I am also so selfish with it. I want it to be mine. I want people like me in it (mostly, or the random Rock Stars I give a shout out to)
As General Tonic stated above I want diversity in my community. I don't want to run anybody off, and I won't stand for somebody else doing it either. My statement just now wasn't a threat. It was more "maybe I should go play outside."
I am sorry that I wasn't meta enough to state it that way up front.
When all is down and blue in life, you've been kicked and punched, robbed and taxed, and tears coming out of your eyes, Metafilter, for me, is the place I go to. Because I feel like there's friends here. It's the hot bath I let my mind soak in. It cleans me.

(I am too emotional right now. Anybody that wants to memail me can. take care of each other, cause the ass holes out there won't)
posted by QueerAngel28 at 8:54 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


QueerAngel28, you say you desire diversity in the community, and that this desire causes you to want more "strong, intelligent, conservative voices" (General Tonic's words to which you linked). If these strong, intelligent, conservative voices are, specifically, socially conservative (in the sense that they think trans people are insincere etc.), you're going to lose trans/disabled/etc. people and you're probably hurting "diversity," at least in the sense that most people understand it. It is fairly unusual for me to see diversity used in the sense of more social conservative viewpoints ought to be represented. In my experience diversity usually means the opposite of that.

As I said above, I haven't seen clashes like this with regards to other conservative concepts, so when people say these things it reads like they are referring specifically to social conservatism. If this is not the case I apologize and I need to reexamine context.
posted by Corinth at 9:09 PM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Observation:
This thread is at nearly a thousand comments. I have gotten through (with some skipping and skimming) about two thirds of it. My impression has been that other parts of the site have had less activity than usual in the last two days. I don't have numbers to back that impression up objectively, but it feels to me like this MeTa is sucking a lot of the oxygen out of the site.

I have sympathy for "both" sides here but I get the distinct impression that the OP wants to win his case, not get real feedback on how he can interact more effectively. Primarily for that reason, I feel it was posted in bad faith. Given the nature of the AskMe in question and that it was the first reply and other factors, I agree with the deletion. Some situations do call for a bit more consideration and "factually correct" isn't always sufficient.

I hope the mods figure out how to put this fire out so it can stop sucking up so many community resources. I realize simply closing the thread may not accomplish that. I was trying to stay out of it on the theory that fighting against the fighting is still fighting and posting here amounts to pouring more resources into this discussion when I think it has sucked up too many already. But I guess I am hoping my 2¢ will be all Special or something.


((((((((group hug)))))))
posted by Michele in California at 9:12 PM on April 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


I can tell you that the weather (in the upper Midwest at least) has been absolutely glorious the past two days, so that might have something to do with it. (It's been a loooooong winter).
posted by triggerfinger at 9:19 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wish people wouldn't use edge cases to make site-changing suggestions; they've all been terrible ideas, from anonymising the site only to mods (not to users, though - funny, that) to doing ... something about taz. The mods have all weighed in with detailed explanations of why they acted the way they did. The original poster had a spree of very informative posts which highlight exactly what kind of user of Ask and MeTa he is, what his motivations for posting were, and what he thinks of the userbase. The constant declarations of ModMageddon, or the suggestion that this is all part of some slippery slope, aren't actually backed up by the evidence. After all, Tanizaki can repost his advice with only slight changes. He hasn't, but only through his own choice, not because of mod mandate.

Also, this is a community website, where we are encouraged to behave as such. This allows users to both develop fondnesses for each other - and also remember people who they disagree with. You can't be expected, in a user base of this size, to only like the people you interact with. The suggestion that either remembering a user for negative reasons, or remembering their past opinions and how they apply to a current exchange, is somehow beyond the pale is, to me, painfully naive and/or stupid. There is a difference between pulling previous fights into other threads, and being aware of where someone is coming from because of their previously stated opinions. There are MeTa threads devoted to remembering the good comments; it's valid to remember the bad ones.
posted by gadge emeritus at 9:24 PM on April 27, 2013 [11 favorites]


That may well be so but if there were a thousand more replies on AskMe and MeFi I don't think I would have spent the last two days wondering where all the life of the site went only to notice this bonfire this evening and that it is still going, which made me kind of think 2+2 just might =4. Maybe. As a working hypothesis.
posted by Michele in California at 9:25 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


999!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:44 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


All of those three people left of their own volition

To be clear, one of those people, at least, left because of apparently condescending and pushy language directed at them. This was a long-time user with no real history of problematic behavior. But that's the new Metafilter, now.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:46 PM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


orthogonality: "the "Glorious Revolution" when England's aristocracy invited a foreign ruler, William of Orange, to invade England to depose the Catholic monarch. "

Actually, this was more like a military coup funded by Continental purses eager to create a diversion in the War of the League of Augsburg, with a small junta forcing through a religious putsch and igniting multiple regional secessionist rebellions throughout the UK. But wrt "Glorious", it was a triumph of propaganda re-branding. Anyway, back to the quarreling.
posted by meehawl at 9:51 PM on April 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


Impenetrable. There's a thousand comments here about policy and politics.

Can you see how a infrequent user would be turned away?
posted by peeedro at 9:52 PM on April 27, 2013


Can you see how a infrequent user would be turned away?

How likely is an infrequent user to even find MeTa itself, let alone this particular thread?
posted by asterix at 10:01 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon: "To be clear, one of those people, at least, left because of apparently condescending and pushy language directed at them. This was a long-time user with no real history of problematic behavior. But that's the new Metafilter, now."

Yes, it was totally uncalled for for a mod to be slightly condescending to that user after the user said "fuck you" to her in private correspondence, wasn't it?
posted by koeselitz at 10:06 PM on April 27, 2013


Oh come now, this thread is something we're all going to tell our children's children about!

Policy can be extremely riveting when the stakes are so low. It's also clear that there's isn't really consensus on how we should interact, other than what Matt and the Mod Squad say, which is the most sensible course. I'm not one for hugs, but I'm all out of bubblegum.
posted by kendrak at 10:06 PM on April 27, 2013


Meta is like endgame content. Nubs should stay in ask where it is safe unless they have someone to tank and a good healer.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:07 PM on April 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


Policy can be extremely riveting when the stakes are so low.

I should say something opposite of your opinion, just for the record, to prove you wrong.
posted by peeedro at 10:13 PM on April 27, 2013


Yes, it was totally uncalled for for a mod to be slightly condescending to that user after the user said "fuck you" to her in private correspondence, wasn't it?

IIRC, the f-bomb was a response to the alleged condescension, for whatever that is worth.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:16 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


This thread is a total downer.
posted by mazola at 10:18 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


koeselitz: "Yes, it was totally uncalled for for a mod to be slightly condescending to that user after the user said "fuck you" to her in private correspondence, wasn't it?"

he said that AFTER she was condescending to him, not before. It would be nice if you wouldn't spread false information.
posted by grandsham at 10:23 PM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


To be clear, one of those people, at least, left because of apparently condescending and pushy language directed at them.

Thanks for noting roboton666's buttoning.

Oh. Wait.
posted by rtha at 10:25 PM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't know where folks are getting copies of these supposed emails from, but this turn in the thread doesn't seem like our finest hour to me.
posted by onlyconnect at 10:26 PM on April 27, 2013


In any case, it got talked out a lot in that thread already and that's still open if people want to talk about it more in specific at this point. I'm bummed that ericb closed his account, but we didn't ask him to leave and we've been very clear that he's welcome back any time he likes. Sometimes people step away; sometimes for good, often not. It's part of the deal here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:26 PM on April 27, 2013


Okay, just followed grandsham's link. Sorry. Can we talk about the beautiful weather now, maybe, even so?
posted by onlyconnect at 10:28 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gun owners - Robyn on How I Met Your Mother is viewed as a freak for having a gun in her bedroom.

Well, and also for being Canadian. And, early on, having dogs in a walk-up apartment in New York And having been raised as a boy. And for being a teen pop star....

Characters on sitcoms have personal characteristics which can reliably be exploited for comic effect - because the comedy has to come from the way those characters' idiosyncrasies react to that week's change in the situation, and the idiosyncrasies of the other characters. Specifically, Robin's love of guns and general frontierswoman robustness was set up to operate in antithesis to Ted's Wesleyan-educated liberal New Yorker's hatred of guns and general urbanite sensitivity.

Which is perhaps relevant to the thread only insofar as it illustrates that context matters ....
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:29 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can you see how a infrequent user would be turned away?
posted by peeedro at 9:52 PM on April 27 [+] [!]


Oh, honey, you've wandered into the bad place. Hide your eyes and back out of the thread!

(Yes, we are definitely airing the dirty laundry.)
posted by SLC Mom at 10:29 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by double block and bleed at 10:32 PM on April 27, 2013


I really don't like the implication that the mods had some sort of premeditated choice to make between a) letting the comment stay or b) having a valued member of the community quit.

c) Close these threads a LOT earlier, before they turn into a chimpanzee shit-flinging cage match.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:35 PM on April 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


rtha: If you don't even notice that you've had comments deleted to the point where you're shocked, SHOCKED, at the number of deletions when you ask and are told...then I don't even.

How would you notice, ordinarily? After I've made a comment, I rarely go back to see how it's going. I still follow the relevant threads, but I go forwards, not backwards.

Do people do this (i.e. actively keep track of all their past comments)? If any of my comments do get deleted, how would I know?

I think I would probably be shocked if I was suddenly told that a bunch of my comments over the period of a year had been deleted without my knowledge.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 10:42 PM on April 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


grandsham: "he said that AFTER she was condescending to him, not before. It would be nice if you wouldn't spread false information."

Sorry; I left that thread long before that detail came out. But I'm not sure how relevant it is; "fuck you, asshole" seems like a pretty disproportionate response. Leaving that out - and leaving out the fact that, yes, the whole thing started because ericb, a typically awesome contributor, was kind of being a jerk to the mods.

I don't know. I really like ericb, and I get the feeling he was just having a bad day there; lord knows it's understandable for anyone in Boston to have had a bad day over the past two weeks. I'm sorry for continuing that derail.

Basically, I just really didn't like seeing ericb leave, and I think it's extremely underhanded and devious to characterize his exit as being part of a "purge." That's the kind of crap that makes it less likely that worthwhile contributors will have come back - or that they'll have something to come back to.

It's also weird and disingenuous and kind of insulting to characterize roboton666's exit as being part of that moderator-driven "purge." As far as anyone can tell she left because of the users here being unpleasant and outright refusing to take anyone's feelings into account besides their own. So, friends - uh, how's that "purge" going?<